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October 2006

Posts from September 2006

Look Under Foot


Cobblestone Street at Night / Ljubljana, Slovenia; May 2005

The lesson which life repeats and constantly enforces is “look under foot.” You are always nearer the divine and the true sources of your power than you think. The lure of the distant and the difficult is deceptive. The great opportunity is where you are. Do not despise your own place and hour. Every place is under the stars, every place is the center of the world. —John Burroughs



Girlwhocancook_1 Mamitza99_2
Today would be my grandmother's 99th birthday. She was born in Camden, New Jersey in 1907. She was very creative and talented -- she could sew, crochet, embroider, etc. (my mother says that she could do anything that she made up her mind to do). She embroidered this wall hanging (actual size about 18" x 24"). According to my mother it translates as, "Young man if you want to be happy, find a girl who can cook."

Sretan rodendan Mamitza!

Let the drop of water that is you become a hundred mighty seas


Sketched and Printed by Bill Kane, Beach Haven Terrace, N.J. / "Visit Magic Long Beach Island 'Six Miles at Sea'. Vacation's Playland on the Jersey Coast."

An old postcard I found at an Antique Shop on Long Beach Island this summer. Today marks the beginning of fall. Before winter comes I'd still like one more seafood dinner at the Harvey Cedars Shellfish Co. Clam Bar, one more ukulele-fest by the sea, one more soft ice cream in the late afternoon after spending the day on the beach, one more dolphin courting me as I walk the beach in the morning . . .

(Let the drop of water . . . is from "A Garden beyond Paradise" by the Persian poet Rumi)

Hot & Sweet . . . A Taste of Summer


This was my award-winning entry at the 2006 Mountain House Hot Sauce Festival. The salsa is colorful and tasty, especially at this time of year when all the ingredients are fresh. In your mouth it starts out sweet and ends up hot. It's easy to eat an entire batch in one sitting. Here is the recipe:

  • 1 Mango, peeled and diced small
  • 1 Pineapple, peeled and diced small
  • 1 red Bell Pepper, diced small
  • 1 red Onion, diced small
  • 2 tablespoons dark Brown Sugar
  • 1 tablespoon TABASCO® Pepper Sauce
  • 4 tablespoons Cider Vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon chopped Parsley
  • Ground Pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Makes about 5 cups.

Continue reading "Hot & Sweet . . . A Taste of Summer" »

Is Junk Your Ultimate Landscape?

What is the crowning glory of your civilization . . .
the symbol as clear a statement as the pyramids,
the Parthenon, the cathedrals? What is this symbol?

What is its name? Its name is Junk.

Junk is the rusty, lovely, brilliant symbol of the dying years of your time.

Junk is your ultimate landscape.

George Nelson (1908-1986; considered to be a founding father of American Modernism), at the International Design Conference in Aspen, 1965

I am resolving to try and de-junk and de-clutter my life so that beauty is my ultimate landscape . . .

Continue reading "Is Junk Your Ultimate Landscape?" »

Juxtaposition on Madison Ave.



Sunday afternoon we went to see an Edward Hopper exhibit at the Whitney Museum in New York. (See more about Hopper after the jump.) The museum also has a collection of Thomas Hart Benton paintings, though we were disappointed that none of them were on display. Walking down Madison Ave. after leaving the museum we passed this store window. The images of the women reminded me of some of the Benton paintings that I've seen (Poker Night, Thomas Hart Benton, 1948). It was a great juxtaposition with the flashy high-heels since "Benton was one of a group of painters in the thirties who turned their backs on the sophisticated world of cities" and "embraced a nostalgic, idealized vision of a simpler life." (The Lord is my Shepard, Benton, 1926)

Continue reading "Juxtaposition on Madison Ave." »

"Stay on the Book Beat" Floorcloth


Stay on the Book Beat Floorcloth / New Jersey July 2006 / vinyl, newspaper, Modge Podge

This summer I took an online "design-aerobics" course from DesignBoom. The course was called:D.I.Y. do it yourself  the past, present and future of making your own surroundings

Our first project was to used recycyled newspaper to make a piece of furniture or a home furnishing. This floorcloth, "Stay on the Book Beat" uses pages from the New York Times Sunday Book Review and a checkerboard pattern turned on the diagonal (the checkerboard or diamond shape is a classic floorcloth pattern). I like to think it will inspire me to read more.

Floorcloths were very popular in this country as a floor covering until the Industrial Revolution made mechanical replacements in the form of things like linoleum cheap and easy. A well-constructed floorcloth is very useful and will provide years of wear. They are water and stain resistant and a great way to express yourself artistically.

To make the floorcloth, I started with a black vinyl fabric (this eliminated the several coats of gesso and the black paint that I would have needed to apply to the heavy-weight cotton canvas which is frequently used to make floorcloths). In keeping with DIY-aesthetic I spent very little money, paying only USD $1.30 for one piece of vinyl fabric that I cut to make two floorcloths; I had all of the other materials in the house. I taped off my boundaries and cut images and text from pieces of the New York Times. Using Mod Podge (a white glue used for decoupaging) I glued the newspaper pieces to the cloth and then coated the whole thing with another coat of the glue.

My 9/11 Story


B's Prayer Flag / Lake Chrisann / Sept. 2006

On September 11th 2001, as I watched events unfold from my home in New Jersey, I felt like I was surrounded by the horror — in New York City (just to the northeast), in Pennsylvania (just to the west), and in Washington DC (just to the south).

That night, after falling asleep, I woke in the middle of the night to a red light blinking in the bedroom. My first thought was that a police car was outside and that its emergency strobe lights were flashing. I listened for the police radio, but it was quiet outside. After a few minutes I realized that the light wasn’t coming through the open window, but was coming from a corner inside the room. In the shadows of that corner I saw the outline of a man and as I lay there quietly I could faintly see and feel the movement of many “souls” around me. It was almost as if a hole had opened in my bedroom and I could see all these people on “the other side of the wall” milling about; trying to find their way. I was overwhelmed by it all and willed myself back to sleep as fast as I could.

The next day I saw a segment on TV. A doctor wearing a camera on his head had filmed the collapse of one of the towers. His video showed firemen emerging through the dust and ashes. Each fireman had a light fastened to the front of his coat — a flashing red light that helped them locate each other in dark or poor conditions. These lights were exactly where the red light had been flashing on the man in the shadows of my bedroom. I think what I saw and felt in the room was a fireman who was still working — helping so many lost souls find their way after death. Was he and his light guiding them towards a safer place? A more peaceful place? Heaven? Do we take the skills we have acquired in this life on to another place? I don’t know. But amidst the overwhelming sadness, I felt that this was a sign of kindness and of hope. (And without hope, what are we?)

The memory of that day is still painful, but there is hope here, too. My nephew was born on that day, out on the West Coast in the early morning — just before the attacks happened here. This smart and sturdy five-year-old gives me hope that we can all learn to be more tolerant and caring and work together to make the world a better place.

Savannah Girl


Savannah Girl Sculpture / Savannah, Georgia / August 2006

Modern sculpture outside the Mansion on Forsyth Park on Drayton St. in Savannah, Georgia. We ate Sunday brunch here. The mansion overlooks the park and is worth a trip for the food (they also have cooking classes that anyone can sign up for). The inside is full of color and interesting furniture and the walls are full of paintings (if you go for brunch be sure to wander upstairs for a look).

80 Years Young


Yesterday we celebrated Mitza turning 80 years young.

The Love of God (from Paradiso)

The love of God, unutterable and perfect,
     flows into a pure soul the way that light
     rushes into a transparent object.
The more love that is finds, the more it gives
     itself: so that, as we grow clear and open,
     the more complete the joy of love is.
And the more souls who resonate together,
     the greater the intensity of their love,
     for, mirror-like, each soul reflects the others.

          -- Dante Alighieri