Friday, June 27, 2008

8mm ideas New Designs

I've been in the studio a bit lately (between work and travel...) and have found I'm constantly drawn to creating these carbon/school paper pieces. Most images are carbon outlined from vintage yearsbooks and old photos and then slightly altered by my shaky little hand. I have so much fun coming up with the phrases and finding great images to work with. Here's just a few...

Thursday, June 26, 2008

In a Grand way

This past week, Nana wasn't feeling so good. It was touch and go there for awhile, but she seems to be doing better now.

Nana is RK's grandmother. And my surrogate grandmother. And she really is grand, in every sense of the word. Over the last few years, I've taken to calling her Ruth. As that is her name and, I figure, it's still nice to be referred to by your given name even if you are of grandparent status.

I first met Nana at a holiday visit to RK's parent's house. She was a card: making jokes under her breath; constantly asking questions of everyone, so very interested in others; we gushed about certain actors and movies and nay-sayed the others. She was quick and funny and it made me think, everyone should have grandparents at my age.

Every year, I look forward to seeing Nana, sitting next to her at the Thanksgiving table. After our second piece of pie, she usually leans over to me and admits to eating too much, which then makes me, of course, have to reveal the same thing. And we laugh, because before we sat down, we swore to one another this year we wouldn't eat so much. Nana's house is filled with fabulous antiques that I admire every time we're there. Sitting at the kitchen table (isn't that where all great conversations are held?), I point to these pieces, "Ruth, where did you get this one?! And what about this piece? I love this.." She sort of waves her hand around and tells me they were all part of her 'digging' days. Turns out, Nana was a fleamarketer after my own heart. She used to have a stall spot in a shop where she lived out the antique hunter's dream, hocking her wares, digging for more great finds on her days off.

Her worldliness and acceptance of others has always been apparent. Her daughter, my mother-in-law, told me it was because of her mother encouraging her exploration of the world, that she felt drawn to her work in the UN. I thought that was beautiful. To credit your mother with making you more knowledgeable about the world around you, to go outside of what you immediately know and seek something different.

When I think of Ruth in my head, and I think about her a lot, I picture this beautiful, long, soft white hair, wrapped up on her head, some brightly colored piece of clothing (pink sweater, orange scarf), and this little smirk on her lipsticked lips. I'm giving her arm a little squeeze and I'm thinking, "When we have a little girl, I hope she grows up to be as grand as you."

Photo from SquareAmerica

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Stores Galore

I had a great time in NYC this past May, as well as a really successful time at the National Stationary Show. I got to see shop owners from the past that I love, and met new ones that I love just as much! So, to follow, here is a shortlist of some new shops that are carrying 8mm ideas cards.

Perch Home
World of Mirth
Greenwich Letterpress
Book Soup
Museum of Contempary Art, Chicago
Gracie Finn at Aunt Sadies

And one of the nicest write-ups I've ever had, found on one of my favorites, Modern Craft.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Victory will be theirs!

I saw this and couldn't help but post it.

(try not to think of it being for MD's)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Shanti, Shanti

I've "taken up" yoga. That's in quotes 'cuz, at the time I'm writing this, I've only gone to two classes. But I'm signed up for another one, and I think that counts. For me. I'm not much of an group exerciser. Gym memberships, yoga classes, pilates in the park, exercising in groups is everywhere. And, for as long as I can remember, people have been telling me I should 'take up' yoga. So, here I am, finally, really taking it up.

I'd been to yoga classes just two times before. One was when I was in my early twenties: I went to a class with my parents. I remember next to nothing about it, except that it seemed weird. In trying to recall what felt weird, I concluded that maybe going to yoga with your parents is weird.

The second time was in my late 20's and the two things that stand out for me are: the overwhelming amount of incense thru-out the place and I felt like I needed to take a separate class to learn the overwhelming amount of ohm shanti that was going around. I kept thinking, 'gads, let me relax while I'm stretching! my friends all told me it would relax me! but not if i have to memorize sayings at the same time!'

So, here I am, in my late something-or-others, giving it another go. It's a really beautiful space, one entire wall is windows, and I always feel excited at the beginning of a new exercise class. No, excited isn't the right word. Hopeful. Though I've admitted I'm not much of a group exerciser...I know this only through trial and error. But I like to begin with hope.

So far, so good. I did end up choosing a class that is being led by one of these somewhat cult-ish teachers. You can tell by the look in the students eyes. And the way they vie for the best spot on the floor. You can also tell by the way she talks about herself, sometimes in the third person. That can be a little distracting, especially in an hour and a half class, but I'm adjusting. The class begins with her opening up this little black box (turns out it's a hand cranked mini organ) and she starts to play the keys in which we repeate back our OMmmm's. Next thing I know, I'm working to do a headstand, which I've never done in my life, while she's talking about her upcoming vacation to Switzerland and how pleasurable that will be for her. Again, my thoughts go to, "hey, i really just want to concentrate and relax here....not think about your vacation time..."

But, I yoga on.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Ah, for the love of politics

I saw a fascinating documentary on Eleanor Roosevelt this week. Gads, that woman is an inspiration! She should be an inspiration for all girls. At one point, they read a passage from her diary that revealed she had some serious depression and insecurity issues and it was in such stark contrast to the woman she appeared to be. The woman that helped other women achieve great goals, while quietly achieving ones of her own. I firmly believe in a mandatory girls class ("Exceding the Limits 101") or after-school group for elementary aged girls that teaches them the confidence and pride they need to get by in this world. And then a class for all the students on how to treat one another ("R-E-S-P-E-C-T 101"). I would show this documentary and have them all read a biography on Mrs. Roosevelt. (We'd read Gloria Steinem, too, but only after the kids grasped the concept that there wouldn't be a Gloria without an Eleanor.)

Watching this doc, I started to get excited about the opportunities, the possibilities, of interactions I'll have starting in the Fall with my elementary kids. I'm taking a full-time teaching gig, starting in August, and one of the reasons I wanted to teach at this school so much is that they live by the "platinum rule". Different than the "Golden Rule", as it was explained to me by the Head of School, which is: Treat others as you would like to be treated. But, the "Platinum Rule" is: Treat others the way they would like to be treated.

Mrs. Roosevelt believed the world should change, particularly in the country she lived in, and she didn't just go about the way she wanted to. She went out and met the people and talked to the people and found out the way they would like to be treated. Then, she went back to the White House and told her husband, The President, what needed to be done.

This video of Marian Anderson shows a moving and brilliant moment of triumph for both Mrs. Roosevelt and Ms. Anderson, for some of the same (and for some different, of course) reasons.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Flea Finds

This past Sunday I headed to a flea market for the first time in a long time. I love flea markets and they used to be a staple of my weekly life. When I lived in NY, my sister and I would go to the 24th Street flea market almost every weekend. Now, where those outdoor markets were, there are huge, multi-storied apartment buildings. When we turned "digging" (as we called it) into a business we hit up flea markets from Ohio to Connecticut, as well as London and Paris. It was a dream life. Still, it doesn't matter what city we're in (most recently, between days by the poolside, we all went digging in Palm Springs), my mom, sister and I will go looking for the local junk shop, yard sale, or classic, parking-lot flea market.

Aside from a family member, I don't usually like to go to flea markets with other people. Totally different than going shopping at, say, H&M with friends (which I love!), flea markets are a funky rhythm that usually require the beat of your own drum. One time, a fellow artist that I totally revered, said we should go to the 24th Street flea together. Because I think the world of him, I agreed. And, man, it was rough. First of all, we were looking for the same things: old photos, albums, old journals and books. Secondly, he kept picking things up and saying, "this looks like something you'd want". Um, no, actually. And when he was ready to move on, he'd sort of 'ahem' to let me know it was time. Like I said, it's a funky rhythm.

So, this past Sunday was a beautiful morning. I left the house at 7:45am and got down to the Alemany flea nice and early (usually I'm not a real stickler for getting there at the crack of dawn, the stuff I'm looking for isn't that golden to warrant an early arrival). It was freezing cold, but I had a nice cup of hot coffee and felt like a kid in a candy store. Turns out, there wasn't much to be had...but I had some great conversations with some classic carneys and that always makes it a good time. The people behind the "junk" are a huge part of the experience.

The goods: This is a Garden City pottery piece. I'd never heard of Garden City pottery, but anyone that's ever been in our apartment knows that I have an obsessive collection of this sage green/blue pottery. RK has kindly indulged it with me and I love him for it. I saw this piece in Ken's 'booth' on Sunday and, in a most casual of voice (something I learned from the good advice of my sister: never act interested in something you really, really want), I enquired about that big bowl in the back there. He proceeded to tell me that it was G.C. pottery and worth about $65. Oh, well... but, for me, he'd sell it for $15. Now, that's more like it.

Later, when I was spending some serious time digging thru another guy's table of goods, he kept asking me something, in a very, very thick accent. What? I had no idea what he was talking about. Turns out, he could see the bowl in my bag and was eyeing it up. He asked me a few more times before I actually understood what he was talking about. "Garden City or Bauer?" he said. I was glad that I could tell him it was G.C. He asked me what I paid for it (let's face it, we're all looking for a deal and want to know when others get one, too). I told him and he said, "wow, you know you really got a steal there?" Alright then. At his table, i found five photos that I decided I could afford for a few bucks, too.

and this little light-haired squirt showed up in three out of the five school photos. He got happier as he got older.

While this little girl showed up in two of 'em.

One man gathers what another man spills.
--the grateful dead

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Rook To Love

I started buying Bella Bigsby's cards a few years ago, mostly for myself. Then, I realized, I really should be sharing these incredible works of art with others. Her paintings, which I've only seen in card form and on her website, appear to be alive. The first image I ever bought was this Rook. I have a love of Crows, and since the Rook falls into the family of Crows, I was naturally drawn to it. I'd only ever seen a few images of hers. So, it was with a sheer determination of finding out more about her and her artwork that I finally wrote down her website when I saw her cards today.
Yeah...sometimes, it takes me awhile...

On her site today, I found more images that took my breath away.

And, finally, just the other day I was looking upwards, here in SF, and thinking to myself: 'I wish there was a way to capture this strange contrast of looking up into the trees, the sky, and seeing all these wires (that the trains and buses run on)'. Well, Bella Bigsby has done that perfectly. I couldn't be happier (unless I owned it myself!)

Monday, June 16, 2008

August: Osage County

I've never watched the Tony's in my life. But, Sunday night, I'm glad I accidentally tuned in. One of the best actresses, from one of the best plays I've seen recently, won the first award.

I have to thank my sister for the treat she treated us to. And what a treat it was. A heavy treat, mind you. Nothing could have prepared us for this show. We had no idea what we were walking into. We purposely didn't read any reviews or synopsis. All we knew is that it's running time was over 3 hours and there were two intermissions. We brought tissues, just in case.

To use an old expression, this family put the 'fun' in dysfunction. It was crazy and pathetic and sad and wonderful and relate-able and it didn't feel like 3 hours. We went through all the tissues. From the NY Times review: In other words, this isn’t theater-that’s-good-for-you theater. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that, to quote an immortal line from a beloved sitcom.) It’s theater that continually keeps you hooked with shocks, surprises and delights, although it has a moving, heart-sore core. Watching it is like sitting at home on a rainy night, greedily devouring two, three, four episodes of your favorite series in a row on DVR or DVD. You will leave the Imperial Theater emotionally wrung out and exhausted from laughing, but you may still find yourself hungry for more.

Each and every actor in this show was incredibly impressive. (We even waited outside the stage door to gush over them--we were hungry for more) It's the original cast from Chicago which, apparently in Broadway-show-land, is unheard of. And, according to Wikipedia,"a National Tour has been announced by the official website, and will begin in San Francisco, in August 2008". So, you don't even have to fly to NYC to see it now...

Oh, and regarding the Tony's...turns out they won five awards, including Best Play. Talk about a treat!
I'm not surprised.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Dad's Day

I know I've said it before, but I think I'm pretty sure I've lucked out big time in the parent category. Now, with Father's day upon us, I want to do an official shout out to my dad.
Whether he liked the choices I was making or not, he always stood beside me and never gave up on me. He has the same unrealistic (though very sweet) goals lots of parents have for their children, that I am, and always have been, better, smarter, wittier, and more successful than I really am.

And I can't thank him enough for that.

Happy Fathers Day!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

For the love of plants

RK and I, we talk to our plants.
Recently, I suggested we set up a small photo studio corner and take the equivalent of a "senior portrait" of each one: these members of our family. We haven't done it yet, but we have been taking pictures of them for years.

I'm not sure when this love of plants began, but I know it was definitely cultivated (pun intended) by the time that RK spent working with his Aunt. He learned the ins-and-outs of the world of these creatures. He's passed a great deal of that on to me. Maybe it's because he knows I feel the same way he does about each of these plants: they're living, breathing miracles and we get to take care of them. It's not true of all plants, of course, some come into your life you kinda can't wait to get rid of...but you don't just throw a plant out. That would be cruel. You wait around 'til it (oops!)dies naturally, or you hope that you can give it to a good home. Someone who loves plants as much as you do, but unconditionally.

We dote on our plants. Besides talking to them like they're our friends, we compliment them like crazy and watch them grow. We name most all of them (I realize we haven't named them all when a friend comes over and says, 'what's this one named?' ummmm....
'okay, what's this one's name?' ....shoot.)

My personal love for plants was sealed when RK and I happened upon a classic sidewalk sale, just around the corner from our apartment, on Downing Street in NY. We got to talking to the husband and wife, who were probably in their 80's, about the plants they were selling. Which led us to being invited inside this amazing, wacky, one of a kind, only in new york apartment. They had plants that were through the ceiling. They'd had them for years, for all the years they were married. A lot of years. We were in awe of the size of the plants and the obvious love and care that these two had for plants, in general. They talked to us about how this one or that one went thru a 'troubled' time (maybe a root issue) but fought thru and look at it now! We related completely.

I hadn't done plants in the apartment since the time I let a friend stay there and put her in charge of my flower beds on the fire escape. When I came back, a few weeks later, there was a note of thanks on the table and a fire escape full of dead flowers. Scorched, really, by the seemed not a drop of water had been added to them in my absence. I decided to let my green thumb go.

When RK and I moved from NYC to CA, we drove across Canada with a box of potted plants in the back seat. It was a sight to be seen. All these plants, thriving, with a seat belt securing their ride. At night, after we'd checked into a hotel, one of us would sneak out to the car and bring in the plants. They needed to be watered and tended to. Some of them, it seemed, needed a pep talk between the long driving days. They all survived the trip...until we got to the U.S. border.

The border patrol asked us the normal questions: Do you have a gun? What were you doing in Canada? Where are you going in the U.S.? And it wasn't until some patrolman, cruising around our car, noticed the plants in the back seat that we became suspicious. We were asked to pull over and bring out the plants. When faced with authority I find unfair, I get talk-y. Sooooo, I started talking..."we brought these from nyc, they were never out of our sight, we've raised them from little, sickly plants, please just let us go through, what's the problem? they're just plants!" The problem was you can't bring certain kinds of plants over the border. One, in particular, was a wee lemon tree named Joyce (after the sidewalk-sale wife in ny). They whisked her away and told us she needed to be destroyed. I started crying right there. My begging had no effect on these guys. In fact, one of them sneered, "you said yourself, lady, they're just plants." It was devastating. There was no way I was going to convince these thugs what those plants really were to us. Defeated, we climbed back into our car and started to drive away.

We had to look on the bright side, we still had a good number of our plants with us.
And we still do, to this day. Let me introduce you to just a few...

this is Betty

this is Sadie

this is Sanchez

and this, is Dr. Fingers

Friday, June 6, 2008

Wednesdays are Jack

I grew up baby sitting as a pretty regular job. Grown adults, with confidence, left me, a mere child, in charge of their own children and then gave me money at the end of it all. I have funny, sad, and scary memories of those years--and not a dime to show for it (in my day, the going rate was about $3.00/an hour and that was more than my sisters got just a few years before). Of course, the money wasn't the reason for doing it; the driving force was being around babies. I took care of kids of all ages, but it was the babies that kept me in the game. As I got older, and a little bit smarter, I realized taking care of other people's kids isn't that much fun. As an equal adult, who's being treated as anything but equal, you start to see the cracks and fissures in the entire gig, and realize you should wrap this up ASAP (which you'd like to be 9pm, when they say they're coming home...but you know it won't actually be til 11pm).

Luckily, for me, a very good friend of mine is giving me the chance to re-invent the world of child-care one day a week. Turns out, it's a totally different situation when the following things are in place:
1. the child's mother is one of your best friends, and she's one of the more easy going people you know
2. you're a wanna-be mom, yourself, and of legal baby-making age
3. the child is Jack, the most beautiful little 4 month old I currently knowI spent all day on Wednesday with him and feel like my life has been changed (not to mention my arm, chest and back muscles which have been worked into a frenzy--i've never been so happily sore!). He's funny and smiley and loves having his diapers changed (i swear!). Every Wednesday,thru the summer, Jack and I will be making our rounds of the Sunset District of San Francisco: Hop on the N Judah, arrive at Arizmendi Bakery, eat a little fresh pizza (well, just me really, Jack is sleeping like a baby against my chest at this point), have a little decaf, and then cruise to the park, where we frolic for awhile in the shade of the big trees and I make up stories about ladybugs and birds and the mini parties they have in the tall blades of grass.
By the time my friend, Jack's mom, gets home, I've shed tears of happiness, I'm exhausted and I thank her over and over again for entrusting me with the magic that is Jack.