Listen Up!

January 24, 2015 § Leave a comment

Heavens, it snowed last night! So this is looking like an Indoor Day. As such, it only makes sense to get my picks for the best records of 2014 down, with “pairings” should you decide to have a little something while you are listening:

D’Angelo and The Vanguard: Black Messiah

Released late last year, this was, I think, the best record I heard in 2014. Heavily influenced by Prince, Marvin Gaye and others, it has its own complex sound that requires multiple listens even though it sounds like record you’ve always had a few tracks in. When I worked in the music industry, D’Angelo was on a rapid rise, but I somehow had never listened to him and then he was on a ten-year hiatus. I was missing out. He is the real deal. And this is meant to be listed to as a piece. Get a glass of wine  — make that a healthy pour of a juicy California red, this is an American artist, after all — sit down, and listen all the way through.

Lucinda Williams: Down there the Spirit Meets the Bone

Lucinda is loved by her serious fans (“Change the Locks”, people!), kind of known by many more for a few great songs that crossed over (“Car Wheels on a Gravel Road”, which should be loved by many), and downright disliked by those who may find her music a bit, well…dark. But as a friend and I discussed after seeing her perform in November (fantastic!!), so much of what she is singing about feels “resolved”. So I don’t often feel sad or riled up after listening to her — it’s more like “I hear you, Lucinda”. And this record is no exception.

I first listened to it while doing a kind of rude thing at MoMA. I was tired of hearing everyone else’s chatter at the Matisse Cutouts show (which was really quite overwhelming, I think on account of the scale of everything), so I popped on my headphones, cranked up the volume a bit and moved through the exhibition. Matisse and Lucinda Williams seems like an odd combination, I’ll admit. But there was some kind of synergy going on…the music made you slow down and really take in the work on display. I kept the headphones on and listened again while visiting some of my favorite pieces in the other galleries. Wonderful.

This is a record where you can skip around or shuffle, but I find myself lingering on many, especially “Compassion”, which is an adaptation of her late father’s poem of the same name:

Have compassion for everyone you meet,
even if they don’t want it. What seems conceit,

bad manners, or cynicism is always a sign

of things no ears have heard, no eyes have seen.
You do not know what wars are going on
down there where the spirit meets the bone.

Best listened to when you are feeling fine but maybe a little introspective. And this is a smoky scotch — not wine — situation.

Kylie Minogue: Into the Blue

Everyone needs a Kylie song now and again — even if they don’t know it yet. Many of us need entire records because this is a woman who loves to entertain, works with great producers and collaborators, and has access to fantastically fun and well-written songs. It’s a party all of the time but with more musical substance that a non-fan would expect. (And if you ever get a chance to see her in concert, get your bootie to it, as you will both have a silly fun time.)

After her last record, Aphrodite, I was not sure how she could top it. Yet she did. If you are feeling tired or have a case of The Blahs, take two Kylies (really, any two except for the duet with Enrique Iglesias) and see if you don’t feel better. The whole record will get you though a painful workout, or trying to figure out what outfit is the Best You at a given time, or making dinner for some oddly large number of people when you’ve worked all week. Depending upon the time of day, Into the Blue is best paired with water, coffee or a glass of rose champagne.



(“Compassion” by Miller Williams, from The Ways We TouchPoems. © University of Illinois Press, 1997.)

Where the Hell Have I Been?

January 21, 2015 § Leave a comment

Honestly it is too long a story and not that interesting. But just in case you were wondering, I hope to begin posting again soon. (So many new skincare products, and flares are back, and I’ve been wearing flats a ton and I need to re-do all of my makeup choices…and try making that cauliflower “pizza” crust.) But I need to gear up…so please don’t go.

In the meantime, rest assured that Mr. H and I are well, as are A+O and life, while always a little nutty, is better than fine. Here are (way too many?) snaps from the past year…


Our annual New Year’s Eve dinner last year, always with good wine — and good friends.


As you may recall, the East Coast had a ridiculous amount of snow. So this year, we tried to get the dogs into booties. As you can see, they loved them.

hanging in

But the booties were with us all winter long…and trust me, it was a l o n g winter.


Alas, there was hope before we knew it. (Actually, it seemed like forever before there was hope, but bitter is not good for my complexion.)


Just a gorgeous truck…these are becoming more and more rare. Note the lack of snow…I think this was in April.


We also went to George Nakashima’s studio in May — a birthday gift from Mr. H. People: If you can get there, go for the storage room of wood alone. Stunning. But I also rather loved the outdoor views.


The rains came as they always do, but this year, they created a darling bunch of mushrooms. Don’t they look like little umbrellas? Love.



And this year’s cutting garden was my personal candy store.


And while I was running one day in June, I just had to stop — not only because I thought I was going to die, but also to capture this fantastic lichen. Gotta’ love lichen…the colors are so complex that only nature can make it so.


Another lone mushroom of summer.


Have you heard that Farm Weddings are all the rage right now? Well, they are. And they are fabulous. This were just some of the gorgeous flowers from the best wedding I’ve attended in years. The whole affair — from the BBQ Rehearsal Dinner to the late-into-the-night Wedding celebration — was just full of love and all things lovely. Truly special.


And you know where to find me in July, August and whenever I can be there. This year was no exception.


And a final summer arrangement, that I managed to get a bee a out of without getting stung or the bee having left this world too soon.


Suddenly it was fall, which brings us our first apples. This one was from a friend’s tree.



And then is was the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. Pumpkins were picked twice and included a visit to a (terrifying) play area that included a (very dangerous) real fire engine that my oldest nephew — we’ll call him “Original” from here on out — had to climb onto. There was NO WAY I was letting him on this vehicle of pointed, sharp metal, open areas large enough to get a small head stuck into and heavens knows what else, all by himself . So I did what apparently NO OTHER ADULT would do: I got on with him. At least it has this cool set of dials to geek out over, but really, I needed a cocktail after Original and I slid down off the thing.


No words. (And this doesn’t even begin to capture the true colors of the leaves.)


Fall also is my favorite time to cook hearty winter greens, but before I sauted these, I had to show them raw. Too pretty!


It rains a lot in New York. It just does. And for some reason, even though the boys have no issue running bootless through the snow, rain is a no go. Even if it has recently rained, as pictured here. You might be able to detect the wordless conversation they are having: “Hey, did it rain?”, “Yeah…it did…unacceptable! Back inside pronto!”  And that is exactly what these buggers did — this has become Standard Operating Procedure. Dislike!


But then they do something adorable like this and I (almost) forget about their Rain Issues.



And suddenly it was the holidays again. The time of Pannetone for Breakfast and cozy bedside flowers. Two restful weeks later and we were back in town.


Which is fine by me. I love the beach, but the winter light is beautiful anywhere. Especially when there are new varieties of amaryllis to be enjoyed.


And nighttime in the city, where even an uninteresting block is transformed by the crisp (ok, horridly bitter) air and light. Seriously, this is the block my dentist’s office is on and I just popped out and had to take a picture.


But to be truthful, the cold here is downright maddening. (And it hasn’t even been that bad — yet.) Back at the beach, our florist seemed to understand that people need a little hope and had these stocked. A little bit of sunshine right on the table.


And a little bit of inspiration to make sure I am entering the new year with the right frame of mind, courtesy of the Dalai Lama. With all the nuttiness that is going on in the world, it is good to aspire to kindness. To paraphrase Lucinda Williams and her late father, Miller, you just don’t know what someone is going through at any given time, so I am trying to stop before I am anything less than kind and compassionate this year — every little bit helps.


(Photos: Some Cozy Night and Mr. H; “Kindness” from How to Practice: The Way to a Meaningful Life by the Dalai Lama, copyright 2003.)

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