Sunday, October 30, 2011

New York Moments: Week of 10/24/11

Ralph Pucci with guest - artists against back wall after a photo op.

Lee and Andrew Flesher - tucked behind the mobiles.

Carpeting in a Park Avenue apartment I visited this week. Channeling Diana Vreeland - so awesome!

The single piece I covet from this trip. Daybed from the fabulous antique shop DEMIURGE, the lastest incarnation of Amy Perlin's work. After Amy's sudden death last year,  her niece took over the 4th floor space in the Interior Design Building and EDITED Amy's collection beautifully - and surely added her own touch.

Cabinet seen at DEMIURGE

Table and vase of greens - always inspiring for me

Well, it's hard to top running smack into Paul McCartney whistling on Madison Avenue. But, life must go on and we did have yet another great week in NYC, though it went too fast. I didn't get either to Central Park or the Metropolitan - which seems shameful. I did work and saw wonderful things and new ideas for clients. We ate out several times on this trip, attacked the problem of mice in the apartment, found the missing linen pillowcases which had me ranting for a day and saw friends and children.

A highlight was joining Andrew Flesher and Anna Hillegass at the opening of a new art exhibit at Ralph Pucci. I didn't even know what we were going to, but just tell me Ralph Pucci is throwing a little shindig and I'm there. He's such a chic, smart "older man". Not a 30-something mover and shaker, which I am getting sort of tired of these days. He's just the king of taste in New York. He does art and he represents furniture lines and his furniture collections are just phenomenal - Ecart, Paul Mathieu, Andree Putnam, Vladimir Kagan, Jens Risom.....on and on. And, then he makes the mannequins that are so amazing. He's got his hands in a lot of pots and has the most beautiful light-filled warehouse on West 18th filled with all these disparate, but somehow connected collections.

Lee pointed out that he thought his suit was gorgeous (navy and white pinstripe with white shirt and strong solid red tie - very custom Italian looking. But, why was he wearing brown suede shoes? Seemed too casual for the suit. My response.....I don't know, but if Ralph is doing it, it's worth considering the idea.

So, here are some scenes from the week in New York. It was beautiful, autumnal, golden and sun-shiney. New York in the fall is sublime.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Star Siting in NY

Sir Paul McCartney and his new bride. Getty Images
I was out this afternoon around 4:30, lounging at my favorite and maybe the most expensive book shop in the country on Madison between 81 and 82 (Doyle Books - this is another post.) I got a text from Lee, "Honey, if you can get some tonic, that would be great." I purchase 2 books and the new 2012 Zagat for New York. I hike north up Madison to the nearest grocery, stop at Jonathan Adler on the way for a client. Buy the tonic, milk for cappucino. Heading south home, my bags are heavy - filled with hardback books, milk and bottles of tonic.

It is a perfect late October afternoon. The sun is low. The temperature is just right for a sweater or a light jacket, boots, a scarf. I love looking at New Yorkers. I love to see how they dress, how they speak (and then realize the best dressed are often European AFTER I hear them speak!)  Somewhere near 82nd, I saw and knew immediately - Paul McCartney and his new wife. Well, I wanted to text someone the news, but thought I'd turn around first and check them out after we passed each other.

Well, he was whistling! That was cute. He is still darling. But, I have to say, their jeans were not good! They were both wearing jeans. He wore a navy blazer with his (with gold buttons, maybe?)

From the back, it was not a winner! I'm just saying...not judging really. BOTH of them had jeans that were WAAAAAY too washed out! She was bird-leg thin! Tall and thin. Not in a good way, necessarily. But she is quite pretty! He had too baggy, white=washed jeans! Ladies, this is a warning! Don't let your husbands go out in jeans that are too bleached and toooooo loose in the tush!

I came home and told Lee all about it. I said, "Honey, I would take your tush any day over Paul McCartney's. But, I would happily take his bank account." He couldn't disagree!

BTW- she was holding his arm and they looked quite happy with some shopping bag in hand. Can you imagine being Paul McCartney????

How does this work?

Jessie and Zan in our apartment this past summer. Just arrived from two years in
Houston TX with Teach for America.
 This is Jessie's first winter EVER north of the Mason Dixon line.

Lee and I took a later than usual flight to NY on Friday afternoon to spend a week here tidying up the apartment, doing some shopping for clients, seeing friends, seeing art and hoping for an evening with my son, Zan, and his girlfriend, Jessie. We caught a 3:15 flight out of MSP to La Guardia. I texted Zan and Izzy - as I always do - fearing that it may be my last communication with them forever....nutty as I have been about flying in the past and not wanting to challenge the travel gods.

I knew that Zan and Jessie were going to Florida for a friend's wedding for the weekend, so we were planning to check in about getting together one night this week. Both new teachers in a tough public school in Brooklyn, they have unbelievably long days (rising at 5 a.m. every day and prepping every school night for the next one), it is hard to find time to get together during the week. But, we are happy to head to Brooklyn to make it easy on them  - and fun for us!

I thought about them as we were just coming in over the water at LaGuardia - that sweetness you feel for even your grown children, knowing how hard it is to make it in the world, but so touched that they are giving it their best shot. I actually thought about seeing them at the airport. But, they live closer to JFK, so of course that is where they would fly out of - my logic told me.

We land right on time, get off the plane and are noticing the new "bar" near the gates where we arrive from Minneapolis - kind of cool - snacks, drinks. "This reminds me of something you'd see in Amsterdam," Lee says.

"I get it," I agreed and turned around to see it again.

Just at that moment, Lee started back toward the gate. He'd heard his name. I suddenly heard a kind of happy roar from him. There he was giving Alexander a big hug with Jessie standing by sort of on her toes in glee. I could hardly get words out without tripping over them. There I was on my toes, too. (Which I need to be to hug my 6'1" son.) Jessie and I did that stupid squealing thing, but who cares? I was so happy to see them.

In a city of 9 million - how does this work that you run into your kid? Just the one you wanted to see at that moment? How is it that their gate is the one next to our? How are they boarding as we are arriving? Without talking about any of it in advance?

Such a happy example of Dr. Jung's synchronicity and intuition. The rest of the weekend has kind of followed suit.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I'd Like to Introduce You

My friends Nick and Wendy Brown have, with impressive thoughtfulness, now published their new blog "Brown Ink" (that is CO - not COM.) It is a blog that celebrates the hand-written word. I know from personal experience that Wendy practices what she preaches: always writing a thank you, sending hand-written invitations and sending a birthday card by post! 

I just read the first two posts on her blog and got that lovely slightly watery feeling in my eyes and warm fullness in my heart. (I see that Nick has posted overnight now.) It just seemed so right to read something longer than a TWEET! It is a brave thing to celebrate the patience it takes to put your thoughts in writing, to have a thought longer than 140  characters. It is courageous to admit that the short form online "journal" is not the same thing as the diary at your bedside, and, as such, it is not her thing. It's not mine, either.  Not wanting to create a regret, both of us strive to those Virgo values of caution and authenticity, creating home, warmth and a sense of place and relationship for those we love. (Our birthdays are one day apart.)

It is sometimes terrifying to write without a place in an agent's queue, without a publisher for the novel or the manuscript. It is just you and your heart on display. I adore you, Wendy Brown, and cheers to your new adventure!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Love Affair with Elfa

Elfa Shelving added to my falling apart wall makes it suddenly transformed!
I've had it sitting in a box for 4 years. I have commitment issues.

The cleaning supplies sat on 5" shelves circa 1924, ready to slide off the tilting shelves at any minute. Now they are organized on the back of the door to the basement! I was channeling my father as I installed it myself.
This is a little weird. I've been kind of sick, but something  - or some spiritual energy overtook me - and I am possessed to get organized. On Wednesday this past week, a friend installed the Elfa shelves over my stainless table in the kitchen. They have been sitting in boxes nearby since 2008, after I saw how great and functional they are at my friend, Carrie's. But I had some fantasy about actually fixing up my kitchen - like the walls - so I kept waiting. Well, I just got it that I will fix my walls when I fix my walls (like when and if we decide to buy this duplex or at least our apartment) and not before. Still, I need the shelves! There is NO STORAGE IN THIS KITCHEN! It is a 1924 apartment and there is only ONE drawer and ONE door of undercounter storage. The overhead stuff is mostly useless as it requires a ladder.

So, after being completely overcome with joy at the function of the new shelving, I decided I needed it in every aspect of my life. So I spent today going to Container Store to find a solution to the disaster that was my cleaning supply storage - it was a feng shui nightmare to open the door to the stairs, head through the hallway to take out garbage and have a can of Comet hit you in the head as you walked passed. So I purchased all the supplies and the tools and went about installing the shelving on the back of my door. This included taking the door off its hinge because one hinge got completely messed up. I replaced the hinge and re-hung the door - I swear I was channeling my dad who could all this and much more. I felt like Super Woman.

In the mean time, either Lee or I have been sick for the past 2 weeks so we haven't been very cuddly. Well, it finally seemed time, but he fell asleep and I kept thinking about the bathroom closet, so while he slept I snuck off AGAIN to the Container Store to find a solution to the absolute disaster that it was. It was so bad, that I discovered we EACH had 4 different deoderants - 8 total! They had been lost in the closet for so long. we just kept buying new ones.

This is very very sad, of course. When you finally get a moment for love, and you sneak off, instead, to the Container Store, hoping for some divine interlude with an Elfa salesperson.

I came home, organized the closet and then quickly made a pot of chicken stew and apple crisp to make up for running off to the suburbs to shop. It was the least I could do. But I am so happy to have this all organized. I feel so Virgo. Besides....Lee had a full day, too. Here is what our TV screen looked like at 1:00. And he's still watching.

Our TV screen at 1:00. Not one game, but 8.

Pot of chicken stew / soup.

Haralson Apple Crisp with Cream. Jeesh! My favorite dessert.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Really good architecture

Drayton Hall, Charleston, SC

I am biased. I admit. Give me a good Palladian home anyday.  Isabelle was at Drayton Hall today - outside of Charleston and sent me this shot from her phone. I have toured Drayton Hall; in fact I did a photo shoot there when I was designing clothing in Charleston waaaaay back when....1980????

This is my favorite piece of architecture in this country. (Okay....that I have seen.)


It was in the Drayton family from the day they started building it in 1738.  In 1974, the family sold the property to the National Trust for Historic Preservation. There's the KEY WORD: PRESERVATION. Not restoration. It is being preserved in this exquisite state of decay so that we may see original finishes dating to the early18th Century. 

It is the oldest surviving example of Georgian Palladian architecture in the US and one of the few PRE-REVOLUTIONARY homes that remain close to original condition. It makes me weep. In a good way.

I really, really like the Guggenheim. 

But I feel love, feel amour, or the Italian amore about Drayton Hall. I feel love in all languages about Drayton Hall. If I could live in one home in the US, this would be it. Filled with modern furniture. :-)

Here's more for you architecture wackos like me - this is a LOVELY video of the interiors. Check out the paneling, mouldings and colors!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Run, Don't Walk for Broder's Gnocchi with Sage Butter

I caught the bug that Lee had this past week so just planted here on the sofa surrounded by magazines and books and kleenex. I told Lee I couldn't possibly cook, so what to do? Well, when you live at 51st and Russell in Minneapolis, there is really only one answer to that question. Broder's Deli. So, we checked out the special and ordered some favorites. I have never had their gnocchi. But....I want to say it is some of the very best I've ever had. As good as the gnocchi at Union Square Cafe in NYC, which I personally think is the best food I've had in NY. And, this is definitely better than the gnocchi in Florence at Quattro Leoni.

Bravo, Thomas - or whoever is at the helm on this one!

I almost feel like I could drink another glass of vino - this savory, buttery dish just cheered me right up.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Living Vicariously through Isabelle

Door to Kitchen house where Izzy is staying until she finds her own apartment.

Outside her door.

A garden path.

I think this wall is part of the original carriage house.

The 19th Century palm that marks the center of the formal garden.


As most of you know, Isabelle took a job in Charleston, South Carolina and I helped move her there in August. She has been staying courtesy of my dear, dear friends Frank and Tami McCann, two of the most generous and elegant people I know, in their uber-charming kitchen house which happens to have been dropped in a yummy 19th Century Charleston garden. (In the 18th and 19th Centuries, the kitchen house was separated from the main house because of the heat. When there were no stoves, cooking was done in the fireplace. As well, it was a fire hazard and could not be part of the main house.) So this is where Izzy is staying - an unimaginably delightful kitchen house. (There are remnants of the "carriage house" on the property, but it was earlier destroyed, apparently.) Tami's sumptuous garden is on tour this weekend - for the Charleston Fall House and Garden Tours. This is how GOOD the garden is!

Anyway, Izzy's job is going well and she is now looking for her own apartment. So in the last 24 hours, we've talked 4 times while she describes in detail what she is seeing. I am on pins and needles re-living those delicious early days in Charleston when I first moved there in 1978. She is MUCH smarter and more savvy than I was at that time! But, I am having flashbacks  - these crazy romantic memories of the smell of the sea, the moisture in the air, the simple pleasure and practicality of "y'all", the uncontested beauty of so much exquisite architecture in such a condensed space, the taste of shrimp just off the boats, the dripping Spanish moss, the gigantic white magnolia flower opening like a lotus. I miss it. I have missed it. Listening to Izzy with the addition of "y'all" to her vocabulary - I am butter - just melting to spend more time there again.

Got to figure this out. I do miss her, but she's doing great - it's really more about my own longing and memories.  So wonderful to have a link to that past. I think I need a little spot of my own in Charleston. Got to tell Lee.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


Tonight we had dinner at our apartment with two of our dearest friends who shall remain nameless.
At some point, after I had denounced the label of "mother" as my primary identity (since my children are now grown) Lee looked at me and said, You are a crone.

Well I had a hunch that wasn't very flattering. But he had hoped it was! Fortunately, I was in a laughing mood so I said something light-hearted. In Jungian psychology, there is the Crone Archetype - sort of the wise woman. Well, after I sputtered about being called a crone, Lee asked, Well, what would you like to be? And, btw, I'll go look up the etymology of the word crone.

Well, crone is really bad! Ugly, witchy, nail like teeth in a round mouth, hag!
I am not a crone!

In the meantime, we are now on a role. Our male friend says, Well you want to be a hottie thing, not a crone. Or maybe you want to be a MILF.

What is a MILF ? I ask?

It's a "mother I'd like to f.." a la Jon Stewart.

Okay. Well, I DO NOT want to be a MILF. What a creepy thing for your kids! No, no MILF for me!

So then one of them said, well who are some MILFs?
Well, of course Sarah Palin is a MILF for some men.

And I said, I don't want to know who you think are MILFs ! Unless I get to name a few FILFs! Or DILFs!

That sent off a chain of laughter. My girlfriend and I high-fived.

But the funniest thing is that Lee kept calling them "WOLFS" - not MILFS. (Not "wolves" but WOLFS)

So then we got into this crazy thing about what a WOLF means- and there is plenty of Freudian and Jungian stuff about that - and maybe it even wiggles its way into the gay scene, but, really I don't want to go there.

I don't even want to think about MILFS! I don't want to be a MILF. YUCK!

I want to be sensibly attractive but I don't want to be an ACRONYM!

I'm going to bed now with my my DILF OR WOLF OR WHATEVER HE IS.


Friday, October 7, 2011

Men That Mattered

This is a little risky, but I've had an idea recently - while listening to melancholic songs from my past (really, Jimmy Buffet and Emmylou Harris) raising memories that look like smoke rings of sweetness, reveries to the past with a profound appreciation for the present. The good news is that my marriage is secure enough to withstand these blasts from the past. (In fact, last night at Pizzeria Lola  Lee serenaded me when Billy Joel came on the sound system singing "I Love You Just the Way You Are."  If you had seen me last night, you would understand this has a literal interpretation. Standing next to the big pizza oven on our way out, he stopped mid-step until the song was done with mini kissing sessions during the song. I told him, "Honey, people are going to think we are really wack-o." His response...."Who cares? What did Steve Jobs have to say about embarrassment?")

Who could argue with that kind of romance?

 I am so aware of how much my marriage and love has meant to me. Other than my children, nothing matters more than my relationship to the man I love. (Work is a very, very close second, which is a whole Freudian matter, and an important one and worthy of its own post - or book!)  They have been the yang to my yin  - or sometimes the yin to my yang. Men have consoled, worshipped, challenged, loved, adored and befriended me. They have also resisted and been weary of me. I can only imagine the muddy waters I have stirred. But I also can say how much I appreciate the kindness I have received in love.

So....I have this idea that we - women - okay, fine, men too - should compose some essays  / paragraphs / just a few words (some people are terrified to imagine that they would have to write an essay or a paragraph!) about the men that made a difference and what the qualities were that mattered.  They are probably the men that we married, the men that changed what we needed, that led to the men we married, the men who believed in us, who adored us, who pampered us. I just want to know what the qualities are that matter and how they live in the world.

I want to hear your stories!!!! I will get up the courage to write mine soon. In the meantime, please be noodling on this. I'm thinking this is a book!

THE MEN WHO MATTERED.....they mattered because they.....fill in the blank! I can do this anonymously if you need it... :-)



Thursday, October 6, 2011


It's almost embarrassing to admit this. You know how once is awhile you hit a new ceiling on something. Maybe it is your income, your debt, the number of drinks you have in a week, the miles you can run, the hours of sleep you can get by with, the number of shoes you can own and not feel guilty....Well, I hit a new ceiling last week: the price of a light fixture. No client names. No vendor names.

I needed a light fixture for a large dining room in a gorgeous traditional home in New York - hoping to go a little more modern, even a little rock n' roll. So I found a beautiful fixture that I knew would be expensive, but as that was all they needed for the room, it seemed reasonable to spend a little more on something memorable. I saw a gorgeous fixture in a showroom, took an iphoto, sent it to my client and they asked for the price.

 Later that week, I swear, I was walking home from a restaurant and walked by what is reported to be Madonna's townhouse on East 81st and looked in at night though a lovely sheer Conrad-like shade and there was the light fixture! Well, I told my client, surely "if it works for Madonna....."

I got the dimensions of the table and of the room and then asked for a quote for a custom fixture that would fit the bill - I asked for two options. The quotes I got back were for these amounts:  $24,600 and $43,000. If I add my margin to the lights, I think we are looking at the price of a car, and not a Ford Focus! A 3- series BMW and possibly a 5-series BMW.

This is what I told the client. "You could just buy a BMW, hang it on the ceiling and turn the lights on." This BMW would cost him the same, be very Joseph Bueys a la 2011 and a commentary on the high cost of decorating.

I don't like to presume anything about my clients. How they spend their money is their business - at least until they ask my opinion. I'm all about beautiful rooms. But...I'm not feelin' a $50,000 light fixture.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Got my card workin'

Took awhile, but with Becky's help (my new star assistant) and persistence, I got it right!

The "anti-business card."  I just tear and stamp.