Thursday, June 30, 2011

the sweetest thing

My J is a complete water child. I realized it back when she was a baby and when nothing else would calm her, I would run the water faucet and she would melt in my arms. In water, on water, near water, playing with water - J is happy. Water still tops the list of things she loves. Music and dance are up there too.

Just about every afternoon during the summer, J and I go swimming at the community pool. She also takes daily swim lessons there. On Thursdays, we can only stay an hour or so, until it's time to get ready for her ballet class. It is the only time she will willingly leave before the pool closes.

Today while we were playing and bobbing around in the water. J said the following:
I LOVE swimming every day. I LOVE swimming lessons. I LOVE dance class.
And I LOVE you.

Aaaaaaaah. I am a very lucky woman.

J (and friend) at the pool, via iPhone

butterfly dance, via Nikon

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

how i see it

Miss J and I have had a rough ride the last couple of days - bad tummy, little sleep, tantrums, fights with her dad (that's just J's part!) She's with her dad as per the "schedule" tonight and tomorrow. I miss her. I always miss her. This time a little more than usual. Even though there has been "stuff" going on, when it is just her and I, life is really really good.

We're not "allowed" to hang anything on the walls. J doesn't like that. To circumvent the rules, she has begun taping her drawings and other paper treasures to the walls and doors. I don't stop her. Everywhere you look in the living room, the walls are covered! The picture below is of one very tiny section of wall right above my computer. It's what I look at while I'm working at the computer. I love it!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


My life had such potential, she told me,
before I found out how much work was involved. 
Brian Andreas, Story People

Have you ever heard of Brian Andreas or Story People? I "discovered" his art many, many years ago in a small, quirky gallery that no longer exists in the still artisticly thriving town of Cambria along the central coast of California. At the time he created sculptures of wood with stories printed on them (Story People)and matted prints of his artwork with accompanying stories - his product line has expanded considerably since. I bought two matted prints that day - both cat related. I still treasure both.

Pig Cat                                                        Old Cat

A self-described "artist and storyteller," some of the stories are his, many are collected. He has amassed his collections of stories and drawings into a series of books - simple books, very tactile, no color, very affordable. I have all of them. If you get them, you will hold infinity in your hands - that's how I would describe it!

Through the story people website - a very fun place to visit, you can view and purchase all Brian's artwork and collections and most wonderfully of all - to me, at least - you can sign up to receive a Story of the Day through your email - a story, just a few lines, and incredible line drawings to accompany the words. With so much junk coming through my email on a daily basis, the stories are welcome jewels that shine like the sun. Check it out.

Story People website

Thought I'd share...Just hit on the story your fate! let the magic Story Genie pick one just for you. This is the story the "genie" picked for me...

Second Thoughts

Fun...and a little close to home...

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Friday, June 24, 2011



i love a piano...make that two

I love a piano, I love a piano.
I love to hear somebody play upon
a piano, a grand piano.
It simply carries me away.
I Love a Piano
Irving Berlin

Judy Garland (with Fred Astaire) singing I Love a Piano
from the movie Easter Parade

I'm not sure when my love affair with the piano began. Long before the first time I saw Easter Parade (great movie, btw) and heard Judy singing, I loved the piano. Maybe it began with my Aunt. Every Friday after school when I was in first and second grades I would walk over to visit my Aunt Mamie - one of the few relatives of my father's who was around. She was ancient - or seemed so to me - and everything in her house was a curiosity. Frugal to the core, she refused to buy one of those new-fangled color televisions. Instead she had taped across the screen tinted cellophane - yellow across the top, red in the middle, green at the bottom. Watching tv at her house was a surreal experience. She never threw anything away. My family never bought TV Guide - too expensive. We used the free guide. Aunt Mamie had every tv guide she had ever received - piles and piles of them. In her front parlor - yes, she had front and back parlors - was a gorgeous upright player piano. When I wasn't playing teacher to Aunt Mamie's student in the morning room, I was playing the player piano. Funny, I don't remember ever playing outside at her house. The indoors was such a treat.

Maybe it began even before Aunt Mamie's. In the back room of the house I grew up in (and in which my mother still lives), there is a very old, dearly loved upright piano. I believe my parents bought it used (they bought everything used) when my brother was a child - before I was born. He took piano lessons for about three years. Later, I took lessons and lasted about a year. Not because I didn't love it, but because practicing was so difficult. My family's house was built in the 1870s - the front three rooms, at least. In the twenties, the house was added on to. All the materials except the redwood studs were salvaged. The rooms have odd angles and the walls are plywood. No insulation at all. The house is an oven in Summer, and with only a standing gas heater in the front room, it is freezing in the winter. What we called the back room was added on a little later - maybe in the thirties. Unfinished, the only thing between you and the elements were studs and siding. The room is damp, dark, and a little scary. A small part of the front of the room was used by my mother to store canned goods and her sewing supplies. My father used the rest to store his inside "junk" - as we not so fondly called it. Boxes and "stuff" stacked to the ceiling with little aisle ways to walk through. One led to the piano against the back wall. In the winter, I practiced with sweaters and an overcoat on. I wore gloves with the fingers cut out so I could touch the keys. I'd come out at the end of my practice shivering and with a cold, runny nose. In the summer, I wore practically nothing and practiced with sweat running down by face and body. I'm surprised I lasted as long as I did. I've never been much for suffering through things!

I love that piano. I begged my father for it for years. He finally said it could be mine - my brother and sister didn't want it! By the time he gave it to me though, I had nowhere to store it. I was living in an apartment and the poor piano was in terrible shape. It has gotten worse. My father wouldn't repair the roofs when they started leaking. (My mother had them all repaired after he died.) And the back room flooded every winter for years. The piano is still there. I still consider it mine. At least half of the keys stick. Many of the ones that don't stick, don't even make a sound anymore. It needs a lot of tlc. Some day I plan to give all the love and care it needs to my precious piano friend.

All this verbage is leading to some super exciting news. J's dad's and grandmother's church is holding a yard sale. Somehow, this dear but usually very challenging man remembered that I have always wanted a piano. This morning he called me to say they were putting a FREE sign on an extra piano the church had somehow ended up with. Did I want to come check it out? I was there in a flash. It's mine!!! J and I are so excited. It's still in the church library until I can found some big men to bring it over. But we have a piano! It's old. It's an upright. It needs care. Where exactly I'm going to fit it into our very cozy (read tiny) house is a question. We'll make it work. I get to live with a piano!!! Can you tell I'm excited???

Here's a photo of the poor, mistreated, dearly loved piano still at my family home...


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

inspired by...

...Ana of Live & Enliven. Her post today was a series of absolutely beautiful horse photos. It reminded me of how much I love those animal beings and of the significant impact they have had on my life - both physical and spiritual. Get ready for a post HEAVY on photos - on my favorite photos. yourself a favor and read Ana's blog. When I "discovered" it through another blog a couple of months ago, I spent the entire night reading every post - well, almost every one...I couldn't quite finish. I will someday though. Read it. The light of her soul shines through every post.

Now, to horses...

Witaka Eye

Cinnamon Eye

Grey's Eye

Through the Wire


Kaytee Eye

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

speaking of...

...Larritt-Evans. I mentioned her blog in my last post. She is an incredible stylist who mixes colors and styles. Check this out...

style by Claire Larritt-Evans for Fenton & Fenton
photo by Tony Mott


It seems like every time I see a photo that I fall head over toes, topsy turvy, crazy, heavy sighing for it is by the incomparable Tim Walker. Here we go again...

Vivienne Westwood
by Tim Walker for British Vogue

Thursday, June 16, 2011


Not sure what I love the most - the dog, the hair, the shoes, the peeling wallpaper...too much fun...

Monday, June 13, 2011

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Sometimes people are beautiful.
Not in looks.
Not in what they say.
Just in what they are.

Markus Zusak
I Am the Messenger

Saturday, June 11, 2011

from russia with love

The braided buns were a success. The costumes were a success. The ballet recital was a huge success.

Miss J absolutely shined on stage - no nerves, no false steps, a huge smile the entire time. What a wonderful day for her...

Friday, June 10, 2011


last night's sunset
taken outside Starbucks via my iPhone

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Amelia by Jose Villa
see more here

Or should I write...the incredible, incomparable, insanely talented Jose Villa...

I love the expression of childhood joy pouring out of this photo. So so sooooooo beautiful.

sun water dance

Today (Wednesday):  J and I planted sunflowers, went swimming at the public pool (for hourrrrrrrs), and while dance class isn't until tomorrow, I tried (note I didn't write succeeded) to put J's - very, very thick and very fine - hair into two braided buns. J has her first ever ballet recital on Saturday. Her class is performing a Russian Troika. The braided buns are required...I don't see how it's going to happen...

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

night chatter

Intermittently working on photos and browsing blogland. All the while, listening to White Fluffy Love talk in her sleep. I have had many cats in my life. Never have I had one who talks in her sleep...

white fluffy love - yawning

May 27th

Durham Children's Center Pre-Kindergarten Graduation

wish I could post photos showing their faces...too too cute!

Friday, June 3, 2011

fat cat sat rat bat hat mat

My J loves books. Even as a baby, we surrounded her with them. We read to her, looked at pictures, she played with them, she even chewed on them! We still read every day and she has become a good reader herself. She even has a library card and goes every week to pick out new books. I am so thrilled about that. One of my fondest childhood memories is going to the library with my mother. It was like a second home to me, we spent so much time there.

Last summer, I was browsing the children's section of our local mega-bookstore and decided to check out the early readers - hoping to find something that would be fun for me to read, fun for J to look at, and fairly easy for J to learn. J has such an incredible memory, we actually have a difficult time measuring her reading ability. She hears a story once or twice and she can read it back to you verbatim. So, many times, we don't know if she's reading or reciting! Neither here nor there...

At the bookstore, I spotted a cat book (surprise!). It is such a wonderful book. I love it more than J does. In fact, she "lets" me read it because she knows if it were up to me I would read it every night! She chose it tonight - and she read it to me! I love being J's mother. And, I love this book.

available here

Wilma the witch has a broom, a fat cat, a pet rat named Brat, and a magical mat - among other magical things. The rat hates the cat. The cat does not care. The story is about what happens while Wilma was gone and the cat sat on the rat's mat. Craziness ensues and lots of rhyming -at words.

It is soooooo fun to read out loud.

My favorite part:
The broom flew into the room. It zoomed over the mat, over the cat, over the hat and the bat and Wilma's pet rat. The fish flew off the dish. It landed on the hat, which landed on the bat, who landed on the rat, who landed on the cat, lying flat on the mat.
"Get off!" said the cat.
"No, we won't!" said the hat and the bat and the rat.
The fish said nothing.

J's favorite part is the last page:
"Thank goodness!" said the mat.

You'll have to read the book to find out what that means!!!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

candy that's good for you

If you have been anywhere in blogland this year, you have probably seen the Before I Die project. Designed and installed by Candy Chang on the side of an abandoned building in New Orleans, the project is essentially a giant chalkboard where people can anonymously share what is most important to them. The project has been hugely successful and there is talk of a book being made about it. Interesting - at least to me - is that when the wall is filled, it is washed down, providing a clean slate - so to speak.

read more about the Before I Die project here

I was reminded again of this art project while reading the blog - not your average ordinary - where Brandi, the author, was writing about another of Ms. Chang's projects - Sidewalk Psychiatry. I had never seen, or rather noted, before the artist's name. Inspired by the photos of the sidewalk art project I checked out Candy Chang's website...Her projects - and philosophy - are extraordinary and so worth reading about.

While browsing through the projects, I came across a cartoon she had made about "a carton of milk, a muffin, and the fear of mediocrity" !!!!! So, so great. Deceptively simple. Very, very wise. Too long to post, do yourself a favor and see the whole cartoon here.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


pastel grannies
by Tim Walker for Juicy Couture