this weekend

We had arborists on site yesterday, taking down a dead tree and dead branches. It's the first real radical change we've made to this house, and everything is a little brighter. It's a preview of the months ahead, when all the leaves will go and our tree-shaded home will fill with clear winter light. 

Thinking of winter makes me feel like there is so much to do: re-evaluate doormats, lay in a supply of chicken stock, eat Concord grapes, hang the pictures, take out the wool blankets, make sure we have enough pillows for building reading forts, research heat tape for the roof, pot mums, find winter coats and first boots, make Christmas presents, return the library books and about 100 other things. 

Happy weekend.

'monuments to inner thought'

Shipu ... are books of description, poetry, or art dedicated to stones. The first was published between 300 B.C. and A.D. 100, as part of an encyclopedia of facts about the known world.
Rebecca Robertson, "7 Astonishing Chinese Philosophers' Stones That Look Like Monsters and Landscapes." ArtNews, 5/26/14.

A number of terms were created to describe the desired qualities in a scholar’s rock, from shou (meaning thin) to tou (conveying ‘openess’). Hollows in the rock, meanwhile, were prized for their dramatic contrast to the solidity of the stone — and light. Other terms denote the rock’s age: gu means ancient but also elegant, while jue is the ultimate accolade, translating as ‘perfect’.
Christie's: Collecting Guide: scholar rocks.

Like a landscape painting, the rock represented a microcosm of the universe on which the scholar could meditate within the confines of his studio or garden.
Robert D. Mowr

They are not fixed in meaning, the way we are used to art being fixed.The principal thing is to take a rock - which is the most common thing in the world - and to transform its image, through looking, beyond a rock, into something uncommon.
Richard Rosenblum, quoted in the Philadelphia Inquirer, 2/6/1998. (Post title taken from this article.)


Related: viewing stones at The National Bonsai Foundation; a review of Rosenblum's collection by John Mendelsohn.

Pictured: Chinese scholar stone at Chista.

rock collector

Caillois ... called stones l’orée du songe—the shore of dreaming—and he amassed a wonderful collection, which he left to the Museum of National History in Paris where you can go and look at them; he also wrote two luminous books about stones. These are not about precious stones such as diamonds and rubies but about dendrites, agates, Chinese scholars’ stones—pebbles and rocks that look like nothing much at first but can open up wonders under contemplation ... They lead him to understanding the physical make-up of the world, its 'algebra, vertigo, and order.' He exults in their inscrutability and their lack of affect, their silence, their sheer stoniness. 

This essay is crammed with good things — right now (maybe as always) I am drawn to the idea that magic is not something nebulous or other; it is grounded in the world, in the miracle of rocks and trees and clouds and waves and stars. 

Bookmarked for further reading: the idea of re-enchantment.


Caillois' stones are part of the collections on display in The Keepermy favorite stone in Caillois' collection, originally posted back in 2013.

Images found at but does it float; more at 50 Watts.