Saturday, December 29, 2007

Virtual kitchen

Here's a little video I shot of the new kitchen with my new Flip camera..

Joseph Cornell

Yesterday we visited San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) to see the exhibit of the works of Joseph Cornell. He was what's called an "assemblage artist". I found plenty to inspire me. It seems to me that a collage artist reveals even more of the inner self than someone who creates art from raw materials. Because when you choose images that have already been drawn, interpreted, and then juxtapose them with other things or images, you create a new, ironic or deeper meaning. It's like interpreting dreams, when you see a snake in a desert, it's not just a snake nor just a desert.

I think being obsessive compulsive would be helpful to a collage artist. Perhaps all artists need a little of that. But to be constantly cutting things out of magazines and saving lots of little pipes and dials... where does one get these things? Today we are going antique shop browsing, and I'm going to keep my eyes open for little collections that could be incorporated into assemblages.

There has been a lot of cookin' and eatin' over the holiday week. I found that I mostly desired to make dishes that I had never made before, which is strange to do over a holiday, when folks expect traditional food. I found one recipe for sweet and sour chicken that was an instant hit and may make it again tonight. I made scalloped potatoes, which I like but had never made before. I baked an apple pie using my molassas pear pie recipe, which was delicious. We had a veggie casserole made with almond milk. I baked baking powder biscuits. The new oven is a dream.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Let the festivities begin

Slogged through the week at work - most of our department got sick and didn't show up all week. Which meant that those of us who were immune had to hold down the fort and fill in for them. Usually I don't mind working the last week of the year, because there are long lunches and plenty of goodie baskets to keep us sedated. But this year, I had to work hard, which has generally been the case for quite a few months now. So, hurray! we are now off work til after the new year.

Our builder worked hard too this week, to get the house to a point where we could really use all the new rooms. The bathroom looks excellant, with all the hardware istalled and the shower glass enclosure. Even the doorbell is back up, and the way it echoes in the new kitchen gives Lola even more reason to bark like crazy whenever it rings.

We are expecting it to ring a lot this week, with our friends all lined up to come over for eats prepared in the new kitchen. Today, I'll dig out the box in the garage that has my cookbooks, so that I can refresh my memory of meals that I used to enjoy making.

Last night we stayed in the city to go to the new Sundance movie theater that opened in Japantown. Every seat is "reserved", that is, you pick which number seat you want when you buy your ticket, which makes the line move very slowly. The seats are large and arranged in twos, with a little table between each pair. We picked seats that put the table between us, but actually I think it'd be better to pick seats with tables on either side of you, so that there is a table between each of you and the stranger next to you. Then you don't have to listen to them complain about the movie, as we did last night for Youth Without Youth. Although I can't say I blamed them... we didn't like it much, either.

This is one of those films that reviewers will probably love, and put on their "top movies of the year" lists, just to make themselves look like an art snob. It was kind of like a bad Fellini movie (Barb disagrees, because she like Fellini). Every time there was a shot where the person was displayed horizontally instead of vertically (dream sequence), I thought about viewing pictures that I take on my camera after I upload them to the computer, and how I have to make an effort to "rotate" them and save them so that they are easy to view later. Coppolla could have made that effort for us, don't you think?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Family harmonics

This recording is from 1978, recorded by my brother Scott and my dad in Scott's recording studio at his home. I'm sure it was my dad's first exposure to multi-track recording.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


The year is coming to an end - what a busy one it's been for us. The trip to Sicily and Rome, the kitchen/house remodel - rarely have we ever had a year where we made so many decisions and spent so much money! And this weekend we celebrate 25 years of coupledom. We joke that despite the remodel, we are still together. I think we collaborated pretty well, although it's the little things that get tiresome, like today at Home Despot, when we couldn't seem to agree on a single pull for a closet door. But in the end, we did find one that worked.

Last night we saw the film "Atonement", that seems to already be on many short lists for best movie of the year. It was exceptional. I really would like to read the book now, and see how they managed to capture the story. I'm reading a book called "A History of Love", and often find myself thinking about whether or not one could make it into a movie. The characters are so compelling, but the story happens in memory, not in action. I think it must be hard to make a movie where at first glance, you'd think it'd have to be all voice-over. That's why they do "flashbacks". There is one particular scene in "Atonement" that was so visually astonishing and terrible and wonderful all at once: the scene on the beach. I can't get it out of my head.

The word "Atonement" makes me think of e.e. cummings and his poem about loneliness. It goes something like this:




I love how the number 1 is all over the place in that poem, and how loneliness is all about I-ness, One-ness. At-one-ment is a similar word.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


My niece is going to have a baby in January, so I have started a little yarn project. I remember that one of the very first crochet project I ever did was on the event of her birth, way long ago in the 70s. I made a couple of funny little stuffed animals. I didn't have any instructions or guidelines, I just kept on stitching until what I had looked about the right shape. The yarn I had then was not very baby-friendly. I may have been using some yarn left over from a pot-holder project! Now, I have some very very soft yarn, and I'm hoping that the youngest member of our clan will enjoy holding whatever it is that I'm making and drool on it. I still don't have any instructions or plans, and in the very same way I did for her mother, I'm holding an dream for this little girl's future in my heart as I stitch.

Oh, and by the way, there is now a name for these funny little crocheted animals, "amigurumi". It must be a japanese crafting trend. There is a even a flickr group.

Friday, December 07, 2007

What's in a name

I read a very funny story today on one of the blogs that I found while browsing on Nablopomo. The writer/artist's name is (unfortunately) named Bambi. You can read her funny story on your own, but what I wanted to write about is just the horrible thought of being saddled with a name like that. There would be no nickname that could get you out of it. You'd simply have to endure the comments and astonished looks until you were old enough to change it, or, as the writer seems to have done, come to proudly reclaim it as your own.

There really are very few acceptable names that end with -y or -ie or -i, in my opinion. Putting the diminutive suffix on a name makes you sound like a child, a porn star or a sports figure. I had a name like that until I was 21, so I know. "Betsy" was a name that people connected with a gun, a cow, and someone from Sunnybrook farm (although that was "Becky", but no one cares to be corrected on that point, believe me). Now, I have some friends named Betsy, and I don't mind them having that name... but really I am so glad to be quite done with it.

You just have to feel badly for people that happen to have the same name as someone famous, or those named for movie icons.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Visual reminders

Here is the gorgeous new kitchen that we cook in these days!

And here is a funny hand-lettered sign I walked past on Geary Blvd. the other day.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Holiday spirits

This is the time of year when people either start to enjoy or dread the holidays. My mom was very invested in making sure that our family had a picture-perfect christmas. I think she started out really enjoying it, and by the time I came along, as the fifth child, she was starting to weary of it a bit. All those boxes of trappings to pull out. She made it fun for me, and probably for her, too, when I was little, by involving me as her "helper". She made me a little felt badge that said "Mommy's little helper" and I wore it with pride.

She set up a gift-wrapping headquarters in her sewing room over the stairs. She wrapped all her gifts with whimsical decorations, and they always had hand-lettered gift tags. Every year, she embellished our stockings with a little icon of what we had accomplished or experienced during the past year. We always went to bed on christmas eve and ran downstairs in the morning to a completely transformed living room, full of gifts and sparkling somehow much more than it had the night before.

It was a magical time, and for those memories, I thank my mom.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Blade Runner

There is a new "director's cut" version of Blade Runner coming out in the theaters soon, and we got a sneak preview of it at work today. I have seen it a few times before, but it has been a long time, and I had mostly forgotten it. So I can't tell you what parts were added or deleted to make it a director's cut. I can tell you that the soundtrack is still awesome, and the dark vision of the future is still believable and scary.

We saw the digital print, which is supposed to be much more crisp, and never get scratches and so forth like regular film.

I enjoy being able to see movies over lunchtime, but I wish there could have been popcorn and footrests.

Sunday, December 02, 2007


Today I opened up a box marked "KITCHEN" that we packed in the middle of June. It was like meeting up with old friends - the pie pans, the serving dishes, the vases. There is a really pretty old creamer that we got once at a garage sale, I think, that is the perfect green for the new kitchen. Too bad I don't have a matching sugar bowl. It kind of looks like fiesta ware, but it's a different color green, and has no markings on the bottom. I browsed ebay to see if there might be something that goes with it, but no luck today.

We are trying to "edit down" the amount of stuff that we put into the new cabinets. Right now it seems that we have so many extra shelves, but I'm sure that won't last. I'm trying to suss out where would be the "intuitive" place to put little-used items, and I'm not sure what I'm going to put in the lower corner cabinet that has the lazy susan shelves.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Blue bathroom

Even as we begin to resume life inside, in the new kitchen, the remodel work continues, with the deck next to build, and the second bathroom to begin. We shopped today for the second bathroom, which has been our "main" bathroom, but will now move into a secondary role as a guest bathroom or powder room. The new bath we built is much larger and has a big shower, so we envision using it more as our main bath.

We have both always loved blue glass, and every time we shop for tile, we are drawn to the blues. We determined we would do one of the baths in blue, and today we ordered the gorgeous blue mosaic that will be the tub surround. It is an opalescent multi colored pattern, called Blue Hawaiian. The sales woman gave us the brilliant idea of letting go of the glass tub surround, that would block the view of this beautiful tile. She used to work at a fabric store, and told us about some kind of great fabric that we could make a custom curtain with, and the type of beautiful rod that would hold it up. It was very freeing to let go of the struggle of finding a custom sized glass surround!