Saturday, July 31, 2010

Yonkers and Manhattan: Day Two

Photos tell it all. Slow start this morning with blog posting on the terrace. Elita and I never left the house until nearly 3:00 and then it was to walk the dogs on a trail that used to be the pathway for an old aqueduct.
I am amazed by the acres of green space with forest-like trees both in Central Park and Prospect Park and in and around Yonkers. Love to put some real numbers on the green acreage. And then of course there's the broad stretch of Hudson River.
Bill drove us into Manhattan around 6:00. We parked underground at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and got up to the roof as fast as we could. It was jammed with people drinking fancy cocktails, lots of young women in short little dresses.
The sun was setting over Central Park West. It was party time in the Starn brothers Big Bambu installation.
Reminded me of the real and functioning bamboo scaffolding that Sally and I saw in 1979 in Shanghai, the same day we visited a museum and saw Chinese paintings of bamboo scaffolding. The Starns' bamboo work is not functional, but it sure must be making money for the Met as a party venue.
Bill tried maneuvering downtown to 14th St. via Fifth Avenue which was a lovely, but slow and jammed drive. Finally made it over to the meatpacking district which sure looks like the hot new place to be.
Elita and I took a quick walk on the High Line and then he headed for dinner - in several directions. Hard to get any further downtown. Then hard to get crosstown and then very hard to go back uptown. Bill finally chose Peking Duck on E 68 St. simply out of desperation. Attempting Chinatown or the Bowery in a private car on a Saturday night is not fun. Peking Duck is one of their standards and yes, it was good. But by then it was almost 10:00, so I suspect that almost anything labelled as food would have been good. More Cosmos for the ladies. I enjoyed it all.
We've returned to Yonkers. On the way back from the city, I felt as if I were very caffeinated. Wasn't. However, totally over-animated as I told them about my new consulting job in Houston. Well, I am enjoying it, but what comes over me? To bed.

Ed Hardy Tote Bag

Well, we tried. We did out best. When leaving the Brooklyn Museum, Elita and I spotted a woman walking across the parking lot with child in tow and a fabulous metallic hobo bag on her shoulder. Shades of fuchsia, gold and hot pink. Elita rolled down the window shouting, "Hello. Hello. Where did you get that fabulous bag?"
"Century 21 near the World Trade Center."
"How long ago?"
"A few days ago."
That was enough for us to cross the Brooklyn Bridge and head for Century 21. Elita let me out of the car on Church Street and circled while I perused the handbag department. They had the bag in aqua, not near as crazy wonderful as the one on that woman's shoulder. A salesperson volunteered to search their extra stock in the basement when I said I'd buy two. But there were none left in fuchsia, orange and metallic wonderfulness. But I'm on to this designer now.
I left Century 21 with two sequined Ed Hardy totes, one for each of us. They are not what we lusted after, but they're not bad. Just perfect to carry around at BlogHer next week.

Morning in Yonkers

Can it get any better than this? A bird calls and there is sunshine on a flagstone terrace overlooking a half acre of garden. And there is NO humidity. None. It's probably 72 degrees with a slight breeze. Bill is in the kitchen. Just made another pot of coffee and is decrying the state of the post office, the corruption of corporations and government, expressing disappointment in Obama. We agree we are all fucked. And what about the post office? A clerk told him they couldn't possibly have delivered the quantity of mail that'd piled up in a plastic tub during that week in New Hampshire. Far too much mail to deliver to the house in one load, they said, too heavy, this whole tub of mail.
"Aging art history professor arrested during confrontation with postal clerk." Have a quiet pill.
I'm having coffee in one of Elita's divine red cups. She gifted me with one of these cups on another visit. Bill is sorting the mail inside at the kitchen table amid more dialogue about the state of the world. Another plane flies overhead, on its way from Westchester County or perhaps circling toward LaGuardia.
"Liberal Republican from NY, Jacob Javits, patron of the arts. Remember him? He said 'Don't mess with the military. Too many jobs, too much money.'."
There's that bird calling again, its species not yet extinct. I see a pair of cardinals fly across the garden. There is traffic below, another plane headed south.
"Louie Armstrong said, 'Don't fuck with my hustle.' "
We are fucked. Yet, this morning, I am happy to be here on this terrace with no humidity and the day stretching on ahead. Elita will appear soon. It's 10:01 a.m.

Friday, July 30, 2010


Brooklyn. How can I have lived in New York (long ago) and not set foot in Brooklyn? I flew into LaGuardia today just after noon. Elita picked me up and we headed straight to Brooklyn, finding Flatbush Avenue and then the Brooklyn Museum and Prospect Park. Yes, Caroline, the map app you installed on my iPhone worked beautifully.
I almost bought a book in the museums shop that describes 30 Brooklyn walking trips. Wouldn't it be lovely to trade houses with some one in Brooklyn for a month so I could hit those streets. Why the sudden fascination with Brooklyn? Well, because I keep reading about this borough in the New York Times. There was a long NYT piece comparing Central Park with Prospect Park, both designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux. I long to walk through Prospect Park and make my own comparisons. I long to visit the new boutiques and wander along blocks of brownstones.
Elita and I spent the afternoon in the Brooklyn Museum and by heaven, we didn't even get to their renowned Egyptian collection. But we did see American High Style: Fashioning a National Collection.
And we did see Kiki Smith: Sojourn. What ephemeral strangeness. What's not to be drawn to?

And we saw Judy Chicago's Dinner Party which I hadn't seen that since its appearance in Houston's CAM some thirty years ago. Now I remember that the Dinner Party found a permanent home in the Brooklyn Museum. The piece is of its time, feminist history, but no longer shocking in its imagery.

We ate such imagery for dinner this evening. Elita prepared a Roman vegetable dish with squash blossoms, each blossom stuffed with an anchovy and then fried in batter. A small platter of deliciousness after a vodka martini. Hmmmm.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Charzewki's Scarp: Think About It

Such an interesting way to show how much we spend and use as consumers. Check this link to Jarod Charzewki's 'Scarp' installation. The artist has piled layers of clothes that represent the ways we purchase, purchase, purchase.
To the shopper in me I say: Think about it.comsumer-web1.jpg

Thursday, July 22, 2010

USSF Marches in Detroit

How did I not know about this organization? How did I miss reading about this rally in Detroit? Did it not make the NYT?

Ten Items of Clothing For the Suitcase

Could a get along for a month with just six items of clothing? For all the meetings I schedule, the evenings out, the days homeside? Just read an article in the NYT titled 'Shoppers on a Diet Tame the Urge to Buy.' Makes me think about taking six items, well maybe ten items in my suitcase for the 9 day trip to New York. I think I'll do it and I'll let you know how it goes. The trip includes the BlogHer conference and visits with friends in Yonkers and Port Chester.
Why not try this. It's New York, after all. Black goes a long way.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Text Your Heart Out

This post first appeared on Deep South Moms Blog to which I was a contributor for almost two years. Deep South Moms was part of blog network begun by Silicon Valley Moms Blog. I met the founders at BlogHer in San Francisco two summers ago and was invited to write. Silicon Valley Moms Blog kind of expanded across the country into cluster groups of blogging moms and a few grandmoms. Earlier this summer, it become the victim of its own success. They're closing the doors to new posts because the moms running the show were losing the balance between herding the hundreds of authors while tending to their own families and day jobs. I'll miss contributing, though I got a bit lax from time to time. Here's my last post for Deep South Moms:

"I don't get it," my friend said to me over dinner at a new restaurant that serves local produce that is either braised or pan seared and then placed on very large white plates and is mostly yummy. But I digress.

"I don't get it," were her words, quickly followed by, "How does texting and Twitter bring you closer to your children, to your friends, to anyone at all?" Genuine puzzlement.

Here I am, once again, with a long time friend with whom I shared child raising activities that included PTA meetings, car pools, science projects and school carnivals. Now our sons and daughters are mired, as we were, joyfully or not, in raising small children in hopes that their offspring will be quite wonderful adults.

And once again, we grandmoms are debating the merits of social media. And because I'm a blogger, my friends think I know 'things' and have magic answers.

Here is what I know. Our children have crossed over into a new world. A few of us are following. Most of us are not. The new world is foreign. Yes, most new worlds appear foreign in the beginning. We don't like the language in this new place, simply because it is new and who among us can type out tiny URLs, for heaven sakes? My god, it was just yesterday that we were fighting our VCR and telling folks we couldn't program with that over-complicated remote. By the way, that is still true.

What I can say here is that for our daughters and sons with busy lives raising kids, following career paths and immersed in perennial science projects, a text message or a tweet to the world is the way to connect, to tell it like it is today, the good, the bad and the worse. Kids got sore throats? Again? Did the cat throw up on the couch? For the seventh time? Is supper burning up the skillet, causing the smoke alarm to alert the fire department? Are the kids cranky and hungry without supper, but now having a few firemen rushing through their space?

As you can see, there are opportunities here for very quick communications with compadres, with those who know absolutely because they are living this stuff too. I'd say to long time friends far and wide what I said at the table eating delectable local braised produce, "We'd have texted our hearts out too if we'd had the technology."

I do get it. But it's still hard to be a grandmom and get that tiny keyboard under control. There are just so many acronyms too. What about just saying, "I love you all to death. Call when you can."?

Original Deep South Moms blog post by MM Hansen who also posts at Rockbridge Times and Second Seating Houston.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

So Much Continues On This Hot Summer Day

Getting sleepy and tomorrow is another landmark day. So it seems. At 9:00 a.m., I'll present 'artful interventions' to the Civic Art Commission. I could do it without notes, I've said the same things so often of late. I still believe every word and can say each one with enthusiasm. But that happens tomorrow. Here's a little of what went on today. Easy early morning. Love those mornings in bed with a cat, a pen and a yellow tablet and the NYT. What I remember about the hours between 8:00 and 1:00 is that I ate steel cut oats with maple syrup and blueberries, reconfirmed appointments with two artists, took a shower and wandered about in the back garden taking photos.
Spent some time on the screen porch just thinking how pleasant it was even in the heat. There was a breeze this a.m. and the trees are filling out at last after their trial by wind with IKE.
Minutes before 1:00, I was on my way to UH Downtown for a Starbucks and a meeting with Floyd Newsum to talk about his intended piece for the new permit center. He took me over the bayou bridge to another UH building where his work on canvas is set into the wall. The wall itself becomes the frame. The idea may work very well for this project. Here's a photo of Buffalo Bayou from the bridge. One sees things so differently as a pedestrian. We should walk this city a lot more than we do.
Then I was off to Houston Arts Alliance where we set up the slide show for tomorrow morning, then to Joni's. Should I confess this very brief shopping detour where I found a couple of 'way-marked- down' cotton/linen unlined jackets that I can wear for all these meetings I go to on hot summer days. Got a phone call from Jeanne and she and the kids were in Discovery Park and had walked all the way down the many stair steps to the low tide beach below. In another six weeks, I'll be there with them.
Back home near 5:00 where I found Moises and friend ready to do garden work. Wonderful. Left them busy and met Dean Ruck at Fiesta Loma Linda where we talked about green building products and recycled materials and what might work for his piece in this project. Brought some of Loma Linda's green chicken enchiladas home. Too busy talking to eat.
Checked emails and Twitter and found tweets from a BlogHer acquaintance who's been touring in Turkey. She's been sending tweets from places like Hagia Sofia and the Spice Bazaar. Made me think about last year's magnificent trip.
Sally and I talk about taking another trip to Istanbul and how great it would be to rent an apartment and stay for a few weeks. Then there is that other trip to New Orleans with Kathie that gets scheduled and then gets postponed.
At the end of the month, I'm headed off to New York for the BlogHer conference. I'll visit Elita in Yonkers and Jinny Avery in Port Chester and then meet my sister in the city. Two summers ago, we shared a room in San Francisco for BlogHer. Always a huge learning curve at these conferences. Terrific breakout sessions. So much to know.
So off to bed. It was a good day. This weekend, I will write some more for the memoir group. We meet late Sunday afternoon. I am writing short vignettes and hope to string them together like beads. Each will relate to all the others, yet there won't be a continuous narrative. I think it will work.
Enough. Life is good, especially as that double espresso shot I drank mid-day at UH is still coursing through my veins. Maybe? No, I think it's wearing off. To bed. Now.
I have to say all those words again tomorrow with enthusiasm.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Free To Be: Entertaining Possibilities

Now here's a quote for living I just read on FaceBook: "(An) Opportunity Outlook (is) The ability to entertain a possibility without regard for resources currently controlled." Angela Blanchard, CEO of Neighborhood Centers, Inc. uses it to define a discussion she had with her board. When a group of folks can see a good idea and give it some life without immediately thinking about cost or budget, well, I'd say that's a very important thing to be able to do. All the time, in all parts of our lives.
One must dream and then, ratchet back if need be. Often, we don't need to curb our desires and good ideas. We can make them real if we can visualize them with others. Then it's just a lot of hard work manifesting that we see perfectly clearly in our heads or hearts, as the case may me.
I live much of my life in just this way, specifically in my current consulting work for the city's new permitting center. This week, I am working on budgets, staying within guidelines, yet always entertaining thoughts of just what will be the very best for the space - and the city - without, as the quote goes,' without regard for resources currently controlled.'
It's a freeing way in which to think. And I know, without doubt, that we will get where we want to be. The new space will sing.
Image at the top of this post is a piece by Metalab Studio, one of the proposed participants in this Houston Permitting Center endeavor.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Mark Morford Identifies HOPE in an IPAD

Morford writes about his mom in this column. She sounds like me or like Debbie Reynolds in Mother, Albert Brooks' 1996 movie which by the way is a 'must see on Netflix sometime'. We are technologically impaired. Doing our best. Continually frustrated and yes, taking notes from much younger folks in long hand on a yellow legal pad. Yes, I've done that more than once.
Morford says the IPAD is going to change his mom's life and the design of consumer products in general. Steve Jobs, I commend you. You've done it again. Now, what about that sleep apnea machine? You think you can do anything about that? Sort of mix it up with the IPad? We could sure use it.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Women as Flowers: Very Beautiful, But We Always Knew

From The New York Times writing about John Galliano's collection at Dior:

'On the high definition screen, Dior had everything the house could wish for as a stunning haute couture image: a romantic vision updated by technology so that the blooms seemed to be manipulated in cyberspace — gliding in front of a static audience. Here was a skirt clustered as if made with hydrangea heads; there, a dress with organic worms of fabric and a show-stopping petal of a pansy hand-painted on a ball gown.

Sitting in the audience, the view was slightly different: extraordinary, exceptional, but not quite the jolt of modernity that “Galliano the gardener” might have hoped for when he collaborated with Nick Knight, photographer and digital image maker. The designer said that he wanted to render real flower images contemporary. And the parade did turn the static loveliness of Irving Penn into the breathing, heaving sensuality of Georgia O’Keefe.'


'Yet the 3-D version, which Dior may decide to post online, highlighted the reality of Paris haute couture in the 21st century. What keeps it alive is not the trickle of private customers, but the opportunity to express the vision and stir emotion for a vast public. If ever a collection were made to savor, to rerun each night on an iPad, perchance to dream, this Dior show was it.'

Monday, July 05, 2010

Republicans Aren't Touching 'Judicial Activism'

Was this a 180 degree change in arguments for and against a Supreme Court nominee? Sounds like it and it sounds good. Who's not talking about 'judicial activism' now? And who's coming off sounding like 'power to individuals'? Here are the last couple of paragraphs from E. J. Dionne, Jr. in the Washington Post:

"While Republican senators dominated Justice Sonia Sotomayor's hearings, Democrats this time displayed a degree of discipline you just don't expect from a party that so often sees discipline as a dread disease.

One Democrat after another reinforced the argument that a conservative court could bring us back to the Gilded Age by ceding power to corporations and undercutting government's ability to act as a countervailing power on behalf of individuals with weak bargaining positions.

Having once made it easy for their opponents to cast them as elitists, progressives are behaving like small-d democrats again. Now that's a change we can believe in -- and an approach that might even win."

Think of that.

Breakfast Obfuscation

Caroline, I am using your Teatro ZinZanni platter A LOT these days. Seems just the right size for food that pulls itself together in a couple of frying pans. This morning, the platter held breakfast for three. We ate bacon slices and a half dozen eggs mixed with Leona's green chilies and smothered with mushrooms.
A sidebar about the chilies. Mary and Queta introduced me to these New Mexican green chilies from Restaurante de Chimayo years ago and every since, I've ordered them by the case. Not sure I'd know what scrambled eggs might taste like without them. This morning there was also spelt toast with Dundee marmalade and lots of blueberries and sliced apricots and Texas peaches.
And great conversation. Finally, the day was right and Kathie came over to visit. Much talk about nutrias at Hermann Park, of which I knew nothing. And more talk of that trip to New Orleans that she and I have scheduled and rescheduled for almost two years.
Well, there you have it. Time to get on with this day in which I will actually continue to clear 'piles' and throw things away. Things? 'Things' would be articles torn from newspapers and magazines with dates from several years ago. A mother lode of information I loved in that moment.
Cloudy again after brilliant early morning sun. Such is the last day of this long weekend.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

The Beginning of the End of the World

So I had a nice day today and this is what is going on in the Gulf of Mexico. Everything except what is happening in the gulf - the sea of oil, fires and dying dolphins - everything but this is irrelevant. So what does a 'nice day' mean? Nothing at all. And what about those we love? Are we and they nothing at all?