Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Monday, March 29, 2010

Why I Like Laurie Colwin

At night some people count sheep and others read mysteries. I lie in bed and think about food. Often I make up menus. Sometimes I invent recipes . . .

from Home Cooking by Laurie Colwin

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Two Toms

The bright blue plastic bag

The two of us

The four of us

John and his Tom

My Sweet Home Cooking Tom

John told a funny story about my Tom in college. One evening Tom ran down the hall in the dorm yelling: "I've just made an important discovery. There are no adults. We're the adults. We're doomed!"

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Unrequited Love

Tomorrow is a big day. John is coming to visit. He lived down the hall from Tom at William & Mary. I fell in love with him the instant I met him 30 years ago and wrote him a letter and told him. He presently lives in Boulder, CO. The last time Tom and I saw him was ten years ago after we had just moved here. John was leaving from San Francisco to fly to Nepal with the Peace Corps, and the three of us ate at Little Thai the night before he left.

We're picking him up at the Civic Center BART station tomorrow around 11:00. He said he'd be carrying a bright blue plastic bag. Do you think it's full of presents? He's a Buddhist–I'm not sure he eats meat–so I'm making him deviled eggs and graham crackers with chocolate icing.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday Night

I painted the town.

Actually we went to see The Ghost Writer. I hate it when I go to a movie only to end up wishing I had stayed home, gone for a walk and drawn on the computer instead.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Happy At Last

For dessert plates we've always resorted to using coffee cup saucers. Dessert is an important part of our lives, and this month I decided to break down and actually buy something to use for dessert dishes that didn't have an indented ring in the center.

I found these tiny white dishes in CB2 while we were scouting out a couch for Barbara. The dishes were $1.95 apiece. I had to think about it. I wasn't sure they were big enough. I wasn't sure they cost enough.

A few weeks ago I splurged on four pink dessert dishes that I had been lusting over for eons on the internet. Do you ever order something and just know that when your order arrives you'll be happy at last? I knew when these pink dishes arrived that I would be happy at last. But the pink turned out to be dusty pink, and the dishes themselves turned out to be gargantuan–not that there's anything wrong with gargantuan.

So I decided to return to CB2. But it was too late. The quirky white dishes were gone. When I got home, I checked CB2's web site and guess what. The reason they were no longer in the store must have been because no one bought them–because (follow this link) now they are marked down to 95¢ apiece! I'm trying not to use so many exclamation points, but I couldn't help using one there. So I ordered eight.

They arrived today (the day after Mari, Wolf, and Mimi left, of course). But that's OK because now I'm happy at last.

p.s. The tiny knives are $5.95 for a set of 6.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Mimi's Cake

I'm so excited because tonight I'll finally get to meet Mari and Mimi and Wolf. They're coming over for dinner and I just finished decorating Mimi's flourless chocolate cake. She's 5 months old. All the candies have little m's on them for "Mimi." They're m&m's. You know, I'm not sure Mimi can eat cake yet.

Mimi ended up drinking her dinner. We had to eat her cake for her.

A good time was had by all. The Norwegian flag flew proudly beside our driveway to beckon our guests. (Wolf moved to Los Angeles from Oslo, Norway, in order to study cinematography at the American Film Institute where he met Mari.)

We almost were able to talk Marilyn and Jeffrey into driving over from Sacramento. They were ready to hop into the car until Jeffrey got called away to Portland. WAH!

Wednesday: It's decided. Mari, Wolf, and Mimi are moving to San Francisco. Mari and I are going to eat cookies and ride our Vespas every day. Did I mention that Sally and Hubcap are moving here, too?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Pre-Spaghetti Walk

It was hot this evening and the beach was wall-to-wall people. We hit the Coastal Trail. Cool, uncrowded, fragrant.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Our Beach Buds

One of the best things about walking on the beach is running into Anne, Peter, and Carmen. (Carmen is off chasing a kite.) They live on the opposite end of Ocean Beach, and jog 3 miles up to the Cliff House and 3 miles back every day. That's 6 miles, folks. They can eat all the pizza they want.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Metropolitan Home


Living Room

Carpet Sample

Monday, March 15, 2010

Me and Lucille

Can you believe it? This is right outside Lucille's condo. She lives by Stern Grove, and when you walk outside her door you might as well be inside the park.

We walked and talked about books (S.F. writers Egan, Eggers, and Elliott) and movies (Milk, the Coen Bros.) and people we know. When we went back inside she put some oatmeal chocolate chip cookies in the oven.

Her birthday is Wednesday and she'll be 86. I brought tomato juice and limes from the farmers' market, and some gin. She sent me home with cookies, a loaf of spelt bread for Tom, and the magazines and book reviews from the last two Sundays' NY Times.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Pancake #5

Pancake #5 was actually made and photographed yesterday (while Tom was at the farmers' market). I did what Jane said and tried using yogurt and fruit as a topping instead of maple syrup.

This morning is the first time I made one of Jane's award-winning pancakes for Tom. I made two pancakes (#6 and #7) simultaneously in two different pans so we could eat them at the same time.

My pancake (made in the nonstick pan) didn't turn out at all. It was more like scrambled pancake. But Tom's turned out perfectly. He put a little maple syrup and some apricots and cinnamon on his.

Here's what he said after the first bite:
"It tastes good. I never would have imagined. I apologize for all the comments I made about it."

Another bite or two:
"It's quite good."

Suddenly I remembered I had forgotten one of the three ingredients! "Oh no. I forgot all about the crispy almonds!"

Tom: "It's not your fault you forgot. It's really only seven o'clock." Comments like this are the glue that binds the fabric of marriage together.

I get out a container of whole almonds and we throw a handful on top of our pancakes. In a flash the cakes are gone.

Tom: "I want another one. That was good. You can make it for me every morning."

• • • • • • • • • • •

Contrast the exchange above with the one below from my black journal (20 years ago, March 29), and tell me whether or not you think our marriage has improved:

Tom: "Linda? Please don't bother me for one hour."

Me: "Does that include verbal abuse, or just physical torture?"

Friday, March 12, 2010

Phone Conversation (20 Years Ago Today)

from my black journal: Sunday, March 12, 1990

Me: I like Roy. I hope Aggles still likes him.

Mom: I do too. I like him because he likes to talk. I hope things are all right between Aggles and Roy. It burns me up the way Mark takes up so much of her time.

Me: Mark doesn't take her time! She gives him her time.

Mom: Well, I was talking to Roy a while back and I asked him if Mark still preferred men.

Me: Mom! You asked Roy that?

Mom: Yes I did. Well, I guess it is Aggles who gives Mark her time. But Golly. Do you know what Mark draws pictures of? Dragons!

Me: Mom. Those are drawings Aggles saved from junior high school. All boys in junior high school draw dragons.

Mom: Well Aggles wasn't very happy about Roy's buying that car and I'm afraid she's not letting him forget about it.

Me: I'd be mad, too.

Mom: Well, see that's not the way things used to be. I was happy for Kenneth to go out and come home with a car.

Of course I never cared for that black one.

Me: What black one?

Mom: You know, that black one we drove down here when we moved.

Me: That was navy blue.

Mom: Oh, was it? Well, it was just so boxy. There was no elegance about it.

Me: What makes you think Aggles isn't letting Roy forget his poor car choice?

Mom: Well, there was that inflatable dinosaur hanging from the ceiling. She hung it up herself. He didn't help her.

Me: Mom, that was a birthday present from Aggles.

Mom: Oh was it? I thought she hung it up there just to get at him. I somehow connected it with those drawings Mark did.

Me: (in shock) Mom! That dinosaur was a nice thing.

Mom: Well I wouldn't want to have that hanging in my living room.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

I keep a notebook and pen in bed because any ideas I have seem to come to me in the middle of the night. (This is one reason I was so charmed to read about Ryan.)

But sometimes–as you can see–it doesn't exactly pan out by the light of day. I'm sure last night's note was brilliant, if I could only decipher it.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Comfort Food

Everything is Waiting for You

Your great mistake is to act the drama
as if you were alone. As if life
were a progressive and cunning crime
with no witness to the tiny hidden
transgressions. To feel abandoned is to deny
the intimacy of your surroundings. Surely,
even you, at times, have felt the grand array;
the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding
out your solo voice. You must note
the way the soap dish enables you,
or the window latch grants you freedom.
Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.
The stairs are your mentor of things
to come, the doors have always been there
to frighten you and invite you,
and the tiny speaker in the phone
is your dream-ladder to divinity.

Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into
the conversation. The kettle is singing
even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots
have left their arrogant aloofness and
seen the good in you at last. All the birds
and creatures of the world are unutterably
themselves. Everything is waiting for you.

-- David Whyte
from Everything is Waiting for You 
©2003 Many Rivers Press

I read the poem a few days ago and was terrifically comforted by it. Then today I was reading Clarence Laughlin's First Principles of the Third World of Photography, and #9 and #10 made me think of the poem and go on a mad search for it.

9. If the photographer looks intensely enough, he can find the secret images of our fears, joys and desires. Everything is speaking to us - every object.

10. All things are interconnected, whether we see the connections or not.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Business Lunch

The Pizza

The Pals

The Projects

Sunday, March 07, 2010

And The Award for Best Pancake Goes To

Jane Underwood for her magnificent recipe which calls for only 3 ingredients (not counting salt). I've made it four times with great results each time–it's that simple. You'll need a banana, an egg, and some crispy almonds. You can get the details here. The thing about it is that it's gluten-free, so I thought Tom would be interested. But I've ended up eating all four pancakes myself and every time I ask him if he'd like me to cook one for him, he demurs.

When I sat down at the computer in order to announce the Best Pancake, I asked Tom if he'd turn on the TV so I could hear how they announce the awards at the Oscars. I wanted to announce the Best Pancake the same way.

Just as he turned it on they were announcing Best Director and getting ready to announce Best Film. What a satisfying final ten minutes of the show.

I just watched Logorama, the winner of the Best Animated Short. Did anyone else see it? What did you think?

Saturday, March 06, 2010

I Found My Religion

Hi Mary Ann!

I'm so glad you like the CD. I wasn't sure whether I should tell you about my morning yesterday, but now I will because today it strikes me as funny.

I hadn't been feeling great–getting over a cough?–so I decided to lie down for 10 minutes before I came over to meet you at the museum at 11:00. I jumped up when I saw it was 10:45 and raced out the door. I drove, and when I reached Clement and 43rd, I found myself behind a car going 15 mph. I thought, "Oh well, I'll be turning off at 34th Avenue . . ." but it seemed like eons until I got to 34th, and then the same poky car turned left onto 34th Ave, too, and reduced speed to 5 mph. So I followed for another 5 minutes–as you know I could have walked to the museum by this time– and when we had almost reached the Legion, I spotted a parking place in the lot out front. Then, the car in front of me turned into the lot and I knew deep down I should've just zoomed on by the lot, but I thought since it was a weekday morning that there might be two spaces available. The car then reduced speed to 2 mph and drove with great caution into the one empty space.

I gunned the engine past them out of the parking lot and turned right on El Camino del Mar. I drove on and on down, parked by the ditch and flew out of the car. I thought, "I am MILES from the museum." I noticed a narrow path going uphill near the car that looked as if it could've been a shortcut. I started following it even though it got narrower and narrower and grassier and muddier. I could see the concrete fence/barrier around the parking lot above, but couldn't figure out if the path went around it to the front or not. The path ended at a golf cart road and by that point I didn't want to waste time walking back down the hill, so I climbed the hill to the concrete enclosure. I looked around and didn't see anybody so I hoisted myself up from down below and clambered over the enclosure. I was hoping there wasn't a security camera.

I tried to brush the dirt and grass off the hems of my pants & boots, and ran across the road til I got to that weird split in front of the Court of Honor, and tried to imagine which desk you would've left the ticket at. Your e-mail, which i didn't read carefully, told me to go to the membership desk; I chose the will call desk. I walked way around to the left instead of zipping right under The Thinker like you told me. I quickly tried to comb the brambles out of my hair before I reached the door, and then stood in line at the will call desk. When it was my turn, 2 nice people were working there, but they couldn't find a ticket. (hmmm.... wonder why?) My heart sank. Had you forgotten? I then went over and stood in line at the membership desk, where one nice person and one not-so-nice person were selling memberships and describing every single detail of each and every type of membership to enraptured museum-goers. When it was finally my turn, I asked the nice one if she had a ticket for Linda. She didn't, and she interrupted the not-so-nice one who rolled her eyes around and said, "Not that I know of . . ." Then the nice one happened to look down in front of her and saw an envelope with "ticket for Linda" written on it in big hot pink letters.

She handed it to me, I pulled the sticker off, stuck it to my jacket and shot through the door. I heard a voice calling, "Ma'am!, Ma'am!" (Could that be me?) I turned and a kind hand reached out to me offering a visitor guide and handing me the sticker that had already fallen off my jacket.

I jumped down the stairs and headed toward the gift shop. I looked into the gift shop and didn't see you, but a woman was leaving the shop who wore a museum badge, so I said, "Excuse me . . . Could you tell me where I can find Mary Ann Stein?" She said, "Who's Mary Ann Stein?" I was taken aback. How could anyone not know who Mary Ann Stein is? She barked: "Is she a friend of yours, or does she work here?" I paused again and said, "She works in the gift shop," though of course you are also my friend. "Well go ask _____!" I must have paused again, because then she turned and pointed to the woman behind the register and repeated, "Go ask ______ ! She's the one standing right behind the register!"

As I walked in the woman behind the register came out to help a customer decide on a print. I waited for a break in the conversation and asked, "Excuse me . . . can you tell me where I can find Mary Ann Stein?" "I'm not sure she's working today." "Oh, I know she's working today." "She may be in the back then. I'll go check in a minute . . . Is she a friend of yours?" She and the customer decided on a print, and she went to "the back" to see if she could find the print, and to see if you were back there.

You WERE!!! And you came out and gave me a hug. You walked me straight to the Kenneth Patchen exhibit and it dawned on me that I had shown up at the tail end of your break, and that we wouldn't be able to talk. Then you suggested lunch and went back to check on your lunch schedule. You asked if I would want to stay and look around until 12:30. I wasn't certain if you were really sure about wanting to have lunch with me because I thought if so, that you would have asked to meet for lunch in the first place. But I really wanted to talk to you. But I thought I should go home in the time between and then come back, but the very thought of that task was too enormous. So I said I'd look around and asked if I should meet you in the cafe at 12:30. You said yes and scurried back to work.

I thought, well hell. Why don't I look around now that I'm here. I knew I wanted to see the Kenneth Patchen stuff anyway. So I returned to the Kenneth Patchen room. Really, there just was not enough on view. The books that he'd made which looked absolutely fascinating were behind glass, and the pages weren't even opened a tiny bit so you could even catch a glimpse of a fraction of them. The room was tiny and claustrophobic and dark and many of the things in the room weren't his (though they looked fantastic, too). There was a video running continuously on a computer in the corner that was way too loud. I sat down at it anyway to try to look, but they flicked by at lightening speed, too fast for me to read any of the images. And the voice, even though it was the voice of K.P. reading his poems, grated on the ears coming through the little computer speakers at such a volume. I thought if Kenneth's wife Miriam were to see this exhibit that she would be disappointed.

I was desperate to get out of there, but at the same time I had had enough of an introduction to Kenneth Patchen to know that I had to find out more about him–but that this claustrophobic, dark, noisy room that harbored his treasures but made them unavailable to me was not the place. So I left and wandered upstairs through the rooms full of brown art. When I got to the room with the big golden dome, a docent was giving a tour to 4 or 5 other decrepit women and saying, "And now I'm going to take you to another room were you'll find out how another wealthy family chose to spend their money. Follow me!"

I was reaching the end of my rope, but decided to visit the Cartier show. After all, I was here; plus my next door neighbor had been to see the Cartier exhibit and she asked me if I had seen it yet and I had to admit that I hadn't, and I know she wondered why since I'm an artist. So I went back downstairs and stood in line. A sweet little man zapped my ticket and I attempted to enter. I got far enough to see mobs and mobs of people with headphones on crowded around displays of tiaras and watches. A video did catch my eye–of Marilyn Monroe and then Liz Taylor trying on jewelry and posing, and I loved that–to me it was much more engaging than the jewelry itself–but I wasn't able to get a clear view of the video either.

After slinking back by the guy who had just zapped my ticket, I walked back over to your shop to let you know that I'd better head for home.

You were very understanding, but then came my worst memory of yesterday: You asked me what Gretchen was like–if I liked her, and I said, "No, not really." I couldn't believe the words I was hearing coming from my mouth! I quickly added, "But I love her paintings," and you said that you did too. That's when I knew I really needed to hightail it out of there and go home and get back in bed. I asked if the store carried anything about Kenneth Patchen that I could buy. You showed me the one book available, and apologized that it was in black & white. But that was OK–it saved my life yesterday. When I got home and got in bed with the book, I found my religion. I know for the first time in my life what to write when faced with a blank space for me to fill in my religion: Kenneth Patchen.

16 xxx's & 37 ooo's,

Kenneth Patchen

Friday, March 05, 2010

Divine Intervention

Laurie Colwin is the writer who I couldn't think of, and Home Cooking was the specific book. And Katy won the bottle of limoncello. But I was upset to find the book out of print. And then Sally said she had some books by Laurie Colwin. But this didn't happen to be one of them. And then I was certain Green Apple Books would have it, but they didn't.

Guess what I discovered today! Home Cooking is being re-issued on March 23, yes, March 23rd. That's 16 days from now.

March 6 8:01:55 AM (e-mail from Aggles): 
Did you remember that you gave me that book ~20 years ago? I still have it.

March 6 8:36:09 AM (reply to Aggles): 
NO!!! Do you like it? Can I borrow it?

March 6 8:48:31 AM (e-mail from Aggles): 
Oh I love it! HA! I've kept it all this time and believe me - I've done a lot or purging w/ my cookbooks! It's a very chatty kinda book so I don't really cook from it but it's got this recipe for Black Cake that I've always wanted to try. (Gosh 20 years and I still haven't made that cake. Wonder how much longer it will take? Hahahahaha!)

March 6 10:50 AM (text from Aggles): 
Book is in the mail!

March 6 10:51 AM (text to Aggles): 
Aggle, u r the best sister in the universe.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

20 Years Ago Today

Journal entry / March 3, 1990

Signed, Sealed, Delivered
You Make Me Feel
You're So Far Away
Let Me Get What I Want This Time

These songs were at the end of the Gershwin tape Roger sent me back at Halloween! I never even heard them til tonight!!! I danced to Stevie Wonder.

Today was not exactly a peak day.
My car was out of commission.
I washed some windows.
Started a painting of a bug eating bug food from a bowl.

I can't pick up Jamie tomorrow for breakfast. Piss. I'm stuck at home.

I ironed.
Slaves of New York by Tama Janowitz and a glass of wine saved my life.

Tom called. He and Armin seem to entertain a lot. That would be hard for me, you know what I mean?

I wrote to Don. He left me a message on my machine Thurs; but I couldn't really ever talk, so I didn't call him back.

Do people who like fiction like good food, as opposed to people who like electronics?

Tuesday, March 02, 2010