Sunday, January 10, 2010

Drawing Class Resumes

Me and E in 2005. We lunched this weekend after TOO long of an absence. She'll be 16 next month.

Art class has resumed. I missed most of today's first class because a house came up that we had to scoot and see. We said no to the house, but I decided to show up to class even even though I was 1.5 hours late. Taking this class means a big chunk of my weekend is scheduled, which horrifies me. Altogether it's four hours of my precious weekend. How will I fit it in friends, cooking, hikes, exercise, downtime and my new romance with my husband?

To help, I bought a very expensive smart rice cooker and a second crock pot. I don't think I've eaten brown rice since I started my job. So now it's time for brown rice, and yes, I've gone mad with the slow cooker.

My dear teacher sprang it on us that we have to pay him an additional model's fee for the class. $100. He explained that part of the cost is getting better models from San Francisco, which made me laugh out loud. Isn't a nude, a nude, a nude? Apparently not. Some regulars shouted out "suburbia." Edward added, "too square." He told us about driving to San Francisco this morning and picking the red headed woman standing before us in "her birthday suit" (as my grandfather would say) at the Ferry building in San Francisco and driving down the Peninsula with her in tow. Then he announced that he had to end the class 30 minutes early because his car doesn't have any headlights. "Edward has transportation issues," another regular called out. I've seen his car, and it's a wonder he's as reliable as he is. His car makes my beater car with 138K miles on it look like a prize.

The man tickles me and I'm glad to be back in his presence.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

We Need Not

Illustration by Maira Kalman

By generous, happy accident I was reintroduced to Maira Kalman. If you don't know her, really, you must.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Chocolate Chicken Chili Soup

Photo from Elly Says Opa!

I cooked only once this week. So sad. And then I forgot to take a picture.

A few friends from yesteryear came over for a reunion, midweek dinner of sorts. After throwing the inedible Pumpkin Prosciutto Soup down the drain from the week before, I was nervous about trying out a new recipe on guests.

Nothing to worry about. It was such a hit, there was nothing leftover for lunch.

Some ingredients:Boneless chicken, onion, garlic, cumin seeds ground, cinnamon, chili powder, dark semisweet chocolate, can of northern beans, cilantro.

Another winner from Art of the Slow Cooker

Saturday, December 19, 2009


This photo from Syko lets me dream a little.

The dream is I have my same life AND the time to do stuff like this with my perfectly organized, gorgeous still life of supplies at the ready. Ha, ha, ha.

Speaking of which, it looks like Xmas will be a bust this year. Note to self: Make Xmas gifts for 2010 during Xmas 2009 holiday break.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


French eyewear collection from Face a Face

It started six weeks ago when I woke up--on my birthday of all days--and couldn't see the numbers on the digital clock. Happy Birthday to me!

A few weeks ago, I tried on a friend's Betsy Johnson glasses, looked down at the words on the page and found them magically magnified.

This morning, it's official: I could barely read one article in NY Times without straining. I'm told by the husband that when it happens, it happens fast.

Dear Santa, Could you please send the green-framed Face-a-Face glasses with the tortoise shell eye-to-ear stems?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Oh My! Julie Powell, Skanky, Girl.

Photo by Carlo Allegri

In case, you haven't seen this yet:

A Q&A with Julie Powell
By Jackie Burrell
Contra Costa Times

Posted: 12/09/2009 12:00:00 AM PST

One thing seems fairly clear: Amy Adams, who played the food blogger in last summer's breakout hit, "Julie & Julia," probably won't be donning a butcher's apron for Julie Powell's newest memoir.

Nor will anyone who devoured every last morsel of naive, witty adorability in Powell's first book that recounts the year she spent cooking all 524 recipes from Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," willi find the new book to be the polar opposite.

"Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat and Obsession" is a tale of tortured wedlock, jaw-dropping adultery, unbelievable wine consumption, and more meat than you could ever imagine. Yes, there are recipes, but after reading about the metallic fragrance of freshly butchered, "custardy-smooth," burgundy-tinged livers, you may find yourself in the mood for a nice bowl of soy products.

But flying cartilage and sinew aside, the most brutal parts of the book outline Powell's two-year affair with D — an old flame from her college days with whom she cheated once before on her then-boyfriend Eric Powell. Fast forward to 2004 and "Julie & Julia" is soaring up the bestseller lists when D comes around again. What ensues is an affair that verges on obsession, even cruelty, including sexting and wee hours makeout sessions in her apartment, while Powell's husband, Eric, sleeps in the next room. That Eric quickly discovers the infidelity and has an affair of his own does not make any of it

Yet we're helpless to resist. We keep turning the pages and when Powell, who has made a career of baring her soul, offers to chat, we grab the phone.

Q: So what happened? You worried that people thought you were too adorable last time around?

A: People are reacting in all kinds of ways, very strongly. People who were invested in Eric's and my relationship in "Julie & Julia" — and then the movie was a sweetened version of that — it's unnerving. A lot of people saw the relationship as this paragon. It's not that it was a lie, but I wrote it at this period where I was very naive and I thought marriage was a pretty little box with a bow. Marriage is incredibly difficult and the people in it change. I wanted to honor that. Both of us — primarily me — have made some really terrible choices.

Q: Eric and Damian know they're in the book, right? With... everything?

A: Eric and I are together now. He's not tripping through the roses (about the book), but we talked a long time about this, did counseling. I could never have published it without his blessing. I've exposed our life in a way that's not comfortable for both of us, but he's been extraordinarily supportive. D had to sign off on it. He read the manuscript. I don't know that I'd say he's on board. I haven't spoken to him in a great while.

Q: So in the midst of this crisis, you decided to do ... a butchering apprenticeship?

A: I've been fascinated by butchers for a really long time. I grew up in Texas, where all the meat I bought was from a supermarket, wrapped in cellophane. I discovered these old world New York butcher shops and these guys who had been doing this work for decades. They'd learned from their fathers. I was envious of that innate skill. One facet of my personality is, when I'm in crisis, I seek a project. I needed a haven of sorts, and this idea of spending all this time in a shop with guys who didn't know me or anything about me, it felt like an escape.

Q: But big macho butchers? Flying meat?

A: There's this stereotype of butchers. They're big macho guys, no question, but what I found was how delicate the work is, how meditative — 85 percent of butchery you can do with the tip end of a boning knife. There's a sort of road map with everything, how muscles are supposed to come apart, that tiny crevice between the cup and ball of the joint. There's this rote aspect and yet you still have to concentrate your mind and body on what you're doing. It became this way to work through this crisis.

Q: OK, so you leave your butcher apprenticeship and instead of going home to Eric, you head off on a Grand Meat Tour of Argentina, Tanzania ... and the Ukraine??

A: It was a little random, I'll grant you. Argentina makes sense — it's a great meat culture, also a good first country to visit alone. I'd always wanted to visit the Carpathian Mountains. Tanzania? The people who live there, the Masai, their entire identity as a culture revolves around the animals they raise. And the bleeding of the cow —

(A pause, while we reread the description of Masai tribesmen piercing a cow's jugular vein so everyone can drink.)

— It's so primal and so central to their tribe. It's the sole reason I went.

Q: Does Amy Adams have any idea what's in store for her?

A: I have this little fantasy. In this alternative reality, Amy Adams is going to be forced to play Julie Powell in all her guises. I don't think we're going to see a Nora Ephron movie of this one. I haven't even sent (the book) to Nora Ephron. I'm terrified she'll explode.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Art at a Pediatrician's Office

Last week the happiest moment of my work day was a visit to the most beautiful doctor's office I've ever seen. Art everywhere. Fun art. The art of Sheldon Greenberg.

Not only was the art gorgeous, but wow, the doctor I was interviewing for my job, the fabulous Dr. Raquel Burgos , had style, energy, and warmth to outdo even the fab interior. Dr. Burgos told me that Sheldon's son got hit with a baseball and he did this painting of him. It's a big ole gorgeous piece (maybe 9ft x 5 ft).

More Sheldon art at this concierge doctor practice:

Pass me the paint brushes, please. And some bubble wrap too.