Thursday, July 31, 2008

I ♥ the fair

growing up in california's agriculture-focused san joaquin valley, county fairs were a regular part of life. since I've moved away, I've visited a few local and state fairs. sadly, none compare to the great kern county fair. but I still go every summer or fall (depending on the fair). last night, we visited the albemarle county fair. it was low-key and sweet.

I like seeing the animals, who made the best pie and grew the biggest cucumber. there is something very nostalgic about the fair. the sounds of kids screaming on the rides, carnies hawking their games and the farm animal sound mix coming from the 4H tent send me back to a childhood of carefree fun.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

eccentric glamour

I love this book by simon doonan. it is hilarious, cheeky and really offers some great life advice. the gist is to discover where you are within three main categories of unique style: the gypsy, the existentialist or the socialite. and then embrace everything about it, fearlessly showing the world that real glamour is about being who you are. mr. doonan really is an expert on what constitutes real style and is so very tired (as I am and I'm sure you are) of the ubiquitous fake boobs-tan-teeth-hair definition of beautiful. he encourages to be yourself, only bolder. and different in a world of sameness.

after some soul-searching, I am proud to declare that I am an isadora gypsy/rive gauche existentialist. I think. I just know what I like and want to express, but it was challenging to define it (simon's descriptions provide guidance). it helps to find a few style icons to look up to. here are mine:

  1. suzanne pleshette, especially as emily hartley on the bob newhart show. she was the first character I wanted to be like (smart, sardonic wit and that deep sexy voice; independent, but supportive).
  2. kiki de montparnasse (artsy and a little bit dangerous)
  3. audrey tautou as amelie (quirky, cute, whimsical and those clothes!)

shopping today with these parameters in mind.

have you read the book? if so, what is your style? if not, who are your style icons?

Monday, July 28, 2008

hi-ho, hi-ho (not!)

ok, these guys are clowns, not dwarfs, but you get the gist.

as I start my second week away from work, I continue to have mixed feelings. mon dieu, I'm so freakin' complex!

let me explain that a two-week vacation is not handed out easily in my field. you pretty much have to receive a fully purchased, non-refundable, non-transferable two week surprise vacation to croatia to score 14-days. I guess I've paid my dues. either that or they became concerned that I was going to start showing up wearing a flaming red tutu with a sex pistols tee and speaking less-than-perfect french liberally sprinkled with f-bombs. so, I really need to be doing some serious disengagement, relaxing and recharging to make it worthwhile come next monday morn.

so, here's where the question comes in. does bored = relaxed? because I'm bored. grateful, but bored. and I can't figure out if it's an adrenaline addiction or because I really and truly love what I do.

here's how bored I am: yesterday, I perused the internet a few precious hours for the perfect recipe for homemade english mead. I had this entire plan (in my own head of course!) for my mead-making enterprise which included hand-painted labels (lady lisa's libations? no?) on blown-glass corked bottles (blown and corked by me, of course), which I would happily cart (in a wooden cart, pulled by a white goat, adorned with bells and flowers) to renaissance faires throughout the land. it was all so good-queen-elizabeth, until I learned that the whole mead-making process can be a bit complex. complex really ruined my fantasy. and I haven't been to a ren faire since I dated a sca guy in my 20's. suddenly, the red tutu and sex pistols tee seems so normal.

there you have it.

merry-making of a different sort: I've just been given my very first official photography and graphic design assignment. I am to design three posters and the season brochure for ken's theatre department. yes, it's nepotism. and yes, it's for free. but still merry, no?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

sunday morning

a creature of habit, that's what I am.

I never tire of my sunday morning routine. as the sun rises through the trees, I browse the newspaper and sip my coffee. a nearby church rings its bells. sunday mornings bring endings (the weekend) and beginnings (a new week). in this transitional space, I resolve to carry with me the freedom of the weekend into my work week. I do not always succeed at this, but the commitment is absolute and pure as I sit here.

I think about the day ahead and what it might bring: banana pancakes, yoga, a bike ride, grilling, cleaning, a spontaneous journey with my camera, season two of mad men and the next food network star finale.

sunday is a good day.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

the color of summer

this stunning image is by koto bolofo. these vibrant, clear, saturated colors of summer make me smile. summer color is interpreted in many ways. retro kodachrome just does it for me. others see summer in ethereal, sun-faded whites.

what colors are you currently loving? mine are here.

happy saturday.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

pernod et chocolat sur une nuit d'été

it is a perfect summer evening: cool and clear, a chorus of crickets providing soft background music. this is my fourth time through chocolat and it still grips me. as the sun sets and I struggle to read the words by candle and fairy lights, I am magically transported to that small town in france where tired souls are awakened to sensual indulgence. I sip cold pernod, it's sharp anise flavour mellowed by a sugar cube. I had forgotten how much I enjoy it.

the words on the page begin to blur in the darkness. I set the book down and just sit and listen and sip. there are still a few fireflies about. after a while, I gather my things and return to the house. to real life. a real life with room for indulgence.

theatre widow

first, let me say that I feel grateful that I do not have to endure hours of sports-watching, team cheering, face/chest painting, beer-guzzling and all the other silliness that goes along with typical male interests. you see, my dear husband is a theatre man. actor, director, designer, builder, teacher: he does it all. during the school year, I play second-string to the hours upon hours he devotes to enriching young creative minds. I can normally count on summers to have him all to myself.

not this year. he was cast in two productions as part of the blue ridge theatre festival. for weeks, he has been gone to seemingly endless rehearsals and now performances. while I love that this is his thing and I support him wholeheartedly, I can't help but feel a bit neglected. it's hard for me to smile and be enthusiastic while he relays stories of the stage. he is so thrilled by her and so devoted. he will never tire of this mistress.

last night, I watched his performance in the bluest water and my heart swelled with pride and love. to see this man I love transform into another person and tell a story so sad and so deep makes it all worth it.

(photo courtesy of news & advance)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


on a hot summer day, we headed to the cool waters of nearby smith mountain lake. the colors this day were perfection: brilliant blue sky, teal green water, diamond-dust sand.

pink toes, crunchy sand and crystal clear lake waves.

rustic wood pier and emerald jewel water.

classic summer lake. like a vintage postcard.

my favorite rainbow flip-flops (sadly destroyed later that day by simon).

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

country roads

on a drive through floyd county, virginia we left the highway and explored country roads.

gorgeous, gorgeous queen anne's lace lined every route.

we discovered a pasture of miniature horses. this guy came up to say, "hi." they are friendly in floyd county.
even abandoned cars on the side of the road held a certain southern charm.

sunsets on the blue ridge mountains are breathtaking.

happy tuesday.

Monday, July 21, 2008

indoor activity

yesterday the sunshine kept calling my name, but every time I stepped outdoors I wilted from the heat. during a break from working in the yard, I flipped on the telly and discovered mad men. the rest of the day was spent in the time machine that was the season 1 marathon.

the clothes, the cigarettes, the alcohol, the beatniks, the city; I am so in love with this show. it really is a history lesson as well, especially sociological history. child abuse, alcoholism, sexism and racism are a part of everyday life in 1960 america. I have a whole new perspective on the transition my parents had to go through. season two begins next sunday night.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

step in to saturday

this is the quiet, sunlight-filled space where I danced Nia for the first time in years. don't let the stillness fool you. minutes after this shot, the room was alive with happy, vibrant, energetic (and sweaty) Nia dancers.

the farmer's market in charlottesville offered so much color and goodness. I came away with eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers and tons of perfect peaches.

taking a different route on the walking mall, I happened upon this lovely, lovely jewel of a shop. Oh Suzannah is in the process of moving to another location and I can't wait to visit when they're all set up. it is truly the perfect collection of offbeat, colorful, fun, spirited goodies. there was not one item in this store that I would not purchase with delight. I have no doubt this one will be a regular stop for me.

thank you charlottesville, for being such an awesome neighbor!

Friday, July 18, 2008

indulge in the bright side

so lately I have posted a few ideas and goals about moving ahead, but I seem to be battling a very stubborn streak of inertia. I can't seem to mobilize. it's not a funk or disinterest, just a weird comfortable malaise. I am stuck.

as of this evening, I am off work for two (count 'em TWO) glorious weeks. there are no long trips planned, no preparing for out-of-town visitors. just time. time to regroup. I have a list of mostly fun, simple and restorative things I want to do. normally, I would free myself from obligations on a staycation. not this time. organization, discipline and movement are key to move me to a brighter existence.

day one/saturday: a short drive to charlottesville for a NIA class and the beautiful farmers market.

what would you do with two indulgent, yet focused, weeks to regroup and recharge?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

pieces of my backyard

my backyard is a work in progress. when we moved in, it was just a little slope of grass, dropping dramatically to the forest and a little stream below. we (and I use the term "we" loosely, as it was mainly ken) built a deck with an arbor, a brick patio, a retaining wall that extended and leveled the yard and a curving fence. it really is my favorite place to be. here are little scenes from this evening:

I love bright ceramic pots with candy-colored blooms.

the bird bell was a gift from my friend krista (it has three sisters). this one hangs in the butterfly japanese maple. she sings a tiny "tink-tink" in the summer breeze.

I planted the trumpet vine in 2002. it has made its way up and over the arbor, mingling with the honeysuckle and jasmine, but this is its very first bloom.

I love candlelight and fairy lights on summer nights. there are so many fireflies, it looks like we strung the fairy lights in the forest too.

this is the neglected side yard. somewhere in this overgrowth is a huge rosemary bush and a buddha statue.

thanks for visiting. hope to show you more next month as projects are completed.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

for reals

thank you friends and good people of blog for taking a peek here and letting me peer into your sparkling lives. in the past six months, I have had the pleasure to meet some of the most fascinating and lovely creatures on earth. I love it when you comment so I know you were here, it's comforting and I feel a bloggy connection with people around the world. it's nice.

Monday, July 14, 2008

mosaic monday

this week's mosaic is an actual mosaic being created in my lovely downtown.

over 140 young artists are spending a good amount of their summer vacation working on a huge art project just down from my office. the CityArts project is sponsored by amazement square, a wonderful children's museum on the riverfront in lynchburg. when completed, the mosaic will cover 4800 square feet, making it the largest outdoor art project in virginia. the mosaic tells the history of lynchburg along the james river, from pre-civilization and the monacan indians to the industrial revolution and modern day. the first phase was completed last summer. the young volunteers shown above are busy working on phase two.

it will take several years to complete the mosaic. you can give your support to the project and young artists by purchasing a tile (or two or three or ten) through the "buy a tile - build a dream" effort. I'm walking my donation down this week. see amazement square's website to see how you can participate too.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

blue notes

a slow sunday afternoon with my camera:

there is an absence of drama. it is a hot, muggy day and most people are indoors.

my favorite images today have this ethereal blue quality to them. the air is thick and filters the light.

it is silent and kind of lonely.

even the busy laundromat has a hush to it. just the whisper of clothes going round and round and round.

peaches & herb


'cause it feels so good.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

bossy like me

this is luca (the one doing all the barking of orders), my crazy wire fox terrier. he is giving simon (attentive corgi) and roxy (slightly nervous cairn) their nightly talking-to. we're not sure what he's saying (assignment of bed-hogging positions? who has the 2am drinking-out-of-the-toilet-so-loud-that-it-echos-through-the-house shift?), but it appears to be very, very important as he has their undivided attention. or maybe it's just his presence, his command, his confidence. or it could be that they know his terrier jaws will clamp down on their vulnerable bits in a ny second if they don't show the proper respect.

luca really does have a heart of gold. he is loyal like only a wft can be; just like his wft predecessor milo. he displays such tender affection most of the time. he finds balance in his role as the canine leader.

I am partial to luca because of his bossiness; it's a quality we share. what I'm learning is that while natural bossiness can be somewhat endearing when you are a petulant child or regularly mix it up with doses of humor, it becomes so much less adorable when you are the actual boss.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

how to not die from boredom

during a long boring meeting, I used tootsie-roll wrappers to engage the creative part of my brain (which was dying a slow, painful death).

I also did a sketch of some of my fellow meeting participants, which was actually pretty good. however, I am unable to post it here due to the childish speech bubbles I added. the a.d.d. kicked in and I was like a 12-year old boy.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

spilling stars

I spilled the tiny stars.

escaping from their flimsy envelope, all across the wood floor they flew, creating a happenstance mise en scene reminiscent of the milky way. carefully, I collected each one on the tip of a finger, blowing gently to release any dust that may have hitched a ride. I found them more secure shelter in this wee jar that previously housed a candle. they are waiting and wishing to become something else, something more, something beautiful, something loved.

the blue one wants to be first.

Monday, July 7, 2008

mosaic monday

today's photo mosaic is brought to you by the letter E.

clockwise from top left:
  1. eavesdropper.
  2. easily entertained.
  3. black-eyed susan.
  4. eyecandy.
  5. enchanting.
  6. explosive.
  7. egads! it's a frog.
  8. empty.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

picnic at the pond

have you ever had a picnic by yourself?

I did today. in a desperate attempt to hang on to my weekend peaceful disposition, I grabbed my camera and a sandwich made with leftover grilled vegetables and headed for the cemetery. yes, the cemetery. and yes, I had a picnic here. right here, by the meditation pond. all by myself. one of the beautiful things about this historic cemetery is that the most recent burial was about 100 years ago. the grounds are amazing and, unlike a park, there are very few people about. those who are here wander around in hushed appreciation of nature and contemplation. or, they are dead.

do you see fancy ms. dragonfly? in contrast to the human visitors at the pond, she was so fast and so busy. it took about 200 shots to capture her. she is so very french with her black and white stripes.

this cemetery, it is different. there is a swing. a wooden swing hanging from a very old, very tall oak tree. because it hangs from such a high branch, you can fly very high on this swing. each pass rises and falls in a long, slow motion that is different from your everyday playground swing. it induces a feeling not unlike vertigo, but pleasant.

it's hard to take a photo while holding on and laughing like a dork on the swing by myself.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

saturday stuff & second chances

one thing I love about a 3-day weekend is that saturday isn't as rushed as it normally is. often I awake on saturdays with an urgent anxiety about how in the world I am going to finish my tasks for the weekend and squeeze in a little fun and relaxation (so essentially, it's pretty much a work day). today is different. I awoke feeling calm and happy, with some mild anticipation, not anxiety. I still have a to-do list, but got a substantial lot of it done yesterday.

another reason for my easy eagerness is that it's the beginning of july, which to me is like a second-chance new year's resolution time (being the start of the fiscal year and all). in true lisa fashion, I can't even remember what all my january resolutions were. I am certain they included some sort of healthy-fitnessy-organicy proclamation (and I would grade myself a C+ in that area so far). I do recall that I included something environmental in up plastic grocery bags. here, I get an A+. I love my trader joes shopping bags and use them diligently. recently, I've also committed to not driving my car on sundays. we'll see how that goes.

creative exploration was part of the 2008 self-improvement package as well. so far, I started this blog, which I LOVE doing (and I love connecting with all of you!) and picked up my new camera and started capturing my world through the lens. photoshop is my new bff. now I want to get some real artistic instruction via a class or workshop. I want to figure out a way to arrange my life and work so that I can attend squam in september. are any of you planning on or thinking of going?

I'm curious what you have in mind for your july new year re-do resolution...

Friday, July 4, 2008


independent thought.

independent belief.

independent voice.

independent dress.

independent choice.

indie is important. embrace it. celebrate it.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

let's take a look

the self-portrait challenge for july is "skill".

strong observation skills serve me well in my work as a child abuse investigator. through careful questioning, listening and visual observation, I see the big picture about a child's situation. I examine and draw conclusions about things ranging from physical conditions (such as distinguishing accidental from abusive injuries) to less concrete emotional indicators (a child's tentative words or fearful gestures). I often see and hear things that most people don't want to think about.

on the positive side (and there really is a positive side to my work) my observation skills help me work with families to identify and define things that are working well in their lives and how to use those strengths to work toward a safe and healthy family. a family's history is interesting to me and I'm curious about how they live their lives and why they make the decisions they do. I truly love looking for creative solutions that help children.

(see the alternative, not-so-serious version here. I was really having fun with the looking glass! this girl loves a prop.)