Weeds and Butterflies

This post is more than just about weeds and butterflies.

Starting with weeds, Mona Caron is a San Francisco-based artist who paints beautiful large-scale weeds in murals that make them magnificent. Her weeds aren’t the ugly plants you want to get rid of in your garden. They are objects that surprise and delight your senses. They appear to grow wild rising up from parking lots in the middle of cities, bringing life to barren cement boundaries. Gorgeous!

The artist couldn’t have said it better about weeds and why she paints them:

They may be tiny but they break through concrete. They are everywhere and yet unseen. And the more they get stepped on, the stronger they grow back.


Weed murals 1 by Mona Caron 1. Photos_Art Is Everywhere

Murals by Mona Caron. Photos via Fubiz

Mona Caron weeds murals-5_AIE

“Pedal Revolution” in San Francisco

Mona Caron weeds murals-3_AIE

Weed in Sao Paulo

Mona Caron weeds murals-6_AIE

“Taking Root” in Union City, CA

Mona Caron weeds murals-2_AIE Mona Caron weeds murals-7_AIE

Mona Caron weeds murals-8_AIE

“Outgrowning” in Taiwan

Air is life. Water is life. Land is life. Don’t give up

— Mona Caron

Before I explain about some other weeds, please be sure to see some of Mona Caron’s butterflies before I get onto butterflies.

For the last 2 weeks, I’ve been dealing with my own weeds. My main database and mirror backup were having issues. I asked my husband to help look and diagnose what may be wrong. I believe that in the process the software that we used to diagnose may have damaged the files. They both failed recovery. My last full backup was before I took my trip to Scandinavia in June and this is in tact. I’m still in the process of locating and trying to recover newer files. I’m not sure what was actually lost since I’ve been using Dropbox and my main database since the last backup. Most new files may be OK. Fingers crossed. This has just taken an exorbitant amount of time, so much so that I haven’t been able to stay on track for every other weekly posts or had a chance to post about a birthday and some recent events. I’ll do that now

Peter surprised me with an unexpected getaway Saturday before my birthday at The DC Wharf Intercontinental Hotel. We call it “our son’s hotel” because he’s the project manager for the construction firm supervising the build. It’s complete but they still have some punch outs to do.

It was unfortunately, crappy weather with snow and rain. Not many people were out and about but it was pretty outside. We enjoyed it from inside at the Canopy hotel’s Whiskey Charlie bar, next door, where we had a wonderful experience before, and which I’m realizing that I never got a chance to write a full post about, so I’ll add a snap shot of pictures from when we visited last after seeing the Vermeer National Gallery of Art exhibit in December. This was after I had helped concoct a signature marzipan-flavored drink that was served for brunch to celebrate my sister’s 50th birthday at Magnolia’s on King. After attempting the drink on our own with Disaronno that came in a fashion-Missoni bottle, we found the better and perfect tasting drink in the WC Mainstay cocktail at The Canopy. Now we know how to make it!

Man writing painting by Metsu_AIE

Man Writing a Letter, my favorite painting by Metsu at the NGA Vermeer exhibit

Whiskey Charlie Rooftop of DC Canopy bar_AIE

Whiskey Charlie Rooftop of DC Canopy bar

Enjoying the Whiskey Charlie rooftop view_AIE

Enjoying the view

The WC Mainstay cocktail with the perfect marzipan-like balance_AIE

The WC Mainstay cocktail with the perfect marzipan-like balance

Arena Stage at twilight_AIE

Walking by the Arena Stage at twilight on the way home

Sisters 50th birthday at Magnolia on King_AIE

Sister’s 50th at Magnolia on King restaurant

progressive pictorial daisy weeds_AIE

Some fun and artistic age reminders I made as progressive “pictorial daisy weeds”

Missoni Disaronno_AIE

Missoni Disaronno – fashion bottle art

This time, however, I lost a single glove and liner that fell out of my pocket somewhere between the top floor bar, elevator and front desk. I noticed immediately before leaving and backtracked but still couldn’t find it. No one turned it in and I’m missing those gloves now. I had those liners forever! They help manage my Reynaud’s all throughout the year. The replacements just don’t cut it. Letting it go…we had a delicious meal at Al Crostino, an Italian restaurant near the Black Cat, where we danced to 80’s music for three hours despite spraining my middle toe earlier that day. This was a great workout; even though our knees hurt the next day.

WC Mainstay Cocktail_The Canopy_AIE

Starting our night with the WC Mainstay Cocktail @ The Canopy — finally finding this perfect “marzipan-like” cocktail.

The DC Wharf Pier_AIE

The pier looks pretty in the snow & with footprints. Notice the swings.

Wharf Intercontinental Hotel_AIE

Room at Intercontinental Hotel, DC District Wharf next morning with sunshine

This included breakfast in the hotel at Kith & Kin the next morning as we awoke to sunshine and all the snow melted. We had just eaten at Kith & Kin for brunch with Piers & Libby to try it during restaurant week the week before. It was wonderful. The hotel breakfast was OK in comparison. It’s nice to see this restaurant doing so well. These selections below come from their lunch menu that you can get during brunch time.

Brunch Brussel Sprouts Kith-Kin DC restaurant wk_AIE

Brunch Brussel Sprouts Suya to start @ Kith & Kin during Restaurant Week

My actual birthday was celebrated with my Book Group during a Mardi Gras party, which I coincidentally host every year. This included a table setting for the theme, homemade shrimp remoulade from Brennan’s, Louisiana chicken and a Creole vegetable side dish with lima beans. Dessert was the real deal, half lemon-chocolate doberge cake from Gambinos — the best and a delectable, local King Cake from Best Buns!

Best Buns King Cake_AIE Mardi Gras BkGrp dinner_AIE Gambinos Doberge Birthday Cake_AIE

These were all the good things that happened surrounding my birthday. Soon after and out of the blue one my large maroon clownfish got sick with a “clown fish disease” that I first noticed with some whitish discoloration on his snout. The research I did proved true that by the time I noticed this it would be too late to treat him. More importantly I needed to concentrate preventing the other fish from contracting it. I had to treat the tank for 21 days with Para-guard, an anti-protozoa medication that could kill all the invertebrates. I had to remove my 7 year-old hermit crab, the only one left, into a specimen tank. Fortunately, he was OK for this long in a new environment. There hasn’t been another outbreak and my two remaining fish appear happy, as does the crab to be finally back in the tank.

7 year old clownfish_AIE

7 year old clownfish. Wish I had taken a picture of him while alive.


1 Clownfish & Christmas Wrasse + Hermit Crab remain

Now we’re back to where I started because that same week my database was damaged and I’ve been doing search, recovery and tedious cleanup ever since. I’m entrenched in digital files as weeds. My hope is my filing system will emerge more streamlined after this. For the amount of time this blog takes, which I enjoy doing, it has taken too much time away from actual work-related necessities. I’ve decided to be more sporadic in my posting. I have so many things that I want and hope to post about but this may be less than once a month if that. My readership isn’t what it used to be and I’m questioning the effort.

Here’s where the butterflies come in. I believe in transformation, as symbolically represented by the butterfly. Mantra, the France-based artist, uses his exceptional trompe l’oeil talents to paint large-scale butterflies as murals to show the transformation of the place that occurs where they are painted. He leaves these public sites more beautiful than when he began. I really love his work! It seems appropriate to break the 10-year, non-stop AIE blog post run (this being the 780th post) with these beautiful specimens that I couldn’t find more inspirational.

I consider this a transformative period where efforts can be better spent on furthering to increase Casart Coverings, as European production is beginning and some new designs will follow in the spring. Meanwhile, please know that I’m always looking and observing that Art Is Everywhere and hope to share those posts with you when I can. They just won’t be as regular as they have been in the past.

Gorgeous Mantra butterfly mural_AIE

All Mantra butterfly images via Colossal

Mantra anamorphic butterfly_AIE

Even his anamorphic butterfly looks real

More lovely specimens by Mantra_AIE

More lovely specimens

Detail More lovely specimens by Mantra_AIE

Mantra breaks butterfly specimen box boundaries_AIE

This one breaks its specimen box boundaries

Mantra Blue Morpho butterflies_AIE

I’ll leave you with this one. The Blue Morpho, as you may guess, is my favorite.

Here’s an updated post from DesignBoom on Mantra’s work, which is phenomenal and more images from Jason Kottke blog post.

Mantra huge butterfly mural 1_AIE

Mantra’s huge butterfly mural via Jason Kottke post

Mantra huge butterfly mural 2_AIE

Mantra’s huge butterfly mural via Jason Kottke post

If you’d like to see more highly realistic and detailed, nature-oriented murals, see the casartblog posts featuring the exceptionally talented artwork of Jane Kim and when she used Casart removable wallcoverings in the process of painting the world’s largest and only Wall of Birds mural for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The mural shows the evolution of the world’s birds from a scientifically illustrated orientation.

An Airlie Way to Experience Winter

Recently, I had the pleasure of experiencing winter the way it should be experienced, relaxing during a bucolic getway at Airlie in Warrenton, VA. The funny thing is it was a bit of an accident.

I booked an Amarone wine tasting for my husband for his birthday, The American Wine Society tasting was at one of our favorite Virginia vineyards at Pearmund. It was on Sunday before Monday’s Martin Luther King holiday. We accidentally booked the hotel reservation at Airlie for Saturday night. We showed up at the winery wondering where everyone was. Oops! Fortunately for us Airlie was right down the road and it was their winter rates. We booked another night and were able to fully enjoy a long weekend getaway, when it was 2 degrees below freezing. Here are some pics from the weekend.

Airlie's main mansion_Art Is Everywhere

The main Airlie House / checkin area

Love is in the air at Airlie and on the hillside_AIE

Love is in the air and on the hillside

Bucolic Airlie vistas_AIE

Topiary Love Knot Garden_AIE

Topiary Love Knot Garden

Main Airlie Dining Room_AIE

Airlie’s Main Beautiful Dining Room.

We only ate breakfast in the main dining room. It was a glorious setting with morning light streaming in and Louis Prima and Frank Sinatra seranading us. The majority of this space was reserved other times for two wedding parties while we were there.

Instead, we headed down the side steps to Harry’s, where we ate at least four delectibal meals. I’m still craving the juicy seared pork chop with sweet potato puree and delicious brussell sprouts. I wish I had taken a picture.

Mural walk to Harry's at Airlie_AIE

Mural walk to Harry’s

Airlie Mural walk 2_AIE

Grisaille Airlie Mural detail_AIE

Grisaille detail

Trompe l'oeil Airlie Mural detail_AIE

Trompe l’oeil detail

Reward: many rounds of their Boulevardier and Manhattan Slings in tribute to non-prohibition days_AIE

Reward: many rounds of their Manhattan Slings in tribute to non-prohibition days

Harry’s is names after Harry Connelly Groome, the original owner of Airlie.

Just outside the bar doors is a lovely pond and fountain. Most of it was frozen except at the center. We saw geese crossing over to where they could swim.

Signs at Airlie guide you_AIE

Signs guide you

Main Airlie pond and fountain_AIE

Main pond and fountain

Geese cross the Airlie Pond_AIE

weddings at Airlie on Art Is Everywhere

Weddings galore

Our Airlie Lodge on Art Is Everywhere

Our Lodge

Lobby in Airlie Lodge on Art Is Everywhere

Lobby in Lodge

There are many things to do at Airlie, including a lot of weddings. There were two different wedding parties while we were there.

You can enjoy a firepit with friends, play archery (in warmer months), walk the many paths, take bikes to other cottages to workout or play pool. We rode bikes to these and their organic farm. It was frigid and I couldn’t feel my face much less my fringers in the 2-degree below cold. I wouldn’t advice riding in this extreme cold but it was a fun adventure.

And check out the interactive map.

Airlie Firepit in the round on Art Is Everywhere

Firepit in the round

Many pathways to meander on Art Is Everywhere

Many pathways to meander

Airlie Bikes & Cottages on Art Is Everywhere

Bikes & Cottages

Biking the Airlie property_Art Is Everywhere

Biking the property

Airlie's Organic Farm on Art Is Everywhere

Airlie’s Organic Farm

You can reserve an organic dinner with friends in the garden and under the stars. How romantic and memorable it would be! The uncanny thing is this is the very dinner I’ve been wanting to do through Vermilion, one of our favorite restaurants. Airlie is one of the farms that provides their produce and where you can book a farm to table dining experience.

Airlie Organic Farm Table Experience on Art Is Everywhere

Organic Farm Table Experience

Airlie Organic Dining under the stars_AIE

Under the Stars

We had so much fun relaxing at Airlie that we were starting to feel transported with the sensation of being back at Sewanee, sitting on the porch, watching the shadows shift as time just drifted by. I caught up on some journal writing.

Beautiful Airlie Panorama_AIE

Beautiful Panorama

However, I neglected to take pictures of the wine tasting but you can read more about our previous experiences at Pearmund. Tomassi is a brand that usually never disappoints and we were happy to have it at the tasting. What a Airlie way to experience winter and a wonderful birthday celebration.

Love the Sunset on Art Is Everywhere

Love the Sunset (literally)