Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Kiwa Hirsuta

Wikipedia has this to say about Kiwa Hirsuta:

Kiwa hirsuta is a crustacean discovered in 2005 in the South Pacific Ocean. This decapod, which is approximately 6 inches long, is notable for the quantity of silky blond setae (resembling fur) covering its pereiopods (thoracic legs, including claws). Its discoverers dubbed it the "yeti lobster" or "yeti crab." It was found along the Pacific-Antarctic Ridge, 900 milea south of Easter Island at a depth of 7,200 feet, living on hydrothermal vents.
Which, ok, in itself would be amazing enough. But I think the reason Kiwa Hirsuta hangs around in the back of my mind, year after year, also has to do with a piece by Mark Morford that appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle shortly after its discovery, which reads, in part:

...You're up to your neck in it, right? Too much white noise, too many demands on your time...you're all up in the world and the world is all up in you and sometimes you spin and spit and whirl and just can't seem to find the ground...

But then something happens. Sometimes, somehow, these little gems of yes slither on through...and your head clears...and you see anew.

It can happen. It's still possible. Like when you see, for the very first time in your life, for the very first time in anyone's life, a very weird, oddly beautiful, blond, blind, fur-covered sea creature no one's ever seen before in the history of humanity, so far as we know...

...Big deal? Maybe not. But then again, maybe. Maybe it's something to which you should pay some divine, gleeful attention. Maybe all you have to do is look a little closer. Maybe it's absolutely mandatory that we remember how to do so. You think?

First Time on a Swing

The last couple of weeks have been a time of many firsts for Mabel. She is seriously involved in what we like to call Project Mobility. Since mid-May she has taught herself to pull up on, and then cruise around holding onto the furniture, and also how to crawl. It's pretty amazing. But since I don't really have any polaroids, yet, that show these accomplishments in all their glory, I instead--in their honor--give you a shot from six weeks or so ago, when Mabel took her first ride on a swing. A pastime by which she was mildly amused.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Collect Raindrops

Today's art book is another one of my absolute favorites: Collect Raindrops: The Seasons Gathered by Nikki McClure. Even leaving aside the fact (which, why would you leave it aside? it's an astonishing fact!) of the mind-boggling technical skill that goes into the making of these images--every one a single elaborate paper-cut (!)--there is just something so absolutely evocative and dreamy about the world McClure creates.

In fact, if I have any complaint about this book at all, it's that it can, if you're in a certain mood, make you a little bit dissatisfied with your life. These are the kinds of images that make you want to shrink yourself down and crawl inside the world of the artist's imagination and live there. A wonderful mostly rural existence filled with warmth and friends and meaningful work; forgiveness and communion with nature; big skies and babies and pies.

But maybe, if we're lucky, McClure's work can inspire us to live with more grace and presence here in the real world. I really did once sit in a bikini on a rock overlooking a gorgeous lake when I was hugely pregnant, and only now, looking through this book again for the umpteenth million time, did I realize that maybe on some level that idea had been sparked by art:

Last, because I cannot resist a bit of shameless self-promotion from time to time, I must just mention that McClure is also featured in an awesome book I recently edited, Paper Cutting: Contemporary Artists, Timeless Craft, as well as in a number of gift and stationary paper products published by my work.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Yet Another Poem about the Fall of 2005

September 14, 2005
Cooked dinner last night for the first time in ages

A tray of red tomatoes
yellow and orange bell peppers
and purple onions
all run under the broiler for twenty minutes
until they were charred nice and black in places
all mashed up in a mixing bowl with a potato masher
and a lot of cilantro
and served with black beans and rice

When I get home from work
I’m tired
and I imagine that cooking’s the last thing I want to do
But I am wrong
There isn’t much that makes you narrow down
the way wielding a sharp knife over your own fingers does
It’s not the danger that gets me
it’s the focus
When I’m kneeling on the floor with the broiler tray pulled out
and the heat rising into my face
turning over slippery vegetables with clumsy tongs
I am not thinking about anything but broiler, heat, vegetables, tongs
I am doing what I am doing
and seeing what I am seeing
Which is vegetables
Which are beautiful
And which smell really good when they get that hot
Chopping up hot slippery peppers and onions on the cutting board
even with the good knife
is hard
and approaches meditative exactly because it’s hard
I choose each bowl and board and knife and pot carefully
Not only weighing its utility and heft in the hand
but enjoying in a sensual way ceramics, wood, metal, glass
The second-largest pale-blue egg-shaped mixing bowl
the small sauce pan
the large cutting board
the little orange plastic bowl for the chopped cilantro
These things will glow for me with inner vitality
if I let them
They have
if not exactly personalities
at least unique natures
Their shapes and textures please me most
as if they fit into special kitchenware receptors in my brain
And then there’s the smelling
the frying garlic up in oil
the tasting, the reading, the measuring, the plating
and the sitting down at the table
with a dish of hot food and a glass of red wine and eating
and being complimented by your nice husband on the food

image source is here

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Mabel's Room on Ohdeedoh

Ok, I fully admit that this is at best only very tangentially related to Wednesday's "publishing" theme. Unless you count the fact that my work published an Apartment Therapy book (which I didn't work on), or unless you want to get into a whole thing about online versus traditional publishing--what constitutes a blog and what an online magazine, where the lines blur and where people get their published content these days. A topic which, some other day, might actually quite interest me. But not today, because today I am too busy being gleefully excited that Mabel's tiny bedroom has been featured on Apartment Therapy's children's site, Ohdeedoh. We're tremendously enamored of this space we made for her--to our eyes it's adorable, and it's also super functional--but on some level I do know that it's pretty bizarre, so having them choose to publish it, and then having such amazing, lovely, and complimentary things said about it in the comments is just wonderfully encouraging. Jaded as I ought to be by now, there really is just something a little bit magic about being published. And, there--I did tie it in to the theme-of-the-day after all!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Black and White Inspirational People

I save images. Mostly, I use them for Silas & Eppie, a photo-pairing blog I collaborate on with my dad. But sometimes I just look through them for fun. The file they live in is called "inspiration" and everything in it is stuff that makes me feel creative when I'm feeling sluggish, happy when I'm feeling blue, up when I'm down. Sometimes, as I poke around in there, a pattern or grouping that I hadn't seen before will suddenly emerge. 

Like today's collection of images--black and white portraits of mostly vintage, mostly famous, mostly female folks, where I find the person, or the image, or in most cases both to be just wonderfully encouraging.

Only real rules of thumb with this grouping were that I didn't use images I'd already shown you here, and I didn't include any fashion shots or movie stills--those will come another day.

The image sources for most of these are, sadly, lost in the mists of time. Though I can tell you that the Jackie image is by Ron Galella and the Patti Smith image is most likely by Judy Linn.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Festival of Grandparents

Yesterday, wearing a charming little black and white jumpsuit that her grandpa bought for her in Rome, which makes her look like she's about four years old (and also slightly like a very very cute janitor), Mabel posed for this picture with her three grandparents. Her paternal grandmother is visiting right now from North Carolina, and Mabel is thriving on the great heaps of grandparental love and affection she's getting these days. In a very sad turn of events, her paternal grandfather passed away just a few months before she was born--we console ourselves that he knew she was on her way, winging her way towards us to make us all so happy, but nonetheless it is very sad to think that he never had the chance to meet this baby who he would have loved so dearly.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Richard Misrach: Golden Gate

This is, hands down, one of my all-time favorite photography books. Ever.  The very simple conceit (perfectly, elegantly simple, the way a Rothko or an Albers, a mason jar or the wooden spoon is simple) behind Richard Misrach: Golden Gate is best explained by the photographer himself on the first page:

Because of where the house is located, what you get from his vantage point is a smallish bridge in the bottom quarter of the image, with the rest of the shot being taken up with sky. And what skies they are. Full of every color and weather we see here in the Bay Area...

...so familiar to me (I'm sure part, though by no means all, of the lure this volume holds for me is that I grew up tromping around the Berkeley hills, and so these sorts of views are hardwired into my cells in a very visceral, Proustian way) and so pleasing, that I could look at them for hours. Misrach has chosen his moments with great sensitivity and grace, and then done that hardest of things: gotten out of the way. Not editorialized, just let the sublime vista speak for itself. I could, indeed, happily post every single image in this book here. But I will forebear, and just leave you with these few--

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Poem Series About Fall 2005 Continues to Roll Along

September 13, 2005
In the evening there was the sadness again which is hard to bear

I buried my face in Bill's hair and inhaled
and it seemed I could smell his fear and downheartedness
Yet it still smelled like him too
and so inherently calmed and comforted me
despite the other things in the bouquet

Kisses help
You don’t always pay attention to kisses as such
You’re thinking about the context
about whatever made you kiss in the first place
(it could be any of a thousand things)
but when you let the world narrow down to just the kiss itself
well it’s an extraordinarily pleasant sensation
The knowing and not knowing
the expected and unexpectedness
of kissing someone you’ve been kissing for years
is divine
But there are other things in the world
besides the sadness and its assuagement
Yesterday morning as I was walking
a big silvery gray classic-type car
pulled across my path into a garage
so pretty it made me smile
And in the evening there was
the tactile familiarity and consolation
of a stack of three books
held neatly in one hand
with my thumb tucked over the blue front cover of the top one
as I carried them from one room to another
The touching of legs while reading in bed
The smell of newsprint
(Or no not the smell exactly
but something about the way the papers look
or the crumpling sound they make
They’re dusty and soft
yet crisp
but the crispness is fleeting)

And I suppose
though I’m loath to do it
that if I am telling the good and bad things I saw and felt
then I have to include my sheer physical horror this morning
when I saw a worm crawl out of a tomato in the fruit bowl on the diningtable
Just the memory still sends the same horrible visceral chills
not up my spine as cliche would have it
but up and down my sternum and into the pit of my stomach
It was truly dreadful
And now having diligently recorded it
I will do my best not to remember it anymore

image source is here

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Fiction Logos Part Two

After completing last week's round up of publisher's logos, which were mostly drawn from memory, I started scanning my bookshelves one night and realized how much cool stuff I'd missed or forgotten about or, in a few cases, never even seen or noticed before. So I could not resist making part two of the logo gallery, still mostly drawn from fiction houses (with a few poetry publishers in there as well).

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Personal, Professional, Awesome

In truth, I've often felt a bit odd about the way Pippa's Cabinet combines my personal and professional interests. Even though that is exactly what I wanted it to do when I set out, the reality still sometimes seems a bit odd to me, a bit discordant perhaps. That is, until I discovered this delightful graphic by designer Ji Lee on Swiss Miss, which simply and beautifully sums up exactly what I hope to achieve here. Just goes to show something I've said before and will no doubt say again: that we never do think in a vacuum, our ideas are always far more permeated by the prevailing winds of the current zeitgeist than perhaps we care to admit.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Sunday in the Park with Mabel

The other weekend it was beautiful and sunny and warm--almost hot. Mabel and I went for a walk on Sunday afternoon and ended up at Yerba Buena Gardens. There we sat on a blanket (this quilt was actually mine when I was a baby--made by my amazingly talented father out of worn-out clothes in the ubiquitous denim and corduroy of the 70s) and I drank iced coffee and Mabel ate her sunhat and charmed passersby with the endearing spectacle of her tiny bare arms.

Unpacking My Library: Architects and Their Books

In case it hasn't already been made patently obvious: I love books. Reading them, looking at them, talking about them, writing about them, making them. At last count there are 16 bookcases in our house holding thousands of volumes in an organizational system that most people find esoteric but we find perfectly sensible and usable. Looking at and thinking about the placement of books on bookshelves is a sub-portion of my larger obsession--which is, really, one of two guiding passions of my life (the other one being my husband and daughter). So it's no surprise that I'm completely infatuated with this book, Unpacking My Library: Architects and Their Books by Jo Steffens. Because it is basically bookshelf porn. My only teensy tiny baby complaint about it is that I kind of wish it wasn't only architect's bookshelves--I long to see the bookshelves of all kinds of people. But really, that's a minor quibble, when you have images like these:

The Next Poem About Fall 2005

September 12, 2005
Sleepiness becoming increasingly noticeable two weeks in to getting up at six

Yesterday I fell asleep on the couch for half an hour in the sun
wearing my big clunky red sandals
I wouldn’t have thought it possible to fall asleep
in those particular shoes

Most nights now I’m out within minutes
Much from the weekend gets lost forever I fear
Impressions that used to fall into the spaces between sleep and wakefulness
and sit there waiting for me
Now that those spaces are increasingly nonexistent
lots of things just glide right off the surface of my mind

I can tell you about the heavenly warmth and softness
of the two fresh clean dry towels
I hung on their hooks in the bathroom on Saturday
right out of the dryer
and leaned foreword and pushed my face into
Why is that so comforting?
It’s linked somehow to soft blankets and plush bears
all the yielding things that give comfort to toddlers
Some of my strongest memories of the kitchen growing up are
of the hot laundry coming out of the dryer
and burying my face in it
That and the way the yellow morning light would angle in
Those windows faced east
so that was the sun coming up behind the hills on days when there was no fog
Our current windows face west
so sunrise
though I’m certainly awake for it these days
is simply
a slowly incremental increase of brightness
a fading away of grayness

We went to Nathan’s housewarming on Friday
and his big rambling old apartment moved me
the way people’s new homes always do
the idea of setting up a place to live and the essential charm of interiors
and there was the sweetest tiny room halfway up the stairs
with windows on three sides

The immediacy of Saturday and Sunday was mostly hidden
behind the veil of sleepiness
Other things I might have been moved by
hot dogs in Union Square, the Solano Stroll parade, Mama's garden
passed pleasantly enough in a bit of a blur
You can’t force it
but surely you can work on attending?
Try and understand what gets in
and what gets away
And why

This morning in the kitchen at work there were
seven bright green pears
with elongated necks and little brown knobbles all over
sitting on the blue table
that caught my eye

image source is here

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


I've been thinking lately about publisher's logos. It's that thing where you don't really pay attention to the logo on the spine of the book you're reading--you don't really care who published it, the same way you don't care what studio made the movie you go to see. But once you start looking, all sorts of interesting visual tropes turn out to be in evidence.

This is hardly an exhaustive catalog --mostly drawn just from what I've been reading lately--largely fiction, some publishers and some imprints, some current logos and some old ones. Another week, I'll do art book logos.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Nerd Awesome

The other day I mentioned the site My Mom the Style Icon, which is very cool indeed. Another somewhat similar blog that I dearly love is My Parents Were Awesome. Above, and below, a few of my favorites among the many fine images aggregated there.

These, in turn, inspired me to dig out this image, from my own babydom, featuring the awesome fashion of my dad and me circa 1978:

And thinking about the coolness of men's fashion in days of yore reminded me of yet another site--the only men's fashion blog I routinely read--Nerd Boyfriend. If I were a dude I think I would use this constantly for inspiration. Not only do they show amazing images of famous boys of various vintage eras (below: Pele, Yves Saint Laurent, John and George, Sidney Poitier and River Phoenix (!), and Basquiat), they provide links to show today's menfolk where they might purchase similar items in the modern world. Brilliant.