Archive for June, 2010

Summer has moooved in

June 21, 2010

You know it’s hot when the cows start to wade. We saw this group (and a few others) during a bike ride in rural Alamance County, N.C., just a bit west of Chapel Hill. We rode a mere 22 miles and felt like we’d ridden 42. It’s the heat, and the humidity. 

Cows in Alamance County, N.C., know how to stay cool

Way-high design at Atlanta’s High Museum

June 12, 2010

Mathias Bengtsson`s Slice Chair, taken from outside the building

Sometimes it is just sooooooo hard to not touch things in a museum. I was mighty tempted last week at Atlanta’s splendid High Museum of Art when touring the new exhibit “European Design Since 1985: Shaping the New Century.”

We were lucky enough to get a sneak preview of the exhibit (it’s now open) while there during a southeast chapter meeting of the Society of American Travel Writers, meaning we didn’t have to fight the nattily dressed crowds.

A funny aside: not only we were not allowed to take photos inside the exhibit (not unusual), we were told to put away our ink pens. That was a first. So I pulled out my pencil and scribbled away.

Bouroullec Brothers wall decoration (this one was at citizenM, Amsterdam)

The show, up only through Aug. 29 (so get going!), is billed as the first survey of contemporary Western Europe decorative arts and product design. It’s organized by the Indianapolis Museum of Art and the Denver Art Museum and encompasses furniture, glass, ceramics, metalwork, lamps, and household items. Designers include the ubiquitous Philippe Starck, as well as Marc Newson, Marcel Wanders, Tord Boontje, and the Bouroullec Brothers. Way exciting!

Ellen's kettle, designed by Philippe Starck for Alessi (photo High Museum)

Just how contemporary is the work? My travel writing pal Ellen Perlman of “Boldly Go Solo” fame kept exclaiming: I have that kettle in my house! I have that watering can, from Ikea! Who knew that Ellen was a design maven? (Hey, Ellen, wanna see my Alessi toothpick holder?)

The first floor holds a yummy collection of chairs. I wanted to not just touch but to sit, though most are more for looking, not lounging. My favorite was Mathias Bengtsson’s “Slice Chair,” the aluminum version from 1999. The Danish designer, based in London, has done several variations on the theme. Here’s a great Q&A with him.

Much in the way Ellen was excited about her household goods, Wessel was thrilled to see so many Dutch designers, not that that should be a surprise. We’re talking Tejo Remy, Piet Hein Eek, Tord Boontje (you’ve seen his paper-lace lampshades) and more, many whose work are sold through Droog, my favorite Amsterdam design shop (more on that some day).

One of the neatest everyday products was a Ty Nant water bottle from Wales created by Welsh born designer Ross Lovegrove. The sensuous asymmetrical bottle was designed to evoke the fluidity of water.

Whippet lovers will go wild for this bench (photo High Museum)

Whippet lovers will go wild for the “Whippet Bench” by RADI Designers in Paris. If it were a dachshund, I’d go out of my mind and might have to spent my life savings on it.   

Groupings of work were labeled with headings like modernism, post modernism, neo-pop, biomorphic, neo-decorative, etc. Whatever you want to call these movements, I call them super cool (one reason I’ll never be an art critic)!

Speaking of art criticism, we watched two museum staffers spend an inordinate amount of time trying to change a light bulb inside a wildly shaped lamp. So, how many art guys does it take to change a light bulb? Three. One to hold the precious lamp, one to screw in the bulb, and one to review the show.

Taking a dog’s blood pressure? Start at the end

June 3, 2010

The indignity of it all, says Roxy

Poor Roxy, “the foxy doxy with moxy.” As if having her tail tampered with wasn’t bad enough, now I’ve got to go and post the photos online. She did tell me she’s happy to help in the name of science.

When my vet (St. Francis Animal Hospital in Durham) told me that the results from Roxy’s “senior checkup” indicated they should check her blood pressure, my first question was, how the heck do you check a dog’s blood pressure? While some online sites (and who can trust them?) recommend using the dog’s legs, the base of the tail is the best place for an accurate reading. Of course since dachshund’s legs are only a few inches long, that’s another reason to grab the tiger by the tail.

Vet techs Dianne Saladino holds the cuff around Roxy's tail while Paula Davis secures and comforts her

The equipment is similar to what is used for humans. The cuff that goes around the tail is infant-sized, but on my 15-year-old tekkel’s tiny tail it was still difficult to tighten. The listening device must be amplified because the pulse deflections are much harder to hear in dogs than in humans. (Did I get that right, vet techs?) It took a good ten minutes to get a reading. Tech Paula Davis held Roxy while her colleague Dianne Saladino operated the equipment. Meanwhile, Mom looked on, calming her baby girl when she wasn’t busy snapping photos.

Roxy’s blood pressure was a bit elevated, but now the vet isn’t sure if it’s because she was stressed or because she might have another problem. So I’m now to try to get a urine sample, which isn’t easy on a dog with low clearance. But fear not, there are other ways to collect, and, per Roxy’s request, I promise to not show any of them here. We all have our limits.