Tuesday, June 30, 2015

three tablespoons of butter

i'm keeping a journal of one new thing i learn every day.  it's both exhilarating and humbling.

for example, earlier this year i didn't realize that the moon rose at all times of day or night depending on its orbit.  and, even though i've played my instrument for 30 years, i mistook bass cleff for viola clef in a duet insert recently since i had never used one before. in sewing, it was my first time using bias tape, so that was yet another learning curve.

in other words, if you've not done a lot of cooking, how can you know that the tablespoon markings are on the butter cube wrapper?  but maybe you know the latin names of plants by heart.

essentially, things come easily to people in their field of expertise.  it's easy to take certain facts and practices for granted or assume that other people know something when maybe they have yet to even encounter it.

a life coach once told our staff:  1) there are things you don't know that you don't know (unconscious/unaware) and then 2) things that you know you don't know (conscious/unaware) and finally 3) things that you know you know (conscious/aware).  for you alert readers asking "what about unconscious/aware?" well, it's not really possible, i suppose unless you're asleep and dreaming?  anyway, this process, she said, is how things move from desires to habits to reality, it's about awareness.

what new things have you become aware of lately?


i'm curious if you've ever had an upstairs-downstairs experience.  to explain, the show downton abbey has popularized this phrase meaning the servants (downstairs) and the lords and ladies (upstairs).

if i'm honest, i identify and am more comfortable with the idea of being downstairs.  recently i had the experience of being invited upstairs, so to speak, to be a guest instrumentalist at an event i usually serve at.

i immediately started contrasting between the two roles and how i, as the same person, had encompassed both.  in one i serve the food, in the other i eat it.  in one i am seen and not heard, in the other i am heard on purpose. in one i am to remain in the background, in the other i am free to mingle. in one i wear simple black and white, in the other a semi-formal outfit with matching jewelry.

then i realized the concept of grace.  that it wasn't so much about which one you were in, i thought, but about being able to go freely between the two.  grace isn't self-aware and it has no distinguishing marks.  whether you are pouring the champagne or sipping it with guests, grace says that we are all the same.

there is a parable, too, about it being better to take a humble seat and be invited to the head of the table than the other way around.  (i guess that would qualify as a downstairs-upstairs reversal).  but either way, it was an interesting lesson in human dynamics.  have you ever had either type of experience and if so, what was it like for you?

Monday, June 29, 2015

the french house

talk about an experience in renovation and community!  don wallace's memoir "the french house" chronicles his family's journey of buying a house in france--nearly sight unseen--on belle isle-de-mer just off the coast of brittany.

if you've ever dreamed, a la frances mayes style in "under the tuscan sun" or even peter mayle's "a year in provence", this book will make you smile, chuckle, and possibly even howl with laughter while you find yourself lost online searching for an abandoned ruin to call your own.

jetting between their lives in manhattan and france, struggling with a double mortgage and trying to find a plumber francais, they continue to surf the french coastal waves (don being from long beach and his wife mindy a native hawaiian), have a son, befriend suzanne (the local whom tourists have termed "la femme savage" but who really is just a shy woman who likes to garden) and figure out the practice of hospitality Bellilois style.

you learn about the history of the island as well, dating from arcadians to german occupation during WWII.

succeeding in being a charming read without at all romanticizing the process, this book is about making your dreams--and a working toilet--a reality.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

hand made

i really enjoyed trying a new medium and making this leather-bound book!  and my dad really liked receiving it for father's day. 

morning dawns

some days it's important for me to just make art with no end or goal in mind and see what happens (the means justifiy the end)...this is the result of setting aside several hours to play around with mixed media and a theme:  favorite morning things. i knew i wanted to repeat patterns, utilize contrast and use mostly warm colors (i have yellow pops of color in my kitchen which is joyful for me).  the piece (done on pre-dyed book fabric with silver and gold foil) ended up being about 16" x 36", taking up my dining room table, ruining my shirt (or rather, now i have a new paint shirt) and being some of the most creative fun ever! 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

wall art

i'd like to continue sharing art and moments from new york even long after the trip is over; as it digests and becomes part of who i am and the art i create.  graffiti can be beautiful.  here are a few pieces of art captured along the way.


near chelsea market
bent rebar

so i thought it was fitting that i was able to watch a film on the return flight about a french artist named JR, a former graffiti artist turned award-winning TED talk philanthropist who is using large-scale portraits of people to revolutionize cities across the world.  for more, click on the link artsy and to watch the video, i invite you to click on the following link:  JR's inside out project

Monday, June 15, 2015

new york photo essay

out of all my photos, i chose these because i feel like they represent the multi-cultural aspect of new york.  i especially love the clothesline shot:  see the skyline in the negative space of the bricks?

on looking

imagine my delight at discovering the perfect timing of a book long on my list:  "on looking:  eleven walks with expert eyes" by alexandra horowitz...i didn't know it was all about manhattan until i started reading it the week before my new york trip!

we went to amazing places (times square, the highline, chelsea market, strand books, brooklyn, a play, museum of modern art, biking central park) but HOW we went was what interested me so much.  i would highly recommend reading this book, or one like it, a few chapters at a time before, during and after a trip to fine-tune your senses.

horowitz walks the same manhattan neighborhoods but with eleven different people:

1) her toddler-aged son
2) a geologist (you can use the glacial carved direction on rocks in central park to find your way)
3) a typography expert (separating the good, the bad and the ugly signs among us)
4) the artist maira kalman (i bought one of her children's books at strand books)
5) an entymologist
6) an animal behavior researcher
7) a leader for the PPS, project for public spaces, (who designed the park where i ate my hot dog)
8) a doctor specializing in gait (this is especially intriguing as you synch up with foot traffic)
9) a blind friend
10) a sound designer
11) and finally, her dog (so many smells, so little time!)

to me that's part of the joy of traveling, whether abroad or in our own backyard, not only the art of paying attention, but of fresh perspectives.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

in praise of slowness

here is a fantastic article from kinfolk magazine:  https://www.kinfolk.com/in-praise-of-slowness/ and many of the reasons i am changing to a 4-day work week!

buvette, nyc

don't just do something, sit there

i realize not everyone has a seasonal profession.  and, in some ways, i think it's better to work a little all year while you rest and play along the way.  (just like if i was president, i would invite each member of the work force to take a year off with pay every seven years to increase quality of life. vote for me!)  teachers get so used to moving at the speed of light that when that need isn't there any more, we can feel guilty. not for long, granted, we get used to and enjoy summer of course:  exhale.  and when that rhythm is found, it's time to amp up again (big inhale).  

this can be seen in each year's graduating class.  they can't wait to bust out into the great big world of no classes; prison, i think a few of them affectionately term us.  inevitably, a few always show up the day after the ceremony when they no longer have to, hanging out at school and wandering the sidewalks i think because it's familiar and they aren't sure what to do next. real prison is expecting other people and other things like the nebulous "summer" (a series of days in which you must enjoy each moment to the fullest just like the other 9 months of the year) to make all your wildest dreams come true.

i try to give each class the same advice and challenge, "if you are bored, perhaps it's because you are acting boring; get out there and try new things!" this involves creating some of their own positive stress--like self-imposed deadlines can be a good thing--and actively initiating their own learning patterns.  same for us.

just for a few days, everything seems anticlimactic...a little too quiet, a little underwhelming...because, by contrast when you've been working with 350 people each week, this is actually normal and takes a few days to hit the "reset" button.  so for now, i will courageously tell myself, "don't just do something, sit there."