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November 29, 2005

Dreams & Schemes

What do you dream — dreams of achievement or fantastic imagined worlds? What makes us dream: daydreams, goals or nightmares?

I cannot believe the things that I and friends come up with in dreams. What dreams lead to goals that lead to the eventual path of our lives? Perhaps the dark night variety is linked to the goal variety. I have tried to consciously influence my nighttime dreams but so far, to no avail.

How are dreams and motivation linked? What makes one person determined to do something or go somewhere? Of course, big motivations have led to breakthroughs of all kinds throughout mankind's history. In our individual lives, though, I wonder if there is a way to harness the power of dreams to help us achieve our goals. My instincts say there is.

For anyone who has made a goals list and seen how that helps make waking dreams a reality, the ability to turn thought into action is undeniable. I think it's important to allow our waking goal dreams to be linked to fantastical dreams. We have to give ourselves permission to dream big and think big. Otherwise, you risk leaving your biggest dreams in your unmade bed and never seeing where you could or should have ventured. 

November 23, 2005

Thanksgiving Color

Thanksgiving is pretty much orange and shades of brown, with a little green thrown in. The orange is a leftover from Halloween pumpkins, not to mention delicious pumpkin pie and sweet potatoes devoured on this day.

How do you think certain holidays attain their color status? Christmas is red and green and we accept that. Never mind that most people would agree that red and green is one of the only unappealing color combinations there is. I think that's part of the success; the shock of the combination makes you take notice and sets the decorations apart from everyday imagery. Beautiful leafy fall combos also spill over into Thanksgiving imagery; there are nice table decorations in the shapes of leaves. Pilgrim buckles are the strongest holdover from that heritage and can still be found decorating shoes and hats, although I find them a bit clunky. Clunk has its place, though, I admit.

At any rate, Happy Thanksgiving. It's always appropriate to give thanks for the many wondrous things in our lives, despite fear, difficulties and struggle. A cozy holiday to us all.

November 6, 2005

The Color of Salsa

Salsa is a colorful Latin dance style that came into its own in my native New York City. It's a fiery but orderly dance that lets you cut loose and shine on the dance floor.

Eddie Torres is often considered the father of modern Salsa. Much of the order is thanks to him, since he formally documented steps (known as shines) and turns. He danced with the famous Latin musician, Tito Puente, who, incidentally, has a restaurant here on City Island. Eddie‘s dancers were at one time called the Tito Puente dancers.

It is my good fortune to be taking Salsa lessons with my boyfriend, David, at Morocco‘s Dance Studio with Danny Ramirez and Cindy Osorio (contact Danny or Cindy for info), amazingly great teachers. They take you through steps at a pace that allows you to learn without confusion. You also switch partners frequently, a technique that enhances the learning process. Their method is called “On 2.” “On 2” refers to the beat on which you step in this Eddie Torres-influenced system. You emphasize the second beat and this is key to proper technique and style.

Artwork, l to r, by Constructivists Lissitzky and Malevich

What color do you think Salsa is? You'll see lots of red and black in Salsa imagery and clothing. But I see it as a fiery orange or fuchsia. Interestingly, David has instinctively worn an orange shirt to class a couple of times. He must be seeing the same colors in this art form. I feel the orange impulse because it's definitely hot and red means many other things to me. Despite much great use of red in design, for instance, with Constructivist artwork, to me, red doesn't have the passion of either orange or fuchsia. Those colors talk to me more. Whatever color this dance conjurs up for you, I recommend giving it a whirl. It'll open your spirit, is good for your body, a ton of fun and is a civilized way to meet people.

November 4, 2005

On Death and Living

A new theory has hatched in my head. It is that when someone dies, they may invade the living in interesting ways. This is a new twist on leaving your mark. My mom died in 2001. She was and is an original, refreshing, bright, loving presence. We had a lot of girlfriend fun but not, perhaps, the kind many women would think of. Not, for instance, shopping. While my mom taught me much about taste and detail, she was a bit of a slob, to use her own description. She was the original earth mama. That wound its way into a healthy attitude towards physical health and an unselfconscious attitude towards more superficial aspects of life. Don't get me wrong; she could drive you nuts too, like most people. But she had many unique and amazingly great traits. She was a writer. Over the last couple of years, remarkable words she would have used regularly pop into my head. They are not words I would use. And they are not slang; they are rich, descriptive, educated language.

Here's a new one. Over the last couple of weeks, I have developed a craving for a crunchy flatbread that is the sort of cracker my mother adored. Now, I always liked these too but this is much more intense. It makes me wonder if she is mischievously channeling her enjoyment of these treats through me. I mean, they are incredible! I cannot help but think of her.

When people we love die, I've heard some say that it's the tangible, down-to-earth things about the person they miss the most. That makes sense because that's what's gone. So here is an odd way in which someone's individual specificity has reappeared. Can‘t help noticing it.

Streets from Another Time

Driving through Cobble Hill in Brooklyn today, I discovered streets I hadn't known. This beautiful neighborhood is overflowing with graceful brownstones.

Enticing stores beckon from the main avenues. What struck me the most, though, was the narrow streets, built in a time before cars. On the main roads, you can drive just fine. But on the densely-inhabited inner streets, cars line both sides and there is only room for one average-sized car to ride down the middle. I cannot imagine how a truck (moving, for instance) would maneuver these passageways. It was a striking indication of how we are living in history.

The houses were built and lives were lived in them well before cars were an everyday fact. It makes you wonder who lived in each of the dwellings, besides how they got around. As a lover of Jane Austen, my mind drifts to her tales of early 1800s social goings-on and calling cards left behind in elegant foyers. For those who don't know, such “calling cards” were the precursor to today's mandatory business card. They began in the 1800s and were exclusively used by the upper classes at first. They contained only the person’s name in the center of the card, indicating that person had called and would appreciate a return gesture. (My design business can make you a gorgeous unusual or sedate and tasteful business card.)

Seeing the reality of life still thriving in these lovely houses gives me a calming sense of continuity. I hope these homes live long into the future and imagine they will. If you think about it, they long outlive us. They are, among other things, a testament to the builders’ skills, still going strong many decades and even centuries after their origination. May we all leave such a useful and appealing piece of ourselves for the future to enjoy.

November 1, 2005

Blossoming Brooklyn

My fledgling rug design business is focused in Brooklyn. That's because Brooklyn is blossoming. Some would say it's in full bloom, with interesting stores, restaurants and events happening regularly.


My boyfriend, David, lives in Park Slope, a great place. The first retail store to carry my rugs, Hers & Mine, an eclectic furniture store with a colorful personality, is down the block on Garfield Street and Fifth Avenue. Before I met David, I hadn't been to Brooklyn, except to drive musician friends to gigs once or twice. Speaking of music, for those of use who care and love jazz, it is stretching out in Brooklyn. A small club called Puppets offers talent-laden original sounds. Another delicious restaurant, Night and Day, at 230 Fifth Avenue, is about to open a full back room with live jazz seven nights a week (please note that the websites for both establishments don't do the venues justice).

The life that is happening in this cousin of a borough is amazing. To me, it seems like a sophisticated relative who isn't jaded, yet anyway.