Sunday, October 31, 2010

Friday, October 29, 2010

Pumpkin Carving

That's a wrap! Pumpkin week wouldn't be pumpkin week without some good old fashioned carving. We also roasted the seeds, yummy!

I really wanted to carve a flower into my pumpkin. I had a vision and then the lights went out and I could see!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pumpkin Color

Does this count?

I'm a wayward watcher of sports - World Cup, NBA Finals, the Olympics. Sure, I'll watch these sporting events, but never the games leading up to them. I'm not really interested in watching sports on TV - I would much rather go outside and get my own exercise. When it comes to professional sports, my interest exclusively comes out of hibernation amidst the excitement factor of those last stakes-couldn't-be-higher games. I feel confident that I'm not alone in this...hello out there?

Knowing absolutely nothing about sports (nothing about the terms, the rules, the stats, the players, etc), I totally buy into those end of season thrills that glue fans to the television and local sports bars. Now that San Francisco is home to the World Series, I am more interested in baseball than ever before (which obviously isn't saying much - like I said, wayward). It's just so fun to be collectively excited about something. I mean, seriously, I needed to be a part of the energy that made City Hall light up like this:

The instant that they won last night, I stuck my head out the window to hear the fireworks - and there they were. I love the crowds of people outside, howling on the streets. Cars honking at each other - in solidarity. The celebration goes on and on...or at least I hope! (sorry, Dodgers.)

Anyway, you may ask, how does this relate to pumpkin week again? Well, the Giants made it into pumpkin week because (Big Win! Game 1!) it just so happens that their team color is orange, which for all intents and purposes is pumpkin.

p.s. Did anybody see last night's Modern Family Halloween episode? It was amazing!!! When it ended I wanted to watch it all over again - now that's TV I can get into!

By the way, things are going well with the pumpkin bread consumption. Baking it inspired a real baking extravaganza this you can see, this happened:

They aren't pumpkin cookies, but they're a classic. Shh, but I still use the Nestle Tollhouse recipe!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Clancy's Pumpkin Patch

Last night after work I went to Clancy's Pumpkin Patch with my friend Jessie (we carpool to the East Bay sometimes for work - a way to be environmental and social, done!). Anyway, tucked into the Inner Sunset district, it's so far my favorite pumpkin patch in the city.

Aside from looking at the array of pumpkins, half the fun is watching parents get that just-right shot of their kids at the patch. As they've just arranged their children perfectly atop the pumpkin pile and as they go to snap the pic, that's when the little ones fidget, cry or fall off - often the older sibling keeping stone-still with their peace sign pose. It was nearing night fall when we arrived (can you even believe how short these days are getting?) so we scrambled to find the perfect pumpkins for carving. There were so many to chose from! There was a variety of shades:

some all the same color:

and of course there was that perfectly orange one that I always admire:

After we met our match at the patch, we took them home to carve! More to come...

By the way, things are going very well with the pumpkin bread...mmm.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Spiced Pumpkin Bread

It's pumpkin time! In my first October as a blogger, I got very excited about the concept of Pumpkin Week - dedicating posts exclusively to pumpkin related things. Who wouldn't want to showcase the produce of the season? Last year, I posted everyday during the week before Halloween. Well, I was unemployed and a month into blogging, so naturally that was available to me. I'm hoping to be as prolific this week as I was during this week last year - but we shall see. For now, here are a few pumpkins to tide us over for the day - as we launch into pumpkin week!

I saw these pumpkins outside of a shop in New Milford, Connecticut. Little did I know...

I rolled into New Milford just as they were setting up for their Harvest Festival - oh my goodness! It was good timing, as the pumpkin man carted these hunkers into town!

Elegant pumpkins of Brooklyn - a stoop display I found while walking with Rachel.

My baking yesterday! I also made homemade granola and mac-n-cheese (both Barefoot Contessa)! - it was raining! What else is there to do? Bake...

I love the cracks on top - that's when the recipe says it's ready to come out of the oven. Find the recipe here. Pumpkin bread has been a staple in my family since I was little (really, ever since my elementary school put together a little book of recipes, how cute is that?). It's not fall without the smell of pumpkin spice roaming through the house. And it's not a rainy day without the oven warming every room.

See you for the next pumpkin post soon!

Friday, October 22, 2010

I am SO Love

Saw it again at the Castro Wednesday night. I am completely obsessed with I am Love, especially Tilda, the 'shape-shifter.' Upon my second helping, I was reminded of another gorgeous film that uses its musical score as a character. Jean-Luc Godard's Contempt.

It's not an obvious comparison but they do share certain undeniable qualities. First and foremost, neither of these films develop character exclusively with the actors. Music, place, costume play a role. Europe, different parts of Europe. A role. Even individual characters can be many people at once, take on a different persona.

Aside from featuring music as a pivotal player (Georges Delerue composed the music for Contempt and John Adams scored I am Love) both films are stylish, tragic, and about a transformation. Above all, both films share a key ingredient: a lead actress you can't take your eyes off of. Tilda and Brigitte. They are Emma and Camille, respectively. And they, at the same time, are neither.

I could dive deeper, but it's early on Friday morning and I've only had a few sips of coffee. This is, however, something I could talk about forever. I wrote my undergraduate English thesis on Contempt and I live for talking about movies. If you haven't seen I am Love, immediately add it to your Netflix queue. If you haven't seen Contempt, get on that. Pronto.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Heading to the Headlands

I'm fresh out of last night's dream and I have to share its sweetness with you all: I dreamed it was my first day of high school (I know!!!) and I was heading into photography class again!

My teacher, Jim, was there - I remember I was wearing a pretty dress (like the one I wore on my first day of graduate school) and I thought, I'll have to wear an apron in the darkroom to keep the mess away! Then, I realized, oh! the times they have-a-changed...we're digital now! There are no chemicals, ha, no worries, hee! (Keep in mind, in real time now, this is absolutely reminiscent of my little self - we're talking pre-school - when I dressed in impeccably pressed floral frocks on a daily basis - thus making it a challenge to get my hands dirty - not like I wanted to back then...)

Back to the dream life, I am suddenly out of the darkroom and heading out to the court in a basketball jersey. It was then that I realized this is DEFINITELY not happening and alas the alarm went off.

Back to earth. I never did play sports, but I did enjoy photography class and I know why I had this dream. On San Francisco's rainy yesterday and after a deliciously cozy brunch at Outerlands with Liz and Laura, we headed over the Golden Gate Bridge and into Marin. After a tarp-covered jaunt to a lighthouse that ended up being closed, we found ourselves at the Marin Headlands Center for the Arts. They were having their Fall Open House and, also, my former teacher (and one of my favorite Bay Area poets) Denise Newman was one of the readers in their poetry reading.

I have often passed the Headlands Center for the Arts while on my bike cruising down to Rodeo Beach. I had a vague concept of the place: an artist colony of sorts where people come to practice, explore, and refine their chosen discipline, which ranges from poetry, to woodwork, to dance. Other than quietly coveting the concept of having an artist's studio myself in an inspirational landscape such as the Marin Headlands, I knew very little else about this place. On this rainy day, however, I actually got to slow down and finally enjoy what was inside those mysterious white buildings.

Luscious green landscape fielding up, every which way...

...hidden staircases taking you to the artists' open studios tucked away in the attic...

The artists' studios blew me away, as did the architecture and ambiance of the actual buildings. Before the reading, we caught the tail end of a dance performance where the dancers flung their bodies around with a trembling kind of control.

Everywhere you looked there was something of an artifact in your view. Looking outside the windows, as the rain poured down, I felt a true sense of coziness and security within - among these artists and thinkers, sensitive to life and their work, what could go wrong?

This room was my favorite! It was filled with all the treasures, props and tools leftover by residents of the past. A kind of closet of archives. It resembled some of the studios I saw, although most of the studios had the kind of organized clutter only a minimalist can achieve - the perfect amount of shells and rocks on that table, the lone feather on this one, and the mason jar, of course, empty save the tea bag.

Back to my dream and why I had it! I miss being an artistic creator the way I was in photography class. Visiting the Open Studios day at the Headlands Center for the Arts inspired me to be more open when it comes to art. It reminded me of how important it is to branch out in order to enhance my personal practice. It also reminded me of how important it is to embrace and explore other people's art while pursing my own. Read more, write more. Don't forget to get my hands dirty and then the dress...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Women of Heart & Mind

Is there anything better than singing? Some would say, yes, but to me, to sing is a gift we far too often forget we were given. In the car, on long road trips, on the karaoke stage or just alone (or not!) in my living space - there's nothing like belting out a tune. Sometimes I don't even know the words - but I just make them up or sing no words - only sounds. It's a lot like chanting Kirtan in yoga - we don't know all the words (hey, I barely know what it means!) but it feels amazing to express yourself in such a way. So healing, so therapeutic, so empowering.

There's no such thing as a bad voice. Some would say Bob Dylan or Joanna Newsom have a bad voice. Unique? yes, bad? no. When I think of my friends and the people in my life who I love, it makes me smile to think of them singing. Go ahead, try it.

I love singing to everything from Led Zeppelin to Krishna Das to Rogers & Hammerstein musicals - Do Rei Me, anyone? But my favorite songs to sing are those sung by those women of rock, folk and country who sit down with nothing but their instrument and tell it true. The best is when I'm listening to them and it feels like the first time I ever did (I'm sure we all remember when we first heard Joni Mitchell) - but to know the words, to know what comes next, to sing along - that is when I'm happiest.

Call it a re-awakening - the obsession has always been there, but there's always something new to hear - oh, that's what she was saying!? Here are some of the singer/songwriters I've particularly been loving to sing along to lately, along with my album and song of choice.

Joni Mitchell
album - For the Roses
song - "Electricity"
(every song on this album kills me)

Joan Baez
album - Diamonds and Rust
song "Fountain of Sorrow"
(her voice is luminous, then and now -
she was the highlight of the Bluegrass festival)

Emmylou Harris
album Wrecking Ball
song "Where Will I Be"
(this album/song is my latest obsession)

Kate Bush
album - Hounds of Love
song - "Running up that Hill"
(I always think of this song when I walk/run
up the hills of San Francisco)

Neko Case
album - Middle Cyclone
song - "This Tornado Loves You"
(this song has such energy, I can barely keep up!)

Patty Griffin
album - 1,000 Kisses
song - "Long Ride Home"
(Such a sad song, and so beautiful)

Gillian Welch
album - Soul Journey
song - "Wayside/Back in Time"
(when she played this at the Bluegrass Festival I felt like I was home)

Joanna Newsom
album - Have One On Me
song - "Have One On Me"
(It's epic is all)

Thanks for indulging me. I'd love to hear what some of your favorite songs are to sing. Until then, Sing Sing Sing!