Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Farewell to 2014

2014 was pretty freakin' fantastic. The best though? Definitely discovering Antwerp, which Michel now refers to as "your second home." I'm already super excited about returning for the third time. So here is a recap of my year...

·Sean and Ashlee get hitched!
·See Ireland and London and Belgium with Ashlee.
·We lose our little Livi Livi Liv bug and the world grows a little sadder.
 ·California with my lil brother!
·Marina comes back home with Mateo and soon to follow was primo Mario!
·Kay and Syd start high school!
(1st photo: Kayla is the lovely lady in blue - 2nd photo: Syd is the cutie patootie in the middle)

·My first adventure all on my own.
·Finally see Fallingwater in person after so many years of seeing it only in photographs. It was spectacular.
·Reconnect with Kristin! I love Instagram because it allows me to keep in touch with Bryan and now, Kristin. Watching their lives unfold through photos every week or so makes me happy. I love them both and even though we are far apart and haven't seen eachother in years, I'm grateful that I am still connected to them both.
·Melissa gives birth to Paxton Joy.

·Ashlee and Sean expect their first child in July of 2015!!! (that's our lil' navy bean on the monitor!)

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Best Compliment from Across the Ocean

In December of 2013 I purchased a copy of Ben van Lieshout's The Muse. It was such a remarkable film and I wrote to Ben the next day to thank him for sending out the DVD so stinkin' fast and to tell him how much I enjoyed his movie. His response still sits, saved, in my gmail inbox, because I thought he was so sweet in his reply. Here is what I wrote:


Last night I arrived home late at night to find a little package from The Netherlands in my mail slot. "Hooray!" I said aloud, "It's here!" I shoved the key into the lock of my front door, threw down my bags, tore open the envelope and immediately slid the disc into its player. Then I curled up in my grandparents' old armchair in my tiny apartment with no heat under layer after layer of fuzzy blankets and prepared for
The Muse. I must admit, I was slightly fearful that I had gotten my hopes up a bit too high and that the film might not live up to my expectations. How foolish of me, for I was completely absorbed by it. I watched silently, wide eyed and nearly motionless. I began to feel that I was eavesdropping on the characters' lives. Following at a safe distance as they wandered the streets or walked to work or simply sat in a library.

More often than not, films tend to feature music so heavily and drown out the sounds of reality. Not so in this film. They were all so present - the passing of cars, the birds in the sky, the crunching of snow underfoot, and the soles of a man's shoes as they tap out the rhythm of his steps as though they were an invisible metronome. Ben, I just absolutely adored your film. Every frame was perfect and flawless. What a wonderful feeling of accomplishment it must be to create truly great art. Well done, sir.

Thank you so much for getting the film to me so quickly. I hope you and your family have a fabulous New Year and that 2014 is filled with nothing but extraordinary good health and crazy amounts of joy and happiness. Take care!


And six days later, here is Ben's reply:


Thank you so much for your kind words and enthusiastic comment on The Muze. I can see you love to write and you are good at it.
And nice that you appriciate the precise work regarding image and sound and above all the dedication with which the film was made.

Matthias role in the Muze was for the director of Bullhead (Rundskop) the confirmation of his intention to cast him for the main part.
The Muse brought me to some interesting festivals in Sao Paulo, Capetown, Kolkata and Sarajevo.

I wish you all the best and a magnificent 2014

warm regards Ben

I so rarely receive compliments, and reading I can see you love to write and you are good at it. left me beyond the realm of overjoyed. I am forever insecure and especially insecure about my writing and it was just nice to hear someone say something so unexpected. Thanks, Ben - you're awesome in every way possible! And The Muse is still my favourite of all of Matthias Schoenaerts' films. (Shhh...don't tell Rudolf.)

Monday, December 29, 2014

On the Straat, Take Twee

Here are more photos that I snapped while walking through Antwerp in the fall of this year. Instead of my iPhone I used my lil' five dollar spy camera. It looks like a lemonade juice box, but really it's a lo-fi 35mm camera. I really like the self portrait I took while walking past a shop window on Volkstraat.


Sunday, December 28, 2014

Winding and Winding

When Ashlee and I were at PAFA the other week, I opened the door that led to the ladies room and there was this gorgeous set of spiraling steps before me. Just gorgeous. They reminded me why I love staircases. Love them. When I was a kid we lived in a little house with no stairs and I always felt that wealthy, fancy people had staircases. And if they were curved or spiraled steps, that meant that they had truly made it to the big time. When we moved, I swore that we had moved to a mansion. It had six windows on the front of the house!, a two-car garage, I had my own bedroom, there were three bathrooms, AND we had a staircase. We were officially rich. In my mind, at least.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Jack Benny

When I was a kid, maybe ten or eleven, I remember my grandparents talking about when they vacationed in Las Vegas in the mid 1960s. (At least, I'm pretty sure they said it was the 60s.) They spoke of seeing two comedians perform on stage. One night they saw Buddy Hackett and both of my grandparents recalled that he was so crude that they walked out of the show. The next night they saw Jack Benny. I remember this story specifically because it was the first time I had ever heard someone use the phrase, "rolling in the aisles." "Jack Benny had us all rolling in the aisles!" my Grandad would say. They told me that Jack had the audience in absolute stitches; they were all doubled over laughing and Jack's humour was 100% clean.

Anyone who knows of these two comics, knows that there will never be a moment where Buddy Hackett will ever come anywhere close to outshining the likes of Jack Benny. Jack is in a class all his own. 

(photo kidnapped from ordinaryfinds)

Friday, December 26, 2014

Anne's Tree

Anne and I had our little Winter Solstice get-together earlier this week that included fine wine, fabulous classical music (plus some Tony Bennett - love that man!), and as always, exceptional conversation. Her tree was super cute and while she was pouring the Pinot Grigio, I snapped some pics of my fave ornaments.

(hey, look - that nutcase in the gold ornament is me!)

Thursday, December 25, 2014

A Spinster's Christmas

I guess it was a few years back that my family, at my behest, decided to stop exchanging gifts. It seemed so pointless; we're all adults with credit card debt and a mortgage and bills to pay. It seemed foolish to spend 100 bucks on a gift card and give it to someone who in exchange will give you a gift card for the same amount. I thought getting us all together and going out to dinner - going Dutch - would be way better. No kids, no spouses, just the original gang.

Then I got to thinkin' and I kinda wished I had something to open and someone to buy gifties for, so I said, "eff it." I bought a bunch of goodies for me, wrapped them (like a sad little lunatic), and tore them open all by myself Christmas morning. Ya know what, I always get what I want, and most times, I've bought the stuff so in advance that I've completely forgotten what's in store for me and am pleasantly surprised. This year I scored big time.

(i should note that all of my grown up friends find this odd little seasonal practice of mine to be really sad, bizarre, and borderline pathetic, whereas all the kids in my life are like, "i am SO doing that when i grow up." i think we all know that being considered hip by the 10-22 year old demographic is the mark of true greatness. so there. take that all you tired, old, married, haggard 30-55 year old friends. i'm way cooler than you will ever dream of being. just ask the kids.) 

Post Script: Lookee what I gots!!

Books and zines, stickers, gloves, a scarf, fun socks!, an M83 cd, lil' journals, The Black Apple postcards, movies and tv shows galore!, a 2015 calendar of pin up girls, candy, limited edition Republic of Tea Downton Abbey Christmas Tea to go with my marathon of Downton seasons 1-4! and a wee lil' coin purse that announces to the world that I am the Chief Financial Officer (of rainbows, it seems, and I'm okay with that.) - I went kinda bananas this year, but I'm so glad I did!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Happy Holidays!

Courtesy of The Blue Route in Narberth, Pennsylvania. (photo by Kay)

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

I hope it's real

Every December I most look forward to getting Autumn's Christmas card. They are always spectacular. Always. I haven't seen Autumn since her father's memorial service in Pittsburgh in 2005. Prior to that I hadn't seen her since 1990. Autumn is one of my oldest friends, we first met in July 1976, and our families are closely intertwined. Her oldest sister, Heather, was born the same day as my oldest brother. Mama Maureen and Mama Rosie shared a hospital recovery room and hit it off right away, as did the proud new Papas, John and Tom, respectively. Autumn was born about six months before me, then came Sean and finally Miss Molly, who was about a year older than my youngest brother. We all got along so well as kids. Even when they lived in the 'burgh, Boston, and finally Ohio, we always looked forward to seeing them each summer. Autumn and I don't text or write letters or communicate outside of Christmas cards, but the few times I've seen her and spoken with her (she called when my father passed), there was none of that awkwardness that usually comes with long distance friendships. I love her Christmas cards because I know what a truly warm, decent, caring, beautiful person Autumn is. I look at her with her husband and with her kids and see how happy they are. It's like a fairy tale and I always think to myself, "I hope it's real. I hope, hope, hope, that she is really this happy." Autumn so totally deserves it.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Winter Mix

 1. Nights Winters Years - Justin Hayward and John Lodge
 2. Winter Night - Scott Walker
 3. Our Winter Love - Bill Purcell
 4. Greensleeves - Vince Guaraldi Trio
 5. Snowfall - Ahmad Jamal
 6. Moonlight in Vermont - Jane Monheit
 7. Come in From the Cold - Joni Mitchell
 8. Cold - Annie Lennox
 9. In the Winter - Janis Ian
10. Winter - Bebel Gilberto
11. Snow - Rosemary Clooney
12. My Favorite Things - Barbra Streisand
13. December Will Be Magic Again - Kate Bush
14. White Winter Hymnal - Fleet Foxes
15. Winter Winds - Mumford & Sons
16. Winter - Tori Amos
17. Winter in the Hamptons - Josh Rouse
18. Something Stupid - Robbie Williams and Nicole Kidman
19. The Big Hurt - Scott Walker
20. Nirvana - Tom Waits
21. Frost at Midnight - Richard Burton

December 2012

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Joyful Tree

 1. Trim Up the Tree - from How the Grinch Stole Christmas
 2. Don't Shoot Me, Santa - The Killers
 3. Last Christmas - Jimmy Eat World
 4. The Christmas Waltz - She & Him
 5. The Most Wonderful Day of the Year - Cast of Glee
 6. Caroling, Caroling - Nat King Cole
 7. Just Like Christmas - Low
 8. All I Want for Christmas Is You - Olivia Olson
 9. White Christmas - Placido Domingo
10. Christmas Vacation - Katie Campbell
11. Happy Xmas (War Is Over) - John Lennon and Yoko Ono
12. I'll Be Home for Christmas - Elvis Presley
13. Baby, Please Come Home for Christmas - U2
14. Christmas Time Is Here (vocal) - Vince Guaraldi Trio
15. Maybe This Christmas - Ron Sexsmith
16. Carol of the Bells - John Williams
17. Someday at Christmas - Stevie Wonder
18. Happy Holiday - Peggy Lee
19. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas - Judy Garland

December 25th, 2011

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Groovy from the Knee Down

I snapped this photo on the sly when Ashlee and I were at PAFA for Twin Peaks. I love this gal's skinny red trousers with fun socks and ugly black shoes. I wish I were as daring.

Friday, December 19, 2014

On the Straat

I snapped these photos blindly while walking in Antwerp. I kept my phone at my side and randomly clicked away. The first one is pretty damn fantastic, if youse ask me.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Kickin' It Old School

For some inexplicable reason, my family is keeping the catchphrase "That's a spice-y meat-a-ball!" alive and well. Apparently it's from an old Alka Seltzer commercial from 1969. I don't know why, but we all delight in hearing the kids say this phrase and it never gets old.

(Video of Jax courtesy of Mama Rose and video of Evie was recorded by Moi!)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


Friday night I had such fun with Evie and Kat. Miss Kathryn is expecting baby number two, but she suffered through her nausea and had me over for a few hours. She even felt up to a mini photo shoot with Evie where they ran through all the emotions I directed them to display. Silly, Happy, Sad, and Ecstatic were the best of the batch.