Paul Kantner, rhythm guitarist of Jefferson Airplane, once said, "If you can remember anything about the 60s, you weren't really there." Luckily, posters like this gem still exist as reminders of that craaazy time. The title of the poster is "Groovy Happening Sunday Afternoon", and it depicts the Summer of Love, the giant messy five-month music fest/love-in that took place in San Francisco in the summer of 1967.Read More
Hello! It's a short post today, as my photos can speak louder than my words. This is a new vignette in the shop, which I've titled "Murderous Rue Morgue Halloween Vignette". Isn't it gorgeous?
The collection includes a framed antique etching, a set of six Halloween classics, some pretty antique objects, along with two authentic skulls and two fake crows. Also included is a pair of wall brackets. (Only one is visible.) The candlesticks are so heavy, they're lethal. The little polished wood bottle holds precisely two drams of whatever liquid you prefer. And the pair of skulls was found in our woods (remember the coywolf?) and have been soaked in bleach for several weeks. They're lovely. Lovely bones.Read More
When I first walked into The Dovecote, I swore. Dang it! This is exactly the shop I want to open! As I filled my arms with ridiculously cool things at surprisingly palatable prices, I never stopped muttering like a jealous Othello.
Then I met the proprietress, Ellen Hildebrand, who's one cool chica, and I knew I was going to stalk her.Read More
I use an editorial calendar for my blog, and a long time ago, I penciled in "thoughts on thirty years of marriage" for today's post. So all last week while my husband and I were celebrating our anniversary with a trip to the Pacific Northwest, I kept watching him, puzzling over what wisdom I could share. He'd catch me staring at him as he tucked into a plate of meat and potatoes and ask, "What? What'd I do?"
So here's the first thing I'll share. When you're in love with a high metabolism, it's hard. My mother-in-law used to quip that what her son liked most about me was my family's chain of grocery stores.Read More
Today’s post begins with Temple Grandin, the world’s most famous spokesperson for autism and ends with me trying to sell a cow. If you are new here, this is the pattern. I pick something in the shop and use it as a creative writing prompt. Often, the writing is humorous. But no promises on that score today because Temple Grandin is serious about her purpose. Like many autistics, she’s a black and white kind of gal.
For those who don’t know, Temple Grandin is a professor of animal science at Colorado State University. She first made a name for herself as an inventor who designed more humane animal chutes that minimize livestock mistreatment and injury. She holds a phD in animal science, along with many honorary degrees, was named to the Time Magazine 100 list of most influential people, and has authored more than a dozen books, including The Loving Push, published this year. She gave a TED Talk which you can watch here. Or watch the HBO biopic with Clare Danes playing Temple Grandin.Read More
I grew up in Waukegan, Illinois, and on the prettiest street a block from my grade school, there is a quaint brick driveway leading up to the traditional colonial owned by Jane and John Freeland. I've known them nearly all my life, but hadn't seen them since my father's retirement party. Recently, they agreed to let me photograph their beautiful, art-filled home.
The house was built in 1929, but don’t be fooled by the demure exterior. Inside, a bold color scheme of black, white, and green provides a graphic backdrop for exotic curiosities and modern furniture collected over half a century by two people who just can’t stay put.Read More
Have you seen the new movie Florence Foster Jenkins? It's a nice film about true-life soprano wannabe Florence Jenkins whose onstage gumption almost makes up for her mewing like a cornered tomcat. But what interested me more about the film was the underlying story of Jenkin's syphilis, which she unknowingly contracted on her wedding night. She was eighteen. The film's director, Stephen Frears, sprinkles gentle references to the disease throughout -- we see a doctor's bedside visit, a hairless head, a scarred hand. The film is mostly a sentimental feel-good vehicle for Streep, and honestly, what a waste. She would have relished the chance to go a little deeper into the story of an ugly disease that forced Florence into a shameful and frustrated celibacy and that wrecked her musical ear, her heart, and her psyche. Now that would have been dramatic.Read More
WARNING: The first two paragraphs are long-form procrastination and not necessary to the story of the dinner party. If you have a short attention span, go directly to paragraph #3.
Do you procrastinate? Ugh, don't you hate yourself when you do? I publish a blog post every Friday morning. But on Thursdays, because I am a compulsive procrastinator, I put off the process of writing the blog post for as long as possible. Today I monkeyed around by looking at color swatches painted on the side of Patrick's house. For hours. It was the perfect procrastination activity because the task was concrete (pick a color), non-urgent (pick a color soon), and challenging enough to be a satisfactory way to procrastinate (pick a good color).Read More
When my son and future daughter-in-law expressed their wish to elope to Yosemite and return home to Wisconsin for a backyard soirée, I couldn't have been more thrilled. My hubbie and I got married in my parents' backyard nearly thirty years ago. What an honor that my son felt our home would be the perfect place to celebrate their nuptials.
It was a boatload of work but the work was fun! It all went by too quickly. I'm ready to do it again. All I need is another bride and groom. Anyone? Anyone?Read More
That's me in the photo, reclining on a mossy stone outcrop, binoculars at the ready to spot the next fabulous set of vintage china. Do you like my wading boots? You can't imagine the contortions I go through to get them off. Like Ross's leather pants.Read More
This is the first summer in sixteen years that we did not send a child to Camp Miniwanca. Tomorrow is the closing ceremony at this idyllic retreat on the shores of Lake Michigan, and I only know this because my sisters' kids are there. That's my niece in the photo above. She got her skipper's certification in sailing this year, just like I did in the summer of 1977.
Looking back, I'm not sure which was harder - the first day of camp experienced as a child or the last day of camp experienced as an adult.Read More
That's me in the hammock, inhaling a book that I'm hoping you will read too so we can all talk about it. It's titled From Mom to Me Again: How I Survived My First Empty-Nest Year and Reinvented the Rest of My Life by Melissa T. Shultz.
Before we get to the book, did you notice who else is in the hammock with me? Nary a soul. There is yet another mother bird in the garage with two babies in the nest she built atop the garage door engine, but as far as my human babies, they've flown elsewhere for the summer.Read More
You know that moment when you’re dating someone you really like and you come face-to-face with some bizarre relic from his or her childhood that you never saw coming? And that still holds sway in the present? At this point, you must make a choice. You can reach for the rose-colored glasses and accept Jeff's attendance at seventy-two Grateful Dead concerts as proof of his ability to really commit; you can convince yourself that Ellen’s collection of Virgin Mary candles is not in any way unholy; you can shrug off Chris’s bathtub full of floating Fisher Price Little People as innocent fun.
Or you can run.Read More
My mother. That's her in a Kurdish costume on a trip to Iran sometime in the 1970s. She is spunky. Fun. Curious. Outspoken. One-of-a-kind. In May, I read a short essay about her at the annual Listen to Your Mother show in Milwaukee.Read More
This photo appeared in Glamour Magazine on April 1, 1952. The eleven models clothed in varying shades of green strike poses of unstudied relaxation. Each woman is a separate entity but together, they create an impression of arrested action, like they are caught in a New York moment. In some ways, the set resembles a pre-war grande dame Upper East Side apartment stoop, complete with pigeons.
Before kids, I worked in fashion and we only ever shot one or two models at a time. It was never easy. So this photo floored me. Eleven models! Imagine trying to take test shots. And what about the complexity of the lighting? Every face is beautifully lit. And the details in the set amaze me. Look at the moss affixed to the door molding!Read More
Hello! I just overheard a conversation between my son and a friend about this weekend's wedding shindig. He told his pal, "We're all working our asses off but we're turning this house into a party castle."Read More
My sisters kindly threw a bridal shower for my daughter-in-law last month. A bridal or baby shower in our family used to entail a godforsaken food substitute known as "sandwich loaf." My grandmother made the seven-layer abomination and passed down the recipe to my aunts who bought into the fantasy that sandwich loaf is something that people actually wish to chew and swallow. It is in fact an egregious invention requiring special bread sliced horizontally onto which you spread egg salad, ham or spam salad, chicken salad with a little gristle and bone for protein, chunks of green olives, sprigs of parsley, and soggy walnuts all encased in thick pasty cream cheese.Read More
What a month. Needy babies everywhere! You might think I'm referring to the sons graduating (#2 and #4) or marrying (#1), but I'm talking about baby creatures in my yard.
In the shrubbery alongside our driveway, a mother duck built a nest and laid ten eggs. My neighbor and I fretted about the long distance to a water source but who are we to judge another mother's choices. My neighbor is up early and I'm up late, so we know everyone else's business, but somehow we missed the hatching of the ducklings because the nest is now empty. Well, not quite. There are three unhatched eggs just sitting there. Waiting.Read More
On Sunday, my oldest son married his lovely Jane and I was not there.
My first-born child, the boy who tried to exit my uterus three months early, who caused me to go on bed rest just long enough to grow him into a nearly 10-pound behemoth and grow my own addiction to The People’s Court, and whose very large mass broke my tailbone during delivery, and whose young doctor misunderstood the difference between stitching my episiotomy and stitching close my anus, and whose overall departure left my nether regions so traumatized I was unable to sit for a month afterwards and had to nurse on my side like a mama pig. That son.
This was a planned elopement. Not the ladder-up-to-the-window sneaking-off kind of elopement but a desire for shared solitude to be followed by a family celebration back home.
My husband and I thought the plan suited their personalities. Plus, it’s so romantic and sacred. My parents did the same thing over fifty years ago.
Then, their day came and they excitedly texted a photo from Yosemite and I cried. I wished I could have been there.
When I called my mom, she said, “Well, I guess your father and I started something, didn’t we. But at least you got a photo. Your poor grandmother got a telegram and that was it.”
Don't misunderstand me. We are very happy! I was especially thrilled to hear that a small herd of deer followed them in Yosemite as they walked in their finery. My husband and I were visited by a bunch of deer on our wedding day as well. So, a good omen.
And the tears are mostly happy and just a smidge sad. I was taken by surprise by how much I wanted to be with them. Like getting caught in an unexpected summer rain shower that comes and goes quickly and everything is a little more nourished and green afterwards.
Speaking of the weather, on to the party! It’s going to be in the backyard so I have sent out daily pleas to our higher being with the reminder that my name, Mithra, means God of Sun. Not rain. Not drizzle. Sun.
I so enjoyed sitting down with Jane last winter, sketching out the details of a garden party . Now we are in the midst of planting, weeding, trimming, in preparation. I remember planning my wedding and how much I loved all the details -- especially the flowers and the invitations.
Nick and Jane's invitation came from Minted, of course. They have been my source for holiday cards and invitations for the last five years. I never imagined ordering wedding invites online but Minted has the process down to a near science. Jane and I worked on the phrasing, getting ideas from the hundreds of samples on Minted's website. Customizing the design went smooth as silk. When the Minted box arrived, I rushed for the camera. I love this company, partly because the founder is a badass Iranian woman, and partly because they support independent designers.
Just so you know, this post is sponsored by Minted, and I would like to apologize to Minted for writing about episiotomies and anuses in their sponsored post. But they are in the business of wedding and birth announcements. I think they know what they’re getting themselves into. And really, is there an expiration date on a good birth story?
If you like reading posts with medical terminology, a swear word or two, and some pretty photos, join me every Friday by subscribing below.
Last weekend, we drove to Iowa to celebrate my nephew Graham's high school graduation. I want to share some photos of Graham's artwork. He is a talented ceramicist with an affinity for science. Or is he a talented scientist with an affinity for art? It doesn't matter. His future is bright and time will tell which direction he takes.
But it is worth delving into his earlier days. This boy, born with mad dexterity, struggled in grade school to sit still at his desk. He couldn't always control his impulses. He was the type of student who could have fallen through the cracks in a standardized system that sometimes fails kids who don't fit the mold. But he didn't.Read More