Anything created

This is about the most normal-looking you'll find in Park Guell,  but it's a good representation of how beautiful a place it is.  May 2008

This is about the most normal-looking spot you’ll find in Park Güell,
but it’s a good representation of how beautiful a place it is. May 2008

“Anything created by human beings is already in the great book of nature.”
Antoni Gaudi

One year ago today I published a post that is one of my favorites, because it includes a link to a delightful PBS re-mix featuring Fred Rogers.  It’s all about how “you can grow ideas in the garden of your mind.”  When I went back to that post, I was reminded of Antoni Gaudi, whose mind must have been one of the most strangely fantastic gardens of all time.

I had never heard of Gaudi until we visited Barcelona, but seeing his work at various places in that city was an unforgettable experience.  In fact, our time at Park Güell stands out in my mind as one of the most wonderful memories in the two-week trip of a lifetime.  I’m not the first person who thinks immediately of Dr. Seuss when seeing Gaudi’s eccentric buildings; the similarities are fairly obvious.  Scholars have suggested that Gaudi was almost certainly an influence in Theodor Geisel’s whimiscal fantasy illustrations.

Imagine my surprise, then, to find that Gaudi was a devout ascetic who wanted to parallel divine creation by following natural  law.  He apparently thought of his creations as being based on earthly landscapes, where he perceived only curved lines. I suppose it makes sense from that standpoint, but a quick visual review of the beautifully odd works he created might give you an idea why I see his architecture as the most otherworldly constructions I’ve come across.  And their vibrant colors and elaborate designs are not remotely suggestive of the spare, abstemious existence he embraced in his personal life.

Very few professional artists, let alone amateurs, can hope to leave the sort of unique fingerprint Gaudi achieved, but that’s probably a good thing.  Regardless, we can be inspired by his singular vision, and cultivate our own gardens of ideas with which we can decorate our lives and our personal corners in the world.

Do you agree with Gaudi that all art (even his own whimsical work) has its source in nature?  What do you think of his creations?

One year ago today

The garden of your mind


  1. sarvjit

    I agree that nature is the best inspiration and teacher for anything that brings a smile on each face.

    • Thank you Sarvjit! I have to say, Gaudi’s works certainly bring many smiles to me and others.

  2. raynard

    Julia, going to the Philadelphia Show the last 9 years, its amazing how people are inspired y nature and everyday things around.To me, the secret to dreaming big dreams is expanding your mind and horizons .. That’s what I loved about going to the library and the field trips we took in grade school and joining the Army. I believe my wife has never been out of the country.It’s sad how 9/11 stop some people from “moving away from “their hometown”..As you might know now, the winter storm is starting this afternoon.( I already have, milk bread and soup and tea ).First road trip of the year is going to be to my dad’s house at the end of the month. He turns 77 this year so it will kinda/sorta a late surprise. be blessed

    • Raynard, does your Dad live in NYC? I hope this storm will just blow over without doing much. I am ready for the winter storms to be over! I love going to the library too, and that can be a great way to travel for people who are unable to go anywhere far away. To me a library is like an imaginary place with no boundaries. Stay warm and we’ll hope for less snow this time!

      • raynard

        He moved out of NYC back in 1995 to Western P.A and we go up there usually every Christmas. It’s about 5 hours from here.

        • That’s a long drive, but I bet it’s a pretty one. Lots of things to see along the way.

  3. michael

    I don’t know. I Iike the grandma’s cottage-Gaudi submarines with the Octopus. The buildings seem very busy to me and give a nervous feeling rather than the peaceful serenity of our Japanese garden-Kubota. I did like the Mosque design -however. Did you ever see the Hobbit house in Waimanalo -Hawaii, close to Bellows Air Force Base.? Have you seen EMP building in Seattle? Supposed to look like a smashed guitar via Jimmy Hendrix. There is not one straight piece of real estate in the building and the contractors hated it. I also like the NYC Guggenheim though I have never visited, though I have walked by it on way to the park. My son lives about a mile from it. It is on the Museum mile as you know.
    Time to go feed the fish now- if you know what I mean.

    • I can see where the buildings could create a sort of agitation in the mind, if nothing else because the lines are unexpected and leave me trying to figure out “what was he thinking?” Believe it or not, that’s not a mosque – it’s the Sagrada Familia, a Catholic basilica (Gaudi was a devout Catholic). I didn’t care for it at all, design or anything else, though many people consider it his masterpiece – one that he never even halfway finished despite devoting over 40 years to it! I had never heard of either the Hobbit House in Hawaii nor the EMP museum in Seattle, but I had fun looking at the photos online. I’d love to be able to photograph either of them in person! Although I can’t see the Hendrix guitar anywhere in the lines. I thought the Toronto museum was bizarre but it’s nothing compared to the EMP!

  4. Hello. I sing that little song about the garden of your mind all the time. I love that someone put that video together. I may have given you this link before,, it is for a castle in Colorado. It is free to the public and is really very beautiful. The man who built it has some odd ideas on freedom and government but if you ignore all that you can still admire his creation. He does believe in God and is quick to give Him the credit for the ideas that go into making the castle. If you are ever in CO you should stop by. The children used to like going there. Hope all is well. Stay warm for the next few days. Maybe spring is around the corner. 🙂 Love to your boys.

    • Hey Amy, I have the free Mp3 of that song, if you want it I can send you a copy. Believe it or not, you’ve never told me (us) about Bishop Castle before, but I went to the website and thought it looked very interesting. You did take me to high tea at Glen Eyrie, which I guess is when scones sort of become our tradition! We are certainly hoping the storm doesn’t turn out to be as bad as they are predicting. We are set to head back your way tomorrow but I don’t want to get caught in anything nasty (Jeff took tomorrow off). Today was lovely here in York Co.; 70 degree weather! Hope to see you soon. Stay warm til then.

  5. michael

    EMP- yea I am not sure where the lines are either for the broken guitar. They have a very cool sculpture inside -made of guitars that reacts to your body movements. Seattle also has an interesting outdoor sculpture park near the waterfront. You found a picture of the house in Waimanalo? I talked with my son -Mike in Atlanta and he said the movie Battleship has a bunch of scenes in and around Kailua.
    Heading to New York Thursday. Hope the weather slows down a bit. It snowed here yesterday.

    • Hi Michael, here are the images for the Hobbit House in Waimanaolo (apparently there are several places referred to as “Hobbit House” in the islands, but this supposedly is the one in Waimanalo Bay) – is this the one you are thinking of? I do hope it warms up before you head to NYC – I’d hate to think of trying to get in or out of there in bad weather. We had a big snow here today and drove 4 hours in it (between York and Alexandria) – thank goodness we got here safely but I’m not anxious to get back out in it!

  6. Interesting photo. Flowers can cheer up any space… even the dreariest room. 🙂

    • Yes, without the flowers it would have been much less appealing. The park is filled with colorful mosaics and that’s what I found most appealing, but since his quote referred to nature I thought the interesting garden structures were more fitting for that quote. It is surprising how much even a couple of blooms in a small bud vase will do to change the atmosphere of a room! I read that there is research to indicate that it has antidepressant effects.

  7. Another blogger did a series on the cathedral but I didn’t know his history. How interesting! Can’t imagine how his workers created them. Unimaginable!

    • It really does boggle the mind. That’s why I thought of him when I was listening to the song about “growing ideas in the garden of your mind.” I picture the garden in Gaudi’s brain as being more of an enormous tropical jungle with exotic flowers and plants everywhere! Yet he lived a very simple, sparse existence. I find that so interesting. I guess he put everything into his creations and needed someplace simple to escape to!

  8. michael

    Have you heard any of the Tobelowsky File pod-casts? He has one on creativity I think you might like. I thought Jeff was going to take a little time off? I could use a dentist now as we just lost our dental due to wife’s change in coverage status. Oh well.

    • I had not heard of him, but I looked up his podcasts and found one on creativity. I would need to download iTunes first before I could listen to it, then convert to an Mp3 file for my player. I need to download iTunes anyway to help Matt load up his new iPod, but who knows when I will get to that. I will try to remember to download it, though. I like podcasts.

      Jeff took one day off. That’s his idea of taking time off. Until he got cancer he never took even one sick day in nearly 30 years. The only times he missed work were for Matt’s open heart surgeries and hospitalizations. Now he feels as if he’s been out so much, even though he has worked full time around his chemo and surgeries. I think the work helps him keep going, though. Normalcy is so important to him, as I guess it is for all of us, but some more than others. Good luck with finding some good dental work. If you live near a dental school, that’s worth looking into. I got probably the best dental work I ever had from a senior student while Jeff was a sophomore in dental school. Because he was being graded on it, he took his time and did it right. It’s a HUGE filling on a molar (an MODF amalgam, if that means anything to you) and it’s still fine after 32 years of vigorous chewing on corn nuts and ice chips. Don’t believe dentists who tell you anything more than two surfaces needs to be crowned. My MODF is a huge 4-surface filling that’s never given me a minute’s trouble. I doubt a crown would have lasted me 32 years (though I do have reservations about the safety of dental amalgam, which Jeff says is perfectly safe — as if he would anything that contradicts the ADA)!

  9. michael

    I think you would like the podcast . Stephen Tobelowsky was the high school friend- Ned Ryerson? in Ground Hog Day and he is a well known character actor. Very entertaining and a bright guy.
    Thanks for dentist tip. I have a dentist friend in Anchorage, but that is a ways to go.
    Yea be careful with the ice chips. I do the same thing.
    That is the house and we would walk by it on way to Sherwood Forrest beach, where I used to Boogie board. It is close to the Base.

    • Hey, maybe you can take a trip to Anchorage and write it off as a medical expense! 🙂 Jeff has been warning me for years against using my teeth as an ice crusher, but so far I haven’t had any problems, though I shouldn’t keep pushing my luck. He became rather enamored of crushed ice himself during those horrible days when he was on the NG tube and could only have a spoonful of them once per hour. I’m so glad that is behind him.

  10. michael

    I don’t know how you found the images. I tried to find them a couple of times.
    There is a famous plate lunch place there around the corner -Kennekes. Did you ever go there?

    • No I never went to Kennekes; plate lunches and bentos were never among my favorite things about Hawaii. Waimanalo would probably have the best around, though. On Oahu, that’s sort of the Windward bastion of true Hawaiian culture. Hawaiian cuisine generally was not my thing – I’m not into eating meat much, and I never could manage to enjoy poi or spam musubi. BUT the hot malasadas at Leonard’s would almost be worth a trip back there all by themselves! Did you ever have any of those?

  11. LB

    I confess to not knowing anything about Gaudi, or that he was the one who imagined the Sagrada Familia, which I had heard of. I love that quote and I thank you for the link to his works. WOW … incredible

    • Thank you, LB. His works really are incredible – “must see to believe” whether in photos or real life. I’m surprised he is not more famous, because very few people I know have heard of him. I’m so happy you enjoyed the post!

  12. michael

    Never made it out to Leonards. My budget at the time was more Zippys. I kind of developed a taste for poi after a demonstration from a local on its use as a palette cleanser.
    I never got into the raw-poke stuff but enjoyed all the salty crack seed items.
    Pineapple was the favorite though and also Roselina’s ice creams- including the coconut cream which was heavenly. One friend also had a huge avocado tree with some awesome avocadoes, once a year.

    • Leonard’s isn’t fancy but oh, my! what a bakery. I just went to their web page and I’m not kidding, I thought I could suddenly smell those malasadas! I don’t usually like doughnuts but those were beyond good. I liked Zippy’s but one time Drew got sick after we ate there and he never wanted to go back. I remember President and Mrs. Clinton ate there when they came to Hawaii the first of many times, but I never heard about them ever going back. Did you ever go to Tanaka’s? That was my favorite restaurant in Hawaii. It’s like Benihana’s only we thought it was better. I used to get green tea ice cream for desert there. I have never seen it anywhere else.

      I do miss the pineapple most of all, probably. We have never had any as good since we left there. The best thing was you could buy a pineapple for a dollar and they would put it in the corer for free so you took home fresh pineapple rings with no mess whatsoever; we used to keep them in the fridge all the time. We had an avocado tree in our front yard, but since I don’t care for them, I never did anything with them. The next door neighbor asked if she could have them and I said sure. Next thing I knew she had a man come out and cut them all down – obviously she sold them which I don’t think was legal for base housing but once they were gone, what could anyone do? Tacky, but they moved away right after that so I guess she felt she had nothing to lose. I loved that tree anyway, because when it would rain, it made the most wonderful sound in the leaves, and the branches were all around our bedroom window. Of course, we could leave the windows open at night because it was never too hot or cold. The rain in that tree is another thing I really miss about Hawaii, along with all the rainbows.

  13. michael

    Tacky. Very Tacky. Yea the pineapple. But I don’t remember the corer process, or getting them for a dollar. A magic place indeed. I used to buy little orchid plants at the farmers market and keep them on our little Lanai. We had a wonderful view of Kaneohe bay including the marine base. Some of our neighbors were marines.
    Oh-I wanted to send you a picture of a cotton plant my son took. I think it is a weed, growing by a fence, but let me know. It is somewhere near Canton.

    • Michael, we got the for a dollar at the commissary; they probably cost more elsewhere. That’s also where the coring machine was (at Hickam Air Force Base) though my impression was that they had them many other places as well. Lucky you, to have a view of Kaneohe Bay. I think that was quite possibly the prettiest sight on Oahu, and that’s saying a lot. I remember the blues of Kaneohe being particularly dazzling, and something about the landscape of it was just very aesthetically pleasing. The Marines definitely got the best place for a base. Hey, I got an email from you with the cotton plant referred to, but there was no file attached. Can you re-send it?

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