Monday, June 30, 2014

around here ...

And the livin' is easy
Fish are jumpin'
And the cotton is high"
~ from 'Porgy & Bess' by George Gershwin

One of my roommate's photos, shot on
our balcony at the Hyatt in 2013 ...
jumping up and down with delight in anticipation of the Integrity Toys Convention in Orlando in November! (Attended my first convention last year in Los Angeles and had the most wonderful time! Wrote about it on my travel blog, here.)

designing a brochure for our network of environmental educators to share with returning teachers in August

crocheting a sock which I have undone three times, so far ... can't seem to get the tension quite right ... yet

dealing with a pulled muscle in my back (ouch! ouch! ouch!)

catching up on the ironing; I'm always amazed how quickly it piles up!

experimenting with salad recipes for summer meals

planning for "Tea with Barbie" in July ... this is our fourth year doing this event; it's been sold out every year and it appears this year will be no exception! It's a delightful afternoon of little girls dressed in their finest fashions accompanied by their moms, grandmothers and aunts and, of course, Barbie!

sorting photos I've shot over the past 7 years along Viele Road, a 1.5 mile stretch of rural road in the middle of a growing metropolitan area that I drive every day on my way to work ... been thinking about making a book. The entire road is a veritable feast for the eyes!

scanning Public Theatre photos from pre-digital days (1992-2000) and sharing them on Facebook in a "secret" group ... here, from the Public's production of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" by Tennessee Williams 

So, what have you been up to?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

5 Favorite Fonts of an Old Typesetter

Metal moveable type. Photo by Willi Heidelbach.
I began my career as a typesetter in 1973 at the Key West Citizen, "the only daily published newspaper in Monroe County." The printing industry was in the throes of switching from hot metal typesetting to phototypesetting, or "cold" type.

Until the advent of this new technology, men dominated the typesetting field because of the weight of the big wooden trays that held the lead type. It took broad shoulders and strong forearms to carry them. The introduction of cold type in the 1960s opened the door for women, like me, and all I needed to know was how to type.

Phototypesetting equipment prevailed throughout the
1970s and 1980s until Apple introduced the Macintosh
and desktop publishing was born.
As long as I can remember I have loved the physical act of writing. I spent hours as a child copying poems, stories and dictionary definitions just to have something to write. I was convinced at the age of 11 that I had lived as one of those monks of the middle ages, illuminating manuscripts for the wealthy patrons of the church.  I had visited the library often and I learned that some of the larger European monasteries contained separate areas for the monks who specialized in the production of manuscripts, a place called a scriptorium, and I could well imagine how those spaces felt and smelled. It was vivid in my imagination as a child, and actually is, still. Within the walls of a scriptorium were individualized areas where a monk could sit and work on a manuscript without being disturbed by his fellow brethren. To me, that would be heaven.

Typesetting was a natural fit for me and, as such, I spent twenty years of my life doing it for newspapers, magazines, advertising agencies and print shops. And, because I spent so much of my time immersed in type, I developed a list of favorites. So, on with the show!

Always at the top of my list is Garamond! There are a few versions, but, whichever one you're using, they all appear to have the characteristics of the original Garamond. The letterforms convey a sense of fluidity and there are unique characteristics in the letters, such as the small bowl of the lower case a and the small eye of the e. Long extenders and top serifs have a downward slope. And, the italics is, without question, THE most beautiful of any italic font found anywhere. More importantly, Garamond is considered to be among the most legible and readable serif typefaces for use in print (offline) applications today. It is truly a timeless font and belongs on all "best of" font lists.

My favorite sans serif type is Gill Sans, designed by graphic artist Eric Gill in 1926 when he painted a sign above the door of a bookstore. He was later commissioned to develop an entire family of fonts based on his design, and the story is that his font was meant to combat the "modern" faces coming out of Germany in that era, like Futura and Kabel. Gill Sans was released by Monotype Corporation in 1928 and has been a favorite of designers around the world ever since. Gill designed this face to function equally well as a text face and for display. THAT is what makes it a great font family, in my humble opinion, and it is my first font when I'm looking for sans serif body copy. I like the balance of the interletter relationships. I think it's because the capital M is based on the proportions of a square with the middle strokes meeting at the centre of that square. That gives it less of a mechanical feel than geometric sans serifs like Futura. It is a beautiful face and continues to thrive to this day, often being used to bring an artistic or cultural sensibility to projects. I truly love Gill Sans.

ITC Avant Garde is a distinctive sans serif that I consider the "Thoroughly Modern Millie" of typefaces. According to Wikipedia, it is based on the logo font used in the Avant Garde magazine of the 1970s. Herb Lubalin devised the logo concept and its companion headline typeface, then he and Tom Carnase, a partner in Lubalin's design firm, worked together to transform the idea into a full-fledged typeface. It is very modern, yet, not mechanical. The roundness of the letters lends to its readability and, like Gill Sans, works as a headline type as well as a text face.

Palatino is the name of a large typeface family that began as an old style serif typeface designed by Hermann Zapf in Frankfurt, Germany. First released in 1948 by the Linotype foundry, it would be one of the Macintosh's original typefaces when the first Apple computer appeared in the 1980s. Like Garamond, it is highly readable as text and as a headline font, but, where Garamond is elegant letterforms (think Giorgio Armani), Palatino has a softness that is welcoming to the eye (think Ralph Lauren). I adore Palatino and use it over and over.

If I were trapped on a desert island and could only have one script font, it would have to be ITC Edwardian Script. Designed by Edward Benguiat, it has a musical character quality, but is clearly a calligraphic typeface. It is truly a delicate, yet sophisticated typeface. It is reported that the characters were each drawn and redrawn until the connections of the letters was perfected to create the look of true handwriting. It's probably THE most readable script font out there.

I still purchase fonts and have a library of fonts from across the web, acquired over the years. I am a font whore. But, when I am stuck, or don't know how to begin a project, I will go to one of these typefaces to help me tell the story. It works every single time.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

My Parents Were Born on the Cusp ...

The Cusp for Gemini/Cancer is June 19 to June 23. My mother's birthday was June 19. My dad's was June 21. My dad was nine years older than my mother and he had been married once before. He was in the U.S. Army when they met at Fort Lee, Virginia when my mother was 23-years-old.
My mother on her wedding day.

My mother used to say she met my dad on the dance floor. My Aunt Evelyn had danced with him first, then he asked my mother for a dance. My Aunt Evelyn said he never danced with another woman again that she knew about.

Their marriage was full of passion. I'm sure about that. My brother and I often observed the knock-down-drag-out brawls from a distance and, somehow, we knew it wasn't about us. It was about them. My mother was a social butterfly if one ever existed, and very opinionated! My dad was introverted and thoughtful and very, very smart. That made for some great arguments about politics at the dinner table, too!

After their brawls, they would make up, and we didn't get to see that. They would tell us they were going to have a private conversation and they would go in their bedroom, close the door and turn on the radio. We usually took that for a sign to go outside and play. We didn't care what they were doing. We were kids. We were just glad they weren't fighting anymore.

My dad on his wedding day.

Being born on the cusp must mix things up. That's the only thing I've been able to figure out after all these years. I'm not sure how much influence the position of the sun and moon and stars has on us as human beings, but, I have long believed that was why my mom and dad had such a turbulent relationship. The generations weren't so different back then (1949) as they are today. Where they had seen World Wars and a new prosperity arrive in America during my parents' lifetimes, ten years between a man and woman can mean a lot more in these modern times. Depending on when we were born, we would have listed to different music, used different technologies, watched different movies and TV shows ... these experiences, as shared by each generation, create a bond between the people who lived through it. To have an intimate relationship with someone who didn't listen to, say, the Beatles, or who didn't see the movie, "The Graduate," might mean they won't understand the perspective of those of us who did. All of these experiences have an impact on our thinking and our expectations and are a part of us and who we become. I think that's why a lot of May-December marriages don't work out nowadays.

But, then, that's just my opinion.

Happy Birthday, Mom and Daddy, wherever you are. I'm hoping that you're together in heaven. You're buried next to each other here on Earth! 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

around here ...

"Fakahatchee Strand" by Peter J. Nolan

watching the skies ... as the storms build in the west on most afternoons only to rain down on our heads when it's time to drive home from work

finishing the 'house' for the generator, which we'll need if a storm knocks out power

re-reading "Nature Girl" by Carl Hiaasen

"Beatnik Blues" Poppy Parker, dressed in white

taking pictures of my girls as I attempt to master aperture and shutter speed (still)

planting blue flowers around the gumbo limbo tree in front of the house

worrying about my baby girl as she struggles with administrative issues on her way to an MBA

listening to Joni Mitchell with my darling husband

"Turnpike Southbound" by Mary Watkinson

preparing for an art social on Friday evening for GIRL PLAY with 6 female artists, each of whom marches to her own drummer

Monday, June 2, 2014

Welcome, Summer!

Here in sunny south Florida the rainy season finally arrived. Last Friday, to be precise, which is a couple of weeks later than usual. That means it's summer! And, when I flipped the calendar over to June yesterday, I realized it was also the first day of hurricane season. Arghhhhh!!

We haven't been hit by a hurricane since Wilma passed through Florida on Monday, October 24, 2005. The meteorologists originally called it a Category 1 storm, so, at my house we didn't even put up the shutters. Consequently, we were able to sit in the living room and watch the wind blow down a 60 foot black olive tree in our front yard (among other things). It took about an hour.

The storm was later upgraded to a Cat 3 storm. Hrmph! You'd think they would know that, wouldn't you? But, no. In 2005, they didn't take into account that the storm was traveling from west to east across the state and out there over the Everglades where there's lots of warm water which fueled the storm.

Historically, hurricanes have arrived in south Florida via the Atlantic Ocean to the east. And, that was the very thing that made Wilma different. It snuck up on us by coming in the "back door!" Left us without power and cell phone signals for weeks. And, honey, I'm here to tell you! That was a lesson learned!

It took a month to clean up that black olive tree, and it wasn't the only thing we had to clean up. There was debris everywhere! At one point, we couldn't see our house from the street for the piles of debris. It took more than a year for the huge piles out by I-595 to disappear. It was a storm that taught us a lot about the aftermath.

The following year my darling husband had hurricane impact windows and doors installed and we purchased a generator that's powerful enough to run the refrigerator and the ceiling fans. The State of Florida has gifted us with a "no tax" week to buy batteries, bottled water and other supplies, so we'll be looking to take advantage of that. A buck here, a buck there ... it adds up. When we replaced that black olive, we planted two wild tamarind trees. They have deep roots that spread out underground and their branches are far apart with lacy leaves that allow the wind to travel through them. They're wonderful shade trees, too!

Unfortunately, the majority of my new neighbors haven't lived through a real hurricane yet. They moved here from states like New York, Michigan, Massachusetts and Ohio where hurricanes aren't common. And, they don't know what to expect. They don't seem too worried either. :(

All of our local TV stations are cranked up and providing volumes of information, so there's really no excuse for not being prepared. Maybe we'll be lucky and skate by for another year. Maybe not. So, I think I'll stock some extra items, in case a neighbor needs to borrow a cup of sugar or some batteries.

Welcome, Summer! I'm so glad you're here! The Royal Poinciana trees are in full bloom! Our days and nights are warm and humid, so I'm most grateful for air conditioning! The ocean is like a big bathtub and most of the tourists are gone so you can actually find a parking place at the beach! The best part? We don't have to wait in line for an hour at our favorite restaurants!

Yes! I love summer! And, if we do get a hurricane, we have time to prepare. It's not like those ungodly snowstorms, or the tornadoes that arrive with a two minute warning. We know it's coming and, once it's over, we can go outside in our shorts and flipflops. I'll take it!