1. Little felt friends
Stuffed animals are not quite my thing – I prefer the warm and stinky live variety – but these little felt characters, clearly a labor of love, had me love struck at first sight. Cleverly conceived and expertly put together, they do look like the “real thing” while retaining an artsy and quirky quality. I went so far as to contact Leonor at Feltbuddies to enquire about creating a couple of boxers for me. An unusual gift for the animal crazy friends – do reserve in advance as it takes a while to make them.
Technically not a “thing”, he still gets points for coming home every Saturday with a bunch of flowers. Somehow, the surprise never gets old. This week he had an encounter with some particularly tall gladioli that had me scramble for a big enough vase. Love them more and more every time I walk by them.
I happened to catch the 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony on HBO recently and I sat glued for nearly three hours as every artist, in one way or another, seemed to belong to a specific moment in my life. Never a fan of Genesis but always loved Peter Gabriel, one of this year’s inductees: this version of “Washing of the Water”, together with Chris Martin, brought tears to my eyes. Gabriel’s voice hasn’t lost his high range and Martin’s adds poignancy to the lyrics. When music stumbles on sublime, I am reminded why I wanted to work with it all those years ago.
Mexican bakeries are not hard to come by in Los Angeles but they mostly sell variations of pan dulce or their version of cheesecake. Contemporary Mexican bakeries are unheard of which is why “Compania de Cafe”, that just opened in San Fernando, is even more a welcome discovery. I had never been to San Fernando in 20 years of residing in LA and it turns out this little Valley outpost has retained a 1950’s quaint feeling: no chains, no Starbucks but quincaneras stores with garish outfits, taquerias and, now, a beautiful bakery that sells sweet and savory empanadas, vanilla and mole cakes, sweet tamales and much much more.
No one “does” grief like Joan Didion. I hesitated before posting this because it’s so damned sad. Any those of you who read “The Year of Magical Thinking” knows what I am referring to. I heard Joan Didion read from “Blue Nights” (about the death of her daughter) on the radio a few months ago, and I ran home to download the book. And then it sat there for another few months because I needed the right frame of mind to read it. Didion lost her husband and daughter within a few years of each other and one of the ways she processed her grief was to write about it: the madness that comes with it, the incredulity, the parallel universe one has to live in to get through it. I have never read grief exposed with such clarity, rawness and detail. No silver linings here. Not to end with a downer, here is one of the more uplifting passages:
“I feel impelled to locate, by way of establishing at least one survivor of the period, a recent photograph of Sophia Loren.
I type her name into Google Images.
I find such a photograph: Sophia Loren arriving at some kind of publicity event, one of those red-carpet arrivals during which the PR people hover close, alerting the photographers to the approach of the celebrity. As I check the caption on the photograph I notice in passing that Sophia Loren was born in 1934, the same year in which I myself was born. I am spellbound: Sophia Loren, too, is seventy-five years old and no one on that red carpet, to my knowledge, is yet suggesting that she is making an inadequate adjustment to aging. This entirely meaningless discovery floods me with restored hope, a revived sense of the possible.”