Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Joy of Meetings

One of the best things about my job (and, I'll admit it, there are a lot of good things) is the chance to meet all kinds of interesting and exciting creative people. Just recently I've been lucky enough to get to sit down and chat with maker of handmade books Rachel Hazell (above),

Illustrator and children's book author Amy Martin,

 Interdisciplinary artist Nina Katchadourian,

Crafter and collage artist Anna Corba,

and writer and maker of beautiful envelops Alyson Kuhn.

Of course, during the same period, I got to chat with lots and lots more cool and creative people over email and the telephone, but there really is something to be said for the joys of sitting down across from another person, preferably over a cup of coffee, and talking face to face. Affinities that might take weeks or months of virtual conversation to emerge can make themselves felt within a couple of minutes. Not to mention the profound satisfaction, later on, of being able to put a face with the name when you do type that name into the "from" field in Outlook.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Size Zero Levis

I am over the moon with delight about the fact that Mabel is now large enough to wear this family heirloom: a pair of tiny Levis blue jeans I myself wore as a baby in the Seventies. The classic leather label on the back waistband reads: Size: 0, Waist: 13, Length: 13. Too perfect.


Monday, February 27, 2012

New Dress & New Blanket

I was thinking about my maternity leave recently--how, from August 2010 through January 2011 I stayed home with Mabel the Very Small Baby, and the things we did. One of our primary activities was to spread a baby blanket out on the floor, lie the baby down upon it, and smile and grin and giggle at one another, talk about things, kiss various flailing hands and toes, cheeks and tummies, play peek-a-boo, and so forth. I flatter myself that a good time was had by all.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Pictorial Webster's "Defined Bindings" Art Show

Such a cool thing--last night was the opening of a little art show down in the lobby of my very own office building. Fabulous author, artist, printer, and bookbinder Johnny Carerra invited 26 folks from the bookbinding world to create new and original one-of-a-kind bindings for his book Pictorial Webster's. And what they did was phenomenal. Above is my personal favorite by the amazing Patty Bruce. And here are a few more views of the show (with, at the very bottom, the book that started it all!).

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Next in the Poem Series About Fall 2005

November 8, 2005
Suddenly realized I never mentioned the autumn colors in Ohio

So strange that I forgot since
besides the blue eggs
the color of those leaves
was my strongest impression of the trip

Let’s be clear
I had never seen this before
And though apparently not as dramatic as New England
it was plenty dramatic enough

Mostly the oranges
The reds and yellows were good too
but we sort of kind of have those here
But we've got nothing like those oranges

each tree with two or three shades
pumpkin and orange-the-fruit
and a dark reddish orange that I can’t quite name
almost approaching tomato soup but not quite that red

Those oranges blaze forward into your eyeballs
Jump out from the surrounding landscape
as though more three-dimensional than other things
Sear themselves onto the back of your brain

image source is here

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


In haste this morning, as must prepare for annual day-long work retreat. There was a time, I will admit, when I found such things to be basically a pain in the neck, but these days I'm actually quite excited about this one. And will return, no doubt, with various insights on art, books, art books, publishing, donuts, and assorted other and sundry topics. So, more soon.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Door-Knocker Earrings

I said something to someone the other day about how, in high school, I used to wear "door-knocker earrings" (which, because my ears weren't pierced, considering the size and weight of some of these things, was insane). But the person I was talking to didn't know what door-knocker earrings were.  So I did something I've been meaning to do for sometime. I dug out my high-school photo album to take a considered look at the clothes.

I had a reputation, as a teen, for wearing crazy outfits. But looking through this album, I'm realizing that came later. Senior year, junior year maybe. Before that I was just your typical early nineties suburban teen rocking things like paper-bag waisted cuffed jean shorts with a vintage wool jacket.

Or stretchy black and white jersey pants and a red turtleneck and a men's denim work shirt. The distance of time makes it hard to be sure, but I'm thinking these looks were nothing exceptional in the pre-grunge years.

Turns out I even had one of those hats with the flower on it like that girl on that tv show. (In this picture I am doing another kid's hair, and wearing heavy make-up, because I'm backstage before a performance of one of the many, many high school plays I was in. But the hat, I happen to know, was not part of my costume. No, that was my very own hat).

Ok, so this is where things started to get weird. Shoes with strings that laced up around my red tights-clad legs, polka dot skirt, turquoise blue tank top, mustard yellow vest. I also love the fact that lying around in a heap on the grass was a pretty standard way to spend the time. I wonder if that's still true.

And this one is really the creme-de-la-creme. Huge vintage eyelet petticoat thing worn over pink and white checked gingham shortalls, accessorized with big wooly hiking socks and Birkenstocks. And no doubt I thought I was keeping things toned down by choosing a black tee and leggings for underneath.

This, I actually still quite like. Vintage lace dress, combat boots, and heidi braids, worn to the Senior Banquet where I expected to be given the award "Most Likely to be Arrested by the Fashion Police" until at the last minute they canceled all the "mean" awards. I was deeply disappointed.

All in all, that thing they say about the past being a different country holds true. I do more or less remember what it felt like to be the girl who wore these clothes, but their meaning is, these days, a bit lost on me--like the language you could once speak but have grown rusty in. Not to mention, so many key pieces it turns out I don't have photos of. Where is the pink silk shirt with sleeves made out of dozens of collars? Where is the chartreuse angora sweater? The trapeze mini dresses worn with rainbow tie-die leggings? The dozen other pairs of huge clip on earrings, some of which brushed my shoulders? Lost in the mists of time.

World Traveling Baby

A tiny seven-month old Mabel with hardly any hair flies home from Rome with her new Roman dinosaur Eustachio.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday Artist Grab Bag

Alas, my camera battery seems to be dead, so I cannot bring you my usual Friday art book review. Instead, I offer a random sampling of a few of the artists whose work has been on my mind lately. Interestingly all are women. Other common threads will also be discernible, no doubt, to your clever eyeballs.

Above, Amy Borrell.

Jenny Vorwaller

Leslie Shows

Julie Morstad

Katharina Grosse

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Ongoing Poem Series About Being Newly Married to a First Year Teacher in the Fall of 2005 Continues

November 7, 2005
Saturday Bill and I went for a walk

Headed out through Chinatown on Stockton Street
past dozens of ladies shopping for vegetables
from hundreds of bins on the sidewalk
each bin with a little fluttery paper sign
announcing prices almost all in cents rather than dollars
Many were filled with things you know
asparagus, persimmons, bok choy
but just as many or more
contained mysterious lumpy or spiny shapes in shades of yellow and green
things we’d never seen before in our lives

Next we walked around Washington Square Park
admired the white church against the bright blue sky
watched women doing tai chi and something with swords
and something with fans that snapped open crack!
Got chocolate truffles at the truffle store
and walked along eating chocolates flavored like
earl gray tea and red wine
out of a crinkly paper bag

Found ourselves headed towards Fisherman’s Wharf
and decided to visit the Balclutha as Bill had never been
the sunlight spangled off the water
and white sails dipped in the distance
We admired the clear deep massy colors
of the paint and brass and varnished wood and black tar on the tall ship

Afterwards we had clam strips and fried prawns sitting on a bench
and walked home straight up over the huge hill on Jones Street
Such an afternoon
happy together
with abundant sunshine
and so much to look at
Such abundance

Sunday was a whole different thing
much harder
but worth it
I suddenly discovered some anger about all the errands and housework I do
Fear of becoming a miserable docile housewife
And exasperation with the whole situation really
And Bill was mad too
trapped and tired and frustrated as his job makes him
And there was yelling
Most days I’d say this was
a bad thing
but this was so clearly a case of catharsis
that I have nothing to say against it
Better to let it out
And then to have baths and Chinese take-out in the evening
Better to go to bed feeling fatigued
but cleansed

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Why My Boss is Cool

Fair warning: an amount of tooting-of-own-horn follows. Bear with me.

So, one of my books met with notable success last year. (Actually, and I do say so myself, several did. There was this, and this, and this, oh and this). But one in particular jumped out and exceeded all expectations, including my own, to take the world just a tiny bit by storm. And what makes me super proud is that Everything Is Going to Be Ok started out as an idea from my very own brain. And here's the part where I can stop blushing and talking about myself, and talk about other people instead: In honor of the book's success my rad boss, Christina, went to the SFMOMA gift shop and bought me the money clip pictured above--in the colors of the book's cover! I mean, seriously, how cool a gift is that?

Now, I know there's a certain business book school of thought that advocates the giving of little rewards and acknowledgements as a calculated path to achieving better employee satisfaction and thus, the logic goes, better employee productivity. But it seems to me that if you just read a book and started handing out "carrots" cynically you would come across to your employees as, at best, full of rather forced bonhomie and, at worst, actually sort of creepy. Rather, it takes a person genuinely full of positivity, joy, and generosity to pull off this managerial style. Like most things, that can't be faked. So I consider myself quite lucky to happen to report to just such a one.

Now, of course, all of this raises the question (I was about to type "begs the question" but remembered just in time that that's one of those phrases that actually means exactly the opposite of what I always want to think it means--some word nerd colleagues and I were discussing this phenomenon the other day--other examples include: spendthrift, enervate, and nonplussed). But, as I was saying, publicly praising your work supervisor (and on the same day you're due to receive your annual performance appraisal, no less!) certainly causes the question of sycophancy to raise its ugly head. But you know what? Oh well. I calls em like I sees em.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


A tradition of very long standing in my family is the making of a particular kind of heart-shaped, collage-based valentines. Like, I was making these with my parents when I was a little kid. And this was the first year Mabel got to make them! We had a little valentine making party at our house with the grandparents the other day.

Here, above, is the valentine Mabel made for her Mamma and Daddy.

The one Mabel's Daddy made for her.

The one I made for Mabel.

The one I made for Bill (apparently I shared Mabel's penguin obsession this year--a fact I had not realized until just now).

And the one Bill made for me.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Combing Daddy's Hair

Close-ups are rather hard to achieve with the Polaroid (at least for one of my limited skills), so I am always happy when I get one. Back around the time of her first birthday, Mabel went through a relatively brief, but intense, period of wanting to comb everyone's hair. She'll still do it happily enough if you ask her to, but with the air, it seems to me, of someone who, from her position of age and wisdom, can graciously condescend to cater to the romanticism, nostalgia, and quirks of those around her.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Cutting Edges

Today's Friday art book is Cutting Edges: Contemporary Collage by Robert Klanten, Hendrik Hellige, and James Gallagher. The wonderful thing about about this kind of survey that gathers together work in a particular medium--especially when it's a relatively unheralded medium like collage--is that you get to discover a whole new slew of artists who you were, up to now, entirely unaware of. Not to mention, in a case like this, where the curatorial eye of the project is so utterly smart and cool, stylish and unified, the overall experience of browsing through the book becomes one long festival of oohs and ahs.