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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Teatime Tuesday - Alice's Garden

Still image taken from Disney's Alice in Wonderland.
A couple weeks ago, I wrote about my brief dream to have an Alice in Wonderland themed garden, with giant teacups serving as flower planters.  The reality of living in an area where nothing grows but cactus pretty much stomped out that dream.  What hasn't changed is the fact that I still have a terrible case of Spring Fever.  The weather outside is beautiful, everyone is talking about spring break vacations and plans for Easter. So, I'll continue to feed my need for a pretty flower garden by virtually creating one.

I didn't know who Jim Shore was, prior to writing this post.  He is a folk artist that has gone mainstream, applying his unique style to known brands, such as Disney characters.  In searching for the perfect items for my imaginary garden, I stumbled across his line of Disney Wonderland themed garden accessories. My type-A personality loves matching things, so they'll do perfectly for my pretend garden. (Click on the linked text to be taken to the item for sale on Amazon.)

First, we'll have a little stone path, leading along the side of the house and up to the wooden gate, where you see this little "Welcome" sign sticking up in the grass, letting you know that you're entering Wonderland.  You might have to push aside some overgrown bright pink bouganvilla to reveal a strange and wonderful little garden oasis. 

There, lining a lush and manicured grassy lawn, you'll see beds of purple and yellow pansies turning their faces up to the sun, bushes of ruffly peonies, rows of pure white tulips, peach Jacob's Ladder roses climbing along the brick wall, proud irises of every color holding their heads high above the smaller flowers. Oh and we simply must have fragrant lilac bushes, with their pretty little lavender flowers perfuming the air.

There will be a little clearing amongst the flowers, surrounded along the edges by Queen Anne's lace, as if someone had made a place for a picnic or afternoon tea.  Sure enough, there will be a teapot there, with white and yellow daises spilling out of it. (Daisies, to represent sweet Alice and her innocent youth). Right next to it will be the teacup, but instead of tea, it will have snapdragons of every shade shooting up from the cup. (Snapdragons, a funny-looking flower with a funny name, to represent the very funny Mad Hatter.)

There will be a small reflecting pool (the Pool of Tears, of course) with lily pads and lush green vegetation surrounding it.  Maybe we need some trees too, like a big weeping willow with its branches arching over the pool, providing some shade.  In the dark recesses of the bushes and in amongst the exposed roots of the tree, there will be white and orange mushrooms pushing up through the dirt. 

As you keep walking along the path, you'll come to some beautifully manicured rows of deep burgundy roses.  There will be iridescent blue butterflies alighting here and there on the flowers and, if you look closely, you'll see the White Rabbit running in between the bushes on his way to his appointment. He's very late, for a very important date, you see.

Speaking of the White Rabbit, maybe we should have a vegetable garden too, in addition to our flower garden?  We would definitely have carrots for the White Rabbit, as well as lettuce, strawberries and cucumbers. We could also have tall stalks of smiling yellow sunflowers. 

The sunflowers would bring birds to our lovely garden, and we'd want to be hospitable, so we should provide a birdhouse of some kind.  Although I don't think the belly of the Cheshire Cat is what you would call being "hospitable".  Still, I have a feeling this particular cat is harmless and would give them a good home, as he swings by his tail from the limb of a tree.

And that, dear readers and fellow adventurers in Wonderland, is what I would put in my imaginary garden. What's in your (real or imaginary) garden?  What are you going to plant for Spring?  Desert flowers and plants can be pretty too; so if you live in the Valley of the Sun like me, let me know what your favorite one is.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Musical Interlude - Florence + The Machine

Have you ever had one of those moments where you stumble across a musical act or piece of art or literature, and wonder to yourself, "Where have I been this whole time, that I'm just now finding out about this?"  Well, that's the reaction I had when I first heard Florence + The Machine.  Although, to my defense, she's a new artist, having only released one album (Lungs) in 2009. And now, you too, will be in the dark no more, as I introduce you to her fabulousness.

The "band" consists of English singer Florence Welch and various studio session musicians and guests artists providing support. It's hard to describe her musical style, but I suppose I would call it eccentric pop/rock with a little soul thrown in too.  All I know is, from the moment I heard her first song, and promptly downloaded the album, I've been unable to stop listening to it.

Two songs in particular are my favorites: "The Drumming Song" and "Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)", however, I'm going to feature "Rabbit Heart" here, because of the Alice in Wonderland and fairy tale references, both in the song's lyrics and in the music video.  So far, I've identified references to: Alice in Wonderland, Greek mythology (i.e. the Three Graces, King Midas), the Bible, the Lady of Shallot, Ophelia, fairy tales, and Pre-Raphelite paintings. It reads like a list of all my favorite things!

They've disabled the video embedding feature, so just click on the image below and it will take you directly to the video on You Tube.  Be sure to watch/listen to "The Drumming Song" too.  What new music have you discovered recently?  Leave me a comment and let me know.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Teatime Tuesday - Alice Goes to Broadway

Alice has been through the looking glass, visited wonderland on the silver screen, traveled through American McGee's video game adventure and went back down the rabbit hole with Tim Burton, but I don't think she's ever been to Broadway... until now.  There's not much at the official website for the musical, but here's an Associated Press article that describes the role reversals, costumes, and alternate interpretations. Looks like it will be set in a Wonderland underneath New York City and the costuming and setting will be modern, and Alice will be an adult.  I love "re-imaginings" of Wonderland and variations or new takes on the theme, but I'm not sure how I feel about all this, since I'm not really a fan of musicals. However, I love it that, all these many years later, Lewis Carroll's imagination and the world and characters he created continue to inspire artists and spur more creativity.  If this production ends up touring and coming to my town, I just might have to see it.  What do you think? Do you like Broadway musicals? Do you like "re-imaginings" of classic stories, or does it bug you when they don't stay true to the original?

Monday, March 07, 2011

Musical Interlude - Steamy Music

So, I went to my first fan convention this past weekend. (I know, big surprise to you that I'm a geek and a nerd. Shocking.) I attended the Wild Wild West steampunk convention in Tucson, AZ. I will probably write more about this later, but for now, I thought I'd share some of the music from the event, since it's Musical Interlude Monday.

First, there is Abney Park, a relatively famous steampunk band (well, famous within the steampunk community). I was impressed that the organizers were able to bring them to this con to perform, since this was the first year for this particular con. We weren't able to see them in concert but here's a little taste of what they sound like (video was not filmed at the Tucson con):



Then there were the Dusty Buskers. (Clever name, huh?)  They are a local Tucson group that plays old-time folk and bluegrass music.  They aren't strictly a steampunk group, but they fit in just fine.  This isn't the best quality video but I used it because it was actually filmed at the Tucson con.  You can listen and see more by going here.



And last but not least, there was another popular steampunk group - the all-steam powered robot band called the Steam Powered Giraffe.  Again, the video quality isn't the best, but I chose to use this because it was filmed at the Tucson con.  Be sure to check out their other videos, because these guys really are quite funny and extremely talented.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Teatime Tuesday - A Flower In Your Teacup

When I was in Walmart recently I turned down an aisle and suddenly thought I'd dropped into Wonderland. Or if nothing else, that I had taken a sip from a "Drink Me" bottle and shrunk in size, because the shelves were filled with giant tea cups with saucers and giant tea pots. 
Giant teacup planters from Baum, found on Amazon.com.
The scope is lost on these pictures, since there's no frame of reference, but they are huge. They were the size of a large mixing bowl or punch bowl and were built with drainage holes in them so they could be used as garden planters. They gave an entirely new meaning to the term "flower pot".

Amazon.com
When I was standing there in the aisle, I was struck with visions in my head of a beautiful Alice-themed garden with Japanese paper lanterns strung across my porch and roses of every color and snapdragons springing forth from these teacups, and maybe even a little statue of a white rabbit tucked in the bushes somewhere.

Then I remembered I live in Arizona, where the summers are like living on the surface of the sun, and anything that isn't a cactus is burned to a brittle brown husk, and the dream died. But it was a fun dream for the brief moment I had it.
When I was searching online for a photo of the giant teapot (which I couldn't find) I came across this ingenious garden decoration you see to the left. It's called a Rain Chain.  The idea is, when it rains, the water will pour through the opening in the top of the teapot, weave in and out down through the chains and into each teacup, like a decorative water fountain, only powered by a rainstorm. I immediately fell in love with it, (which should be no surprise, given the name of my blog,) however, I don't have a spare hundred dollars lying around. And it doesn't hardly ever rain here, so the poor thing would go unused.

So, my dreams of a flower garden will remain in my head and I will be content with my cactus.  What about you, Gentle Readers? What's your favorite thing about your yard or garden?  Leave me a comment and let me know.