Friday, December 20, 2013

The Madonna Says

I'm not sure exactly how it came about, but somehow my father and I started collaborating on a project where he selects old master images of the Madonna and Child, and I write first person captions for them, from the point of view of the mamma. Weird? Yes. Perfect for Christmas? Obviously! I therefore bid you a very merry xmas and farewell until next year with this very special, holiday-themed Art Friday post. Merry merry! First up, the caption for the above: 

And then we’ll have the pasta for dinner. . . wait, What? Are you really already big enough to hug me back? Whoa.

 I love you too.

How’s your digestion doing there, kiddo?

I’m going to eat your nose, yes I am, I’m going to––ack! Wait! Let go! Let go of the veil!

Yep, he’s a baby. A real actual little baby with baby fingers and baby toes and proper baby proportions and everything. Pretty amazing, huh?

Ok, you can hold him, but you can’t make fun of my swaddling job.

Um, excuse me? We have a question. Do you happen to have any extra diapers around this joint? Or maybe even some footie pajamas? 

Oh midget angel, thank you so much for taking him, just for a little while, I’m just going to...yawn...take a quick...nap…

Ok just another half hour or so at this family gathering and then we can go home and have bathtime, ok?

I’m sorry, what did you say little bald guy? I was distracted by the incredibly awkward angle at which I am holding this child.

Thank goodness we have Daddy to regale us with his amusing stories, or we’d really be bored sitting up here.

Everyone’s looking at the baby, maybe no one will notice if I just close my eyes for a minute.

Sure, you can hold him for a bit. And thanks for bringing us these birds, that’s so sweet of you.

Do not crack a smile, do not crack a smile, about the fact that this old dude looks just like our Winston Churchill baby.

Hello! Hello sweet baby! This flower is coming to get you! Yes it is!

Shhh you cherubs, back away slowly into the clouds, I finally got him to sleep…

Get your hand out of my shirt you silly goose! You’re like four years old. 

Hey, whoa, get back here! Yes, the man with the paint brushes is fascinating, but I need you to stay on my lap, wiggle-worm.

You know what? I really like your face.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Last Poem About the Spring of 2006 to be Posted on a Thursday in 2013

March 13, 2006
Saturday morning we went to new place for breakfast

It was little
and crowded
down a couple of steps from the street
Full of rundown mismatched chairs
some upholstered
some not
a hodgepodge of curtains and dishes
new art
old photos
A good feeling

image source is here

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Happy Place

As a book person--publishing employee, book editor, reader, writer, sit-at-desk-worker--I'm pretty sure I could be happy just about forever to sit in this modular office/library created by 3rd Space (as first seen by me on Design Milk) and do my thing. Yep. Almost positive in fact.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Grace of Gray

May I please stay young just a little longer, and then just skip right over middle age and go straight to being an eccentric old lady? Thank you. If anything could further reinforce that fervent wish of mine it's these amazing photos by Neil Bedford from the most recent issue of Kinfolk magazine. Styled by Rose Forde and first brought to my attention on Wolf Eyebrows, they reveal my perfect fantasy of just how stunningly elegant and bold gray hair can be.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Surprised Baby

Holy smokes! Three years ago today Mabel looked like this. I can hardly believe it. I am at least as surprised as she looks above to discover, for the umpteen-millionth time, how very very fast the time has flown, and continues to fly. For purposes of comparison, here's how she looks these days:

Friday, December 13, 2013


For this December weekend, I offer you this dreamy painting by David Gauld (about whom I must admit I know next to nothing), as first seen on the lovely blog Gems.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Next Installment in the Ongoing Poem Series About the Spring of 2006

March 10, 2006
Yesterday it was raining when I left work

and though I’d brought the small collapsible umbrella
it was so cold that I’d worn my warm green coat instead of a raincoat
so I decided to take the bus
something I haven’t done in ages

And because it was rare and different
it was fun and a treat
I stood there waiting under my little black umbrella
surrounded by all the tall buildings and the falling rain
and listening to some happy and dramatic soundtrack music
and I just felt good
in a way I can hardly explain

And then a little later on the bus I was listening to more music
and reading Nicholson Baker (the absolute master
when it comes observing and recording minutia
especially things like breaking shoelaces
and putting on socks
and writing checks and carrying bags)
and I paused to look out at the rain
and realized I had a tiny smile on my face

I’ve noticed that usually when you look at the people
in the windows of a bus going by they are all frowning
and I thought how it would make a good shot in a movie
to pan along the outside of a bus on a gray rainy afternoon
and see all the closed frowny faces
and then one slightly smiley one looking out
There’s something about cinematic music
that tends to raise my mood but wasn’t only that
it was the way the music combined with the light and the shadow
the surroundings my thoughts and what I was reading

I also just discovered
that one of my fellow editors
drinks black coffee
which seems suitably tough-minded

image source is here

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Year of the Gavel

Publisher's Lunch, the not inaccurately self-proclaimed "publishing industry's daily essential read," has declared 2013 in book publishing "The Year of the Gavel" because of the boatloads of lawsuits that happened all year long. From the government suing Apple over ebooks to Harper Lee suing her onetime agent to get back the rights to To Kill a Mockingbird and loads of other matters in between there's no question the book world was feeling very litigious in the Year of the Snake. But honestly I don't really have anything very exciting to say about that, so instead I will use this occasion to take a peek at one of the stranger forms of illustration out there--the courtroom sketch. Who knows where the conventions of this genre sprang up from, but they are fascinating to observe. Thus.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Holiday Gift Guide 2013

I had the honor of curating a holiday gift guide over at the other week. And now I reproduce it here for you and your last minute xmas shopping needs. With special thanks to Becki Singer for letting me reproduce her stunning graphic, above. Now, on to the cool stuff:
  1. I think these necklaces made by Emily Green are the most stunning thing ever. I covet one for myself, but would also gift one to my bestest and most stylish girlfriend. Emily Green bead necklaces, from $49
  2. For anyone who has ever wanted to take pictures of the great fashion looks they see on the street, but been too shy or intimidated to try it, this book takes away all the scary and makes it do-able and fun! Street Fashion Photography, $20
  3. If I were going to splurge on one thing for myself this holiday season, there’s no question it would be a Marimekko dress. The only hard part would be choosing which one. Wouldn’t this one be perfect for holiday parties? Marimekko Soma dress, $295
  4. Shameless self-promotion alert: I not only edited this book, I am also its author! I could not be more proud to have pulled together the first-ever crowd-sourced book of Instagrams! Anyone hooked on the app will (I hope!) really love this book. This is Happening, $13 
  5. The dozens of artists in this book make their artworks from old discarded books that would otherwise be thrown away. The things they do with them are just incredible! Perfect for art lovers and book lovers alike. Art Made From Books, $28
  6. I bought my husband Heath Ceramics bowls for his birthday, and it was such a success, I am seriously considering following up with dinner plates or a set of deep serving bowls (hope he doesn’t read this!). Heath Ceramics deep serving bowls, $62
  7. I don’t think anything shows a person how much you admire and esteem them more than giving them a piece of art, and a photo print is such a nice affordable way to make that happen. This one has the added bonus of sending a message of affection. Jen Gotch “Baby, don’t let our love deflate” Polaroid print, from $25 
  8. A hand-painted clutch? Come on! Too lovely. Perfect for the girl chic enough to carry a clutch, but playful enough to want one that’s whimsical. Kindah Khalidy clutches, $46-86
  9. For one friend who is a serious home sewer, and for another friend who aspires to being a serious home sewer. Either way, this box of incredibly beautiful notions is a treasure trove to open. Merchant & Mills notions set, $75
  10. These adorable and comfy ballet flats made of rubber (perfect for rainy weather!) come in a jillion colors, and are packed in a super cute box! I’ve never given anyone shoes for Christmas before, but this could be the thing that convinces me to start. Oka B. Taylor ballet flats, $42 (also here)
  11. This car is the perfect gift for kids of any age – even playful adults might like it as a cute desk ornament. Really, is there anyone you know who doesn’t need a satisfyingly chunky pink plastic car? I’ve given it tons of times and see no end in sight. Kid O Go Car, $11
  12. A good tablet case seems to be so very hard to find. This one is pricey but so utterly beautiful that I feel sure anyone you gave it to would pretty much fall over with happiness. Clare Vivier iPad case, $65-135

Monday, December 9, 2013

Bus Riders

There are not many things in life I like better than setting out on a Saturday morning adventure with these two.

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Bay Lights

I had glimpsed Leo Villareal’s Bay Lights installation—a dreamily silent and vastly huge display of moving white lights that make ethereal patterns all over one side of the western span of the Bay Bridge—a few times before. But the other evening, as I happened to be walking along the Embarcadero right at dusk, was the first time I’ve really gotten the full effect. The busy road, that rightfully should be loud as hell with traffic, somehow seemed to quiet down to a nearly noiseless hush, with only the cries of some birds and the lap of the waves audible. Some trick of the soothing light patterns upon the brain no doubt. But the effect was magical.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Poem Series About the Spring of 2006 Goes On a Little Something Like This

March 9, 2006
I am nothing if not a creature of habit

When I eat lunch I have a certain arrangement
of food, drink, napkin, and book
that I consider optimum and use consistently

My morning routine does not vary
and I like that fact very much

I find repetition calming
I like to walk the same routes
anticipate the same pleasures
happening at the same times
But last night I noticed an exception to this rule

Bill asked me if I thought we cooked
more different recipes than most other people
and I said yeah probably
because with a small handful of exceptions
we rarely make the same dish twice

And then he asked if that was because of him
which was a pretty natural question
as I am the above-mentioned creature of habit
and he is the one well-known for his love of the various and the new
But no I realized
it wasn’t just him
it was both of us

I’m not sure why
but I really like the way
we cook so many different things
Keeps my mind fresh green and clicking maybe
Or maybe there are just so many good things I want to try
Or could it be that although most of what we make is good
little of it is so fabulous that it deserves to enter
the pantheon of my precious routine?

image source is here

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Slinging Books

We do this thing at Chronicle Books where, come holiday time, we take a little book-selling roadshow around to the offices of different local companies. Folks from all corners of our company volunteer to man the cash-box (or more often these days the credit card swiper) for an afternoon so the employees at these various corporate headquarters can do some Christmas shopping without ever leaving work. So yesterday I strolled down to the offices of The Gap and slung books for a few hours, all the while enjoying their stunning view out under the Bay Bridge to the piers and the bay beyond.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


The long Thanksgiving holiday was quite fabulous chez nous, with loads  of family coming round; the traditional journey to our favorite restaurant up north; and the later part of the weekend verging, as it always tends to do, into the first Christmas preparations about which Mabel for the first time this year is super excited. Much, much indeed, to be thankful for.