Sunday, November 6, 2011

Dans la Rue, Dans ma Tete

I'm increasingly less able to concentrate on things that usually interest me. Participating in the demonstrations in both San Francisco and in Oakland (at whose general strike I spent all day with my 3-year-old and many thousands of peaceful and positive people last Wednesday) gives me hope. People are making connections there and coming up with creative ways to drive change in a world that has been out of balance for too long.

Do I believe in hurling bricks to bring about social change? Mais non! But in keeping with the general theme of the blog, this image comes from the May 1968 strikes in Paris.

I'm confused and annoyed by all the mainstream press I read, but not enough to dwell on it. It seems so clear that the Occupy people are asking for such a simple thing: that those who control the great majority of the wealth in the country should also contribute their fair share to society and pay taxes. Access to medicine, food and shelter are human rights, and it's criminal that we don't have these basic bases covered in a country in which banks can take massive public bailouts from our citizen's tax dollars into one hand, and dole out generous bonuses to their CEOs with the other. No media circus that focuses on a few "hippies" or "anarchists" in a population of thousands of "normal" people who are coming out to demonstrate can overshadow that. And though I am in the 99%, my family is fortunate that we are employed, well-fed, and comfortable. And the taxes we pay are disproportionately low. So we continue to support those organizations whose work we believe in.  And I continue to be excited that our world seems poised for positive change.

In other news, I have myself signed up for National Novel Writing Month. What a disappointment to confirm what I already knew: I may love writing but I don't have a creative bone in my head! So I'm using the November 30th deadline to write 50,000 words as my prompt to complete a non-fiction book. It will be unofficial; the rules of NaNoWriMo state that work is to be fictional only. But if I can use this month to complete a work that I've been shuffling around in my head for six years? Official or no, I will call it a success.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Fresh Fall Leaves

The weather is crisp and life is a blitz as usual. We've been trying to slow down, establish rituals, and enjoy the season. As a family, we're in a phase of being more politically active. I'm really excited by all the potential change that it looks like may start happening in the world right now. At home, as I've gotten into the swing of living in this small town for a year now, I want to really build community-- or at least get to know a few more of my neighbors. So the plan for this week looks like this, stapled to the telephone poles and taped to the big sycamores on our street:

Come one, come all. (I hope people come!)

Lately I've been inspired by the Playborhood web site. I was reminded of it when I read this article on the "Trick-or-Treater Index." An urban theorist named Richard Florida came up with this index to rate the child-friendliness (basically, the health and safety) of a given community. It basically says that if you count the number of trick-or-treaters you get on Halloween night you get a good indication of how safe and friendly your neighborhood is all year.

(There are exceptions. I lived in a very safe San Francisco neighborhood for years. Every year I would dress up and ready my huge bowl of candy. Every year I would watch as the neighborhood kids made their way to the Halloween party at the martial arts school across the street. Not one trick-or-treater ever graced my door, and every year my downstairs neighbor and her grand-daughters would get our big bowl of candy [or what was left of it] on November 1st. My neighborhood was safe but it wasn't a community. People didn't congregate and kids didn't play outside.)

The beginnings of our Halloween and Dia de los Muertos decor. Ghost tree and blood-sucking spiders not shown.

My current neighborhood is a Halloween heaven. Parents from the big (and very unsafe, if news reports are to be believed) city to the east of us drive their kids in for trick-or-treating, and the neighborhood is full of our own local kids anyway. So we expect a big turnout for the happiest night of the year.

Before that, though, I'm hosting my mother's 70th birthday dinner this weekend. I'll be busy planning and cleaning this week, and I'll post pictures if it turns out lovely. What would you do to make an intimate family party special?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Back from Beyond, Freshly Showered

I have been so busy, away from home, shopping for a new office, taking on a board position at my kiddo's school. I feel like I should have something fabulous to write to break back into this little blog of mine, but I don't and instead I will share the pictures from a dear friend's baby shower that I hosted last month.

The theme was casual vintage in a Mid century way. I had tons of fun scouring Etsy for period invitations and decor.

In one corner, I set up a funny old wicker peacock chair decorated with blue and yellow flowers. I laid out a Polaroid camera and film, asking each guest to pose for two pictures next to the Mama of Honor in her "Queen's Chair." One photo got pasted into an album with the guest's best wishes for the new mother and the other photo went home with the guest as her keepsake from the shower.

I served minosas and nice cheeses, things wrapped in bacon, chicken-- and arugula salads, a healthy, yummy gelatine mold (seriously! a good one is good for you!) and a very cute and very easy donut cake topped with a vintage stork and baby topper. The menu was très Ladies Who Lunch and all in all I felt great about how easily the day came off. Plus, I got to wear a darling little dress, similar to the one on Ms. Draper, below. Mine is a tad shorter and I wore it with a cute shrug and a giant peony corsage.

By the way, I am late to the party and only started watching Mad Men a few days ago. Even though I adore the aesthetic and my area of concentration in college was Atomic Age Advertsing. (Really, it was! I was a choose-your-own-adventure Cultural Studies-type.) But I knew if I started watching I wouldn't be able to stop, and it's true that now it is nearly all I can think about. But that and this book are a post for a different day.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Vanity (both kinds)

Happy Birthday, USA! Today we went to our little town's 4th of July parade. For a wee little burg it happens to boast the second-largest parade in les États-Unis.

The antique store was kind enough to deliver my new vanity over the holiday weekend

and, since I'm feeling cute, a picture of my anonymous son and me after the do today.

I'm wearing a vintage blue and white polka-dot number with new red cork-sole sandals and a bit more post-s'mores pooch than I'd like (but enough self-love to rock it anyway).

Now to wake my sleeping kid and husband to head out to a friend's little bbq. What are your plans for the day?

Happy 4th to you!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Fruit and Veg, Woeful Sprawl, White Teeth

It was a hot weekend of playing in the garden. We now have edible green beans, strawberries, arugula, mountains of chamomile for tea and skincare formulation, lemons and limes, spearmint for tea, Morrocan mint for mojitos and juleps, three kinds of lettuces, and some decorative plants. We planted zucchini and hope that will be ready to harvest in a short while. In the meantime, have a look at our chard and apples!

We returned from our little vacation on Friday. It was an unexpected delight. We had planned a week of camping in the redwoods but we got rained out after the first night. So we packed up our camping stuff and checked into a chain "inn" in Santa Cruz to ride out the rainy days. It was a lot of fun. There were hikes in the redwoods, lots of train and trolly rides in various places (because vehicles, particularly the antiquated kind, are my toddler's current obsession), and day trips to Big Sur and Monterey. Except for beautiful Big Sur, I noticed a depressing abundance of chain restos and awful tourist traps everywhere we went. It got me thinking: has the landscape of this state changed so much that there is no longer any place to go except nature, tourist places and chains? Are we lazier now that we travel with a child or is there really, as Gertrude Stein once said about my neighboring town of Oakland, California, "no there there?"

This feeling of opressive sameness was mitigated somewhat by the glorious, gritty descriptions of North London and its varied population in Zadie Smith's fantastic 2000 novel, White Teeth. I loved this book, with strong, funny characters and an epic narrative that spans WWII to 1996 or so. Smith has wit and spark as she touches on such issues as colonialism, race, class, sex, beauty, religion, ethics and coming of age. White Teeth spans generations and locales--India, Jamaica, Bangladesh and London-- to weave together seemingly disparate people into a surprising story line that I whipped through because I couldn't put it down. I believe I am the last semi-literate person on Earth to pick this book up (there was a time that everyone I ever encountered anywhere was reading it). But if there are any other latecomers out there, expecially those who love Salman Rushdie (who I would have guessed was the writer here in a blind taste-test), I recommend it most highly.

Now I'm onto a reread of Living the Savvy Life and a book of short stories by the very promising Katherine Mansfield.

What are you reading?

Saturday, July 2, 2011

On Vanity

I used to have a delightful chinoiserie vanity table. I got it when I was a funky young creative type. It was a fabulous flea market find that had the patina of age and a milky turquoise paint chosen by some previous old funky creative type. I sold it in a move many years ago and I've been without a space to get fabulized ever since. I don't tend to shop for sport but I was thrilled to find the vanity of my dreams today. It is similar to this:

but a thousand times better!

It will go beautifully with my nightstands. They look a lot like these:

The rest of the room is rather sparse, save a beautiful Indian tapestry that sounds hippie in the extreme but is actually rather lovely in person. I will take pictures of my boudoir when the new vanity arrives. For now I was excited and wanted to share!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Blogspot Hurts My Brain

I'm trying to respond to your lovely comments but something flonky is happening with Blogspot. I read your comments. I appreciate your comments. I might go so far as to say that I LOVE your comments. Alas, I am unable to respond to your comments.

Clearly a sign to get off the computer and get back to packing.
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