Friday, July 31, 2020

Matt Jones paints with words














Photo by Matthew LeJune on Unsplash

My friend and colleague, Matt Jones (not pictured above), shared some of his word portraits. I don't know about you, but I'm getting a Charles Bukowski vibe. 

Here's what Matt says about his paintings:

I have always been intrigued and somewhat envious of people who sit in public places sketching passersby. It’s a talent I could never develop. I’m a writer and I am more than okay with that.

Then one day I was watching over the shoulder of a young man flawlessly sketching a fellow commuter and it hit me—I can do this. Only not with graphite or pastels.

I can do it with words.

What fascinates me about this idea is when we view a portrait, we all pretty much walk away with a similar representation in our heads (all things being equal). If I say “Mona Lisa” for example, we create very similar images in our mind’s eye.

With a word portrait, image creation is left to the imagination, generated solely and wholly within the mind of the reader. And every image created will be as unique and nuanced as the person themselves.

Here are a few examples, named Orion, Joy, and Patch. I hope you enjoy meeting them. Someday, I’d like to collect enough to do an actual gallery showing where the art on display is nothing but text on a page. A place where you can let your mind be the artist. If I do it, I hope to see you there.

 

ORION

His ill-fitting suit hung awkwardly

from his oddly shaped frame,

all over-hangs and strange angles.  

His hair swept back in thin,

predictable,

oily lanes.

A smug grin dissecting the Orion’s Belt of moles

strewn across his cheek.

Another, single mole perched

at the edge of his profile.

Like a comma at the end of an unturned page.


JOY

She smelled of cheap

Hobby Lobby candle.

Her clothing all black.

Festooned.

With sequins,

crosses,

and strategically placed

factory crafted rips.

Her hair was thin.

Her skin, thick.

A tragedy in tanned hide.

The party had ended long ago.

But she’d be damned

if she’d admit it.

So she orders another drink on the plane 

with an all-too-husky laugh that probably drew desirous gazes, once.

More smoke and roughness

now 

than sex.


PATCH 

The broad swatch of dark facial hair

that rested

Just beneath his lower lip

Looked like a misplaced mustache

that had been violently sneezed south.




Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Organic visions: Art by Moni Basu

My friend, Moni Basu, just shared some of her artwork. Since this blog is really only read by folks I know, most of you know her. Moni and I have known each other for so many years, yet I'd never seen anything she created - only read her amazing writing. She has always liked my simple line drawings. Now, all these years later I'm looking at her art. For some reason this makes me very happy, and that's why I asked her if I could feature her work here on my blog.

When she sent the first one to me in a text I was wondering what gallery she must be standing in where she took a picture of someone's artwork. The colors, the birds, the beautiful composition. She will say I am biased, but I love her work.

Take a look and see what you think. I saved the most intense for last. She calls it Covid Nightmare. I feel like the cold expression could represent a family member stricken with grief, or a very ill person, or even someone who is deceased. 

The first one is one of my favorites - so full of hope and life. I named it Menagerie. 
The second one I call Navajo Bear. 
The third, Bamboo with Fire. 
The fourth: Mid-century Fauna.
The fifth: Covid Nightmare.

If you click an image, you can see a larger version.









Monday, May 25, 2020

Lockdown life: Stress relievers

How to Make Mesmerising Minimal Photography
Photo source: https://iceland-photo-tours.com/articles/photography-tutorials/how-to-make-mesmerising-minimal-photography

Keeping one's head screwed on properly during this strange time can be trying. The news is spooky and heartbreaking. John King's wall reveals your state's ability to remain steady, or spike, or decline with new cases. The emptiness of most places is disturbing, though that is changing as more people venture out and that, too, is a little weird. The idea of being in this together, when you can't really BE together, is a sort-of comfort that you can't quite feel. Yet, we persevere, hold our chins up, and feel grateful knowing we have it better than many; at least for most of us.

Here are a few things I've been turning to, albeit mostly online resources:

Heal Your Living on YouTube - I've followed this channel for quite a while. The simplicity of what Youheum talks about is so relaxing to me. She's an extreme minimalist. While I couldn't go this far, I can see how freeing it must be. She lived nearly furniture free for a while; now I think she's travelling as a digital nomad. I've watched almost all of her videos. Her sister has a channel, too, called Thirsty for Art - also super relaxing content.

Benita Larsson - Benita is a Swedish minimalist with two very cute cats. Great style. Peaceful content, and the videos are not very long, so you get a dose of calm in often 10 minutes or less.

The Okellys - My friends Megan and Nick sailed away on their catamaran a few years ago and recently started a YouTube channel. They put out a new one every Thursday. Fun, interesting content about their lifestyle, and whereabouts.

Oak - This app is free and offers some calming meditations.

On the analog side of things, my armchair advice for chilling out:

Take a walk. But walk slower - don't make it a workout. Make it about the journey, not a hurried, timed effort. Hear the birds, feel the sun. Stop for a second. Take a moment to be grateful you're alive, that you can walk, and see, and breath in the fresh air.

Eat a meal outside. Nature heals the soul. And it's sort of luxurious to dine al fresco.

Get in bed a little early with a good book or magazine. Take a shower first (maybe some of you do this already, I usually shower in the morning). There's something calming about jumping under the covers clean.

Don't eat dinner in front of the TV. This is a habit we've gotten into, but when we break it and actually eat and talk away from the screen, it's really nice.

Call a friend, or do a Facetime call. We can't be together in 3-D, but sharing voices is the next best thing.

-----

Coming up, my friend Moni has been doing some artwork, and I think her work is beautiful. I've know her for decades, and only recently found that she makes art. Stay tuned for that in my next post.











Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Lockdown Life

minimalist photography


My feedburner set up went away due to some phasing out of the feature, so I may email an update to the mailing list so folks know I have a new post up. Please just email back to be removed from future updates if this bugs you.

Lockdown life has been interesting. It started out kinda great, then tensions rose for a bit, and now I'm more relaxed about it again. What choice is there? You stop fighting it and just relax into it. What I've learned is that while I consider myself a home body, the pull to get out and about is very strong. 

My summary of activities:

I've been walking more. As I say in my IG feed - nature is my higher power. It truly is - nature is like a god. To see my IG feed, visit @robinwrites

Watched the Netflix series Tales from the Loop, and really liked it. The actors are great, and the premise and magical vibe of it all was a perfect escape for the times.

Cooking is definitely a thing. Lots of soups, fried rice, easy stuff. But we're still trying to support restaurants with some takeout. Favorites are The Red Door's curbside pickup and most recently Madison. Madison is actually one of my favorite places to eat. My number one fave though is Il Dandy - beautiful interior and incredible food. 

There has been the occasional weeknight glass of Cote du Rhone, because in moderation why not.

Glennon Doyle's Monday Morning meeting time has been a balm. Love her. Also on Instagram. 

In a future post, I am going to publish a piece written by my friend Matt Jones, my work friend. He writes "paintings" of people with words. Stay tuned for that. We just have to talk about when he wants to send me one. I'm also going to ask him to write his description of how he'd like to "show" these paintings. When he told me, I thought it was a really interesting approach - you may agree. 

My friend Moni just did some bird art that I will also feature, but will first ask her permission. Stay tuned for that, too.

I've been supporting some retail establishments with recent orders on Uniqlo, Gap, Old Navy, and TheRealReal. Basics are on their way. By the way, Marimekko fans, Uniqlo did a collab with Marimekko for 2020, so maybe go check it out. In non-retail spending, I've donated to a refugee group that provides kits to new mothers and pregnant women who are being held at the border.

A last snippet is that James had COVID in January. He did the antibody test last week and it was positive. I had a mild case of whatever he had, so I had it, too! Are we immune now? I doubt it. Are we carriers? I don't think so because it's not an active infection. Yikes, another reason for us all to stay distanced. This is so very sad, and I can only imagine how it is for those who've lost loved ones. 

I can't wait to laugh again in person with actual people.

To all the Helpers - THANK YOU.

💗,
Robin

























Monday, January 27, 2020

Favorites List 2.20.20

brown sands

It's been a while since my last favorites list. So here are a few more finds:

Find out if a brand is ethically produced -- The idea of fast fashion is harder to ignore, no matter how cool that Zara sweater is. It's less and less something I want to support. If you're feeling the same, you can check the integrity of a brand at Good On You. You can also explore ethical brands that you've probably never heard of. On another note, for another way of buying second hand and therefore lower impact, there's The Real Real.
And have you seen the new site that Nordstrom has put up called See You Tomorrow where they sell pre-owned clothing and accessories? I was shocked to see a store of their stature go into second hand. Super cool, though. There's too much crap on this planet.

Daily Pages -- Do you journal? The actual "Daily Pages" practice is originally from the Artist's way, which I have not read, but it claims to help with anxiety. Mental hygiene. Floss out those worries in words. Also, has anyone subscribed to 750 Words? I guess it's just as easy to open a Word doc, and more private. Though, what is privacy anymore? Sometimes I care, and then other times I feel like it's futile to care. How about the guy who is rounding up billions of photos for the government's facial recognition program. Who, also btw, was just hacked and all photos stolen. Who would do this and why? Wait, this is a bullet point on reducing anxiety.

Palihouse Hotel, Santa Monica -- I stayed here recently with my niece and loved it. It was featured in a film by Heidi Swanson, so I figured it had to be good. It was super inviting, the rooms are huge and include kitchens, and it was quiet. Breakfast in the lobby is great; the best blueberry pancakes I have ever had. The chef apparently is a big deal.

Parakeet Cafe -- They are in Little Italy where that comfy shoe store used to be on the corner. They have the best matcha lattes, and wonderful, healthy bowls. I've also had their turmeric latte, too, which was also super tasty. Super cute interior, too. Go!

That's it for now. The new year arrived without a post, so I have now remedied that. More soon...



Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Swedish Death Cleaning

Image result for swedish death cleaning
For the past decade, I've helped my husband's parents with all manner of things. I'm a great daughter-in-law, if I may say so, and love my married-into family. I think with my parents already gone, I have a bit more emotional space than folks who still have their parents, so it's a win-win for everyone involved.

My husband's mother, an avid collector, has amassed a layered and rich collection of objects, all displayed in lovely ways. She has been super creative her entire life, mostly in the domestic arts, and her work has brought the family much joy. Every holiday involved a dinner with spectacular centerpieces. We're talking Easter, 4th of July, St. Patty's Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine's Day, Halloween, Robert Burns supper, and everyone's birthday, celebrations of promotions, dinners to nurse those not feeling well, and more -- I'm sure I'm missing something.

Over her lifetime, she taught classes in teddy bear making, how to do general embroidery, and also Shisha embroidery. Much of her work is now with many of us; my husband has three brothers. She is still with us, though not living in the home I'm describing - it's round the clock care time. It's hard to grasp that she is not the ruler of her little castle any longer, but time stops for no woman.

But back to this topic of cleaning, and Mom's vast collection. Where to begin? She collected teddy bears, many of them vintage Steiff, and by "collect" I mean hundreds. Some bears are so small they fit in your palm. There's also miniature furniture, to go in the beautiful doll houses. Sets and sets of china and glasses, and embroidery supplies -- so much thread you can't imagine, coupled with so many scissors. As a calligraphy artist, she had pens galore in a rainbow of colors, all stored in English crocks. The teddy bears have complete wardrobes, including glasses and passports and tiny notebooks and cutlery of their own, with table cloths and luggage it all fits into. There are chocolate molds, and handmade decor for every holiday, and Pendleton blankets in so many patterns, and a miniature pen collection, and Limoges boxes, and garden rabbits that hold succulents, and a dozen military macaws hanging along the backyard fence keeping watch. There are dainty handkerchiefs and lace doilies, carefully stored with tissue. There are scores of cookbooks and herb books and art books. She loves Brighton handbags and Indian jewelry. She loves Laura Ashley and Mary Engelbreit and Martha Stewart and McKenzie-Childs. She always had an ikebana arrangement on display when you came in the front door, and she took classes at the Athenaem to get even better at it; though she was a natural in floral arrangement. She and her husband held years and years of mystery dinner theaters with a small group of friends, who all traveled to London for more mystery dinnering, with some of the group still faithful friends to this day. What a rich life. What a beautiful life, full of all the things she loved. Oh, and Dad collects fountain pens. If you're getting a picture of a packed house, albeit a beautifully arranged one, you are getting the right idea.

For the last many years, during our daily call to Mom we'd ask what's going on?, and the answer among other things was: "oh, clearing things out. Sorting things. Getting rid of things." From where I sit today, in the midst of these collections and trying to figure destinations for everything, it's obvious that maybe things were moved from here to there, but out the door they did not go!

So recently, the topic of Swedish Death Cleaning has emerged, and I am fascinated by it along with all things minimalism, which for me includes Marie Kondo and The Minimalists and Live Planted and The Mustards and many others trying to live with less clutter and less work, so they can have more time, more experiences, and more life. "Things" own us they say, and they do, because they require us to manage them, sort them, pay rent on them, keep them clean and organized -- all things that cost us something whether time or money or mind space.

At this point in my life, I'm not a good, or even okay, minimalism example, though my goal is to whittle it down to the essentials. May each essential be the most beautiful essential, but by god let there be few of them. Without children, who will have to deal with this if I leave a mess behind? One of my nieces? Our only nephew? My husband, if I go first? A friend? I don't want that for anyone.

I just ordered The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning for a friend and me; we talk almost daily and lately our chatter has been on this topic, and it's pertinent because I am in the throes of cleaning out said collection above. It's been real motivation to not leave my "collection" to anyone. For one reason, it's draining work, full of memories that you can't help but relive. I feel like each item deserves its honoring, as its fate is determined.

So to all those with hoards, maybe get this book, too, and do your döstädning before someone else has to do it for you. 






Saturday, October 12, 2019

Favorites List - October


Favorites List (09.08.18)
(c) Heidi Swanson

































One of my favorite 'Favorites Lists' is published by Heidi Swanson, an LA-based cookbook author, occasional designer, shop owner and creator of 101 Cookbooks. Here are all her favorites lists; literally months worth of exploring. Years?
Lately I've enjoyed:

Alison Roman's chickpea stew - So, I made it the other night and it is delicious. I did not add the greens, but I covered it with avocado and tons of cilantro. It was even better the next day. One tip: when she says salt and pepper it three times, I forget the stages, do that.  

The Slow Home podcast - This couple has great guests and I love the cadence of their talks. Brooke McAlary and her husband Ben have a really sweet, nurturing and non-interrupting communication style. Just listened to the interview with Joshua Becker, one of the first minimalists I learned about. It was Episode 7; I have started at the beginning of their 3 seasons of podcasts, so working my way through.

This makeup tutorial by Liv Tyler - not only because her voice lulls me to sleep, but because she goes through such an interesting array of serums and potions; French, Korean, clean beauty and otherwise. She clearly has, or makes, the luxury of time. Funnily, she gets her beauty tips from her Dad

End of day de-cluttering. A favorite activity lately: I've been ending the workday with a bag-fill of items for donation or throwing out. It could be just 5 small items, but I always find something. I'm going through files and purging paper, collecting things that I know certain people would like, etc. With the end of the remodel in sight, I'm looking forward to doing this even more intentionally. The Courtney Carver workshop is a great motivator. 

And with that, happy weekend all.

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Where did my interest in Minimalism begin?

Image result for helen and scott nearing
Helen and Scott Nearing

I’m always learning as much as I can about simple living. It appeals in so many ways. I’m even taking a course right now called Soulful Simplicity. Here’s a link to the course, which is closed now but reopens in 2020.  It was created by Courtney Carver, the inventor of Project 333; also worth a Google.

But today I was wondering where this fascination began. Sure, I got on board with TheMinimalists guys early on and probably listened to 100 or so of their podcasts. I still dip in occasionally for a listen. But it really started with Scott and Helen Nearing, in my mind, the OGs of simple living. Their foundation website is here.  Scott and Helen were homesteaders, and I mean hardcore: root cellars, canning, popcorn for dinner, cold winters, simple Thoreau-style living quarters. Serious about it. And now as I look back, this is where the early concepts of minimalism entered my mind. I was younger when I read their books, and it appealed to me because I had the strength to have maybe pulled it off. Finding a willing partner, now that’s another story. But at my age now it sounds like a cold winter I’d never make it out alive from. Heavens to Betsy, turn on that heater!

I don’t know where this path leads, but it resonates so deeply with me. And with that, good night and sweet dreams to all.

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Build in buffers

two red cushions near body of water
Last week, I went to lunch at a favorite spot, got a veggie sandwich on olive oil bread and sat in my car parked in the shade in front of a large green plot of grass. Trees swaying, cool breeze and the dulcet tones of one of my fave podcasts: The Slow Home Podcast https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-slow-home-podcast-with-brooke-mcalary/id985005895
It's run by a couple who shares interesting updates and advice on living slower in a fast paced world; they also host guests. I loved a concept they shared about building buffers into your days. Little breaks from the busy life agenda - always a good thing.
In other news, we recently saw Downton Abbey and Ad Astra. Both great.
Better still, I'm enrolled in Courney Carver's Soulful Simplicity course based on her book https://bemorewithless.com/soulful-simplicity/ and it's very helpful. If you have any desire to simplify your life, check her out.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

New Film: by the National and Mike Mills - I Am Easy to Find

The new film by Mike Mills with music by The National tells a story of a woman's life from birth to the end of her life. It stars Alicia Vikander who plays the role to perfection. It's a winding, emotion-filled and beautifully shot story that is made more intriguing by A.V. playing the part in her current age, though the story begins with her as an infant. Her movements change as her age changes, and the nuance of those movements I think is what makes the film so great especially at the beginning. I was glued to it from the first moments, and of course as a big fan of The National, I loved every note of the soundtrack. I had to watch it again - no less compelling the second time.

Monday, September 09, 2019

Brian Eno - Workday soundtrack

Brian Eno-Discreet Music
Always a mainstay for the workday. Ambient, not particularly melancholy, nuanced, flowing. No words, so it doesn't distract from writing. I was introduced to Brian E. by a friend, Lee, many years ago and never looked back. It does make you feel like you should be wearing Vikander's suit from Ex Machina. Or Cameron's from Continuum.

Image result for ex machina

Image result for continuum cameron

You can listen to the full "Discreet Music" album on YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jl_z5JvrKlc
MFA's album cover:
Image result for music for airports




Sunday, September 08, 2019

Article: How to land your kid in therapy

I am not a parent, albeit of a dog and a cat, but this article is full of wisdom. If you have nieces or nephews, you may be able to consider all the ways your brother or sister did or did not prep their kids for a future spot on a therapist's couch.

The author, Lori Gottlieb, did a great interview recently on the Rich Roll podcast. He's a wonderful conduit of thoughtful content. It's nice to be able to turn to people who know how to filter all the bullshit out there in the world and just deliver the good stuff.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

On Being podcast, Japanese cherry blossoms, talking to loved ones

Listening to the On Being podcast - the episode called "Becoming Wise" with Tools for the Art of Living. Guests include Desmond Tutu, astronomer Natalie Batalha, and spiritual teacher Eckart Tolle.

It's a peaceful caturday here. James is showing a property and I just made a simple breakfast. Drinking a cup of decaf with a dog and a cat sleeping nearby. Feeling thankful today. Had a chat with my mom, across the ether, letting her know I miss her and love her. I hope she heard me.


Last weekend's cherry blossom festival was a zoo. Better to go enjoy those blossoms after the actual event and avoid the annoying crowds. Adding to the mania, there was a super loud music show going on at the international houses. So as we tried to commune with nature, we were serenaded by the boom of bad music.  

Got these fun pictures as the bonus.