A Visit to Casa Jaymie

Packed my bag for our over night date and loaded it in the car.  The plan was to meet Richard at La Costa around noon.  Our couples massage was scheduled for 2:00.  Armed with my directions from MapQuest, I began the drive south to Casa Jaymie around 9:00.  I was supposed to be there at 9:00.  Tough.  Let her wait.  She had texted that her dad would be there to meet with me.  I was hoping she would also attend this little meet and greet, but, alas...that potential endorphin rush was not meant to be.

I was only in the car a few minutes when my mobile phone rang.  My BFF, Julie, was calling to check up on my mental state.  I gave her a quickie update and filled her in on my mission of the morning.  Let's just say...She was not a fan of the plan.
"What??  Why??  What good will this do?"
"No way I'm letting HER benefit from anything regarding Richard.  Besides, you know how I enjoy making her twist in the wind."
'You're on your way now?  Right now?"
"Yep.  On the 67 as we speak."
"Swing by and get me.  You can not go over there alone."  Julie was willing to leave work to save me from myself.  I took her up on the offer.

The directions were less than crystal clear.  We took a wrong turn or two.  Had to call Jaymie for navigation assistance.  Her dad answered.  He spoke to me as if we had been invited over for tea and biscuits, so calm and polite.  He gave us the clarification we needed and we quickly arrived in front of their house on Coronado Avenue.

Jaymie's home looked a lot like I thought it would, cluttered front yard, drab color, cheap shingle roof and car in the driveway that would need a paint job before anyone would take it as a trade in.  I strained my memory for a mental image of Jaymie's car.  I only saw it for a brief moment previously, but if memory served, her car was no where in sight.  We parked and walked to the front door, knocked and waited.

A balding, middle aged man with a girth too wide for his short stature, opened the door.  I recognized him immediately from the Eagle's concert, James, Jim, HER daddy.  For a brief second, I felt sorry for the guy.  He was gonna clean up his daughter's mess.  She had shamed herself and her family.  Maybe it would have shown greater parenting skills to make her face the consequences of her actions.  But, who am I to question that.  He has sent her away, or she chose to run and hide.  Don't know how the choice was made, but she was no where to be seen.
I made proper introductions and James invited us in.

One of the ways James had hoped to improve his lot in life was on the shirt tails of my husband, but Jaymie beat him to Richard's shirt tails and his pants, too, so that gravy train was lost to him.  Along with, I would assume, much of the pride he had in Jaymie, if he ever had any at all to begin with.

We entered into a tight area, also cluttered.  On the floor, to my left, against the wall, was the massage table, along with other items that I couldn't quite see.  He lead us to the left, into the kitchen and we sat in three aluminum and vinyl chairs that were a rare throw back to the 70's.  The table was shoved tightly up against the left wall and even though the room was very poorly lit, the curtains were drawn shut.  Perhaps James didn't want nosey neighbors to ponder the reason for an early morning visit to his home from two women that obviously did not live anywhere near this neighborhood.

He began the conversation with an apology.  I know we sat there for at least 30 minutes, but I only remember a little of what we discussed.  I can tell you, I never cried, not once. The whole thing was freakishly reasonable (which I realize is kind of an oxymoron) until I brought up the cash.  James, then, began to squirm.  I felt just like a predator with one large paw on her prey.  The next bite would be lethal.

"Half of the money Richard loaned Jaymie, by law, is mine.  If I have to sue her for it, I will."
"Jaymie said he gave her money.  It was never a loan."
I was getting very sick of that weak defense.  I became more insistent, one might say aggressive, in my demands.  He thought I was bluffing about going to court and airing my husband's dirty laundry.  Julie assured him, I would enjoy nothing more.  We went around and around about the amount Jaymie owed me and when I would get it.  He felt I wasn't holding the right person responsible.  He referred to Richard in terms of a bully that coerced his baby girl.  PLEEEZE!  Nobody was gonna call Jaymie sweet & innocent anytime soon, however, I firmly explained to him that Richard would be held MORE than accountable.  His life would be riddled with punishment.

He wasn't gonna budge before talking to Jaymie, but I was relentless. Knowing how I tend to pursue my goals like a pit bull with a bone, Julie stepped in.  She said, "This isn't going anywhere right now.  I think it's time we leave."

James did get smart right there at the end.  "If Jaymie does give you this money, will you agree to never contact her or any member of this family again?"
Without hesitation, "Of course.  I just want the money back."
Oh....bad form.
That wasn't an accurate statement.  I already knew that I wanted all the other emails.  There were so many she hadn't sent yet.  Why was I giving up my bid for those?  I was also risking answers to the endless questions that would haunt me in the months to come.  I couldn't possibly imagine how they would haunt me that morning, in that humble home, but I would come to need Jaymie to quiet my mind. (At least, I THOUGHT I needed her.)
Once again, I acted much too quickly.  I signed that agreement, hand written on a tinsel thin paper napkin.

I signed it and he made me a copy on a FAX in his office, which was probably a tiny corner of his bedroom.  As he returned to hand it to me, we got up and took the two or three steps back toward the front door and the pile of bootie I came to retrieve.  I was getting more than I bargained for.  The massage table and bracelet were there along with a bottle of Dolce & Gabbana Rose the One perfume, (Of course it was ROSE.  I despise rose perfume.  It reminds me of funerals) a decanter of room fragrance reeds and a little something to make me swallow hard.  Richard had given her his high school senior, black and white pic.  You know, the little yearbook images you could trade with fellow students? The tiny photo of him at 18, with the date written on the back by his dead mother.   My heart twisted as I looked at her crooked cursive, hoping she couldn't see this painful moment from heaven.

Julie helped me load it all in the back of my Volvo.  I thanked Jim for his time and told him to contact me about when I could expect the money.  As Julie and I drove away, I thanked her for coming with me and keeping me in line.  I also told her to take the massage table for herself.  Sell it on eBay.
"Get as much as you can and keep it all.  I don't want anything she touched.  Maybe not even Richard."


Emily Seebohm blew her wad early in the 100 backstroke with swims of 58.2 in the heats and 58.3 in the semis; she only had a 58.6 left in her for finals. Missy Franklin did the opposite, going a 59.6 in the heats, a 59.3 in the semis, and saving her best for last: a 58.3 in the finals, even after having just swum in the semis of the 200 free fourteen minutes earlier.

It was a masterful performance; and Missy is obviously an all around exemplary girl.

I just wish they wouldn't interview her afterward. Am I the only one who feels as if he needs an insulin shot every time he hears Franklin speak?

Everything means the world to her, everyone is just so wonderful, and every new experience is just the greatest ever.

At a certain level, her uniformly upbeat emotional state seems to keep her on an even keel; it must help her swimming to only think positive thoughts. (She is the poster girl for Norman Vincent Peale.)

But there also seems to be an undertone of near-hysteria to her niceness. You almost get the impression that if a single negative thought entered her consciousness, her head would explode.

She reminds me a little of all the people I've met who alway try to say the right thing. I always want to tell them, "You know, you'd be a far more interesting person if instead of always saying whatever it is you think you're supposed to be say, you'd occasionally say what you actually think."

Who knows, maybe Missy really is that nice. Maybe when she was born, the dial just got set to HAPPY, and that's just where she's at neurobiologically. Maybe she was born with an excess of serotonin, and the world is just a great big rave party for her.

She's certainly not a hypocrite: she's turned down an awful lot of money just to be able to have the experience of being on a college team.

(Note to Missy: I've been on one, and it ain't all that great. After these Games you'll be at your peak earning potential: take the money and run!)

Yes, I know I'm a horrible old grouch for pointing all this out.

I guess I'm jealous, partly of Missy's Olympic gold, but mostly of her frame of mind. I only wish that over the course of an entire week I could experience the amount of happiness she seems feel every five minutes.


A lot of people seemed to make a lot of assumptions when they anointed Ryan Lochte as the next Michael Phelps. You could just hear the wheels turning in the sponsors' brains: he's just like Phelps, except he's handsome! And if we sign him up now, we'll get to air our ads during the Olympics, when they'll be most effective!

Well, Lochte is certainly handsomer than the dorky-looking Phelps. But as for the swimming, Michael set the bar at Olympic perfection, and that's an awfully high bar to clear.

Ryan has gotten beaten badly each of the last two nights, yesterday not even medaling in the 200 free. And that's made some of those ads which air immediately following his events ("Luck didn't get me to London -- I swam there") seem just a tad presumptuous.

Part of the problem is that Phelps was more naturally inclined to go into automaton-mode; in Beijing he put the blinders on, and didn't come up for air until his eight events were over. Ryan, by contrast, stayed up until 2AM celebrating with his family the night of the 400 IM, even though he had two 200 freestyles to swim the next day. (Note to Ryan -- you're not supposed to celebrate until all your events are over.)

But part of the problem is simply that there are other swimmers, like the 6' 8" Yannick Agnel, who want to win just as badly as Ryan, and who may simply be more talented in their specialties.

People forget that Phelps was in fact lucky to win his eight golds. First, Milorad Cavic raised his head too early at the end of the 100 fly, slowing himself down. Second, Jason Lezak managed a superhuman performance on the anchor leg of the 400 freestyle relay to save Phelps's gold there.

And even Michael hasn't been able to pull off another Phelps this time around.

Ryan will swim in the 800 free relay tonight, which the Americans will most likely win, though they're no longer the overwhelming favorites they were a week ago. And he will probably win the 200 backstroke. The 200 IM is still a tossup between him and Phelps; we'll get a better sense of Michael's condition when he swims the 200 fly tonight. But it's already too late for Lochte to achieve perfection, and given that that's what he's been set up to do, he looks a trifle silly.

This is a little unfair, because he's still a great all around swimmer.

And he still looks like a Greek god.

Unfortunately, the character from Greek mythology he most resembles at the moment is Icarus.

How to Upholster Bench Corners

Remember the not-so-vintage bench I was going to reupholster in the spotted leather? I finished it before we went on vacation. I used my favorite corner method and thought I'd share. It's an easy approach.
First I laid out the hide to figure out the pattern placement.

I used these new AMAZING heavy-duty scissors to cut the edges of the piece and make a clean, straight edge.

You want about three inches of overhang with bench tops or drop seats for chairs. It's enough fabric for you to be able to pull nice and tight, but there won't be leftovers peeking out from underneath.

I like to stagger staples in two lines, one about an inch set in from the edge and the second line running along the inside edge of the fabric.

Once all four edges have been stapled (don't forget to pull very tight!), it's time to tackle the corners. There are a few different ways to approach corners, but this way there are almost no folds or bunching (which is tricky especially with thicker fabric and leathers).

You just bring the fabric or leather together in the corner and run staples in lines on either side of the fabric, at a 45 degree angle. Leave about an inch or so loose without staples near the outside edge of the corner.

Using heavy duty scissors, cut the fabric or leather very close to the staples, but stop cutting right at the corner.

Then trim the edges down so that the flap still connected to the corner is about two inches wide.

Then pull the flap very tight and lay it down and staple it on top of the other staples you put in at a 45 degree angle.

If you have been pulling tight the whole time, the flap will lay very flat and the corner will be very smooth and professional looking.

All finished! I love this spotted hide so much more than the taupe velvet.

See just the two tiny folds on either side of the corner? If I had just pulled and stapled around the corners like most upholstery jobs call for, there would be all sorts of bunching and really heavy-looking corners. This method makes the fabric lay almost as flat as sewing the corners (which is a pain to me).

PS The winner for the Jessie Mackay painting give away was chosen and she was emailed, so please check your inboxes! As soon as I hear back from her I'll update the post. Thanks for entering!

The British bookies

It's illegal for British bookies to accept bets from Americans, and the credit card companies over here won't allow you to place money with them anyway. But every four years, I wish we could.

The British bookies are far superior to their American counterparts. They give odds on most of the major Olympic sports, something Las Vegas sportsbooks mostly ignore. They not only make odds on who will win every event, but even offer odds on whether a certain swimmer will place in the top three, and whether a world record will be broken in that event.

There are a number of bets I'd love to make. Yannick Agnel still pays off two to one in the 200, even after his spectacular relay leg last night. Taewhan Park pays off sixteen to one, which is a bet worth making just because the odds on him shouldn't be so long. And there are a number of other events where I disagree with the odds.

British online bookies, by virtue of their legality, are more respectable than the traditional American variety. They have names like Ladbroke's (sounds like Lloyd's of London to me). And money is deposited first, then used for bets, so there's none of the "You know I'm good for it" routine that can happen when arrangements are more informal. (Thus, no informal breaking of legs either.)

Oh well. I'll have to be content with watching the swimming in an interested, but financially disinterested, fashion.

More swimming

On the assumption that everyone watches the Olympics, I'm writing about swimming this week.

Camille Muffat, winner of the 400 free, has maybe the most masterful freestyle stroke I've ever seen from a woman. She always looks effortless, as if she's just biding her time before picking up the pace.

The American coaches made some questionable choices for our relay lineups. On Saturday morning Natalie Coughlin outsplit Alison Schmitt in the heats of the 4 x 100 free relay. Yet head coach Teri McKeever put Schmitt in the evening lineup ahead of Coughlin, despite Coughlin's faster split and greater international experience and the fact that Schmitt had the 400 free the next day.

As it turned out, Schmitt lost the 400 free to Camille Muffatt, 4:01.4 to 4:01.7. Would the extra rest last night have made the difference? Hard to say.

McKeever also happens to be Coughlin's coach in Berkeley, so it's possible that she opted for Schmitt because she didn't want to appear to be playing favorites. But she would have been justified in using Coughlin.

The opposite happened with the men. The two fastest splits this morning were from Jimmy Feigen, who led off in 48.4, and Matt Grevers, who split a 47.5. (Leadoff legs, done without the benefit of a flying start, are generally a little more than half a second slower.) But head coach Gregg Troy opted to replace all four swimmers from the morning. Nathan Adrian and Cullen Jones had earned their spots in the final by virtue of placing first and second at US Trials a month ago. But Troy also used Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte.

Phelps swam well, splitting a 47.1, the fastest time of the relay. But Lochte anchored in 47.7, and was passed for the gold by the French anchor, who split a 46.7. Grevers had the 100 back final coming up the next day, so it's understandable that the coaches wanted to give him a little extra rest. But swimmers generally swim faster at night, and it's hard not to believe that either he or Feigen wouldn't have swum faster than Lochte did. Would the difference have made up the .4 margin by which the French beat the Americans? Probably not.

But it so happens that Troy is also Lochte's personal coach in Florida, so he appears to be playing favorites.

Speaking of the 6' 8" Grevers, here's his picture:

Here is the man who is his main competition tonight, the 6' 6" Camille Lacourt:

Hard not to look at the two of them and think, gee, well I know who'd win in a fight.

Copy Cat Design: Caitlin Wilson's Dining Room

Colleen is on fire - I love seeing what she is up to on There Comes A Yes. Also, did you hear that she is now the head graphic designer for Lonny? She is so talented and I feel really lucky that she works with me! She's joining us today with a copy cat version of a room designed by another lovely friend, Caitlin Wilson. Here's Colleen:

I really love Caitlin Wilson's dining room in the July issue of Matchbook. It's a pretty mix of traditional and feminine pieces!

It's pink, but the shape isn't overtly girly, so it works well in a dining room.

A fresh, light wash of blue on the walls enhances the navies and pinks.

Chintz makes me happy. That's all.

A very traditional and formal chandelier--it's best paired with a mix of furniture styles.

To stuff with hydrangeas, of course.

Dress up a run-of-the-mill buffet with glam lucite knobs.

A basic sideboard perfect for customization.

Scour church garage sales, thrift stores, and fleas for a framed oil painting--you'll get the best deal!

Rarely can you go wrong with a vintage dining set. If you're searching Ebay or Craigslist, try adding "regency" to your search terms.

To get that Regency look, search for high back chairs and caning.

Upholster the dining chairs in a navy and white/cream stripe!

Use wing back chairs as host chairs--it breaks up the matchy-matchy look of a dining set.

Tie the room together perfectly with this floral fabric.

4 12 gallons of Kraut

We eat fermented food with every meal. 
 Most folks should considering what Antibiotics, processed foods and vaccinations, and drinking water with chlorine and fluoride do to the most important part of the human body when it comes to health...the Gut. 
 Basically "civilized" life destroys health by destroying the center of a bodies health,
 by destroying the good bacteria which we need to be healthy, 
and promoting the pathogenic bacteria that are at the heart of so many of Mankind's Ills. 
So one thing we can do to help repair this damage is put back some of the good bacteria..
(The next thing folks can do is starve out the pathogenic bacteria, but sadly a lot of folks aren't willing to give up the foods that feed the problem...namely grains.)
We finished off our 50 pounds or so of pickles a long time ago, so we keep making Sauerkraut...and barely keeping up.

We just ran out this morning of the last batch, I checked the new one and it was plenty done... YIPEE!!

 You can see it here, Bubbling Away

Potent Batch

Full of good Probiotics



There's no way that Michael Phelps could swim a 400 IM at Trials four weeks ago in 4:07.8 while not even fully peaked, and then, fully tapered, go a 4:09.2 in London unless something was organically wrong with him.

I vaguely remember reading recently that Phelps had his blood drawn by three different anti-doping agencies in one week. If each of them drew one decent-sized test tube's worth, that adds up to real reverse blood doping.

There are a lot of people who would pooh-pooh something like that. But in fact, for a finely tuned athlete who sleeps in a hyperbaric chamber in order to marginally increase his red blood cell count, and who works out in hopes of taking a gaining a slight edge in conditioning, the number of red blood corpuscles in your body does make a difference.

The different governing bodies in sport all supposedly conduct their tests randomly. But if all three happened to descend on Phelps in a short time frame right before the Olympics, that's just plain bad luck. And maybe bad coordination.

If that was in fact the case, expect to hear something about it from Bob Bowman, Phelps's histrionic coach, in the near future.

Of course, there's always an alternative explanation: maybe Phelps just isn't a big meet swimmer.

(By the way, we've seen an awful lot of Debbie Phelps over the past two Olympiads; I wish they had shown her face after the 400 IM.)

Speaking of finely tuned athletes, it seemed a big injustice that defending champion Taewhan Park was disqualified for no good reason during the heats of the 400 free this morning. He was reinstated after a review of the videotapes, but that process took several hours.

Meanwhile, Park was in shock. Even though he got to swim his event that evening, who knows how much he was affected by this. Did he warm down after the heats properly? Did he eat at the right time after his event? Did he digest his food as well as he would have had he felt more relaxed? Was he able to rest calmly and recuperate in the eight hours between heats and finals, or was he too distraught?

He ended up winning silver, which doesn't sound too bad. But he had been expected to engage in a close duel with China's Sun Yang, and when Yang began his last 100 sprint, Park had no answer. Would it have been different had he not gone through this turmoil?

We'll never know.

But we can make a pretty good guess.

In both of these cases -- with Phelps and Park -- it seems the officials played a role in the outcome.

The Opening Ceremonies

The Opening Ceremonies for the London Games hit a lot of highlights of British cultural history last night. They seemed to throw in as much as they could: the primitive, the glorious, the ingenious, and the droll, all of which combine to make Britain what it is.

They had James Bond meeting the queen, and the two of them pretending to parachute into the stadium. They had a Sex Pistols song and a Rolling Stones song and Paul McCartney singing Hey Jude. They had J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, reading from Peter Pan. They had the actor Kenneth Branagh dressed in a Charles Dickens outfit reading Shakespeare, a neat three-fer.

The only thing they were missing was the singer Tom Jones dressed as Charles Darwin reciting some of Isaac Newton's laws of physics. That would have been in keeping with the spirit of the show.

Four years ago in Beijing the Chinese seemed to be trying to express their grandeur and might and ability to organize thousands of people to march in lockstep (a perfect metaphor for the country itself).

What message were the British sending?

What I heard was:

"Well, we may not be as spectacular as Beijing, but we're far more interesting. And we have a sense of humor about ourselves -- something the Chinese have never been accused of.

"Oh, and by the way, we may not win as many medals as some of you larger countries, but let's face it: we've had a lot more geniuses."

Not exactly a newsflash

It's hardly news that the NY Times no longer makes even a pretense of being unbiased. But they outdid themselves this morning.

Mitt Romney is visiting London, and yesterday was asked by NBC what he thought of the security preparations for the Games. In an effort to show that he had been briefed and was on top of things, he replied, "There are a few things that were disconcerting, the stories about the private security firm not having enough people, the supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials, that obviously is not something which is encouraging."

Today the NY Times had a large picture of Romney, spanning four columns at the top of the front page, with the following caption:

"An Awkward Exchange in London. Mitt Romney leaving 10 Downing Street on Thursday, began a trip abroad aimed at showing off his diplomatic skills by questioning London's preparedness for the Olympics, prompting a tart reply from Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain."

Is the Newspaper of Record supposed to drip with sarcasm?

(By the way, it's pretty obvious that NBC, the on air equivalent of the Times, wanted to get Romney on the record saying that the security arrangements were perfectly good -- just in case there are any breaches during the Games.)

If they weren't so biased, imagine the fun the Times could have had when Barack Obama showed off his diplomatic skills by presenting Queen Elizabeth with the official state gift of an iPod filled with his speeches:

"Ego Problems Anyone?"

"Queen Elizabeth's Insomnia Finally Cured."

Or, "This'll Sure Keep Her up at Night."

"That's a Gift?"

"Second Prize, Two iPods."

But no. At least give the Times credit for consistency. They never, ever veer from the party line.

She Ain't Keepin' the Cash Either!

(Before I start this post, I just have to say, WHOO HOO!  I figured out how to post pictures!  Go me!  I might just figure this blogging thing out eventually.)

It didn't surprise me at all that Richard had given her money.  I'll bet he handed out Benjamins like lollipops to his broke, young whore.  Richard's ability to help Jaymie financially was surely alluring.  First, he got her a job.  After she managed to lose that, he held tight to that rope of attraction by keeping gas in her tank, bling on her wrist and hot undies on her ass.  He said it was less than a grand, but my guess is, Jaymie got an allowance.  Richard had said he felt like he needed to take care of her.  She was his mistress and that made her his responsibility.
Half of that bootie call cash was mine and I aimed to get it back.

Another call and another voice mail left for Jaymie.  Told her I knew about all the money Richard had given her and that he had referred to the money as a loan.  The loan was now past due.

I actually got a rapid text response.  "I'm in class now.  I'll call you when I'm through.  The money was NOT a loan.  He gave it to me."
Oh, fun, fun!!  Struck a nerve!!  I figured giving back the swag would be humiliating, but not a set back in her bank account.  Repaying cold, hard, ill-gotten cash was gonna cramp her low-life style a bit.  No way that unemployment check was anywhere near $1000.  I could hardly contain myself waiting on her call.

"Jaymie, thanks for getting back to me.  I'll be coming tomorrow morning to pick up the massage table and the bracelet.  I'd like to get at least half of the money, too."
"There is no money."
"Of course there is.  Richard told me he loaned you money many times.  He said it was at least a $1000.  Surely, you must have some of that left."
"He never loaned me money.  He gave it to me."
I'll admit, Richard never did call the money a loan.  He had said he helped her out from time to time.  Loan was my loose interpretation of the monetary transactions.

"You're saying he just GAVE you money?  Really?  What does that make you?  A prostitute? A cheap whore?  Never mind.  Rhetorical question.  I know it was a loan and half of that money you took, for services rendered, is mine.  I'm giving you a huge break.  I'm only asking for half of the money and I'm going to get it back, even if I have to sue you for it."
"You're going to have to talk to my Dad."
I knew she was backed into a corner if she was going to her good Christian Daddy about this.  She sounded like she was about to have a sob fest.  Her voice was timid and shaky.  I don't know if it was because I intimidated her or the thought of Richard throwing her under the bus truly caused her pain.  Either way, if she was suffering, I was jubilant.
Her last words, "There is no money.  It wasn't a loan.  All the stuff he gave me will be in my driveway tomorrow morning."

That was that.  She was done with me.  I'm fairly sure I never spoke to her again, not that I didn't try, over and over and over for a year.  That's when, out of desperation and immense frustration, I started this blog and found the Healing Heart.
Both of which saved my life...or at the very least, my marriage.

I was looking forward to seeing her house.  I wondered if Richard had ever seen it.  I had the address from the online search I did of her right after DDay.  I knew it was in a lower middle class neighborhood of Spring Valley.
I texted her that I would be at her house by 9:00am tomorrow morning.  Tomorrow was also the day Richard and I were going to La Costa for our over night date.
Something told me that my mood wasn't gonna be as festive or romantic as Richard was hoping.

More cuteness

Just too darn cute
 Some future buttons and etc. drying off after being rinsed.
Beautiful mostly Birdseye Maple burl.
Most of these will have trees carved in em.

El Rio

We took a day trip into Madrid today to walk down by a newly renovated area by the river (el rio) on the west side of Madrid. This area used to be the dump site of the local matadero (slaughterhouse) and other businesses until 2004 when the Mayor decided to invest in it as a project. Through works the last 8 years, they have transformed the area into a walking, biking, and skating area. There was even a little beach area where you could lay out and sunbathe by the river. 

We enjoyed it thoroughly. There is always something new to find when visiting Madrid.

I'm on the hunt to find some vintage shops in Madrid! I'll keep you posted :)

By one of the puentes (bridges) along the river

{Top: Jcrew, Shorts: Jcrew, Sandals: Jcrew}

little secret: I scored this top two summers ago for $7 at a Jcrew. However, since then, I edited it a bit from its original version. It originally had bright pink pom-poms, and I realized that the pom poms really kept me from wearing the tunic a lot. Especially after one of my co-workers said I looked very "Bollywood", which just wasn't the look that I was going for. So, I de-pompomed the shirt, and I like it much better. So if you have this top in your closet, unused, perhaps de-pompoming will give it a new chance to become more integrated within your closet! :)

Making Curtains Out of Drop Cloths

Using canvas drop cloths from the hardware store is a super economical way to make thick, light-filtering curtains. There is magic happening in the interwebs, and all sorts of creative bloggers have come up with great methods for jazzing up the panels - paint, dye, trim, you name it.

Check out a lovely assortment of links and ideas for drop cloths HERE on my latest post for the Better Homes and Gardens blog.

images via BHG

PS Remember this project we used drop cloths for? 

Sophie Ward

Watching the Miss Marple episode described a few posts below made me want to see another, so last night I watched "A Caribbean Mystery," another BBC production, from 1989. It wasn't quite as good as At Bertram's Hotel. But it featured a stunningly beautiful woman:

(The picture doesn't do her justice; to get the full impact, you have to watch the show.)

I'm surprised that I'd never heard of Sophie Ward. She was just luminously (if borderline anorexically) beautiful, with the kind of elegant features which broadcast -- rightly or wrongly -- breeding and intelligence.

Whenever I see a woman this beautiful, I can't help but be curious: where is she from? What is her personal history? (Thank you Wikipedia.) What became of her?

I looked up a few more clips of Ward on Youtube; later, as she attained a more healthy weight, her face wasn't quite as ethereal, though she was still beautiful. (There, hope I've done my bit to encourage anorexia today.)

Every now and then I'll see a beauty who never really made the jump from starlet to star. And I always wonder why, since she is far more attractive than most of the women who did become big stars. Was she unwilling to submit to the indignities of the casting couch? Was she just not the type the casting directors wanted to promote? Did she have other priorities?

Ward has her own blog about acting: what it's like to film a kiss, the relationship between assistant directors and actors, and so on. (Somehow it makes me feel better to find that such a beauty would also have a blog, even if she obviously spends less time on hers.)

She writes well, though intelligence and acting ability seem to have surprisingly little correlation -- or at least that's the conclusion I've drawn after having seen a few great actors interviewed.

Ward was married for eight years, had two sons with her veterinarian husband, and left him for a woman. Hearing that, it's hard for a guy not to think: ah, too bad. Not that it would have made the slightest difference to any of us. (Note to guys: learn to be good in bed. If a woman starts off with guys then but then turns to a woman, it's not because her new lover has a bigger dick; it's because the lover is patient and skillful. Then again, maybe the woman is just more attracted to women.)

That may be partly why Ward never became a big star: a lesbian would be less amenable to the casting couch. (Come to think of it, there are a lot of movie stars whom it's easy to imagine as prostitutes, which is essentially what they are if they snagged their roles that way.) And coming out publicly can have a dampening effect on one's acting career, as the public is less willing to accept that actor in traditional heterosexual roles.

Ward, a former model, appeared in a few movies you probably haven't heard of, and did some television. She's also done a fair amount of theater work, for which she has evidently been lauded.

For me at least, Ward dominated A Caribbean Mystery. It's hard to focus on Joan Hickson's apparent intelligence -- or even Agatha Christie's indisputable genius -- when Sophie Ward's face is onscreen.

A Little Tour of our Market Booth

How about a little tour of our Saturday Market Booth

 Some new felted bags I made, felting around beach stones, then needle felting.

 Here are some small pouches Taryn made, really cute, very popular.
 Inspirational Carved then painted Magnets

 Necklaces and earrings

 Beautiful wife and sweet sleeping Bracken,

Upholstered Chair Legs

Right before we left to go out of town, I stopped into one of my favorite stores, Canvas, to pick up some glassware for a shoot. While I was there I fell in love with this petite wingback chair.

We need a pair of very narrow armchairs in the brownstone. I'm planning to use these bergeres right now, but there's a chance they'll be just a hair too wide and not nearly deep enough for the long living room (we'll just have to see once we get in there next week). But these narrow and deep armchairs from Canvas just might be perfect for the space. (and how pretty would bright red pillows be on the blush pink linen?!)

The price on these is not that great, but maybe I could find something vintage with similar proportions? I think I'm mostly just crazy for the upholstered legs! What a great look (and something I could totally DIY).


Two days ago my father set a world record for men 85 - 89 in the 200 meter breaststroke with a 4:10.7, breaking the old record by three seconds. He already holds the 80 - 84 record with a 3:47.8. He's the fastest 85 year old in history, but is also at an age when the rate of decline is fairly steep.

Two different women came up to me at the meet and said, "Your father is so cute." When I mentioned these comments to him, he grunted in a not entirely happy way.

When you get to a certain age, and you no longer appear threatening, you become "cute" again, sort of like a newborn baby.

I knew my father when he was younger, and trust me, he was far from "cute." Stern, autocratic, formidable, headstrong, and forbidding are the adjectives that come to mind.

So even if he starts to look like a one year old, I will never see him as cute.

I suppose I'm only about 25 years away from that status myself.

Can't say I'm looking forward to it.

"Of Massacres & Media Myths"

A very amusing editorial in this morning's NY Post about how the media reacts to mass killings.

Miss Marple

Just a little plug for At Bertram's Hotel, the 1987 BBC production of the Agatha Christie book, starring Joan Hickson as Miss Marple.

To those of you who instinctively recoil at that thought of all the implied Anglophilia, all I can say is, give it a chance. The Anglophilia in this particular episode is actually played up and made part of the plot.

It would be easy to assume that Christie, who lived from 1890 to 1976, is now dated. But her observations about human nature were acute, and human nature has not changed over the generations. An example: she understood sociopathy before the psychologists even had a name for it.

The unique appeal of Miss Marple, in case you're unfamiliar with her, is that she is an unassuming, slightly dowdy little old lady whom nobody notices at first. She is surrounded by the rich and the titled, the strong and the beautiful, the tough and the cynical. But she outdoes them all simply by being more observant and insightful.

We can all imagine that we have a little of Miss Marple in us, and that's partly what made Agatha Christie the bestselling author of all time.

Joan Hickson was the perfect Miss Marple: she radiates intelligence, which is what you need to do if you're going to play a little old lady with a giant IQ. Hickson, with her owlish gaze, seems to peer right into people's hearts.

There have been other Miss Marples. Geraldine McEwan was the latest; but having a former cutie in the role just never felt right:

Hickson was undoubtedly far closer to what Christie had in mind when she created the character. Give it a try, you'll see what I'm talking about.

(Whatever you do, don't wait for the big budget Hollywood production which will inevitably star Angelina Jolie as a butt-kicking babe who solves crimes by seducing and then beating a confession out of the criminals.)

Gray's Rock Shop

This weekend my brothers and sisters and their families have been together at my parent's home in Snowflake, Arizona. After we were all burnt out from the lake, we decided to take a little day trip to Gray's Rock Shop in Holbrook near the Petrified Wood Forest. It was the coolest place, full of the most incredible gems and rocks. Mother Nature really knows how to put together a color palette!

I loved these crystals that looked like a cityscape.

Wearstler-esque petrified wood stump chair and gorgeous mollusk fossils.

The shop had the most beautiful agate all over the place. This little bowl was full of pieces already banded in gold and ready for stringing on a chain.

I wanted these petrified wood bookends so, so bad!

Malachite boxes and trinkets were everywhere!

They also had an awesome selection of brass and acrylic pieces for displaying your rocks. I liked these petal-shaped ones.

The girls helped me pick out this pretty piece of petrified wood and the minty green crystal to take home with us to NYC next week. I'm so crazy about the colors! And aren't the brass and acrylic stands great?  It will be fun to have little souvenirs of this trip and reminders of our old home in our new home.

PS Did you know petrified wood is estimated to be between 50 and 200 million years old! Amazing.