Tag Archives: Florida

Interstices (or What Other Folks Call Doors)

They open up magic or shut out the scary night.  Solicitors scratch their knuckles on them and lucky mail persons get to jam paper in boxes before them everyday.  In Narnia, they’re closets, which are just doors going someplace else.  However you wish to view them, here’s a small collection to enjoy.

On a sunny day in Key West, found on the way to Pepe’s on Caroline (which, by the way, is the definition of charming local cafe.)  Hemingway ate there, too.  This fact seems to go a long way in Key West.

Ringling Museum, Sarasota, Florida

Looks like maybe a thousand other cathedral doors, but this one’s special.  Notre Dame, Paris

On the way up to Mont St. Michel.  If you saw the Samantha Brown episode, this secret passage does indeed save you time.  Or at least it did at one time.  On the way down, think about getting an enormous omelette at Mere Poulard for $40, then resist.  You can watch them being made for free from your view on the street and recall the best omelettes taste like omelettes.  Mont St. Michel, France.

Okay, not a door.  These are pré salé sheep.  They’re a delicacy on the salt flats around Mont St. Michel.  They don’t get much glory except on the plate.  As such, they requested their 2 seconds of fame.  Getting shorter and shorter every day when you add sheep to the mix . . .

Residential home in Port Townsend, Washington (no, I did not trespass.  Zoom, baby, zoom).  Port Townsend is the twin of Duluth, Minnesota with warmer, wetter weather and slightly hipper people.  Sweet Laurette’s Cafe has Frenchified food and decadent caramelly coffee.

Fortunately, they no longer prod the elephants who transport visitors to Jaipur Palace with bull sticks.  This makes one feel slightly more secure when riding on top of the kindly giants up a long, winding hill.  I can’t account for the broken door.  Jaipur, Rajasthan, India.

Everything in India is too beguiling for words (except the shit in the streets).  This door is one of several in a courtyard in the City Palace.  Udaipur, Rajasthan, India.

City Palace, Udaipur, India

City Palace, Udaipur, India

While we’re in India, you must see the Taj Mahal in Agra.  Go inside and you’re in the burial chamber of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal (they are actually underneath the ground level on which you stand).  The lotus flower design above the door is made of semi-precious and precious stones.  When a flash light is shone against them, they glow.  The guy who is eager to demonstrate this is not just being friendly; he wants your money.  But it’s not so big of a deal.

The kid selling miniature Taj Mahal snow globe key chains on the walk outside is the cutest kid ever.  You might hear the word “cello” (roughly: get outta here!) thrown at him by a fellow Indian when, through sheer persistence, he offers you 17 snowglobes for the price of one.  “You cello!” might be his indignant reply.

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The Prettiest Circus Drawings Ever

These very glamorous drawings are part of the circus museum at the Ringling estate.  I wish I had written down the artists’ names, but I’m afraid I was visiting the museum with my husband and his 90 year old uncle and as I had already dragged them through a botanical print exhibit, I was starting to push my luck!  Enjoy!

On another note, the circus museum also boasts a miniature of the entire Big Top and grounds.  I was delighted to find a lady in full 18th century getup in the milieu.

Stepping Outside Cà d’Zan: More Ringling Photos

Approaching the bay–isn’t the marble beautiful?  It looks like a Missoni pattern.

Journey straight through the simple stained glass windows and you’ll be in the Great Room again.  Turn around and there’s the bay.

The unsual looking glass continues throughout the house–come to think of it, I don’t believe the house has a single clear window.  They’re all like the one below.

The view from the Great Room

The Secret Garden north of Cà d’Zan

Secret Garden second view

Statues like this boy are everywhere around the estate.  I like how he’s being taken over by one of the many banyan trees on the grounds.

Missed the first Cà d’Zan post?  Find it here.

Interested in the layout of the estate?  Find it here.

On tap for tomorrow: The Prettiest Circus Drawings Ever

Cà d’Zan : The Ringling Mansion

Cà d’ Zan , the Venetian Gothic mansion belonging to the famous circus owner John Ringling, is a house unlike anything I’ve ever seen.  It’s part circus cheek, part Venetian elegance, and all at once oddly charming.  Built in 1924 and finished around Christmas 1925, it set John and Mable Ringling back 1.5 million–a princely sum in those days.  Situated right on Sarasota Bay, this 36,000 square foot home is on prime real estate and with a Belvedere tower rising 81 feet, the view is a sight to behold.  In total the house boasts 41 rooms and 15 bathrooms, although in person it doesn’t quite feel this large.  All in all it has five stories, including a basement, and stretches two hundred feet across the waterfront. 

The Mansion on the Bay

Approaching the house from the secret garden.  Although on a clear day, the house sparkles, it’s particularly moody with overcast skies.

From the Main Walk

 Facing the golden door where one enters the house

Turn 180 from the view of the golden door I just gave you and you’re facing an anteroom that looks into the great room to the right and a dining room which is not shown.  The red is dramatic, isn’t it?  Perfect for a circus family, I think.

The room directly beyond the foyer looks onto the bay.  It’s a big room full of nothing too interesting except an enchanting ceiling jam packed with vignettes.

The 1920s vignette is a nice ode to the time the house was built.

The Great Room and looking up. . .

I’m a sucker for detailed ceiling work as I am alway craning my neck.  Ca d’Zan does not disappoint in this regard.  Everything is finished with a discriminating eye.

Hand painted on wood

 

View towards the bay

I think I’ll post a few more photos tomorrow as this is running longer than expected and due to other obligations I’m getting to the post rather late.  So tomorrow then . . .

Ringling Museum: Ladies’ Fans, Part 2

Earlier last week I posted pics of 18th century fans, circa 1750 to be precise, from France and the Netherlands. After a few days lolling around Sarasota and wondering whether a series of postings to a) show additional pics of their C18-19 fan collection and b) extend my current Water for Elephants/Ringling Circus preoccupation would be appropriate for a site mostly devoted to Georgian England and Revolutionary France tidbits, I’ve decided that a week’s deviation from the usual topic might just be diverting.  You agree?  Good.  If not, I’ll see you next week!

The Fans

The left fan I must not have thought much of while at the museum because I have no picture of it in my possession.  Oops! The middle fan (2) caught my eye right away.

It’s of Napoleon and Marie Louise, the Duchess of Parma and Napoleon’s second wife.  The fan is circa 1810, made just prior to her becoming Empress in 1811.  I wonder if they were all the rage to carry or more of a promotional campaign on the Empire’s part?  My French isn’t exactly amazing; otherwise I would take the pains to translate the inscription on either side of the fans.  My guess without translation is that the fan commemorates the uniting of two empires, namely the French and the Austrian-Habsburg.  Oh, well look at that little bit of irony!  Vive la révolution!

 I find this fan visually pretty in a pale, ephemeral sort of way.  It’s the color of tea-stained rags with hints of relief in white and dove gray.  The scene presented to us is a wine festival with musicians and dancers, families and couples, all enjoying an evening out.  Odd color scheme for for what’s being staged, but it is an old fan dating to 1710.  It’s also Italian.  As with many fine fans, the paper is vellum and the sticks are ivory.  This contrasts with the Napoleon and Marie Louise fan whose sticks are wood.

The last fan in the bunch is another French one from 1750.  It’s typical of the period, ivory sticks, watercolor on paper leaf, and a tranquil peasant scene.

 The Making of Fans from the Ringling Museum

“The main components of a folding fan consist of two end sticks, called guards sticks, that protect the painted leaf within.  Typically, the painting was done in watercolor after which the shaped leaf was carefully scored and pleated, allowing the fan to unfold as it was opened.  The interior sticks and spine supporting the fans leaf,  made of materials as varied as elephant ivory, tortoise shell, mother-of-pearl, exotics woods or bone, are joined at the base of the sticks with a single rivet.  The most expensive examples would then have gold or silver leaf applied to the carved decoration.  Handmade paper, woven silk, and vellum were all used to fashion the leaf.”

On tap for tomorrow:  Pictures of Ca’ d’Zan, the Ringling Family Mansion