Sunday, July 29, 2012

Frank Lloyd Wright: The Gordon House

In 1956 Evelyn Gordon fulfilled her lifetime dream when she and her husband, Conrad, commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to design a house for them in Wilsonville, Oregon. He did so and in 1964, four years after his death, The Gordon House was built. It is the first and only Wright house built in the state of Oregon. The Gordons lived there until both passed away at which point the property was sold to a couple from California who wanted to destroy the house in order to put up something larger and more modern. Thankfully, the FLW Building Conservancy stepped in and the house was relocated to the grounds of the Oregon Gardens in Silverton. 

J and I spent Saturday afternoon listening to a docent share his knowledge both of the house and of Frank Lloyd Wright and tour the house. It was fascinating. For me this was a great experience—visually interesting and learning about an American icon of architecture about whom I knew nothing.  What follows are snippets of what we learned along with photos.

 View of house as you approach from driveway

Front of house

Common now but paneled refrigerators were unheard of in the 1960s. 

Wright used piano hinges on kitchen cabinet doors so they could be fully opened. Also protected the door from warping.

Reading nook. The comfortable seating was designed by Wright specifically for Mr. Gordon who when asked his favorite place to sit, replied it was his Chevy truck. Wright sent an apprentice to review and measure the truck seats and it was discovered that they were on a 15 degree angle. Wright then incorporated that angle into the seating as well as into every edge in the house, including the edges cut into all the wooden fretwork covering the windows. Once you've been told about it, you see it in every element of the house and yet it is very subtle. 

Mitered edge of built-in shelf in office

Wright's homes were built for the middle class. In the case of the Gordon House he used poured concrete floors, colored Cherokee Red (Wright's favorite color- he had all his cars re-painted in the color after purchase). He also used radiant heat throughout the house.

Wright strongly believed in blurring the line between outdoor and indoor living. There is a balcony or patio off every room in the house. In an effort to create as much open space as possible, he also removed the standard corner support in a wall, placing it on either side so doors could be fully opened out at the corners.

 A path goes completely around the house and illustrates how harmonious and like a piece of art the house is. Each view is different and yet all are subtle.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Fashion as Art

In Christian Dior at the Jardin du Palais-Royal
I’ve never read a Twilight book or seen any of the movies and even if hell freezes over I never will. I don’t follow the relationship antics of any of its actors but…but, I appreciate the aesthetic of beautiful photographs. These are Mario Testino’s photos of actress Kristen Stewart from the July issue of Vanity Fair and I find them mesmerizing. Not just the fashion but the scene, the colors, the composition--all the incredible work that goes into making something so beautiful. That I can appreciate.

In Valentino Haute Couture at the Palais Garnier

In Christian Dior at the Hotel de Gesvres

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

What Determination Gets You

My tale for today is about what can happen when determination and perseverance occur at the molecular level. You may feel you’ve given up, that happiness is an elusive dream and that you’re being attacked by unseen unknowable enemies but if, in some small kernel of your spirit you can hold on to the knowledge that happiness is divine right, you will persevere. The hard part for us humans is that we want to know when and how and that’s not information the universe shares. It’s when that sticky concept, trust, comes into play. Trust and you’ll bloom. 

I planted a bag of daylily bulbs after letting them sit in the garage for over a year. They were planted in un-amended soil (read: solid clay, my fault) in an area with no drip line (J’s fault). Their first showing was quite pallid- stems but no blooms. This year, their tender roots were attacked by slugs and those that survived suffered further insult when the slugs chewed away their healthy leaves. They were beseiged and bedraggled. Thankfully, we have no qualms about the eradication of slugs on the planet so J got aggressive and here is the end result.

The second lesson here: go big or go home. Not just yellow, not just royal purple, but both. Bam!

I try and go out every day just to look at the blooms because despite the fact that there are only 3 plants, they just keep flowering. They remind me that I have NO idea what’s going to happen next, so accept the moment but keep trying. 

That’s probably the full extent of my spiritual sharing for the next 12 months. Next, I’ll be back with generalized anxiety with a side of woe-is-me. Until then, enjoy!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Saturday Lunch: Boke Bowl

Yesterday felt like a noodle day- intermittent sun but cool temps. The kind of days when a warming lunch sounds good. Which is odd for July but I’ll take our wacky weather over the blistering heat, drought and flooding the rest of the nation is getting. 

This weekend it was J’s turn to choose a restaurant and he went with Boke Bowl on SE Water Ave. It’s a large open space with communal seating and an industrial feel. You order from the wall menu, find a seat and wait for your food. The atmosphere is family friendly and relaxed—which is fine with me except for people who think their dogs must go everywhere with them. That I don’t like and, quite honestly, I thought it was a health code violation to have dogs in a restaurant but this Portland, the dog center of the universe. Thankfully, we were leaving as she was ordering. 

Back to the food because that’s what really matters, right? J and I both went with ramen. He got the seafood miso version and I got pork. We also got friend chicken steamed buns which re the kind of comfort food I crave- a soft pillowy white bun filled with strips of fried chicken in a peppery crust and topped with pickled cucumbers, green onions and a creamy white sauce with a little kick. Delicious!


Our soups were good as well. Noodle soups are not for the faint of heart or delicate, polite eaters. You have chopsticks and a wide flat spoon. Negotiating the noodles from bowl to mouth is an experience. The traditional method is to use the spoon to help affix a mouthful of noodles onto your chopsticks and then slurp them up. The spoon helps with the broth and yummy bits—in my case, fresh corn, green onion, spinach. The broth had barbeque flavoring as the pork was pulled. It was interesting but a bit overpowering. I’d try something different next time.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Next Step: The Gilmore Guide to Books

Sorry, for the mystery of my last post but, for me, the unemployment journey has been one of the worst of my life which, for someone diagnosed with a chronic incurable degenerative disease that involves daily painful injections, is saying a lot. And that sentence does- sorry. 

To avoid further coyness on my part, my big news is simply that I have started my own book review/reading website. After the debacle of my last library job rejection I decided I had to have something in my life that brought me joy and made me feel good- about myself and my life. My job had always been my identity so it had to be something I could do—despite my hours of Buddhist reading and meditation I’ve not yet accepted that just being is enough. 

The Gilmore Guide to Books is going to be filled with reviews of upcoming releases, author interviews, events, news about the publishing world, and my own writings about the world of reading. It won’t be the New York Review of Books (mostly because I’m not getting paid) but it will be my opinion—not just the pabulum some people write to keep publicists happy. I won’t savage an author, because I have so much respect for what they do, but I will share my opinion about why a book did or didn’t work for me. Just as importantly, I’ll want to hear from all of you, what you thought about a certain book, what you’re reading, when you disagree—all of it! 

This is my own website, self-hosted so there’s none of that Google ‘following’ hoo-ha. Instead, if you want to show your support (and it’s greatly appreciated if you do—like hug-a-kitten happiness) just subscribe. Also saves you time because you won’t have to check in to see if I’ve gotten off my butt and written anything new—you’ll get an email when I do. Easy-peasy with no spam, no violations of privacy or selling your email address. Unless, of course, someone offers me A LOT of money. 

I could yammer on about this but you’ve got the gist. This is my baby. It’s new and will be growing and changing and, hopefully, getting better all the time. Stop by and share the reading love.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Unemployment Diaries: Change of Plans

I’ve covered a lot of territory in this segment. There have been the fleeting highs, aha! moments and then the lows, lots of lows. 

Today I’m announcing that this will likely be one of my last ‘unemployment’ posts. Don’t start cheering- there is NO job on the horizon. Rather, recent events have left me like Paul on the road to Damascus (my mother is wincing at my using Biblical references regarding such a secular matter). Unlike his path, which led to possibly the biggest career change ever, mine is not so monumental. In fact, mine has proven to be a dead end; no path at all. I was turned down, without even the opportunity to interview, for two library jobs. One was in the library for I have been volunteering for 3 years. I met the majority of qualification but as the manager kindly explained, she had 64 candidates who met them exactly. At that point, even a sterling personality and dedication to the institution wasn’t enough. 

Given those personal events and the recently published report in Forbes that a master’s degree in Library & Information Science is the worst degree as far as job opportunities and growth are concerned and I realized that I have bloodied my skull enough by bashing it into the brick wall that is the my current field. Time to do something different. Not a career change because I don’t even know what that word means anymore and I don’t think today in America is the best time to look outside the box. There are millions of people with exactly the skills and experience needed for virtually every white collar job out there so having nothing more than desire doesn't cut it with potential employers. 

Where I am is a new space. One that is both foreign and uncomfortable for me. Maybe you could call it acceptance but that feels too big and permanent. I have decided that while this is definitely not a situation I desire or sought it is here. Continued pursuit of jobs that don’t even materialize into a single interview is toxic. Have I given up? Maybe. But I’m not depressed or unhappy. I have found something that I love to do, that fills me with joy even when it makes me grind my teeth. I can’t continue to focus on a situation that is wholly negative and out of my control. Rationally, I know what a great employee I’d be and that I could do well in a variety of companies but I can’t make it happen so I’m letting go.
I don’t want to mix the negative with the positive so the update on my new venture will follow in a post of its own.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Portland Food Carts: Aladdin's Castle Cafe

On Saturdays J and I have a tradition of going out for lunch and our only rule is to go to a different restaurant each time, which has not been a problem in Portland, so far, as there are so many great options. The only time is gets a little dicey is if it’s a food cart as most of the cart pods in the Portland are in business areas and so are closed on weekends. Thankfully, we solved that problem this week when we found the food cart extravaganza that is A LA Carts at 50th St and Division. There were over ten different carts, encompassing all kinds of cuisine, and open on Saturdays so there will be future reports from this area.

This time we went with Iraqi food at Aladdin’s Castle Café. There are many reasons I love food carts but one is that you see your food being made fresh in front of you and Aladdin’s was no exception. The son takes the orders and the father is standing in the back making some crazy delicious Middle Eastern food. They were both so friendly and nice. This may be the place that breaks our ‘not going back’ rule as there were numerous other items on the menu I wanted to try.

 Lamb schawarma over rice so perfectly cooked that each grain is separate. Served with a crunchy salad and a yogurt cucumber salad. Divine. 

I could easily have eaten everything on my plate but as we entered A LA Carts I saw Scoop—a homemade, handmade ice cream truck I’d read about so I restrained myself with the schawarma (bringing it home for lunch this week) and was able to get a creamy sweet and salty dish of salted caramel ice cream.

p.s. Dessert doesn't fall under the eating rules and for every time we go back to these carts I will be getting this ice cream. I have 9 more flavors to get through.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Gabriel García Márquez

On Monday I saw this headline in the New York Times “Brother Says García Márquez Has Dementia”. Generally, I keep this blog pretty closely focused on myself (as it should be) but this breaks my heart. The article describes Marquez’s brother as saying that while he won his battle with cancer several years ago the chemotherapy and a family history of dementia are taking their toll and he can no longer write. As someone whose neuronal synapses are eroded, corroded and definitely not up to code I understand what happens when the brain fires but the thought never reaches its destination. However, I’ve never written even a sentence with the grace and depth of García Márquez. One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera are two of the most compelling and beautiful books I’ve ever read; the kind you want to mark up with pen or highlighter because he touches your soul repeatedly. The kind where you simultaneously think ‘he knows exactly how I feel’ and ‘my God, I’ll never have a thought that grand’. 

To know that a man who could write such things has now lost the ability to do so seems horribly cruel and unfair. Dementia is a fear for many people in their later years but it is hard to imagine how terrifying it would be when words are your life. When the very core of your being is expressed in a manner so uniquely your own that by putting together seemingly incongruous words and phrases you profoundly touch other humans. It doesn’t happen all at once, so it seems as if the moments of clarity would be almost worse then the lack. In those moments you know who you were and what you’re losing. 

It is this kind of situation that reinforces my belief that I am not afraid of death but I don’t want to contemplate dying. Death will merely be another step in the journey but the dying feels as if it will only bring out the worst of my self, losses and indignities. 

Time to go back, revisit his wonderful works and remember…

“He allowed himself to be swayed by his conviction that human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but that life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.” –Love in the Time of Cholera

“...time was not was turning in a circle...” –One Hundred Years of Solitude

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Clothing Fatwa

This topic has come up before but as evidenced by the title of this post it’s a whole lot worse now. The photo below is my much beloved, 10 year old grey knit shorts. I’ve just been informed by J that said shorts are “hideously unflattering” to which I replied, “And your point is?” This is not news. I didn’t buy these shorts to look hot, I bought them because they’re a pair of sweats, but for summertime. Yes, the elastic is shot and they have bleach stains and the waistband is fraying but the drawstring works so they don’t fall down and they mean I don’t answer the door to the UPS guy in my underwear.

So, my dear husband has determined that not only does he hate these shorts but that they must be eradicated. I find his sudden sartorial delicacy interesting as this is a man who wears his 22-year-old Birkenstocks OUT. IN. PUBLIC. First of all, if I had known about these ‘shoes’ before we got married it would never have happened. Game over. So, getting all uppity because you think my short are ugly does not work. Especially as this is the pair he wanted to buy to replace them. I’m flattered that he still thinks I could or would wear something like this but I’m pretty sure 50-year-old hooker is not a good look.

Until I can find another pair of comfy knit shorts (or these disintegrate) I’m going to keep wearing these…and hiding them at night.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Inside Out

You may think that the first day of summer is sometime in June (don’t make me look it up, all right?) but if you live in Portland you know that the summer doesn’t begin until after the 4th of July. For me, that means that I moved my boots and closed toe shoes, long sleeve tops and heavy denim to the guest bedroom closet. Then I got the Christmas-like fun of unveiling my summer shoes and clothes and moving them into my closet. That done, it’s now officially summer.

The advent of consistently warm weather means my thoughts turn to indoor/outdoor living. Not mine, of course, which is just fine, but to something a bit grander, more conducive to languid hours and a chilled cocktail. Here then are just a few ‘backyards’ where I could happily wile away the summer.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Books I Love: The Darlings

Typically by the time Sol was pitching an exit strategy, the client was already so far in the woods that they had lost sight of any ambient light long ago. Sol’s job was to lead them out of the darkness.

Before becoming an author, Cristina Alger was an analyst at Goldman Sachs and an attorney. This is important because her pedigree means that her debut novel The Darlings is like The Devil Wears Prada. You know she knows what she’s writing about and you’re about to get an inside glimpse of that world. In the case of The Darlings it is high finance in New York City, the upper echelons of the hedge fund set. Within the first hundred pages Alger assembles a fully fleshed cast of characters, encompassing secretaries, associates, SEC agents, attorneys and journalists–the full spectrum of people who make Wall Street run. Having met them you’ll be hard-pressed to stop reading.

Carter Darling is the scion of a hedge fund firm with a chic, well-connected wife and two perfectly bred daughters who married as they should and brought their husbands into, not only the family fold, but the company. Theirs is an insulated society, both socially and professionally. It’s only when one of the family’s oldest friends, and the manager of the company’s largest fund, kills himself, that cracks appear in the smooth porcelain of their world. Each family member is faced with decisions they never thought they’d have to make.

The Darlings is a thriller in the best sense of the word. There are no car chases, explosives, or people shooting guns but the tension is palpable on every page. This is intrigue of the highest order; that which occurs between people and in the dark spaces of each man’s mind.

In the wake of the Madoff scandal, the avarice and vicissitudes of Wall Street have provided fodder for all kinds of writers but while the The Darlings’ plot will draw you in and grip you it is Alger’s quiet look at the life underneath the surface that makes this book such a strong read. The Darlings is about ethics, loyalty, and what happens when those lines are crossed and bonds broken. Assume nothing.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

June Reading

I’m a little late on this list and there are some who would say I ought to be doing a patriotic post but, quite frankly, I haven’t got it in me. I believe America is a great country but right now it feels very broken. And not just in regards to the economy and my situation—even though it is all about me—but politically as well. Everyone is in their own camp and there’s no such thing as dialogue anymore.

Enough of that, this is about books. June was another stellar month for reading. I was fortunate again to read debut authors with a real gift as well as some great non-fiction. What stood out were the books that left me unsettled—the perfect kind for a book club because you need to talk to someone else whose read them. So, YOU need to read them and then come back and comment. Please?!

This is a quirky book but it kept me reading. I’d love to talk to someone else about it, though, because when I was done I’m not sure I got it. Which is interesting but unsettling.

This is Twilight for grown-ups. If that series’ treacly plot made you want to gag this will grab you. I don’t read paranormal but Harkness does it with research and intelligence. A great read.

An interesting debut novel. Well written but I wasn’t sure what was real and what wasn’t by the end. Which leaves you thinking about the book for days, which I like.

Lay of the Land is one of my all-time favorites and maybe I wasn’t ready to say good-bye to Frank Bascombe because I didn’t love this book. I’m recommending it, though, because Ford is a masterful writer and always worth reading.

Sly and wry look at modern day London society from the creator of Downton Abbey.

If you have even the smallest love of clothes and shopping this is a must read. It is to fashion what Super Size me is to fast food.

Funny/sad fictional look at the life of a pop star ala Britney Spears.

BUST magazine is the touchstone of irreverent snarky women’s magazines so you know their take on DIY is going to be good. This book is practical, charming and funny.

What did you read last month? What are you reading now?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Summer Reading Giveaway Winner!

Thank you everyone for taking part in my Summer Reading Giveaway. It was lovely to hear what you’re going to be doing this summer and I appreciate the new followers.

Without further ado, the winner and soon to be owner of two great summer reads is…Inner Chick! Congratulations! Send your mailing info to my email address (listed in my profile) and I’ll get your books out asap.

Thanks again everyone. You are all fabulous and I wish I could send you each a book but there will be more giveaways to follow so KEEP READING.
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