June butterflies days
with peripheral visions–
fleeting shadowed light
June butterflies days
with makeshift impermanence–
colors cast in dreams
of peripheral visions–
horizons weave time
into salty sea-sky wind,
fleeting shadowed light
tinged with endings—summer melts
backwards into fall
Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday prompt had us taking a test to determine our spirit animal. Butterfly was my answer yesterday, although if I took the test today it would probably be different. My answer to most questions of this type are “it depends”. But I’m not displeased–butterflies are wonderful creatures.
I wrote a troiku turning butterfly into a verb, as requested by Sarah for her prompt at dVerse. I also used words from this week’s Oracle 2 Random Word Generator.
winged surprise startles
as it alights on my arm–
the world pauses, stilled
The collages are old ones from the 70s that I discovered in my archives.
Interpolated (Thursday Doors)
The day is empty
like this house—tentative, flat,
merged with the landscape.
Each layer resides
inside its own dimension–
Spinning in circles,
a surface with no inside–
an imprint of thought.
A moment’s whimsy–
not really a door at all–
more like a portal—
A passageway to somewhere
in the middle of between
My final entry to the Thursday Doors May Writing Challenge, a haiku sonnet, uses a photo from Wheat Salt Wine Oil as inspiration. The collage is another one of mine from my youth.
Next week, back to my own doors.
Hotel Belleclaire (Thursday Doors)
down deep on its luck
a building rescued, restored–
remembering its bones
The Hotel Belleclaire was one of the first buildings designed by architect Emory Roth. Constructed in the Art Nouveau style, it opened in 1903 as a luxury residence hotel intended for the city’s upper class families. Amenities included long-distance telephone service in every room, private dining rooms, a library, and a roof garden.
It’s history in this iteration included the usual scandals and domestic dramas that seem to follow all New York City buildings around. The Daytonian has a detailed history.
In 1925 architect Louis Allen Abramson replaced the windows and railing on the ground floor with storefronts, and the entrance was moved around the corner to 77th Street. This began the building’s decline. By the latter half of the 1900s the hotel, like many old Upper West Side buildings, had become an SRO full of transients and rampant crime.
After the building was designated a Landmark in the 1990s, it was bought by Triumph Hotels, who began to gradually renovate the interior and return the exterior to some semblance of its original state. Now considered an “affordable” neighborhood hotel, it contains 250 guest rooms and 15 apartments whose tenants were grandfathered in because of local rent laws that prevented their eviction. You can read an interview with one of them here.
I don’t remember the building ever feeling particularly run-down; in fact I always imagined that it would be wonderful to live in one of the corner apartments. But the entire city was kind of down-and-out in the 1970s and 1980s. On the other hand, it was an affordable place to live then.
Now there are tourists going in and out the front door, and a doorman to attend to them. Upscale shops and a café occupy the bottom floor.
Door guardians are still in residence, and lovely details remain all over the façade. This website has some good photos of the ones on the upper floor which I could not capture with my camera–the photo at the top scrolls through them.
And you can visit the hotel’s website, and make a reservation if you like, here.
And don’t forget to visit Dan Antion, the host of Thursday Doors here, where you’ll find more doors, and a place to add your own.
Queen Anne Style (Thursday Doors)
but mirrored—until altered
by human hands, time
These two buildings caught my attention, due to the painted trim. I couldn’t decide if I liked it or not. But I took photos. A little research showed that they had been altered (a repeating story), each in its own slightly different way, since they were designed by Edward Angell in the late 1900s. You may remember Angell as the architect of two other buildings I’ve photographed for Thursday Doors–the brownstones with the Juliet balconies, and the building with Six Happiness door.
Originally private homes, but now apartments, the steps were removed, as so often happens, and the door placed on the garden level, with the original doorway becoming a window. In the case of #46, this was done quite tastefully.
Number 44 is a totally different story–I know Queen Anne style, the dominant architectural style Angell used for these houses, features asymmetry, but this takes it a bit too far. This door is under the original doorway, though, while #46 also changed the location of the door.
As you can see above, the upper floor of #46 has been raised, and one window made larger, but they kept the window surround. I think they should have enlarged the other window as well.
The houses were designed to be asymmetrical mirror images, and they mostly still are. Asymmetry is one of the main components of Queen Anne Style, along with cantilevered windows and decorative trim, often multicolored. The white window frames work better than the black ones I think. Notice that Angell once again provided Juliet balconies.
For some strange reason, not all the decorative trim is painted..
The Daytonian has another detailed history of both these houses. Number 44 was the headquarters of the Nippon Club in New York from 1905-1912, and then a music school for a few years. The residents of both houses had the usual complicated lives. Read all about it, and see a photo of how the houses originally looked, here.
And visit Dan Antion, the host of Thursday Doors, here, to see more doors and add some of your own.
Velez Blanco (Thursday Doors)
The patio is hushed, other-worldly, the door to an office space a jarring contrast to the feeling of suspended time. Only one other person is present, a woman quietly sitting on a bench nursing her baby. I walk around and around, taking photos and pausing in wonder at the artistry, the attention to detail, in the construction of the room.
I try to imagine the lives of the inhabitants of a castle in 1500s Spain. Was this a place for conversation, entertainment, dancing? or just a passageway to other, more practical, rooms?
My mind fast forwards to New York in the early 1900s—how did George Blumenthal fit this into his townhouse? and to what use did he put it? I see finely dressed men and women, members of high society, gossiping and showing off their latest Paris fashions. Servants discreetly move among them with trays of food and drink.
The arrival of two other people returns me to myself, surrounded by the stillness of the museum’s whispered air. If only the creatures carved into the walls and doorways would speak…
between then and now
I walk imagined pathways–
roots, branches, and trees
This room in the Metropolitan Museum of Art is the actual patio from the Castle of Velez Blanco in Andalusia, Spain. Built with the façade of a fortress in the early 1500s on the foundation of a Moorish castle, it fell into ruins in the late 1700s, and its valuables, including the entire patio, were sold off in the early 20th Century. The patio was installed in the townhouse of George Blumenthal in New York, the one where he displayed his art.
The doors and balcony contain many beautiful marble carvings by Italian sculptors working in Spain.
One of the doors serves as an entrance to office space, which is a bit disconcerting.
There are also sculptures scattered throughout the space, including Bernini’s Bacchanal
and this Siren which I found quite appealing.
You can read more about the Castle of Velez Blanco here, and see pictures of the exterior.
And see George Blumenthal’s art mansion and read about it here.
My haibun is for my own W3 prompt–Compose a haibun that contrasts past and present.
And Doors! you can always find more of them, hosted by Dan Antion, at Thursday Doors, here.
Liminal Deities (Thursday Doors)
don’t miss my gate
good luck god
From across the street the buildings don’t
look special—it would be easy to miss
the details—but I always cross with my
camera to look beyond the gate.
So many faces!—multiple voices ask Please!
make sure you take an extra good
photo of me! and I will send luck
from the spirit of my liminal god.
The series of six tenement buildings look nondescript from a distance, but if you’re looking at doors, as I always am, they suddenly come to life.
This building was designed by the same architects, Neville and Bagge, as the one containing the first door. They are both rental buildings, but obviously owned by two different landlords.
The next two buildings were also designed by the same person, in this case George Pelham, a very well-known architect who designed many many buildings in NYC–he even has his own Wikipedia page. Again, it looks like the buildings now have two different owners.
The guardians supporting the columns look like they could use a little surgery. I really like the placement of the lamps.
The last pair of doors were also designed by the same architect, John C Burne, another prolific designer of Upper West Side buildings. Again the doorways are full of wonderful details.
Other than the names of the architects, and the date they were all constructed, 1895-6, I could find out nothing about their history. But they are all in the Upper Westside Landmark District, so hopefully their facades will remain as is to delight those who happen to notice them.
The W3 prompt this week, from Angela Wilson, was to turn a haiku into a Golden Shovel poem. I chose the haiku under the first photo, by Japanese master Issa. If you look at the last word in each line of my poem, you will find Issa’s poem. Here’s some more information about his haiku:
kado chigai shite kudasaru na fuku no kami
don’t miss my gate
good luck god
According to Shinto belief, in Tenth Month all of Japan’s gods vacate their shrines to congregate at the Izumo-Taisha Shrine. Issa worries that his good luck god will go astray on his way back.
All translations © 1991-2023 by David G. Lanoue, rights reserved.
And you can find more doors and their stories here at Thursday Doors, hosted by Dan Antion.
Oh, and about those Liminal Deities–according to Wikipedia, “A liminal deity is a god or goddess in mythology who presides over thresholds, gates, or doorways; a crosser of boundaries. These gods are believed to oversee a state of transition of some kind; such as, the old to the new, the unconscious to the conscious state, the familiar to the unknown.”
I can always use some good luck with my transitions.
Lourie/Turaco (Draw a Bird Day)
Fertile branches of fruit, leaves, and flowers attract feathered families craving sweetness—their rampant appetites, bursting with greed, work every angle of every treetop.
If we imprison the tree in a net to protect it, will we make the birds disappear? or entrap them too?
Pests from one point of view look like integral parts of the ecological landscape from another. Can both coexist?
between seed and birth
roots gather inside darkness
holding a new breath
Robbie Cheadle recently wrote a poem talking about her experiences with her local birds. Eleanor, a tame hadeda, had come into her office for a visit. I discovered right away that the hadeda is an ibis, a bird I’ve painted and written about previously. It’s a magical bird, and Eleanor’s behavior reflects that.
The other bird Robbie mentioned was a lourie, one that she freed after it had become entangled in a net on one of her trees, a bird I knew nothing about. Lourie is a local South African name; these birds are known as turacos in other parts of the world. But the behavior Robbie described is typical of the species.
Louries are poor flyers, but are excellent at climbing, due to their mobile toes that can rotate backwards and forwards; they also use their long tails for balance. They spend most of their time in treetops, eating fruit, flowers, leaves, and small insects which is why they are often not welcome guests in human habitats. But they provide an important role in distributing the seeds of trees throughout the landscape.
Louries travel in groups, which can be loud and noisy. They do not migrate but wander around in an irregular pattern, though they often have favorite trees that they return to again and again.
The grey lourie is also known as the Go-Away Bird, dues to its loud “go-away” call.
The brightly colored green and red of some turacos contain the only true red and green pigmentation known in bird feathers. Although other species have feathers that appear red or green, it is due to the reflection of light.
You can read Robbie’s story and poem here, and also see photos of Eleanor.
And I’ve used some of Jane’s Random Words for my haibun.
Ring 1FE (Thursday Doors)
sign in the window
says Ring 1FE—tempting,
full of promises
the lure of crystal
balls, lines written across palms–
your past, your future
yield to the lions,
passing through their golden fire–
stripped of illusion
gingerly we climb
with hope and fear, hand in hand–
seeking Lady Luck
The first thing that attracted me to this building was the brickwork, but the gold painted lions were hard to miss. As I crossed the street to get a closer look, the window on the right also drew my attention.
Hands in the window? Crystal balls, too, and other mysterious devices. Ring 1FE the sign said. For some reason this made me think of Joni Mitchell’s song “Roses Blue” on her Clouds album. Combined with the lions the invitation seemed both fated and ominous. I could see young Joni walking down this street in Chelsea and shivering a bit at the door behind which her friend Rose resided.
I continued on my way.
I’ve written a senryu chain for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday, and you can always find a wide variety of doors here at Thursday Doors, hosted by Dan Antion.
Christmas Tree (Thursday Doors on Friday)
all of our many seasons–
circle and return
When I went to the Metropolitan Museum a few weeks ago, I discovered a treat–they were in the midst of decorating the holiday tree. This was during early member’s hour, before the museum was open to the public.
I even got a view of the work room…now I know what’s behind that door when I pass it again.
The tree is in a large cathedral-like room filled with medieval Christian art. Here’s one, appropriate to the season, that caught my attention.
I’m always interested in the many different depictions of Mary and have done quite a few drawings from sculptures in various museums. I’m especially attracted to the ones with expressive hands.
I hope to get back to see the tree completely decorated and unveiled. I also took photos of the fountains and as much of the front facade of the museum as was possible with traffic, contstruction, and the width of the street–but that’s for another post.
You can always find more doors here at Thursday Doors, hosted by Dan Antion.