Friday, February 11, 2011


I'm not one of those gloating-about-the-weather Californians.  I know you're cold out there!  I've spent many a bundled winter hiking over icy plow mounds and stepping into slush-covered puddles, and I still don't think you should move here just for the weather.  Snowy winters can be so beautiful, and sometimes (but not always) I miss them.

I was thinking about you out there in the blizzards when I noticed this tangerine peel on my breakfast table, the perfect symbol for the Californian daydreaming about winter:

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Kissing Thaumatrope

A few years ago, I thought that it would be so fun to make Joe a kissing thaumatrope for Valentine's Day.  Like so many of my BRILLIANT ideas, I promptly forgot all about it.

Until recently, when I saw this thaumatrope-on-a-stick on Made by Joel, and it reminded me that I had to try it.  Even though they're not done, I'm showing you my work in progress now, just in case you want to use this idea to make your very own thaumatrope valentines.

Are you wondering what I am talking about?

On one side it looks like this:

On the other side it looks like this:

When you spin the stick, it looks like this:

Movie magic!  Persistence of vision!!!  Kissing!!!!!  Does it get any better than this?

I'm making some for my three little Valentinos, too.  Isn't it funny that no one in my family even asked what I was doing when I said, "Here, stand against the wall and let me take a picture of you kissing something."  They all just did it.

If you do make your own, please send me a picture!  Wouldn't they make sweet wedding invitations or favors?

Materials:  Paper, cardboard, double-stick tape or glue, round chopstick or kebab stick, photo prints or drawings of kissers in profile.  Line them up carefully so that they work together when you spin the stick, and test it out before you glue!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Uncle Corey

Although he was here for less than a day, and I was laid up with a bad back the whole time, it was pure fun to see him, as it always is.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Casanova and Me

In the spring of 2001, a dear friend of mine died unexpectedly.  While clearing out his apartment with a few close friends, I noticed that he had one shelf of special books on the wall of his bedroom.  I knew they must have been his favorites because even though the rest of his apartment was crammed with books, on this one small shelf I recognized several titles that he had recommended to me over the years.  From this eclectic mix of fiction, philosophy, education, and autobiography, each of the books that he had loaned me had been extraordinary, and had introduced me to some of my most favorite authors and ideas.

Somewhere in an old box of 35mm slides, I have a picture that I took of his shelf before we boxed up the books.  I picked out a few to keep, and then we donated the rest to charity.

One of these books that has languished on my shelf until now is The Memoirs of Jacques Casanova.  Have you read it?  Much more than just the exaggerations of a wealthy womanizer, it is a lavish 1700's autobiography, part travelogue and part trickster-tales, overflowing with impossible romance and adventure.  Could the life of Jacques Casanova possibly be any more different from that of a 21st Century frugal, faithful, forty-something L.A. mom with a minivan?!  Although I am not escaping from the Inquisition, seducing my way across Europe, gambling, masquerading, dropping diamonds, dueling and duping princes and popes, I sure am having fun reading about it.

Here are a couple of my favorite quotes so far:

(As Casanova is arrested in Venice by the Inquisition) 
There were about forty archers outside the door, which showed they expected some difficulty in arresting me!  Two would have been enough.  It is odd that in London, where every one is brave, one can arrest another single-handed.  Among cowards thirty are not considered too many: it is, perhaps, because the coward turned assailant is more frightened than the coward whom he assails!

                                                  This archer is neither Venetian nor 18th C.

(After meeting a beautiful French woman) 
A letter of recommendation written by the Graces on the forehead of Beauty is never dishonoured, for every one who has his eyes and a heart pays on sight.

                         My favorite 18th C. French beauty, Quentin de la Tour

So, tell me please, what books are on your special shelf?