Market Fun

I have been a fan of flea markets since adulthood provided me with an income and desire to check them out.  I learned my way around them in New England, where their presence is a regular weekend activity in rural Mass.  The Mother of all Flea Markets is the Brimfield, Mass. extravaganza that can really test your “eye” and your endurance.  I regret it’s now too far away from home base for me to participate.

Flea Market Strategy

I don’t look for museum pieces, which I’d probably only recognize by the price tag, but often for quirky, playful or historic items that I’ll enjoy looking at or using.  I’ve always liked old textiles as long as they’re in decent un-smelly condition. Same goes for paper ephemera.  I start to sneeze /wheeze when close to anything that has mold spores.

Japan has its fair share of good markets.  There are two in Kyoto each month on the 21st and the 25th. Each is on the grounds of a temple or shrine, which always improves the experience. I try to make sure I’ll make at least one of the markets each time I visit Kyoto. They’re large, but not overwhelming.  There’s some junk, but the quality of the merchandise is decent and in many cases high.  My transactions with the dealers are limited to paying them and saying thank you.  Always thank you! Continue reading “Market Fun”

The Butterflies of Arashiyama


When we arrived in Arashiyama, the Kyoto landscape was still wearing its early spring colors, which is to say, mostly subdued monochrome gray.

 Arashiyama (嵐山) is a pleasant, touristy district in the western outskirts of Kyoto. The area has been a popular destination since the Heian Period (794-1185), when nobles would enjoy its natural setting. Arashiyama is particularly popular during the cherry blossom and fall color seasons.

There’s a festive atmosphere here, with food stalls, restaurants, many temples and shrines. I am drawn here repeatedly by the natural beauty of the setting of the area against the river and the mountains .  I particularly enjoy wending my way further into the hills, away from the crowds.  As is usual, in most tourist spots, tourists seem to congregate in certain places and with a little determination you can manage to get away from the crowds.

I was struck by the numbers of young people who enjoy getting dressed up in kimono to spend the day here. This being the twenty-first century, selfie sticks and iPhones were always close by. Overlooking that, they looked like brilliant butterflies against the relatively still somber landscape, which is waiting to explode in a few days once the cherry blossoms start firing, into a magical kingdom. Continue reading “The Butterflies of Arashiyama”


I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles. Audrey Hepburn

First, Pink

pink4 pink2 pink pink-5 pink-3My awareness of color probably began with the color pink. It literally surrounded me as a child. My mother went all out with pink energy when our family moved out of an apartment into our first house. In a stroke of what we both thought of as pure inspiration, Mom painted the ceiling of my bedroom a happy party pink and accessorised it with a hand painted and floral decorated pink bed, dressing table and matching pink dressers.  Over the years, the patterned green wallpaper was replaced by painted pink walls, so the general effect when I was in my bedroom was of living in a soft pink haze.  Add the glow from 1950’s pink-tinted light bulbs, and the result was complete.

The early to mid 50’s were a time of pink frenzy, as I remember  Think Pink, was an advertising mantra of that era.  Delectable. Pink migrated from dresses and women’s clothing to interiors, bathrooms in particular.   A very soft tender pink was the color of my first lipstick.  My favorite snack was a strawberry ice cream soda made with strawberry ice cream.  A pink confection, that I enjoyed matching my nail polish color to in high school.  Now, each spring I enjoy frothy pink sakura, or Japanese cherry blossoms; fragile, effervescent, and exquisite.

The tones of gray, pale turquoise and pink will prevail. Christian Dior

Then Came Orange

orange-3 orange-2 orange-1

I think I saw the power of orange for the first time when I bought a “going away”Jackiesque linen sheath.  A stylish sleeveless number,  with a large flat linen bow just below the sternum.  Paired with a little pillbox hat, it made the perfect dress for a photo and to make the 5-mile drive from my home wedding to the less than glamorous Black Horse Motel on the Springfield road.  I don’t believe it was worn more than once, but I made the most of it for the hour or so I wore’s a black and white photo from our wedding album. Age: Twenty two.

Following our marriage, we rented our first furnished one BR apartment in Coral Gables that was distinguished by a cheap mid-century bright orange couch in the living room that caught my eye immediately.  The year: 1963.  The color orange on a piece of furniture felt, Bold!  Thoroughly modern.  and Sizzling.  I used that tired couch to claim my surroundings.

The apartment couch provided a perfect opportunity for me to accessorize with throw pillows.  I seized upon the idea of contrasting the slubby orange upholstery fabric with hot Schiaparelli pink pillows. Instant gratification.

Seizing upon success, while my new husband expressed no opinion, I moved on to buying everyday dinner plates. Solid bright orange.  I was initially pleased with my additions of pop color, but the fizz went out of the orange soda as orange soon gave way to color fatigue.  Maybe others had a similar reaction to orange because it didn’t stay around long.  After the early 60’s it seemed to disappear from the color palate and even though I looked long and hard for it, didn’t see it reappear until about five years ago when designers decided to push it out the door again.  I had learned that a little orange goes a long way, and that’s how I enjoy it now, knowing that soon it will vanish again.

There’s Always Purple.

purple magenta lavender

Growing up, it was the color lavender and most shades of purple that seduced me like no other, even though it was deemed an old lady’s color in that era.  My mother told me exasperatedly that they could make the ugliest dress in the world, and if it were purple, I would think it was beautiful.  She was right. But there were few opportunities to experiment with lavender.  It just wasn’t out there. But, I got my chance to live in a lavender world for several months just out of college.

The first bedroom I rented when I graduated from college was in a Coral Gables ranch house that was a monochrome dream of lavender. Pool furnishings included.  I slept on lavender sheets that year, dried myself off with lavender towels and walked on a dense wool rug of lavender. A great shade of purple is still ahead turner for me, but it doesn’t show up very often.

“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.  Alice Walker

The Final Word

As you might expect, my discovery of the Japanese color palette set me off again.  Their wonderful muted and subtle khaki colors form an ideal background for interior walls.  Unexpected color combinations revealed dynamic and exciting ways to use color, that differs from traditional Western sensibilities.  Although colors may be more proscribed for certain ages and certain events in Japan than in the West, the range of possibility and juxtaposition is extraordinary.

Youthful color
kimono colors

Why do two colors, put one next to the other, sing? Can one really explain this? no. Just as one can never learn how to paint.

Pablo Picasso