Friday, October 30, 2009

Present Time Magic.

A wonderful view of downtown from the 12th floor window.
Seems so old New York.

The mannequins.

This is the sculpting and casting room. Want your head sculpted???

Anna taking a snooze in one of the chairs.

9th floor pieces.

Anna and I spent the afternoon together scouting a wonderful small apartment in her building in the West Village for one of my magazines, then moving on to Ralph Pucci on our way to ABC to shop for my clients. Well, Ralph Pucci is one of those places you would never find without trying - it is on the 9th and 12th floor of an unremarkable building on West 18th. We couldn't quite believe this was right. Surely, Ralph Pucci would be in something flashier than this! But, we were quite wrong. We walked in and, after proving I was trade by giving someone my card, who was tucked away in a kind of indoor wooden shed. the whole thing reminded me of the Wizard of Oz - he, being Oz and tucking his head in and out of the curtain that hid all the secrets of Oz. Then he gave us permission to look around and it was quite unlike anything I had seen. I felt like I had been transported back to 1965, London and I needed go-go boots, a mini dress and big eyelashes. It was crazy. But, crazy good. if the furniture on the 12th floor wasn't enough, our salesperson, Wade from Minnesota, said he'd take us to the 9th floor with a stop on the 11th to see the mannequins. Mannequins? Well, yes, Ralph's mother started one of the first mannequin businesses in Brooklyn in the 1940's and it is still a big part of their business today! It was other-worldly and Anna and I thought we had hit the jackpot - just one happy experience after another!

Sometimes our time is like that. My husband calls it Present Time Magic.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Five Food Groups

Three of the five daily food groups - just purchased to stave off methadone treatments.

It was scary. I woke up this morning, rain falling from the sky on the sidewalks of New York, happy to stumble into my kitchen to make my pot of espresso and just watch the soft gray sky from my window as I sipped my cappuccino in the darkened apartment. happened. I discovered I was out of coffee! This can't be happening. This is how I felt.

I donned my new rubber rain boots, rain coat and went down four flights of stairs to get coffee. I walked to the front door of the building and realized I had forgotten my umbrella. It was pouring. I hiked back up four flights of stairs and got my umbrella. Then I went down four flights of stairs and to EAT - a block away. I picked up a buttery, still warm croissant for my efforts and then went to pay and I asked for a cup of their darkest roast coffee. The man at the checkout told me it was self-serve "down there" as he pointed to my left. I stumbled, like a rabid animal, to that part of the store, the lack of caffeine beginning to adversely affect my ability to navigate. I saw something that looked like a pot with coffee in it but no cups. However, there were cups above, in long tubes of plastic. I began to pull them down, tearing at the plastic to get it open. How could it be so hard to get a cup of coffee?

A very nice older woman next to me, slightly around a wall, tapped me cautiously on the shoulder to let me in on a secret. "Here are the cups," she said. "And the coffee." I was a little embarrassed by my ravenous display. I said, "Go ahead," because clearly she was there for coffee too. She was very clear, "Oh, no, you go ahead. Here are the lids, there is the cream, and here is your bag." She was going to see me through this whole endeavor. I was not alone in the world. I found my way back to the check out and paid, trying to cover my inability to communicate at this point. I sort of grunted, I guess.

I went home, up the four flights of stairs and into my apartment and enjoyed my coffee and my croissant. My mind clicked into gear and I wrote and worked for my clients. But, alas, as the middle of the afternoon approached, I needed more coffee and, now, believe it or not, chocolate. I just move through the day from one addiction to the next. And, you guessed it, I was also out of chocolate. And, wine. And bread. I was out of four of the five food groups!!!

Cheese - I had this one.

So I once again donned my rainboots, my rain coat and my umbrella this time and went to forage for my sustenance. I did it in 20 minutes, harvesting from store to for the chocolate, one for the coffee, one for the wine, another for the bread. Now I am safe in the belly of my drug den, with my cappuccino and chocolate. Wine is waiting for later in the evening when I will have it with bread and cheese. Life can be so harsh and so good - all at the same time.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore.

We stumbled on this perfect restaurant on West 17th -
just when we couldn't wait any longer to eat.

A little Belgian cafe - packed with brunchers on a Saturday.
On our way back from the museums.

Heading to the subway, I finally came across the Greenmarket at Union Square.
Even on this drizzly day. I love seeing the monolithic skyscrapers as the backdrop to this organic, down-home scene.

I'm back in nyc. We landed, I emerged from the womb of the airplane at LaGuardia and, within a moment, I started smiling to myself. I was home. I have been traveling between Minneapolis and New York for a year and two months. I had not really noticed that my fundamental state of mind was that I lived in Minneapolis and visited New York to see my husband. This time, New York felt like home. I have made the shift without really trying. I can do this trip in my sleep now, pack the bag, call the cab for the 5:45 a.m. pick up. Wearing just the right clothing as to make security easy, I board the plane, seeking the window seat in Aisle 10 or 12 - almost always. I put in my earplugs to din the roar, put my bottle of water in the pocket ahead of me, do my last minute texting to Lee - "on the plane - leaving on time - can't wait to see you. i love you." I usually text my children too. God forbid I crash and burn on the trip and never get to tell them I love them again.

So, anyway, I'm home. Now what? What do I do with this? I make money in Minneapolis and the love of my life is in New York. My heart is here now, too. I love the buildings. I have longed to live in an architectural ecosystem with elegant, classical buildings my whole life. And I do. I walked down my street, 81st, yesterday toward 5th avenue to catch a bus downtown. It was drizzling but warm, balmy. The townhouses along 81st couldn't be more beautiful, upright and graceful. Some limestone, some red brick. Most with glossy front doors with beautiful old worn brass hardware. Then, of course, as we approach 5th Avenue at 81st Street, we are greeted by the massive Metropolitan Museum of Art - a veritable ship of limestone set on the sea of green that is Central park. Columns paying tribute to Roman ruins, the closest we get in this country to that scale and grandeur. I am happy here. I am happy feeling small in this place, an observer of the diversity. On the bus a couple sat behind us speaking in that lilting language that Lee and I so love - Italian. Trying my best to pick up their conversation, but mostly just tickled that people who speak Italian inhabit this place next to me. As do people who speak Spanish, French, German, Chinese, Russian, Hebrew and on and on and on.

Speaking of Hebrew, on Friday, I was at the local jeweler to get a chain for my grandmother's locket. It is obviously run by a Jewish family. When I enter, the language is unfamiliar to me. A pair of men, Hasidic Jews, I think, are there speaking with one of the owners, perhaps. They are laughing and joyful and teasing, it seems. I am doing business to the side with another clerk. Suddenly, the two men begin to dance in a circle and sing in this language I do not know. They are laughing and clapping while they dance. This is a very small shop - their twirling is like the dervishes - held close. I just shake my head. Where am I? How did I get here? I am smiling - big smiling.

The clerk explained that these men come once a week - perhaps to sell their finds to the jeweler, who deals in antique jewelry as well as new. He told me how wonderful they are - he speaks to them in Hebrew (I asked, "Is that Hebrew or Yiddish?") and I walk away with my gold chain and a heart full of happiness.

Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore. After all this time that I have wanted to live in a place like this, I am home.

Postlude: I just looked up the word "Hasidic" to see if I was spelling it correctly. Now, I don't know a thing about them, but on Wikipedia, this is what I read: Hasidut, meaning "piety") is a branch of Orthodox Judaism that promotes spirituality and joy as the fundamental aspects of the Jewish faith. These men sure had it down.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Things I Like That I've Seen This Week

Moroccan Style Rug - made in Tibet
I've learned you may be able to better trust the dyes in the newer ones from Tibet than some of the older ones from Morocco. I have seen some with dyes that have bled. Just fyi if you are in the market for a Moroccan rug. All you need is a caftan and some fake eyelashes.

A Chechoslavakian crystal light fixture - in many sizes. From large chandelier to small sconce.
Wonderful. Happy.

Another nice, primitive Moroccan - antique. Sort of charming how the pattern gets larger. I wonder if the weaver just got bored? :-)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Scenes from my Life and Work

Hmmm...I have that angle thing goin' don't I? My beloved incense bowl.

Orchids: proof there is a god.

It is very, very gray and rather cold here in Minneapolis. That time of year when life forces seem to withdraw; not just withdraw from the plants and trees, but from my own heart. But the consequence of that is spending more time at home curled on the sofa or tucked in bed with a book or magazine or my writing. My European magazines always inspire me and one of the things I have been thinking about is this: I am practicing how I see the everyday things around me. When seen as object, up close and apart from its setting, the everyday thing can be incredibly interesting and beautiful. Here is what I have seen in the last two days.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Only in Minnesota.

My home in the snow. Look at the leaves on the trees!

Some sign of hopefulness, no?

When I was in Minneapolis during my last visit in September, it was 85 degrees and, daily, I complained that I did not have my summer clothes. I left my sandals and short sleeved tees in New York. Who ever heard of 85 degrees in September in Minneapolis. On top of that the electric outlet into which my AC is plugged gave way. I sweated through it, headed back to New York for more sensible and seasonal weather, hovering at 65 - 70 degrees every day.

Then I returned to Minneapolis a week ago and my furnace has been on since I landed. It has been in the 30's. From 85 to 30 in 2 weeks. That's Minneapolis for you. As the locals say, there are two seasons here. Winter and Road Construction. That was certainly true this year. (I had road construction on my street from June to October.) But, what I can't figure out....the leaves are still green and on the trees. It is very, very weird to have snow with green leaves on all the trees.

But, always trying to make the best of a weary thing (like snow on a day you have to drive somewhere) I noticed this charming setting on a lawn overlooking Lake Harriet. Next to the chair but not in the photo? A small grill. Only in Minnesota.

Friday, October 9, 2009

And now a good word for Minneapolis...

Last week I wrote about the pleasure of what I call "little meetings" with strangers in New York City. They occur daily - often - everywhere once I have left my apartment. I had a Minneapolis moment that I cannot ignore. It is more about the person than the place, but I feel like I am being geo-centric in favor of New York if I don't acknowledge this memorable human experience.

This is not a "little meeting with a stranger," but one of relationships that makes a place like Minneapolis still so meaningful. I went to my acupuncturist today - Dr. Chris Hafner in Saint Paul. (651-227-6865 - I have been seeing him for two years. I have had the appointment for awhile so I was not going for some acute condition. I call these kind of appointments "tune-ups." The whole appointment was honestly kind of life-changing. He spent 1 1/2 hours with me. 1.5 hours. 90 minutes. (In the past he has spent probably 30 minutes max plus the time I am alone on the table, but he is changing his practice to spend more time with people.) The first 45 were spent educating me about an incredible new technology he is using to help him pinpoint (ooooh - no pun intended!) where the chi is deficient or depleted and where it is "raging" and over-active. It is the same technology used in MRIs, EKGs and EEGs. It measures electricity in the body. He is just beginning to use it on a few patients - especially patients he has seen for some time - and will continue to develop its application.

He does this simply by placing a probe onto 12 acupuncture spots on the hands and feet. There is no disrobing. I sat in a chair. I heard the sounds made when he touched a spot - the "hot" areas had a much higher pitched sound - you might call it screeching in my particular case. The areas within the normal range, a much lower pitched sound. When he was done, he showed me the measurements on the screen and began to explain them to me what he was learning. Generally, the chi will reveal problems earlier than the physical body and he may be able to catch both psychological conflicts as well as physical conditions before the patient actually experiences them. And, this, of course, is the benefit of the technology. He may be able to ward off suffering by catching it early. That is his mission - to help the world by relieving the suffering of one patient at a time.

Well, you could have knocked me over when he asked about two things - did I have anything going on like a sore throat or sleeplessness - headaches, etc - anything to do with my head? Yes. I did. Yesterday, by the end of the day, I had a sore throat and an earache and was generally just spent. The night before I awoke at 2 a.m. anticipating an early call for a photo shoot and never went back to sleep. (The "head" part is the busy mind.)

Next....the other energy pattern showed "musculo-skeletal" issue. Did I have that? Well, you guessed it, the other thing I would tell him about is that I have had back problems ever since the photo shoot I did yesterday - schelpping shit for 12 hours including sofas, chairs, tables and rugs. Where was the pain? His computer showed me exactly. It was remarkable.

He also discussed low creative energy (as indicated by the extremely depleted liver energy.) Well, that made sense too. I was feeling a burst of creative energy in New York, then came back to Minneapolis, only to put it all into action - and I am exhausted, honestly. TGIF, as they say. We talked about the challenge of my dual life.

He hit the nail on the head 100% and then he went to poke the needles in me, and continue to tell me more about the history of Chinese medicine, how the Communists changed it and how he is moving more actively into the aspect of Chinese medicine that deals with psychology - which, his tradition believes, accounts for 75% of illness and suffering. He asked about Lee. He asked about my daughter. After this, I dropped slightly off the edge of consciousness into a moderate state of bliss for another 20 minutes. The new technology helps him know what needs treating - how to move the energy from the raging points to the depleted points and how, in the end, to help me find peace, harmony and my true self. Not much to ask of a doctor.

After my treatment, he made me Date tea - "It's good for energy, in general. It is especially good for the blood and for women. And..." as he placed his healing hands on his chest, "it is good for the heart." And he didn't mean the thing that beats and pumps blood, but the greater heart - the spirit. And all this took 1.5 hours and cost me $60. I wonder what Congress could learn from this man about health care.

All I know is that I am incredibly grateful for his work.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Just a little New York thing.

This really is just a little thing in life, but a big thing to me. On Saturday, we were having a couple for dinner - first time guests - I was a little bit nervous; I didn't know them well. In fact, I had never met the husband - Lee had never met either of them. I went out of my way to be sure things were prepared and I got the freshest vegetables for the asparagus risotto and shrimp and cucumber salad with feta. And some little appetizers: cheese, dried apricots, almonds and crackers.

For this food, I had to go forage. It was pouring cats and dogs. It was 1:30 on Saturday and they were coming at 5:30. I couldn't wait for the rain to stop. So, I walked to Annie's Market on Lexington near 82nd - 3 blocks from my apartment, armed with my umbrella and list. I have noticed that Annie's has nice vegetables. They also have relatively simple nice flowers. And they have impeccable service. It is a tiny vegetable stand - a Chinese family owns the shop and husband, wife and daughter seem to work there. When you can't find something - fresh mint, for example, one of the workers fetches it for you - sometimes in the bowels beneath the store. It is perfect. It has been cleaned, cropped and put into a heavy plastic bag. Nothing chintzy here. It reminds me of Florence where you never touch the food yourself, but point to it or simply ask for it.

They cater to your every wish. Then, they pack it carefully. And this time, they could see that it was too much to carry in the rain, so they said, "Delivery?" And I said, "Well, when could you do it?" and they said, "30 minutes" and I said, "Bravo!" It's done.

Then, the daughter said, "Do you have an account with us?" and I said, "No, but you have beautiful vegetables so I buy all my vegetables here" and she said, "Well, you could open an account and we'll just bill you once a month" and she handed me a form. And, I thought, "How wonderful and old fashioned is that!"

30 minutes later, I was in my 4th floor walk-up and the door bell rang and the delivery man carried our groceries and flowers to the 4th floor and put them on the kitchen counter. Nothing could have made me happier than tipping him for his excellent and congenial service.

When that was done and groceries put away, Lee and I went together to get the cheese and shrimp at another market. I needed a good mellow cheese and the cheese guy who I have interacted with dozens of times was so happy to tell me about the favorite goat cheese of his customers. I bought it and it was heaven! Soft, mellow and buttery. I was so grateful for his help.

I love this city. I meet the most wonderful people everyday.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

When is there too much black?

Me, before leaving today. Chic or witchy?

As you may or may not know, I don't make a habit of putting photos of myself on my blog. This isn't Facebook. But as I was leaving this morning, I did my final mirror check to make sure I didn't have green things in my teeth and noticed how overwhelmingly black I looked.

My sister, Holly was here in nyc last weekend - girls' weekend! (Lee was away.) Lots of eating of croissants from EAT, drinking of wine, eating of mussels and walking, walking, walking. And window shopping, shopping, shopping. And a star siting in the Village - Barbra Streisand and handsome hubby James Brolin. On Saturday night we met my very best friend here in NY, Anna Hillegass, in the West Village, the tres chic neighborhood in Manhattan, at a cozy little restaurant called August - I would describe it as elevated European peasant food - rabbit, oxtail bolognese, and German-sounding dishes.

Holly brought mostly black to wear in nyc because she has learned that is easy and perfectly acceptable here. I have come to wear nothing but - with a dark denim now and then. So, here we are...these middle aged women, heading downtown for the night, both of us in 100% black. She commented, "Do you think we are taking this black thing a little too far?"

Well, I don't know, but this is how I feel about it. There is sooooo much visual stimulation in nyc. There is sooooo much visual stimulation in my work! I just need to not have to think about putting together clever outfits every morning. And, all black is just less expensive. It becomes about the silhouette, not the color. It is modern and architectural and sort of like sculpture on the body (of course, a great young body would add to the quality of the sculpture!) So, I'm still all about black, but I'm starting to wonder a little if I am becoming a cliche. I don't know. But, then, someone (a woman about my age) walked by me on the street today and, smiling, said she liked my outfit - my skirt. It was "cute." Wow. New York. Imagine. People are actually rather nice here. And, that made me feel more secure about my black. When I told Lee about it, he thought I was being hit on by a lesbian. Men! They just don't get it.