Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Jason deCaires Taylor

It's been about 3 weeks since I've hit a swim practice, so upon re-entry tonight, I think it's only fitting that I finally post these pics of an amazing installation I learned about months ago, but never had the drive or need to post about until today.

Since all that time has gone by, I regret that I can't credit whoever brought Jason deCaires Taylor to my attention. I've been sitting on these pics since January. Apparently, they are the stills from the very first underwater sculpture park in the world. These images moved me. It's like mummies underwater, frozen in time, but with these live fish swimming by them, adapting to their presence. I think this is beautiful (and odd). Does it evoke a sense of other-worldliness in you? It does to me.

I don't feel the need to regurgitate the website you can click to and learn about on our own if it interests you. Likewise I don't want to throw my feelings into yours. But I do want to call this exhibit to your attention. It moves me somehow, for the obvious reasons but also for ones I haven't realized. And, it reminds me of swimming and what the water looks like on the "elite deep end" of our swim practices.

I'm curious, Do these images make you feel anything?

Completely Unexpected.

Dave and I had been missing one another in an attempt to connect for about two weeks. I needed to gush over his recent engagement, and he needed to tell me all about it. So, I'm in Austin for the conference with the family, and miss a phone call and a text telling me how lame I am, again, because I'm not picking up the phone.

I send a note back that I'm in Austin, bla, bla, bla, and get a message back, I'll be in Austin tonight! What the heck are the chances of that?!

I met Dave after the final performance and cocktail party down on 6th street. This was great for a couple of reasons. The obvious: Getting to hang out on a total whim with one of my best friends. But also, it was great to see a side of the city I'd surely have missed had he not been there. It was a zoo down there. We hung out in this little dive (they all seemed like dives actually) called Lovejoy, and I got to hear in person how the whole thing happened. We'd talk for a while and then stare and each other in disbelief at the chance and luck we were sitting there together. It felt both perfectly normal and spectacular at the same time.

I should describe the scene a little. Or the bathroom in the place. Gross. It has been a long time since I walked into a bathroom and felt an immediate need to do an about face. I don't know if I ever have actually. I was so taken aback by it, stood there for a sec wondering what I should do, then I went for it.

It was funny when the parents came in to say Hi, the stark contrast between them and everyone else. It was funny the contrast between myself in my black trench coat, scarf and pants, and all these grungy "kids". I still don't get if they were college students or what. Major tattoos, dread locks, piercings. There were t-shirts and souvenirs in the airport with the saying, Keep Austin Weird. I don't think they need to worry about it. Being out at night in that crowd was stimulating, and almost scary. Bands blared from every open door and window. There were cops everywhere, with big guns drawn after the bars closed. I kept trying to add 50,000 people to what I was witnessing, imagining what it had been like the week before for SXSW.

We got tacos from a street vendor and walked back to our hotels 4 blocks away, and 1/2 a block from one another. What a cap to an already terrific night. I still can barely believe the luck, although at the same time, I can.

The image above is from Katy Elliot, and while it has nothing to do with this story, I think it's so amazing how our paths intersect with each other, so there's the tie. Also, isn't this a cool way to do a walkway? I love it. It makes me want to turn my backyard into a little zen wonderland. Maybe some day.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Thoughts on the CBDNA.

What an incredible weekend. Do you ever have experiences that you appreciate in retrospect even more than you did when you were experiencing them? I learned so much I never knew I didn't know.

For starters, Carter is an "animal" and a "monster". These were congratulatory remarks made after his performance at the final concert of the conference. Actually, I did know that. But it's really something to hear people telling that to him while enthusiastically pumping his hand up and down and grinning from ear to ear, shaking their heads, dumbfounded.

It's hard to grasp the magnitude of what's going on when you're not a part of the community of musicians, conductors and composers. This is one of the big perks for me in seeing these performances, taking in what's happening. Because I think I "get it" but then every time I go to another show I start to "get it" even more, but on a different level.

When it comes to music I couldn't be more ignorant. So for example I learned that a concerto is kind of like a duel between a soloist and the band or orchestra. (I think). Carter's piece was Concerto Logic, which was a 4-part movement about different games of, well, logic and intellect I guess. During the performance I was surprised by the length at which he was playing alone. I felt like the band was sitting around waiting a lot, but now I realize that was the point. They'd have a turn, then he would. Which ties the whole thing together. The title, the method of play, the story behind the music. It's all so simple and clear yet I didn't pick that up right away. So great.

Also it's one thing to see a band perform one of Carter's works, and quite another to watch him do it. It actually surprised me how emotional it made me feel. I typically get pretty emotional at these things anyway, because it's our family gathered together and it's celebratory, and there's this feeling of pride and excitement at Carter's gift and accomplishments. There's a lot of feeling of amazement and wonder, so strong it's almost overwhelming to me.

Anyway, different than just listening to music, watching it being made is really amazing. Seeing the people running back and forth banging drums and clapping wood blocks together is so exciting. I guess that's what I'm starting to "get" about the difference between a band and an orchestra. When you're in an auditorium, or at least when I am, looking at people on stage formally dressed with instruments it always seems sort of like it's supposed to be boring and stuffy. Not the case at all. It's so playful and fun, I find myself involuntarily smiling throughout the whole performance.

Couple all this stimulation with the knowledge that what you're listening to was conceived, developed and written by someone you know, that their brain works in such a capacity, is simply incredible. Then to watch him actually perform it too, was literally too much for me to take in all at once. Without really understanding it, I realized I was a nervous wreck. I mean, I was physically holding my breath through the whole thing. Even during it, when I realized what I was doing and tried to stop myself, another few minutes would go by and I'd have to tell myself to breath again.

I'd like to see it again without the emotional attachment to the performer. It was distracting. Normally I enjoy just swimming around the stage, zeroing in on all the people and movement and sound. I tried, but could not take my eyes off Carter. His hands for sure, but then I found myself trying to imagine what he was feeling and sensationalizing – am I using that word correctly? – both physically and emotionally. Wow. Wow, wow.

I'm not doing this justice. I wish everyone I know could have been there. I walked away from it wishing I could see and hear it all again about 10 more times in a row. In a word: Awesome.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The CBDNA in Austin.

I just learned where I'm actually going this weekend. The College Band Directors National Association Conference. All I know is, my friend Carter is being honored in that they are playing different pieces he's written every day, and he's even doing the piano solo with the band Saturday. I'm meeting him and both our sets of parents there to see the performances.

I came across this image on Solid Frog. It will be 80º in Austin. I want to be at this pool. I can't stop daydreaming about lying on a deck chair in the sun. It's all I want scheduled every weekend this summer. Soon.

Sometimes professionals don't know.

I had a botanical print framed recently, and I didn't get what I really wanted. Sometimes the standard isn't good enough and I need to remember to listen to myself when I know what I want.

I went to the same place I've been going for years, and was helped by the assistant rather than The Frame Guy. He was helping another customer. Whatever, I start to tell the girl what I want, and she's doing what she's been told to do anyway, pulling out mattes and frames that "go" with botanical prints. No, I told her, I definitely don't want green, and no, I don't want that patterned gold frame you use for flowers. I told you, I want black, thin.

This is when it got awkward because The Frame Guy finished and came over, and then got snippy with the girl, wondering if she'd shown me the "frame for flowers". I started showing him examples of what I wanted, and he told me No, we don't do prints this big with frames that thin. He also tried to fight me with the matte proportions. We do this...

I refused to cave on the matte, but I stupidly allowed myself to be talked into the thicker frame. This tormented me until I picked it up, and guess what? I'm not satisfied. It looks more like a generic pre-framed print you get at Target than the more, I don't know, "vintage" feel I was going for? And it bugs me.

I've been waiting to come across an example so I can take it back and have it fixed. Today SF Girl by Bay posted this image from Domino in her Ode series, and I think I've got it. Those frames don't look to thin do they? Hopefully I have learned a few lessons.


I think this stove is neat. Posted by Automatism via Sköna hem.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

His Holiness.

I heard a clip on NPR yesterday about the Tibetan monks and their throat singing. I kind of want to get the CD. Anyway, I've been so crabby and stressed out lately that I haven't been feeling very creative, let alone patient enough to thoughtfully browse pretty and interesting things. I just don't want to spread my negativity around. But this story made me think of the Dalai Lama, and looking at him always puts a smile on my face. I'd love to say he makes me feel calm and peaceful and full of light... I'm working on it.

Friday, March 20, 2009

For the Love of Fishing.

I got an email from my Dad this morning with "Favorite Daughter" as the subject and a request to pick another two Shimano Sedona 750 spinning reels for $29.98 each at the fishing counter at Gander Mountain. This is the second time I have been summoned to run this "errand".

Do you know how many of this exact same reel he has? Three. Do you know how long it takes me just to drive there and back? An hour and a half with no traffic. Do you know what else there is to do when I get there? Nothing.

Doing this, though, will up my status to "Double Favorite Daughter". How can I say no?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Bring Spring Inside.

I'm still sick (Day 5) so it's hard to focus on anything and I have nothing interesting to say. But, here's something I love. Hyacinth. They smell incredible (like lilac) and are strong enough to fill an entire room.

I got this one at Trader Joe's for $2.49 – pre-bloom. It looked like a sad little pod of green buds with leaves, but I knew what was coming. I took it home, gave it a little water and stuck it in a sunny spot by the window and one by one the buds turned into these pretty white flowers as the stem grew nice and strong and tall. It changed and grew every day for about two weeks. It was notably different every morning when I got up and evening when I got home, so there was always a surprise.

I want another one.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sharon Montrose.

It's official. I am completely crazy about these Sharon Montrose prints on Etsy. It's embarrassing how often I look at them. It's also embarrassing that now I read her blog and look at her professional photography website, too. I'm drawn to the complex simplicity and design of all of it, but I get immense pleasure out of looking at these animals for some reason (the colors, the compositions, the textures, floor boards, the expressions). I really love them.

The Goat was the first one that got me. Now I have the Single Sheep, the Chick and the Owl hanging in my room trying to pick my favorite so I can order it. I can't do it for myself yet, but my Mom's birthday is next week so I think I'll pick one out for her. I thought these three would be pretty good options. The Goat would strike her sense of humor, the Silky Chicken because she has a few ceramic pitchers, bowls and artwork of chickens in her kitchen, and the Geese because water fowl art seems to be pretty prevalent around my parent's house.

Vote for one of these or tell me which one is your favorite. I think I will order it tomorrow.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Daffodils Are Coming!

*click to enlarge*

Yep, I planted them... and here they are coming right out of the ground... 5 months later.

What's the coincidence?

I watched Empire of the Sun this weekend. Around the same time (high school) I remember liking this movie I was also into The Last Emperor. I would sometimes confuse the two. So while I was watching Empire of the Sun, I decided to see if The Last Emperor was available to view instantly. I had originally searched Emperor of the Sun, that's how much I still confuse these two movies (no idea why).

It wasn't available to watch online, but then next to it on the page was Others We Recommend and listed first was Empire of the Sun. Huh.

Then later I bought a Dawn Landes album on iTunes and up comes this listed in You May Also Like: Walking on a Dream by Empire of the Sun. The album cover is designed using all the rich color and imagery (golds and reds) similar to that in the movie The Last Emperor.

Now this morning, as I do most mornings, I go to Habitually Chic and here's her title, Valentino: The Last Emperor.


Both images are movie stills, top is Christian Bale in Empire of the Sun, bottom is from The Last Emperor.

Friday, March 13, 2009

If there is such a thing as vampires...

I seriously just saw one outside of Whole Foods.

I was walking and minding my own business when I felt this presence "land" behind me. I glanced to my right and caught a reflection as he strode past me, taking enormous steps in his black pointy leather shoes. My eyes traveled up from there to his black perfectly pressed pant legs to the full length black mink coat with the collar pulled up around his head of white hair.

I followed him inside. When I snapped a silhouette of him on my phone, he spun around and looked at me with his super pale white face for a sec while I pretended to be txt-ing. Then I looked at the floral arrangements for a split second and realized the image didn't store in my phone! So I went looking for him. I'm telling you it was seconds later. He disappeared from the store! I walked through the whole place three times! Then it hit me, Vampire. If vampires are for real, he was for sure one of them. For sure.

The picture of Karl Lagerfeld (who I realized eerily resembles the man I saw) is from Ethical Style.

Wait, maybe that man I noticed wasn't a vampire at all? Maybe it was Karl Lagerfeld – ? – although he says in the blog post he doesn't wear fur.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

An unlikely stress reliever in Leandro Erlich.

For a day that started out fairly pleasantly even though it was 18º on my way in to work, it took a deep pitch to the dark side this afternoon. I tried to let it go but I couldn't shake it.

I decided to search pools on Flickr to see if it would lift my spirits. Laying on a deck chair by a pool thinking about nothing in particular would be a luxury right now. I need some mental time off. Looking at it = next best thing.

This image is nothing like what I was looking for but isn't it something? It totally mesmerized me and calmed me down despite the disturbing quality of the image. A lot of questions started zipping through my head. Of the, How did he take that picture? variety.

Visit Leandro Erlich's website. Click on "Swimming Pools". I was surprised. And totally mellowed out.

Leandro Erlich's "Swimming Pool" at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art @ Kanazawa, Japan via Purple Cloud.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

TV Cabinet.

Last year, we built two bookcases. This is what we're working on next.

Steve and I designed and (he) built two bookcases for my place like the one to the left of the cabinet above. I love them. Simple, functional, and meaningful... to me. So the next step is designing and concealing the TV in matching "furniture". My place is small, and there is one central location for group TV. I don't want that to mean it's a TV Room. I'd like it to be actually a "talking room" where we can watch TV when we want to. So close the doors, and it's a "Living Room" hopefully a majority of the time.

Here's how we get started. I gave him these "drawings". From this he does his own figuring, drawing. We've now discussed hardware and door functionality options. I LOVE the idea that the furniture I'm going to get is what I want, will fit, and was created by US. I love that every day I walk past the bookshelves we did and for a split second remember the process and feel a sense of gratification that my home is one I'm building.

the bookcases, actually from Halloween 2008, the day the kid dressed as beethoven said "cool library"

This is it at this point. Hopefully I will have some updates soon.

Monday, March 9, 2009


Jacki and I went to Sunda for dinner, accidentally on "opening-to-the-public" night. God, do I miss sushi living in the suburbs, and boy, do I love going out to dinner.

Our waiter was a bit too attentive for my taste, but he was nice and tried to be helpful. I felt a little rushed – like we were in and out of there a little too fast. In hindsight we probably should have had tea instead of skipping dessert entirely. But,

the food and the drinks were great. Here's what we had:

Kung Pao Mango Martinis – Orange vodka, peach schnapps, mango and peach nectar, clove syrup and rimmed with sesame and red chili powder. Yum.

Oxtail Potstickers – Braised oxtail, caramelized onion jus, "white" wasabi cream. Tasty.

No You Didn't... The Ultimate Handroll – Crab, shrimp tempura, salmon, spicy tuna. Kinda strange texture?

Spicy Tail of Two Tunas – Spicy yellowfish and super white tuna, pickled jalepeno, fried shallots. Shallots = delicious. The white tuna really was SUPER white.

Scorpion – Soft shell crab, tempura shrimp, avocado, asparagus, spicy mayo. My favorite of the night, duh, tempura.

Now looking at the website, we didn't try so many things that look so good. I would love to go back, like, tomorrow.

We didn't know what to expect being opening-to-the-public night and all. Definitely an older professional crowd coming from work? It was, mostly. But also there was a table of about 8 50- and 60-somethings. And at 5.30 on a Monday night I would say it was close to half full, and full by the time we left?

I thought the atmosphere was interesting. There was good energy and a lot to look at. Actually I feel like I missed stuff, so I want to take it all in some more. And, oddly, I have no memory of any kind of music. There had to have been music, right? I didn't notice it at all.

So that was Billy "Bilzaaay" Dec's latest big hit. I wish we'd have gotten that steak up there. Dang!

Definitely better than Chinn's.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Signs of Spring.

This was the view from my front porch this afternoon as I went out during a pause in the pouring down rain to get my mail (from yesterday). I turned to go back in for my camera, and look what I saw:

First one. It rained and rained this weekend, but it made for some beautiful surprises and colors.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Another All-Time Fave.

There are so many reasons why I love this photo, I don't even want to list them. It is predominantly displayed on the dresser in my bedroom, and every single time I pause to really look at it, it brings a smile to my face. I was literally just looking at it again, from one face to the other, and I was fully cracking up for maybe the 1000th time.

Well I totally stole (or kept) it from my brother, who got it from one of those pictured, framed, as a Christmas gift. He left days afterward for Spain, and it's been in my possession ever since. I love it. I will never give it up.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Nicole | The Habit of Being.

I did a Flickr search for "before" and "after" hoping to find some decorating ideas and came across this image browsing a photostream that came up in the results. This was about the third image I looked at and the first I wanted to *favorite*. Then as I clicked, I kind of wanted to favorite every one. Somewhere along the way, I noticed images I recognized. The cat on the rock in particular I know I've seen before. These peaceful photographs are by Nicole The Habit of Being.

I seriously don't know what I like more, her home or her photography. The contrast between textures is so beautiful. It's all so natural and calm. I am so completely drawn to these colors.

She also has a blog, The Habit of Being. This I know I have also seen before.

This last picture right here? Yeah, this just seals the deal that of course I'll be getting another kitten some day. Look at Ralph!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A Real Treat.

I asked Carter to send me a list of "must haves" to start my classical music collection, er, this morning. Well about an hour later, this was in my inbox:

ON I-TUNES STORE (plug these phrases into the search field):

Mendelssohn Symphony No. 4 Abbado
**take the first four tracks in the list from this search**

Mendelsshon Midsummer Scherzo
**take the sixth track down in the list from this search**

Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition Gergiev
**take this entire album**

Beethoven Symphony No. 5 Kleiber
**click on the black album up top... Carlos Kleiber conducting**
buy whole album

Holst: the Planets Colin Davis
**buy the Colin Davis album of The Planets**

John Adams The Chairman Dances de Waart
**buy this album**


I don't know how versed you are in this classical stuff, but I can blindly guarantee that this is a great launch pad for starting your own classical collection. Listen. We're learning from someone who "knows".

Image via A Best Truth.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Tim Fraser Brown.

This is some design by (I think student?) Tim Fraser Brown. For more of his neat work, check out his website. This is make-your-own furniture from a cardboard box. He shows how you can make a waste basket, shelving unit and coffee table with just a box. No tools, no tape, nothing else. I love the simple design "packaging" of it, and even the final "product" which appears to use the exact opposite sides of the cardboard, but what's got me is I want to see how it works.

This outdoor advertising is also his. I've definitely seen this before. It's his answer to "promote swearing". Looks like he made an entire alphabet using symbol keys. I like it. I wonder what this guy dreams about. I wonder if this guy even sleeps. I get the impression he's got loads of energy. And a sense of humor.

Via Beach Bungalow 8, but she was talking about his Manetone piece.

Monday, March 2, 2009

House Updates.


I was going to give this, after it was recovered of course, to Brad as a surprise, but now I'm thinking, Not so much. I might like to return it to the original burnt orange crushed velvet state I remember in in and put it in the living room as the "occasional" chair. I think it was originally my grandmother's. I have no idea if it's officially a boudoir chair or not, but that's what I think we call it?

Look what Fatty and Blackie did to it! Some things wait until Post F/B, but this will not.


I wasn't using this room except for like, a storage closet, unless of course someone was over. I decided that was a colossal waste of space about 99% of the time. So I put my easel and a desk in it but it still never got used. Until a couple weekends ago when I decided to try it – and I liked it.

I decided it needed a make-over asap. I have hesitated to reverse the set-up because I thought it was bad feng shui to have a bed in front of the door like this. Is it? I don't care. I like it so much better. Now when you walk by the room, you don't have to glance at that cluttered mess on the desktop, which is much worse feng shui anyway, right?

Instead you see a cute bed arrangement and some fake branches* and portraits.

Of course now I need to get all the old nails out of the wall, and patch and repaint everything right away. I put up Benjamin Moore Manchester Tan in swatches on all the walls. Not quite. I would like to at least replace the curtain rods and shades. That, and paint the dresser and maybe desk top white, but I have to wait until it gets above 25º on a more or less regular basis before I start sanding and priming in the garage.

For now I can at least look out the window when I work and there's a natural space to tack things up (and shade the window (and me)). Maybe I will actually use one of those paint brushes? I have three other things I think would make this room close to perfect-ish, but more on that later. Something I realized: If you're not using a perfectly good room, ask yourself Why? and figure out what will make you want to go in there. Duh.

*I know fake branches are the worst. I will get real ones, I swear.


The kitchen needs a rug.

Aside from the island, stools, garbage can and wall hangings, I had nothing to do with the design of this room. I daydream about the day it makes sense to redesign/renovate. This is lowest of the low priorities – but getting a new rug to "finish it" isn't.

After I get rid of that dingy, dinky, lame-o rug under the sink, this space would perfectly house a 4 x 6. For the longest time I thought I'd figured it out. The Stella Rug from Crate and Barrel.

But then I saw this kitchen from The Kenmore Arms over at A Bloomsbury Life. That Stella looks so lame now, no? Tell me what you think if you want, but the search for a new rug just started.

And, check out A Bloomsbury Life's blog. Her house is amazing and she's really interesting.