Easter Weekend a la iPhone

I spent a lovely weekend with my family in dear old Livermore. Some highlights: the bridal shower of an old childhood friend, laying in the sun, cat snugs, fondue feast complete with mini martini flight, little girls with white gloves at my parents' church, the great egg hunt (over which I was victorious), colored egg names courtesy of my friend Marnie (most notable: Ocean Sacrifice). 

I hope all of you had an equally fun-filled weekend! Please enjoy this feast for the eyes. And no, we did not take a plate of eggs out to the front yard for a photo shoot...


The end is.. where?

Source: etsy.com via Susan on Pinterest

Leaving work downtown today I found myself funneled into total mayhem on Market Street. Traffic was ten buses deep and the sidewalks swarmed, more so than usual, with pedestrians. I saw at least one firetruck and ambulance squeeze through the congestion, sirens screaming.

Everyone around me seemed excited, loud. Horns honking, street cars dinging their bells, more sirens, bikes fighting through like insects, and the villagers all riled up. The sky was that colorless wash that carries with it an inevitable sense of foreboding. I couldn't tell what might have been going on other than an isolated emergency somewhere, some construction, just particularly bad traffic. Or... earthquake? Zombie apocalypse? UFO crash landing?

I got on the 6 outbound like any other day. The big black bus driver ma'am was shrieking from up front, "TEN MINUTES!" with more sass than I will ever have in my body. "I bin through it comin' down and it wuz TEN MINUTES!" I can't remember if this was before or after something hit our bus and she went into action mode, disembarked and, presumably, put an appendage back in place.

In a high window of a building on the corner of Market and 7th was a sign that said
the end is near. I looked up at it from the bus and then closed my eyes, listening to the hum (the roar?) of civilization, just glad to have a seat.


I found out later that Obama is in town, hence the traffic. Bit of a shame... the UFO thing would have been cool.

Source: flickr.com via Mara on Pinterest


What the Craft?: Crochet 101 at Workshop SF

Is there anything better than a basket of yarn?

I recently attended my first DIY class at Workshop, an indie establishment in San Francisco that offers unique and affordable classes to the public. Screen printing for newbies, anyone? Glass jar terrariums? Basic bicycle maintenance? These are just a few examples. All the classes are a couple hours long and cost around $30-$40. Materials are included, and you usually go home with an (almost) finished project!

My sister lives in LA, and on a jaunt around South Pasadena last year she took me by Common Thread Studio, a beautiful, inspired space that offers sewing classes and machine/workspace rentals with a retail shop in front selling lovely handmade wares. Upon seeing it, I cried a little inside knowing I would never have time to utilize the studio as an out-of-towner, and had been wondering ever since if San Francisco had something similar to offer.

Enter...Workshop! Somehow I had never known about this magical place (that is, hallelujah, cheaper than Common Thread) until chancing upon it on a friend's Facebook. The world-rocking began and I immediately signed up for last month's Crochet 101.

Now, I wasn't brand new to crochet, having learned last year and made a couple of projects. See below.
Exhibit a. Crochet hooks and other tools enclosed.

Exhibit b. Baby blanket I made for my niece. Isn't her crib nook adorable? Giraffe spots and tissue paper flowers courtesy of my talented sistah.
However, my skill was limited, and as hard as I tried with Youtube tutorials and books, I could not get beyond the basic single stitch crochet. Wah wah. I figured joining some other eager yarn fools to get tips from a pro could be worth it, and boy was I right! There were only three of us in the class, and the teacher worked with everyone closely as we moved at our own pace to make a bottle koozie/pouch. I learned how to crochet in the round, do a double stitch (success!) and, sort of, read a pattern. The space was cozy and inspiring, and the instruction was accessible and non-scary. Behold:

Not too shabby, eh? (It's unfinished, of course.) Now the trick will be remembering how to do all that stuff. If you live in San Francisco (or want to come visit me) and like to make stuff, let's take a class together! I'm thinking I'll try out the glass jar terrariums next.

Happy crafting!


How pure a thing is joy

I always say I'm not very good at favorites. I find making such choices to be far too committal, not to mention unnecessary. Why rate things in such ways? I don't have top five places I've ever visited, I don't have a favorite book or song of all time. I have a web of beautiful things that I've spun in my psyche, and each one is good and important in a different way.

That being said, I just may have a favorite poem. I've reread this so many times that its rhythm has become a familiar place. When I want to be reminded how to live, how to make sense of our existence, of the great and terrible impermanence of our world, this is the place I come to.

What are years    

       What is our innocence,
what is our guilt? All are
       naked, none is safe. And whence
is courage; the unanswered question,
the resolute doubt -
dumbly calling, deafly listening - that
in misfortune, even death,
          encourages others
          and in its defeat, stirs

       the soul to be strong? He
sees deep and is glad, who
       accedes to mortality
and in his imprisonment rises
upon himself as
the sea in a chasm, struggling to be 
free and unable to be,
        in its surrendering
        finds it continuing. 

       So he who strongly feels
behaves. The very bird,
       grown taller as he sings, steels
his form straight up. Though he is captive,
his mighty singing
says, satisfaction is a lowly
thing, how pure a thing is joy. 
        This is mortality,
        this is eternity. 

Marianne Moore


Free cone day+extra

Turns out, there is a perk to living a block away from the most overpriced Ben & Jerry's ever:

Living down the street meant popping over there as they handed out their last few cones of the day and not waiting in lines. Ever had ice cream with potato chips in it? Neither had I. Free ice cream means ice cream when you wouldn't normally eat it, especially because you'd never pay $5 for one small scoop.

Free cone day is sort of like Tuesdays at Anthropologie when everything goes on sale, when you wouldn't normally get a dress but then you do, because it's only $30 and why not get a dress when it's only $30? Especially if it does such marvelous things for your caboose. And yes, this frock used to cost $168. Just sayin'.

Tuesday wins! Here's wishing you all some equally brag-worthy freebies and bargains.


Wah wah wasa

You know that feeling when you don't know what to do with yourself? When you feel so aimless that the only thing you can manage to do is close your bedroom door and stare into space? When you want to cry but you know it's only hormones, this cave you're in. When you know you exist in the world like everyone else, but you feel more like this guy:

{Images via}

You want to be like him, but the idea of it is so sad. A part of the world but not really, you would spend 10 hours painting yourself too if it only meant you would be hidden from view.

You feel like you could walk the ten blocks from the bus stop to your office with your eyes closed and it would be the same because you don't see anything anyway. And after work you're at a loss so you trudge to Lucky because the cold air will be good and you're out of 59-cent plain yogurts.

The woman who rings you up has a name tag that says Arlyn and jowls like a bull dog. Her eyes droop at the corners and she calls you Hon and Darlin' and Sweetheart and you feel better because you know she means it. Because you know you can be coddled at the grocery store like the sad little lamb you are when all you really came for are Wasa crackers. Arlyn must treat everyone this way, but at least the world has that.

You know that feeling? When the only thing to do is go home, get in bed, and read Angela's Ashes, because no one has it worse than the McCourt family. Och. Least of all you.


What the Craft?: Craft Bar w/ Etsy Labs at MOCFA

Folks, let's be clear about one thing. I love-in-italics the world of craft and DIY. This is a relatively recent obsession of mine, having blossomed within the last year, and though my skill and follow-through are minimal, my appetite is great. I can (and do) spend hours on DIY design blogs, coloring in an image of my handcrafted home in the sky that will one day have solid floors and walls, a clean white bed with a headboard I will make out of books. I've dabbled in crochet, embroidery, and handmade greeting cards, and I have a budding relationship with the sewing machine.

Lucky for me, San Francisco--a haven for recycled living and individualism--offers plenty to inspire the amateur do-it-yourselfer. I thought I'd share my glimpse into this world with you here, in a weekly series I'll call "What the Craft?" that will probably appear, let's be honest, once or twice a month.

First up: Craft Bar with Etsy Labs! This is an event the first Thursday of every month at the Museum of Craft and Folk Art. They bring in a different local artist and/or crafter each time to lead a project. You pay $5, they provide the design, materials, and instruction. Oh, and they have $1 beers. Sometimes there's one project, sometimes you can choose from several, but from what I've seen, they're always delightful.

Last week, I made the clip-on bow tie you see above. Hand-sewn with love by moi. Impressed? Feel free to leave a comment telling me so. The pattern came from WhipperSnapped and the fabric was donated by Britex Fabrics, a San Francisco landmark with four stories of floor-to-ceiling designer goods sure to make any crafter weak in the knees. The best part is the actual artists and other knowledgeable folk are on hand to show you exactly what to do and walk you through each step of the process.

I made it to another Craft Bar a couple months back where I made this felt bib necklace, still missing the necklace part, so really just a cool piece of felt. But I mean, awesome right? 

Craft Bar is cool because you get to be there with a bunch of other like-minded people, giddy with the thought of using their hands to make something lovely. They crowd the door and fight their way in for seats and scissors. The first time I went alone and got to know an older lady next to me. Last week I went with friends and we hardly spoke because we were concentrating so hard on stitching our bow ties just so.

You get in this trance while crafting, you know? Your brain ticks off, your hands work, and your eyes focus. While you may not be able to socialize and do an overstitch at the same time, you feel good in this collective creativity, this warm lighted room full of people who just want to leave their jobs and spend a couple hours making something simple and pure.


The sun, it remembered us.

This city is an entirely different place when it's not raining. When it's -- dare I say it? -- warm. The past two days have felt like a vacation. People are celebrating. It's like that scene in Pleasantville when everything turns to color.

And by that I mean, surprising.

Instead of boots and tights and multiple twisted socks, instead of the perpetual damp, instead of the rain and the wind -- god, the wind -- it's sandals and it's walking slowly because for once you don't want to get to where you're going. You just want to be where you are.

When the sun comes to San Francisco the city smells like hot brick and flowers and outdoor dining. People drive with their windows down and their music up and every street feels like a party. You get to stroll down to Golden Gate Park with no jacket and big earrings and get food from a truck at Off the Grid. You get to sit in the grass with your friend and his dog eating Korean BBQ tacos and steamed pork buns from Chairman Bao and watch the sun set behind the trees.

Like this.
And? If you're lucky? The warm weather will coincide with an actual party on the street, like the Lower Haight Art Walk, and you'll get to spend your Friday evening enjoying art, drinks, and live music.

Happy Friday, my pets. Word has it the rain will be back tomorrow, but until then I'll be wearing a flower in my hair like this girl.