Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Corner View - Street Photography

Arab Market

We're in the midst of preparations to leave for Israel on Monday so instead of a Corner View of where we're at, here's a Corner View of where we're going. This is a typical street scene from the Arab Market in Jerusalem's Old City where my husband and I always go to have fresh squeezed orange or carrot juice, a delicious meal of pita, ful, hummus and salad chopped up as tiny as possible and plenty of local olive oil. It's right next to the Armenian guy who sells old photos of Jerusalem so we always stop by to admire. Sometimes have tea. Although he'll talk your ear off. Don't say I didn't warn you.

And then we get kenafe (cheese, pistachio and honey) for dessert at Jabar's which is a little closer to Damascus Gate and in the quarter where we're not super welcome, politically anyway. It's been two years since our last visit. I'm hoping to gather inspiration for some new work. In fact, a friend there just told me she's taking me to a restaurant in the Jaffa flea market where everything's for sale. Even the table you're eating off of! They just add it to the bill. Genius! I feel inspired already.

So I may not post for a while. We'll see how it goes. Or maybe I'll post a bunch at 4am as we muddle through a 10 hour time difference with our kids. Oy.

Now head over to Spain for more street photography.

Saturday, February 20, 2010



You'll have to be patient with me for the next little while as I figure out my blog. I have a vision of what it should look like but I'm not a designer so I'm having technical issues actualizing my vision. I'm making it up basically.

My blog has been essentially the same since I started it nearly three years ago until this summer when I began adding pictures. Novel! So I was downloading them from my camera, and then uploading them to Blogger. But they were too big. So I was downloading them from my camera, optimizing them in Photoshop and then uploading them to Blogger. But then I wouldn't like them so I'd upload another one but I come to find the original is still stored somewhere in Picasa which I don't use. And I don't want my pictures there. I want them on Flickr. I don't know why except that I once posted a few of my paintings on Flickr and next thing I knew a guy from Italy purchased one on ETSY that he saw on Flickr and I was all, hmmmm....So now I download from my camera, optimize in iPhoto, save in my blog file, upload to Flickr, write a blog, go back and copy the location of the image, paste it into blogger and publish. THERE MUST BE AN EASIER WAY. I just tried to blog straight from Flickr and it was formatted crazy and that's when my head came off. Someone please put my head back on. I'm the cute brunette in this picture.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Corner View - Wisdom from an elder



My dad used to always say, there are two rules to live by:

1. Don't sweat the small stuff.
2. It's mostly all small stuff.

I know he didn't make that up. But it's still true. I find that the older I get, the better I am about this. Yesterday, when my kids were engaged in a painting project, to transform the huge cardboard box that our stove came in into a kids only playhouse (this is doubling as my entry for last week's theme: re-purposed), my son decided that my house needed a new coat too. It was just a porch beam. It was tempura paint. I chose not to care. Though I did explain that my house was already painted the color I wanted and he best stick to his own abode, lest he start on the interior walls tomorrow.

Head over to Spain Daily for more words of wisdom.

One announcement: The lovely Liv Lane of Choosing Beauty is hosting her weekly Wednesday give-away and this week it's one of my pieces - Woman of Valor. Please stop by her inspiring website and leave a comment about the bravest thing you've ever done and she'll draw a winner at random on Friday. This is my first time doing anything like this so go over and leave a whole bunch of comments...xo

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A final friendship note

My mom and I used to have long conversations about who would come to our funerals. We're sick like that. It was always a funny conversation when it came up. And it always ended with whatever you do don't put crazy make-up on me and make sure to get the pine box and not some satin mahogany bullshit. These days the conversation would be different. It would be about who would be your fan on your Facebook tribute page.

An old friend of mine, someone I worked with at summer camp when we were much younger, was killed in a car accident on Saturday evening, and there are a thousand plus people coming out to her Facebook tribute page. Leaving messages, reading messages, posting pictures. People from junior high, high school, youth group, lacrosse team, camp, college, grad school, work, parents of the kids she helped, her running partners, every one in the whole friggin town of Steamboat Springs, Colorado where she lived with her husband. It's unbelievable, though not surprising. She was loved. And I'm at home refreshing the screen every few minutes so I don't miss one word.

Because unfortunately I missed the last twelve years. We enjoyed a few intense and wonderful summers together with a magical group of people, with some of whom I remain in touch. And I always got periodic updates about Jenna. I think of her every year on my birthday because hers is the next day. And then there's Facebook where I came to learn that she'd become a speech pathologist. And that she was an ultra-marathoner (that's when you run two marathons back to back basically). And how she got married in August on a lake in Colorado looking beautiful and just the same as I remember. And how she and her husband went to Nepal for three months for their honeymoon and did the same trek that my husband and I did right before we got engaged. Over the years her Facebook profile would pop up from time to time and I'd mean to send her a note telling her how much I admired her. But then I'd get distracted. Because that's all there are these days, right? Distractions.

How great it would be if we all had fan pages.  Where you could just write how much you cared about someone, indeed the profound affect they had at some point or another in your life. We used to do a web 1.0 version of this at camp. Friendship notes. Just little notes of gratitude written to your friends at summer's end. I still have a handful of them, my favorite ones from over the years. I still have Jenna's. She signed it Jenna Talia to make me giggle (that wasn't her middle name). Paging Jenna Talia. Please pick up a white courtesy phone...

The girl I remember is every bit the amazing woman she became. I remember a terrific sense of humor - the kind that vacillates seamlessly between silly and sarcastic in the best possible way. I remember a girl who cared deeply about people and the outdoors. She was creative, adventurous, inclusive, charismatic and deeply sensitive. She was the girl that everyone loved to pieces and she had the kind of smile you can picture even years later...

It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced–or seemed to face–the whole external world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just so far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey. -F. Scott Fitzgerald

The world is a little darker now, without that smile, but brighter still, having known Jenna.

Monday, February 15, 2010



Dear Sugar Bee,
Today you turned three. How lucky I am to have you in my life. Here are a whole bunch of things that I love about you:
  1. the way you hug my neck
  2. how you share with your big brother
  3. your voice
  4. how you sob when Aba leaves the house
  5. how you snap out of it twenty seconds later
  6. your sense of style
  7. your belly
  8. the way you know how to calm yourself
  9. the way you dance
  10. when you say I love you so much mommy
  11. how you potty trained yourself (that was really considerate)
  12. the way you march
  13. your silly words
  14. your curls
  15. how you worry about your brother
  16. the way you skip seven and ten when you count
  17. your indiscriminate love of stuffed animals
  18. the way you snuggle in the mornings
  19. your willingness to try new foods
  20. your ability to forget what you were crying about
  21. your friendly demeanor
  22. your love of tiny things and tiny places to keep them
  23. the intensity in your eyes when you run
Every day with you is a blessing. Even the days when you draw on the walls or change your shirt six times or won't let me brush your hair. Those are the days that I learn the most from you. To have fun. To be patient. To let go.

all my love,

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Love at first site

I get those ETSY emails EVERY. FRIGGIN. DAY. And I usually just scroll down and then delete. But I saw this amazing piece just in time for Chinese New Year and I thought, be mine. And so it was.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Half Baked

Half Baked

I have mixed media envy. I paint entirely with watercolor. I always have. There was a brief period while living abroad when I painted a few canvases in acrylic. One was a large chicken. In fact there might have been two chickens. One was a naked girl. Then I did some Rothko squares because we needed something to cover up the hideous mirror over the fireplace. Anyway, they all sucked. Mainly because there was no depth to them, no texture. Flat as my stomach was four score and seven years ago (apropos President's Day...) Where was I? Yes. My brief foray into something besides watercolor.

Because I love the way mixed media looks. The good stuff anyway. Heck, even the so-so stuff looks pretty good if there are enough bumpy parts and bits of stuff and drippy gobs. And you know what's also great about painting on canvas? You can just hang up the canvas. You don't have to frame it. Just put a nail in the wall and hang the thing.

I can't really do that with my work. It's a piece of paper. So I have to frame it and be sure that everything's archival and then there's glass involved which makes it heavier and more of a pain to ship. Who's feeling my pain here? Well I'd had enough of all that and so when it came to pass that I would be in this Enormous Tiny Art show, I went searching for a solution to hang my work as is. No glass.

I found Plywerk. I got a bunch of their maple panels that have notches in the back for hanging. They come with archival sticky on the back. Peel and press. And that's exactly what I did. And I used my exacto to trim the edges. Voila. They looked great. I packed them up and sent them away.

Let me digress for a moment. You know those blogs that are ever cheerful and always talking about how wonderful life is and how every moment is full of truth and how when your heart is open to the universe, the universe will give you a book deal? blah blah blah. Inspiring, true.  But they never tell you about the fuck ups. About the time they spilled a gallon of gesso on a near finished commission. Or how they went to a craft fair and sold nothing. Actually Marisa at Creative Thursday once posted about her experience at a craft show that was not going well and how she turned it around and I thought, this girl is awesome. Because she's real. But back to my story...

After a week, the panels that I did not send started to warp. Because my original work isn't flat. I tape it down when I'm painting but it still dries with a little warble to it. I know I should use those watercolor blocks but I always end up cutting the damn painting when I try to get it off. And then the edges started to peel away from the panels a tiny bit. And my growing concern about this was legitimized by the Enormous Tiny Art people who emailed me to tell me they were sending back the ones that were on panels (thankfully I'd also sent a bunch that were framed). They were kind about the whole thing. Nevertheless, I was mortified.

Now I'm out the money for the panels and my original art is half stuck to them and so much for my first art show. And as I was berating myself for being such a dope novice lump head, I thought maybe I should put them in the oven and see if they become unstuck? And, hoping they wouldn't spontaneously combust, that's exactly what I did. 250 degrees for fifteen minutes to be exact. And every piece came right off the panels without any sticky left on the paper. So I have my artwork back in tact and filed away safely for framing at a later time. And it turns out the sticky panels are great for prints because prints are very flat and every part of them sticks to the panel. Live and learn.

Do you have any disasters to share? Miscalculations? Half-baked ideas? Fully-baked ideas that sucked anyway? Come on. I won't tell anyone.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Fully Formed


I am so up to my eyeballs in paperwork these days that I can't even see straight. I have a new callous on my right middle finger where my pen rests. The kind I used to get during final exams in college. I have forms coming out of my forms.

It started last weekend when my husband and I decided to buy tickets to visit his family in Israel. In March. That's tomorrow basically. But it's actually our favorite time of year and it's been raining a TON over there so that means by mid March there will be entire fields teaming with red poppies and wild irises. Which totally makes up for the hideously long plane trip and the week of jetlag. Plus we get to see all the people that we are otherwise missing so that's good too.

Anyway, what we failed to realize was that our son's passports had expired. Both of them. And my Israeli passport had also expired. Oops. That's six forms right there. Our covert secret ops mission to the unmarked Israeli consulate in San Francsico is a story for another time. But there I had to fill out another form because apparently when we got married and registered our auspicious union at the Ministry of the Interior, someone wrote down that I took my husband's last name, which I didn't. Please fill out this form.

And before we leave on our trip I have to sign up my son for kindergarten. Twenty more forms. And though the private school application is in, the financial aid application is not.  More forms. And then there's summer camps. Yes. Most of the United States is still a frozen wasteland but over here in California we're signing up for summer camp. Because we are LUNATICS. So not only do I need to figure out when my kids are going to what camps but also what we're doing in between and how on earth will I get anything done this summer and should I just keep my son at the place where he goes to school or can we venture to some other, more interesting camps, like one that focuses entirely on ELECTRICITY for a whole week, but where he doesn't know anyone and will likely be miserable. And what does it all mean? Nothing. Except more forms. And with every over priced summer camp, comes financial aid. Surprise. More forms.

I'm just waiting for the sanitarium forms to show up so I can sign on the dotted line.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Enormous Tiny News


Thanks to everyone for your support of my February (and rest of my life) endeavors. I'm pretty on track so far. Although I went to bed late on Tuesday but that's because of LOST. It was like a three-hour LOST-a-thon and I wasn't about to miss it because of some new found desire to live a more balanced life. I mean, it is LOST after all. I don't know why I feel compelled to capitalize that all the time. But I'll stop talking about it since I remember how annoying it was when everyone was talking about Twin Peaks and I didn't watch it or give a rat's ass about the show or who killed Laura.

But I'm two for two in terms of putting iMac to bed when the kiddles are home with me. It's actually easier than I anticipated. And my eyes have stopped burning. Also good.

But back to this post. A few things to announce.

The Enormous Tiny Art Show is very exciting for me because it's my first gallery show but also it's a group show with so many artists whose work I've really admired and loved like Pixie Campbell, Jessica Gonacha Swift, Lisa Congdon and Lisa Solomon. All of the work is original and smaller than 10x10 inches. They're having an opening reception on Friday (tomorrow) from 5-8 so if you live near Portsmouth, New Hampshire (I understand it's about an hour from Boston), then I encourage you to head over. And take some pictures for me. They probably don't let you do that in galleries. See how much I know about this stuff? zip.

The other exciting news is that many of my pieces are now available online via Rosenberry Rooms. They're an online retailer and purveyor of unique children's decor. Kind of fancy stuff actually. Anyway, my page is here. I talked to the owner back in May about this and things were moving along but then I stopped hearing from her. And I just figured they lost interest and because I often have the self esteem of a middle schooler, I left it. Hmmm. And then last week their merchandising manager sent me a link to my page. How 'bout that? These things apparently take a long time. Another thing I know nothing about.

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Time for some self love


Happy February gang! I'm thrilled to report back that indeed I accomplished my two goals from last week. I applied for my business credit card and I opened my bank account. So this little goal setting system appears to be working. For now anyway. But in addition to my weekly goals for February I want to set a wider intention regarding the way I'm running my business and running my life frankly. Things are a little out of hand. I'm kind of falling apart. In a slow, tiny pieces at a time kind of way. I'm not taking care of myself in the way that I'd like to. I'm not sleeping enough. I'm spending too much time on Facebook meaningless things. I'm not taking care of my body or the way I look. This all became painfully obvious when I took my kids to Costco yesterday to get new passport pictures. I marveled at how my son has changed in the five years since his last photos were taken. He was two months old and I was balancing him against the white screen and to this day it's the one picture of him that makes us laugh the most because although at the time we thought he was beautiful, he was pretty crazy looking. And this time he stood confidently, looked right at the camera and flashed his beautiful smile (and dimples). I needed new pictures too for my Israeli passport. My picture, on the other hand, shows an exhausted, unhealthy woman. I looked at that thing and thought, it doesn't have to be like this

It's time for a little self love. Starting appropriately with these narcissus blooms which I bought for myself at the farmer's market on Sunday. If you lean your head into the screen you might be able to smell them. They are that potent. And they make a nice segue into a list of intentions for this month:

We always talk about wanting to go the farmer's market but we rarely go because it's too expensive. But after seeing the movie Food Inc. last week we decided that we could and would spend more money on food and eat food that made us feel good and feel good about consuming.  Plus we ran into five people we knew at the market which gave us a welcomed feeling of community in this place that we're never too excited about. 

I have been going to sleep past midnight for more than a year. And I get woken up every day at 6:30. It's not enough sleep. I'm never rested. I'm setting a goal to shut down communications every night by 10:30. 

This one is so obvious and so important and it never. gets. done. I have spurts. They never lead anywhere. So this month I am making time to do this. Some form of exercise everyday. So I can feel strong and have energy.

This warrants it's own post but suffice it to say that even though I don't own a smart phone, I am online in a way that defines unhealthy. Today was the first day I put my computer to sleep when I went to pick up my kids after lunch and didn't turn it back on until they went to sleep. Please, stop. The standing ovation is totally embarrassing...

So there it is. A declaration. A commitment to self-love this Valentine's season. And a wish that these changes will help me be more present for the people in my life that I cherish most.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Sand Trap


My kids went to the beach with my husband this weekend to see their aunt and get out of my hair during my THREE HOUR QUICK BOOKS PARTY with my new bookkeeper. At one point before they left my husband came in to remark that all the laughing was making him wonder if we were really doing accounting.

They came home very late that evening after what appears to have been a terrific day, the highlight of which was a trip to the ocean. It's been pretty stormy over here the last two weeks so apparently the little beach near where my husband's aunt lives (and my brother too, when he's not dog whispering in Mexico) has had it's share of churn which meant my kids got to collect whatever finally landed on the beach.  Mainly neat looking rocks and shells (and one nasty looking piece of kelp).

So they brought their treasures home in bags and I found little clear containers in which to display them. Over the last two days they've showed me each and every item at least five times. Seeing them in the jars got me thinking about the story that apparently has been circulating the web and elsewhere, but I'd never heard it. And it goes like this:

A professor of philosophy stood before his class with some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly he picked up a large empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with rocks about two inches in diameter. He then asked the students if the jar was full.  They agreed that it was full.

So the professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly and watched as the pebbles rolled into the open areas between the rocks. The professor then asked the students again if the jar was full. They chuckled and agreed that it was indeed full this time.

The professor picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. The sand filled the remaining open areas of the jar. “Now,” said the professor, “I want you to recognize that this jar signifies your life. The rocks are the truly important things, such as family, health and relationships. If all else was lost and only the rocks remained, your life would still be meaningful. The pebbles are the other things that matter in your life, such as work or school. The sand signifies the remaining “small stuff” and material possessions.

And the moral of the story is not to put the rocks in first so you can pack in as much other crap as possible and still have time in the day to be on Facebook. The moral, the one I'm going with anyway, is to figure out what the rocks are and put them in first because if you put the sandy filler in first, there's no room for the rocks.

Unfortunately this only came to mind AFTER I had a huge blow out with my son about the damn pebbles and shells. I should have just agreed to help him put the ones he'd shown me back in the jar (after he showed them to me for the sixth time) because in the scheme of things, his momentary laziness was nothing cataclysmic. You have to help because I was showing them to YOU. Although it was only two days ago that I was sitting with my bookkeeper (who has teenagers) talking about how hard it is to raise grateful, humble, appreciative, hard working kids when you're not in poverty. The entitlement thing is on my mind a lot. So I couldn't let this argument drop. And he persisted, as is his way. And I held my ground, as is mine. And it didn't end well. Actually, if finally ended with everyone hugging and exchanging I love yous but there were a lot of tears and shrieking before we got there. And there was no dessert which, for my son, actually is cataclysmic. See what I mean about entitlement? And the thing is I push him on these things, especially lately, because he's actually showing signs of getting it. But then this happens and I wished I'd just given in or found some more creative way to diffuse the situation.

Like I should have dumped the rest of the shells and sand on his head and then offered to help clean up. I'm sure there will be a next time.