Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Pumpkin Carving: An American Folk Tradition

It's almost Halloween and time for shaking off your inhibitions and carving a pumpkin or two. Our family has always made a night of it and every year we draft a few more people into this annual ritual.
 In my opinion, the best carvers are little kids. This is because they have not yet been subjected to the Martha Stuartization of American decor. Because of Martha, pumpkin carving has become a contest of who can do the most "professional" carving with subtle layers cut with surgical knives creating shading and intricate patterns.


What contemporary pumpkins need now is more personality and less virtuoso technique. 
Below are some of my favorites from over the years.

 George, the Nice Boy, by Ellie Wild-Works 2011.
The Barfing Pumpkin, by Sophie Wild-Works 2011
Thor, by Tucker Beasley, 2013
Pumpkin with Asymmetrical Ears, by Miranda Beasley, 2013
Pumpkin carving tools can be purchased at most drugstores. They are now including books of patterns to trace with the tools. Caution! Destroy these patterns before they can do more harm. 


Monday, October 14, 2013

My Favorite Time of Year

I'm sure many of you share my disgust with the activity or lack of it in Congress right now. Every morning I read the paper, get mad and then try to focus on something positive as an antidote. Fortunately, the trees in my neighborhood are putting on their annual fall show.
 Most mornings I pass this tree on my way to work, but I only notice it in the fall. A little bit south of this tree is Kubota Garden, a little known jewel in south Seattle just off of Renton Ave S and Norfolk.
Kubota Garden began as a labor of love for Fujitaro Kubota. In 1927 he bought 5 acres of swampland in Rainier Beach and increased it to 30 acres in 1930. Kubota Garden served as a cultural center for the Japanese community in Seattle as well as a home, office and nursery for his landscaping business. His work was well respected and his company designed and built the landscaping on the Seattle University campus and the Japanese Garden at the Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island. Then, during World War II, the garden was abandoned for 4 years as Mr. Kubota and his family were interned at Camp Minidoka in Idaho. 
After the war, his sons Tak and Tom rebuilt the business.  When I first moved to Rainier Beach in 1983, the garden was overgrown and neglected. Fortunately, the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board declared the core 4.5 acres to be a historic landmark for the City of Seattle and in 1987 the city bought the garden from the Kubota family. It has now been fully restored and is maintained by the Department of Parks and Recreation and volunteers from the Kubota Garden Foundation.
   Come visit Kubota Garden and enjoy the mature colorful plantings, bridges and fountains. It's open every day from dawn to dusk. Don't forget to bring your camera.