Archive for August, 2009

Lovely Monday (and some gross-outs)

31 August 2009

No sarcasm intended, this morning is gorgeous. Refreshingly cool, there was a veritable spring to my step as I walked downtown. And I didn’t pass one garbage truck, which is my metric for a truly excellent commute. I’m not usually a queasy person, but the smell and the associations make me gag.

Dock fishing at Keuka (tank, American Apparel; skirt from a boutique in Ukiah, CA)

Dock fishing at Keuka (tank, American Apparel; skirt from a boutique in Ukiah, CA)

Had a fantastic weekend upstate (that is, Keuka Lake, NY). Corn, tomatoes, wine, and, in a literal take on my blog title, lots of fishing. I out-sported the boys Sunday morning, and in just an hour or so, caught two red-eyed rock bass, a yellow-bellied sunfish, a bull head (oh nachtmahr, another thing that grosses out this supposedly strong-stomached girl), and a final little finned creature that resembled a sunfish but lacked the distinctive markings–I have to refer to my guides.  To me, accurately identifying my surroundings is what makes life interesting, makes me appreciate life’s overwhelming diversity.

En route home yesterday, picked up a gorgeous watercolor of two wood ducks at an antique shop in central PA. It’s going behind my couch. This, and other recent and forthcoming apartment fix-ups to come…



School season

26 August 2009

I’m big on seasonality. I love the traditions and temperatures of each and every one, I’m always ready for the change, and I always treat myself at the transition with a few goodies. Fall is for sure my favorite of the four, for the crisp air, apples, pumpkins, foliage, sports, and the fresh turn of academics.

I’ve been able to arrange it so that I spend the final semester of my masters in DC, and this very morning marked the start of orientation at the Cornell Center in Dupont.  So by afternoon I was primed for some temps pour moi.  I picnicked in Rose Park, where a charming little corgi named Bailey said hello and tried to pilfer a smidgen of my Fage, and then strolled down M Street, stopping in my favorite shops to purchase some autumnal wardrobe supplements:

  • From Rugby, an olive drab ruffle-neck sleeveless blouse made in the lightest of gauze. Sexy or studious, depending on the level of unbuttonness.
  • From Anthropologie, silk genie pants, one pair in olive drab and another in black.  Silk is the best fabric to take the autumn chill out, and these are tremendously comfortable. I am going to live in them this fall! I also purchased a zippered hoodie that hits mid-thigh and is the most soothing lavender hue.
  • From Annie Creamcheese, a truly stunning rose-embroidered vintage Lolita Lempicka jacket. Lavender-grey, with a row of tiny silk toggles, and a flatteringly gathered waist. Such a find.

I’ll post pictures as I wear these (might be another month or two before I can break out the jacket, must be patient).  Right now, with my brand new Georgetown U library card that I picked up this morning, I’m here on campus to fill up on books. A fantastic fall-anticipating afternoon, hope you enjoyed yours too! C

Picnic accoutrements

Picnic accoutrements

Rose Park, cross the M St bridge into Georgetown, turn right at the sign for the park and walk a couple hundred yards to the big lawn where the leash-less dogs are frolicking

Rugby, 1065 Wisconsin Avenue NW

Anthropologie, 3222 M St NW

Annie Creamcheese, 3279 M St NW  *truly a wonderful place. so much fun. amazing cowboy boots. 20% of everything right now. go!

Georgetown University Lauinger Library, 37th and O St NW *G2 bus drops you off at the door, bring ID

Flower power

25 August 2009
A late summer bouquet

A late summer bouquet

There is nothing that makes a room more vibrant than living flora, and while I love a verdant tree or potted succulent, it is the gorgeous colors and immense variety of fresh flowers that enliven my spirit. And, too, there is something about the transient nature of cut stems that appeals to me—that I must enjoy a bouquet right now spurs a similar sort of thinking elsewhere in my day.

Imagine my delight when I received notice of Petals for the People, a regular flower subscription service founded by Sarah von Pollaro of Urban Petals Floral Design.  The quasi-CSA set up first attracted me, but the mission of making flowers affordable and unintimidating was what made me sign up on the spot. So now, every other Thursday, I pick up in Dupont an impressive, smile-inducing bunch of colors and greens (Sidenote: I’ve been subscribed for four weeks but haven’t yet been able to pick them up myself. Thank you T—although he doesn’t mind as he draws a lot of attention on the walk home!).

Back at the apartment, I get creative. I arrange them to my fancy, using all sorts of different bowls, bottles, and pitchers I’ve got lying around.  I don’t know anything formal about flower arranging—except that odd numbers generally look most natural—but I’m learning what I like and making art on an entirely new medium.  Right now, I’ve got a massive vase of Leucandron Jester and redskin mums on the dining room table, a trio of gypsy curiosa roses in a glass bottle on the hutch, and I am welcomed home by the roma calla liles nested in seeded eucalyptus that center my foyer table.  Plus, I’ve dried the lavender thistle and yellow roses from last week, which now whisper a sweet goodnight from my nightstand.

Petals for the People

Red Chair jewelry

21 August 2009
Red Chair Mod Pod earrings

Red Chair Mod Pod earrings

My beloved friend D was visiting from her hometown of Lausanne yesterday afternoon, and together we attended a friend’s jewelry party at the Westin Grand in Foggy Bottom. Heidi’s jewelry, Red Chair, is boldly colorful and impressively eclectic. She is an undeniable creative force! Whilst sipping bubbly and nibbling on chocolate covered berries (and perusing through a collection of thoughtful photographs Heidi’s boyfriend Jan displayed), D and I played dress-up with the baubles. Eventually, I settled on a gorgeous pair of earrings Heidi lovingly calls the ‘Mod Pod’ after their 1960s lapis blue beads that resemble seed pods. D grabbed a swell necklace of matte rock candy crystals offset by a silver double-pyramid bead made by the Touaregs. We both wore them out of the hotel.

Purchase Red Chair jewelry here

And check out Heidi’s blog

As well as Jan’s photographs


21 August 2009

Sometimes Monday nights need special treatment. The work week can seem overwhelming with only one tough day under your belt and four to go. To stay out of the rut, then, after dinner, T and I will often meander down the block to Soussi. Its covered outdoor seating area cradles the corner of 18th and Kalorama, and around nine or so is filled with people of various relationships, socializing over drinks and hookah.  We like to bring a deck of cards and play gin, and while we always order a pot of hot, sweet mint tea, we are still experimenting with flavors of tobacco. Mango is delightful, but lemon sounds quite promising!

Soussi, 2228 18th St NW

American Indian Museum

21 August 2009

What would we do without the Smiths? I try to make a visit to one of them as regularly as possible–difficult in the summer when weekends are spent in other parts of the eastern seaboard, perfect for cold winter days when learning and being inside and toasty are called for. And doable even if you’ve just got an hour to escape, as entrance is, of course, gratis.

Two weekends ago, after croissants and coffee on our roof, T and I metro’d down to Archives to visit the National Museum of the American Indian. I was appalled it took me so long to visit, as just the pathway to the architecturally accurate building (circular, that is, a central philosophy to many groups of American Indians)  is transformative. It  is breathtakingly serene, which just doesn’t seem possible at a major tourist hotspot in a major metropolitan area on a July weekend.  Both of us having taken courses on the subject in college, and me having an Onondagan great-grandmother, our interest was special, and we easily spent a couple hours just on the fourth floor.  I was simultaneously artistically inspired and fully flummoxed by an intricately-seed beaded pair of moccasins, and I was completely consumed by the photos of life today on the res. Without going into the larger social issues the exhibits indirectly bring forth, I will say that, in general, the plight of indigenous peoples in so many places in the world, throughout history and today, is terrifically important to understand. In any case, whether we are trying to grasp a culture aesthetically, or just appreciate the different ways of life we encounter through our journeys, it is positively essential and incredibly enriching to maintain a considerate and open heart and mind.  See you on the 3rd floor.

National Museum of the American Indian (on The Mall)

Couch travel

21 August 2009

Cultural-forage from the sofa with my favorite escapist reads:

1) The Drifters, James A. Michener

This magnificent drama follows six Vietnam-era youth through Spain, Marrakech, and Mozambique as they grapple with dreams, drugs, and disenchantment with the times.  Reading this book during my final spring semester of college made me realize the disservice I would do to myself by moving into a shoebox in Manhattan without first seeing even California.  It is a book I have given frequently to others, and though each person takes something different from the story, there is a universal message embraced.

2) Don’t Lets Go to the Dogs Tonight, Alexandra Fuller

An incredible autobiographical account of growing up as an ex-pat in southern Africa.  Fuller’s writing style is jarring and as athletic as Hemingway’s. Her cutting honesty and infinite compassion reflects the harsh and beautiful landscape in which she grew up. This is a book I have read over and over again.

3) I Dreamed of Africa, Kuki Gallmann

Gallmann’s is a truly moving story, and the strength she displayed as she put herself back together after unimaginable tragedies has inspired me through tougher times in my own life. Born a privileged Venetian, she expatriated to Kenya decades ago, where she lives on a massive ranch with her daughter Sveva. Both devote their lives to conservation and other causes that I continue to follow (for example,

4) Seven Gothic Tales, Isak Dinesen

Isak Dinesen, the nom de plume of Karen Blixen of Out of Africa, writes with the deliberation of word and thought that makes writing a craft. Like everything Dinesen pens, this collection of short stories is engaging from the outset, as it uncovers the nuances of life in the mystical hinterlands.  Reading Dinesen ignites in me deep cravings to write myself.

5) A River Runs Through It, Norman Maclean

Most of us became familiar with this title through the gorgeous Redford-directed film that stars Brad Pitt.  As is many times the case, I was spurred to locate the original written words that inspired a beloved film.  Set in Montana, this novella is a stunning portrait of frontier America, and is written as gracefully as a fly cast.  Soon after reading this Maclean, I happily found myself drinking in the glacial air of Big Sky country; I highly recommend it.

Drink it all in

21 August 2009

Never get jaded. T and I scored tickets to Paul McCartney at FedEx Field last night. He is breathtaking. A set list that balanced the classic Beatles with the fantasy of Wings and the nostalgia of his new stuff was interluded with personal anecdotes that made us all fall even more in love with him. Everything was punched up when he dedicated ‘My Love’ to Linda, catapaulting what was already one of my favorite songs into my list of top ten favorite concert moments.  We snuck into field level two-thirds through to watch a stunning tribute to George, my favorite Beatle.

Paul is a dream: doing what he loves has kept him young and sweet to the core. The message came when, after the third song, Paul commandeered a few moments to drink it all in, in his words—’it’ of course being the profoundly magnificent symbiosis of playing for a football stadium of adoring fans. Sir Paul is simply the best at what he does, and his radiance and appreciation for life are pure and contagious.

Ithaca the gorgeous

21 August 2009
A coo at Kingbird Farm

A coo at Kingbird Farm

I’m in Ithaca for the week. Hard to call it work, but technically that’s the reason. For this project, we are interviewing local farmers, agriculture practitioners, and Cornell researchers, ultimately to result in a 12 minute film depicting the local food movement in the Finger Lakes area.  From its humble beginnings several decades ago to the innovations of today and the lofty visions of tomorrow, we will tell this story, and highlight the unique connections and relationships that form the foundation of the movement and differentiate it so drastically from the agribusiness model. Very soon, both the case study I’ve written and the film we’re working on as a team will be available on the AgricultureBridge website, and, I think, worth checking out. One of the most profound and unique ways we can connect to the earth and sun is to reconnect with our food and who is growing it. It is not only the barrage of E.coli scares that has fueled a countermovement that aims to reestablish transparency on the supply chain, but a larger desire to diminish the temporal and geographical distance between the farm and the table. Direct connections are life-enriching—go to your farmers’ market, and have a conversation with a vendor about her sweet corn or his homemade blueberry pie or whatever looks particularly beautiful that day, and see if it’s not true!


21 August 2009
my spot

my spot

One of my favorite places on the planet, this haven in northern California is owned and operated by my college roommates‘ parents, who, having traveled to over 300 countries, know just a thing or two about life and how to make it most pleasant. Originally used by the Pomo indians for healing and relaxation, the naturally carbonated water is a time-tested magical elixir. Springing from the very core of the earth, it is ninety degrees Fahrenheit, and can be imbibed directly from the source. In fact, a very cool picture in the lobby shows a dapper Mark Twain doing just that. (The resort has a storied history, drawing frequent visits from luminaries such as Jack London and Wavy Gravy.)  Bathing in water as effervescent as champagne softens both skin and outlook, and the impeccably clean accommodations and massive bunches of fresh flowers nearly everywhere ease the daily transitions. The park-like resort grounds are set in 700 acres of montane wilderness,and hiking trails lead to special natural treasures including a verdant waterfall grotto. I have a favorite spot, a fallen tree that suspends above a creek, where I sit for hours, taking pictures and thinking–no paths lead here, go find your own!

I cherish every season at Vichy–summer for its intense dry heat; fall for the coppers and golds of the vineyards surrounding; winter for the solitude and hot stone massages; spring for the hills of velvet green.