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I’ve admired Julie Mehretu’s work for some time now, but I’m sitting up and taking more notice since I read an article about her, Abstract: The Art World, in the most recent issue of The New Yorker.

“Eighty feet long by twenty-three feet high, Julie Mehretu’s “Mural” dominates the entrance lobby of Goldman Sachs’s new steel-and-glass office building in lower Manhattan. Hundreds of precisely defined abstract shapes in saturated colors—small dots and squares, straight and curving lines, larger geometric or free-form shapes ranging from several inches to several feet in length—move across it in an oceanic sweep.”

It’s one of The New Yorker’s go-on-forever articles that I relish when I’m interested in the subject. Goldman Sachs has unpleasant connotations today, but Mehretu said that for her it’s about the art and the legacy of painting.

I’m looking forward to watching the PBS series, Art 21: Art in the Twenty-first Century via Netflix when I have time to savor it. She’s one of the featured artists in season 5,  “Systems.” Her work is built in layers with clear acrylic separating them: It must be fantastic to see in person.

Did you remember Earth Hour yesterday? For many years there were only two New York Times subscribers in our building, us and another couple about our age. The guys often run into each other in the lobby in the early morning when they pick up the papers. It was a nice surprise to open our NYTs yesterday and see an invitation to join them and others on their floor for an Earth Hour candlelit evening at their place. The city sparkled through the windows and the conversation flowed easily— an unexpected pleasure.

I can’t contain myself when it comes to color most of the time. Our apartment walls are multi-colored. The party last night was in an elegant putty-colored apartment. It looked serene, but ultimately it’s not a color I can live with on a daily basis. When I walked into our apartment at the end of the evening, I was suddenly struck by how eclectic ours seemed (maybe tacky?). And I doubted myself. Just yesterday when we were out and about I had started collecting color samples for repainting our main rooms once the weather gets better, so the seed was already planted to repaint. I’m thinking still colorful, but more muted. We shall see.

Speaking of color, we bought groceries yesterday and the colors of the fruit and the bowls handsome hunk chose made me smile, so here’s a little shot of color to liven up a drab weather weekend:


Lisa, the creative, whimsical daughter of my closest friend, has recently embarked on a big venture…she’s opened her own shop and it’s a flower extravaganza! Take a look at Pot & Box to find out more. Anyway, Lisa read my previous post about looking for a coffee mug that has the electric teal color found in a peacock feather and next thing I know she sent me the link to the mug below.  I then investigated further and found more, more, more. How do I decide? Maybe I’ll have to buy them all to transport me to the Caribbean each morning when I have coffee. THANKS LISA. Oh, all of these charming mugs can be found at ETSY.

Reminds me of sand and sea!

Sand, sea, palms. LOVE this one!

Again, sand and sea.

This one has the many colors of the Caribbean!

And, the clear cobalt blue with the fish is beautiful.

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” Anais Nin

One of the blogs I read on a regular basis is Art Propelled. Her post today delivered a swift kick to my rear!

I came across this intriguing article last spring and saved the link thinking that I would create my own list of Ten Things I’d Love to Tell My Younger Self. It’s still on my to do list and I’m thinking that it might be interesting to chunk it by decade and also include a list for me at my age today. Instead of waiting for me to get around to my list, I think it is worth sharing the original article with you. You can find the entire list of ten by clicking here.  Meanwhile, these were my favorites from the original article:

You are at least ten times prettier than you think you are.
That holds true no matter how pretty you already think you are! Don’t believe me? Ask your mother/auntie/grannie if she thought she was pretty when she was twenty. She’ll say no. Then find a photo of her at that age. See what I mean?

The only thing you should be faking is confidence.

If you don’t have it yet, pretend you do. In every new situation pretend you’re not nervous, pretend you’re not afraid. After a few times doing this, the pretend part disappears.

No matter how old you get, remember what it was like to be a nine-year old girl.
Remember the feeling of freedom. If you’ve already forgotten, do a cartwheel. You can so still do one. Savor that feeling. Wake up with it every day. You’ll stay young until the day you die.

Here are a few things I would put on my personal list:

Don’t discourage yourself or let others discourage you. Perseverance often beats talent.

Being nice and being fair doesn’t mean letting the other person win/sacrificing yourself.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? What would you tell your younger self?


“Were you taking pictures in the middle of the night?” Handsome Hunk asked me this morning. “Yes,” I confessed.  I started a good book a few days ago, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Among other things, it’s about the German occupation of  Guernsey Island during WWII and is much more substantive than the title suggests. I highly recommend it. I also just finished Pat Conroy’s new book, South of Broad, and found it enjoyable too. Though, in my opinion,  it could have been better. He crammed so much into the book so rapidly, that situations that could have been more emotionally charged were just stepping-stones to the next event. But what fun to read his turn of phrase.

Anyway, back to the photos in the night. When I finished reading around 1am, I looked up and the windows in our bedroom were stunning. We have a city view and the backlit raindrops clustered on the screens looked like sparkly diamonds and made me smile. So, I took the picture above. days have been the norm here, and it looks like they will continue through the weekend. I think I will put on some sparkly earrings, scrounge up the sparkly part of my personality that makes an appearance from time to time and try to spread some sparkle around this weekend. Bring on the bling!


This afternoon Chicago was a city of hobblets. People who had just finished running the Chicago Marathon (32,000+ registered) were hobbling around town holding their foil blankets close against the wind.  It was a gorgeous day for running with the temperature in the mid 40s, sunshine and maybe a bit too much wind, but still better than the rain or horrid heat of previous marathons.

Handsome Hunk and I were taking books back to the library and decided to swing by the finish line where people were still pouring in at a 7-hour finish time. I watched them and welled up with tears. It’s just plain inspiring. I’ve run a 10-mile race and my husband has run two half-marathons, so we have an inkling of how gratifying it must feel to finish 26.2 miles after so many months of dedication and hard work. It’s also uplifting to see that the participants were all shapes, sizes and ages—people just like us.

I hope all the marathon runners are celebrating with their feet up, getting some well-deserved TLC and feeling very, very good about themselves.  At our house the homemade chili is simmering on our stove and my glass of wine is within arms reach. It’s a pretty terrific Sunday in the city. How did you spend your day?



Amazing. Amazing. Amazing. I would have loved to have been there to be part of this event!  Earlier this week, 1.5 million people filled the streets of Berlin, Germany to watch a  performance by France’s Royal de Luxe street theatre company titled “The Berlin Reunion” that took place over several days. Part of the celebrations of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Reunion show featured two massive marionettes, the Big Giant, a deep-sea diver, and his niece, the Little Giantess.

MORE SPECTACULAR PHOTOS: The Berlin Reunion – The Big Picture –

Galaxy Cluster Abell 1689

When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Last night we rode the el up to Loyola University to see author Greg Mortensen. His book, Three Cups of Tea, has been on the bestseller list for about two years. Handsome Hunk has read it, I haven’t.

On this rainy night, Mortensen spoke about how he spent his early years in Tanzania, moved to the states and as an adult stumbled into a Pakistani village after a failed attempt to climb a mountain in the vicinity. In the remote village, he is gripped by the meager education available to the eager-to-learn children, and the situation of the girls and women in society. He makes a strong case that if you educate a girl, you educate a village: educated women are more likely to pass along their reading skills, make thoughtful decisions and live healthier lives.

Truthfully I was in one of my slightly pissy moods last night. Sitting on bleachers for nearly three hours wasn’t exactly the way I wanted to spend my evening. To me there also seemed to be a bit of cultish atmosphere to the crowd. But I ultimately was glad to be there. Mortensen’s story is impressive, and bringing schools to remote areas in Pakistan is a worthy endeavor that has touched many lives.

At one point, the author flashed Emerson’s quote on the screen, “When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.” I pondered this as I squirmed uncomfortably with the elbow of the woman next to me jabbed into my arm and the overhanging backside of the woman in front of me preventing me from moving my legs. The quote got me to thinking about a book I read almost 20 years ago, Care of the Soul by Thomas Moore. A particular chapter, “Gifts of Depression” has stayed with me over the years. We tend to be a society that believes we should be happy, happy all the time. Feeling a bit blue? How about some Paxil or Zoloft? Trust me, I know the help these drugs can provide to people who are in the bleakest states and the blackest holes. That’s not what I’m referring to here.

Moore helped me realize that sadness and melancholy can have a purpose in our lives and should be embraced rather than repelled. When there is darkness, that may be the only time we stop and see the normally invisible “stars” that can illuminate our lives, bring deeper meaning to our existence or point us to a different path. This paperback has survived my annual bookshelf purges. Maybe it’s time to read it again. Here’s a paragraph from Moore’s book:

Depression grants the gift of experience not as a literal fact but as an attitude toward your self. You get a sense of having lived though something, of being older and wiser. You know that life is suffering, and that knowledge makes a difference. You can’t enjoy the bouncy, carefree innocence of youth any longer, a realization that entails both sadness because of the loss, and pleasure in a new feeling of self-acceptance and self-knowledge. This awareness of age has a halo of melancholy around it, but it also enjoys a measure of nobility.

In these times of economic downturn, job losses and global strife, I know that many people are experiencing the “darkness.” One of the many positives of aging is that I feel as if I’ve learned how to weather some of the storms (and mine have been comparatively minor), and at times even avert them entirely. I’ve always thought of these “down” times as an elevator. When my mood seems to be plunging and I have no control, I know from experience that it will eventually stop or hit bottom, and then it will start to rise. It makes it less daunting to know this about myself. I try to use these times to gain insights, make changes or try something new. And  sometimes I just ride these “down” times out. I believe in my resilience.

Sorry Greg, I didn’t listen very well, but you got me thinking.

Do YOU want to be Queen for a Day?!!! Jack Bailey, host of the sobby 1950’s TV show of the same name shouted this question at the beginning of each program. Watch an excerpt from an episode here. The show is the great-grandma of all of the reality shows. Three or four women got to tell their sad stories—as I recall some were banal, some pretty heart wrenching—the audience voted by clapping, the winning woman was literally crowned and cloaked and her dream of a new refrigerator or washing machine came true. How do I remember these things?

I have no sad sob stories to tell. Just wondering what it would like to be Queen for a Day in general. It’s hard to conjure up that scenario in today’s world, where Queens are pretty rare and meaningless. I’d probably summon the royal jet to take me exotic places with my entourage of friends and family. We’d travel with a jazz band and a singer on the jet.

How about beef burritos for lunch? Not too Queenly…but then my kind of Queen would be down in the royal kitchen broiling up the nachos each evening to drink with very dry, expensive champagne. The Queen’s bod would never vary from a perfect-for-her-height- and-age 125 lbs. And of course, the Queen would provide healthcare for all people even if she had to pay higher taxes. Don’t get me started on the healthcare drama here in the states. Suffice it to say that I fear that in the end the public will be handed, the kind of shit that it demanded (loosely quoted Hemingway).

And here is the stationery I would use. You can order it at Paper Nosh, it’s a must-have for aspiring Queens. Perfect don’t you think? Queen of the Frigging Universe. My kind of royal moniker.


As a younger friend (but obviously not too young if she remembers this commercial) said in a recent email….Calgon, take me away! Happy Friday.

Today around noon we pulled into the garage, threw suitcases and camping equipment into a cart and high-tailed it for the elevator. I was peeling my clothes off as I put the key into the lock, opened the door to our condo, checked our messages and ran to run a bath. Home sweet home. Nothing makes me appreciate modern amenities more than rustic camping.

Over 600 people showed up for the first Great Lakes Regional Burning Man event, Lakes of Fire, in southwest Michigan. As I previously mentioned, we’ve attended the astounding, world famous Burning Man Festival in Nevada three times in the last decade. So, it seemed a great idea to join some fellow Burners for a fun weekend only a few hours away, and we’re glad we did. We reconnected with friends we’d met on the playa or shared camp with in Nevada, shook off some of the dust that has accumulated on our creative souls, loosened up our city personae a bit and just had a great time. Everyone we talked with mentioned that Lakes of Fire embodied the true spirit of Burning Man, and they also emphasized how much they enjoyed the multi-generational aspect of the event.

A lot of people came in groups and themed their camps; our camp was “Kamp Outpost” with a bit of a steam punk theme happening. Sitting on our “verandah,” I felt as if I were in some distant land, Kenya came to mind, overlooking the hills watching the sunset. A steady parade of people walked by, said hello or stopped to talk a while. At night, we turned in comparatively early (1am) to the pulsating beat of nearby dance camps.

Midwest Mayhem Dance Camp

Midwest Mayhem Dance Camp

The beat lulled me to sleep, but handsome-hunk husband had to reach for the earplugs.

Here are a few of the sights, though they don’t seem quite the same without the sounds!

Instead of a "Burning Man" effigy, Lakes of Fire featured a ship burn on Saturday night, the SS Bacon

Instead of a "Burning Man" effigy, Lakes of Fire featured a ship burn on Saturday night, the SS Bacon

During the day everyone wandered around to see the art projects, view performances or just greet old friends and meet new ones.




We were intrigued by this vintage Canned Ham trailer. We even got a peek inside:



In keeping with the Bacon theme of the effigy, we had Bacontinis for breakfast:


Fire dancers just before the burning of the S.S. Bacon:


The SS Bacon bursts into flame:


We were part of the Whistle Works camp at our first Burning Man festival, and Whistle Works made an appearance at Lakes of Fire. The water tank is heated by logs and the steam flows through the pipes and out the whistles on the tops of the pipes in a range of very eerie sounds. I think you can make out the pipes in the foreground of this photo:


An event like this takes a lot of coordination and dedication to pull off. My hat is off to all the talented and creative people who gathered at Lakes of Fire to blow off some steam and step away from the cares of every day life, if only for a few days.