Sunday, December 28, 2008

Vision work and wish lists.



I am one of those new-agey people who really believes in vision work. You know - they tell you to envision it - see it, feel it, smell it, taste it, being very specific. The color, the size, the whole ball of wax needs to be seared into your brain. I can do this. I seem to have a hearty imagination. Then, of course, you are to write your vision down. So I do that, too. I'm a little superstitious and just prefer to play by the rules. Theories differ on whether or not to share your goals, visions, whatever you want to call them. Usually, I prefer not to - except with Lee when we have a shared vision. But I am making an exception in this case to noodle on the whole concept of vision work.

I really just think this is another way to describe setting a goal or creating something. You have to have an idea about something to manifest it. Like, "Hmmm, I would really like a BLT for lunch." You have to have the idea of BLT before you can physically have it. Then, your mind (or, more precisely, your imagination) starts to figure out how to create it.

Do I go to a restaurant to buy it or go to the grocery, buy the ingredients and make it myself? Do I want it on Foccacia or plain white toast? Do I want mayo on mine or maybe a little pesto? Do I just use what I have in the frig to make it? Or do I just give up, deciding it is too much work and take a bite of peanut butter instead? Unfortunately, the last option is rarely satisfying and does little to exercise our imagination or give us confidence in our capacity to create. It seems a bit like a muscle - use it or lose it.

What is interesting to me is how the mind just gets to work on the BLT. You really don't have to do much to come up with the ways you might get it. I think that is basically true for any vision. If you set the vision (or goal), your imagination just takes over and gives you ideas for how to create it. Sometimes the ideas come from the most bizarre places and at unexpected times. But they do come.

My favorite vision story this year is that a year ago we knew wanted to live in another city and had no idea how that would ever happen or which city it would be. We would even bicker about it. Nothing we could think of with our intellect seemed right. We just knew it needed to have an international feeling, that we could walk and not need a car. Well, as you all know by now, we moved to New York in August this year - with a job. We couldn't for the life of us have "figured it out" because we'd been trying for two years.

We just did our vision work together and when the ideas came for how to proceed, we took the steps - not knowing for sure where they would lead us. You can always say "No" to your vision in the end if you change your mind. But if you don't take action on it as the imagination directs you, you never create anything to say "no" to.

So here is one of the visions I want to create for myself this year. I don't get too excited yet about how I'm going to do it because it seems rather out of reach at the moment - but, that is the job of my imagination and for later. It is not the job of my intellect to figure this out.

I'm warning you, this falls on the shallow end of my "visions" scale but, I really want a Flexform sofa. I want the Flexform Lifesteel sofa in brown or black leather (this detail is still waiting for clarity.) I want a size that can physically be moved into my apartment - which needs to be determined shortly. And I have a photo of it here. I am into Italian furniture these days and when I sat in it, I actually felt like my coolness factor increased exponentially. You get a nice slouchy sit in it, just right for hanging out. I may have to start smoking cigarettes if I buy it, though.

What is on your wish list? Send details and photos!

Next, maybe I'll work on world peace.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Alone Again


Izzy at work on the Christmas night appetizer.


Voila!

I am alone again for the first time in a really long time. I think it was Dec. 16. It is now Dec. 26 and I have a high need for alone time. I am in Lee's brother's home in Boulder, sitting in silence (except for that damn ringing in my ears which is my constant companion.) It is bliss.

The last 10 days have been "festival days" as the Italians seem to call it - giorni festivi. And that brings its own revved up kind of pleasure. On the 17th, I flew to New York to meet Isabelle (just done with finals at Madison) to spend four days with her and her brother - and, of course, Lee. It felt like a real vacation, which I haven't had since last spring in Charleston with Lee. I also haven't been in the company of both children at one time since June, so that was especially nice. I adore having these grown children. Izzy and I had a fantastic time at the museum, baking cookies for Lee's students, shopping for her Christmas gift (a pair of Wellies rain boots - which are soooo darn cute and practical) and then the coups de gras - the fours of us going to see Billy Elliot on Broadway. Really kind of breathtaking. Cry, laugh, cry - and all done in a very smart kind of way.

Meaning to be home on Sat by 5:00 - but no, nine hours of going nowhere....we were loaded onto the plane with cell phones turned off - and suddenly we learned there were no pilots to fly the plane. Weather. So we unloaded and took the cab ride from hell back into the city (two hours with a car sick daughter.) Up again the next morning at 3:45 for a 4:15 pick up by SuperShuttle for one more shutle ride from hell in an over heated, over crowded van without shocks back to the airport for a 7:00 a.m. flight. Oy. If only this mattered. There were people who had been waiting three days to get home.

Home to friends in Minneapolis, two days of work and off again (another 4:30 wake up call for a 5:15 cab!) to Denver this time to spend the holidays with Lee's family. Arriving on Christmas Eve, Izzy and I were the designated cooks for the next two days. (Only one or two of the Stevens cooks and none of them were around.) We had made a perfectly anal shopping list - down to dividing it by areas of the store - canned goods, produce, dairy, etc. Izzy just rocks when it comes to things like this. So for about an hour, we filled the cart at Whole Foods. The shopping was just fantastic - everything we could have possibly wanted - as much organic as you could ever stand to eat. We had a wonderful time selecting the freshly baked Ciabatta, hearty grain breads, oily Spanish olives marinated with hot peppers, and the most divine Caprese either of us have ever tasted. There were mountains more, but those are some highlights.

We came home, unloaded the 10 bags of groceries and cartons of wine and beer and got to work on the Christmas Eve dinner - totally casual for our immediate family. Chicken chili, amazing guacamole with only lime, garlic and cilantro and flour tortilla chips. Key lime pie for dessert. It was yummy and were all ready for bed at 8:30 because we had been up since the equivalent of 3:30 that morning.

On Christmas morning. we opened a few presents (with emphasis on few this year - which I LOVE!) and got to work on dinner - this time for 12. Since I was working in a kitchen I didn't know, I wanted to do something I know how to do in my sleep, so we made lasagne - two pans of meat, one pan of spinich, a salad with goat cheese, pecans and dried cranberries and Izzy whipped up the most impressive appetizer - the Ciabotta with olive oil, pesto, artichoke, smoked tomatoes and zucchini. She bakes it all for a bit, cuts it into slices and it was just beautiful.

Good news? There are leftovers and so today I can read and nap.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

ya gotta love it.

It's almost midnight here in MSP. It's almost 1:00 a.m. in New York. My son, Zan, and I are emailing about ideas for Christmas gifts, my new computer, and plans for a week from now - when I return to New York with his sister for a bit of celebration for the holidays.

I'm on my sofa listening to "After the Love is Gone" by Earth, Wind, and Fire. He says he's in bed. (I asked him why he's up so late!)

We went back and forth a few times without ever picking up a phone, just exchanging thoughts. What was on NPR today? Where should we do dinner next week? What CD for his step-brother for Christmas? Not a whole lot more, but enough to make me smile.

I just signed my latest email, "xxoo, mom. Sleep well."

Ya gotta love email.

Friday, November 28, 2008

...she said, smugly.


Moss - must be the most uber cool store on the planet. In SoHo on an equally uber cool street called Greene with cobbley bricks for the street and old 19th Century storefronts that make you think you are in Amsterdam or something because it is all just so darn cool with art galleries, Italian furniture stores, Jack Spade's shop (Kate's brother) and great little coffee shops. Now I think I live in the stuffy part of Manhattan on the upper east side, but it is QUIET. Maybe quiet and stuffy go together.


This just rocks. Leather with some amazing native weaving.


oh, its another cool Italian thing or two.

So it's Black Friday (that really sounds depressing to me; could they call something a little peppier?) I am proud - actually, I feel smug - to say that I did not spend one single cent today. Now, that is a miracle. There is just no other way to say it. You simply cannot go a day in NY without spending something for something. A bottle of wine, a cup of coffee, a little something for dinner, picking up the laundry....it is just crazy. So, I am thrilled that my larder was filled and there was wine in the apartment and I made my own coffee and didn't need a thing.

And all the more miraculous, because Lee and I went downtown and went to a shop called Moss that is just about the most amazing design store I have ever seen. Of course, the one thing I wanted turned out to be a set of 4 dining chairs and, darn it, they were $4900 EACH! So I passed.

I just heard about the poor man trampled to death at a Long Island Walmart when the shop opened at 5 a.m. to a crowd that literally broke down the doors and crushed him. Another woman missed Thanksgiving dinner last night with her family (who were upset about it) to camp out at a store. God help us.

This makes me want to throw up my leftover turkey dinner.

As I am about to click "Publish Post"......

oh, my god....i just realized I bought tickets to Billy Elliot online this morning.

"well.....rip that smug smile right off your face, honey. You probably spent more on those tickets than the average person spent in eight hours of shopping at walmart even after stampeding someone to death."

Oh, fiddle. Just when you think you are superior, it comes back to bite you in the ass.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Joseph Campbell is not surprised.

The glorious Metropolitan Museum of Art - a cathedral to the imagination.

The stunning Guggenheim Museum by Frank Lloyd Wright, designed in the late 1940's, completed 1959 - a cathedral to the future.

I'll tell you what this is at the end.

I love architecture and what it tells us about ourselves and what we value. It is the primary reason I love Charleston, South Carolina and Florence, Italy and Brussels, Belgium. And New York. Unfortunately, Minneapolis gets a sad face :-( for its insensitivity to local architecture. It's all just "tits and glass" I say. Lots of new flashy stuff. I am a fan of old mixed with new.

I've been scooting around New York with my iphone on high alert to capture the architecture that calls to me - something that actually says something to me about how the form defines a value. So last night (during a hormone-induced sleepless night supercharged by 2 Extra Strength Excedrin at 8:00 p.m. to juice me up on caffeine) I played some of these images over in my head and here are three:

Once or twice a week, Lee wanders the collections at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. One week he meditates on a Dali, the next, he studies a small statue of Isis nursing her son Horus from the Egyptian collection, an image from 3000 years ago, then noodles his way like a homing pigeon to the Italian collection to find a Fra Angelico painting of the Madonna and Child in the same pose, only this time it is Mary and Jesus and it was painted in the 15th Century. I join him whenever I am able.

Joseph Campbell, during his time at Columbia studying Mythology, must have found a muse or two living in that museum. It was Campbell who first introduced me to the idea that architecture tells the story of a culture.

"You can tell what's informing a society by what the tallest building is. When you approach a medieval town, the cathedral is the tallest thing in the place. (FYI - my own note - The churches are still the tallest buildings in Charleston, SC.) When you approach an 18th Century town, it is the political palace....And when you approach a modern city, the tallest places are the office buildings, the centers of economic life." - Joseph Campbell, Power of Myth

So, after spending an evening at the Met, i snapped a photo of it on my way out, then walked up 5th Avenue just 6 short blocks to show Lee the Guggenheim, which he had never seen, and is particularly spectacular at night. It looks like a spaceship wedged alongside Central Park, a completely unlikely form landed among the highbrow Upper East side limestone mansions.

I shot a photo of that too.  I loved the diversity of form, but am moved that both of these buildings, one built at the turn of the 20th Century and another built on the cusp of modernism in the middle of the century, still call us to its doors because of the transformative experience that is possible when communing with art.  For me, it is not unlike a religious experience - there are the place, the rules and the rituals (don't touch, be quiet, step aside when you are done.) And in the end, the ritual may touch or change us. 

The final building is one I saw yesterday while walking home up 3rd Avenue. The timing was exquisite because only a day before, the government had swept in to save the bones of this business from breaking apart - it was the Citibank Center. For the next few blocks, every building bore the Citibank name. I snapped the shot - aware of the drama and the height, but not of beauty or thoughtfulness. It was a kind of phallic expression of power. IF it was built in the 1980's , which is my guess, it makes perfect sense when, under the spell of excess (whether it was the size of our shoulder pads or balance on our credit cards) we built our cathedrals to the gods of greed. 

Not to be too puritanical, but hey, you know the old saying, " You shall not make for yourself an idol..." Well, I think we all had a little money idolotry going on, don't you? I did my part. I bought a bigger house, a big old SUV, a Mercedes, and ran up those credit cards. In the end, we learned how shockingly UN-satisfying it all really is. 

So, are we surprised, really, that the cathedral to wealth would tumble while the cathedrals to the imagination stand?  Maybe the point is to have the intention in the building and to respect the power of our architecture and know that false gods will always disappoint. It is also no surprise that the terrorists hit us there - they fully understood our myth.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Top Ten Things for Which I Am Grateful This Thanksgiving

Well, Happy Turkey Day, first - gobble. Really, I have a few random Thanksgiving thoughts which for fun, I will put into a list and invite you to send me yours. What am i thankful for this Thanksgiving? What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving? I personally love this holiday the MOST of all holidays because:  

1. There are no gifts required. I hate the requirement of gifts. I have come to hate the requirement of gifts at Christmas. I hate getting gifts sometimes. Especially dumb gifts. Even at Easter, children now expect a gift. Valentine's, a gift. May Day, a gift. YUK! Just let me hang out with people I love, drink wine and eat good food where it is cozy and warm. No gifts, thank you.

2. It is always a four-day weekend.

So here I sit in my tiny little New York apartment, feeling utterly grateful for a few things. Drum roll......

Top Ten Things for which I am Grateful this Thanksgiving

1. That I feel rather normal again because of the changing economy. That people will be judged for being interesting rather than being rich. Both are fine. But interesting is ALWAYS better.

2. That we can say Hasta Manana to gaudy, bad taste because those with it won't be able to afford it anymore.

3. That I have an apartment in New York to share with people I love - like my son, my daughter, my brother and his partner (husband) and my step-brother and his wife (we're trading places at Christmas!)

4. That I still love my work and Lee loves his work.

5. That we have a new president and that I get to listen to someone who is way smarter than me for the next few years.

6. That we eat really well. Even if I am only having juevos rancheros in front of the TV. It's still organic and delicious. And in NY, I have to get out and walk it off every single day.

7. That my family is healthy. 

8. That I am allowed the privilege of discovering the magic of New York with Lee - a gift which, to this day, we cannot quite figure out how it happened. It is romantic, exhilerating, and humbling. It is a spring for the imagination. That museums exist. That artists survive and create and put their work in the museums for me to see on a Friday night. 

9. That I don't have to see Sarah Palin's face or hairdo on TV ten times a day. That she is back to cooking caribou, having burnt her bridges to nowhere.

10. That we can now maybe hope for world peace. Or at least being more friendly and not wanting to kill each other.


Friday, November 14, 2008

When the economy is bad, go shopping.

An antique brass cricket cage. Loved the texture it would add to a room.

Does anyone else think these are kind of cool? Onyx flowers? Kitsch? or Cool?

One of a pair - the other is a woman - only $108 for the pair!

Just some things I entertained myself with today as I was shopping our local haunts for antiques for clients. You never know what you 'll find...what do you think? It looks like an Asian theme to me.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Cool Factor

I'm going to admit something now that I am not really proud of.

The only thing that has ever mattered to me is to be cool and hang out with cool people in cool places.

Now, according to my "rules of cool," there are multiple and specific qualities to being cool. You can't be a liar. You can't be an asshole. You can't be unkind. But you do need attitude.

For eight years, I have been craving cool. George and Laura, and even their daughters, aren't cool. And, worse, they made America NOT COOL. For eight years, I have felt like Sysiphus, pushing that boulder up the mountain of cool, only to have it roll down again and again and again.

The Clintons are cool in a certain way. But, Obama is the man. And, even in Europe, in the British press, they headlines are saying, "
Joe Cool Arrives at the White House" only to go on to say,

"Whether or not he lives up to the hype (and, frankly, who could?), Barack Obama looks set to become the coolest president America has ever had.

Here's the link to the whole article:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/us_elections/article5114796.ece

All over the world, it is cool to be an American again. Personally, I'm loving it.

I was the one who had to have go-go boots when I was 13. I threw a tantrum of sorts outside the shoe store until my parents (who had three OTHER children to feed and clothe) counted their spare change and hoped it would add up to the $48.00 the boots cost in 1966. Ka-ching, Ka-ching. Why did I have to have white go-go boots? Because I saw them on Shindig on television and they were definitely cool.

I've hunted down cool boyfriends, cool cars (BMW 2002s), cool apartments, cool friends, cool restaurants, cool music, cool ideas and I hope some cool clothes. I even went for cool schools for my kids (Waldorf, although that isn't cool to everyone, it is super cool to me.) In reality, I probably just exist in the thick of mediocrity, but it doesn't matter as long as you feel like you are cool. It's all about that. And I feel cool again.

One thing I definitely want to say. Cool is NOT about money. Maybe that is why I am excited again. Everything has been about money and status for about 15 years. And cool is NOT that! Some cool people have money, but cool people don't have to have money. Some of the very coolest people I ever knew were musicians, artists, therapists / wise women, priests, writers, and teachers. Just off the charts cool. So I am very happy to get back to what is really cool - which is very different from status. Status always deteriorates into boring. Cool never does. You can stay up all night with a cool person. With a person of status? Well, you never know. If they aren't cool, they are interesting for about 5 minutes.

So, there you have it. I rearranged my Minneapolis apartment today because it was so not cool. Like, I didn't even want anyone to see it now that most of my furniture has been shipped to my really cool apartment in NY. It really bugs me when my apartments aren't cool, because I have good apartment karma and usually get cool ones.

So I shoved things around I made it moderately cooler today. I'm likin' my clothes, I'm doin' hats this year. I've got rockin' clients who really are way cooler than me, but they help me stay cool. And I've got an uber cool husband, and very cool kids and extended family and all (but one, who is going to have to work on being cool now) voted for the man - the "kid" as my 97-year old grandmother calls him.

My mojo's back.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Falling in Love


Matisse's gouache cutouts at the Met.


The classical and regal Metropolitan Museum of Art


The soaring and inspired Guggenheim Museum - by Frank Lloyd Wright, 1959


A Hallo-weeny on the streets of New York.


Fred Leighton. Ya' gotta' love a city where they feature tiaras in the windows!



I'm afraid I'm falling in love. I've told my husband about it. He's okay with it. He may be falling in love, too. It's not another man - and he's not falling for another woman. We are falling in love with New York City.

Last night it was a spur-of-the-moment date at the Met. Lee swept me off to the European Modernists and I spent the evening hanging out with Picasso, Matisse, Giacommetti, Rodin, and Dali. It was just crazy good. And it cost all of $10.

Then we walked to the Guggenheim. Lee had never seen it and I love that building. Walking up 5th from the Met at 82nd to the Guggenheim at 88th - it is a short walk on a balmy night. In the dark, the white plaster inverted spiral leans toward the park - looking like a space ship wedged among the elegant early 20th Century homes of the Upper East Side.

Today, we went to Central Park to watch the last of the 40,000 runners in the New York City Marathon. I found out I was one of 2 million spectators. All around me, families milled around, no less than 1/3 of them speaking a language other than English. We could have been in Europe. It was inspiring, moving, and the leaves were still orange and golden and falling gently from the trees. The sun was bright and the air was crisp.

I am constantly surprised by how so many people come together daily on subways, on buses, in small, local groceries, on the paths of the park, and on the sometimes crowded sidewalks. Given the diversity of the faces, the languages and the culture, there is a magnificently civil spirit in this city. And a creative one - like nothing I have ever seen.

I just love falling in love.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Religious Weekend


Yummy sofa at ABC - thick, textured linen and piles of down and feather.


A beautiful simple wood chair.


Pillows galore.

The weekend was one religious experience after another. It began on Friday afternoon at Barney's. I haven't been to Barney's for, maybe, 28 years. When I went way back then, I was working in fashion - so Barney's was Mecca. Of course so was Bendel's and probably Bergdorf's. I had only been back in New York once since then - about three years ago to see the Chanel exhibit at the Met.

Now, I live here. Lee took a teaching job (old news by now) and here I am. Happy as a clam. Lee spent the weekend in North Carolina working with his dissertation mentor and my sister, Holly, came to NY to hang out with me. She is also a designer so we have many things in common. Clothes, food, and design. That is what we are about!

On Friday, we walked down Madison and ended up at Barney's. I was a fashionista in my 20's. I was enamored with St. Laurent and Chanel (I bought one St. Laurent coat in 1979 on a huge sale at Dayton's Oval Room - I still have it and wear it!) I was a designer and seamstress and HOW these clothes were made is what interested me. After perusing the hat and bag area and coveting no less than 4 hats and 5 bags each, but with prices over our weekly incomes, we passed on the purchases. We made our way to the second floor where designer clothes hung elegantly and sparely on curving rods. First....Nina Ricci. Unbelievable. Holly and I wanted at least 4 of these pieces and the bill would have topped $20,000. But gorgeous, understated, silk, 20's inspired tops and dresses. Quiet elegance. Next was Yves St. Laurent. Amazing sleeves. They actually are cut like a human being's arm - slightly curved forward. It takes a great deal more fabric(thus costing a great deal more) but actually fits the human form. It was so beautiful. Then on to Prada - and the exquisite laces.

What was most pleasant is that no one made us feel like we shouldn't be there. We were casually dressed in jeans and boots. But no one bugged us or watched over us. We browsed freely. I think in NY the sales people are taught not to judge people - you never know who has money but happens to look like a homeless person today. So here's my snobby part - Lee asked me how it compared to Neiman's in Minneapolis. My response? "It makes Neiman's Minneapolis look like a Walmart." Unfortunately, I'm not kidding. Then again, now that I know that is Sarah Palin's new shopping spot, it all makes sense.

Then on to ABC Home on Saturday. Wow. Just one inspiring floor after another, filled with delicious linens and pillows, lighting and furniture - from lucite to naked woods, hammered metal and old painted chests. It is my newest resource for my clients.

Saturday night we went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the Whirling Dirvishes of Turkey - okay - unbeliveable. It was like being a mouse in the corner of a Turkish market in 1400 and watching the dirvishes pay tribute to the Beloved. All based on Rumi's poetry, the Sufi poet from the 13th Century. It was quite beautiful to see the way they crossed their arms over their hearts before they whirl. It is the same way the children at the Waldorf school cross their arms over their hearts while they say their morning verse - a ritual of reverence.

Followed by mussels and shrimp and salad at home courtesy of Holly's culinary talents. And sitting at the dinner table until 11:30 while we talked and laughed and talked and laughed.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

"The times they are a'changin." - Bob Dylan

Just a moment ago, I looked for the sixteenth time today at the NYTimes website - it is my homepage when I open the web. There was a photo of a gathering of people with a lovely domed building in the background. It was clearly a political rally. I read the headlines. "Candidates Vie for Pieces of Changing Map." I clicked on it to read the piece. It was a rally today in St. Louis, MISSOURI - historically a fortress of Republicanism. But today, there in Saint Louis, 100,000 (that is not a typo! so there, Sarah Palin!!!) people gathered to see Barack Obama. It took even his breath away. Here are the words from the Times, (that most elite of the elite East Coast newspapers!)

Even Mr. Obama, who can wear self-possession like an overcoat, seemed taken aback. “What a magnificent day the Lord has made,” he said. “And thank you for being here today.”


I just started to weep. I was touched by his instinctual proclamation of faith. I realized that we are going to get the change we need. I realized, too, how tired and sad I am from the last eight years. Weary. Just weary. So I read it and wept and then thought...thank god, "the time's they are a'changin."

Because, frankly, if they weren't, I am in the mood for another '60's revolution. I am just melancholic and bored after 8 years of George Bush and the nut case evangelicals and war mongerers and liars who have been at the helm. I'm toast - and that is why I am crying. For hope. For the audacity of hope.

So, here's a little Bob Dylan for you - from 1964. (Not all the lyrics, but the most compelling for now.)

Come gather 'round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You'll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you
Is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'.

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside
And it is ragin'.
It'll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Things on My Mind

At the entry of Wyeth Home - SoHo. I liked the little leather benches.

Unbelievably cool chaise - for only $27,000 it can be yours.

How different this part of the city from my Upper East Side 
- East Village one end of the street.
The other end of the street - East Village - new high end condos

Report from Minneapolis:
I'm back from New York and life in Minneapolis is slightly discombobulating, as my mother might say. First, it is very quiet here. Now, as my son points out - that is normal. New York is not normal in the amount of noise that permeates life there. Ok. I get it. All I'm saying is, it is stunningly quiet in my neighborhood. It is lovely, really. But, I'm a little slow in feeling at home in my quiet apartment with no one to talk to or drink coffee with. Work is good, though. Work is good.

The trees have changed here - they are so grand and beautiful. I once heard that Californians think the changing trees are gauche - that the subtlety of the changes in California is so much more elegant and superior.  Well, that is exactly why I don't like (Southern) California. They are just so full of themselves. Like I have any choice about how my trees change. Why don't they just take this up with God? 

Notes from Blogging World:
My friend and fellow Blogger, Ellen - author of "A Girls Garden of Menopause" is a little off her game. She has been hit with a hurricane of forgetfulness and admits to forgetting that she had a blog. Well, I understand and it is nothing to be ashamed of. There are worse things to forget - like, that you have a husband, for example. So, not to worry, Ellen. I suggested she set up a little pill box with the Sunday through Saturday sections and put a note in reminding her to write for her blog. Her blog is very entertaining and I don't want her forgetfulness to get in the way of my entertainment.

A Bargain at Twice the Price:
So back to NY - I went to a shop that a client of mine turned me on to - Wyeth Home. It was in SoHo, had a locked door, and when I walked in was more than surprised by its size. I immediately knew that there might be several things I'd be interested in for my clients and asked if I could take photos to send my clients. It was jam-packed with mid-century Scandanavian (mostly) furniture, a little Nakashima, and a little African. 

They said no photos - they would give me tear sheets for everything. And nothing had a price on it. Ok. So I walk around, take mental notes and then show the shopkeeper what I would like for tear sheets. "I think this is fabulous. I'd like that. Oh, and that. And that wonderful leather chair. Ok....and the lamp. And the little leather bench. Oh, and the chaise! That is just amazing. Ok. I think that will do."

I arrived home, expecting to find the PDF file she had sent with images and prices. It was there, like an unwrapped package. I could hardly wait. I opened it. There were the items I had carefully selected - with pricing. Well, the chaise - $27,000. One of the chairs - $64,000. A set of dining chairs - $14,000 (A BARGAIN!), the table lamp - $2800. One SET of chairs was the original prototype for a designer and the price for the pair was $195,000.  Yes, $195,000.

Do people have the confidence to spend that kind of money in this economy? Go figure. I try not to be judgmental about people and their particular financial situation. I try to just make them happy  - whatever their budget (ok, within reason.) But - whoa!  Can you possibly get $64,000 worth of pleasure from a chair????  

Welcome to New York. 


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Observations on New York

So, after an official 4 weeks in New York I have a few, very minor, observations. And here they are, list style:

1. More people in NY have darker coloring than in the Midwest, the land of blue-eyed, blonde Scandinavians. Today I was meeting a female parent from Lee's class at a restaurant to discuss a possible design project. Although I had met her once, I had also met 24 other sets of parents the same night, so was not confident that I recalled what she looked like. I asked Lee, "What does she look like?" He replied, "She is dark, attractive, and kind of tall."

Ok. Good. I got it. So I get to the restaurant at 10 in the morning on Madison and 84th and what do you know? There are about 20 women who are dark, attractive and tall. This was a lesson in chauvinism. We don't know what we don't know because we are so oriented to our own little world. In the end, I found her because she was dark, attractive, and tall, AND looking like she was meeting someone she didn't know very well.

2. It is weird to listen to Waylon Jennings singing "Amanda" in our cute little New York pied-a-terre. It is weird to listen to country music in Manhattan, period. Just weird. But I'm going to keep doing it because I like my old country music.

3. Depending on the time of your life, New Yorkers will live in different parts of the city. (I did have a native New Yorker confirm this today!) When you are younger, you like being gritty so you live near the Bowery or in Hell's Kitchen. When you get a little money, you move to one of the Villages or Chelsea or Tribeca. When you have children or need it quiet, you move to one of the Uppers - Upper East or Upper West. I think Upper East is maybe the quietest. I need quiet.

4. New York grocery stores have put a lot of thought into their bags - the size and the handles - because New Yorkers have to carry everything. Normal cheap plastic bags are rare - because the handle squishes together and gets really skinny if you have a heavy bag and hurts your hand. The best bags have a nice, flat wide handle. It is a pleasure to carry the bags from Citerella and Butterfield Market. Most shops have nice, heavy duty bags that would NEVER break. There would be a riot in New York if things were always dropping out of the bottom of bags. And the added benefit is that we can use them for recycling.

5. New Yorkers would no more go out without an umbrella than go out without shoes on. I am clearly not yet a New Yorker.

6. Address is everything. New Yorkers know the city and say things like, "That's a very good address."

7. You can wear almost anything you want in New York - it is a good place to experiment with style because you can be fairly certain that no one will notice you. Or , if they do, they will either think you look chic or you are just bi-polar on one of your binges.

8. New York has a tangible energy. Even when you lay in bed at night, quiet, trying to fall asleep.
Which is why I am up very late watching Rachel Maddow and Hardball and reading my latest, fabulous book, Netherland. (Hint: go get it!)





Monday, September 29, 2008

Wanted: The Courage of St. Michael


A game of tug of war in Central Park - 1st graders to 12th graders on the same team. Mr. Stevens is the referee. Who says there's no place to play in Manhattan?


Waldorf children acting out a "The Tale of the Buffalo"


Actors ready to go "onstage". All ages - from 2nd grade to 12th are in this play.


Mr. Stevens' 1st grade. All in red to celebrate Michaelmas. Rudolf Steiner School, Manhattan.

It's been a long week. Then again, it's been a long eight years for some of us. We could use a little courage.The feast of St. Michael, known as Michaelmas, is celebrated mostly in Europe. According to Wikpedia, "The Archangel Michael is one of the principal angelic warriors, seen as a protector against the dark of night, and the administrator of cosmic intelligence." Come to think of it...we could use a little cosmic intelligence, too. Lee told the children a story of Angel Michael today and his courage against the ferocious dragon of evil. You will see him standing with one foot on a dragon and a sword lifted to the heavens. He is there to give us courage as the days grow dark - whether literally or metaphorically so. Seeming a little dark around here lately --- if you know what I mean.

The children are all in red because as Michael swoops across the heavens, his fiery sword touches the tips of the trees and turns them to gold and orange and red - giving us the colors of autumn.

In a Waldorf school, this festival is celebrated every year with the children on September 29, the Feast Day of St. Michael. (Waldorf is not strictly a "Christian" school, but celebrates many of the Judeo-Christian holidays. The curriculum includes blocks on all of the world's primary religions.) It has always been one of my favorite festivals and this one, my first at the Steiner School here in Manhattan was not a disappointment. I love the idea of celebrating courage - not a hawkish, warrior-like courage - but a deep, abiding, inner courage.

Today I watched children from Lee's first grade class meet their "buddies" from the 12th grade, who gently knelt to say hello, then rose to take their hand to lead them off to play games. Soon enough the first graders were galloping on the shoulders of these gentle giants. I watched them work together to create a play that told a Native American story of how man was given care over the earth and all living things. (Right...that happened.)

How quickly the time will pass when the little ones will be the Seniors. Lee's last class of first graders are 22 and just out of college. What courage they need to face the world now and how grateful I am for the Waldorf education they have had. Kids and parents just don't forget a day like this. I know because my own children went to a Waldorf school.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ten Things I Can't Live Without

Okay, that's a little dramatic. But, I love those articles in Elle Decor or wherever they are. Someone famous gets asked what they can't live without and they list the things with photos and most of the things cost a gazillion dollars and then two of the things are from nature - peonies or lilacs or their Jack Russell, Andre.

So, I'm driving home tonight from dinner with my friend Lucy. Well, Lucy and her husband, David, took "our" apartment in Florence this summer per our urging and tonight at dinner she showed me the pictures on her computer and I literally got goosebumpy and teary when she said her most memorable moment was when they threw open the doors to the terrace and opened the shutters on the window only to reveal Il Duomo. I know the feeling and it can't be beat.

It made me think of the things I have most cherished in life and one thing led to another and I decided to do a Top Ten List of My Own. But I think I'll do it in the "LIST" side of the blog so it hangs around for awhile - would love to hear yours! Please respond in any techno way you can do it. Not to worry about form - it' s the feeling that matters. Bring it on.

What are the top ten things you can't live without??????

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Damn Hippies


Lee Stevens in Rome, 1972

I just found this while cleaning out a box of stuff - telephone cords, a nail clipper, a fire alarm, oodles of photos of my children and this. This absolute gem of a photo of my husband in 1972 in Rome where he went to study Gestalt Therapy. His dear father, Lee, Sr. (who passed away this summer) used to talk about the "damn hippies."

No man deserves care-free hair like this.

Isn't life fabulous? This leaves me speechless.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Yoga Diary - Getting by with a little help from our friends.


John Lennon.

Well, one thing about me....when I latch on to something, it's like superglue - you can't pry me away. But, how long my little love affair with yoga will last...you never know. So, that is the caveat. Next week it may be Pilates.

Today I went to yoga again. Same teacher - same thing, only fewer people (all women) because the class was at 9:30 instead of the 4:30 hour as yesterday. One observation. When i started yoga in 1973, there were a lot more men in the class - maybe the majority. I have my theories about this, but I'll leave that for later. (And I am not convinced history proves me right, anyway.)

So I am doing my yoga - slowly, which I prefer. We are practicing balance poses. They are kind of hard for me - not mortifying like a full backbend (which I wouldn't even attempt right now) - but just kind of hard. One yoga teacher told me that balance poses are a metaphor for life. She said, "Don't worry about being steady. We are always adjusting in life." I've remembered that.

And today, while in the half moon pose, which is standing on one straight leg - bending forward to put the hand on the ground while the other leg sticks straight out the back (so you look like a "T" with an extra leg), the teacher said, "Use a block for support if that is helpful."

I took the block and placed it under my hand so that I didn't have to bend quite so far and it really helped. I found my balance. A little lightbulb went off. Immediately I realized that we need support in our lives to keep our balance. Asking others for help and support is okay.

And that is my John Lennon moment for today. We get by with a little help from our friends.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Yoga Theory


I have a theory which is this: anyone who took yoga in the relative distant past is always looking for his or her first yoga teacher. This is an adaptation of the Freudian theory that all women are looking for their fathers and all men are seeking their mothers. I first started yoga in 1973 in Iowa City, Iowa. I went to a class at a church. It was a long narrow room and the mats were lined up in two rows along the walls of the room so that the teacher could walk between the rows and instruct us personally. Her name? I think it was Barb. I recall exactly how she looked. She was short – maybe 5’2”, slightly stocky, but remarkably flexible and beautiful in a no-makeup kind of way with dark hair, pulled back. And, she was kind and soft and patient. The room was kept dark and quiet.

In 1973, there were no Lycra or leggings. We all wore muslin drawstring yoga pants. They must have cost $7. I probably made mine as I sewed everything I wore then. I guess we wore a t-shirt and that would be it. She burned incense. I presume it was Nag Champa because to this day, I crave the smell of Nag Champa incense in my home. I have a stash of it in Minneapolis. I shopped madly for it in New York and have yet to find the brand of choice. I am sending it by mail tomorrow so it will be there when I next land.

Nag Champa is a positive anchor for me. I burn it every time I clean my house.

Yoga is also an anchor for me.

My husband, Lee, who I met in 1992 and knows that I practice yoga when it is convenient, teases me. “Yes, we all know you practiced with the yogis themselves = in India – in the 12th Century.” Well, he just doesn’t know anyone who has practiced yoga since before the invention of Lycra – that’s all I have to say. That would be moi.

Of course, there is some pressure associated with that fact. IF I have been doing yoga for 35 years why I am I not the most awesome, flexible, pain-free person on the planet? Well, because like many things in my life….I started them but didn’t really keep it up. Motherhood interfered. Divorce interfered. Work interfered. Life interfered. And now I have some aches and pains I barely want to admit to and I am only moderately flexible. I look better in clothes than I do naked. That is the sad truth.

But, whatever….I still don’t own any Lycra yoga pants and never will.

Tonight I went to a class at One-Yoga, a nonprofit studio in Minneapolis, which I have grown to love. Why? Because it has the attitude of my circa 1973 yoga class. The real deal. No aerobics yoga. I was disenchanted when YOGA made the cover of Time magazine several years back. It had become way too mainstream and that bummed me out.

But I’ll go back this week, because there was something a little “Barb” there. There was incense, there was some chanting music in the background, but, mostly, there was very little Lycra. People were in shorts and tees, sweats and tanks. It’s my kind of yoga. She was kind and offered rest. She helped you when you needed it. You shut your eyes and don’t even notice that anyone else is in the room. I may have found my first yoga teacher again.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Crazy...


The bags for extra clothes at the back of Lee's 1st grade room.



Mr. Stevens preparing a drawing for his students.


A corner of the 1st grade classroom at the Rudolf Steiner School - Manhattan.

I am crazy for my husband. I said good-bye to him in New York on Sunday - kisses at the door of a Super Shuttle. I flew to my home in Minneapolis.

On Monday, he began a new life - teaching (rather taking) a group of 25 first graders at the Rudolf Steiner School in Manhattan. It is a Waldorf school. In the Waldorf method, the teacher moves with the children from 1st through the 8th grade. This is a DESTINY thing. Not a job. A spiritual path. He, along with the parents, is partially responsible for the souls of these children. Because, when you are with children from age 6 to age 13, you are more than incidental in their lives - you help shape their lives. I am madly in love with him tonight.

He has taught this class for two days. (The first day was celebratory and ritualistic - the beginning of a new year and a new first grade.) On his first full day he told me about how it rained all the night before and when the children arrived, they went to the terrace outside their classroom - open to the sky. There are deep dirt-filled tubs - some planted, some ready for spring bulbs. On Tuesday, they were filled with earth worms crawling to the surface and the children had so much fun with them. In the end, they left them safely in the dirt. But remember, these are New Yorkers! How many have yards to dig for earth worms? This must have been a special treat.

Today's story was simpler. He says the children are incredibly sweet. Just before they went out to play (in Central Park!) Lee looked down. Charlie, an especially dear and small boy, was sort of hanging out right near him. Lee said, "What's up, Charlie?"

Charlie said, looking up (and remember this is only the third day of first grade!) "You are the best teacher I've ever had, Mr. Stevens." And he gave Lee a big hug around his leg.

I adore this man. My son has friends who are 22 who make 10 times what Lee makes in a year. It's not why I love him.

He's smart. (He's writing his Ph.D. dissertation on "The Future of Ego"- something which even his dissertation editor had to clarify, it is so frigging esoteric!) and he is kind. He makes me laugh. (He's a great lover.) He loves kids. What more can you ask for?

Monday, September 8, 2008

I'm Home...oops. I'm in one of my homes.

I'm trying to be careful about saying that Minneapolis is home and New York is where I go to visit a couple of weeks each month. I'm one of those woo-woos who think that how you think and what you say actually creates your reality. So, I am trying (as I already said) to be careful lest I end up never living in New York with my beloved because of my language.

So, I am in Minneapolis. It was eerie getting out of the cab. It was dark. There were no lights on in my apartment. I had picked up the wrong key in NY and didn't have a key to get in so I had to call my friends to get one (they had kindly been helping me with my cats.) I walked the 2 blocks to their home in utter quiet except for the modest crying of young child getting into a car with its parents. The contrast to New York was stark. Minneapolis was cool and beautiful and had that crisp feeling in the air.

I had to sleep under both my down and my quilt without Lee there to keep me warm. I didn't sleep well in New York because it was quite warm - and on the 4th floor (no AC) even warmer. I'm not a fan of sleeping in heat. Que sera. I left a small carbon imprint for the last two weeks. Little cooking, no AC.

My apartment here seems gigantic and rambling and empty. I miss that it is not beautiful anymore. It is 1200 square feet compared to the 450 in NY. Isabelle is in Madison. Lee is in New York. It is only me and Pinky and Isis, the cats. I realize how much more room Americans have than they really need. I think it is definitely easier to take care of less. I can clean my whole New York apartment in less than an hour. I mean really clean - tub, sink, toilet, floors, kitchen, bedding, etc. - things I don't do here because I have a housekeeper. Of course, that is easy too, come to think of it.

Being here with no responsibility for another living thing except my 2 cats and one plant requires that I actually get things done, however. It is a bit overwhelming. But time to dig in. Thank god I love my work.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

A Dark Mood...with a Wardrobe to Prove It


The elegant Babe Paley - known for her "beauty, manners, and kindness"

I'm in a decidedly dark mood. And I am buying black to prove it. Well, I suppose it could be that I'm buying black because I'm in New York, but I like to imagine it is more symbolic than that. I am a left-of-center Democrat and this last week's shenanigans with Ms. Alaska, whom I now like to call "Babe Palin" in hopes of inspiring a comparison to the real Babe Paley - one of the most stylish and smart women of the 2oth Century known for "beauty, manners, and kindness" - has got my undies in a bunch.

I just want my country back and until I get it, I'm going into mourning and wearing black.

Now this isn't all bad. I love black. it is easy to coordinate. Black goes with black. Of course, I love black with navy (like the French). And I love black with brown. I don't love black with white. Oh, nooooo. It's too upscale suburban mall. Navy and white, yes. Black and white, no.

So, as I needed some new things for fall and to lift my spirits and to feel like a New Yorker, not a jeans and cotton t-shirt Minnesotan (which I am!), I went to Banana and Gap (GAP is good this fall - a new designer!) Of course, I am drooling all the way down Madison at the more expensive shops. I carry a little drool bag with me so as not to make a mess on the sidewalks of New York. The Eileen Fisher store just beckons, as does Agnes B., and a little shop on my corner that sells French sailor shirts. But, with the cost of moving to New York, we are Gapping it and black it is.

By the way, as a sanguine, I ask that you not hold me to my promise to be in mourning until we get our country back. I may change my mind tomorrow if I find a great pair of green shoes.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Chez Stevens New York


Overall of apartment - facing north with the beautiful northern light.


Detail. Wall waiting for art.


Detail mantle with my beloved Buddha painting. Where that goes, I go.


The quiet bedroom. Or should we call this a sleeping closet?


The table we rigged with a 40 x 40 marble from Room & Board Outlet Store. Just perfect for us.

We've been here a week. I have purchased the wastebasket and hangers that were required to feel officially done with moving in. I've fussed with the art (and can't wait to get more!) It is all in place. So here are the photos. We love it here. I am so happy in an all white, light-filled room. It feels spacious even at 450 square feet.

And the place got even brighter yesterday when Lee determined to clean the dead bird carcasses off the windows. It had been driving him crazy. I am capable of selective attention. So he found the perfect tool at A Gracious Home (the single most amazing "hardware store" I've ever seen in my life!) And, for two hours he delicately used this tool to remove the film of guts and grime off the windows. He even cleverly tethered the tool to his wrist with one of his ties! lest he drop it - it wouldn't smash the head of a passerby. Remember this is the 4th floor of an old building with 11 foot ceilings so we are up here in the trees.

Enjoy Labor Day. We are taking the day off from laboring and going to the park.

xo

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Honeymoon with a Giant

I have just realized that New York is so metaphorically and psychically "BIG", I can barely sit down to put my tiny little experiences into words. It is big energetically - not even the physical bigness. It takes you over. I can't even take photos because I seem so little here. Besides, I live here now and don't want to look like a tourist. It's a little weird because i am so visual - i usually need to be taking photos. But here, the experiences are so big I can't really even handle it. I am taking it in with every inch of my being - my eyes, ears, skin, nose, and sense of balance as I walk, watching for a runaway cab ready to run me down, looking for the markers that tell me I'm on the right path.

But, for now, I will catch you up with words...

Once I get the hangers I need, a wastebasket, and an incense burner, we are officially moved in. (Ok - the art is still missing. But everyone deals with art for awhile.) We love our apartment and the more we hang out in other parts of the city - as much as we enjoy them - the UES (Upper East Side)is it for us. QUIET! Last night, our "date" was an evening at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the Turner exhibit. I got sidetracked by a photography exhibit, which was fabulous. Then, we walked 5 blocks to 2nd ave and found a pizza place - anxious to find a substitute for our beloved Broder's in Minneapols. Well, this was good - very good. But, hey, the pizza cost $34.95! Ok, we had it for lunch today, too, and it was very good, but, boy, food is a chunk of change here.

On Wed. night this week, we were invited to a distant shore....the WAY Upper West Side - near Columbia - to a fun Mexican outdoor on-the-rooftop kind of bar and restaurant with Lee's colleagues. Well, let me be the first to say - they are a fun bunch! They were welcoming, margarita-drinking, order-for-the-whole-table-sharing kind of people. It was great. I was delighted to see them all enjoying each other so much (after the LA experience - BORING!) Dale, one one of the teachers said, "We like each other." It was obvious.

Today we walked to the MOMA at 53rd and 6th (recall we live on 81st -it's a numbers game here.) Really, we walked 2 1/2 hours and it was fantastic - we walked Madison to see Armani, Chanel, St. Laurent, Missoni, Valentino, Donna and on and on. But, really, quite wonderful. then on to the Apple store, which is so incredible - a big glass ice cube at 60th and 5th. So brilliant. A big old tourist attraction. I rarely heard a word of English - all Europeans ending their summer in New York? I ducked into Bergdorf's for some necessary Bobbi Brown makeup I was out of and felt overwhelmingly out of place in my jeans, walking shoes and tie-dyed Lucky t-shirt. But, hey, no one knows you in New York. Still, please, Alecia....dress the part if you are going to Bergdorf's.

This is a crazy place. And we love it. We love discovering it together. It is like a honeymoon. With each other and with life.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Hunting and Gathering


Lee walking into our new market, Citarella.

Really. I'm behind. Our phone line doesn't work so we don't have the internet. We are poachers. We are using someone else's line in the meantime. Unfortunately, it doesn't work all the time. So when I am in the mood to blog...well, maybe it works, maybe it doesn't. It certainly won't upload my photos. Our TV doesn't work either. So I'm missing the big picture version of the convention. But the things that matter seem to work. The toilet. The shower just rocks. The hot water. The kitchen. There is a breeze through the apartment. The general vibe is as good as it gets. We are basically just hanging out in bliss...and hunting and gathering.

Yes...hunting and gathering. That's all we do. We go out for medication. We go out for groceries. We go out for hangers. We go out for screwdrivers. We go out for dinner. We go out for getting cash. We go out for coffee, wine, vodka, bread, stamps, band-aids and hydrogen peroxide. We go out for box cutters and garbage bags. We actually walk to get these things and, pretty soon, will weigh about 88 pounds, because after we go to walk to get these things, we have to climb four flights of stairs to bring them home. We are very happy, but we take a lot of naps. And drink a lot of cappucini that we make here in the apartment. And for now, I'm so tired thinking of all the hunting and gathering, I'm going to bed.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

New York: First 24 Hours

I made my first mistake when I got off the plane. I took a cab from Newark Airport and it cost me (PLEASE DON'T TELL ANYONE THIS!) $93.00. I wanted to throw up.

My alarm went off at 3:59 AM. I was out of bed by 4:15, showering, feeding cats, finishing my packing, organizing my client files and in a cab at 5:30 AM. By the time I got to Newark at 10:45, I was ready for a cab. Not a Super Shuttle that takes another 2 hours to my apartment. The movers were there and I wanted to be in the thick of it! So I took a cab and literally felt sick all the way into the city as I realized how much I was spending.

But, que sera. I just realized that part of learning about how to survive in New York is how to do things the economical, smart way. When to spend - when not to spend. Where to go for groceries, wine, hardware. It's a learning curve. And we are learning!

I learned that I will never take a cab from Newark again - unless I am sharing it with someone else.

Monday, August 11, 2008

"Change is certain. How will you respond to it?"


Jim, the moving man, takes a load of boxes into the truck.
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My sad and empty library / den.


My library / den after I couldn't stand it empty.

I go to a doctor who practices Chinese medicine. He's my first line of defense because he was the only one who could cure me of the most bizarre combination of symptoms one year ago at this time. It was a no-brainer for him. It stumped my traditional doctors.

Anyway, he is always talking to me about change - because it can cause a lot of problems with our energy / bodies if we are not adaptable. So he says, "Change is certain. The only question is how will you respond to it."

I have thought about that a lot lately. My husband is moving to New York while I mostly stay here in Minneapolis. My daughter is off to Madison. My son has moved to New York to take his first job out of college. I'm living alone here from the day Lee and Izzy leave until (probably) Christmas, when Lee comes home for 5 days - the rest of the time we are in Boulder.

So, that's a little change. And, today, the movers came and that felt like "rock the boat" change. I had to send 1/3 of my furniture to New York and I was left with a shell that I could hardly stand, so in complete exhaustion, I set to work and arranged the little that was left. And I will start again....

It helps me to see that home is about the people and the activity ---- and, yes, a few good pieces. My pieces happen to be anywhere from 2 - 200 years old. Some I love, some are just okay. But mix them sparingly, add a bit of green, a modern light and it kind of works. It ain't perfect, but it will do in a new york minute.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

On the Road Again



My sketchy layout drawing for the apt.



Piles going to New York.



And more piles.

When I say "on the road again", I emphasize the "again" part. I've moved a lot. I must like it because I keep doing it. The moving truck comes tomorrow morning and all these boxes and half the furniture in our apartment will be loaded for New York. I'm kind of in a muddle. Because the two things most dear to me - my family (and friends) and my home are being torn up. We just aren't in a position to do this move AND buy all new furniture for New York, so we have to use what we have and that means good-bye to my finally "decorated" apartment in Minneapolis. I just have to make choices. (Still, I've spent the last two weeks fully stocking a kitchen, a bathroom, and creating a bedroom. I mean, you can't move everything!)

In the last week, I actually got Lee to think about furnishing this apartment - I needed his help doing a trial run. Because I can't take a thing we won't use - or doesn't have a place - I had to be sure everything would fit. So we taped out the living area (12 x 19) in our apartment and started moving the furniture into place. Wow. I could really start to see what it might feel like.

Oh, yes - the bedroom is 6' x 16'. You did not read that wrong and it is not a typo. 72" wide. So we are using our double bed (full) but got the Simmons Beauty Rest with separate coils so I don't have to feel like I'm rolling to the middle of the bed when he gets in. We've always slept on a full and looks like we're going to keep sleeping on a full. How european! We went shopping for a mattress and got a salesman with a really bad hair piece and horrible voice. the poor guy could have been a character on SNL. Buying a mattress is just goofy because you are laying there on your back talking to a stranger. Apparently Lee and I are unlike 90% of the population (this is actually fine with me when I think about the state of America right now) because we like an extra firm mattress without the pillow top. I hate my pillow top mattress now and can't wait to have a good night's sleep again.


Yesterday we bought a slab of marble at Room & Board outlet store for a table. (I have a base.) Lee liked it because it reminded him of Florence. I still have to figure out where all of his papers will go. he's a pack rat and won't part with notes from a class on Freud from three years ago in case he needs it for his dissertation. Or power cords from god knows what, but since he is not sure, he won't throw them away - just in case. This apartment has no "just in case" space, but he doesn't know that, yet.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

There's no photo for this.

I am out of touch with the importance of music in my life. It used to permeate the seminal moments. I hung out with musicians in my twenties. I went to hear live music every single weekend. It was cause for entertainment and socializing. My own home was often the spot for whatever happened after the clubs closed. There was Chris and Paul, sometimes Greg, Chuck, and Shane. An occasional girlfriend came along. And sometimes the guy who was also into BMW 2002s and the then odd little Honda Civic (which was sort of like the Smart car seems now) but whose name I cannot recall. I would go to bed at 2:00 a.m. and wake up the next morning - the musicians camped out in the living room and extra bedrooms, with guitars, banjos, and mandolins carefully put to bed in their cases after all night music. In the morning, we put coffee on, made a pot of oatmeal,and ate together. Somewhere in the room, someone had a guitar in his lap, picking out a new song. It was a lovely background humming - just under the conversation at breakfast. I loved folk music. I loved the blues and it has all fizzled like a sorry love affair. I dropped music like it was nothing to me.

I remember when I first really heard country music in the mid-'70's in Garrison, Iowa. I was working for a professional theatre, The Old Creamery Theatre Company, in a town of 300 people north of Iowa City. We rehearsed all day and went to drink beer at the local bar every night. There was a guy in the company (whose name escapes me after 36 years!) who kept plugging the juke box with quarters to play country music and talk about it like he was selling something - he was so excited and knew so much. The one I still recall is Loretta Lynn's little sister, Chrystal Gale's number one hit - Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue. Then there was Mama, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys something by Waylon Jennings - and some Willie Nelson and some real deal Hank Williams. It just grabbed me. And from that day forward, my radio was set to the country station.

Tonight I am listening to the Dixie Chicks and why they just aren't ready to make nice. I am listening to Eric Bibb's bluesey gospel about the angels singin'. And surely the single best white blues guy, Dave Von Ronk, singin' all 'bout that "cocaine runnin' all round his brain". There's Greg Brown singing my personal favorite, Ring Around the Moon from way, way back - his first album. And last, but not least, the queen of New Orleans soul, Irma Thomas, reminding me what love is all about. And I'm just sitting here in my living room - doing nothing but listening.

I wonder why I remember this now and why it is so easy for me to forget what a pleasure music can be.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Anatomy of an Apartment








On the street where we'll live - (white building). Apartment being painted, but looking fresh! The baseline shots of the apartment in mid-July.

By now, some of you may know that Lee has taken a job in New York and I am bound to follow (follow, follow, follow, follow.) Hey, isn't that some corny song from the '60s'? So back to NY. I am very excited about beginning a life in NY with Lee, even though I'll only be there part of the time. I was never, ever excited about life in LA (although I sort of tried.) One of the problems was that he had really bad apartments or a roommate - yet another story. I need a home. I need to feel like i am grounded in a place. I need my espresso pot, my tea, my bottle of vino, my desk, my pillow - you get the picture. I am someone who hates staying in hotels! That's how much I like a place of my own. If I am traveling, I'd rather rent an apartment for the trip. You get the idea.

So this time I knew I needed to make a place that we would consider ours, a place where I would be excited to spend time. So, Izzy and i found our place a little over a week ago. It is not perfect, but pretty darn good. It is 1.5 blocks from the Metropolitan Museum and 3 blocks from the Rudolf Steiner School where Lee will work - on the Upper East Side (UES in NY lingo), a 4th floor walkup, no laundry on the premises, certainly no DW. And bring your own AC. But it is charming with good bones. High ceilings. All white, old.(Ok - not like Italy old, but like New York sort of old - 1900.) Some of the floors kind of tip.

And I feel like a new bride. I am buying towels, shower curtains, plates, and cutting boards. I am taking inventory of all my furniture and tallying up what I can part with in service of creating a fabulous little NY pad. And I am going to keep you posted on the progress. how do you do an apartment on a MODEST budget - mostly with what you have? I have a vision - how do I realize it and stay financially solvent? It might be a "Looks for Less" piece in a magazine - we'll see when it is finito!