Landmarked Gingerbread Brownstone, Floor-Through, DFP, Original Moldings

Today is the day that the Christmas season officially starts! Sweetheart and I are getting our tree today and the girls are coming over tonight for some hometown Colonial Williamsburg crafting (O it’s marvelous to be from Virginia, you can embrace pioneer spirit and make complicated decorations out of fruit and vines totally unironically), I’ve got Vince Gauraldi cued up, and also a strange and wonderfully joyous new-to-me collection of Swedish Christmas Carols I stumbled on delightedly from Door16 (free downloadable! God Jul!). With all of this in the works, how utterly perfect was it that my friend Renee posted this staggeringly lovely, utterly pitch perfect Gingerbread Brownstone on her wonderful (aspirational) food blog Kitchen Table Scraps. It’s like a scale model of my house! I can just picture Sweetheart and I carrying a miniature tree in through the basement door under the stairs… and I can almost see Nipsey Russell peeking through the spun sugar windowpanes through the gingerbread “window guards” (a nice gentle Brooklynese way of saying bars), in fact the giant “Whisk” installation might be right next door in the to-scale-Pratt-Sculpture-Garden. Bike Parking to the side.


Under One Small Star

Under One Small Star

My apologies to chance for calling it necessity.
My apologies to necessity if I’m mistaken, after all.
Please, don’t be angry, happiness, that I take you as my due.
May my dead be patient with the way my memories fade.
My apologies to time for all the world  overlook each second.
My apologies to past loves for thinking that the latest is the first.
Forgive me, distant wars, for bringing flowers home.
Forgive me, open wounds, for pricking my finger.
I apologize for my record of minuets to those who cry from the depths.
I apologize to those who wait in railway stations for being asleep today at 5a.m.
Pardon me, hounded hope, for laughing from time to time.
Pardon me, deserts, that I don’t rush to you bearing a spoonful of water.
And you, falcon, unchanging year after year, always in the same cage, your gaze always fixed
on the same point in space,
forgive me, even if it turns out you were stuffed.
My apologies to great questions for small answers.
Truth, please don’t pay me much attention.
Dignity, please be magnanimous.
Bear with me, O mystery of existence, as I pluck the occasional thread from your train.
Soul, don’t take offense that I’ve only got you now and then.
My apologies to everything that I can’t be everywhere at once.
My apologies to everyone that I can’t be each woman and each man.
I know I won’t be justified as long as I live, since I myself stand in my own way.
Don’t bear me ill will, speech, that I borrow weighty words,
then labor heavily so that they might seem light.

Wislawa Szymborska

From Ravenel, whose capacity for loving and giving seems infinite.


WordPress isn’t allowing me to post images right now, so my “cheeses-and-bizarre-liquors-of-the-mediterranean-roundup-welcome-back-to-my-new-york-nest” post will have to wait until WP support comes out of their post-turkey comas. In the meantime: When we were in Rome every night around sunset clouds of starlings would swell up out of nowhere and swarm, silhouetted against the soft slant light of the winter sky, moving like ink through water, like schools of fish, a whisper of wings looking to gather together and roost on some warm marble. Perhaps it was the wine or the wonder, but I couldn’t get over how stunningly beautiful they were. Upon our return, my Mama sent me this amazing video. Apparently, a choreographed swarm of starlings is called a “murmuration”. The word itself sounds and feels like heart, which is how you feel when you see it. Marvelous.

Murmuration from Sophie Windsor Clive on Vimeo.

Carnivorous Plants? Grow House Grow!

Ever since getting a private tour (with wine!) of Golden Gate Park’s Conservatory of Flowers exhibit on wicked plants, I’ve had a healthy respect for carnivorous greenery. Did you know that a Venus Flytrap can snap shut in less than a second ? Or that a pitcher plant can kill and eat a monkey (A MONKEY. it’s a plant!)? I apparently share this sense of wonder-at-the-awesomeness with Brooklyn based artist Kate Deedy of Grow House Grow.  Her glorious hand-illustrated wallpapers celebrate women and science, history, literature, and the supernatural- all with an impeccable sense of spatial relation. The designs are the exact right blend of playful and macabre (while also being totally beautiful). Since I can’t wallpaper my (rental) apartment- le sigh-, I decided to get a roll of this carnivorous-plant-paper to line my desk… so I can gaze with wonder at the power of a man eating plant all day.Check out all of the other gorgeous papers here.

Blue Bottle Coffee

Even though summer is lingering as we always wish it would, confusing trees whose leaves blushed too early, thank goodness the transition from iced cold brew to hot-cha-cha coffee is still imminent. Jocie and I met for a brisk picnic lunch on The Highline and she, with a little persuasion, gave me an ad hoc architectural walking tour (awesome!). En route, we decided that if we were going to discuss Highline Architecture 101 (encompassing topics as diverse as “barrier elements mirror forms of both the in situ natural and industrial” and/or “life/work integration of public and private spaces”) that we definitely needed some coffee. ASAP. For my own life/work integration, I sort of, really, very much need, want, and have to have at least one of these single cup fast-as-lightning drip brewers from Blue Bottle Coffee. All I need is gravity and (in this case) the rarefied sideways light of the Highline over 10th avenue. Simple as that.

Sweet Autumn Clem

New this year: Sweet Autumn Clematis has set up residence in the bush/bustled in the hedgerow that is right up against the outdoor shower house at the beach house (a.k.a.: the only place with power in all of Virginia after Irene). These gorgeous, simple, and— yes sweet— white flowers smell like honeysuckle crossed with jasmine and maybe just a bit of earthy beet pollen (is this what Jitterbug Perfume actually smells like??). There might not be anything more divine than showering in the dark on a full moon night with a bit of honey on the breeze. Seriously.

Put a Bird on it.

Oh! How I love thee, effortlessly floaty fine feathered seaglass silk chiffon dressing gown with little oiseaus all over it! Need. Want. Must Have. The entire Beautiful Bottoms line is gorgeous (and available at Journelle, natch).
Put a bird on it.

Our Valley

Our Valley

We don’t see the ocean, not ever, but in July and August
when the worst heat seems to rise from the hard clay
of this valley, you could be walking through a fig orchard
when suddenly the wind cools and for a moment
you get a whiff of salt, and in that moment you can almost
believe something is waiting beyond the Pacheco Pass,
something massive, irrational, and so powerful even
the mountains that rise east of here have no word for it.


You probably think I’m nuts saying the mountains
have no word for ocean, but if you live here
you begin to believe they know everything.
They maintain that huge silence we think of as divine,
a silence that grows in autumn when snow falls
slowly between the pines and the wind dies
to less than a whisper and you can barely catch
your breath because you’re thrilled and terrified.


You have to remember this isn’t your land.
It belongs to no one, like the sea you once lived beside
and thought was yours. Remember the small boats
that bobbed out as the waves rode in, and the men
who carved a living from it only to find themselves
carved down to nothing. Now you say this is home,
so go ahead, worship the mountains as they dissolve in dust,
wait on the wind, catch a scent of salt, call it our life.

Philip Levine

our new poet laureate.


from Meags, who I do love so very much, and who I wish I was having adventures with, constantly.

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