Friday, February 27, 2009

A Day in New York

I woke up worried about our kitten. Truthfully, we have been struggling with Bell since we got her in August because she is constipated and strains to go to the bathroom, crying out in pain. We’ve taken her to two vets and tried all kinds of diet combinations to make her bowel movements soft and passable, but she just can’t do it due to a stricture. We made an appointment with the vet to have a surgeon look at her. Bell was to be dropped off at 8:30 am, and TD trundled off with her in a box up to the vet on 72nd Street.

I was out of sorts; we didn’t know what would happen. What if the surgeon said she needed an operation that cost several thousand dollars? Should we do that? What would the option be, put her down? Would we make that decision when we picked her up? I was on pins and needles. You fall in love with a pet, and you don’t want to lose them. I tried to do some work, and sat at the table in the living room to concentrate. I called the vet at 3:00 to check in. The surgeon had not yet arrived. I was wondering why Bell had to be waiting there all alone for six hours.

And wondering when we would be able to pick her up. Because it was the night of the big annual Bailey House Auction. Bailey House is an organization that houses homeless people with AIDS. Ted and I were involved for years planning the annual fundraising auction. I am less involved now, and Ted is on the Board of Directors at Bailey House. The auction was to start at 6:00 at Roseland in the Theater District.

Ted came home at 5:00 and we changed into blazers, wool trousers, good shoes, etc. I called the vet. The desk said she would call right back. We sat and waited. An hour later I called again. The desk said come up and get Bell at 6:45. When we got up there we had to sit in the small reception area for another twenty minutes, two tall fancy pants there for their little kitten. Waiting for the prognosis was hard. I watched the light under the door, hoping the vet would approach and swing it open.

At last the vet came out. She said the surgeon gave a complete exam and the stricture didn’t really seem that bad. The surgeon did not suggest surgery, and the vet felt it could be medically managed by diet. We were to give Bell different canned food and more stool softener. I felt a great sense of relief. Tragedy avoided. TD left for the auction, and I took Bell home. She had been given Valium and when she got home her back legs didn’t work very well; she toppled from side to side but the vet, who we like very much, said that would wear off.

I jumped back on the subway to go up to the auction. Oh, while I was home I got a phone message from my brother Thom. He had just arrived from Toronto and was in New York for one night. I called him back to say I wouldn’t be able to meet up.

When I arrived at the auction at 8:00. It was a carnival atmosphere – huge space, bright lights, packed with people, and colorful artwork, furniture, and items to be auctioned off. I found TD in the center of it. We saw lots of friends, old and new. An open bar always helps. I ran into our friends Joyce and Don Healy from Jane Street. We traveled with them to Amsterdam last October. They had just gotten back from another trip, this one three weeks long. They went on an African safari, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, spent time in Tanzania and then flew to Paris where a friend gave them tickets to the Yves Saint Laurent auction at the Grand Palais.

My mouth hung open. This was like some sort of Ernest Hemingway fantasy trip. They said the final climb up Mount Kilimanjaro took fourteen hours; eight hours up and six hours down. And they said the sheer amount of beautiful things at the YSL auction was staggering. I actually had been dreaming about what it would be like to see that exhibition in that romantic Belle Epoque building with the vaulted glass ceilings. When TD and I visited Paris in October we went to the Petit Palais but didn't get into the Grand Palais. The Healys said the crowd was very chic, with black limousines purring at the curb. Joyce and Don Healy are an inspiration; fearless travelers and always interesting.

The Bailey House live auction got under way with Simon Doonan from Barneys New York as the ring leader: “This $5,000 Armani suit is just the thing if you got canned this week!” Despite the economy, people were spending money and having a noisy good time. There are always a lot of stylish men at the event, this year in slim grey suits and big plastic frame glasses. It was a fun, fizzy party. The event was a welcome relief, a brief respite, from the bad economic news outside the door. It lifted the spirits.

When we left, the sidewalks on Broadway were packed shoulder-to-shoulder with people getting out of theater shows. At home we ate sandwiches from the deli on the couch at 11:00 and compared party notes. Bell was back to walking normally. I felt restored; all was well. Later, first Bell and then tabby cat Rose got up on the bed, every one sleeping together, as if in a rowboat floating on the sea.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Blogosphere is Faster

This is funny; on Monday I read about Mast Brothers Chocolate on the site of a fellow blogger, Hollister Hovey. The brothers make their chocolate by hand in their shop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, roasting their own cocao beans, and I planned to go visit this Saturday.

Today, Wednesday, the Mast brothers and other Brooklyn epicures who make artisanal food are on the front page of The New York Times Dining section in a story called "Now in Brooklyn, the 19th Century." (With a different title on The New York Times website.)

Now I wonder if there will be a line to get in?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Oscar Highlight

Dustin Lance Black won for writing the original screenplay for Milk:

"You are beautiful wonderful creatures of value." And don't forget it.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

On Being a Gentleman

A Gentleman at Breakfast, 1775, attributed to Henry Walton

I have a great big book called The Compleat Gentleman by Geoffrey Beard and in it he quotes sixteenth century writer Baldassare Castiglione on "the attitudes of any gentleman: of not hurting the feelings of others, of not making making them feel inferior, of behaving with ease and grace, and of experiencing proper joy in the wonders of true love and service."

Friday, February 20, 2009

Around the House

I decided this week to do some work in the living room. We get a lot of sun through windows and skylights.

This tall glass vase I got at Anthropologie, though it looks to me like something from Murano, the small glass-making island near Venice that TD and I have visited. My mother gave me the mahogany mirror, I think it's from my great grandmother.

We found this little clay vase in a thrift store in Connecticut. It's modeled by hand and shaped into flowers.

The flower petals are painted different colors. Very Bloomsbury, no?

It was marked $8 and when I got up to the register the woman said, "It's 50% off."

And here's Miss Thing.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Glad Tidings

This we file under "Barack Obama is a Genius."
Here we have Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton being welcomed for tea by Japan's Empress Michiko.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Mercedes Benz/Conde Nast Digital

The Live Well Dashboard is the big project that I have been working on for Mercedes Benz and Conde Nast Digital. The campaign is now live on eighteen Conde Nast sites; click on the image to use the dashboard which is an aggregation of a lot Conde Nast lifestyle features and videos. In the dashboard, I wrote the headlines and the feature summaries including the tips.

More content will be added each week and by the end there will be 70 features and 30 videos from Conde Nast. It's very cool, and I've learned some style tips while writing it. For instance, did you know that pizza Margherita was named after the last living queen of Italy?

There is an article about this groundbreaking campaign in Ad Age.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Over the River and Through the Woods

TD and I went this weekend to visit my parents in Guilford, Connecticut, a picturesque town on the Long Island Sound above New Haven. On Friday night we took the train from Grand Central Station to New Haven, and then the little Shoreline train from New Haven to Guilford.

Saturday we went to the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven. I love that museum. The collection was a gift from Paul Mellon, and it is the largest and most comprehensive grouping of British art outside of the United Kingdom. It's housed in a peaceful building designed by Louis Kahn, and admission is free. I enjoy looking at the history of men's fashion, and there are many wonderful portraits here.

George Agar-Ellis, 1st Lord Dover, by Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1823

Self portrait by Joseph Wright of Derby, 1780

William, 4th Duke of Devonshire by William Hogarth
I like the white scarves tied at the neck.

On Saturday night my father grilled a steak and we exchanged some Valentine's Day presents.

After dinner we watched on dvd The Duchess starring Keira Knightley. Really good. Based on a true story, she plays Georgina, Duchess of Devonshire (1757-1806). Ralph Fiennes plays her cruel husband William Cavendish, the 5th Duke of Devonshire, and, yes, he is the son of the Duke of Devonshire pictured above at Yale. It's a beautiful movie (nominated for an Oscar for Art Direction), and I can never take my eyes off of Keira Knightley.

But it's a sad story about how women were trapped in that society with no rights.

She does survive it though.

On Sunday TD and I drove to nearby Hammonassett Beach State Park. Brilliant day, not a cloud in the sky.

We went running along the bike path.

I love a beach year 'round but especially in the winter when it is such a relief to be outdoors in the sun.

The few people that are there really want to be there.

On Sunday night we took the train home.

It was swell. Hope you had a good weekend too.

On Style

The great American artist Georgia O'Keefe said: "Art is important in everyday life. When you buy a pair of shoes or place a window or address a letter or comb your hair, consider it carefully so that it looks well."

Thursday, February 12, 2009

V. proud, part 2

You saw below my brother Eric. This picture is my brother Thom. Thom is the CFO of the Kinross Gold Corporation in Toronto where he lives with his family. Here he is speaking at the annual shareholders meeting last May.

Aren't my brothers good looking boys? I'm the oldest of four siblings, only missing here is our sweet sister Cynthia who lives in Colorado -- she is a Western girl.

Monday, February 9, 2009

"If You Get Caught Between the Moon and New York City"

There is a full moon in New York tonight.

I saw the movie Arthur with my brother Eric in Madison, Connecticut, in 1981. Twenty-eight years – doesn't seem that long ago.

Here is Eric on CNN this week:

V. cool, as Eric would say. I'm v. proud.

Sunday, February 8, 2009


White flowers.

White kitten.

Bell nestled herself in two plastic garbage bags. Wouldn't be my choice, but she seemed to enjoy it.

White (sort of) bow tie.

After yoga I went yesterday to the Vintage Clothing & Antique Textile Show & Sale at the Metropolitan Pavillion on West 18th Street. I hadn't been before and was curious. $20 admission. A lot of women's clothes and a lot of women shopping. It really was crowded. I think vintage clothes will be more popular in this economy; there were Chanel and Gucci bags for a fraction of the price. Picture-taking was not allowed at the show which cramped my style, and I wish there were more men's clothing dealers; I heard a couple other guys complaining about the lack. But I found this silk paisley bow tie for $9, and I like its pale color combination.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Joy of Lacroix

The Spring 2009 couture shows were recently shown in Paris, and you can see them online at They do a great thing at which is provide detail shots which are fun to look at. After all, in matters of style, God is in the details.
Christian Lacroix is a great master at combining all kinds of colors, fabrics, textures, and shapes. His combinations are infinite and extraordinary; they go on and on -- stripes and polka dots and you name it, he can do it. These are happy clothes. They make you smile and be glad to see them. He really is an artist in the way that he mixes colors like paint. I mean, isn't this a beautiful thing?

Brush strokes of red, yellow, orange, pink, and then on top, slashes of green and blue. The whole rainbow in one detail. Draped chiffon, satin ribbons and plastic bangles make up a delicious composition -- art that moves on the body.

This looks like three necklaces piled on one another. Red coral, blue beads, white drops. The French are so good at this sort of thing.

This is one long crazy necklace on top of a wildly striped chiffon caftan. The necklace is an asymetrcial concoction and drips with beads and sparkles. This detail is reminding me of India, and Auntie Mame. Wouldn't you love to see a hostess in Westport throw a fondue party in this outfit?

Monsieur Lacroix inspires with his joyful, exuberant creativity.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

These white tulips are opening up nicely.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

It's snowing today in New York City.

Washington Square Park
We're not used to that, much, in the Big Apple.

On the way to an appointment this afternoon I rode my bike (carefully) down the Hudson River bike path and thought about how in the hot summertime I jog down the bike path in a tee shirt and shorts and run my hand over the bushes there bursting with fragrant, pink rugosa roses.

Spring Colors

Speaking of warm weather flowers, the other day Ted brought home these tall daffodils. They look like spring. The three watercolors on the wall are by Ted, click on the photo to see them better -- he's a talented artist.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

A Prayer for Today

At our great church, Judson Memorial Church, we had a guest speaker today named Esther Cohen who wore a big black hat, black and white Fifties cat-eye glasses and red lipstick. She read some prayers that she has written. Here is one:

It's never too late.
It's never too late.
It's never too late.
It's never too late.

After I went running today, that prayer reminded me of a video I watched recently of Jane Fonda giving a talk which came to my attention on a fellow blogger's site at The House of Beauty and Culture. I've always been a fan of Jane Fonda. She's extremely talented and intelligent, and I love her voice; she can break your heart with her voice. I wish she worked more as an actor. This is a great clip though it's long at an hour and a half, but I recommend it, particularly the first part up until she starts taking questions. One thing she talks about is watching her father Henry Fonda die, with regrets in his life. So she decides to identify what regret she would have, and work to minimize it during the third act of her life so that she would be able to die regret-free. It's a powerful idea.

Think about what you might regret and get to work on it now. It's never too late.