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Monday, July 16, 2018

Taliesin and ice cream

Presenting this very interesting day is difficult. Ann, Laura and I toured Taliesin on Tuesday, last. I'll put a brief description of each picture, and end with my overall impression.

Lunch at the visitor's center. We shared a savory bun, for starters.

A typical picture of the beauty of the glacial moraine. 

Taliesin from one approach.

A retaining wall with opposing curved ends.

We used the back entrance to the house. Typical stone construction.

The architectural lines of the house are too overwhelming for a novice to assimilate in one go.

Wright was a recycler before recycling. These are old barn stanchions. 

Stone, stacked artistically.

Solomon's Seal in a garden. Look at the size of the seed pods!

These small tiles are signed by FLW, and inserted many places in the exterior.

One of my few interior shots. The house was too overwhelming for me to assimilate.
This is a formal dining room. You probably must be there to take in the meaning and effect of, for instance, all the ceiling gradations.

A view down to the river. FLW added the flying walkway to enhance a wife's view.

Built in storage in a room.

Leaving the property. The spillway to the lake FLW made, damming a creek. Note the aesthetic wall curve.

Going home on a ferry over the Wisconsin River. Not the fastest way home from Spring Green, but the ice cream across the river is outstanding. I had black chocolate.

Of course I have something to say. First, on a whim, I called Taliesin several months ago. I wondered if they could accommodate an old lady who could not walk long enough to take either of the two hour tours or the four hour tour of everything. They quizzed my limitations and said "Of course. Just give us a two week notice to schedule you into the tour cycle. Do you think you'll need ramps?"

Or, as Ann said, "What did you expect? This is Wisconsin."

Our very gracious guide sized me up, and led a limited tour of outdoors and a fairly complete tour of indoors. Everyone helped me up and down the hill that produced the beautiful picture of the rolling countryside. I love all the glacially formed land in this country.

Taliesin: The house burned and was rebuilt twice. This is its third iteration. In truth, Wright built homes for their eventual demise. I learned of Welsh foundations, a trench of gravel on which footers are laid and construction begun. Its effect is apparent everywhere in the house. The glass corners are no longer true right angles; there are gaps to the outdoors. Roofs no longer meet walls. And so forth.

On the other hand, Ann's engineer husband Pat informed us over supper, Wright's Welsh foundations saved his Tokyo Imperial Hotel from destruction in the 1923 earthquake.

Every room in this house is tiny, and not exquisitely tiny. The only kitchen for the entire house is about six by eight feet. The bedrooms are eight by eight. The bathrooms will not accommodate outstretched arms. And so forth, and so on. 

I found the furniture to be the most arrogant statement of all. Every stick of it is built in. Immobile. That, said our guide, was to prevent owners (yes, houses he built for others!) from rearranging his furniture design.

I believe Frank Lloyd Wright had an architectural vision, and had the moxey and chutzpah to carry it off. The son of a tent preacher, he apparently carried the same charisma that allowed him to construct fantastical buildings.

Frank Lloyd Wright also abandoned eight children. Eight! And at least one wife. He eventually married his true love, who shared his passion for art and architecture. Frank Lloyd Wright never declared bankruptcy; he simply walked away from the debt of his constructions. The burden fell on friends, relatives, associates, the unwary.

I hoped to see examples here of form follows function, a maxim I've found useful all my life.  It has helped me find the simplest ways to solve life problems, as well as design. Our guide told me the public is misquoting the man. He actually said Form and function should be one, joined in a spiritual union. Well, that explained the immovable furniture!

No doubt I went to Taliesin to be dissuaded of my impression of the architect. I was not. He is a man who climbed to acclaim of interesting talents on the backs of abandoned children, women and creditors. In my mind it is interesting he built everything to eventually disintegrate, and now legions of disciples work to keep all intact.

Did I mention how good that black chocolate ice cream was. Seventy or eighty percent cocoa. The real deal.  

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Ice cream and cranes

In a total aside, I must mention, I love google. I don't care that it wants to know all. In exchange it does the menial, menial task of organizing, a skill that escaped my head during that crainiotomy a year and a half ago. All my photos are neatly arranged by date and place, or I would be wondering when and where.

I will do this recounting slowly and sequentially. This is Mullen's, in Watertown, Wisconsin. You know who has thumbs up, and she and Ann head around the corner for ice cream and a supper, on Sunday. Ann grew up in Switzerland, so she landed fair and square in Wisconsin. As she says, there is nothing that cannot be improved by butter and cheese.

And so much for Sunday. On Monday, Laura and I went to The International Crane Foundation in Baraboo, Wisconsin. Here is my tour, which I was able to take thanks to a wonderful scooter. It had none of the joy of my motorcycle days, but it took me where I wanted to go.

These are only a few of the cranes we saw. It was a beautiful, cool and breezy day. The grounds are given over completely to meadow, for the attraction of insects; bees and butterflies. I've never seen so many varieties of milkweed, which caught Laura's attention. We tried to grow many species in the old garden, and have managed to grow one in our new garden.

I heartily recommend a visit to the cranes, if only to support the work of the foundation. We spent half a day, and that only on the paved trails among the crane enclosures. There are many more dirt trails to explore, but not on a scooter.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Best vacation ever

We spent almost a week in Wisconsin. But first, the lead up to a vacation. Empty the fridge. Clean the kitchen. Nurse the flowers through the week, rather than replace them. The daisy on the right died a dramatic and picture perfect death, don't you think?

We left on Saturday, a beautiful day. It wasn't even too hot. Laura took the first shift driving. It's nine hours to Ann and Pat's, and my drive/fly decision is based on the weather and our itinerary.

I had a cat companion. This is Zaggy, a small cat, rescued fourteen years ago, together with her brother, Ziggy. All the farm cats live outside, but Zaggy has retired and lives at Ann's kennel. However, the kennel was over capacity last week, and Zag was rehomed in my room, for the week. Here is my morning wake up.

Seven days a week Ann is up by six and out the door to open the kennel by seven. Laura and I know her kitchen as well as our own. That notwithstanding, this is laid out for her guests every morning, when they get their sorry behinds downstairs. That is genuine Amish Frog Jam there in the back. I tried it the first morning, but devoted myself to black current the rest of the week.

So you know, little has changed at the farm. The silo is covered by more greenery. The barn to the left is to the ground, and covered in vegetation. The foundation wall, on the road side of the picture, is about gone.

The creek still flows under the bridge. Almost nothing has changed. But this week Ann was able to arrange her schedule so we could visit Taliesin and Mineral City together, for two days. Laura and I went to the International Crane Foundation, rode the Wisconsin Dells boat on the Wisconsin River, went shopping the St. Vinney's, and ate a lot of ice cream. And then more ice cream. And, more later.