Friday, December 18, 2009


This will probably be my last post before the holiday.  Hope your celebrations are as harmonious as this

Carol singing evening at the Albert Hall

As colorful and festive as Covent Garden

as cozy and welcoming as Sloane Square after a Christmas drink

AND as luminous and full of company

As full of goodies as the Kings Road

and as fun to unwrap.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Corner View

What are we going to do with our beautiful planet Earth?  Good news, a summit in Copenhagen, bad news, just more of the same old bickering. Why can we humans never see further than the ends of our noses?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Just What You Need - Another Small Furry Animal Post

So we are nothing if not egalitarian in our household.  And that extends to the blogosphere as you might have noticed by my recent equal opportunity BLOG-GUYS post.  

So today I ALSO bring to you............LA PRINCIPESSA.  Yes we do have another furry critter at our house.  Good news: This is the last small-furry-animal post.  Till I get that shiba-inu (which is a long-long-term project) this will be IT for quite a long time.  'Cause we've got our hands full!!!!  (You're welcome.)

We call her Dolly - which is actually short for her real name which comes from an exotic dark-haired beauty who does news reports on PBS.   (Whoever guesses, I will send you a candycane for Xmas.)  Since this year already, our Prince Mongol has had his day in the sun, this almost second week in December 2009, we are here to observe the culmination of three solid years of agony life with Mamzelle TROUBLE.

Who Moi, Mommy?

Yes.  She is.  A royal terror.

You can't tell?  Well she WAS, ONCE, and then.....after four long demoralizing months of grievously anti-social behavior which involved the housekeeper (yrs truly) draping all the furniture in the house with seventeen layers of highly absorbent material...and doing laundry five times a day...and praying she wouldn't discover the hardwood floor...

THERE WAS (LARGE GULP) - - - - - - -  UH....PROZAC.

I know.  I still don't believe it myself.  But if you had known me six months ago.........I was the walking embodiment of Stockholm syndrome.  And suicidal.





So this one WAS SO CUTE when we first met her.  She didn't want to sit and cuddle.  She wanted to roll around on her back and wiggle.  She didn't want to wrestle or play ball, she wanted to hurl herself the length of a room at the speed of light.  Leap tall buildings in a single bound.  (Nancy Spungen anyone?)

no really, Moi?

If she were an Orange County housewife, she would be Vicki, a big bossy blonde, always sticking her nose in other peoples' beeswax and telling 'em HOW THEY SHOULD LIKE IT!!!  LOOK!  SHE'S EVEN GOT HER NOSE IN THE CROCHET ELEPHANT'S BACKSIDE AND THE NEXT STOP WILL BE BB'S UP ON THE SOFA!

DON'T fall for the beguiling face and the hearts and flowers routine.  Isn't there something cold and calculating in her gaze?

And the prissy little "Missy-Knows-Best-Aren't-I-Nice-As-Pie?" crap!!!?  FUH-geddabout-it!

Don't even think about the "solid-wodge-of-cashmere" sensation when you try to pick her up.  This Miss is a Killer! 

(Thinking of lunch)

So buddy, if you're a bird, if you're a squirrel, if you're a cockroach, if you're a lizard.  If you're a ball of brown fluff made in China?   W-e-l-l!!!!!!!  You'd better watch out!

Cause this Miss IS GONNA GIT YOU!!!!


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Round My Way - Silver Lake Boulevard at Christmas

So Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat.  In L.A. it's still sunny, you're spending lots of money.....

I've posted about my neighborhood before.  I've been lucky enough to live in alot of nice places so I can't believe it when I leave my house and am reminded of how great this area is - still two plus years after I moved here.  I L-O-V-E IT!  I keep pinching myself and wondering when the honeymoon will end.

I've characterized my 'hood as Laurel Canyon meets the East Village.  And I'm sure someone else has too.  It's scenic, it has older homes with flavor and character, the foliage is lush and varied, there's plenty of wildlife and creative types. It's bounded by Sunset Junction and Atwater Village both of which are funky ever gentrifying but still gritty urban thoroughfares where the dress is eccentric and people don't seem to roll out of bed till late-ish in the day.  You can walk everywhere if you have strong legs and lungs (if not, take the Prius), and people bicycle en masse at all hours!   In short, it's spirit is young and it's alternative but it's not in your face and everyone is very nice.

This end of Silver Lake boulevard reminds me of Soho and Tribeca in NYC before they effectively became malls.  It is still quite raw but you can have that flutter of pleasure stepping into very sleek and sophisticated spaces where every detail has been so thoroughly considered and executed.  And which are unlike anyplace else you know.   LA Mill is one of these.  It is a slightly over the top temple to coffee.  It's gleamy, it smells good, the coffee machines are color-matched to the decor.  Because of it's temple-ness, the menu descriptions and the coffees, as good as they are, might be slightly precious and over-refined.  Me, I like a coffee you can sink your teeth into - these go down a little too easily.  BUT the limited offerings conceived by (2-Michelin-starred) Michael Cimarusti (of Providence on Melrose) which run to egg-ey and smoked salmon-ey things that they serve all day ARE mostly original and satisfying.

I love LA Mill chiefly for the powdery turquoise blue and oxblood red of its color scheme and the grisaille wallpaper. And the powder blue armchairs covered in faux ostrich.  It's the closest thing to a cafe-near-the-Louvre in my neighborhood.  I could stay all day, every day inside this color scheme with a novel and a sketchpad.

Domenico is new on the street and still very keen to please.  Service is very attentive and Domenico will come out to meet you and make sure you're a happy camper.  The interior feels like sitting in the middle of a set for Swan Lake. It is pristinely and purely white from top to bottom - owing to assiduous maintenance - no scuffs or snags mar any of the fittings yet. Somehow this tends to lower one's blood pressure.  I'm probably more susceptible the general esthetic because I was an early-age ballet fan and the large white photographs on the walls of ballerinas (probably costumed for Swan Lake, now I think of it) definitely

contribute to the swans-on-their-way-to-heaven vibe.  The food is honest, earnest straightforward Italian.  So if you're feeling slightly droopy at the end of a long week and you need some comfort food and a soothing atmosphere, this might be your place.  The prices will remind you that it is a special occasion, but if you need it to be special, you are getting your money's worth.

Yolk is just pure fun.  Especially if you are a young Mommy or hip Granny.  It is a small but well chosen assemblage of mostly home and childrens' goodies with a little bit of jewelry and books thrown in.  It has alot of Marimekko and other Scandinavian design products.  It's bright and colorful and fresh.

Lawson-Fenning and Ivanhoe books are taking care of the design nerds in the neighborhood.  (Did you know that Silver Lake/Los Feliz is home to several Neutra, Schindler, and Frank Lloyd Wright houses?) Lawson-Fenning sell an ALMOST self-conscious and quite select smattering of mid-century/scandinavian modern "recycled" furniture pieces to go with newer pieces in that lo-key streamlined-but-woodsy style with understated accessories to complement them. Ivanhoe books a few steps up in the back of the Lawson-Fenning space have all the design and shelter coffee table books you'll ever require to make you look like you actually knew what you were doing when you maxed out your cards at the front of the store.

Across the street,  Materials and Applications (Blogger does not like ampersands as we all know) calls itself a:

" research center dedicated to pushing new and underused ideas for art, landscape and architecture into view".  I hope to learn and hear more about it in the fullness of time.  And even though I can't buy anything there it looks interesting and it gives me ideas.

Finally, Monkey House, looks to me to be the original retail denizen of this corner of the world.

It is unpretentious and quirky.  It has the manga and anime-inspired stuff, plus the plain old cool science and junior engineer learning toys. This is where you would send your boys (big and little) to entertain themselves and stay out of the way while you and your equally expectant girlfriend coo over cunning little baby outfits and softies at Yolk.

So what does all this have to do with Christmas????   Well EVERYTHING!

Because I am a firm believer that even though it IS Christmas.  And you're crazed.  That the only way to get through it year after year, is to rearrange your priorities.  Or at least broaden them.  And remind yourself that it is a FESTIVE season.  And that you are a GROWNUP.  And that YOU CAN BE IN CHARGE.  AND YOU CAN HAVE A NICE TIME.

So find a little neighborhood like this one in Silver Lake where you KNOW you are going to find GREAT THINGS.  WELL IN ADVANCE OF THE HOLIDAY SEASON.  Buy everything you need THEN.  And reserve dinner at a really nice place in that neighborhood.  So when the Christmas season rolls around and you are, I'll say it again, crazed, you can pop into these wonderful little shops for a last minute find and then sit yourself down in front of a yummy dinner and a glass of wine in a nice restaurant like one of these and........TOAST YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY, the year just past, and the one to come.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Corner View

This is my first ever Corner View - since Kenza asked.

It's a box I covered in paper once - to hold more paper!  Kinda psychedelic huh?  I never needed drugs.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Dale Chihuly at Kew Gardens 2005

Hello to everyone, Happy Monday.  It's a cold rain here in L.A., we got into the 40's over the weekend
so it seems our winter weather has well and truly arrived.  It's o.k. because we need the rain, and once we got our thermostat figured out, it's quite cozy in the house.  Although this morning that gold twinkly fireplace I last posted seems more and more appealing despite the resemblance it has for some people to some less than savory sanitary ware!

Anyway, it seems a good day for a little color.  These are photos I took oh four years ago now - can it be possible? - in London at Kew Gardens.  One of my favorite places in the world.  Dale Chihuly did this installation which was actually there for a full six months - from May '05 through Jan '06.  We saw it at Christmas time and I thought it was perfectly Christmass-ey.  (And of course the day ended in a dark pub of which there are many pleasant choices in Kew Village.) But I would very much have been interested in seeing it in full summer.  One of the glories of Kew is that it rewards visiting frequently, there's always something different growing depending on the season, and of course different colors depending on the seasonal foliage.  I won't comment on the "clever chappy" as they might say in England who's taken over the directorship there and thinks it's appropriate to start charging adults $12.00 for admission (that was in '05!) and turn it into a bloody Florida theme park with electric vehicles spilling over with people chugging down the pathways where OTHER PEOPLE WANT TO WALK!  and tracks suspended through hundred year old trees the better to view the people in the OTHER choo-choo trains below......oh well I guess I HAVE commented AND registered my displeasure.  Once Kew was a lovely peaceful Edwardian retreat where you could get away from the barriers and crowds and the traffic and the hustle and bustle and commercial activity of TOWN.  Where the only people you would encounter on wheels would be the garden's policemen on their push bikes with fat tires who rescued my handbag when I left it on a chair at the cafe straight off a redeye and did a whole Hill St. Blues shtick for my husband when he went along to retrieve it.  A little boy had turned it in to them and it came back to me intact, inclusive of passport, Macy's card, UK and US money, checkbook.  Nothing touched.  Those were the good old days.  But pay no attention to my grousing about how lovely Kew once was.  (When the entrance fee was only 25 pence!) Even though Concorde no longer shoots over it two times a day breaking the silence in a bracing graceful supersonic way, you still have the long, long vistas, the pagoda piercing the sky, the azalea dell, the camellias in April, the roses, the long swathes of naturalized daffodils and crocuses from January to March (truly something to see before you die), the nodding hellebores and grape hyacinths, the temples, the grouse, the peahens, the massive old old trees and the grateful-making lacy greenhouses where you can pretend that you're in Hawaii on a dark-and-chilly English winter day.

So never mind me, go to Kew and see what you can find to get excited about.  If you're not a garden person or it's the weekend and the gardens are too crowded, the village is lovely - except for the traffic at Kew Bridge. There are charming shops and restaurants at the station parade if you take the District Line and cricket on the green alongside the church in the summertime.  You can bring your glasses of beer from the pub and lie on the grass and watch the clouds (if you're not into cricket) and dream that your life is peaceful, carefree and un-troubled.  At least as long as the glass of beer - or the long summer day - lasts.

So I did crop these fairly tightly

the better for you to enjoy the glass sculptures

You'll see a little less of the actual gardens accordingly.

So I'll have to dig out some old PHOTOGRAPHS ON PAPER

to scan and share with you someday.

Meanwhile can you spot which is Dale Chihuly and which is Mother Nature?

And if you were not such a fan of Chihuly before,

as I was not, you might be more so now

in this context his work is very festive

and makes more sense

in the way his organic forms relate to their "real life" counterparts.

And the structure of the greenhouses and the plantings

impose the more formal visual reference points that his "freeform" style

lack in my humble opinion.

And then there is the entirely otherworldly aspect of these sculptures, 

as if Martians HAD finally landed

And decided to throw a huge old party to celebrate!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Au Petit Bonheur La Chance - One

OK deep breaths.  I'm trying this again.  The title of this post could be translated variously into English as:  Happy Accidents, Delirium of Great Good Luck, Serendipity. I had been inspired to post about some of the new blogs I've found in the past little while.  But some of the regulars on my blogroll came up with such great stuff this week that I really wanted to share.  So fingers crossed (why would I think this?) inviting these photos into my space WILL NOT this time result in bizarre spacings, font size pandemonium and other cyber nightmares.  

Amy at AlltheMountains here always comes up with great thoughtful stuff.  She doesn't need to talk, she let's the pictures speak for her.  These pieces attributed to Viscount Alexandre-Isadore Leroy de Barde reside at the Louvre. Do I really need to remind anyone about the perfection of Nature?  (vs. computers?)

from Fiona at Cafe Cartolina here

are these creepy little darlings.  I think I used to have a hard, shiny little "baby doll" once that looked like these girls. (So not cuddly!)  Couldn't you just see them wielding axes in some B-movie horror show?  Abacus calculating?  Huh! Tearing your throat out of your body more like! It must be those beady little eyes.  Anyway, great colors and yes, Fiona great wooly sweater on the teach!

Ellen at Anzu here shared this fabulous photo: 

Fredrik Hylten-Cavallius' 'Piet' indoor stove.  JEWELLY!!!!!  How classy would your front room look with this in it?!! Just watch out vacuuming through those legs when the fire is lit.  Otherwise no muss no fuss - this is not your mum's electric fire!

Suzanne at SakuraSnow here has been busy with greeting cards and screenprints all available at her etsy shop. What do I like best, her subtle photos or her subtle color choices?  These cutouts that she assembles and incorporates into her cards are very beautiful and exciting.

Finally, via Corine at HiddeninFrance here, and Vanessa at Fanciful Twist here,

 Travel 18

Corine shared photos this week from Vanessa's extensive posts of her own living and work spaces.  Corine did not post this one because, as Corine has already shared with us, she does not like BROWN!  And I agree with her most of the time.  But THIS is a way to use brown and to create so much atmosphere and excitement.  It looks Mexican, it looks Indian, it looks like La Maison du Chocolat if Robert Linxe had dropped acid!  It looks GOOOOOD to me.

So was it good for you too?  So much great stuff out there.  I love a treasure hunt - especially when it takes place on my front doorstep.  Thanks to ALL for letting me borrow your images!

Next TIME I'll post my NEW blog finds.  

Sunday, November 29, 2009

More than Turkey

        Chris Burden - Street Lights Installation, LACMA Entrance

So how was your Thanksgiving?  Do you feel rested, or exhausted now?  Did the rush of warm-and-fuzzies from being with family make up for the exhaustion?  Who cooked?  Did you eat too much?  How do you feel about all of that now?

I was cooked for by three mostly blonde women (i.e., definitely not MY family) while I sat on a sofa and read magazines and chatted with the menfolk in a house by the sea.  It was a very unusual Thanksgiving for my hubby and me in some respects and utterly traditional in others (turkey, cranberry sauce, peas, potatoes).  We kind of like not doing the same thing every Thanksgiving so we're always happy to give ourselves the appearance of "orphans" when that time rolls around.  It's sometimes interesting to be a "fly on the wall" at other peoples' holidays and not necessarily central players in family dramas.  When my husband was very busy and we lived on the East Coast, it was also a great time to sneak off to Paris.  No airport panics, sometimes milder weather.  NO FOOTBALL!!!!  (Sorry America.  I tried to do football in college, but it was never for me.  I have family members who more than make up for my lack of interest.  I'm sure you do too.)

Mostly what was interesting about my Thanksgiving was not Thanksgiving Day, but Thanksgiving Week.  It was a week packed with a diversity of experiences, ideas, the unexpected.  Some of it particular to my life, lots not so much.  So I've decided to spend the coming week revisiting my Thanksgiving Week just past.

                                                  m   o  D  E  R  N     A  R  T 

Last Sunday, my husband and I went to LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art).  Sadly, even though I've spent over a year in L.A.and actually know someone who works there, I haven't known much about LACMA.  My visit was a revelation.  Something you realize when you get to L.A. is how little the rest of the world knows about it.  THE TOWN.  The ubiquity of Hollywood publicity imaging is such that it supplants any alternative conception of Los Angeles.  All other aspects of the city languish in the popular mind as dim abstractions if at all.  (OK I mean unless you're surf crazy and then I guess you know from L.A.)

I'll just say briefly that if you're visiting L.A. and maybe the sun is not shining, you should go to LACMA.  If you live in L.A. and you haven't been, YOU MUST GO TO LACMA!  It will deepen your understanding of the town and it's people.

So............ DESPITE my aversion to the well, tacky, way certain parties make fortunes on the backs of the LESS fortuned and then go dumping little bags of money around town in exchange for getting their names splashed across extravagant structures while playing one craven institution against another, it IS a fact of life and human history, that people of these sorts provide opportunities on a scale otherwise fairly unimaginable (in America) for people of talent to expand and express that talent and for others to experience and appreciate them.  Anyway, on esthetics alone, I was really impressed with the Renzo Piano designed Broad Contemporary Art Museum, just one of the museum's seven separate structures.  To have a space that accommodates two massive Richard Serra steel sculptures with room to spare IS just LUXURIOUS.  (And that's just on one-half of one-of-three floors.)  Ditto for those awful Jeff Koons pieces of a way shiny Michael Jackson and his monkey and Mr. Koons' ex-wife.  To view pieces like that in an enormous space makes them less agressive, less confrontational, less dismaying and allows you to place them in a context.  And contemplate properly how they fit into the long arc of civilisations and the constantly iterating, tangent-prone and increasingly tipsy nature of our own.  I'll say no more and let you discover the early 20th century painting collections at LACMA on your own and it's various other charms.  The museum has excellent web pages and blogs.  Did you know that H. Matisse's "TEA" is HUGE and housed at LACMA?  You can find out more here.

I would only finally add that I LIKE "small" museums.  They are very manageable.  And you do not leave feeling guilty and uneasy that you might have missed something IMPORTANT.  Or plain worn out.  You just leave feeling refreshed. I also love that LACMA is open till 8 p.m. on a Sunday.  I can't think of a nicer way to spend an early Sunday evening.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Best Wishes for Thanksgiving

    Justin Vineyards near Paso Robles, California

    Have a good one everyone.  Travel safe.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Magical Mysore Market - Part Two

So these photos were kind of a gift to me, in more ways than one.  I'm a bit of a timid photographer when it comes to people.  I'm not always so happy with someone else shoving a camera in my face, so I'm sensitive about invading anothers' personal space.  I do feel that we take away someone's power over their own image when we take their picture.  But this place was so special.  I had to let go of my reservations and just SNAP!