Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I heard you're having a Salon, can I come?

I am now hosting a salon.  Of sorts.

I'm so sorry not to have pictures, because I do think you would like this one. I should have my camera back next week.  Here are a few old "before" pictures.

I finally converted the Grey Cottage Studio into a studio (it really was a little guest house.)  Out behind our house, there is a 300 square foot building.  It has a full bath with a horrible flourescent light, a vintage combination sink, stove, refrigerator, oven (seriously), a dutch door and a wall of windows.  Little by little I have moved my stash of things out there.  It's nothing fancy: a few cast-off bookcases, a dead-heavy sofabed with no other home, a table made from a hollow door and two thrift store night stands and a funky IKEA chandelier.  And finally, finally, I lugged my old double bed -- mine from my teenage years, first three apartments, first married years --  I lugged both mattresses to the curb and took the frame to the Salvation Army.  I searched for some great old wooden tables with mismatched chairs, but finding nothing that would fit, I headed to IKEA for two tables and a few chairs.  And voila, the grey cottage studio really lives.

The Salon started as a painting group.  I missed the company of my lovely Dutch ex-pat friends with whom shared a painting class on Wednesday mornings for three years.  Our host, and teacher, moved back to Amsterdam, and our group had splintered.  And so, I opened the studio for painting one morning a week with a marvelous, charming group of friends. 

Meet them:  Leonie, who is moving back to Amsterdam in two months, brings her oil painting of a young woman crossing Park Avenue in peak springtime.  She was inspired by a spread in Italian Vogue.  Liz, Dutch-born, globetrotting childhood -- think France, Australia, Switzerland, Canada -- and settled here, married to exactly the sort of guy she'd thought she'd never go for: a 6'5" American.  Liz is working on an Andy Warhol-inspired portrait of her mother.  My friend Alex, who is half-way through her chemo treatments, started painting as part of her therapy during this battle with cancer.  She just finished her first painting, an amazing portrait of her daughter.  And her accountant self, has found a new passion.  This time last year, she was furiously studying for her CPA.  And now, she just feels blessed to have time to paint.  And finally my dear friend and neighbor Sheila, who said, "I hear your having a Salon.  Can I come?"  She brings her knitting and her wit and joins us. 

I write this post because I have always done my creative projects alone.   It's a stretch for me to invite people over rather than just working alone.  I still really enjoy working alone, but I'm finding it's good for me to put myself out there.  I'm skipping the errand-running I usually do during those three precious pre-school afternoons, and feeding my soul.

Thanks for listening.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Book Review: Falling Apart in One Piece

 Falling Apart in One Piece: One Optimist's Journey Through the Hell of Divorce Falling Apart in One Piece: One Optimist's Journey Through the Hell of Divorce by Stacy Morrison

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Not just a book about surviving divorce, but a well-written memoir about facing hardship and how one woman makes it through.  Stacey's picture-perfect life -- magazine editor, new homeowner in Brooklyn, new mom to nine-month old Zach -- came to a crashing halt one night when her husband said, "I'm done."  Done with the marriage.  Like that.  No affair, no big event, just little things that added up and suddenly her marriage ended.  Stacy's book chronicles the hardships of the next few years (and there were many -- her house was literally falling down) and how she made it through.  To me, this book is about coping with life when it just doesn't turn out like you planned.

Take this book to the beach, a weekend trip, on a plane -- you won't be able to put it down. Much better than Eat, Pray, Love though the comparisons are there.

Disclosure:  Stacy is a friend of mine from high school. She really is that funny, strong, smart woman you read about. And, she's a great writer, always has been.  Her high school yearbook quote was, "If you want to be a writer, write."

View all my reviews >>

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Missed spring.

Ten years ago, I stayed inside for the whole spring.  From March 16 until May 22nd, I was confined to our one bedroom apartment, only allowed out for doctor's visits and trips to the hospital.  I was on bedrest with twins.  I spent hours laying on my left side, watching bad daytime tv, trying to put together a nursery with our glacially-paced dial-up internet connection and drinking water, water, water.  I would move my enormous belly to the shower (my big event of the day) and then strapped a belt around my 60 inch waist to monitor any contractions.  The story had a beautiful ending though: two boys born just a few days shy of their due dates, weighing in at 6lb2oz and 5lbs 14ozs, but it was a long final chapter.

The next year, spring could not come soon enough.  I couldn't stop singing while pushing my double stroller around our hilly Manhattan neighborhood when that spring finally came.  So much had changed that year. I became a mother, quit working, renovated an apartment and survived a post-surgical infection that landed me right back in the hospital.  We had moved from that one bedroom in the village to a classic six in the upper west side -- we couldn't even fit two cribs in our old place. But most of all, I survived a winter with two babies under one.  It's all still a little blurry, but man, I so needed that spring.

Ever since then, spring has filled me with joy and I never let it slip by, unnoticed like I used to.  I've been feeling strange this year though, since I've been without my camera for a few weeks. Strange that the spring has gone undocumented.  The trees are shifting from those gorgeous blossoms to bright little  leaves.  Our view down the hill changes daily, filling in like a pointillist painting.

I realized though, how very much I love taking pictures, and framing the world through my lens.  Small in the grand scheme of life, but important for me to have my touchstones I suppose, and appreciated all the more when I have them again.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Loving You is Easy Cause You're Beautiful

I think someone wrote that song especially for a sunny, warm spring day (because actually, it's kind of a bogus song for a woman, what if it said, "loving you is easy cause you're hot"?  Okay.)
I mean c'mon, how can you not feel good on a day like today. It just rocks our animal cores.

Since my camera is in the camera hospital, undergoing expensive procedures without insurance, I resorted to usurping my son's sport  Vivitar for our trip to the park.

 These funky pictures are SOOC.  Funky colors here, but nothing wrong with shaking things up.