Friday, August 27, 2010

A rose is a rose...

...but "rose," as a color, comes in many variations depending on who you are and the culture in which you live. Much of color description is subjective. By definition, color is "the quality of an object or substance with respect to light reflected by the object, usually determined visually by measurement of hue, saturation, and brightness of the reflected light; saturation or chroma." ( In other words, pure white light is composed of an infinite spectrum of visible colors, though we only see a small percentage of them. The surfaces of all objects reflect some light wavelengths and absorb all the others. We perceive color when those reflected wavelengths reach the light receptors within our eyes and a message is transmitted to our brains. This working of the eye and brain together creates what we experience as color. (  

Because the human brain is such a complex entanglement of memories, sensory and physical experiences, cultural interpretations, emotions, and thought processes, perception of color becomes more than mere recording of incoming light waves. Each person will "see" a color differently based on this meshing of physical stimuli (light) and the stored information the brain uses for interpretation. Many of us are familiar with the basic hues of the color wheel, that rainbow-like, circular progression of colors that represents primary, secondary colors, and tertiary colors. We can thank Sir Isaac Newton for this neat diagram which he created in 1666. "The renowned English scientist was 23 years old at the time. He was made to stay home from Cambridge University for over a year because the plague that was sweeping Europe had closed it down. It was during this period that Newton performed his famous spectrum experiments. To alleviate the boredom of quarantine, he punched holes in the curtains of his darkened room to study the effects of light passing through a prism. The light separated into the same progression of colors found in the natural rainbow." (

Courtesy of the University of Minnesota
Once we go beyond the basic colors we all learned in Art 101, naming and classifying gets a little more complicated...and interesting. Colors start to become associated with our emotions, cultural traditions, and physical surroundings, lending another hand in how we define certain hues. Nature has inspired many of our color names. With flowers, birds, and gems for inspiration, we get colors such as cardinal, daffodil, chestnut, sand, lavender, rose, eggshell, violet, emerald, fern, flamingo pink, lilac, goldenrod, mint green, copper, ruby, sapphire, straw, turquoise, and robin's egg blue. Considering how important food is to human societies, it is no surprise that a large number of colors are associated with our favorite foods: almond, pumpkin, lime green, lemon yellow, orange, apple green, banana, persimmon, cherry red, candy apple red, watermelon, bubble gum, cinnamon, maize, cotton candy, cream, chocolate brown, olive green, raspberry, tangerine, saffron, eggplant, honeydew, mustard, pistachio, plum, and vanilla. (Are you getting hungry yet?) 

Although some colors are generally agreed upon, finer distinctions of shade and exact hue vary widely from person to person. There isn't any standardization of color naming; even if there was, it would be difficult to tell exactly what color someone meant if he or she named a color because each person's brain interprets those light wavelengths differently. If I said an object was red, you might have a general understanding of what color I was talking about, but you might picture fire engine red while I was thinking of brick red. Some color names have been used interchangeably even though there are slight differences in hue. For example, aqua, aquamarine, cyan, turquoise, blue-green, green-blue, and verdigris are often used to describe some type of cross between blue and green. And lest you think that white and black are pretty safe to describe, keep in mind that even these "non-colors" can march subtly into the color spectrum. White might be antique white, champagne, eggshell, ivory, lavender blush, light goldenrod, linen, magnolia, or snow white; black could be charcoal, ebony, smoke, onyx, or jet black. It's all literally in the eye of the beholder. If any of you remember the 1948 Cary Grant and Myrna Loy movie, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, you might recall this famous scene about paint colors that humorously illustrates how our views of color can cause a disconnect:

The list of colors in the English language alone is quite extensive. Some are very familiar, some are less common, and some are downright obscure. You may have heard of citrine, ochre, aubergine, azure, claret, and celadon, but could you point to something fulvous or piceous in color? Well, I admit I couldn't do so before I wrote this blog post! Let's explore a few unusual color names by means of a little matching game. Listed below are some colors that you may or may not recognize, followed by pictures of items made by members of the BBEST team. Try matching the color name with the item that most closely resembles that color...or take a best guess. Good luck!

1. fulvous
2. piceous
3. alizarin
4. viridian
5. vinaceous
6. smalt
7. aureate
8. heliotrope
9. rufous
10. argent

A. Hummingbird On The Fly Pendant by Hemlock Hollow Creations
B. Burgundy Purple Ruffle Crochet Scarf by Blazing Needles

C. Textured Golden Vessel by Artsielady
D. Handmade Lapis Lazuli Sterling Silver Earrings by Night Sky Jewelry
E. Purple and Sterling Pendant by Anna's Jewelry
F. Copper Splash Fused Glass Pendant by Chauncey Design
G. Shopaholic Dangle Earrings by Fantasy Creations 1
H. Rust and Red Velvet Scarf by Althea Peregrine
I. Fine Viscose Felt by Sassa Lynne
J. Whisper Soft Scarf in Lime with Multicolor Highlights by JN Originals

To explore more about color theory, here are some helpful resources:

Answers to the matching game will be published in the comments in a few days.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Car, the DMV, and the Trip

The banana bread was just coming out of the oven as I heard Sally’s car pull into the driveway! I set the loaf pans on the range top and hurried to the door.

“Sally,” I greeted. “Come in. I have so much to tell you.”

“Mmmmm! What is that wonderful smell?” asked Sally.

“That’s banana bread, made from my Grandma’s favorite recipe,” I replied. “And, we will have some just as soon as it cools a bit.”

“Can’t wait,” Sally said, licking her lips. “But, what is it you want to tell me?”

“Well,” I said. “First, you know my Mom is 92 and will soon be 93. Her neighbor had a car for sale, and she thought that might be a good car for our daughter, who lives in Florida and has had quite a few repairs to her current car in the past several months. So, she made arrangements to get the car. She got the title from the owner, and she and my sister went to the Department of Motor Vehicles since my sis was already there with her that day. It wasn’t long before my sister phoned me and said they had hit a snag.”

“What was it?” asked Sally.

“You remember a year ago our Mom had hip replacement surgery, and before that she had sold her car. Of course, she cancelled the insurance at the same time. So, when she went to apply for a new title, the DMV completed that form, and she only needed to get the license plate. However, the DMV would not issue it because she had no insurance. She called her agent, and found much to her dismay that she could not get car insurance because of her age.”

“That’s a bummer,” Sally said. “And a lesson for all of us, too. When we get older, we need to be certain our premiums are paid on time and that we don’t try to switch insurance companies. We don’t want to take a chance on not being able to get car insurance and not be able to drive as long as we want to and are able. Is there an age limit?” Sally asked.

“Our mom’s agent said after a person gets to be 79, they can no longer get car insurance if they haven’t kept their insurance in force,” I answered.

“Well,” Sally went on. “What happened with getting the license plates? “

“My husband and I got in our car and went to Indianapolis. Mom and I went to the DMV as an employee there had told my sister that all we needed to do was come there, they would void that title application, and make a new one in my name, since we have car insurance, and issue the plate.”

“So, did that take care of it?” queried Sally.

“No, it didn’t! When we got there, the DMV employee said we would have to get an affidavit signed by the previous owner and a bill of sale made out to me. By this time, it was 4:25 p.m., and the DMV closes at 5:00 p.m. We called the neighbor, and fortunately he was home. He signed the papers, we jumped back in the car, and got to the DMV at 4:55 p.m. Everything went smoothly, I got the proper papers, a license plate, and we were on our way back to my Mom’s house. I then drove the car to Bloomington. The next day, we took the car out to do some errands. When we got home, my husband noticed an antifreeze smell. He looked under the hood and saw leaking around the radiator.”

“Oh my gosh,” cried Sally. “That’s all you needed!.”

“Yes,” I said. “And by now it was 4:50 p.m. on a Friday. I hurried inside and called the radiator shop and asked if they could please test it to see what the problem might be. They said they would wait for me. The shop owner opened the hood, looked at the radiator, and said, “See this here? There is a crack in the top of the radiator. Ninety-nine out of one hundred vehicles that come in here nowadays have a crack in this exact same place, ever since radiators started being made out of plastic instead of metal,” he explained.

“Here’s our problem,” I said to the shop owner. “My mom, our daughter, Jill, and I are planning to drive this car to Florida on Monday to our other daughter, Gina. Can you replace the radiator early on Monday?” I asked.

“Well, I don’t know,” he said. “I have a pretty full day already.”

“Oh, no, “ I said. “We already have our plane tickets to fly back on Wednesday. We had planned to leave on Sunday till this happened,” I said.

“Well,” he answered. “I might be able to have it ready by late afternoon.”

“Okay,” I sighed. “I really appreciate it, and will have it up here first thing Monday morning.”

“So, what did you do next?” asked Sally.

“First, I phoned Jill and told her we couldn’t leave on Sunday and it would be sometime Monday afternoon; then phoned and told my Mom the same thing; and then phoned Gina to tell her. And then I phoned the Travelocity folks to change our plane tickets from Wednesday to Thursday. Fortunately, that was within twenty-four hours after making the first reservations, and so there was no additional charge for the change.’

“That was lucky about the plane tickets, anyway,” Sally said. “Guess you never know when you buy a used car what might be wrong with it,” she continued.

“No,” I said. “You don’t. The neighbor thought the car was in good condition. And little did we know right then that wasn’t the end of the repairs!” I exclaimed. “The car was ready by noon on Monday, so we were able to leave about 1:35 p.m. My mom was the back seat driver, making sure that Jill and I were doing a good job! We drove until 1 a.m. and stopped for the night south of Atlanta. We had stopped every two hours to change drivers and stretch our legs. The next day we left about 8:45 a.m and got to Gina’s home in Florida about 7:45 p.m. We had even stopped and eaten inside a restaurant shortly after noon on Tuesday.”

“Not bad,” Sally commented. “So, was your daughter excited about the car?”

“Well,” I answered, “the first thing she said was that she smelled something burning. That wasn’t something we wanted to hear, but we felt the tire on the left rear, and it was much hotter than the others. We decided to go out to eat dinner, and as our daughter backed the car out of the parking space, we heard a scraping sound. It continued to get worse as we drove back home after eating. The next morning, off to Sears Auto Center we went to see what the problem was. It was the rear brakes! Pads were worn, calipers were sticking, and the rotors were burning up the pads. The brakes were replaced, and the car was ready by noon.”

“Well,” asked Sally. “Did having to do those repairs ruin your trip?”

“No,” I said. “Right after that we all went to the beach. My mom sat under the big umbrella, and there was a wonderful breeze, and she enjoyed watching the ocean. My daughters enjoyed the sunbathing, and Kayti and I played in the water and sand. It was a really good day. Then we went home, cleaned up, and went to the mall and the out to eat. After that, our daughter and her family had a birthday cake for my Mom and we all sang happy birthday since they won’t be in Indiana to celebrate in September. And we flew back to Indiana on Thursday.”

“Wow!” exclaimed Sally. “You had a whirlwind trip. Sounds as if your daughter will have a reliable car to drive and you won’t have to worry about her safety anymore.”

“You are right about that,” I said. “Now, how about some of that banana bread while we eye some ocean-related goodies created by my Boomers and Beyond friends.”

shells pixie supplies

backroom treasures

yankee girls sea spray

creators palette

van fleet street designs

herons treasures lobster and fish place cards

chris 1 fused glass sea shell

mystic silks painting

ever so dear earrings


fantasy creations anchor



“Breathtaking,” sighed Sally. “Absolutely breathtaking!”

"You will love the banana recipe, too," I smiled.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour loaf pan.

1 1/2 cups flour; 3/4 cup sugar; 2 eggs, beaten; 3-4 smashed bananas; 1/2 cup chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts); 1 tsp soda; 1/4 tsp baking powder; 1/4 cup shortenng; 1/4 tsp vanilla.

Mix eggs, sugar, shortening (I use canola oil or sometimes melted butter), vanilla (I usually use a teaspoon instead of 1/4 tsp) and bananas. Mix dry ingredients and stir into wet mixture. Add nuts (I increase mine to 1 cup because I love lots of nuts). Stir well. Put mixture into loaf pan. Bake for 45 minutes and check with toothpick inserted into center. Probably will still be wet in the middle. Bake for 15 more minutes, checking a couple of times if you wish. Usually takes mine 60 minutes to bake and pass the toothpick test!