Thursday, January 31, 2008

Shared superstitions

Last night I stopped into our little local grocery store, where all the counter-persons are young and hip and the food is overpriced but organic. I love this little place, as much as I hate it. Here's an example of love:

I bought a few things,
he rang them up,
the total came to $6.66
we looked at each other and paused.
No money was exchanged, nor words.
He looked at me. I looked at him.
He made a sound like, 'uhhhhh' and turned back to the register.
A few buttons were punched and suddenly,
there was a new total up on the screen.
That bright red, scrawly, sorta creepy, 666 was gone.
The register read $5.92
I breathed a sigh of relief, and I think he did too.
Handing over my ten dollar bill, we smiled at each other
and I skipped home (without stepping on a crack, either).

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Beauty of Trees

And so she comes to dream herself a tree. --H. Crane

I am in love with trees. As far as I'm concerned, they can do no wrong. And yet, some serious wrong can come to them. I happened upon this story on kqed the other night and within the first two minutes, I started crying. It made me so sad to think that a tree that's been around for 500 years can succumb to something so small and yet so deadly.

So, it was interesting today when I drove to a new school, a whole new neighborhood, where I'll be teaching drama to four 2nd grade classes, and noticed the entire neighborhood is filled with great white oaks. I don't think these photos do any of them justice. They are miraculously more gorgeous than this, but I ask that you ponder just a little longer than normal and try and imagine their beauty, while taking in their majestic stance.

And next time you see a tree, give it a big ole hug. They respond well to positive reinforcement.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Beets to beat the drum

I'm so often inspired (though sometimes intimidated) by other blogs that write about what they've cooked that morning or baked for dinner and show these beautiful photos... and I think to myself, 'gads, I should be doing that!" And, I do!
I cook dinner every night and make most breakfasts and lunches for RK and I everyday, though I rarely (okay, never) have a camera with me to catch the moment in frozen color. I'm too busy trying to get everything together and have it all ready at the same exact moment: warm soup, cold salad, hot snasauges (yeah, I meant to spell it that way, we don't make meat at home)--usually four or five things that have to come together perfectly to make it all work. Ah, it's a rarity to have that kind of fusion, but I sure try.
So I've recently discovered the perfect food: Beets.
I could eat them for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The other night, I actually made beets with candied walnuts and blue cheese (and, no, I didn't have a camera to capture the magic)! So, I picked up beets again yesterday and found a recipe for the dirty greens on top, too! The beets are so easy: You chop off the green tops and wrap them in tinfoil and toss them in a 400~degree oven for about an hour. Pull 'em out, let them cool a bit, unwrap and just push the skin off. That's one of the most fun parts, actually, the skin just rolls right off and you have these perfect, beautiful, blood red beets ready to bite into. And, while they're cooking, it smells like candy thru-out the house. I love the way the beet dyes your hands and everything else it touches.
In the meantime, I ripped up the greens (after a really, really good washing) into little bits, as well as the stems and steamed them with olive oil, onions and garlic in a pan with a splash of water. They were excellent. Highly recommended.
Oh yes, and one more yummy winter food idea: Kale! Fold the kale leaves in half, like a book, and rip the stems out from the center. Toss with a little olive oil, lay down on a cookie pan and bake at 375~ for 5 mins. after that, turn the little leaves over and bake them for 7 mins. more and sprinkle sea salt over them. Kale chips! Amazing.
Okay, back to the kitchen...

Saturday, January 26, 2008

A Certain Destiny...coming up!

I'm really getting so excited for my show coming up on February 7th!! I've been having a blast in the studio (once the wave of nerves goes away and all intimidating thoughts are put out of my head, yes, it's been a blast). I'm listening to some crazy music on my headphones: everything from justin timberlake to travis and lots of fiona apple's extraordinary machine (have you seen the cover of that album? it's gorgeous)and some old etta james with just a dash of sinead o'connor. An eclectic, sorta bizarre, but curious mix to be sure. Much like A Certain Destiny, if you will. Hmmmmm...
Yeah, the show is really a curious one. It's all about relationships. The why, the how, the what of 'em. I'm digging on the pieces coming together and getting really excited about the final hanging of them all and the statement they make all together. For me, each piece is like peeking into some one's bottom drawer in their bedroom, or pulling something out from the back of their closet that they're not totally sure they want to see again, but they remember that moment, their certain destiny, oh so clearly.
So many good things are coming together for this show. There's a set of nine pieces I made that I really wanted to have fantastic old frames for, so my art-world-hero and good friend, matt, agreed to help me with the frames. We met up the other day at Building Resources, one of my all time favorite places in SF, and picked out a bunch of great old wood molding that matt is cutting down and making frames from. We finished a few today and they are spectacular! That got me really, really excited too! Plus, I'm loving this idea of all these people coming together with my parents there and my sister, too. It's gonna be a fun night!
Here's some pieces for the show,
This is a piece that has another set of frames Matt is making for me. We made a choice to keep any and all vintage hardware on the wood, or in the case of this one, where the hinges used to be
I'm making 7 or 8 of these different playing cards.

I'm digging on this rainy weather lately, it's good for staying indoors in the studio all weekend!

Friday, January 18, 2008

to you happy near

I don't know what it is about kids, but they sure are funny little creatures. Maybe it's from watching Juno the other night, and realizing that was never the teenage world I lived in...and then the next day, as a substitute teacher, being confronted with 4th grade girl in-fighting that seems like only yesterday to me and my life. I'm so incredibly touched by these kids: the cool ones, the self-proclaimed (though some tortured) nerds, the ones that keep to themselves, the ones that seems light years ahead of all the adults around them, the ones that talk too much and the ones that whisper every word.
I remember being there and have absolutely NO desire to go back....and yet, when I see confident joy in one kid, or heart-breaking pain in another one, I do wish I could go back, knowing what I know now. Well, I can't do that, of course, so I make the most of the time I am among them and, hopefully, gain a bit more wisdom on how to be a positive presence in their life.
I subbed an art class the other day. I'm there about once a month or more, subbing, in this particular class and we've grown on each other. The very first time I was there, I was going around the room and asking each kid his name and a couple of the boys told me the wrong name and that got them all giggling and I really hate to stop a giggling fest, when a couple of the girls yelled out (they're always telling on the boys, it cracks me up!) "Those aren't their real names, they're not telling you their real names!!" So, I made a deal with the whole class, girls and boys: You could ask me to call you anything you wanted, as long as you told me your real name first. They LOVED that and started going around the circle,
"...maggie, but i wanna be called gumi bear",
"...joe, but i wanna go by strongman",
",! No,"
Okay. Will do!
So, anyway, they've remembered this, and usually remembered their nicknames from month to month. I have to wing it and ask them every time. But they don't seem to mind. In fact, there's a strange endearing way we have towards one another. Which leads me to these beautiful pieces:
Two different girls in the 3rd grade brought these to me at the end of class. The Jackson Pollack one had to leave class early to get braces put on. It killed me to see her big blue eyes looking up at me and telling me the news. She didn't seem to particularly mind, but my gums receded just thinking about it. Dang, I'd been there, I'd worn the headgear. I felt for her. So, as she left class, I waved after her and said something stupid like, "Be Brave!" I say something "stupid" like that, cuz she wasn't even nervous about it. I was!
The other card is from this cute little one that I'd had an in-depth convo about webkins with at recess. When she first came up and tapped me on the elbow (just to give you some kind of height reference we're talking about here for these little "grownups"), I turned around and smiled and said, "Happy New Year!" and she responded, very adult like, "Happy New Year to YOU!" Two hours later, she was in my art class and presented me with this.
I didn't realize until I got home how it reads, Happy Near Molly. wow.
Of course, she didn't mean it that way, but I like to think the meaning was inside the message, 'cuz I'm so happy near them.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

8mm Ideas Cropping up!

This has been an exciting few weeks for 8mm ideas! The cards are going into such cute shops around the U.S. I had to share some of them with you..

Bluebird, right here in good ole San Francisco. I stopped by yesterday and, if you haven't been, it's worth the little jaunt over to Pierce and Haight. Stephanie, the owner, has excellent taste and Leah, who also works there, is just another great reason to go in and feel good. Really beautiful little shop that I'm excited to have my cards in!

One Good Bumblebee is an online shop that you could just spend hours "in". She's got so much to choose from and all of it adorable. Plus, the website is set up so well and she's got a fun blog to boot! Can't beat that...

Wordshop, for those of you in the Denver area. She just opened a little shop at 3180 Meade Street and is really excited to be doing what she loves. And, I am, of course, thrilled she's carring 8mm ideas. Plus, I need a reason to get to Denver. I love Colorado.

And, Pulp|Paper & Art, who recently opened in Omaha. She asked all of her artists to do a little bio about themselves and send a photo and she made little cards to go along with everything in the shop, so her customers know exactly who they're supporting. I thought that was really sweet. It's her shop that's shown here. She sent out the photos to all her vendors to let them know how it all looks. And it looks beautiful to me!

Of course, I'm happy to say, there's lots more stores that are carrying 8mm ideas and you can find that list here, for wherever you live.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Tag Time

This tagging thing is a funny thing, I've been tagged twice before, and loved doing it--both times it was to reveal things people don't really know about me. This time, it's of a whole new sort. I love the path it's taken to get to me, though, Meighan (who we've still never met, much to our chagrin!) tagged Danica who tagged me.

1. Whats the story behind the name of your blog?
I was sitting around with RK and Dylan one night, pizza & beer kinda night and we were all laughing pretty hard about all kinds of things. I think we were talking about dating, and the best and worst of it? Not quite sure anymore...anyway, Dylan, in this funny voice of impressing someone, said, "oh yeah, i've got a little house in the clouds..." I immediately wrote it down on a piece of paper and asked him if he wouldn't mind if I used that somewhere. This is how it came out.

2. Why did you start blogging in the first place?
Christina was a big pusher of the blog world. I really hadn't been into it at all until she introduced me to some of them. She'd send me a link to something she liked and I'd read it and think, 'wow, it's so revealing, i love this!'

3. What has been your best blogging experience? What about the worst?
My best blogging experiences have been the people I've met (virtually, even) all because of a love of writing, sharing. It's also been really powerful for me to write often. It's something I used to do a lot more as a kid, and have gotten out of the habit. Blogging has also led me on an international roller-coaster ride of discovery and good times all by virtue of the virtual.
I haven't had a "worst" experience. Imagining one is pretty difficult.

4. What do you think will happen to your blog in 2008?
Gads, I don't have the slightest idea what will actually happen...but what I think will happen? Well, I'd hope to post more about projects I'm working on & the card biz. I'd like to be able to shoot my work more often and put it out there. 2008 will bring more discoveries, I'm sure... ponderings and mishaps. Looking forward to whatever happens.

And, in the spirit of things, once again, let me tag a few peeps who I love to see blog/post because they're such good writers and have great stories that happen in their lives all the time and I don't know their answer to the above questions...
Ryan, Mikey, Ellen, Megan--come on down!

*image from site

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Sunday Smile

This one is for Sunday.
But, I actually recommend going to the site and watching as many as you can. The layout is beautiful, each vintage photo representing a video...and then to think about how they spent a warm summer week in Brooklyn, singing and playing in the most unusual of places. Really lovely. It makes me feel warm just watching it...

Thanks to
Nuno, for the lead.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Saturdays are for stoops

My entire adult life, I've longed for a stoop. Strolling through the New York streets, especially on a weekend, friends and I would stop and stare at a good stoop and think to ourselves (but, usually out loud) 'man, if i lived there, i would be sittin on that stoop, in the sun, with my coffee and crossword puzzle...' or if it was evening time... 'man, if i lived there, i would be sitting on that stoop, in the cool evening breeze, kicking it with my friends and a beer...'

As I was strolling through a very stoop-filled neighborhood in San Francisco the other day, it occurred to me I've still never lived in an apartment with a stoop. So, I still have those moments where I stop and stare and think .... 'man....if only....' Maybe someday.

Some of my favorite stoops from the stroll:
This first stoop, a good one because of the sides, you can either hide behind one of them, or sit between them and people watch

This next one, just a beautiful stoop aesthetically. But I also love the wide berth and the scroll iron-work on the sides

This stoop is an all day stoop. I know this because of the higher steps. More comfortable on the legs.

The hidden stoop. All bushes on one side and the house overhang on the other side. A good one for reading in the sun.

Old school stoop. Reminded me of New York.

You don't need a huge stoop, which this proves. But, with a couple of potted plants added in, it becomes the garden-enhanced stoop. I love this little one.

And this, well, I call it the poor-man's stoop. But it's still a stoop. Man, if I had this stoop, I would be sitting on it this morning with my coffee and the Times...

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Life in California, circa 1958-59.

And Camp life in Montana, same time.

I have tons of others collections: photos, scrapbooks, datebooks, autograph books, bits of life from beginning to end, or sometimes just that moment in-between.

I might be a little obsessed. But, I prefer to think of it as being really, really interested.

These photos are from a couple of the collections I found, or was given, over the holidays. I had to pick just a few from a couple hundred...sometimes I wish I could share every great photo I have. I hear flickr calling....

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Caught at their most...

Among other wonderful things coming up, by the end of this month, I'll go back to being a teaching artist in public schools. And I cannot wait! These kids are like none others--finally, an opportunity presents itself that allows them to be crazy and creative and to write and express and on and on...I love these kids.
Last semester I worked with two fourth grade classes on my own, with two wonderful teachers, and it was sad to see it end. One of the really juicy things that sometimes happens at the end of these residencies is that the teachers encourage each and every kid to write down all their thoughts about the past few months of drama class and compose it in a little letter, which they then hand to me. When this last class ended, I had students sing a christmas carol for me, act out things they'd dreaded just weeks before and both classes handed me two big stacks of thank you letters. They were wonderful, brought me to tears, as you can imagine. Besides the 'thanks', the impressive thing is that for many of these kids, writing, let alone the english language, does not come easy. Knowing this, one little note in particular stuck out... Her teacher, Mr. Fox, is one of my best friends, so he was able to explain it to me in detail. Turns out, she really had no idea where to start, or how to start, a note to me, so she "borrowed" a xmas card from her mother's collection and copied down what was written inside. It's really so moving...though the thought is left unfinished, I can imagine how it might end.

Monday, January 7, 2008


I found this really cool website over the holidays. I found it on this other really cute blog. They're both in Portuguese, a language and people I LOVE. I was in Portugal in 1992 (woof! really?) and stayed in youth hostels and lounged on the beach and swam further into the ocean than I ever have before. I remember the people being incredibly warm and inviting, with a great sense of humor. The only word I retained is "obrigado". But, I think that one is pretty important.

When I found x-blogue, I loved the concept and thought it would be fun to be a part of it. But I can't find a way to email them or contact them...I've looked through all of it and translated and even found an english "episode" of the blog...but, to no avail. So, I took it upon myself to do one anyway...and, until I can reach x-blogue, I invite you to send me yours, too.

Here's the premise, borrowed from i-blogue: Ideas communicate. Love happens. Lives are fulfilled. Tell me something. Anything. I used to be a porn star. I was just here. I got drunk twice yesterday. Write on your left forearm. Cover your eyes. Get painted, use markers, make stuff up. Only the I is constant, by the wrist. The rest is up to you.

Obrigado X-blogue!

*To add, when one is dealing with the internet, things move fast. And when one is dealing with a 9 hour time difference, well, things get done: I've already heard from x-blogue this morning and they've generously let us know if we want to send in our photos to them, send the picture to Your photo should be a minimum 1600 pixels of width.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

At The Top

I blame it on technology. But then, I thank the beejeezes out of these computers! I love the ole you tube dot com. Anything we want, it's at our fingertips. That's not always a good thing, I would argue. On the other hand, for a family that loves to reference if's like a shiny little diamond. We are an oral family: stories that get passed down, mixed up, added to, subtracted from and embellished with only the finest bits. But damn if we don't love a photo (or two or three, hell, you got a movie of the incident? pull it out!) to go along with the story at some point. So, while I love the memory of my family listening with rapt attention while one of us recounted the entire story of someone they've never met or seen.....well, now, I get a real thrill describing some short clip I saw or some character we keep talking about and being able to say, 'hey, you wanna see it?' and *boom*, it's rolling on a screen.
Good ole internets!

Drum roll, please....Introducing the top you tube videos watched by my family, over and over this holiday season.
1. Every one of these by John Roberts. (thanks to T for the intro)

2. Most imitated video by my sister and mom....and eventually my dad, my brother, and the rest of us, over and over and over. (thanks to do D for already knowing what makes me laugh)

3. Crazy, you call it what you want, and no we're not sure of anything, which is what makes this one of the best of the group for a family who likes to create a story behind a story. (big props to dibona for having the ability to know whats what)

now, if at first you don't get any of them or what the heck it is that held our attention at all, keep in mind, we watched these over and over and over and across multiple days, constantly refering back to one or the other, 'wait, let's watch that again.' 'How did she say it exactly?' 'Yes, yes, that's it!' someone else would scream out with laughter. Really, it got to a point, where you just had to say "lighthouses rule" or "i'm gonna kick your ask" and it could move my mom to tears of laughter. That usually made someone else start laughing and then next thing you know, I've got tears running down my face.

Anyway, it's a short list, but, as you'll hopefully discover on your own, it's an important list. tee-hee, hee hee, ha ha ha ha ha....oh, sorry. hee heee hee....

A Certain Destiny

The world is so beautiful from above.

We flew to LA a few days before christmas and it occurred to me, not only am I over my fear of flying, but the pure, unadulterated joy that I used to feel while sailing above it all had returned. Gads, it felt amazing, thrilling and tears came to my eyes with just the feeling of flight. I was thrilled, I was moved...and it was a perfect beginning to a week with my family.

There's no one in the world like the people I share my immediate being with: Made up of four other siblings, two brother in laws, my parents, two nieces, and my husband, my family could make up an entire village with their energy, ideas, and "man" power. You need a picture painted? Done. You need a cupboard made? Done. You need all the electronics in your house to speak with each other and have someone explain the directions to you? Done and Done. An amazing meal in minutes? Done! Whatever it is I crave, I turn, and there it is...filled. I never feel alone when I'm with this crowd. I never wonder what they're thinking about me, or wonder how they'll respond to something I say. Which is not to say the response is always a good one, or the thoughts are always positive, but it's a strange comfort zone. A lot of time is spent talking about the past and how it affects the future. A lot of time is spent talking about the future and what we'll think about that when it becomes the past. We watched home movies from when my mom was a teenager and talked about a man that affected my father as a boy so much it moved him to tears, now, 60-some-odd years later. Usually, our time together is spent talking about the next time we'll all be able to get together and when are we all just going to get it together and live next door to one another. The same way we start talking about what we'll be making for the next meal before the last spoonful of the first meal is even in our mouth. Give us food, drink and a never ending conversation and we're set. During the week to month we're home, we usually get to visit with at least two or three old, old friends of the family (a good friend of one of us, well, you know the saying, may as well be a good friend of all of us...whoever answers the door is the one to get into it first), they stop by the house and we happily oblige a trip down memory lane and in-depth questioning of the present. Most friends know we don't travel far from the homestead once the suitcase is set down and are happy to take on the entire clan, and their in-and-out addition to the convo, for at least an afternoon.

So, home for the holidays: the tree is up and the stockings are hung with care and leaving is always hard to do. The last day at my parents house found the remainder of us up on the back hill burning sheets of joss paper. We used the one that is half orange, half white-- my sister instructed us to put our bad ju-ju, our junk, our left over stuff we wanna get rid of, the feelings that we don't want to be weighed down by anymore, the crap we vow to change, we put that on one half of the sheet....the other half was where all our future, positive intentions rested, the thoughts and ideas and purpose we enter the new year with. I wish I had a photograph of it, it was funny and beautiful all at the same time. You know, when you light paper and it goes up in flames, you never quite realize the speed at which fire laps at paper or which way the wind will, with lots of hoots and hollars and a-'damn, i hope we don't start the new year off with singed eyebrows!'-thought, carefully balancing with our suspension of dis-belief that this little piece of paper and all the energy we just put on to it may actually affect our future, we had a crazy little time of it. Without a photo, I just have to hope I'll always remember that moment. I'm not a big "new year" fanatic. Meaning, I don't think the good or the bad or the luck or the unluck of the next 365 days of your life hang on the moment it turns midnight in whatever city you happen to be living in. But I'm really, really superstitious and if you hand me a symbol for something, I'm allll over that. I'm the first one to believe you need to go to the top of the hill and burn a little piece of paper.

But there's things to do back in SF and I know we have to go...

There's a lot of things coming up this year that I'm really looking forward to, the first one on the list is the solo show, A Certain Destiny, I'm having at Candystore on February 7th...and it sounds like most of the brood will be flying in for it. The second thing we're already planning is the booth for the National Stationary Show in May, a good time trip to the big apple--totally excited by all the ideas we're flying back and forth. This is gonna be another good year...

I'm so very thankful for the people in my life, especially RK, and the family I have and the time I get to spend with them all.
A hella lot (as the local kids say) of realizations in the last 365 days, I'm looking forward to soooo many more.