Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Just Stella: Because She Can

The other day I walked into the living room and I heard RK talking to Stella Marie, while he was petting her,

'i just can't believe you're this little animal, that I'm petting, and you're this little animal that lives in our house and sleeps in our bed...'

And later that night, our friend Kevin started saying the same thing, to her, to us,
'isn't it funny?  she's just this little animal living in your house...' 

I think it feels 'funny' because Stella is not just a dog.  She's part fox and she's part faun and she's 100% incredible.  The way she looks at you, the way she sighs deep sighs as she's trying to fall asleep, the ways she inches her way up the bed so she's nose to nose with you by the time you wake up in the morning (but you never heard her jump up there in the first place!), she's a little niji the way she scoots from room to room, and the way she melts into your lap but can raise an ear at the slightest whistle sound.

I wish I could read her mind. 

So, in the meantime, my friend Renee gave me and I'm reading this:

It's the least I can do for Stella.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Morning Mine

I think one of the big tasks of being self-employed, working for yourself, is focus.
And not the lack of kind neither.
It's to focus on one thing at a time because, now that all my time is my own, I have a list as long as my whole body, things that need to get done and everything feels like a priority.
Yes, even watering the plants and taking out the compost.
Because, here's the thing:  I MAKE UP MY DAY!  It's such an amazing feeling.  It's liberating and scary as hell.  But I get to decide if it's time to water the plants, because I'm home and this is what I wanted my life to be like:  I wanted there to be time for botany in my week.

Stella had a sleep-over weekend at our house with EmmyLou.  Her favorite dog.

And I wanted there to be time for Stella. And while RK and I are sharing the many daytime dog walks, I do appreciate when I actually get to take the time to do a full park run.  

So, Monday, my first real day of my new chapter of life, was so super fulfilling.  We both spent the whole day working.  But we ate three delicious meals together.  And we ended our work day at about six with a big-ole-balcony-summer-solstice celebration (read: fire escape, but for as long as I've lived in cities, I've referred to it as my 'balcony').

 Stella joined us, of course.

And I'm thinking, finally, that this is the way to live life to it's fullest.

*a little post script shout out to so many bloggers who's lives, via blog, I find so very inspiring! to those of you doing what you've always dreamed, living the life, whether you know it or not, thank you*

Monday, June 28, 2010

Mondays Can Feel Good, too

An elderly couple walked into the lobby of the Mayo Clinic for a checkup and spotted a piano. 
They've been married for 62 years and he'll be 90 this year.

I've always been a fan of much older people, "elderly" as they're known in our society. There's something about their charm and their ability to regale me with stories of a time I wish I'd lived in and their ability to see right through someone's malarkey. The elderly of our time can remember when there were no t.v.'s, so the card and board games and just plain ole talking were the entertainment of the day.  Long before the checked out communication of email, twitter, and facebook, they just know about talking and talking to communicate.  They have some crazy wisdom about certain things.  And, other just have some plain ole crazy.

I used to hang out in Father Demo Square "with all the old ladies" (as my friends would say to me) before it was all fancy and renovated and fountain-y and long before September 11th, 2001, a day that seemed to scatter everyone as much as the gentrification of the square did.
My neighbor, V., introduced me to all the local bench-sitters:   The sisters, Marion and Marianne, who grew up around the corner and never moved out;   Annie who gave me her pearl necklace to fix because she heard I was in the "biznezz"; Tony's wife and her friends who told me things were much better when the Mafia ran the neighborhood;  and Tina, who dressed like everyday was sunday-go-to-meetin'.  She was also V's best friend, so the three of us were quite a team.  I started calling Tina "T" pretty early on, 'cuz it seemed to fit.  And then V, who'd called her Tina for about 60 years, started in with it too and it stuck.  One weekend, V, and T and I headed down to South Street Seaport and had ourselves a real blast.  I'd never been there been there before.  And I've never been since.

I grew to know these women as young people in this crazy, divided city:  Irish over there, Italians over there, unless you were dating someone from the other side.  They had strict parents and yet from a very young age were allowed to run for milk six blocks away.  It was a city, after all.  They'd regale me with stories of what each and every store front used to be on Carmine Street, on Bleecker Street, and half way up 6th Avenue.  They could tell you who lived where, when and for how long and what happened to them.  I lived for these stories.   I'm fascinated by the past and I listened for hours.

Much to my chagrin, I never found that here in SF.
It's strange, but there doesn't seem to be quite the same emphisis on an older community here.  They don't come out and sit on their porches in a tanktop and people-watch.  They don't all occupy the same bench at Dolores Park.  They're not hanging out in front of the local bodega calling out everyone's name.  Wow, I miss that.

Now that my time is my own, I'm thinking about volunteering at an elderly home and what I'd love to do for them is read-aloud.
But, I think my real motivation is to hear them instead.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Truck on up to Truckee

I'm always ready for a little down-home fun. And, this summer, my sister Lisa is serving it up at Truckee Thursdays.  She's bringing her right-hand man, her daughter S., to work the room and help her have a smooth selling experience, of course.

During the majority of the year, my sis and her family are flying down the slopes of Tahoe. Then, they spend the summer on their bikes, rollerblades, or in a local pool.  But this summer, for the first time, Lisa has signed up to do Truckee Thursdays.

I love that the talent pool of my family is fairly endless.  Just when one of them thinks up a new idea for a business, they get it out there into the world.  Lisa has been sewing for years and has recently been getting into these beautiful fabrics and creating these awesome bags.  I recently sported Stella in one of them...
Her talent blows me away.
She rocks the sewing machine like it's a third arm.

Monday, June 21, 2010


Ladies and Gentlemen, the end of one era begins another...

Monday, June 14, 2010

Friday, June 11, 2010

Stella is mos def the cream of our crop.  While not exactly the fruit of our loins, she still feels like our one and only child.  RK sent me photos today that he'd taken of Stella for a neighborhood 'cute dog' contest and when I saw them, my stomach got butterflies.  True Love.

So, a week ago, when she had a near-death experience, I nearly died myself.
We bought a huge-mongous, old, 70-pound mirror at a garage sale a couple weeks ago.  It took us awhile to put it up because it was so unruly and we wanted to make sure we got it right.  There was another, smaller mirror hanging on the wall above the piano and we decided it would look amazing up there and switched them out.  We definitely struggled a bit to make it work:  the wall wouldn't hold, at first we hit a post of some kind behind the sheetrock, we moved the hook higher and higher, not loving it but decided it would be safest.  It was a hard play to get it up there, as we stretched our bodies across the piano, RK holding this ridiculously heavy thing and me, reaching for the hook on the wall.  But all this was nothing, compared to the moment the damn thing came crashing down.

Stella plays on a little rug below the piano.  It's the only rug we have in the whole house and it's where it is because a couple of years ago the beautiful wood floors were terribly damaged in a flood from the upstairs apartment and now warp upwards.  But Stella doesn't know that.  She just knows that it's the one place where she can safely roll around and play with her toys without slipping on the non-grippy wood floors.

This was Stella on that morning:

and this was that same area, about two hours later:

Sick. Sick. Sick.  When we came running from the other room, I could barely believe my eyes.  Stella had escaped it, but just barely.  She was sitting across the room, shaking, crying.  It was just horrific.  When the mirror went, it pulled down everything on, near, or even hanging-by with it.  We lost some things that, in the past, had seemed special to us, but none of it was even a blip of importance at that moment as long as we had Stella.

Dang, this animal-attachment thing is intense.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

"The arts are not a way to make a living.  They are a very human way of making life more bearable.  Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake.  Sing in the shower.  Dance to the radio.  Tell stories.  Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem.  Do it as well as you possibly can.  You will get an enormous reward.  You will have created some thing."  
Kurt Vonnegut 

An excellent quote cribbed from the super-great Anthology, a very cool shop that carries 8mmideas.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

NSS: 'round the bend...

I met some really cool peeps at the NSS this year--

Christopher was one of these people, a newbie even, with his company WildPulp.  This was his introduction to the world of the NY Gift Show, and the weirdness that is the Javitz Center.  He blew the people away with his cool card designs using nature at its best.

He actually builds these nests... I'm a bit of a nest addict (if you can be one w/out actually owning any), so these were right up my alley.

Another great meet were the girls from Two Trick Pony.  Not only were they nice, funny, and I love, love, love their work, but they did a sweet round up of their show neighbors and included some cool photos from the booth of moi! 

We traded pencils and postcards and had a good giggle at the schleping of the show world and the funny stuff it brings.

And then I met my possible parallel universe friend:  Blue Barnhouse.  He just doesn't know it yet.  Carina (--also big news and very exciting! Carina is my new rep from Crow & Canary!--) took me over to the Blue Barnhouse booth and I immediately jumped into the card bins and started digging.  I love their designs.  They're hysterical, totally great for any occasion, and wildly out there.
But it was his attitude, his cool demeanor, and this particular blog post that really made me think we should have side by side booths next year at the show.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

might COULD be right

When something comes to my attention, I'm a pretty big 'well, yeah, i think it could be this or it could be that...' or  'it might be that, but it might be this...'  kinda person.  Especially when I'm not an expert on the topic.  (I'm an expert on very few to almost no topics)  It's not a wishy-washy stance, it's a giving-room-to-the-possibility-of-the-unknown stance.

And yet, I seem to know a number of  people lately that are 'absolutely sure that it's this, NOT that' or 'for definitely, it's gotta be that and not this' or that 'Things can only happen this way'.  But how do you know?! I want to cry out.  You, too, are not an expert on this topic.  You only know the tiny bit of information given and you are declaring an absolute!

Once this definitive statement is laid down, I find there's no longer room for any more discussion and it pretty much closes the whole thing down.  I feel like saying, 'work with me on this one, we may come up with just the right answer for everyone here.'

Or, maybe, to each his own relative freakout and leave it at that.

Monday, June 7, 2010

App-tly Named

I don't own an iphone.
I never thought I wanted one.

But then, turns out, everyone around me has one.  And they started doing things on them.  Like taking photos.  Good photos (hell, Harper Collins has published a book of iphone photos!).  And instant messaging with a real keyboard.  And finding maps.  And looking at the internet.  And singing like T-Pain.  And holding the thing up in the air when they hear a song they like and want to know what it is (i swear to dog, this is a real thing that can happen nowdays).  A popular name for many of these cool things is "Apps".

Turns out, apps aren't for everyone.
Meaning:  some of these rad things exist ONLY to work on an iphone.
This, to me, seems downright cruel.

My friend, Renee Z., writes a weekly column that I love but it happens to be in one of these so-called "apps".  In an on-line place called Swakker CafĂ©, which is available by downloading Swakker Chat at the iTunes App Store, you can find Renee's column and gather the juice (and some seriously fantastic opinion!) on the world of gossip, pop culture, and what the heck is happening out there in the world.

I don't see myself getting an iphone, ipad, or much else in the way of new technology any time soon, but...
lucky for me,  she throws me a bone every once in awhile.

The Real Circus Sideshow of New York City
Monday, May 24, 2010 - 7:53pm — Renee Z.

Have you ever seen the movie “Freaks?” It’s a horror movie from the 1930s about circus sideshow performers. The movie caused a lot of controversy when it was made; the director cast real people with deformities as the sideshow performers instead of just using makeup on regular actors. This horrified audiences, evidently. But while the movie was received poorly at the time and even banned for 30 years in the UK, it made a huge comeback in the 1970s and 1980s and has become a cult favorite, so much so that lines from the film appear in TV shows, pop songs, comic books, and other media. People just love watching the conjoined twins and the legless man on screen now. I mean, what’s more entertaining than watching someone suffering from “bird-headed dwarfism” dance on a table, right? It’s gross – not the film, but the fact that people love to watch it. You know what else people love to watch? Reality TV.

Before I get into my rant, let me first say that I am not comparing a set of conjoined twins to the cast of “Jersey Shore.” The former was born with a physical disability whereas the latter chose tanning over school and drinking over everything else. While it might warrant discussion that we pay people to flaunt their stupidity, that’s a separate issue. Rather, I am reminded of “Freaks” by the seeming psychotic split Kelly Bensimon suffered on last week’s episode of “The Real Housewives of New York City.” A few columns ago, I suggested that people stop watching “The Housewives.” I won’t get into my reasons again (you can read the column, “When Girls Attack,” in the archives), but in case you read that one, I want you to know that I did stop watching it. I removed all “The Housewives” from my DVR queue. Yeah, yeah, I used to record them. All of them. Orange County, New York, New Jersey, Atlanta: it was coast to coast, beautiful madness, people. But I quit them all, and I was doing just fine living my life without Ramona, Tamra, NeNe, and the rest -- until Friday morning, when I woke to find the internet ablaze with “Did Housewife Kelly Have a Breakdown on TV?!” and “Kelly Bensimon Unravels On ‘The Housewives!’” and “OMG KELLY IS ONE CRAZY B**CH!” I’m not a hypocrite, so I didn’t watch the actual episode. But I watched a few clips on the internet, and my first reaction was, “OMG Kelly is one crazy b**ch!” And I’m not talking crazy as in the mixture of narcissistic personality and diet pill dependence with which all The Housewives seem afflicted. No, no. I’m talking crazy as in mentally ill and needs medical attention. To wit, a number of times during dinner, Kelly accused Bethenny of trying to kill her. She wasn’t being figurative, like, “Oh you’re trying to kill me with your nonsense.“ She thinks Bethenny is literally trying to kill her. So there we have paranoid delusions. Even more telling was her inability to carry on a conversation in any logical way. When Bethenny responded to Kelly’s accusation with “Nobody knows what you are talking about,” Kelly came back with, “Okay. Satchels of gold.” Satchels. Of. Gold? Right. Later, when Bethenny told Kelly that she was ready to listen, that she was ready to “hear the truth,” Kelly screamed back, “Al Sharpton! Oh my God, Al Sharpton!” Now, look, I love a good Sharpton shout-out as much as the next girl, but, um, WTF? In addition to the paranoid delusions and the cryptic crazy talk, Kelly also cried, screamed, laughed, and skipped – all in a 2 minute period. All I’m trying to say here is, the woman seemed unstable to me, and I really don’t think she’s a good enough actress to make that crazy up.

I realize I’m making fun, and I shouldn’t be, since my point is that it’s not really funny. The woman does seem to be unraveling, and someone – or a whole network of people – has decided the best thing to do is film it. It’s like the old Sam Kinison bit. If you don’t know who Sam Kinison is, he’s a comedian. Well, he was. He’s a dead comedian now. He’s been dead for a while. But when he was alive, on his first appearance on David Letterman, he did a six minute bit in which he made a joke about the TV commercials that ask you to donate money to feed starving children. He said, “I see the same commercials, these little kids out there, hungry. I watch this on TV at home and I go, ‘How sad. How cruel!’ Because I know the film crew could give this kid a sandwich.” Ha ha ha, right?! He has a point. Are the people at Bravo at all concerned about KBen? Because I am. And it isn’t only Kelly whom I worry is being exploited in a “Freaks” sort of way. There are Heidi and Lindsay, too. These women are losing their minds, for real, and people are profiting from it -- without trying to help. It’s one thing to enjoy watching people act like fools (I’m talking about YOU, “Jersey Shore” cast). It’s another thing to televise someone’s descent into mental illness for no reason but fun and profit. No one is getting anything else out of this. The women aren’t getting help, and we aren’t gaining any insight into mental illness. It’s just a freak show. And I’m not even blaming those of you, (okay, fine, of us) who watch the stuff out of curiosity. It’s human nature to be drawn to oddities. But when I see that someone is actually unwell or mutiliating her body or drugging herself to death, I have to wonder why it’s being broadcast. And I have to wonder if I am making it worse by contributing to the profit being made from the exploitation.

Look, maybe Kelly isn’t crazy. Her response to the horror over her behavior was to say that the editing made her look crazy and it makes for good TV. Both of those things are probably true to different extents. But then she also said that she is important to the show because she brings a “stagnant, frenetic energy” to the cast. I’m going to cut her a break on that word jumble, though, and chalk it up to the fact that she skipped a few vocab lessons rather than to the whole crazy thing. And maybe I am underestimating her; maybe she is a talented actress who doesn’t care about her image. I’m skeptical. I think she’s unwell. But regardless of the undetermined diagnosis for Ms. Bensimon, I know that we seem to be growing dangerously desensitized to reality TV’s lack of mercy.

One thing about the film “Freaks,” which is ironic at best and tragic at worst, is that the real moral of its story was pro-freak. In the movie, the “freaks” are portrayed as trusting and honorable people. The villains, who are the only two “normal” members of the circus sideshow business, try to murder one of the “freaks” to steal his inheritance. While the message is lost on most of the people who watch the movie simply to marvel at the cast, it is eerily relevant now. If Kelly isn’t sick, great. I hope she isn’t. But Heidi is. And Lindsay is. And I know someone in the camera crew could give those kids a sandwich.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Le French General Cinema

My sister, Kaari, recently came out with two new books, but now my brother-in-law (and one half of F.G.)  just posted some videos in the vein "the making of...", which makes me feel like I'm in  E!True Hollywood Story (nearly the whole family is involved in the making of these books, one way or another) minus the drama! 

Kaari and I have worked on a number of these projects together over the years and we always have such a great laugh while working together.  Treasured Notions was three days in a basement in the middle of summer, but it was a blast.

And then I did a lot of the styling on the entertaining book, which when we weren't making sure the cheese was facing the right way and everyone in our family was dressed appropriately, well, we were all laughing, again.

It's really what gets you through the big projects. 

Besides, no one in my family goes long without cracking a joke or calling a wine break!

If anyone cares to join us on one of these adventures, you still have a chance: In about four weeks, we're headed off to France with a group of women to live life like a Frenchman (or woman, actually). There's still a few spots left for the first week of the trip, details found here and here.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Neighborhood Cont.

Like any good business, there need to be business cards.

The originals are made with color pens and really fun and poppy.  I was sad when I realized we'd have to copy them in b&w.  Turns out, they're that much cooler.  Very Style Moderne.

And then to take a closer look at some of the beauties...

(a little challenge *)

(dolores park, not dolore s'park)

(yes, H. built MY apartment, but Stella is the only reason she chose it)

*give up? Police Station