Guerilla Gardening, New York Times

Click here for is a wonderful concept, great article, 
and...just thinking, here...
do you suppose, 
could I get them to come, 
with shovels and flats 
of pansies and whatnot, 
spruce up my backyard?

It's just a short hop over the pond
and a quick jet to sunny california:
surely they wouldn't mind.

L'Atelier Vert and Barbara Wilde

There are not enough good things to say about Barbara Wilde and her company, L'Atelier Vert. In the fall of 2002, I stumbled upon her website, fell in love with the words and the products, and was able to get in touch with Barbara, who proceeded to scour the French countryside and the flea markets of Paris in order to help me with a tableaux I was creating for the SFMOMA.

She is simply amazing, a joy to work with, and a genius gardener and "Thing-Finder" (as Pippi is wont to say).  She also writes beautifully. I just cannot find adequate words to express how terrific this person is.

Simply the best.


Min Hogg, MFK Fisher, and Alice Waters.

Well, I was thinking today that if Min Hogg could fix up the world and MFK Fisher were still around to write about it, and Alice Waters could handily put together the meals (and I suppose MFK would have a jolly time scribbling notes about that), well, I think the world might be a better place.

Min Hogg is the brilliant editorial eye/source of most of the insanely fabulous everything that had been World of Interiors for many years. She left a while back, and WoI is still very good and very lovely and one of the two magazines I actually still subscribe to. (Well, add Wired. With Dwell. Gotta love Dwell. I want to live in just about every Dutch house they find. So I guess it's three magazines, now.)

Anyhow, somehow I was just pondering the charming effect that these three brilliant women have had on our universe, and wishing they could run a few things.

I'm hoping this post makes the vaguest bit of sense; I am supposed to be helping e. pack for camp, and it is time to go wash some more socks, so I am tossing this out there.


Happy Father's Day to Our Amazing Dad

The year's at the spring,
The day's at the morn;
Morning's at seven;
The hillside's dew pearled;
The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn;
God's in His heaven--
All's right with the world!

From "Pippa Passes," by Robert Browning,
which our amazing dad read to us, 
often, at the end of the day...


a buffalo, a book, and a brilliant thought

"To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk."

Thomas Edison

From a cool blog about blogging.  
And here's another good blogging source.  
Sort of goes on forever, this blogging universe.

I supposed this was a buffalo...what do you think?  It came from eBay, a few years ago, with a neato Native American doll.  About the same time the vintage Native American clay pot (to the right of supposed buffalo) arrived.

Transparency and the White Room

To have a window where you don't expect one: I love this.

When I was about seven, I remember looking at a magazine and seeing an incredible room, perfectly white--spartan, really, except for the lovely, textural addition of a warm white throw with long, woolly skeins (was it a sheepskin? probably...) on a simple bed.  And just to the right of, and above, the bed: a window...and the room was a room within a room, and the repetition and simple beauty of this--unthinkably exquisite, to my mind, it was. And still is.

I remember them being cubes, the rooms; the bed a rectangle; the throw, softly falling, almost triangular; the window a lovely, large square.  And all in the softest tones of clear, bright white and cream and bisque.

Made quite an impression on me.  Obviously.  It was a few years ago. Still want that room, I suppose, but having it tucked safely in my memory has been almost as nice (probably nicer, in fact, since I don't skew toward minimal in real life).  Very nice.


Fishing in an Ancient Tenement in Manhattan?

This is from a blog that had only 5 entries.  Wonder where Giles Anthony went?  Would love to hear more.

Loving BLDGBLOG these days.

Short version of long post below, courtesy of Einstein.

A person starts to live when he can live outside himself.


A moment, here, to say a bit about what we teach our children....a topic relevant, particularly, to our past few weeks, with three graduations in the family--Drew & Viv, from UCDavis, and Erik, from St. Christopher--and a wonderful upcoming adventure for Alex, who heads off for a month in Europe this August.

One of the things about motherhood, something I've thought of often in the past decade, is that when the children are little, and you are busting your rear to do a good job and keep them well fed and happy and in clean diapers and out of the electrical sockets, it is pretty easy to think you'd probably get an A, maybe even an A+, in "being a mom" (if you were still in school, and being graded, and I was only 2 years out of college when I became a mom, so I can assure you that I thought about this a lot).  

Then, somewhere in the middle of their sophomore year in high school (which our family has been through three times in the past 10 years), you wonder if, actually, you would even get a D. (D+, on a good day.) "Being a mom." Right. It gets crazy, and overwhelming, and sort of completely exhausting, motherhood. You wish they had been born with definitive instructions tattooed on their cute little backs, or something, anything, any directions...Please.  You wonder why you ever thought you were up to the job. 

Well, that is what happened to me, at least once or twice. Or more. 

But there are many brief shining moments, and longer sweet hours, and finally a couple of decades, and you look at it all and know that there isn't another job that pays this well, if you stick with it and put your heart into it.  

Jackie O. was right: the one thing you really, absolutely do not want to screw up is raising your kids. (Paraphrased, obviously.)  

No book I write, no article I publish, no logo I create, no job at the top of the corporate ladder, no nothing would be worth more than this, to me.  (Please remind me that I wrote this when the next carpool starts up, in the fall.)  We brought these people into the world, and--on the clear moments, of which there are many, I know this--it is the greatest thing one can do.  And worth a life's work. My life's work, anyway. 

Bottom line: I think I've taught them a few good things. There's always more one can do, but I've tried pretty hard, and my heart is always in it. I think they know that. They also know that their father loves them just as much as I do, and that--as Martha says--is a good thing. 

I hope they know that they mean more to us than anything. I hope they know that their grandparents taught us to love our family like this, that our siblings have continued the process with their children. I hope they know that we will be honored and deeply gratified if our children do the same.

Real bottom line: You simply can't put too much love into the world.

If I could teach them a few more things, things I would like, truly, to be better at myself, it would be to live every possible moment with generousity of spirit.  Be gracious and kind to others. Be gracious and kind to yourself. 

Listen. Hear. Your heart knows the truth. You will feel it.

Breathe, and breathe well, and be aware that what we have is now, what we want is right here, what we can do about it is to love.  

Take your time.  Feel the sun on your face...the sanctity of each breath...the genuine miracle that exists each minute that we are alive. It's just right here. Right now. 

And remember to put away the dishes. Like I said, things I wish I was better at myself.

Fabulous customer service from att. Yep. The phone company.

Thank you, Nicole Victor-Agani, of at&t, for making me think that having 5 cell phones is not only NOT dumbdumbdumb, but brilliant and affordable. We like it that our kids can get in touch with us whenever they need to; therefore, it seems like a helpful thing to assist with their phone bills. At times, that has not seemed like a great notion. But today, when I called about an unwieldy $ number that plopped into my mailbox this morning, Nicole not only straightened out the problem (which someone else at at&t had promised to straighten out on the 21st of May, but--benefit of the doubt here--they must've forgotten the right keystroke)....Nicole also recalibrated our unwieldy family plan, spent the better part of an hour fixing things that I have, heretofore, been unable to get anyone to fix (let's talk about the MEdia works package that hasn't existed for years that at&t was still billing us for...I got off a call to at&t in utter frustration several months ago because the rep I was trying to work this out with didn't seem to understand that things that don't exist shouldn't cost money). Nicole was patient, kind, considerate, and told me the best story I have heard in months...about at&t refunding a large and unexpected bill to a soldier recently returned from Iraq...thank you for helping that soldier, Nicole, and thank you for helping us. And happy birthday. I hope your upcoming year is a fabulous as you are.  

You're a saint.


Maira Kalman's Principles of Uncertainty

This is old news, but it is timeless...because it is Maira Kalman.   And, if you haven't seen it yet, it is new news. Right?

A blog that turned into a book that is supposed to come back this year to be a blog again and, we hope, another book.

And Another Thing: The Mike Matas Blog

Okay, this little blog's lack of blogroll is a thing of the past. {Thanks to a fine tutorial from a genius who never makes one feel as though they have just emerged from the ancient tundra, having been in some sort of fitful snooze next to a fossilized woolly mammoth, while the age of the internet rolled in. Thank you, genius. Much appreciated.}

And, truth be told, the main reason I had to put up a blogroll (drumroll, please) was The Mike Matas Blog. Good Lord. This is visual aptitude taken to the nth. How can someone be this clever? Please click HERE for Mike's blog and spend a few minutes looking at the future. This is design at it's best.

Photo, above, by Mary Mattingly.

At Last, II

This is just a bit of what we're talking about when we're talking about W's.

Just a candid, taken at an unGodly hour of the morning, while prepping for a photo shoot.

Very Gallic.

Very Good.

'Nuf said.


Julia Cameron and the Girls, heading blog, with the Parasol

For the wonderful Jonathan, a correction: Alice, I believe, is above--sitting in the chair? (if the notes that accompany the graphics are right). The other girls with parasol, who grace the top of the blog, are by the magnificent photographer Julia Cameron.  They are beyond glorious, having ascended into the realm of truth&beauty, yes?

Just figured this out, whilst sourcing the Clara Bow photo below (also saved for the photo shoot of several months ago). At the moment I realized my mistake, I knew that you must, somehow, have known it was not Mr. Carroll's photograph, not Alice. 


I think, now, I shall try to be less hasty and far tidier when cataloging photographic inspiration and citing sources and such. Let us hope that this comes true, and does not go the way of my frequent resolutions to be better at folding laundry or learning how to cook like Alice Waters. {I always remember the wonderful quote by Iona Opie about climbing the glass hill.  Ah!  Truth and Beauty and Housekeeping.}  


Clarity, vision, and brilliance: A Mother's Love, A Tuscan Holiday

There is an intensely beautiful work, a short story by Lisa Brennan-Jobs, in the February 2008 issue of "Vogue."  It has one of my favorite new sentences of all time...

"We didn't have many things, but she is warm and we were happy." 

To have written this, about her mother, conveys such immense love...and in such a concise manner. It seems that Lisa has brilliance, vision, and clarity: gifts that her parents, surely, have passed on to her. I look forward to more remarkable work; I think we are seeing just the beginning of a wonderful career (and life!).


The Whole Kithouse and Cabana

Kithouse, Cabana, Backhouse, Shed:  I did some research on these a while ago (around the time I was planning to pitch a permanent porch/tent in the backyard...have the design completely laid out & ready to go...see early April "Summer Camp" post for quick musings on this. Personal reality check: summer camp in the backyard will probably have to wait 'til next summer).

Anyhow, this blog post from Dwell really covers the bases, and highlights several of my favorite links (found whilst looking for porch/tent inspiration) to backyard sheds and shelters.  Also, see Shedworking from the U.K.: absolutely fabulous.  Don't miss this amazing Beach Hut monument in Barcelona, either.  Sweet.

Imagine there will be more on this later, as I am currently extraordinarily enamored of this concept.  Hope to throw a few Boathouses and Lanais in, too.


Purple Onion Cafe: Los Gatos, California

Run, don't walk, to the Purple Onion Cafe on Main Street in Los Gatos.  

(Additional option: ride your bike...it's just off the trail...)

Lisa's Coconut Cake:  Best. Cake. Ever.

Steve's Sandwiches and Salads: To Die For.

Also:  coffee from heaven, good newspapers, delightful ambiance + 
lots of other fabulous sweets and savories to tickle your taste buds.


(Sorry, don't mean to be pushy, I just feel very strongly about this...perhaps this sort of behavior is why my sister called me "the girl with the definite opinion.")

Bliss and the Right Brain

Seems, at the moment, that all roads keep leading back to TED, which I had never heard about until a few weeks ago.  Here's a fascinating rumination on the possibly temporal nature of left-brain dominance in English speakers. Even has a soupcon of nirvana thrown in.

Good stuff, courtesy of Dr. Taylor.

Nam Le: The Boat

This looks like it is a must-read, if only for "Love and Honor and Pity and Pride and Compassion and Sacrifice." Wonderful article by Michicko Katutani in NYT

Nam Le, it seems, has written the story that had to be written.  Growing up, after my father came home from the war, I marveled at the trials of the Vietnamese "Boat People," (as they were called by the evening news), and it was clear, to me, that many of these men and women and children must be heroes. 

From my cushy little suburban perch, comfortably (albeit not without the trials of the middle-American high school student) ensconced in Northern Virginia, it seemed apparent that the world needed, one day, to truly remember and honor to these heroes, and the nightmares they lived through.  

I have always hoped that someone would tell the story--the right way--and pay the appropriate tribute to those who escaped (or did not) the horrors of that sad, turbulent time, so that generations to come might rightfully pay homage to those who lived (or did not) through it all.  

Seems that Nam Le has done just that.  Seems that "Love and Honor and Pity and Pride and Compassion and Sacrifice" is the story, told the right way.  Seems like we should all begin to recognize that there are heroes in our midst.