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!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

From one coast to the other.

Scenes from San Francisco.

Just back from New York on Wednesday (and yes!!! we found an apartment - but that is another entry.)

Lee has been telling me for years "the west is the best." Some of you already know what I think of that. I'm more east coast, old, antiques, manners, traditions. And after three years hanging in LA, I was all the more convinced I was oriented in the right direction. Well, San Francisco is another matter. We are here for five days while I have the absolute pleasure of working with client and her husband on a home in Sausalito and they are generous enough to put us up in their weekend condo ON THE WATER - our little love nest for the week. A beautiful gray spotted seal just sway by my window.

We arrived yesterday, took the BART to the city, had lunch at a great little outdoor cafe and after hearing the raves about the Ahi Tuna here, had an ahi tuna sandwich while Lee had this divine little rabe and sausage pizza, after which we walked around the Farmer's Market and I was so overcome by the "gimmes" I forgot to even shoot a picture. I wanted every bunch of lavendar, every fresh strawberry, every jar of honey. The goods were displayed in these beautiful market baskets, people were gathered at the dock eating fresh guacamole from a vendor, fresh organic sausage dogs from another. It was - without question - the best farmer's market I have ever seen. Gives you some kind of hope.

Today we just drove around the area to some of Lee's favorite spots - under a one-way tunnel to the ocean where it was windy and cold and I might have been in northern Scotland. We did the overlook of the Golden Gate where we were EACH assaulted by Asian tourists and asked to take their picture. Literally, assaulted. One came up behind me, grabbed me by the back - at which point I naturally turned around to see what or who was being so intimate. There she was. Okay, not to be racist, but what is with the Asian tourists and their pictures? Lee didn't ask me to take his picture. I didn't even think about it. I didn't even think of asking anyone to take our picture. Is this one of those cases where something is wrong with me and not them? Or just - que sera. Each to their own....

All for now... next, i'll show you pictures of little Sausilito. But we're off to have have vino and dinner.

Monday, July 7, 2008


The jacket of my dreams....

Detail of the fab flannel lining - it will keep the blustery New York winds at bay.

"Custom made by Berlin Glove Company, Berlin, Wis, From Customers Leather"
(I guess they were deer hunters...)

Bingo. I hit the jackpot. I scored. All work for me.

Today I was shopping for props for a Country Home magazine shoot. Antique shops are just the spot for Country Home - they like the real deal whenever possible. So I'm looking for a vintage homespun runner for a table - linen, creamy, simple. And I find a little something that is small - it is called a hand towel - but used in the right way, it could maybe be a runner (that gets into the tricks of the trade and how you set up a shot!)

I look up and see the jacket of my dreams. It is vintage - probably 1950's - deer skin with a modest amount of fringe on it and a tie belt. Now, I have been looking to replace the green suede Ralph Lauren jacket I bought at a resale shop a few years ago - I just wore the thing out. I needed a fall jacket - to wear with jeans, for everyday.

Well....BINGO. I saw the jacket and, although it looked a bit small, I thought I'd try it. Now Izzy walks up at just the time I am trying to get it off the wall and she is all about it! "I've been wanting a fringe jacket for ever. For EVER, MOM. You wouldn't take that out from under me, would you? I'm your daughter."

"Go ahead and try it. But it's mine." I am totally competitive. This thing is in my closet!

She tries it, finds a mirror - loves it. I try it - it is perfect. Like it was made for me. the thing has a flannel plaid lining! It was custom made for someone out of deerskin. I use that as a ploy for my vegetarian daughter. "Iz, it is made of a cute little deer. You wouldn't want it."

"Mom, I wear leather. Haven't you noticed?"

"Sorry honey, this one is mine. I love you, but I'm keeping this find. Buy a new one at the Western store."

"You think I'm gonna' buy some honky tonk shit with fringe down to here?" (She really did say this and I laughed so hard I started to tear up. Isabelle is very, very sarcastic.)"God, aren't parents supposed to sacrifice for their children? And why do you need it? You are married. Why do you need to look good?"

"Because of my profession? Whatever. It's mine."

"I'm stealing it."

She's telling the truth. It will end up in her room, just like the belt I found today and the tank top I found last week and the pants she was wearing tonight.'s mine. And, for $95. it rocks.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Inspiration on the Cheap

Some things that make me happy in my own apartment - an old (unpolished!) silver bowl filled with shells - it sits on a Chinese elm chair I found at an antique store and in front of an Italian gilt mirror I also found at an antique store - years ago.

I'm finally slowing down enough to spend the weekend with friends - my books! Every so often, I need a hit of inspiration and I find it looking at my European magazines and books. Here's my current favorite. Vervoordt is an antiquarian and designer - both of architecture and interiors. He's got it going. Don't look for '70's retro, mid-century this or that, lime green and orange patterns. This is about materials, age, texture, and finishes. Ok, a little color now and then, but not much.

Happy Sunday! Find a good magazine.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

1/2 Empty Nested

Zan in his last few days as a Minneapolitan. He's now officially a New Yorker.

Oliver and Zan - buddies since first grade - are off to Buenos Aires together next week before they start their "real jobs".

A shop in New York that caught my attention last month. I can't wait to explore these places!

Commencements are in the air....

My son officially moved to New York City yesterday, July 4, after graduating from college in May. He got a job in New York – a dream of his since he was fourteen when he first saw the place. It seems to be the dream of many of his friends and plenty of them have ended up there. How a 22 –year old can figure that out is beyond me. I am 54 and am as terrified as I am excited about living in New York. Maybe ignorance is bliss, after all.

So, I was quite sentimental at saying good-bye to him – even though, with Lee having taken a job in NY too, I’ll see Zan lots more than I saw him when he was in DC in college. “But I can’t boss you around anymore," I said. I went on to tell him, "It is as if we are crossing that magical point in the life of a relationship between a parent and child. For the past 22 years, I have been the “wise one” – my experience has helped you grow. Not to be maudlin, but the time will come as I move toward the end of life, and your experience will help cushion that journey for me. At some point, I may need help with making decisions about my money and housing and my health care." I think this kind of freaked him out. I have done that for him for twenty + years. All too soon enough, he and Izzy will be doing that for me. And we know it first hand as Lee's dad passed away a week ago today and he needed all these things in the end. It is a startling, ravishingly beautiful circle, this life.

That is what struck me as I sat with him on Thursday night.

He wrote me a letter of thanks and gave it to me – a thank you for his education. Of course, I just sat there reading it crying in my vino. It means the world to me that it matters to him. You can only hope. He gets it. He is one lucky kid. And I am one lucky mom.

He called me yesterday after he arrived. "So, how is your apartment?" I asked.

"Small. Very small. I'll need a double bed. No room for a queen. But I have a fire escape and I can put a lawn chair out there and be outdoors." (Only a New Yorker would think that being on a fire escape is being outdoors.)"But I gotta go, Mom. Got things to do."

"What do you mean you've got things to do? You just moved there today." (Was I sounding bossy?)

"I'm meeting Drew Brown, then we're going to Sam Utne's apartment in Brooklyn to watch the fireworks. He's got a view."

"Wow. Sounds like you've lived there for ever," I said. "Cool. So cool, honey."

He'll be fine.

So here’s to commencements. I have my own to enter into now. Lee and I are moving to New York, too. my hairdresser said...."How clever that you manipulated both Lee and Zan to move to New York - now all you need is to get Izzy there." What is he implying!