Wednesday, August 29, 2012

desert dreams

I never expected to be a person who loves the desert. Growing up in the Northwest, I've always loved the ocean, the forest, all things lush and dewy - desert expanses felt dry and dead. But apparently, my brain is now prepared. The drive out to Cathedral city is fascinating, all painted hills fading into the sky, the temperature slowly creeping up to a blistering 110, ending with thousands of windmills that look like tiny toys and emerge as futuristic beasts spinning in the hot breeze. The color of everything seems bleached out like a sun damaged photo, which makes it all the better when the sun sets and the landscape goes lavender and pink.
Of course, my new found affinity may have a bit to do with the fact that our desert trips have always included a beautiful Airbnb rental with central air and a pool, with little on the agenda aside from lounging, eating, and reapplying SPF...
above, snippets from our weekend away (left to right, top to bottom)
1) view from the pool
2) Scott in his vacation best
3) glass in the fire pit
4) pool shot of yours truly
5) sunset in pastel
6) mona, our ever-present canine companion
7) remnants from the great guac-off of 2012
8) return of the flamin' mac, plated for 8
9) entryway peepin'

Friday, August 24, 2012

recent reads

I've been reading quite a bit lately, what with all the traveling, but Blood, Bones & Butter deserves its own posting (despite the lack of my beloved oxford comma). The lovely cover design caught my eye on Megan's shelf a couple of weeks ago, and she immediately forced it upon me, promising I would not be disappointed. Obviously, she was right.
BB&B tells the winding tale of Gabrielle Hamilton's path to becoming a chef, restaurant owner, wife, and mother. Her life has all the classically awesome elements of a best-selling memoir - insane parents, a wild childhood, lapsed lesbianism, an affinity for shoplifting, and of course, multiple brushes with the law. Her story is disjointed, with ample time spent on her early years, and a mad rush through her twenties. Throughout the book, years are compacted and single events stretched out into whines like an abused accordion. But somehow, it works. Hamilton is somehow easy to relate to, despite often making decisions (even in her adult life) that I could never imagine. She sweeps you in to loving what she loves, craving her food and lifestyle, and does it with a refreshingly realistic view regarding the obnoxious foodie trend that she's inadvertently become a part of. But the most honest, difficult part of BB&B (for this reader, anyway) was recognizing Hamilton's discomfort with the identity foisted upon her: female chef. She writes about her difficulty relating to women who want to celebrate their lady-ness in the kitchen, to preach girl power and the triumph of women, and struggles with how to boil down her philosophy so that the question of  how to be wife/mother/business owner/chef is no longer answered with a cheery cliche, but is examined and really felt and earned through, well, blood, bones, and butter. And she never figures it out. Hamilton lays out her memoir with answers, but not The Answers, and I love that. Read it.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

work / play

My week in the twin cities was an absolute blur of work, beautiful weather, and play. John and I don't get to spend much face time together these days, and a week of being in the same studio always reminds me why he's one of my best guys, even through the long days and occasional frustration of running a business together. Thanks to Chance, my ever-fantastic host, I had a bicycle to get around, and I took full advantage, pedaling my way from St. Paul to Minneapolis every day on the weekend, drifting through my old routes on the greenway in the mild sun. It's always a bit odd to be in Minnesota, because it really hasn't been that long since we moved. A week out there feels like just the right amount of time to step into the best parts of our life in the midwest - beer on porches, bike rides around the lakes, and late night escapades with good friends.
a few photographic highlights
1. Maguire and my other business half (aka The Dude), in a rare appearance in front of the lens
2. awesome type on the way into Ben and Bill's place
3. Emma and Kelly on a Saturday that goes down in the books as one of my best
4. sky and sailboats on a Sunday bike ride with Ben
5. signed the guestbook pre-performance at VFW karaoke
6. attention, LA: please up your Bloody Mary game to the new standard
7. Mama Grover during breakfast at the Uptowner
8. lily pads and roses spotted at Lake of the Isles with Kelly

Thursday, August 16, 2012


photo by the amazing Ben Innes
I'm about to head out the door to LAX - it's time, yet again, to head over to MSP for a meeting of the Dude and Chick minds. Since Scott and I moved last June, I've been midwest-bound every few months so John and I can hang out in the same studio for a week or so. It means a lot to me that we've been able to make a long-distance relationship work, and though it took a bit of adjustment, DNC life has hummed along pretty smoothly. The biggest change has been how I feel about travel. In the past, when I've been headed to the airport, it's meant vacation. I'd save up books, treat myself to a trashy mag on the plane, and enjoy the journey. Now, I'm hitting the sunny skies so regularly that flying feel like a chore, and I return home from a week of work in need of some serious R&R. Don't get me wrong - I love my setup - but it's made me rethink the idea of travel vs. vacations. The staycation isn't exactly a new idea in these recession ridden times, but I've finally come around to it. When I get back to California, Scott and I are headed out to the desert with a few friends for the weekend, and even though we'll only be a couple of hours outside the city,  I can't wait for that feeling of vacation.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

tunes for the heat

It finally feels like summer around these parts - heavy, dry heat has settled over Los Angeles, and doesn't let up throughout the night. We've been pulling out all the old Minneapolis tricks, sleeping with our trusty box fan aimed directly at us, waking up each morning already sweaty. I've felt lucky for the last few months, because I'm well aware that even this mini heat wave is nothing compared to what the rest of the US has been hit with, but what can I say? Los Angeles has spoiled us.
Thankfully, our friend Feng (aka sloslylove) just came out with another album, and it's been our soundtrack for the rising mercury. Sloslylove's particular brand of genius has become a staple since we moved out to California -  something about the smooth, mellow beats feels very west-coast.
Check it out above, or buy an awesome cassette tape for only $6 on his website. Then bust out a popsicle and absorb the magic - these tracks are hot in every sense.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

volume for safekeeping

Though I received my treasured iPad for Christmas (Scott's definitely a savvy gift-giver), it has lived mostly in the safety of our apartment, since I've been dragging my feet, trying to find the perfect case. It's harder than you think to find something simple and well constructed that fits both our taste.
Anyhow, after nearly eight months of lazily promising to order something with no follow through, we finally pounced on a sale priced volume for iPad, by our buddy Scott Nedrelow, an artist based in good old Minneapolis. And, of course, we love it. The case is bound by Campbell-Logan, a twin cities bindery well known to artists in the area, and the craftsmanship is beautiful and sturdy. The material is buckram - the same stuff used to bind periodicals at libraries - and it's durable and lightly water resistant. The iPad fits snugly into the interior plastic shell, and sits fully camouflaged on our bookshelf. It's the new millenium's equivalent of one of those old school safes made out of a book block (or, you know, cutting out the pages of a book to store your gun, I guess).
(bottom photo courtesy of scott nedrelow)

Monday, August 6, 2012

new site

We had a quiet but productive weekend, with a lengthy photoshoot for Dude and Chick on Saturday and a website update for my personal work on Sunday afternoon. John and I are working hard to make a new DNC site happen, and it was satisfying to just have small web-related task that could be finished up in a few hours (although Scott did the heavy lifting for me, writing the code). Take a look! I haven't updated in a few years, so I'm happy to have some of my just-for-fun side projects out in the world.

Friday, August 3, 2012

jurassic techology and general mindbending

 Last weekend, Ben and I found time for a little excursion to the Museum of Jurassic Technology. He was pretty excited about visiting, thanks to a recommendation from his sister, and I was game, though skeptical of the Culver City locale - driving, as previously mentioned, is not my favorite thing.
After an awkward half-conversation with the twenty-something manning the front desk, we wandered around the small, dimly lit maze of exhibits. Creepy music filtered through hallways and we squinted to read the tiny placards, Ben with a quiet smile. My initial confusion gave way to fascination after Ben whispered that the museum was created as a sort of homage to the art of museums - a sort of postmodern look at why we study what we do, lending a sense of truth to fabrication, and a feeling of fraud to what's real. That went a long way towards explaining the entire room dedicated to the "Garden of Eden on Wheels," a study of Los Angeles trailer parks, and the gallery holding only oil portraits of canine cosmonauts. Multiple displays were marked as down for repair - one was just a gaping hole in the wall, wires visible, explained only as "out for refurbishment." However, it also meant that I second-guessed almost every reality (that man just waltzed out an emergency exit! is this really a bathroom? that musty smell must be manufactured).
Our overwhelming favorite was "Tell the Bees," which presented a number of home remedies, old wives' tales, and superstitions, illustrated graphically in dramatically lit glass boxes. We finally happened upon the stairs that led up to the tea room, where we were served hot tea in glasses, and wandered out to the dreamy rooftop, enclosed with netting that kept in the exotic birds but still allowed the cool breeze to filter through.
Eventually, I was able to relax into a headspace where I could appreciate that I didn't need to know what was fact vs fiction. And I suppose that's the point - a thesis that must strict fear into the hearts of many a footnote lover, and certainly a few of my less creative-minded elementary school teachers. Here is a traditionally presented fountain of knowledge, from whence it came we will never know.
the entryway sign
view in the tea room
a birdcage in the rooftop menagerie
mice on toast and mouse pie in "Tell the Bees"
oddities in the hallways
the best / most accurate guest book comment
the scientific music player Ben purchased at the gift shop

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

if it makes you happy

As previously mentioned, Ben and Kelly came to town last weekend, and the visit did not disappoint. These two have been sorely missed since the move, as they were our next door neighbors in the last Minneapolis apartment we lived in. Scott and I spent many cold winter nights in the BK basement home, listening to records, solving crossword puzzles, attempting to beat Wii Mario (and Jeopardy (?)) and consuming mass quantities of Grain Belt Premium. I make it a point to see a lot of them when I'm back in Minnesota for work, but this is the first time we've had them on our turf. We took them on a three day tour of Our Favorite Things, including breakfast at Square One, a day at the beach, karaoke (of course), and a Sunday evening picnic in Griffith Park, followed by a buzzy walk home and a beautiful smog-fueled sunset. There's something about Ben's gentlemanly sincerity and quirky sense of humor combined with Kelly's no-nonsense version of ladylike punk that gels with us perfectly, and it felt good to pick up where we left off for a few days.