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The Power of Rothko

I was just nine when I first met Rothko. We lived in Newark and Midtown Manhattan was a 25-minute ride away on New Jersey transit. From there, my mother and I would sometimes walk the 20 blocks to the Museum of Modern Art on 53rd Street. I’m not a New Yorker, but I learned and loved the city at an early age. New York seemed the center of the universe, and MOMA was a Disney fantasy to me.

MOMA had large and enveloping paintings and very cool installations from many mediums. I especially loved the neon art that would attract most any child. But the paintings I most fell in love with were the Mark Rothkos with their blocks of bright, transparent colors that seemed to float on each oversized canvas.

I was blown away the first time I saw them. I wanted to see them from every angle, so I laid down flat on the floor with my hands behind my head to see it from that angle. My mother was mortified and immediately came over and demanded I get up and behave myself. But a security guard came over and assured her that I was doing nothing wrong, I was just viewing the painting from a different prospective. I was glad he understood. I think Mom understood my love of color and form, even if she did not fully understand the power of Rothko.

We went to the gift shop to buy a postcard or something that would remind us of our experience in the museum that day. But for me a postcard wouldn’t do. I wanted a full-color Rothko poster for my bedroom wall. As I recall the poster cost $20, which was a lot of money in that day and would have paid for most of a week’s groceries. To me it was well worth the money, but I was nine and Mom was practical. I settled for the postcard.

Twelve Things I Can't Live Without (right now)

  1. Yves Saint Laurent — L’ Homme Eau de Toilette (www.ysl.com)
  2. Diptyque Candles — They are so elegant, especially in the entry way of your home. (www.diptyqueparis.com)
  3. Prada Loafers (www.prada.com)
  4. Starbucks’ Via Ready Brew Coffee — Italian Roast. I love this in the warmer weather for iced coffee. (www.starbucks.com)
  5. My Black Leather Barcelona Ottoman.
  6. Fresh asparagus from Pike Place Market in Seattle (www.pikeplacemarket.org) Broil and top with fresh lemon zest. Delicious !!!
  7. Salted caramels from Fran’s Chocolates in Seattle (www.franschocolates.com) President Obama has a standing order with a special blue box and Presidential Seal on top.
  8. Nordstrom’s Grill, lower level, downtown Seattle. Great food, great service. Jessica is the best bartender in town.
  9. My Joe Fresh tee shirts. When I’m Vancouver BC. I buy a variety of cool colors, and they change every season. (www.joefresh.com)
  10. My Land Ends Blue Trench Coat. It’s a perfect weight for rainy spring weather in the Northwest. (www.landsend.com)
  11. Trader Joe’s. When I entertain I always find what I need there. (www.traderjoes.com)
  12. The support of my family and friends. I am so thankful they are in my life, now and always.


Bringing Paris Home

I remember as a child sitting in front of my very own black and white television, watching my favorite shows on the little screen. Some friends I knew liked cartoons, some watched the public broadcast channel. I loved watching travel, biography, and especially the cooking shows.

My favorite was Julia Child and her show was The French Chef. I was fascinated by the wonderful way she accented her words in a way that made her sound like a New Englander to me. I loved the way she would pronounce French words and tell stories about the many regions of France and the culinary delights found in each. I would marvel over the varieties of cheeses, patisserie, jams she would present, but my most favorite of all was Coq au Vin.

In my neighborhood in Newark the only way we knew a chicken being cooked was fried and baked. It was amazing to me to see chicken being cooked with wine and sherry. Julia always had a great smile on her face once the dish would finish and would present it to us with a cheerful “Bon Appetit!”.

When I finally reached Paris, I enjoyed French cuisine of course. But I came to realize that Julia Child fascinated me not just for the food she was preparing, or even her French pronunciations. It was that she embodied the French love of life, joie de vivre. And the amazing thing about Paris is how much eating is a cause for elation, for being in the moment, for enjoying the ambience of the room or the people walking by.

I’m not a French chef and I don’t live in Paris, but I do enjoy French cuisine in the comfort of my own home. Knowing the recipes, shopping for the fresh ingredients, preparing the meal in the style Julia Child would approve, setting the table as the French do, brings Paris home any time. It is, after all, a movable feast.

Recommended Reading

The Welcoming House: The Art of Living Graciously, Jane Schwab, 2013

Williams-Sonoma Collection: French, Diane Rossen Worthington, 2004