Sunday, November 15, 2015


Me in front of my own personal Mecca (not a very appropriate metaphor today.)
Shakespeare and Company in Paris

Oh, what the heck, let's go straight to Wikipedia for this. It's a good description:

Ianthropologyliminality (from the Latin word lÄ«men, meaning "a threshold"[1]) is the quality of ambiguity or disorientation that occurs in the middle stage of rituals, when participants no longer hold their pre-ritual status but have not yet begun the transition to the status they will hold when the ritual is complete. During a ritual's liminal stage, participants "stand at the threshold"[2] between their previous way of structuring their identity, time, or community, and a new way, which the ritual establishes....
More recently, usage of the term has broadened to describe political and cultural change as well as rituals.[4] During liminal periods of all kinds, social hierarchies may be reversed or temporarily dissolved, continuity of tradition may become uncertain, and future outcomes once taken for granted may be thrown into doubt.[5] The dissolution of order during liminality creates a fluid, malleable situation that enables new institutions and customs to become established.[6]

Do you think we are in a liminal space in the world...generally? Do you think the Parisians feel as if in a liminal space tonight? 
In Depth Psychology, to be in a liminal space is almost as if being baptized. You will be different when it is complete. You are lost, disoriented, maybe terrified, in an unfamiliar place. It can happen during the most profound life passages - birth, death, a job loss, a divorce, a spiritual shift. It can happen when it makes no sense. It happens when "the gods" think you need it is the way I look at it. We are all likely to experience liminal space in our life - maybe many times over. I have. If you pay attention, it is a growth opportunity akin to winning the lottery. But you have to walk straight into the darkness and, then, beg for help.
I feel like we, humanity, need to do this tonight. Beg for help. From the gods, the angels, all higher beings who must be gazing down upon us and shaking their heads. 
Please, God, show us the way.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

What's Important Now: My Husband and My Bag

My water-stained, Velveteen rabbit of a tote / satchel I almost lost.

Just back from 6 days in New York and, for the first time in several years, I can say I'm really happy to be back in Minneapolis. Home. Especially with Lee. That corny's home wherever he is. Charleston, New York, Minneapolis. Well, okay, not L.A. But pretty much anywhere else.

He was so happy to have me home, too. I could feel it. Didn't help that I texted him as we were literally on the tarmack ready to take off - 3rd in line - when the captain stopped the plane and announced a problem with the flaps. I know enough about airplanes to know you don't want a problem with your flaps. You don't even want a potential problem with the flaps. You don't even want a problem with the computer that records the functioning of the flaps. So, I had to tell him I wasn't taking off on time and I know he started to worry.

They fixed the flaps and we took off 2 1/2 hours later. So he worried even more when I told him we were taking off in the plane with the flap problem. But all's well that ends well because I landed, he picked me up, swooped me into his arms and I promptly forgot to pick up my satchel off the sidewalk outside Door 4 at the Minneapolis airport, so happy I was to see him. He had loaded my extra heavy bag into the trunk and I followed like a puppy into my seat. When I got to 510 and we were unloading the behemoth of a bag from the trunk, I realized I had left my satchel (which sounds kind of weird, but I don't know what else to call it) with MY BRAND NEW MAC BOOK PRO WHICH HAS THE MOST COMPLETED VERSION OF MY BOOK sitting there on the sidewalk. WAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!

I know you are thinking, "Are you stupid? Your book isn't in the Cloud?" Well, I don't know for sure. I have a very recent version in Dropbox, but I changed something a couple weeks ago, a change I really like  - the kind where you go "whew!" and I am not sure I put that in Dropbox. So....yes, I'm stupid.

So tired was I from a couple restless nights of sleep, I had to ask Lee what to do. He suggested I call the airport police, which I did and, bingo....they had my bag. So we drove back to the airport. I say "we" because I was clearly a little loopy / spacey (ya' think?) and he didn't trust me to park the car and ever find it again. So, he was a complete gentleman by driving me back to the airport, parking the car, walking into the airport with me at which point I met a policeman at Lost and Found and retrieved my bag - but only after he informed me that I had committed a misdemeanor and (probably if I'd been any younger or more sassy) he could have slapped me with a ticket and court date!

That's what he said, anyway. I was practically kissing my satchel when he handed it to me, so I'm pretty sure he could see I didn't intend to leave it around to cause anyone harm. Besides, if that was my intent, I would NOT have sacrificed this particular satchel. I get compliments on it wherever I go. It is so practical and chic and made by a colleague of mine - Talin Spring whose company is SpringFinn.

Back to Lee. As we drank the cappuccino side by side with that beautiful sun shining in from the Southern sky - the cappuccino which he makes perfectly for me each morning - I felt a spring of gratitude for him. I remembered how he polished three pairs of my shoes as I was packing for the trip. And as he walked out the door today, the look of relief when he said, "I'm so happy you're home. So happy."

So am I.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Turn on, tune in, drop out

Opener to the show Hippie Modernism at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis

Whoa. So about it. Born in 1953, grew up in the 60's and 70's and it was just so much fun then. So Lee and I couldn't miss the Walker exhibit - Hippie Modernism. I even noticed that our ages gave us a special entry fee price.

"Yeh, we're totally hippie modernists," Lee said, slightly teasing the very cool looking woman from whom we would buy our tickets - who looked approximately our age.

"Oh, you're artists with the exhibit?" she asked.

"No, not artists. We just want to see it. We lived this. We're old." Lee said. Deadpan.

Then, I noticed, "Wow. We both qualify for the Senior rate. Yep. I'm 62 and he's 64," I said.

"Get out. You're not." she smartly said. I smiled.

"Yep. Wanna see our id?"

"No, we don't need to see that." She laughed and handed us our tickets. And we tripped off to the show.

Well, not literally tripped.

We meandered for the next hour through the later 60's during which time I was slightly too young to get my head around what was happening. But by 1971, when I graduated from high school and headed to college, then moved to San Francisco in the summer of 1975, I had begun to absorb all the ways "the times, they are a changin'".

I realized that I had parents who allowed my moderate exploration into this alternative world - why, I can't explain. I suspect it was less conscious that I might fantasize and more about just having four mouths to feed and a small mortgage to pay.

The only real alarm I set off was when, during the summer I was 17  I decided I would wear hot pants. And they couldn't stop me. God. So embarrassing. I could have been fighting for civil rights or protesting Viet Nam.

Pretty much what I was wearing the entire summer I was 17 - just before heading to college.
What is so astonishing is the innocence. We had ideas about how the world could be different. We had words. We had print. We had paper. We had our actions. We had love-ins and sit-ins and be-ins. We marched and raised our fists and raised our consciousness and raised our hemlines. Then dropped them again. We went barefoot because adults didn't like that. We started swearing for the same reason. Especially using the word "Fuck" whenever another word was actually a more intelligent choice.

We innocently believed we could change the world. And we did. You know that phrase. "Thoughts become things." Our thoughts became civil rights and women's rights and sexual freedom and a return to nature and an awakening to the fragility of the planet and the horror of war. All those things were thoughts first. And it's never been the same since.

In this life, I got my timing right.

1960's bathing suit
Self-contained architecture was a new idea

And in person...

John and Yoko

Remember Buckminster Fuller and the geodesic dome????

Someone had an idea to create a self-sustaining citrus garden.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Best Boots Ever

Ten years ago,  I was flat broke. Lee was living in L.A. teaching sixth grade at the Westside Waldorf School and going to graduate school in Santa Barbara once a month at Pacifica - working on a degree - or two - in Depth Psychology. I was living in Minneapolis, completing my assignment as mom to Isabelle, age 15 that year and a sophomore in high school. I wouldn't leave her for the world. Not even for Lee. I was a big girl. I could fly to L.A. if I had to. If I could come up with the spare change. Long story about how we got to this juncture. That story is in my book. (Smiley face.)

So, I had been what I call, in probably offensive terms, an education Nazi. I'd begged, borrowed and had stolen for my kids education. Well, not stolen. But you get the idea. I had a public school education in Iowa and when I saw what was alternatively available in Minneapolis - especially at the Waldorf school in Minneapolis, then at Blake for high school - I drank the kool-aid.

What this meant as a very middle class family experiencing divorce and change - and sometimes with my head just under the water line of middle class - choking for air - is that I had no money for a wardrobe. But having been a woman who had spent my entire life loving fashion - like, since I was six!! this was not an easy pill to swallow.

But, kiddos first, so I figured out that I could spend several years wearing about four items. Gap men's 1969 button front low-rise jeans, J. Crew long sleeved perfect cotton T (in black of course) and, voila! my big splurge.....Black Frye Harness Boots. Thankfully, one of my awesome clients gave me a black nylon Prada bag for my birthday in 2005 and that made the whole thing work. In a New York kind of way. Not in an L.A. kind of way...which is where I was going on occasion of course. But I got very superior about it all in a fuck you L.A. kind of way.

I woke up this morning, this September 28, 2015 and put on my boots. The same boots. Not a new pair. They are still just perfect - albeit more sexy, more broken in, more formed to my feet. Ten years later, I still feel like I stride in these boots with a confidence that no other shoe provides. Just the right heel, just the right slightly ass-kicking attitude.

I don't even remember what they cost. But they are the best money I ever spent on a piece of clothing. Ten years later, I feel this lift when I put them on with my now AG or Citizen jeans. I've replaced the men's Gap. I toss on an Equipment silk shirt. I've replaced the J. Crew t-shirt. But I haven't replaced my Fryes. Life is good.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

On Aging

Feeling like this is my new topic. You just have so much more time to think about this when your kids are gone. Instead of asking them if they've done their homework or going shopping to keep the frig filled for their unbelievable appetites or filling out the college financial aid forms, you just have all that time to think about getting older. Not like you try. It just happens. Because the fact that they are gone means you are definitely older. I should know. My youngest left home in 2007 when she went to college. So for eight years, I've been thinking about this and I have a lot to say.

There is plenty that just plain sucks about getting old - wait and see all you Gen x-ers. But today, I'm going to talk about when it's really great because that is what I'm thinking about tonight.

Tomorrow I'm heading to NY to work on just the most spectacular happy-making beautiful project, one so sublime I feel like I'm in a movie about a designer working in NY on a Hollywood-worthy home. Now, lucky me....I have so many great clients and projects right now that I could write a blog-post about each and every one of them. Well...maybe not one.

But for this little farm girl from Iowa who wanted to go to New York at eighteen to study fashion or acting but who had no foreseeable way in the world to make that happen, I now feel like I am living that dream - at sixty -two. Yep, sixty-two. Really, I always wanted to live and work in New York. I lived there for a couple years when Lee was teaching and dipped myself so deeply into that ocean of beauty and design that when I was finally asked to do a project there, I could, with modest confidence say, Yes! A holy Yes!

But, this is not all about me. It's about age.

On Tuesday morning at 9:00 a.m., I will walk into the site / townhouse on East 78th for a meeting with the two architects from Nate McBride and Assoc. (including Nate and Jack Bales), and three people from the contractor's team including the owner of the company, the project manager and the site supervisor. The contractor is Taconic, and a little bird told me they did Madonna's incredible double townhouse on E. 81st. Nate and Jack have become dear friends; we've pulled at the bones of this project for three years together now. We eat together, drink together, sigh together and solve together. Taconic is newer to me. We've worked on this project for about a year together, but adore what I see. We laugh in our meetings, get good work done, and Artie, the project manager, likes to keep the end in mind. He once said to me, "You know, I don't like to hurry a project at the end. It's always a mistake. I'd rather lose a little money to get it right. No one will remember the money or the extra week five years from now. I want it perfect for the client." Now, this is the attitude of experience.

In August I sat in the room that will soon be the Master Bedroom around a table with all the same people I mention here above as well as Hilary Finn from Hilary Finn Gardens, the landscape designer and Gordon Roth from Roth Painting. At some point, with seven or eight beautiful faces in this circle, I realized that not ONE of them was under fifty! Most were humming along between 55 - 68 if I had to guess.

It was so inspiring to sit with this group of talented people at the top of their game, playing hard, creating a massively complicated thing of beauty for our clients - with quiet confidence that comes from years and years and years of experience with challenging work and that lovely thing called wisdom. Not much ego in the room - outgrown that - just a lot of feeling lucky to be working together in a way that is good for all of us financially and artistically and good for the client in the end.

So, welcome to something past middle age - when you finally have earned what you've worked for, including any reputation that goes with it. A time when you get to hang out with and hopefully work along side other people just like you, people with wisdom, who've listened to the same old music, knew the same old political jokes and shuffled their own kids to the same grand tours of colleges during their Junior year. The familiarity of age is a comfort, a recognition, a shared language that makes the work together a bounty of joy.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

The season of St. Michael - Michaelmas - and what it brings

Children play-acting at Michaelmas
Just read friend Wendy Brown's post - my fellow Virgo, Wendy's birthday is the day after mine...she writes of rhythm and ritual and order, of slowing down and this inspired me to write.  I think of of slowing down like the animals, preparing for hibernating - knowing what is ahead of us - chilly nights, drying leaves, darker days here in the heartland.

Don't get me wrong. I love fall. It is my favorite time of the year. A sweet romantic melancholy fills my heart when I walk through Kenwood, see the drying hydrangeas turning to that golden pink, see the brittle stems of the lavendar, the children running freely in the park now, still in shorts and t-shirts knowing how different that will be in only twelve weeks - more likely bundled in down and mittens and tugging at a sled.

I love the change of it all. When I lived in Charleston in the late '70's for the first time, I recall September coming around and instead of Fall, it is "the Hurricane Season." It is warm and moist and turbulent. And a bit exciting for a newcomer to have to evacuate the island I was living on the first year and head to Columbia, a part of that great snake-like chain of cars winding its westward way along I-26. But I missed the signals to pull out my sweaters and change up my closet, to pack away the thin embroidered cotton Indian shirts and flip-flops and replace them with cashmere and boots.
I did that last week here in Minneapolis and, in doing so, saw the holes in my closet where I needed another pair of jeans and another pair of boots and another skirt. Well, not need. Wanted....let's be accurate.

But this change is more than seasonal, more than about changing out wardrobes and storing up wood for the fire. In 1992, as a new parent at the City of Lakes Waldorf School in Minneapolis, I attended my first Michaelmas Celebration at the end of September. Celebrated since the Middle Ages in Europe, it honors St. Michael, the highest of the archangels. Michael is known for his courage in fighting Lucifer, the protector through the darkest days and the administrator of cosmic intelligence. Waldorf schools, founded in Europe in 1919, all celebrate Michaelmas as a festival on or around Sept 29, taking note that we are coming into the darkest days, of the gratitude for the bountiful harvest, and of change that is sure to come.

Lee tells the story this way: as Michael battles with the dragon (he is most often depicted having slain a dragon) we see signs of it in the leaves, the fire-y breath of the dragon burns them and turns them to golden and red all around us. We can then be sure that the battles are raging in the heavens. This is the story for the children. But for us, as adults, the battles rage within at this time of year. The bittersweet melancholy is so often more than just about the change of seasons. It is change in us. We are aging, we are needing to grow, to continue to grow intellectually, spiritually, emotionally, socially and this also means loss. Saying good bye to something that no longer serves us.

I find myself a little less patient, dogged with what is ahead of me, what it is I need .... if I am lucky enough to know what that is. I think it is also a time of confusion, of not knowing what is next. Of uncertainty while still knowing that "change is gonna' come."

May your Season of St. Micheal be a meaningful one.

This St. Michael watches over us in our Library.

A drawing from A Waldorf Main Lesson Book of St. Michael slaying the Dragon

Micheal slaying Lucifer

The classic St. Michael image:  slaying the dragon

Sunday, July 19, 2015

So retro....The Artist's Way

My '90's-era guide to finding my inner artist.
Even though I was born in the 1950's, I have always been a late-bloomer. When I sit in the dentist's chair and am given free reign on what satellite music station I want to listen to, I pick the '80s for the later music of Ambrosia, Stephen Bishop, Hall & Oates, Earth, Wind & Fire. It makes me think of boyfriends and beaches. Like I was born 10 years later than I actually was. Still slightly flakey.

So I grew up a little delayed and by the 90's - turning 40 and already having blown through a marriage and looking for my calling - I was needing a bit of introspection and direction and I came upon The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron at some point in the middle of that decade, a 12-week "recovery" program. Originally published in 1992, The Artist's Way is subtitled, "A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity." This was right up my middle-of-life-needing-to-find-myself-in-a-Jungian-kind-of-way alley.

In earnest about finding the meaning of life, Joseph Campbell did that blockbuster of a series, "The Power of Myth" with Bill Moyers for PBS in 1988 and I think I saw that at least five times on TV, then bought the videotape set. Lee, my husband bought his own set. (Must say: If you haven't seen it, do.)

I was hungry for insight and bliss and a path.

Then, at some point after 1996, the year I married Lee,  I found The Artist's Way. I bought it. I opened it. I inhaled it. I needed to recover my wounded artist.

I had kept a journal most of my life - especially during my 20's, writing almost daily mostly about life and love, with the occasional note about how I felt about my weight. The currency of beauty! Yuck. So writing was not foreign to me. But to do so in a focused, guided way felt like being taken over by angels who just tell you what to do.

Now, some 16 - 20 years later (depending on when I actually did it the first time) I am doing it again. With Lee. Which is just the greatest, sexiest, bonding love thing for me. I'm a total sap for artistic men. He's doing his writing. I'm doing mine.

The point of the book is that we have, for a potluck of reasons, abandoned our artistic, creative selves. Not like everyone wants to be artistic - or be an artist - but for those of us who do, there are so many lame excuses for why we can't pursue those dreams. The process is simple and brilliant and lasts for twelve weeks - more than enough time for that changing a habit idea to take root.

Step One: Write every single morning - three pages - just a brain dump if that's all you got.
Step Two: Take yourself on an artist date every single week. Like a child. Take it out for ice cream and a trip to Disney World. But, really, it doesn't have to be Disney World. It can be anything that makes your heart sing and takes you away from the battery of voices in your head that tell you why you can't be an artist.
Step Three: Do the weekly "tasks" - just guided writing.

For my Artist Dates, I have taken a walk to Loring Park, sat on a bench and looked at the summer flowers. I have spent the night looking at the stars over Lake Sylvia, the kind of stars I remembered from growing up on an Iowa farm - holy and present in a way they never are in a city.
Today, I decided "No work! No balancing checkbooks! No checking delivery dates for furniture!" to set free the right side of my brain. But, for this to happen, I had to leave my apartment. So I went to Northfield to visit my mother, eat deviled eggs and a salted, sliced tomato with her on her patio, then to the new bookstore, Content, on the main street in Northfield to browse the employee's recommended selections laid out on the displays. I bought five books, so happy was I to be in the presence of real words on real bound paper. Not a photo of a book cover on the Amazon website. I signed up for their reading program. I pulled out my debit card. I signed on the line. I did not "click" anything on a computer screen. It was mind-boggling to buy books while interacting with an intelligent, thoughtful human being.

Summer Reading.

Then I went across the street to get coffee at Blue Monday, the kind of coffee shop I wish we had in Minneapolis. Maybe one still exists...near the U? Anyone know? Most have been "done." Even the good ones. Lots of old barns torn down to make them look cool and not contrived. But, really, they end up looking contrived. Because....barns. Sure. Urban Minneapolis has lots of barns, right?

I diverge.

These "dates" and the writing are proving to be profound in their capacity to create a kind of emotional / ideological shift. Like an earthquake - or more to the point - a tectonic shift - a small one, ideas start popping out of the crevices, released from the movement of the work. Tonight, after writing for two full weeks, my mind is trying to catch the yard of fireflies of ideas zapping around me. It's both inspiring and overwhelming. Which one do you catch?

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Mother Emanuel church in Charleston, SC

I was taking a photo of the moon over over church when I was there a few weeks ago. Just walking home around 10:30 at night after hearing Madeleine Peyroux at the College of Charleston Cistern (a beautiful outdoor starry night setting) Here, the church still had a lovely peace about it, just a simple white, classic African American church in the middle of Charleston. Always a city quiet at this time of night with the college kids (thankfully!) gone for the summer.

I'll write more, but just found this innocent photo moments ago. It is taken from the back of the church where the assassin parked. This is 1/2 block from our home - the site we pass when we walk toward Meeting or King Street or Marion Square for the Farmer's Market. The front of the church supports the beautiful steeple.

God bless you, Mother Emanuel.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Heart-break: Moment of being

My writing coach, Patricia Francisco, worked with me on the lovely, lovely concept of "moments of being." Virginia Woolf used the phrase in her work "Sketches from the Past" to describe those times / moments when we experience a deep knowing, understanding, insight or reality. She was, at the time, working with her own memories, especially from her childhood.

Little, big, in-the-middle sized memories of moments that are not forgotten because they become the architecture of a life. I appreciate how small the moments can be.

What I think is profound is to notice the moment as it happens - to be in the experience and to be observing the experience at the same time. Is that what forms memory? Do we have to be consciously observing to have it become memory? I don't know the answer to that.

I just know that this morning I had an experience that felt like that, and I wanted to write it down. Here it is:

I’m in my blue chambray pajamas. They are too big for me, but I like feeling smaller than I am because of that. They drag on the floor and the sleeves fall at my fingertips without rolling a cuff. I stand at the stove, stirring the spinach and onions in the black cast iron skillet. I’m making an omelet for Lee. He cleans out the Italian stovetop espresso pot, which is always a mess. He makes me cappuccino every morning. Today’s cup was perfect.
And now, from the area of my heart, I start to quake. A feeling begins to erupt, like a little bird nosing its way out of its shell, cracking softly. The spinach and onion blur as my eyes fill with tears.
“I feel so much emotion,” I say, naming the obvious.
Lee turns my way and smiles. “Here, making an omelet?” 
“I know I won’t be able to make you an omelet forever.  I know the day will come when we won’t do this together, here in the kitchen, quietly working side by side. Each of us just doing the simplest thing. For each other.”

He moves to put his arms around me and holds me there with my pajamas dragging on the tile floor. Then I go back to the stove and pour the eggs into the pan. 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

SPOLETO: Art in the City

I've learned that a lot of people haven't heard of Spoleto; I'm sure I wouldn't have if I hadn't lived here in Charleston years ago. So I'll start with a tutorial right from Wikipedia...they say it well:

Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, South Carolina, is one of America's major performing arts festivals. It was founded in 1977 by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Gian Carlo Menotti, who sought to establish a counterpart to the Festival dei Due Mondi (The Festival of Two Worlds) in Spoleto, Italy.
When Italian organizers planned an American festival, they searched for a city that would offer the charm of Spoleto, Italy, and also its wealth of theaters, churches, and other performance spaces. Charleston was selected as an ideal location, with Menotti saying of Charleston:
 It's intimate, so you can walk from one theatre to the next. It has Old World charm in architecture and gardens. Yet it's a community big enough to support the large number of visitors to the festival.[1]
     The annual 17-day late-spring event showcases both established and emerging artists
     in more than 150 performances of opera, dance, theater, classical music, and jazz.
So, there you go. That's what we are up to these days. SPOLETO!
Opening Day Event
It started last night and our first performance was Romeo and Juliet at the Dock Street Theater - a spectacular small theater built in oh who knows when, but considered the first theatre in America. It is sooooo beautiful and of the sweetest scale. And for me, it has the lingering memories of the days I actually acted upon that stage in a couple of plays here in Charleston and created the costumes for other plays. 
Lee and I agree that the play, performed by the Globe Theatre of London was a bit of a let down. The acting was fine. But I am such a fan of Romeo and Juliet, I just don't know how you can do this play without enough passion to almost burn the house down. But, it is exciting to see people actually choosing to be performers for a living. I love this. I appreciate this. And there were several especially fine performances! It just didn't sing as a whole.
But, all that said...they were really cute! And here they are performing in the streets earlier in the day.
Players from the Globe Theater of London 
Walking home at 11:00 at night, the moon lit the way and the stars sparkled. The big dipper hung over us in the navy night sky. The steeple of St. Phillips was a monument of limestone pointing to the stars. So the night, as a whole, was so charming. To get dressed and look at my husband in his Italian linen suit with the pocket square, his cropped beard, his Ray-Bans as we walked to the theater in the sunlight, then home, hand in hand after the play. This was all sweet. 
Today we went to a chamber music concert - again at the Dock Street Theater - the same LOVELY 15 minute walk from our home - and it was fantastic. The moment it began with eight musicians on stage, featuring oboe, violin and harpsicord, a thrill moved through me - through my heart - and I was so happy to be in that seat. The second piece was contemporary, experimental and probably will be forgotten next week, but the first and third pieces - Vivaldi and Dvorak were so very beautiful and to think that you are spending a Saturday afternoon with these musicians who are so enjoying their lives in this moment, so into it, so generous.
Performers from the Chamber Music Performance today

Walking out into the afternoon, 75, dry, blue sky and breezy, we walked the long way home to take in the view of the harbor. Then I settled into my chair on the porch (working on that word "piazza" but it just doesn't stick for me) and dozed off in the breeze off the Ashley River.

Next week: Emmy Lou Harris. Madeleine Peyroux and Westminster Choir!

Madleine Peyroux - next week!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Slow Living in Charleston

I've had this slow living thing on my mind lately. Well, I arrived in Charleston yesterday, catching up with Lee who had been here since Thursday to work on the the school. Arriving on a Saturday was brilliant, and I will take note. It meant I didn't feel one ounce of compunction to work! The most "work" I did was thoroughly enjoyable. Buy flowers for the apartment, throw a table cloth on the piazza dining table, fluff the cushions, fill the frig.

Today we started the day with Lee's most excellent cappuccino on the piazza. When I walked out this morning in my p.j.s to have coffee I almost cried. The morning was still and sweet and 72 degrees and I couldn't tell my outside from my inside except for the fragrance of jasmine that permeated the air floating around me. That, and the morning swallows out for their own breakfast.

By 9:00 we decided to drive to the beach for our walk. And in no time, only 20 minutes later, we were trekking on the boardwalk to the beach. We planted our beach chairs, then set out to walk 3 miles, enjoying the children up early and digging in the sand, the dogs, dogs, dogs playing catch with balls and prancing in the water, the pick-up softball games with kids and dads and a metal rod for a bat.

The rest of the day was so slow. I have not been able to say I've had a slow day in years. Decades? Today passed slowly. After walking on the beach, we came home and, except for walking to King Street for an errand, I spent the day on the porch (piazza!) in the big old wicker chair with feather cushions reading my book of essays, working on my book and talking to Lee.

I did take a shower. And walk to dinner. Then walk home. And discovered a flower I've never seen or remembered seeing. And am now waiting for Mad Men to 10:00 p.m. here on the East Coast! But who cares? What else is there to do?

Where I spent most of the day - in that wicker chair on the right.

Our beach chairs on Sullivan's Island.

Lee. Reading. Beach. Three of my favorite things.

This is real. I took this photo today. Can you smell it? A magnolia.
A Southern magnolia. Not the kind we have in Minnesota.


We saw this on our way home from dinner. What the heck beautiful flower is this???
Hint: It is a creeping flowering jasmine.

This is what it looks like tucked among its leaves and other flowers. 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Back in Charleston - and building its first Waldorf School

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Joined Lee in Charleston today. He came a couple days early to work on the Waldorf school we are going to create here....The Acorn School of Charleston.
Yep, going to happen.

And just in sync...the New York Times publishes this piece for the Sunday paper. This was the topic of Lee's presentation today at an information meeting. 

I feel so frustrated by our educational system in this country. We use our children as guinea pigs - let's try this, let's try that. And then, worst of all, we project our own fears onto our children. OMG....what if they aren't reading at 6! Are they damaged? Do they need special help? Are they on the "spectrum?"

So much pressure on kids. So much garbage. 

I feel so happy to be working on creating a Waldorf School with Lee here in Charleston. Waldorf's attitude is "the later the better" - not "the sooner the better."

Slow food? Why not Slow Childhood?

Oh, and in service of shameless self-promotion, here is the website for the school:

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Longest Hiatus Ever.....but back for Mother's Day. "Motherhood: The Default Setting"

Motherhood: The Default Setting
Written Spring 2007

My default setting is “Motherhood.” It is in the “locked” position and takes clever technical maneuvering to change the setting. Like, sending my almost independent children away for long periods of time to faraway places so that I don’t have to feed them or edit their English papers. Only then can I unlock the setting for a few days…survive on salads, soup, wine and work. Until they return – when I predictably head for the grocery store, ashamed of the depleted refrigerator, and rev up the nagging about the state of their bedroom and the cat box and hover over what is going into their mouths. “Don’t drink sodas. Please. I didn’t raise you to drink soda.” This kind of hovering sometimes even keeps me from working, which I do from home, in full view of too many of their activities. And, working is not optional.
I am 53 years old, working hard for a late-blooming career I love, but today I was involuntarily drawn back into the drama of motherhood: where will my 17-year old daughter go to college? Earlier this week, we returned from a two-day pilgrimage to Madison, Wisconsin in hopes of finding the Holy Grail of College Educations at the University of Wisconsin. It’s affordable. It’s highly ranked. Sounds promising and easy. I drove the 5 hours there and the 5 hours home listening to the Dixie Chicks singing about how they are still “mad as hell” and we both got sufficiently worked up over the heated lyrics, joining in on the chorus. Until, we couldn’t stand it any more. Then I turned on All Things Considered and she took a nap.
 We hiked around the campus of 40,000 students for 2.5 hours in wind and cold.  We drank more than our share of cappuccino, observing the packed house of slightly alternative college students doing whatever they do in coffee shops, the whole setting looking like an ad for Mac laptops. She bought a UW trucker’s hat and felt right at home in a hooded sweatshirt and jeans. Things at Madison are “chill,” according to her. I think I know what that means and I had to agree, although I would have used a different adjective. I was served wine at the local Mexican restaurant out of a massively over-sized wine glass. If this is what they mean when they say it is a drinking school, I am officially worried. This wine glass was larger than the water pitcher and we have photos to prove it.
I have wondered if the school is too big for her, that she will get “lost,” too much anonymity. So, we visited a class, the large lecture with over a hundred sleepy-looking students called “Communication and Human Behavior.” The professor asked a question – one of those things you might know even if you hadn’t read the material. No one responded and that annoyed her. She raised her hand, was called on and answered the question. Clearly, she’ll be fine at Madison. We thought it was settled.
Finally, I can get back to work.
            Then today, she heard from five more colleges. She applied to this vast number of colleges with the philosophy “Cast a wide net,” because she needed to increase her chances of a strong financial aid package. And she got in to all of them. We are mostly just stunned. And so, once again, I am derailed by demands for decisions, travel plans, discussions about preferences, financial aid, climate and fashion at each of the said schools.
I have work to do. I support my children and myself. I have magazine stories I should be pitching. I should be at the tile store, selecting tile for my client’s bathroom. I should be filing papers and balancing checking accounts and doing my job. I should be working. But I am so absorbed by the energy surrounding her right now – some of it flattering, much of it overwhelming – that I cannot concentrate and I see some modest need for keeping her focused on one step at a time, except that I am not very good at that myself. There are calls to make about campus visits, flights to book, budgets for all this to consider, bosses to email for time off (for her), and friends to tell. We walk around the lake together to talk it out. I should be returning emails.
            But how many more days will I have to walk the lake with Isabelle? She is 17, a senior, leaving home in a few months and never coming back in the same way. How many more times will she show me the prom dress she thinks is cute and what do I think, should she buy it on the Nordstrom website? How many times will we get silly taking photos of the mammoth wine glass at the rinky-dink Mexican restaurant? How many more times will she ask me if I think there is pork fat in the refried beans, meaning she cannot eat it, the vegetarian that she is and has been since she was five? I will miss her. For three years, I have missed my son, Zan, who went to D.C. for college, to Paris and back, and who, thankfully, still emails me his college papers for review on occasion, but is really gone for good, I can tell.

I am a mother first and foremost and I don’t know how to stop it. The setting is genetically and psychically in a locked position. This is costing me money, the money I need to buy the prom dress and pay for her college tuition bills that will begin to arrive soon. But, I wouldn’t miss this for anything.