Do Not Try This At Home…Without Inviting Me

Mammoth!

I love basil. I’ve never smoked anything…or ever been interested in smoking anything…except for basil. I haven’t actually smoked basil either…but it’s the only thing that gets me excited enough to consider it. For my birthday one year, a friend gave me a gorgeous bouquet of freshly clipped basil from her garden. I honestly cannot think of another birthday gift that has topped that one. I instantly buried my face in the pungent leaves and breathed so deeply that I got a little giddy. There’s just nothing like that sweet, tangy, green yumminess warmed by the sun, yet still crisp from the plant. Just thinking about it makes me tingly.

So. It is understandable then that when I saw these massive Mammoth Basil leaves at the Farmer’s Market this week I gasped. I couldn’t resist reaching into the bin and stroking the leaves reverently, all the while breathing deeply as though going into a trance. I’m sure my eyes were shiny and dreamy as I asked the stand owner what he wanted for the basil. Truth be told, it really didn’t matter, as that basil was coming home with me.

I instantly set out on a mission to find the rest of the ingredients necessary for my favorite Antipasto dish: Insalata Caprese Crostini. I found a lovely little bag of sun-dried tomato flavored crostini and I picked up two more vine-ripened, organic tomatoes. My joy was slightly diminished when I discovered that no stores in the area had even heard of Mozzarella di Bufala, which is the ideal pairing for this dish. I settled for bite-sized rounds of cow milk mozzarella and proceeded home, still breathing in the heavenly basil.

Once home, I quickly sliced the tomatoes, washed the basil and cut it into crostini sized pieces. I then grabbed a bottle of Balsamic vinegar, a sauce pan and a whisk. I poured a cup of Balsamic vinegar into the saucepan and turned on the stove to medium heat, whisking continuously until the vinegar turned sweet and syrupy. I drizzled organic, cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil on the crostini, layered the basil and tomato and topped with the mozzarella. Then I drizzled more olive oil and the Balsamic vinegar reduction on top. This, arranged on a white glazed platter was breathtaking.

I know this is supposed to be an Antipasto dish, but for me, it’s the entire meal. The salty crunch of the bread was soon followed by the tangy crisp textures of the basil and tomato…the sour of the tomato bringing out the sweet of the basil. The creamy mozzarella blended the flavors and deepened them into a lingering taste fully heightened by the earthy, mineral taste of the vinegar. My apologies for not posting actual pictures, as my senses were too enraptured to even allow thoughts other than bliss.

Advertisements

Beach Treasures

Pelican

I went adventuring the other day. To be honest, the adventure began half-heartedly as the sky was gray and the word gloom definitely applied. Always a sun goddess, I tend to burrow and hibernate whenever the sun hides her face from me. However, as several days had passed in which Bast stubbornly continued to evade Her duties, I realized that I was shriveling up and needed to force myself to experience life even in the gloom.

As I stepped onto the beach, I met the pelican…waiting patiently for food. I sat and watched. Pelican remained steadfast in spite of the seemingly menacing energy of Sedna and reached into the water as it flowed past her…recognizing the blessing and nourishment brought in the thunder should she choose to remain still and let it flow around her.

Somewhere I learned that whenever I found a feather, it was a message from the angels that I am not alone and that I am loved immeasurably. When I stooped to pick up this feather, I noticed the downy feather on the seaweed, which contrasted in texture to the seaweed, whose colors highlighted the white of both feathers. Then I saw the footprints and I stopped. I realized this was a sacred moment. It was as if this water bird had been working with the angels by agreeing to leave something for me…and then signed the gift with the flourish of her feet. In my pause I expressed gratitude for the gifts of love.

Beach Relics

As I walked the length of the beach, surrounded by the muted colors of the water and sky and clouds, I began to notice occasional bright colors that spotted the bland landscape. At first, I didn’t pay them much attention, for they were so scattered about that it was easy to pass them by. Forced to stop and really look after ignoring a handful of them, I was struck by the brilliant colors and intricate textures that lay at my feet…seemingly discarded by the ocean…relics lying on the sand. While each of them made a bright spot on the sand, when I put them all together, I stared in wonder at the beauty that lay hidden right in front of me…all it took was some rearranging to reveal and highlight the beauty already there.

Lapping barnacles

Around the corner are the tide pools. As I approached, I slowed down as I didn’t want to step on something that lived there. My pace gradually halted and I looked about and breathed in deeply…for in that moment, the sun broke through the clouds. As I stilled myself, I became aware of a crackling sound…similar to Rice Krispies moments after an introduction to milk. I listened more closely and discovered that it was the sound of the mussels and barnacles closing. I crept closer to watch and then saw this pool of water and my eyes opened in wonder. The conical barnacles waved at me…extending flags into the water and then sweeping back in. The flags, feathery and delicate, had stripes of darker green on them. I marveled at the beautiful colors of green in the detail…as though painted with a brush of only three or four strands. I watched in fascination…mesmerized at the flag dance and the beauty of the delicate fluid motion that thrives even as the thundering waves crashed behind me.

wave ribbon

As I walked back, Bast began to peek Her head through the clouds and highlight the colors in the water. A combination of low tide and little wind resulted in relatively calm and clear water, such that when the water swelled the color changed from a deep blue to a transparent moss green. I turned to leave the beach, but at the last moment, turned back for one final look at the treasure chest I’d just experienced. In that moment, Bast emerged just as Sedna rose to greet Her, resulting in this fluid ribbon…dissolving into sparkling foam.

Ninth Ward Calling

Aural Fusion

The moment I saw Jesse’s Rainbow Hangover marching band photo, I instantly heard in my mind the rhythmic clapping, thumping and dancing sounds of “Ninth Ward Calling,” a signature piece (inspired by one of their favorite spots) by one of my favorite music experiences currently on tour: MarchFourth Marching Band (http://marchfourthmarchingband.com/).

Like Jesse, this particular group of musicians/entertainers always invigorates me because of the never-ending creativeness exhibited by each member of the band. Not only do they write their own music, make their own amazing and fantastical costumes and instrument harnesses, they are also all trained musicians…some with noteworthy schools on their resumes.  Yet, unlike so many trained musicians who forget to enjoy their craft, MarchFourth exudes enthusiasm for the inner music of joy. Their music, a wonderous fusion of funk, jazz, marches, circus tunes, klezmer, reggae, and ska over African and Latin rhythms, coupled with the visual marvels of the stilt, fire- and flag dancers and acrobats, requires one to constantly dance to the inner joy that quickly ignites and overflows. I have yet to leave a live performance without a smile on the face, a twinkle in the eye or a bounce in the step.

Rainbow Hangover

Jesse Arrington made me smile, then giggle, then laugh. A self-proclaimed “color loving Brooklyn designer,” her passion and free spirit shines through her website “Lucky So and So” (http://luckysoandso.com).

She first introduced herself to me through a TED talk (http://www.ted.com/talks/jessi_arrington_wearing_nothing_new.html) in which she described how when she travels, she makes it a habit to only pack enough underwear for the number of days she plans to be away from home. This certainly got my attention. One set of underwear for each day…carried in a delightfully brightly designed bag that could never be mistaken for another’s while traveling. That’s it. Why? To reduce her carbon imprint, she explains, by never purchasing a new item of clothing (except for underwear)…or worrying about lost luggage.

Upon arrival at her destination, she scours all of the thrift and second-hand stores to procure her new unique looks. These looks, developed for her week in Palm Springs for the TED conference, she proudly displayed in her talk. Once the week at TED was complete, she explained, she planned to do what she always does when traveling: donate all the newly purchased items back to a second-hand shop (minus the underwear…yes, these details are important!), ensuring that others will get to use the items and that her money goes to a good cause.

Intrigued, I went to her blog, Lucky So and So (http://luckysoandso.com/) and discovered even more fabulous outfits that she’s found simply by shopping at thrift stores. I admit, I hate shopping and thrift shopping is the most distasteful of all to me. However, with enough time, money and a good eye, she found impressively fabulous and amazing selections…things that I would wear (I think).

Ultimately, that was what was so inspiring to me…that she was so passionate about prints and colors, she wasn’t afraid to embrace them all without hesitation. I realized how muted and simple my closet is, and I think it might be time to look for some bright colors in some thrifty places…just for fun.

All Fonts and Sizes

Misnamed Janson

I love books. I love everything about them…from the cover to the ink. I love to examine all the parts of it to see how it was put together. For instance, a leather binding has quite different potentials to a cloth-over-board binding. A leather binding can have tooling in the leather, allowing for decorations to be carved into the leather itself, whereas a cloth-over-board binding requires the decoration to be stamped rather than engraved.

Then the pages are interesting. Depending on when or where a book is published, the pages might be printed on a large sheet and then folded into smaller sections. The number of folds determines the size of the finished book as well as the number of pages contained in a signature, or grouping of pages.

The paper is also different from book to book and from century to century. Some paper is thick and heavy, others are light and thin. The color varies as well as the texture. One of my favorite parts of paper analysis is the discovery of the now rare-to-find watermark. The watermark identifies the maker of the paper, which might be a different person than the originator depending on the century.

Other items of interest are the ink and its color and smell, the flyleaves, any tipped in pages of portraits and the way the entire creation is held together at the spine. But, the one aspect that I love more than anything, is the typeface.

As a child, I would pour over my father’s typeface catalogs and marvel at all of the different ways one could make the letter A. How is it possible that one letter could have so many renditions? It seemed as though the possibilities were endless and they inspired me. So, whenever I was bored in class, I inevitably found myself practicing writing the alphabet in all sorts of interesting ways.

It is understandable, then, that one of my greatest delights is when I turn to the end of a book (sometimes it’s what greets me at the front), and discover a little blurb about the typeface…such as the one above. I love the terse description…as though the writer himself is Nicholas Kis who is still bitter about his font being named after someone else. What happened there? Who is Janson? Did he sneak into Kis’ print shop in Amsterdam (once a typeface capital) and steal the entire set of type moments after it had been created? That would be quite the heist! What fun it would be to discover this story and discover the love and the hate and passion and angst behind a simple style of typeface.

Origin of Goth Eyes

Goth eyes

Isn’t this an amazing painting? You have everything from a wizened man to plump cherubs, red hair to black hair, beards, no beards, armor, no armor, pink and…the best thing of all…everyone has Goth eyes. This alone is the reason I added this photo to my personal collection. No, I didn’t purchase it…I saved it in my private museum in Art Project, powered by Google (http://www.googleartproject.com)

I came across this brilliant experience through a TED talk. I have recently taken up the practice of watching TED talks during my lunch hour at work. I usually watch two selections then I go for a walk outside. By the time my lunch hour is over, I am inspired, relaxed and rejuvenated and often times have something fabulous to share with the people around me. It’s a great mid-day pick-me-up.

The Art Project, powered by Google  is an amazing project born from the brain of Amit Sood. Now, I imagine that this wasn’t solely his idea, but he’s the one who presented it at TED (I tried to put the link here, but it was too long), so I think it’s probably ok to put his name to the project.

The first thing Mr. Sood did, was to use Google Earth technology to give someone the experience of being in an art museum that one may not ever be able to visit in this lifetime. This alone is brilliant, in my mind, for often the architecture of the container for the art is as lovely as the art that is held inside (One such exception is the DeYoung Museum in San Francisco. The new building is hideous and the experience inside is cold and sterile. I much prefer the experience at the Palace of the Legion of Honor http://legionofhonor.famsf.org/).

As one navigates through the galleries, one can select a painting to view in finer detail. And when I say finer detail, I mean just that. Mr. Sood uses giga-pixel technology when photographing the paintings. This allows the viewer to zoom into a painting to such a degree that one can almost measure the width of the cracks in the paint. I have never before been able to explore the hidden secrets of a painting in such wonderous detail. This is what allowed me to verify that the above painting (Altarpiece of Santa Maria Nuova–Madonna dello Spedalingo, 1518, Rosso Fiorentino, 1494-1540) does indeed intend for the subjects to have Goth eyes.

Whereupon, I promptly selected the painting to be added to my collection of paintings within the art project itself. I simply log in to my Google account and I can now create a museum of paintings from within the collections of the many museums available. If I were an art history teacher, I’d be ecstatic at this development, including the ability to categorically tag all my selections, and…quite possibly present a case for the origination of Goth eyes.

%d bloggers like this: