24 December 2009

Scan 7
Scan 14

The Christmas gifts were opened days ago [we are crap at keeping happy secrets from each other], but the tree was the big surprise this year. I think the mister is tickled to know I honestly didn't expect it.

Just Charlie Brown enough to be perfect; I am enchanted. And pleased. And turning quickly to a teary, happy pile of mush.

So I guess Christmas really is here. And I guess I'm in it.

Merry Christmas!

One big breakfast and I am down for the count.

(Hello, noon. I am already blissed out and sleepy.)

23 December 2009

A brief recap of tonight's highlights:

Overhearing this: You look like a lizard drinking water from a bird bath.

I'm going to have to work that into my rotation.


Tea and cookies with friends. And not just any friends, but dear friends who are leaving town in a month. [Portland! I shake my fist at you! You are a black hole that sucks in everything cool.]


A second look at How To Cook Your Life.


Guilt be gone.

I was thinking that netflixed movies and cups of hot, rum-spiked cider would make for a perfectly happy afternoon.

But lingering guilt about still not having my cards done (!) and what I thought was a nudge from the mister pressed me into Christmas-letter editing action. I sense a trip to the post office is in my immediate future.

I still believe I was on the right track with the movies and the drinking before noon. But I'm sure in the long run I will be grateful that I took the time to send my thoughts and love to family.

good mornin' Wednesday

22 December 2009

I've forgotten how many drafts we always go through to get our Christmas letter just right.
I've also forgotten how much I love peanut butter cookies.

Two important lessons recalled.

The mister and I sat until our bodies trembled from the caffeine, but still we did not start our Christmas cards.

I did, however, figure out how to work this ShakeItPhoto app. A small victory. But a lasting gift.

Scan 2

We are generally more agreeable when we're out on our bikes.

21 December 2009


I am a little surprised to find myself more enchanted by the magic of the solstice than Christmas this year. Or maybe I am in for a wondrous week.

Happy solstice, friends.

20 December 2009


My spirits are on the up, and here is why: peppermint bark.

It's a recent addition to my repertoire; I usually opt out of out anything in the minty genus. But last year, the planets aligned and not only did I find an open tin of peppermint bark (of the Trader Joe's variety) at my mom's house that practically invited attack, but I also discovered a recipe for what promised to be a truly decadent version of the bark on Orangette. My fate was sealed.

Here is what I can say: if you are feeling down about Christmas, or even generally not into it this year, go immediately to your kitchen and crush some peppermint candy. Seriously. Not only will it vent a bit of your latent hostility (you know, should there be any) but it will also infuse your home with the loveliest pepperminty smell. And render grinchiness completely impossible. You will be instantly fa la la-ing and harking heralds and jingle bell rocking.

What's more, that second layer -- the bittersweet chocolate layer -- will also fill your head with dreams. Once chocolate, peppermint extract and cream hit the pan, you will dream of the world's most luxurious peppermint chocolate chip ice cream. This was by far my favorite part of the recipe (if you couldn't tell). I see visions of peppermint bark spin-offs. And my hope for next year is to bestow pints of ice cream to those on my list.

There is a new air of festivity over here. And it all started with this.

Seriously good. And seriously magical.

19 December 2009


I have chosen to be a city mouse, rather than a suburban one. But sometimes I wonder if I am missing out on something quintessential about America.

17 December 2009

and full of promise

T minus three hours until my two-week winter break begins.

Please don't let this sniffling and sneezing I'm doing today be the harbinger of a flu.

16 December 2009

Scan 33

I will try leave my desk for walks so I don't entirely miss the bright. I will try to make the most of the sunset light that flits by around 3pm every day. I will try not to succumb to the warmth of my bed earlier than, say, 6.


It is lovely, though; isn't it? All these excuses for glowy lights, hot drinks, and cozy sweaters.

15 December 2009

a kind-of wreath

[These poinsettias may at first appear to contradict the story below, but I made them in last year's flurry of activity.]
[And still they wait.]

There has been a remarkable lack of Christmas around these parts. Which makes me think I have suffered one of two possible fates:
  1. I am the rube in someone else’s Christmas miracle story, whereby our personalities were magically switched during something as innocent as a handshake, say, and she gets to experience all the Christmas magic her usual Scroogy self has missed.
  2. OR

  3. I have been kidnapped by aliens and replaced with an android.
Maybe I should I back up a bit here. It’s not so much the lack of hall decking that has raised my suspicions, but it is the fact that I am unphased by said undecked halls that has me worried. Though I tend to the last minute – I have been known to wake up at 3 am to ensure Mom’s mantle was appropriately covered in coffee-filter snowflakes in time for the Christmas brunch that would begin at 9 am – I am a round-the-clock schemer of such crazy holiday feats. But this year? Not one scheme has hatched. There have been blips of ideas is all. And no wish to make them into anything more than that. No internal push at all.

Actually, that’s only half true. I am chock-full of internal push, but it is geared toward the longer term projects on my list, like:

sewing curtains for the kitchen,
sorting the stacks of books that now live on the floor and making room for them on the bookcase,
painting the bathroom,
unpacking that last, lingering box,
planting the little succulent garden that I have long dreamed of having live on my dining table.

I know: WTF?! I could be glittering and pom-ponning, festooning and wrapping for chrissakes! But all I want to do is nest. Not in the half-assed way I normally do wherein I unpack, sort, and put away most things (you know, except for the two or so boxfuls of miscellany I can't decide where to store), and not in the way that leaves a long list of uncompleted projects that I wistfully recall on my eventual moving day; I want to get it all done: art hung, tchochkes arranged, chairs placed just so.

I have ruled out a virus. I feel just fine: no fever, no clammy, no aching. I could also find reason to suspect my android theory. I’m sure a robotic version of me would emit sparks in the shower, or that the circuitry would get gummed up with all the food I dribble on myself and robo-Erin would end up lost in a buffering loop or some other telling slowdown, which I have not done.

Maybe I have been volunteered to beta test an altered, upgraded, 3.0 version of the holiday season that grants extra time rather than sucking every last second away? [Now that would be the stuff of legend.]

10 December 2009


It's felt impossible to squeeze in any time for introspection this week, what with all the going. But it's been so good it doesn't seem right to complain.

09 December 2009

Once again, an unexpected musical performance rescues my day from ordinariness.

08 December 2009


four cheese pizza and a slice of fudge cake with ice cream (which can magically transform any day into your birthday)

$1 tacos and pints of Bud on draft

Okay. It's been pretty good around here.

07 December 2009

me, today

I am finding ways to let go of my expectations and disappointments.
The small and ridiculous ones, at least. But it’s a start.

03 December 2009

leaf::quilt (apparently)

Apparently, Dick Cheney and I have something in common: calling a game before it's really over.

No sooner did I condemn fall to history than it sprouted again. Red and gold and delightful all anew [and click, click, click went my shutter]. So, here you go. The REAL last throes of autumn. Which I will conjure for your enjoyment also because it seems to wind the clock back a bit. Something we could all probably use right about now.

[Uff. My December to-do list gets bigger every time I think about it.]

01 December 2009


Holy crap! It's December.

30 November 2009


We adjust so readily to a life of leisure, she and I. It's true after only 2 days. Give us 5 days? Forget it.

I am grumpy to leave. And she is furious to watch me go.

27 November 2009


Thanksgiving was slow to win me over. Christmas always held the most enchantment, first because of the promise of material gain -- between Santa Claus and the guilt of divorced parents I made out pretty well every year -- then because of ballet and the endless Nutcracker rehearsals that marked the season. Nutcracker is such a funny show. I think the viewing of it (for anyone over the age of nine) makes one cynical about the holidays, but the performing in it is sure to reawaken a sense of wonder. I loved to watch the tree grow night after night. I loved to hear the kids gasp as the mice entered the stage to do battle with the Nutcracker and his soldiers. I loved to watch my friends grow into Sugar Plum Fairy pas de deux; how graceful and elegant they had become.

Anyway, Christmas was it for me: the ultimate holiday. Until I worked in a costume shop. I was old enough then to legally enter bars, and young enough still to relish the permissiveness of a night where sluttier alter egos were not only allowed but encouraged. In parallel, I also discovered how sensual it is to ready a pumpkin for carving. Together, these overpowered my terrific fear of spiders and general dislike of the gory and shockingly scary. I could grow to accept those, just throw a candle in the jack-o-lantern, and hand me and my plunging neckline a beer.

Oh, Halloween and I did have some fun.

I can’t say with precision when that love affair faded. Perhaps it was the eleventy-hundredth time the mummy jumped out from behind the painting hanging ten feet away from the cash register where I rang up hundreds of girls with the same sexy costume, where I asked 50 or so people if they could kindly bag the plastic spiders in their cart that I was too afraid to touch, and where I tried to convince other girls’ boyfriends that hospital scrubs dont' really qualify as a costume. Or, I don’t know, maybe you just wake up one day and know in your bones that once your corset costume is drenched in an entire bottle of champagne by an eager co-worker at the employee ‘we-made-it-through-another-one’ party, there are few places left for Halloween to take you.

So I lit upon Thanksgiving: food, family, still a bit of alcohol -- but no gifts, and overall much kinder to committed relationships than vodka-logged, hormone-fueled late nights in costume. Actually, I love the pies and yams and cranberry sauce. On this one day I even love dish washing.

Bald tires and threats of snow conspired to foil grandma's designs on getting us up to Oregon for the holiday this year. "I'm old," she tells us, "and this could very well be my last Thanksgiving." [Don't fear for her. She is more shameless than frail.] I suppose I should have viewed this change in plans as an opportunity to re-ignite my aspirations of making a pumpkin pie entirely from scratch. I suppose I should have tried to conjure up a full Thanksgiving feast with all the fixins, sized for two. Instead, we made pumpkin risotto and baked apples and enjoyed them from bed. And you know what? Thanksgiving was still Thanksgiving -- even without excessive puttering around in the kitchen. It was great, actually.

It allowed time to wonder if it means anything that I have been dreaming almost exclusively of Make Something Day (which is today!). It allowed the space to get started a little early. And I see my crafting plans stretching out into the weeks ahead.

It allowed time to understand what my apparently fickle heart is trying to tell me: that the stretch of time between the big turkey dinners is actually the most wonderful time of year.

Happy making.

26 November 2009

I am thankful for cute high-heeled shoes, the existence of leg warmers, and one porteur-style bicycle rack that is making its way to me.

I am thankful for red leaves and chimneys and the twinkle of tiny Christmas lights.

I am thankful for new friends. And one in particular who shall remain nameless because I am still at the phase where I find her a bit intimidating.

I am thankful for the soft moan of a cello.

I am thankful for my grandma. And for the memories I have of eating pomegranates on her back porch while wearing nothing but undies and one of grandpa's old undershirts. I am thankful for those early mornings when I climbed into her bed and waited for grandpa to serve us both coffee from fancy tea cups.

I am thankful to have found a new grandma (in law) who can fill the void my mom's mom left when she died.

I am thankful for achieving an understanding in this marriage that we can each follow our own star. If we can manage to do this without drifting apart, I will be especially grateful.

I am thankful for drag queens and burlesque and John Cameron Mitchell.

I am thankful for film.

I am thankful for furlough days because, frankly, I appreciate the extra time more than I do the money.

I am thankful for sewing machines and bicycles and the communities each build.

I am thankful for Erin at the San Francisco Baking Institute and her thorough and thoughtful advice for making a very big decision.

I am thankful for motivated history teachers whose excitement is contagious.

I am thankful for possibility.

I am thankful for another year with Lila. Since we lost Carter, it all feels like borrowed time. So thank you, little girl cat. You are welcome to stay as long as you like.

24 November 2009

Here is something that fall always reminds me: I freaking love orange. [Why isn't there more orange in my world? I need to get on that.]

I also realize I love the light in my apartment: golden pools on summer evenings, and cold, gray-blue wisps on autumn mornings. [Combine bold colors and anemic light and my heart goes puddle-y. That's just how it is around here.] I may, upon occasion, talk a bold streak about leaving this place, but I couldn't. I am far too zealous a wannabe photographer to squander such providential fortune.

23 November 2009

the outside of black apples

Apples for you today. And very few words. I just want to be sure I pay homage to fall before it goes.

20 November 2009


It is beautiful out. There are things even an existential crisis cannot deny.

Finally in November the trees conjured that alchemy that transforms green leaves to gold. I have blown through four rolls of film with all my oohing and aahing.

I notice, though, that the trees are disrobing pretty quickly; they are already half undressed. The winds now bring a shock of cold and a waft of chimney smoke. Still lovely, but very nearly winter. So it's time to start posting the fall-inspired still lifes I've been snapping before they become a mere echo of the season's greatest hits.

[I am inordinately excited about the coming week in pictures.]


Also -- oh, alright -- I am excited about more than leaves today. I've just discovered an LA Times article/photoshoot about a family of three living in 380 square feet. I've been having doubts lately about the 340 square feet the mister and I share -- wondering if maybe I'd encouraged us to go too small. And this is some excellently timed succor for my woes.

If my life were a musical, I think now is about the time I would burst into song.

19 November 2009


I spend a lot of time looking for answers that should be easy to find. I recall a certain summer in upstate New York. During my last two weeks, you could find me curled into a fetal position on my roommate’s bedroom floor, agonizing. My sublease was nearly up, and I needed to decide if I would stay, find a real job and an apartment of my own, or go back to California.

One might imagine a decision like this would require some thought, some weighing of pros and cons. Maybe I did do that, I don’t remember. What I do know is that I spent many hours chest-beating, hair-pulling -- just shy of full-blown pouting, though I think writhing, and perhaps also a bit of foot-kicking, was involved somehow. It was a big damn deal. I was choosing my LIFE. In the big-picture, this-choice-affects-me-forever kind of way.

Except I didn’t really choose. I simply drifted back to Sacramento, because I knew exactly how it would go. At first, it worked out well for me. Then my imagined course fell apart a little and I was disappointed. But once I stopped wondering what might have been, I bounded ahead, saying yes to nearly every opportunity that presented itself. The small things and big things and in-between things that have happened in my universe since germinated organically from there. I have few regrets to speak of, but I haven't achieved any sort of clarity either.

So now I am here, torturing myself (and my current “roommate”) over one question: what do I want to be when I grow up? It’s one of those puzzles that is at once the easiest and hardest thing in the world to solve. I am looking very hard. Hair-pulling and chest-beating have commenced. I am not yet at the fetal-position phase, but I expect it soon.

Also, I can’t help but feel a little sheepish about all this ballyhooing. I suspect the answer I yearn for is right there. Like when you tear your apartment up in search of glasses that turn out to be perched on your nose the whole time. Once you realize, you become painfully self-conscious about the previous five minutes of cussing and bluster, and the deals you made with God to be neater if only you could just find your fucking glasses and get on with the day already. Whoopsie! Silly me!

I suspect the answer I’m looking for now is, likewise, right there: just at the tip of my nose. Which maybe makes it too close for me to really see.

Hopefully -- if I can find a way to stop squinting so much -- it will come into focus.

17 November 2009

[Shots from the recent Sacramento Tweed Ride.]

Now that tweed rides have achieved a certain national significance, there seems to be quite a bit of conjecture about what the rides mean: a return to dandyism, the hipster search for identity, self-conscious posturing, a yearning for an "authentic" American flamboyance.

Actually, I’m a little chafed by all these suggestions. None seem to really get at the core of the ride, which, in my mind, is simply this:

Get on your bike.

Is that disappointing? Does it seem an overly simplified answer? I suppose it could.

But if you think about it, the great success of the tweed ride is that it reaches the largest cross section of bicyclists possible. Retro grouches meet fixie jocks meet Sunday strollers meet I-haven’t-ridden-in-years-but-dress-up-sounds-fun experience seekers. Enthusiasts of every strain, and novices alike, get on their bikes and ride. Together.

And I cannot possibly overstate the importance of the costume here. The costume gives us common cause. If you have never been on a tweed ride, you are likely to scoff at this. Frankly, I wouldn’t blame you. It is a ridiculous thing to say, particularly in all seriousness. It should be possible to organize a group ride of this size and scope without requiring specific attire. Especially since these tweed rides (or, at least, my tweed ride) are essentially pub crawls. People like pub crawls, and they will want to come anyway. Which is, perhaps, true.

But the tweed dress is an easy unifier. We are all here together. We need to watch out for each other. Should a tweed rider get a flat tire, say, some of us will need to stop and offer assistance. This actually happened to us en route. And I was thrilled to hear the call of “Tweed down!” echo through the throng of bicyclists. Five or so people pulled over, proffered patch kits and tire pumps and encouraging words to a rider they had only met twenty minutes ago. This is what the costumes get you: a quick in to building a community.

What happens after the ride?

I didn’t get a chance to meet everyone on the Tweed Ride, but I did introduce myself to 40 people, roughly speaking. In the week since, I have encountered about 25 of them while out puttering around. We have stopped and greeted each other by name, shared handshakes and smiles and small talk about the neighborhood. I have been out to dinner with 11. We rode there together on our bikes. 2 have come to my house for breakfast. 2 have invited my husband and me to a party at their house. And all have introduced me to more of their friends, bicycle riders or not. A week is early yet, but the prognosis for these new friendships is good.

Also, every business owner who participated has told us that they loved hosting the tweed riders. Not only were we good for their businesses, we were kind to their staff and a curiosity draw for non-tweeds. We have been warmly welcomed back everywhere.

I can’t think of another ride that can do all this. That can merge the interest of so many different riders, and match them with those of local businesses and city planning agendas. I can't recall another local group ride so delightedly received by so many different people: participants, pedestrians, onlookers, and (even) law enforcement. Critical Mass doesn’t come close.

I haven't meant to sound defensive. And I realize that I do. Putting together the Sacramento Tweed Ride (which, I admit, would have gone exactly nowhere without the mister's enthusiasm and elbow grease) was among the most positive things I have ever done. Mr. and I both feel -- not invincible exactly -- but kinetic, enlivened by the knowledge that we can coax a real event from a whole lot of hopes.

We are now more connected to our neighbors, our city, and our bicycles than ever before. And I sense this is the case for all the other tweed riders too. This is well beyond the payoff of a less ostentatious, more bicycle-focused ride. And certainly beyond what a testosterone-fueled fuck you to cars can buy.

This is a step toward the city we've always wanted. And probably the one you wanted as well. I'm pretty sure of myself here, but I have good reason. You donned possibly the most lovely, fop-arific, ridiculous tweeds I could ever hope for. And I can't think of why if not to build something great.

(Also, it was a lot of fun.)

15 November 2009

the office tries to be photogenic

[I should be here. And by "here," I mean work. Yes, even on a Sunday.]

I have tried all weekend to muster the energy to go the office. I have tried to convince myself that just a few weekend hours will make all the difference for my Monday -- will magically transform tomorrow's deadline furor into bite-sized task.

But it's gorgeous out, you know: brisk air, bright sun, and sidewalks strewn with crisp leaves that crackle as you walk through them. Just the thought of my office, with its gray walls and no windows, makes me feel a little cheated. And my private pep talk turns quickly to whining.

Though Saturday and Sunday have been lovely, though I have remained both optimistic about what I can do come Monday and defiant about what I should have to do on my days off, these 48-hours have been dominated by "should" rather than "do": I should go. I should work. I should care obsessively about commas, periods, boldface, and one-inch margins.

I still haven't gone in to the office. But I'm not sure that I've won. The internal struggle has come to define my weekend, and the issue of work has taken center stage anyway. Instead of editing, I have napped. Instead of editing, I went to a party. Instead of editing, I cooked breakfast for friends.

I attribute much (ok, nearly all) of my current unhappinesses to this life in a cubicle, to work that is completely divorced from manual labor and tangible products -- work that demands long, computer-based hours while stationed at ergonomic chairs in fluorescent-lit rooms. I am, in fact, so certain of the deleterious effects of the office, I have convinced myself and a certain Mr. in my life that the only thing in this world that can restore the kind of whole-body happiness I used to have is to just walk away from the cube. Leave three-quarter walls and prairie dogging and morale building behind forever in favor of more creative work, physical work, or, really, anything work -- just as long it doesn't involve an office park.

Occasionally I worry that I am being melodramatic. I worry that the same zero-sum game awaits me no matter the occupation I pick. I worry that bullshit politics and vying and doublespeak are everywhere. I worry that the basic demand of any job in any field is to quietly put up with the crap. I worry that the real cause of the doldrums I'm in is something else entirely -- something I just can't see yet. But I try not to spend much time on this. Every choice has a set of naggy what-ifs attached, and I am tired of fearing the boogeyman.

Though I'm still the only person in the office who knows this, my end-of-cubicle-days countdown has begun.

So all that's left, I guess, is holding my breath and hoping my no-office-for-me theory is right.

12 November 2009

they're finally here!

Dear Fall:
You are even lovelier this year than you have ever been before.

06 November 2009

I fell asleep last night in this Indian summer and woke up this morning to Fall.

(Good morning, love. I've missed you)


I have moved. You can find me here now.

05 November 2009

This was the pleasantest hour my Thursday mornings have seen in a while.

Someday I hope to fall out of bed and into an outfit that only later do I realize: oh shit! I've made every piece.

(We each define rad in our own way.)

04 November 2009

Now for something completely different:

One Trellis, finished.


03 November 2009

is that my name on the bell?
It wasn't until performing the ordinary routines of a Monday that the thought of him tubed up in a hospital bed felt surreal. And terrifying.

But he's doing much better now. In fact, he'll probably be home tomorrow.

These are good things.

02 November 2009

Last night we learned that my Stepdad had a heart attack on Halloween.
And a triple bypass yesterday.
It all changes quickly, no?

(Oh -- and all signs indicate he'll be alright.)

01 November 2009

Generally, I am slow to turn my calendar page. It's not my personal protest against time. Just, I forget. Sometimes for a whole week. Ok, and sometimes for even longer.
But this month, I've been oddly excited about it. I even fought the urge last night to flip the page early.
So: November.
Here we go.

31 October 2009

n'oubliez pas l'alowine!

Happy Halloween, friends.

30 October 2009

yep, she's pretty much a supermodel
I wonder if she also has an occasional spider dream.
Except hers, I'd imagine, are the happy kind.

28 October 2009

pea in her pod
We've decided on a murphy bed for our tiny house.
Not everyone is pleased with that.

27 October 2009

i found an old friend
I ran into an old friend at Dog Eared Books.
I do love those happy surprises.

26 October 2009

3 in the morning
heath mosaic
Poor Monday morning. Even though the ritual is exactly the same (radio, kitten loves, two cups of coffee in bed), it never feels as relaxed or as happy as Sunday.