Wednesday, July 31, 2013

This Is Happening!

I mentioned a while back that I not only edited but also authored a book that comes out this fall: This is Happening: Life Through the Lens of Instagram. It's a crowd-sourced collection of photos and I have no compunction whatsoever about saying how much I utterly adore it. Though it doesn't go on sale till November (but, shameless plug, it's available for preorder!), we've got finished copies done now and recently sent them out to all the awesome photographers who contributed to the book. And this is where it gets really fun--these lovely folks have now started getting their books and, naturally enough, have started Instagramming them!

Above, a shot by #abbiemred

This one's by #ben_mc_carthy

This one's from #tinafchan

And this last one is my own. I love seeing the variety of images you get when different people all shoot something as simple as the same book cover. And these are just the images of people who have name-checked me in their comments in the last couple of days. I've no doubt there are, and will be, more out there, and I have it in mind to make it a little project to find them all. So if you've taken one send it my way!

Alas, the irony here is that, right when all this Instagram excitement is going on, my own IG account has suddenly become badly broken. Everything looks fine on my end, but it seems my photos have disappeared from others' views entirely.  This makes me very sad. I hope I can get it fixed soon.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Spent a long weekend visiting friends in Portland last week and man it was fun. New baby to cuddle! Real summer weather! The Ace Hotel! Powell's! Blueberry picking!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Feeding the Cow with Grandpa on Father's Day

In this polaroid Mabel is feeding celery to a cow at the Little Farm in Berkley. She likes doing this, but she is also occasional skeptical about the cow's gigantic head and teeth. Luckily, her Grandpa is on hand at such times to say "Whoa, Cow."

Friday, July 19, 2013


Here are two lovely images I happened to save in my folder of lovely images lately, and that by chance ended up next to each other in that folder. From there it was not a very great mental leap to see they must be paired together (I've discussed many times before how I love these sorts of fortuitous pairings).

At left a painting Izutsu Hiroyuki's "Don't Give Up, Japan" series (as seen on Oh Joy!) and at right a photograph of the astronomical phenomenon known as "Manhattanhenge" (when, twice a year, the sunset aligns with the street-grid of NYC) by Ashley of Hither & Thither (as seen on Cup of Jo). Happy weekend!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Ongoing Poem Series About the Winter of 2006 Continues (But Spring Nearly Here)

February 14, 2006
Clouds like paint last night

the sides of the buildings
pink and gold in sun
pink and purple in shadow

And then monumental

the first asparagus of the year
little and skinny and tender
eggs and bacon and parm

image source is here

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Eating My Hat

I'd just finished writing a blistering indictment of the fact that no major travel guide to Mexico City exists. It included sentences like these: "This fact is utterly scandalous! We're talking about a major world megalopolis, rich with culture and sights to see, that combines the verve you expect of Mexico with the bustle of New York and the panache of Europe. As far as I can tell the only reason not to publish a proper guidebook to the city is plain old American prejudice--our persistent perception that things "south of the border" are lesser, together with some fifteen-year old air-quality and crime statistics.You can choose between several 200+ page books about Kansas City, for lord's sake!" I was feeling flush with my own righteous indignation. And then I went on amazon to pull links to the two excellent but tiny books we did use on our trip--Eye Witness Travel Top 10: Mexico City and Wallpaper City Guide: Mexico City--and there, staring me in the face, was this: Moon Handbooks: Mexico City. Doh. How did I miss it back when I was prepping for our trip!? Well, I can tell you actually: it's because it was not stocked in any of the half dozen San Francisco bookstores I looked in. So there's that. But still. I have now gone back and revised this post into the form you are currently reading, so that it has become a solipsistic tale of little more than my own foolishness. But what can you do? Some days you eat the publishing industry, and some days it eats you.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Happiness is a New Sewing Box

I'm not a huge (or terribly competent) sewer, but I do very much enjoy the meditative qualities of hand-sewing, not to mention the occasional useful object that might come of it. And I realized that, in recent years, I've been sewing less and less. Now it's always easy to chalk such things up to being a working mother, never having a spare moment, and so forth--and there's no doubt that such matters played their part in the situation. But I realized there was also another culprit: disorganization. All my sewing equipment was strewn across nearly a dozen too-small boxes and jars, the containers in turn spread across several shelves in the closet. Suffice to say simple mending jobs would go undone for months or even years because it was not quick and easy to pull out the needle and thread and few pins needed to do the ten-minute task. So the other weekend I went and bought the glorious great big tackle box pictured above from the aptly named Container Store. Anyone with an organizational bent to their nature will appreciate the joy I took in arraying all my stuff inside (for more things us perfectionists enjoy see here--oh so hilarious and true). And, as of today, not only have I mended I-don't-even-know-how-many items around the house--I have also started toying with the fun new recreational patchwork experiment below. To anyone who might doubt that tidiness can be an inspiring creative force I say: fie!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Peony and Peonies

Polaroid photography is nothing if not hit-and-miss. Indeed, that imperfect you-just-never-know-until-you-do aspect of the thing is a big part of what I love so much about it. But, let's be honest, for a rank amateur such as myself, you really get a lot more misses than hits. But all the dark blurry shots in the world are easily balanced out, for me, by just the very occasional shot such as the one above. The girl, whose middle name is Peony, gently gently touching a bunch of peonies in the magical milky Edwardian sunlight. I mean, just, come on!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Museo Frida Kahlo

One of the highlights of our Mexico City trip was visiting the Museo Frida Kahlo--the house where she grew up and also spent much of her adult life. There is not a ton of her artwork on display here (though Mabel did enjoy her painting of watermelons as well as a homemade puppet theater Frida crafted in her youth), but the real treat of visiting the museum is seeing, first, the domestic spaces--including the painting studio pictured just below--and then, second, and most magical of all, the large collection of the Divine Ms Kahlo's inimitable clothing and accessories. I really cannot overstate how cool it is to look at these garments which channel so strongly the astonishing self-styled persona Frida created for herself. Really amazing.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

And We're Back to the Ongoing Poem Series About the Winter of 2006

February 13, 2006
A bizarre early-spring warm spell

weird but lovely
So Saturday Bill and I decided
rather than doing anything productive
to walk up to
the park of the fountain of the turtles
and sit in the sun
and read our books

So there’s the splash and sparkle of the fountain
the bare branches of the trees against the sky
all the people with their dogs and toddlers running around
and the late afternoon sunlight and shadows slanting in
gold and blue

And then there were
the bubbles and the hummingbird
pushing a nice normal city park afternoon
into suddenly being
like the beautiful movie version of your life
Except that it’s real
it’s all real

There really is a woman
standing blowing bubbles for her kids
for quite a long period of time
as after all why shouldn’t she?
that bob and sparkle like crazy in the sun

And there really is a hummingbird
that sits still for minutes at a time on a branch
then pops up
lands again on a different branch
Always so magical to see them sitting still
the fact that they even can do it
and that they are so wee
Which again ok why shouldn’t it?
Perfectly natural place for it to be

And yet it’s as if the whole scene
were composed
for you and for you alone
And the thing is
life does that
Does it all the time
Not with intent but just because there is
Puts together
all this excessively gorgeous stuff for you every day
and doesn’t care a bit if you notice it or not

image source is here

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Book-Buying Zeitgeist in Mexico

One of my favorite things about Mexico City was how, everywhere we turned, we seemed to stumble upon a place to buy books. Indoor/outdoor bookstore cafes with trees growing up through the middle of them, open-air book mercados, lovely bookshops (often with coffee available), multistory book emporiums with escalators, little hole-in-the-wall used book bodegas--if the retail environment is any indication, this is a town of readers. Alas, I only managed to photograph a small fraction of what I saw in this regard. And, perhaps even more alas, I of course could not read or buy the vast majority of books in these places; but in truth that hardly mattered. Just to be amongst these temples of tomes made me happy. Another interesting thing I noticed is that many bookstores seem to organize their volumes by...wait for it...publisher! Which I must admit did warm the heart of this editor.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


The visual wonders to be found in Mexico City--or, as it is known to its gajillion inhabitants, the Distrito Federal or more commonly just D.F. (pronounced dey-EF-ay) for short--are myriad. Rather than ramble on about what a fabulous trip we had, what amazing things we saw, what fun we all had, and so forth, I offer a little visual round-up of the week for your viewing pleasure: