Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Moon Flower

If last night's moon wasn't the full moon, I can't imagine what tonight's will be. How does it all work? This is something I could pick up. A hobby. An interest. An interest that's a hobby. A hobby that's interesting. Of interest. Person of interest. Moon. Moon face.

Last night on 25th street, the one with the hill so steep they carved steps into the ground, there is a perfect perch for viewing moons. There was only one, but every moon can be caught from here. Even the sun. Except the sun. You can't fixate on the sun, even when it follows you around. Sky stalker.

And then the clouds made space for one clear glimpse, like a rip in pants, but not to patch. This space was short, momentary and a gift. Before the rain clouds cover it up again, you wonder if it's full. If it's new. If it was just born. What is all means. How it all works. How the moon, if you did not know the moon, could be anything. Moon face, moon flower. Could be anything.

Today is a full moon with blooming petals and symmetry. Petals shed, die off, and fall as the month does. When it becomes un-full. You wonder where the days went. When it becomes half. Quartered. The fingernail they once said.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Heart wood

Sunday was no joke. I think I forgot to mention that when the floor guy did not show up on Wednesday, I also had to reschedule with the Delancey Street Movers from Friday to Sunday. Due to the late notice, they could only book me on an "asap" basis, meaning whenever they were free. Like a surgeon, I was on call.

I expected they'd call me at 7 or 7:30 at night. Luckily, they called me bright and early on Sunday morning. When my phone rang at 7:45, I knew it was them. It wasn't the same guys from the Tuesday move (one was quoted as saying "Knuckles heal, walls don't") but a new crew of 3 showed up and they were amazing! Not only did they move all my furniture back into my place with care and precision, but they helped me take down these stained and dusty curtains that the previous tenants had put up over the closet. So long carpet? So long leftover drapes is more like it...

The Delancey Street Movers were gone early enough for me to get things cozy and rearrange. It was as exciting and fun as the day I moved in 2 and a half years ago. In fact, I feel like I'm in a new place even though I'm right at home. This transformation has definitely made me appreciate my space even more than before and even allowed me to discover decorating opportunities. For example, my new rosy floors inspired me to create a writing desk:

I used to throw clothing on that chair, but I don't want to do that anymore. It has better uses, I think.

I kind of feel the need to mention that as we speak, as I blog, NPR's Morning Edition is using Beach House's "Zebra" as background music. I love it when they do that! Alright, perhaps my diversion is a sign that I'm ready to move on to bigger and better things now that operation dark oak is complete.

I must say, although this week was incredibly exciting and eventful, I'm somewhat happy to put my focus elsewhere. With all of the busyness and home improvements, I didn't really have time for the things I love to do in my routine. I haven't gone on a bike ride in far too long, my yoga attendance has slipped and I don't remember the last time I cooked dinner. This is not a complaint, mind you, it's more just an acknowledgment that I'm looking forward to getting outside, being active, and enjoying the beautiful weather. Yes, it's gray and rainy in San Francisco right now, but look at how gorgeous Sunday was:

I want to jump into it!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Operation Dark Oak - Day 2

So much, so fast. Where to begin? By the end of last night, this is where we were:

While the bedroom appeared to be complete, the living room was just getting started. This morning when I left for work, I had no clue what I would be coming home to. I expected maybe the floors would be almost done, or covered with cardboard or signs that say "No Step," like on the wing of an airplane. Surely, I did not expect what I found. First, I saw the floor guys' truck drive off. Good sign. Then, I was delighted when my landlady, Nancy, greeted me, smiling, at the door. Cheery with excitement and glowing with pride, she had the look of a real estate agent, anxious to show me a real gem. "Boy, have I got a place for you," her real estate agent self would say.

As she led me upstairs, she said the floors were beautiful and that the workers did an amazing job. It wasn't until I walked in, that I believed what she said to be true.

I could barely contain myself. It finally happened! You have to understand, when my landlady agreed to this, I never really thought it was going to happen. Ya, sure, she'll take care of everything. Ya, sure, I'll move all my furniture out. Ya, sure, I'll get to chose the wood. Ya, sure. Well, ya!

Now I just have to wait on the movers who come on Sunday (which feels like a year from now) to move all my things back into my place. For now, I'm going to try to be as patient as possible while my new floor breathes and settles in.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Operation Dark Oak - Day 1

As we speak, he is laying the hardwood. It started today, one day behind schedule. As my dad says, when it comes to construction there is always a speed-bump along the way. The first speed-bump came yesterday when the hardwood floor people didn't show. Silly me: at work all day, imagining them hard at work, making progress with something Architectural Digest worthy to present. It was a surefire blow when I unlocked my apartment after work to find the carpet still there. It looked like this...still:

After I called my landlady and got the scoop, I took at deep breath. And put on some episodes of 'The Wire' -- aka: saving grace in times like these. Alas, I awoke this morning to this:

And it wasn't a dream! Houston, we don't have a problem.

Operation dark oak has officially taken off. Upon ripping out the carpet, I was amazed at what it revealed underneath. I kind of loved the look of it, but am resisting attachment because it won't remain, be sanded or restored. Instead, brand new hardwood will rest atop what is there now and what has probably been there for decades. Poor wood, suffocated all these years only to be further suppressed. I'm not worried though. What goes down will be so much better than icky carpet. While the construction guy preps all the materials, I enjoy one last look at the remnants:

Contents under pressure: box contains wood slabs for which young and enthusiastic tenant has extremely high hopes. Don't disappoint...

Oh, phew. Relief: Shamrock premium. Gotta love the luck of the Irish.

Carpet hits the road!

Meanwhile, I've taken up residence in the east-facing apartment next to mine.

Again, trying not to get attached to the divine and heavenly morning sunlight. Knowing that temptations would be strong (who doesn't love a sunrise), I came to terms this morning that I'm a west facing kinda girl. These top-of-the-morning-to-ya golden rays are great and all, I mean, they're b-b-b-b-b-eyond, but I do love watching the sunset that the windows in my place offers me. It's fun, though, getting a chance to wake east for the week.

Overall, I am thoroughly enjoying living life as a vagabond. My things are strewn about, as is my mind. I just can't seem to focus on anything but my new floors. I'll get a life, someday. But for now I'm just home, sweet temporarily home.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Carpet? Bagged!

I knew this week would get off to a busy start! Tomorrow the movers come to haul away my furniture. But don't worry. I'm not moving. It's better than that. They'll be back on Friday to move it all back in. And what happens in between you might ask?

I'm saying goodbye to carpet and hello to hardwood floors! My days of vacuuming dust bunnies and making sense of dirt devils are over. Coffee and wine stains? I'm so over it. A few weeks ago I told my landlady I wanted hardwood floors and there you have it! Like a magician, she made it happen. And she even let me pick out my own type of wood. (p.s. I love her.) I'm looking forward to Friday when it's all done and I can take my very first steps on my brand new dark oak hard wood floors.

To carpet, I say this: thanks for the memories and I wish I could say I'm sad to see you go...

Friday, April 16, 2010

Beach House, Sweet Beach House

Yet again, another b-b-b-b-b-eyond amaaaaaa-zing Beach House show in San Francisco! I can't believe I've seen them 3 times in the past 2 years: 1st at the Swedish American Music Hall, 2nd at Bottom of the Hill, and then 3rd (Wednesday night) at Bimbos in North Beach. I'd say I'm a fan. I'd say this is working for me. I'd say I'll be back. They put on SUCH a good show, as they continue to deliver dreamy songs on dreamy albums. Beach House. Devotion. Teen Dream.

Photographer-for-Rolling-Stone-magazine I am not, but I do like the funky colors and chaotic structure these photos took on. I never get good shots at these shows, but it's not about that, now is it. It's about the mental images and sounds I take home with me...those are the ones that have the most clarity and develop the most meaning. Those are the ones that will stick with me until the next show. Those are the ones that will make it easier to wait for it.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

To live! Lavender leaves - Part 2

On that rainy Saturday I went to the farmer's market specifically to pick up the dried lavender. While I expected temptation on the produce, cheese and bread front, I didn't expect to find lavender fresh. Lavender French.

I've never seen people drool so hard over one particular thing at the farmer's market. Tourists lined up to take photographs. Chefs lined up to investigate its edible goodness. Florists lined up to envision their next arrangement. Everyone took a double-take. I lined up and did all of the above.

Mostly, though, I planted my face (nose first) into its tiny petals. Knowing that in a few hours I would be taking my dog for a walk in a 3 hr-long sweat-fest of a yoga workshop, I inhaled its fumes immensely, to consume its soothing calmness. You can't overdose on lavender right? Or, can you...

Now I have my edible, fragrant, decorative, living lavender on my bedside table. Pretty soon it will start drying out, and when it does, I'll tie a string around its stems and hang it upside down. It's amazing the different reincarnations of lavender. The fresh kind serves as a gorgeous bunch of flowers, like a garden in your home and full of scent. Dried lavender has healing effects and relaxes the mind. Either way, lavender lasts.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

To life or not to life? Lavender leaves - Part 1

It's like ripping off a band-aid, but not. If ripping off a band aid consisted of replacing a faded, scentless stock of lavender to a freshly dried and aromatic bunch, well then maybe so. You're thinking: what's the problem here? And, why all the oxymorons? I've been putting it off, is all I'm saying. My lavender sits on the windowsill in la toilette, which happens to be the sweetest spot for perching in my whole entire place. I keep it inside an old olive jar I never threw away and now I know why. I love that thingy, make-shift vase.

About a year goes by and I notice the lavender looks sad, drab and discolored. It's always a shame when the characteristic (color and scent, in this case) that both names and describes the item in question (dried lavender, in this case) ceases to be. No scent doth waft from la toilette anymore. I never thought when saying those words it would be a pity, but it's the truth: my lavender lost its life. Its second life, that is.

Now I know what you're thinking: you're ready for me to pull this blog post of a band-aid off. Let me just make my point. I never want to throw away the old bunch, you see? In the picture above, yes it's faded as cuss, but it still has its weathered charm and harvest moon appeal. And, just because it's not as beautiful, as youthful, or as vibrant as it once was, does that mean it deserves to be cast out to the dreaded compost bin?

Alright. Clearly I put it off for no good reason and I need to get a grip on reality...not to mention my attitude toward inanimate objects. I should be glad that I can easily replace a lifeless dried arrangement with another lifeless dried arrangement -- only the new one being a little less lifeless. Phew, happy to get that over with! Now do it with me:




Voila! That wasn't so bad :)

Visit back for soon for Lavender Leaves: Part 2, for a more painless (I promise), yet lively (just about), account of life with lavender. It's real as you and me!

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Secret of Kells

This movie should be playing nationwide and don't wait for a rainy day to see it, like I did. See it now! Clocking in at a whopping 76 minutes, this Irish animated feature and Oscar nominee is more like flipping through the pages of an illuminated art manuscript than anything else. The animation has this essence of layering, repetition and collage, reminiscent of a poem. I went into the film not knowing anything, only that the snippets of visuals I had seen appeared to be magical, ethereal and simple. My favorite parts were of our young hero Brenden and the fairy Aisling making their way through the woods. I got so much pleasure watching them frolic to the gorgeous flutes and string of Celtic music, composed by Bruno Coulais.

There's one song with words in the whole movie, and she sings it.

She helps him find what he needs to make ink.

She reminded me of Joanna Newsom the whole time.

Did I mention he's a monk in training?

Friday, April 9, 2010

Setting the Tone

Can you smell it too? I walk past this jasmine everyday and bury my face in its sweetness. Always the same sense: divine scent. I had a new thought, though, yesterday. I just couldn't believe the aroma was natural. Aside from someone's hands planting it into the earth and giving it love, this flower exists entirely for nature, by nature. This morning in yoga, we were asked to think about the things in life we are grateful for. It was this blooming jasmine that came to my mind. It's my feelings of gratitude that reminds me this plant won't always be there. Or, now that I think of it, maybe its the other way around. The fact that it may or may not be there tomorrow, that it might not rain, or that, in a few months, it won't be in full bloom -- that is why I am grateful.

Speaking of gratitude, I am grateful for this past week when I tried to be as spontaneous, accepting and receptive as possible. The tone is set for openness and expansiveness. And without it, I probably wouldn't have gone last minute to see Patty Griffin at the Fillmore Wednesday night. She's one of my favorite living songwriters and definitely puts on a show that it not to be missed.

On the poetry front, I'm really looking forward to reading Laura Moriarty's new book A Tonalist. I came into work this week and there it was on my desk. So grateful...

Here's to long days, springtime and music.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Little Italy

It was love at first sight. Really, it was. But no great love story comes without its doubts. Or its share of games. There's always the phase of playing hard-to-get. Of who likes who, and who will break first and make the move. I window-shopped this sweater for days, passing the store and eyeing its pinkness. Often I would stare, lingering and longingly, and then eventually move along. Go on my merry way. No pun intended, but I try not to buy into retail therapy. No, really. I try. I didn't want to get hurt, again. But like all great love stories, we fall. And when we fall, we fall hard.

To be fair, I wasn't in prime trying-on-clothing mode. It was the end of my long, sweaty walk on a hot day. And, to top it off, I had shallots, garlic and a sweet potato in my possession (in my pocket) from the market. Don't ask (and don't worry, I paid). Anyway, it was the sweater, not my state, that stopped me in my tracks. For the first time, I actually paused to look at it on the mannequin. Just off my "Mad Men Season 3" binge, I dug its 60's flair. In terms of time and place, I needed to be that mannequin.

And then I thought, woah petite. Like, Marilyn Monroe petite. Well, petite in the way that Marilyn Monroe's sweater looks in the movie "Wonder Boys." Tobey Maguire, the lonely and sad fiction writer, drools over the Hollywood heirloom that hangs before him: the sweater that Marilyn wore on her wedding day. He tells his English professor, "She was small. Most people don't know that. The shoulder's are so small. It looks so perfect. I bet it's the only time she wore it. That day. She must have felt so happy."

Yes, I had to rewind to that scene in order to fully make this blog post complete, but seriously: my sweater. love. at. first. sight. Walked in, off mannequin, on me. And, as garments often have when they come from a vintage clothing store, there's even a romantic-ish origin story...emphasis on the -ish. The saleswoman said they found this sweater at an estate sale and that it had once belonged to an Italian woman who lived in the Mission. Some people might recoil. Or be bored. I wore it out of the store and told the salesperson I didn't think I'd ever take it off.

When I said I didn't want to get hurt again, I meant it. I've been burned. Many of you probably don't know, but the 1st week I moved to San Francisco I lost my favorite sweater. My very favorite sweater. One moment it was there and the next, gone. Poof, like that. I think it fell out of my car somewhere in Potrero. So as you can imagine, there is baggage that comes with this package. It will never be a replacement, as no love could ever be. It's simply another love to try on. And look at that. It fits me just as nice.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Art of Alice Waters

This weekend the girls and I made Alice Water's Chicken Tortilla soup for dinner one night. I wish it was possible to take spoonfuls out of pictures. If it was, I would so take one out of this:

From the cookbook, "The Art of Simple Food," this recipe is both simple and artful. It is a light array of spices, a touch of fire and a warmth brewed from within. I told Jess I wanted comfort food for dinner and comfort food this was. See those tortilla strips as garnish? I made those. Fried 'em right up in the pan. There's a first time for everything, isn't there now...

I had a bit of trouble finding an accurate recipe of this Sopa de Tortilla online, but the ingredients include chicken, broth, onion, green pepper, green chilies, garlic, tomatoes, etc. For presentation and taste, it calls for a variety of fun garnishes: there is queso fresco, shredded jicama, cubed avocado, cilantro (for those sans the cilantro aversion), lime and, of course, tortilla strips.

The ingredients for making simple dinners = good friends, good recipe, good conversation. It's an art that takes no schooling.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Pisces & the Lilacs

What's your sign?

I'm a Libra, but today I'm a Pisces because it's a sign of the times. According to the tropical zodiac the sun is no longer in Pisces, however, if we look to the sidereal zodiac (just learned this...hope Wikipedia hasn't led me astray) the sun is currently in Pisces. Not sold? Alright, how about this for a try: fresh berries, vanilla, spices and violet petals -- also known as Crème Yvette, the 100-year-old violet liqueur that makes 'the Pisces' the cocktail of the season.

In last month's Living, Martha Stewart briefed her readers on this exceptionally refreshing apéritif. The recipe inspired Sarah to shake it up for a dinner party. Here's the concoction:

Makes 1

1 ounce violet liqueur, preferably Crème Yvette
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
ice cubes
4 ounces Prosecco
1 lemon-peel twist

Mix violet liqueur, lemon juice, and ice in a cocktail shaker. Strain into a small glass. Top with Prosecco.

Serve with a lemon-peel twist.

The sunset purple tint intoxicates, so botanical, so light. And don't you just love how her nails match the plate, match the drink. You'd think it's almost planned...and, for maybe the 1st time ever, herb cheese becomes obsolete.

The lilacs below hint at the Pisces, but they are from a different night. Same Spring, different night.