Sunday, December 06, 2009

A Brief Interruption in Programming

Piefurcation will be down for the next few days while we (the whole family) wrestle the dreaded swine flu bug. Hoping to be back soon.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Starting Place #2

John Baldessari: "I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art," 1971

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Goodbye Old, Semi-Reliable Friend

Its' gone. A stylish car with character. That was always fun to drive. Things started going way wrong with it in the past 5 years. There was the time the air conditioner went crazy and released a terrible smelling something into the car. We got the heater/air conditioner fixed but then it only worked on like levels 2 & 4 (maybe). Plus the knob wouldn't stay on. There was last year, the night I met Dorothy in person for the first time ever and we went out to the theater and the back window fell down into the door and wouldn't come up again, and so, I had to rely on the dicey security of the parking lot and put all the carseats, etc. in the trunk. Not sure what Dorothy thought, but she was polite and encouraging. Then the door handle fell of the same door. Then we got it fixed and it fell off again. We took it back, got it fixed again. And it fell off. Then we gave up. The window was also fixed only it never went down again. And you couldn't open the door.

And then, this year, yes, came the disparaging remarks from friends which I'm really sorry the poor Passat had to hear. She did her best. This was a very fine car in it's day. And she was, as I said, very fun to drive. There was the night we went up to 120 on 280 to get away from some weird guy who was cruising me at 2am in an area where someone had been shot a few weeks earlier. She never left me stranded on the Bay Bridge during the evening commute like another car I could mention.

Well, she won't have to hear those unkind remarks again. She is gone. Gone. And I? I'm no longer a Driver. Now it's all Zoom! Zoom! Automatic. I miss driving a stick. Kristin Linklater once made the observation that I was very fond of the shift. And it is true. I am. Truly. I am a stick shift girl.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Shopping the Pantry Challenge #2

A bit less involved than the last. Just a box of cereal that's been in the pantry for a year.

Unfortunately, as you can see, it has expired. Wah.

But I thought, what the hey or is it what the hay, I'd give it a try.
The 2 year old whose toes those are was game too.

Sadly, this challenge does not have a successful outcome.

But yeah. The cereal really has expired. Not stale. But it has this weird, slightly bitter after taste that comes when you're eating food that hasn't shocked with preservatives.

See here it is soaking up the milk. Rather fast, I might add.

The 2 year old took one bite, shook his head and handed his bowl back. I tried to force down a few more spoonfuls. But really, we're not starving here so the motivation to finish the box and endure the taste is fairly low. I did find a bag of granola that was really terrible when we tried to eat it as a breakfast cereal. I think I'm going to experiment with that next.

Oh. Right. Yeah. Totally blew NaBloPoMo. I'm going to keep up posting as much as I can but it's a busy time. I'm buckling down on the thesis and trying to push out 3 chapters, collaborating on a new performance project, helping out with NaPlWriMo, trying to write a play, and oh, you know maintain the life. Head spinning.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Shopping in the Pantry Challenge #1

Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup

I wanted to make chicken and rice for the kids. Typically, besides the obvious, recipes call for some combination of the condensed Campbell's "Soup is good food" variety - cream of chicken, mushroom, or celery. I've tried the organic remakes of these kitchen staples with fairly unimpressive results. Seems there's nothing like the Campbell's for consistency and flavor. But I've stopped using Campbell's because at least two of those soups contain MSG. Such a betrayal. And probably, as it turns out, one of the ingredients, along with marinating in tin, that's responsible for the soup's unique flavor.

For fun, I decided to look online to see if I could find an alternate recipe. And I did. Here. This recipe calls for using onion and garlic powder, along with dried parsley and poultry seasoning. I used actual vegetables. As you can see:

I sautéed some garlic and onion. I also added a bit of salt and
some thyme because I didn't have poultry seasoning. Then I added a little chicken broth.

Then half a cup of milk.

Now here is where it gets tricky. The recipe calls for mixing 3/4 cup of flour with the remaining cup of milk. When you do that you get something resembling wall paper paste or paper-mâché and you might want to back out at this step. Remember you're making condensed soup, right? So go ahead and add that mixture to the onion, garlic milk/broth in the pan and whisk it like mad. It will soon have the same consistency as its canned counterpart. I tasted it at this point and it was really close. I think it could have used a bit more salt, garlic, onion, and thyme as well as some celery. I didn't use parsley either because I didn't have any dried or fresh, but that would have been good too.

Next. This is where the Shopping in the Pantry Challenge comes in. I added a can of organic cream of mushroom soup that's been sitting on the shelf for at least a year. I've used this in a casserole before and it's a bit watery and under-flavored which is what prompted me to want to make a decent homemade alternative. I mixed in this soup and then I pureed it for about five minutes because I wanted to eliminate any trace of vegetable or herb matter that might make the kids freak out and reject the real object of the experiment: the chicken and rice casserole.

Once this was made, it took like fifteen minutes, I made the chicken and rice from this recipe which originally came from cook's recipes, but I can't find the exact link anymore. Seems it's disappeared into some wormhole. Good luck trying to find it. Luckily I emailed it to myself.

Cook 1/4 cup chopped onion in 1 tablespoon butter until
tender. In 1 1/2 quart casserole dish, mix onion, 1 3/4 cup
chicken broth, 1/2 cup chicken, 1 cup shredded cheese and
1/2 cup uncooked rice. Cover. Bake at 375 degrees for 1
hour. Serves 4.

I didn't put the onion in it. Just the chicken, rice, cheese and some chicken broth (not enough as it turned out) and baked it for an hour. The kids initially balked at eating it, but relented and even admitted to liking it. The great thing is that it leaves them open to trying other mixtures of rice and chicken like curry and arroz con pollo. Here's to expanding their palates one meal at a time.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Better Late than Out of the Game

I'm doing it. Or at least I'm going to get further along in NaBloPoMo than last year, which was, I think, all of one day or maybe even zero.

I've made of list of things to write about:
Weekly writing exercise - continuing to post a free writing exercise.
Clutter Busting - chronicling my ongoing battle and success with clutter and organization.
Shopping in the Pantry Challenge - Lot's of stuff in the pantry and the fridge that sounded like a good idea at the time. The challenge is to find a way to use it either as it is or to incorporate it into a recipe (kind of my own Quickfire Challenge).
Mondo Beyondo Part 1.
Fun with Pie Dough - Is there a perfect pie recipe? I'm going to find out.
Random Acts of Pieness - Some lucky person is going to get a pie. A pie! Will it be you?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

found: going through old emails. yeah. that's how it rolls.


This is what life does. It lets you walk up to

the store to buy breakfast and the paper, on a

stiff knee. It lets you choose the way you have

your eggs, your coffee. Then it sits a fisherman

down beside you at the counter who says, Last night,

the channel was full of starfish. And you wonder,

is this a message, finally, or just another day?

Life lets you take the dog for a walk down to the

pond, where whole generations of biological

processes are boiling beneath the mud. Reeds

speak to you of the natural world: they whisper,

they sing. And herons pass by. Are you old

enough to appreciate the moment? Too old?

There is movement beneath the water, but it

may be nothing. There may be nothing going on.

And then life suggests that you remember the

years you ran around, the years you developed

a shocking lifestyle, advocated careless abandon,

owned a chilly heart. Upon reflection, you are

genuinely surprised to find how quiet you have

become. And then life lets you go home to think

about all this. Which you do, for quite a long time.

Later, you wake up beside your old love, the one

who never had any conditions, the one who waited

you out. This is life's way of letting you know that

you are lucky. (It won't give you smart or brave,

so you'll have to settle for lucky.) Because you

were born at a good time. Because you were able

to listen when people spoke to you. Because you

stopped when you should have and started again.

So life lets you have a sandwich, and pie for your

late night dessert. (Pie for the dog, as well.) And

then life sends you back to bed, to dreamland,

while outside, the starfish drift through the channel,

with smiles on their starry faces as they head

out to deep water, to the far and boundless sea. - Eleanor Lerman

Writing Exercise: Five Sentences Continued 2

And we're back.

I hope you haven't lost those five sentences because I have. Gotta get a real notebook.

So anyway you have your new sentences:
1. She threw her milk on the floor.
2. 'I'm not going to the park,' she pouted.
3. The house breathes memories of days long past.
4. The stair runner is threadbare in the middle.
5. The deer nipped at the short grass.
6. A soft breeze ruffled through the oaks.

Cross out two words in each line. Go with your first impulse.
Rework the lines so they sound pleasing to you.

Mine look like this:
1. She threw milk on the floor.
2. 'not going to the park.'
3. The house breathes memories.
4. The stair runner is threadbare.
5. Deer nip at the short grass.
6. A soft breeze ruffles the oaks.

Now cross out four entire lines. I chose the last four, but you can choose any four lines you wish. So here's what I have:
1. She threw milk on the floor.
2. 'not going to the park.'

Rewrite these to lines so they sound pleasing to you. Leave a blank line between them.
1. She threw her milk.
3. 'not going to the park. Hmmph.'

Write a new second line that goes with the two existing ones.
1. She threw her milk.
2. Crossed arms over chest and stamped her right foot hard.
3. 'not going to the park. Hmmph.'

Cross out all but five words total.
1. Threw
2. Milk
3. Arms
4. Park
5. Hmmph

Choose one of the five words. Go with your first impulse. I chose:
1. Arms

Write your word at the top of a blank page. This is the title/topic for your next free-writing practice. Write for ten minutes. Go.

I'll post my results in the Comments section. If you'd like to share yours, please post them in Comments.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


I'll be going out of town for the next week and won't be updating. When I get back I'll post more writing exercises and finish where I left off with the Five Lines, and have pictures and stories from our latest adventure.


Friday, October 09, 2009

Writing Exercise: Five Sentences Continued

So by now you should have your five sentences. The next thing you're going to do is construct 3 new lines using words from the first five sentences. The words can be in any order and you can add new words if you need to. Leave a blank line after each of your new lines.

This is what it might look like. Here are my first five sentences.
1. Throw everything out.
2. This would be easier if I weren't being interrupted by kids asking for milk or to watch episode six of Star Wars.
3. Sort, sift, stop holding onto the past; it serves no purpose but to weigh you down.
4. The house casts a long shadow over the deer grass.
5. She has a memory of red velvet cake and being felt up in the church basement.

I circled the following words.
throw, this, easier, being, interrupted, kids, milk, sift, stop, holding, past, go, house, casts, long, shadow, deer, grass, she, memory, velvet, cake, felt, basement

Here are my new sentences:
1. She threw her milk on the floor.
3. The house breathes memories of days long past.
5. The deer nipped at the short grass.

Now. On the lines you've left blank, write a new second, fourth and sixth line that goes with the line above it.

Here's what it will look like.
1. She threw her milk on the floor.
2. 'I'm not going to the park,' she pouted.
3. The house breathes memories of days long past.
4. The stair runner is threadbare in the middle.
5. The deer nipped at the short grass.
6. A soft breeze ruffled through the oaks.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Writing Exercise: Five Sentences

This is the start of a new feature at Piefurcation inspired by the 3 amazing women I had dinner with last Tuesday. We met through an online workshop called Mondo Beyondo and found we all have an interest in writing and especially in establishing a regular, writing practice. Back before I had children I used to try to fill up a notebook a month with writing generated from various exercises ala Natalie Goldberg. This practice was central to my work as a playwright - it helped generate new material and allowed me to develop new ways of writing. Since I had my first child, nearly 10 years ago, that practice has dropped off considerably. To a trickle and for the past 3 years there's been a near drought. While I'm at no loss for ideas for plays, I do miss regular writing practice and so am happy to use this blog as a way of bringing it back into my life. This week I'm going to start with a simple exercise from The Writer's Path: A Guidebook for Your Creative Journey. Since the exercise is made up of a series of short steps, I'm going to post a step everyday. I suggest doing this in a notebook and using a fast writing pen instead of on a computer, composing on a computer is different than writing freehand. If you like you can post your daily results in Comments, so we can see how your exercise develops. Sharing your writing is an option, not a requirement, so don't feel like you can't participate if you'd rather not post your work. 'K?

Now go do: write! I'll post my sentences in Comments too.

Five Line Exercise
Quickly write down five lines about whatever pops into your head. Don't edit or cross out. Really. Just write. Your lines don't have to be complete sentences or even grammatically correct. It can even be one word or a sentence fragment. After you're finished, you can post the results in Comments if you like. And hang onto your lines because we'll be using them for the rest of the exercise.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Watch Your Dreams

Last night I dreamed about Dick Cheney. I stowed away on Dick's own personal pontoon cruise ship-type vessel and was captured. Next thing I'm playing Gertrude (as in from Hamlet) to this hot hot hot Claudius with like wavy, silky brown locks that I am like really enjoying touching. Turns out it's Cheney. Ewwww. I kissed Dick Cheney in my dreams!

So then, I'm in this terrorist education facility. Only it's a strip club with a massive stage and guys handing out free beer to everyone.
"No imports, only domestic," this guy giggles and points to the strippers as explanation when I state my beer preference. "I'll take a glass of water."

So I'm hanging with Cheney and his buds and thinking wow, Dick isn't such a bad guy when he ups and throws water on my crotch. I'm all, WTF Dick? I'm angry and I try to leave, but Dick is having none of that. He offers me some stain remover and threatens me with rendition. What follows are many really frustrating moments of sleeping and waking. Edging towards black hole-like darkness.

And now I have a splitting headache.

One from Henry

Life moves on, whether we act as cowards or heroes. Life has no other discipline to impose, if we would but realize it, than to accept life unquestioningly. Everything we shut our eyes to, everything we run away from, everything we deny, denigrate or despise, serves to defeat us in the end. What seems nasty, painful, evil, can become a source of beauty, joy, and strength, if faced with an open mind. Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognize it as such. - Henry Miller

Monday, September 21, 2009

Worms, Roxanne. Worms!

So the corn has arrived. We get a bunch of it in our CSA basket every week. And it is good. But I hate shucking it because there are these hairless caterpillar-like worms that invade every ear and sometimes, I don't know how, they make their way out of the box and onto the floor where when I don't have my glasses on, it looks like there's a curly noodle on the floor, and of course, I forget that every time I bend down to pick up a curly noodle these days it's usually a worm and so I'm constantly picking up these worms and freaking out. Ack! It's the touch of their skin that is so shocking. When my daughter mentioned this phenomenon to one of the farm interns she seemed truly offended. Like how dare we speak ill of the corn. Cue Children of the Corn.

But then also: there's the peeling back the husks and anticipating the worm. And finding the worm and removing the worm - without touching it! Without touching it! 'Cuz honestly, they feel like they would just pop like a ripe cherry tomato or a piece of bubble wrap. It's not right. I don't remember this from when I was little and my family had a big garden. But maybe it's because we lived next to a big agro corn farm that most definitely used pesticide and our corn prolly got dosed when the spray drifted our way. Good times.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Starting Place or Learning To Let Go and Mean It

A man in our society is not left alone. Not in the cities. Not in the woods. We must have commerce with our fellows, and that commerce is difficult and uneasy. I do not understand how to live in this society. I don't get it. Each person has an enormous effect. Call it environmental impact if you like. Where my foot falls, I leave a mark, whether I want to or not. We are linked together, each to each. You can't breathe without taking a breath from somebody else. You can't smile without changing the landscape. And so I ask the question: Why is theatre so ineffectual, unnew, not exciting, fussy, not connected to the thrilling recognition possible in dreams?

It's a question of spirit. My ungainly spirit thrashes around inside me making me feel lumpy and sick. My spirit is this moment dissatisfied with the outward life I inhabit. Why does my outward life not reflect the enormity of the miracle of existence? Why are my eyes blinded with always new scales, my ears stopped with thick chunks of fresh wax, why are my fingers calloused again? I don't ask these questions lightly. I beat on the stone door of my tomb. I want out! Some days I wake up in a tomb, some days on a grassy mound by a river. Today, I woke up in a tomb. Why does my spirit sometimes retreat into a deathly closet? Perhaps it is not my spirit leading the way at such times, but my body, longing to lie down in marble gloom, and rot away.

Theatre is a safe place to do the unsafe things that need to be done. When it's not a safe place, it's abusive to actors and audiences alike. When its safety is used to protect cowards masquerading as heroes, it's a boring travesty. An actor who is truly heroic reveals the divine that passes through him, that aspect of himself that he does not own and cannot control. The control and the artistry of the heroic actor is in service to his soul.

We live in an era of enormous cynicism. Do not be fooled.

Don't act for money. You'll start to feel dead and bitter.

Don't act for glory. You'll start to feel dead, fat, and fearful.

We live in an era of enormous cynicism. Do not be fooled.

You can't avoid all the pitfalls. There are lies you must tell. But experience the lie. See it as something dead and unconnected you clutch. And let it go.

Act from the depth of your feeling imagination. Act for celebration, for search, for grieving, for worship, to express that desolate sensation of wandering through the howling wilderness.

Don't worry about Art.

Do these things, and it will be Art. - John Patrick Shanley, preface to the The Big Funk

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Just saw the woman who gave me the worst news I've ever received in my life. Pushing her grocery cart through the store. I passed by her once and swung back around to look at her again. She looked so familiar and yet I couldn't quite place her. She passed me in the baby food aisle then turned her cart around maneuvering it between me and an elderly gentleman who was contemplating the cereal. Looking at a jar of Pumpkin pie puree, it came to me. We passed each other in the frozen food section. And again in dairy, in produce, in cheese, in meat and in bread. And each time my stomach turned over and my knees felt weak. I couldn't stop looking at her face.

Because what never occurred to me before is this: what it must be like for you. To deliver such news over and over again. To say those words so many times, so many times that you'd never remember all the faces of the people you'd delivered it to. Words so devastating that if any of its receivers passed you in the grocery store and remembered you, they'd pretend you didn't exist. Would wish you did not. What conversation is to be made?

Oh, it's you. Remember when you...made that little call...quite a time wasn't it?

What must it be like to be you? You whose job it was to bring the news, to make the call, to hear the sobs on the other end of the line, to say the I'm sorrys, the no one likes to hear such newses. You who've said the same words so many times that I could hardly think you'd still mean it - the I'm sorry. The calm voice cool with professional distance and sincerity tinged with the absolute impossibility of the outcome of your news being anything other than what it was. The sentence irrevocable. It was you who said the words, so powerful - no incantation could be stronger, more life altering. So powerful, that even now, 7 years after, the sight of you makes the blood automatically drain from my body and I feel like collapsing on the floor. Over and over. Baby food, frozen food, dairy, produce, cheese, meat, bread.

Checkout. Checkout. Checkout.

This falling down inside as I remember that moment on the phone. And the realization that it is only that very moment that I share in common with the person who heard those words as they exited your mouth. That the person who heard those words was washed away by them never to surface again. Such are the effects of time travel.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl

Was it ever. A calamitous, completely avoidable environmental disaster of biblical proportions perpetrated by Washington and executed by scoundrels and idealists alike. Steinbeck does not even come close to conveying the horror of the dustbowl. This is page after page of misery and ever-deepening despair. You have to admire those who stuck it out. Egan's prose is a bit boiler-plate, but he gets the story and does a fine job of connecting how politically driven it was. Want to see the origins of our environmental and farm policies? They start here.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Pina Bausch

I've been thinking about this poem all day since I read about the death of Pina Bausch and watched clips from her work on youtube.

The Summer Day
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean—
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life? - Mary Oliver

You can see the rest of this piece here.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Egon Was Wrong

Dave Eggers talks optimistically about print, the internet and the viability of newspapers.
To some extent all the doom about the printed word is a class thing. Wealthier kids who can afford their own phones and computers are probably spending more time online and in some cases, less time with books, but the kids we work with are honestly pretty enamored of books and newspapers. It means a lot to them to have their work between two covers, an actual book that they can see on a shelf next to other books. There’s a mystique about the printed word. And the students who come into 826 every day really read. These middle schoolers have read everything. Judy Blume came into the center in San Francisco one day, and she was mobbed. Fifty kids swarmed her. They practically tackled her. Same thing with Daniel Handler, who writes the Lemony Snicket books. These are by and large kids whose parents immigrated here from Latin America, and English isn’t spoken at home. But they’ve read all thirteen Lemony Snicket books. So I have optimism about print because I see these kids and how much they love to read. And they work on our student newspapers and anthologies and a dozen other print projects. They really have a thing for print. And I do too. I fear sometimes we’re actually giving up too soon. We adults have to have faith. And we have to rededicate ourselves to examining what in any given issue of our daily papers is really speaking to anyone under 18.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Fractured Fairy Tales: Not Quite Happily Ever After

We knew it couldn't be true, didn't we?

Didn't we?

Some day la la la la... dee da la dee da la dee da da da.

Well...maybe some of us didn't.

I thought about this picture this morning when I realized that several of the women in my exercise class look remarkably similar. As in I couldn't tell them apart. As in even after I stared at them for several minutes. Which makes me wonder about the aesthetics of plastic surgery - does each doctor have his or her own personal signature? You can tell a Rembrandt from a Da Vinci, no? So taking into account the limitations of the materials themselves, every doctor would presumably have an individual style based on his or her surgical skills and personal aesthetics and of course, of course, taking into account what the client wants. But I'm just wondering, ultimately, whose vision gets realized?

The photo is part of Dina Goldstein's Fallen Princess series. You can see more of her work here.
The project was inspired by my observation of three-year-old girls, who were developing an interest in Disney's Fairy tales. As a new mother I have been able to get a close up look at the phenomenon of young girls fascinated with Princesses and their desire to dress up like them. The Disney versions almost always have sad beginning, with an overbearing female villain, and the end is predictably a happy one. The Prince usually saves the day and makes the victimized young beauty into a Princess. - Dina Goldstein

Friday, June 12, 2009

Hot Fun

It has arrived. Summer break. School's out. Yesterday was the first day and I barely survived. There was screaming and tantrum throwing and biting and refusing to eat food except for cereal and oh I'm so bored there's nothing to do and chasing each other around the house and jumping on the bed and refusing to take naps and looking for lost stuffed doggies CARTER HAS IT CARTER HAS IT and opening up the bedroom window and talking to the birds instead of napping a whole hour of not napping and then falling asleep and watching Scooby Doo and making up a board game and fighting about who's going to carry the water and the snacks when we go out and geocaching and grocery shopping and begging for Fruity Pebbles and Cinnamon Toast Crunch because there's a Lego car inside What? This isn't a really a Lego and they only print all those cars on the box to make you think that there's going to be different ones inside but it's only the same car and getting the lego car out of the excessive packaging and riding bikes and taking a bath and playing babies and complaining about wearing a sweater and reading books and cleaning up toys and making noodle soup for dinner and carrot soup for lunch and protests about eating leftover mac and cheese and how much liquid it actually takes to revive the sad, slightly fading orangeness of the stuff and going to the CSA for our vegie basket and more fighting and more tantrums and more biting and losing the lego car and then cupcakes CUPCAKES I'M NOT WAITING I'M EATING MINE NOW MOM SHE'S NOT WAITING SHE'S EATING HERS NOW THAT'S NOT POLITE MOM MOM MOM I'M TOO HUNGRY I CAN'T WAIT I'M EATING MY CUPCAKE NOW NOW NOW and fighting and biting and a time out for the 2yr old and playing instead of getting ready for bed and brushing teeth and playing instead of going to sleep and finally finding the missing stuffed doggie CARTER HAS IT CARTER HAS IT and reading stories about fairies and good dogs and hair pulling and giggling and slaps in the face and kicks in the head and snuggling. It's morning. And it starts all over again.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

DIY: Business Cards

This month I've been Ms. Workshop Girl - taking a workshop every Saturday. Today I took Jordan Ferney's letterpress class and printed my own business cards. There were six of us in the class and the cards were done all together on one polymer plate. So we divided the printing up amongst ourselves and each printed a chunk for the whole group.

Here's a partial proof of mine:

Pretty groovy, eh? You should see what they really look like. I'm very impressed with myself.

Check out this article on Letterpress printing in Forbes, it explains a little bit about the process.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

White On White: The Pilot

White on White: The Pilot
(just like being there)
Eve Sussman & Rufus Corporation
Winkleman Gallery
New York
May 15 – June 20, 2009
Opening: Friday, May 15, 6-8 PM
Gallery Hours: Tuesday - Saturday, 11-6 PM

Friday, May 08, 2009

Screamin' Greenies

Our new strategy for getting the kids to eat vegetables is pretty easy. For us at least.

1. Everything goes on the plate. A little bit of something on every kid's plate.

2. You don't have to eat it. But it must be allowed on the plate. Not near it. Not on the napkin. Or flung across the room. On the plate.

3. No editorializing. No complaining about the food on your plate. This is perhaps my favorite piece because it applies to adults too.

4. You can run, but you can't hide. You don't even have to finish what's on your plate. But if you don't try the vegies, there will be no dessert (on week nights it's no bedtime cookie).

We were doing okay until the night I put broccoli on the kids' plates.
Olivia: Do you expect us to eat that?
Elizabeth: Why, yes, I do. I think you'll like it, Olivia.
Olivia: Okay.
Carter: I am not eating that.
Olivia: Me either. I'm not eating that.
Elizabeth: Okay. But no ice cream for dessert.
Carter: That is not fair.
Elizabeth: I know. Here you go.
Carter: (sobs, if he could run and hide from it, he would) I am not eating that!
Elizabeth: Are you afraid of broccoli?
Olivia: laughs
Carter: Yes!
Elizabeth: You're afraid of broccoli? What will happen if you eat broccoli? You think you'll explode?
Carter: (pouts and laughs) Yes!
Olivia: (sobs) I want ice cream.
Elizabeth: Then you need to try the broccoli.
Olivia: I wish I was a toy so I didn't have to eat broccoli.
Elizabeth: They look like little trees. (I know! Who has this ever convinced!) Try it.

Olivia hesitantly takes a bite. Screams. Spits it out.
Carter: I am not eating that!
Elizabeth: Then there won't be any ice cream.
Carter: I'm done.
Elizabeth: You're not going to eat your spaghetti?
Olivia: Me neither.
Elizabeth: Why not? You don't like the broccoli. That's no reason you can't eat the rest of your food.
Carter: I don't want to eat. Can I be excused?
Elizabeth: Okay. But there won't be anything later.

Olivia hangs on thinking she'll convince me. Eventually Roger and Marshall leave the table. It's just me and Olivia left.

Olivia: Mommy? I'm hungry.
Elizabeth: There's spaghetti. And broccoli.
Olivia: I can't eat that!
Elizabeth: But you can have strawberry ice cream after.
Olivia: I can't eat it!
Elizabeth: How about you just try a small one?
Olivia: No! (pause) Okay. (takes a nibble)

Roger returns with Marshall (who's now in his jammies).
Olivia: Daddy! I'm eating broccoli!
Roger: That's so great, Olivia.

10 minutes later.
Carter: Can I have some ice cream?
Elizabeth: Did you eat any broccoli?
Carter: No.
Elizabeth: I'm sorry. No dessert.
Olivia: I love broccoli! Can I have more?

Monday, May 04, 2009

Nick Cave: Sound Suits @ YBCA

Not that one. This one.

Nick Cave Soundsuits Collaboration
YBCA Galleries
May 28 - 31

Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Planning on taking the kids down to Hicklebee's in San Jose to see Amy Krouse Rosenthal this afternoon as she continues her Spring Tour. I read Encyclopedia of An Ordinary Life 4 years ago (that long ago!) and loved it's off-the-wall humor and observations. Cookies: Bite-Sized Life Lessons is also a family favorite. Check out 17 Things I Made, The Beckoning of Lovely, and The Story So Far. I'm very inspired by this work right now as I think about the kind of art I want to make and how I want to engage with my community.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Two Weeks In

It's getting lighter earlier these days. Every morning the day breaks just a little bit sooner. I know this because every weekday morning for the past two weeks, I've been purposely (as in on purpose) getting up at 5:30am and going to...Pilates Cardio Camp.

Can I tell you about the boot camp?

Did I mention that the boot camp means getting up at 5:30 am five days a week. 5:30 am. 5 days a week. Some of you may be wondering what all the fuss is about. Well let me tell you. Getting up at 5:30am means going to bed by 10:30 pm. 10:30 pm. 5 days a week. This is difficult because, for me, getting to bed by midnight is turning in early. But I have done it. Most nights. And when I haven't boy have I paid the price. Like practically falling asleep by noon.

Yesterday was one of the worst days. Tired. Very tired. I drove down to the San Jose library with both kids, parked the car, got out the stroller, almost put Marshall in, but then I thought to look for the books I was returning. Not. There. Left them. At home on the counter. Lost my glasses for 20 minutes this morning. It's not right. People tell me this effect will pass. I'm not so sure.

I planned to take pictures of my 5:30 am face. But I forgot. See at 5:30 am I can barely remember to dress myself. Let alone bring essentials like my wallet with my license just in case I get a good morning pull-over by the cop who is permanently camped at the freeway exit going into town. Anyway, you probably don't want to see my 5:30 am face. But I'm kind of curious about it. Like does it have a vaguely shocked, discombobulated expression? Or is it simply too early to register much of anything beyond the physical effects of sleeping in the bed? Like the slightly smooshed cheek from the pillow? Hair flattened and twisted? Eyes with a trace of crust? All of the above and then some? We may never know.

The camp is held 10 minutes away from my house. Which is a good thing. I can't get up too much speed and I can eek out a few more zzzz's before rolling out of bed into the shock of the morning.

The camp is led by a perky little trainer who reminds me a lot of Cheri Oteri. Cheri Oteri when she played that cheerleader along with Will Ferrell. Remember those skits?

Well. She's not exactly like Cheri Oteri. She's more like Cheri Oteri dialed down to three. Which is just exactly what you want at 6am. Elizabeth! Right on.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Monday, April 20, 2009

Possible Inspiration for Picasso's Guernica

Several experts from the world of art have stated that there is an extraordinary likeness between the figures that appear in the Guernica painted by the artist and those in a Mozarabic Bible from the 10th Century, which is housed in the Cathedral in Leon, to the point where it has been discarded that it was fruit of a coincidence.

This Bible was exhibited in Barcelona in 1929 and in Paris in 1937, a time when the Cubist genius could have discovered the expressionist drawings that appear in the medieval text, according to the head of the Cathedral of Leon Museum, Máximo Gómez Rascón.

Several experts consulted by news agency EFE arrived at the same conclusion and base it on the relative aspects of the double view, in front and to the side, of the figures in the painting, as well as in the horse and the bull.

In this way, the director of the museum, has explained that the similarities are seen especially in the bull, which in the Bible symbolizes Saint Luke and which is “almost exactly” as the one that Picasso painted on Guernica.

(h/t hyde or die)

Another Brief Lesson in Marriage

On the train ride up to Burlingame Friday, the following conversation took place:

O: Mom? Will they arrest you if you marry someone from your family?
E: No. They won't arrest you, but it's against the law.
O: If it's against the law, why won't they arrest me?
E: Because some things are against the law, but the police don't get involved.
O: They won't arrest me?
E: Why? Is there somebody in the family you want to marry?
O: Yes. Marshall.
E: You can't marry Marshall.
O: When he grows up?
E: No. Not when he grows up.
O: But why can't I marry Marshall?
C: I want to move to another country so I can marry Owen.
E: Why do you have to move to another country?
C: Because they won't let you marry boys in this country.
O: I want to marry Elise!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Out of Nowhere

C: Mom? I don't want to move to Australia.

E: Why not?

C: They have man-eating, salt-water crocodiles.

E: That's a problem for you?

C: It sure is.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

This Gizmo is On Its Way to Our House

You're going to want to come over.

I guess this toy was popular a couple of years ago. But my son has only just found out about it (well, he met up with one at friend's house at Christmas time and has been talking about it ever since). So we've been watching for it on ebay and last night we managed to procure one. There's a lot I could say about this toy, but I'll let it speak for itself.

What's better than one? Two! They're so quick to make friends, highly social. Watch this lovely pas de deux.

Monday, March 02, 2009

So How Did You Do?

Okay so it's about that time again. I thought it would be fun to check in and see how many of the items on my 40-some list I actually did.
  1. Finish my thesis. - uh, no. Have made huge progress though.
  2. Breathe. - still working on it.
  3. Learn to meditate. - Went on a mediation retreat last month.
  4. Take a Qi Gong class. - That's a no.
  5. Teach the kids to lie around the house. - Still working on it.
  6. Teach the kids some Yoga. - No.
  7. Make a new friend. - Hmm. I'll say yes.
  8. Reconnect with an old friend. - Yes. Several. This is one of the things I've done that I'm most gratified by and excited about.
  9. Read out loud. - To myself and to my kids. Yes.
  10. Read two Shakespeare plays I haven't read. - Maybe one by Friday.
  11. Read two Chekov plays I haven't read. Not going to happen.
  12. Read a new play every month. - Surprisingly, I read fewer plays this year than last.
  13. Read two of the books on David Sedaris' Recommended Reading List. - No. But I did read many books - among them: Elizabeth Costello (2x) and Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee, Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy, The Nightingales of Troy by Alice Fulton, and Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner.
  14. Resume free-writing exercises. - Still working on it.
  15. Start a rewrite of one of my old plays. - Yes.
  16. Start my new screenplay. - No.
  17. Organize all my source material for playwrighting projects. - Still working on it. See #38.
  18. Write down the master plan for my theater center. - Still working on it.
  19. Take a food writing class at Stanford. - No.
  20. Start learning a new language (I'm thinking Italian). - Attempts have been made. Inertia is being overcome.
  21. Take a contact improv class. - No.
  22. Sew some stuff for my kids. - No.
  23. Sew some stuff to sell on Etsy. - Making progress.
  24. Get my bike tuned up and ready to ride. - Yes.
  25. Get a grill. - No.
  26. Invite the neighbors over. - Didn't happen.
  27. Experiment with making whole-wheat and/or gluten-free pie crusts. - No.
  28. Make a fresh peach pie this summer. - No! I can't believe it.
  29. Take the kids berry-picking. - No.
  30. Go to the farmer's market most Saturdays or Sundays. - No. But signed up for CSA food share here (summer/fall) and here (winter/early spring).
  31. Eat more vegetables. - Yes. Because of #30. Tyranny of the box. Yes.
  32. Drink more water. - This is still a struggle for me. I don't know why. Water's mostly what I drink.
  33. Get a massage or two or four or more. Yes! Yes! Yes!
  34. Eat a meal at Zuni. - Sadly, no.
  35. Plant pumpkins and sunflowers with my kids. - No.
  36. Plant bulbs in front of my kitchen window. - Yes.
  37. Buy a birthday cake for absolutely no reason. Anyone who wants can make a wish on it. - No again. But I am still very much intrigued by this idea. It's inspiring ideas connected to #40.
  38. Continue with the clutter-taming. - Yes. I would say progress has been made. I've also reached a point where I'm just so tired of the clutter that I'm more wiling and likely to throw things away than I was last year. Also: we're going to get a scanner which will be a tremendous help with all my playwrighting source material. Have also discovered a unique way of displaying this material (scroll down to the 3rd and 4th pictures in the post).
  39. Start a play reading salon. - No.
  40. Involve the kids in a guerrilla art project. - No. But have an idea for one.
  41. Do some of the Learning to Love You More assignments. - No.
  42. Go on a geocaching excursion in our area. - Yes. We've been four times. Successful once.
  43. Take my kids to SFMOMA. - Yes.
  44. Take the kids to Big Sur and rent a cabin for a weekend. - No.
  45. Travel some place we've never been. - No. What am I thinking? We went to Lego Land. I'd never been to San Diego before.
  46. Attend the PICA TBA Festival. - Yes. So glad I did.
  47. Celebrate Winter Solstice by having some folks over for dinner. - No. Scheduling issue. We were in Phoenix at Solstice. But did have friends over for soup and mustache-wearing extravaganza.
Stay tuned. I'm going to put together a new list in celebration of my birthday.

Monday, February 23, 2009

My scar

1. Knee surgery.

2. The pocket knife slipped.

3. Surgery to remove ruptured cyst.

4. A steel cable.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Overheard in the Cafe

I used to friend everybody (on Facebook) and then I found out I was friends with terrorists.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Friday, February 13, 2009

Small Craft Failure

Yesterday, we tried to do this craft. It sounded so simple and like such a good use of all those many crayons we've been accumulating. But. I think I left the crayons in too long. I let the wax bubble. All the crayons blended into this shit-brown color. The wax ran over the parchment paper and melded to the bottom of the pan. Peeling paper off of crayons is not as easy as they make out to be. I don't know, like some were maybe laminated on or something. It took longer than 14 minutes I assure you and that's making allowances for the toddler underfoot wanting to to play puppets with the oven mitts.

On top of that my eye is almost swollen shut. Some sort of infection stemming from this growth on the side of my nose that hasn't responded to the high-powered antibiotics that I'm taking. When I go out people stare at me or else pretend they don't see me. Concerning the growth: I think it's Voldemort.

Happy Valentine's Day.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Friday, January 23, 2009

Overheard in the Cafe

That's right. Tall is the new short!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

All Hail the Tyranny of the Box

Can I tell you about the soup I made last night? It was the most awesome soup ever. I thought I'd made some pretty good soups in the past, but this one has raised the bar. It is the soup of all soups.

To be honest I had my doubts when I first set out to make it. Namely because of the main ingredient: Celery root. I subscribe to a local CSA and two of these honkin' big tubers came in my share this week. I've committed myself to the tyranny of the box - ie. you get what you get and you don't get upset. If life hands you celery root, you make celery root bisque or whatever. When we get our shares each week we also get a newsletter that includes recipes to kind of give us an idea of what to do with some of the vegies. I used that recipe as a foundation and then freely adapted it to make use of other vegies that came with the box.

And it is amazing. So flavorful and creamy. Best soup ever. Believe me. I ate two bowls of it. I couldn't stop!

Mostly Celery Root Bisque
1/2 stick of butter (you could use olive oil too)
1 1/2 pounds of celery root peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes (4 cups)
6 stalks of celery chopped into 1/2 inch - 1/4 inch slices (optional)
1 turnip chopped into 1/2 inch cubes (optional)
2 cups of leftover cauliflower (optional)
1/2 lb of shallots, thinly sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 cups of chicken or vegetable stock

Melt the butter in a heavy soup pot over medium to medium high heat. Add shallots and a bit of salt to start them sweating and cook, stirring occasionally until they are soft. I didn't allow them to caramelize too much, but it's your call how brown you want to let them get (12 minutes). I also chopped up about six stalks of celery and let the flavor mingle with the shallots until the celery was soft. I put the cover on the pot and let the vegetables kind of steam in there for about ten minutes or so. Next, add the celery root and turnip, a bit more salt to keep the vegies sweating, put the lid back on and let it steam, stirring occasionally for about 15 - 20 minutes. You kind of have to use your judgment on how long you think it needs to go. Add 4 cups of stock, cover pot and bring it to a simmer, this is when I added the leftover cauliflower. Simmer for 15-20 minutes more, again it's your call how long you want to let it go. Turn off the burner and let it cool.

Puree in batches in a blender, food processor, or use an immersion blender until creamy smooth and then return back to the pot. Season with salt if needed and add pepper. You can also whisk in a little cream or yogurt if you like, but I found it didn't really need it (I guess technically it's not a bisque without the milk, but it already tasted like it had cream in it).

If you try it, let me know how it turns out.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Tip Toland: Melt, The Figure in Clay

Thank you, Dorothy, for introducing me to this artist. More info here and here.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Brief Lesson In Girls Marrying Girls

I had the following conversation with Olivia this morning. She'll be five next month so I can't get too detailed in answers about how reality works.

O: Do you know where I want to live when I grow up?
E: No where?
O: China. And I'm going to marry Nhya. Can girls marry girls?
E: Yes.
O: And boys?
E: If they want.
O: You don't go to jail for marrying a girl?
E: No. At least they don't do that.
O: If I went to jail for marrying a girl what would you do?
E: I'd be very angry and I would work to get you out of jail. And let everyone know how wrong it was that you were in jail for marrying a girl.
O: Do they throw kids in jail?
E: It all depends on what they do.
O: If I went to jail what would you do?
E: I'd hope you were visiting someone else.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Birthday Party for A Princess

We're at the Defcon 2 level of birthday party planning. Short of sending out invitations, we're deciding theme and decorations and debating whether it's going to be cupcakes or cake and then of course, what flavor - chocolate with chocolate icing and dried blueberries? Strawberry? I definitely want to make these and perhaps this.

The guest list is being negotiated. The rule at our house is one kid guest per birthday year of the child which I'm sure we'll want to amend somewhere in the teens. We've also completely eliminated parties for the smalls (ie. babies, toddlers, etc). This works well.

Last year we celebrated Olivia's birthday by going out for dinner on what turned out to be Mardi Gras. We went to Chenery Park, one of our favorite restaurants in San Francisco. Favorite because of its Tuesday Kids nights and the way they have with mac-n-cheese. Olivia ended up gracing the cover of the Chronicle Food Section and as even her friend Jake, knows, she's dressed as Tinkerbell.

Monday, January 05, 2009