Unreal

colorful_woman2 “Oh look, there’s Meg Ryan.”

A curly topped slim blond woman in oversized jeans, striped tee, sunglasses and Dansko clogs stood in the lunch line with us.

Peeking out from under a floppy hat like the celebrity I am not, I whispered to my husband, “She looks sweet.”

Of course, I’m appraising this from the soft landings her movies emote -- When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle... I have no idea if she is sweet.

Since I wrote the article about cosmetic surgery, I’ve been thinking about what is real and what is not. What’s artificial beauty? Are cosmetic “enhancements” and hair dye unnatural? What about hair extensions?

Meg Ryan looked like Meg Ryan.

In my last post, a reader left this comment about the characters in one of my favorite Netflix series:

“Seeing Jane Fonda on Frankie & Grace and Meryl Streep makes me ill. They’ve aged sooooo well.”

Remembering the scene where Grace (Jane Fonda) takes off her makeup, hair extensions, and the little clips on her face that give her a surgery-free facelift, makes we wonder whether passing judgment on what is real and unreal has any merit at all, especially in the entertainment business, an industry so inflated, so distorted.

Maybe Meg Ryan had facework like the tabloids claim. Maybe not. To me, Meg (apparently, we’re now on a first name basis since we stood in line together) looked like the other 50-something-year-old women waiting for sandwiches.

She looked sweet. She looked real.

Is it real when you feel comfortable in your skin?


A few extra notes:

Note #1 Eco-design followers: I haven’t forgotten you! Here's Meg's design philosophy:

"The whole idea is to keep things as simple as possible; I like everything pared down to its purest form."

Check out how she puts this into practice in her Martha’s Vineyard beach house.

Note #2 In my summer travels, UNREAL candy -- "reUNventing your favorite candy" -- has been popping up -- and into my mouth. Is candy with "real" ingredients and less sugar UNjunk?

unreal1

The Sun Sets, The Mood Changes

mirror_house Often places and objects that transform, reveal a visible pace of change. This shack, called the Lucid Stead, is an installation created by Phillip K. Smith III on a 70-year-old wooden residence in the California High Desert. It wears its heart cleverly on its sleeve, as you can see right through it. While quietly changing its mood as the sun rises and sets, it settles into its surroundings.

It endures. It thrives. It fascinates.

This reminds me of another house I’ve written about, the Mondrian House. I revisited it last month on a brisk morning, pausing to watch it live, breathe and shake off the difficult winter. The house cautiously takes in the ocean air, while gazing out over this Aquinnah landscape:

aquinnah_landscape

The homes we take for granted rise and fall as we do. Taking with them bits and pieces of the past, present and future with variable degrees of wear and tear.

As the sun sets and the mood changes, a big birthday rises this week. There are no clear aging guidelines, only ones derived from instinct. It's not really the age I feel. I could remodel, but that doesn't seem authentic to me.

silver_ponytail

I'm summoned towards nostalgia for the freedom of the good old days, while looking out over the changing landscape and seeing things as if viewing them for first time, with fascination.

Photos: Mirror House: Steven King Photography, Landscape: Ronnie Citron, Water image: Gabrielisak Photography

The Poetry of Ikebana

ikebana I watched this short video about Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arrangement, three times.

Years ago, when I was a teacher, I met a poet, Skip, who insisted children read poems three times to unlock the meaning. He asked them to experience a poem these three ways:

- Read it silently. - Read it aloud, focusing on the sound of the poem -- listening for rhyme and rhythm. - Read the poem aloud, again, as if it is a blooming flower.

Ikebana is more than the creative expression of putting flowers in a container. It's a disciplined Japanese art form that brings nature and humanity together. Steeped in the philosophy that being close to nature provides relaxation, the living branches, leaves, grasses, moss and seedpods produce natural shapes and graceful lines.

“In Japan, flower arrangements are used as decorations on a level with paintings and other art objects … The remarkably high development of floral art in Japan can be attributed to the Japanese love of nature. People in all countries appreciate natural beauty, but in Japan, the appreciation amounts almost to a religion.” ~ Ikebana International

Like poetry, watching this video three times made it bloom for me.

Spring is a tender time. There’s a youthful vibe in the changes and order of nature as life pops. What's blooming for you?

Photo: Shutterstock

Dreaming In Color: A Free Knitted Hat Pattern

Jordyn_hat3“I never felt daunted by difficulties or blocked alleys. Somehow, I knew the path I was on was right, and my trust in that sense was stronger than the limitation of my own personal comforts or desires.” ~ artist and knitting designer, Kaffe Fassett

My daughter presented me with the autobiography of Kaffe Fassett, Dreaming In Color. The luscious multi-layered book has been feeding my post-holiday soul. In the afterglow of holiday overload, extended family dinners and massive clean ups, I pause each evening and curl up with this book. The inspirational words and opalescent photographs of Kaffe’s lifelong creative journey have encapsulated me from the harsh reality of the last few weeks.

Kaffe Fassett's art, Dreaming In Color

From Kaffe’s bohemian beginnings in Big Sur to his royal rambles in England, his life unfolds to touch the hearts of painters, mosaic and fabric artists. But the book reaches deep into the souls of knitters who cannot resist replicating his colorful and whimsically patterned designs.

I took a workshop with Kaffe in Lenox, MA in the ‘80’s when his book, Glorious Color landed in the U.S. Following Kaffe's visionary career has influenced my use of color and my knitting ethic. It blew away my neutrally classic ideas about color. What...me use such revolutionary colors? What...me leave my unwoven yarn ends dangling? It was a lawless approach that I wholly embraced. All very freeing and bursting with wonder!

Kaffe Fassett knitted design.

Dreaming In Color reads like a visual pattern. The book is gorgeously designed, which is no surprise given publisher and friend, Melanie Falick’s expert eye for both editing and design.

It is the perfect book to top off the holiday and sustain a knitter throughout the long winter months.

Earlier this season, I thought about Kaffe Fassett when I chose the colors for my knitted gifts. I designed a simple hat (above) that stitched up quickly, and I’m glad a riot of colors landed in my knitting bag — orange, turquoise, chartreuse, ochre -- knitted with a thick, nubby, soft merino yarn.

 

In the openness of the New Year, let’s remember the best things in life are handmade – from our precious children to the coziest of hats.

Chunky Hat (free knitting pattern)

Materials 2 skeins Malabrigo Merino yarn Size 11 circular 11" needles Size 11 double pointed needles Tapestry needle

Directions Cast on 56 sts on circular needle. Place marker and join.

K2, P2 for approximately 6"

Begin decrease rows as follows (change to double pointed needles when it becomes too tight on the circular needles):

Row 1: k4, k2 tog, repeat around row Row 2: k around row Row 3: K3, k2 tog, repeat around row Row 4: k around row Row 5: K2, k2 tog, repeat around row Row 6: k around row Row 7: K1, K2 tog, repeat around row Row 8: K2 tog repeat until 6 sts remain.

Cut yarn, leaving 6” tail and thread tapestry needle, draw needle thru remaining 6 sts. Pull tightly, weave in ends.

Main photo: Ben Fink, model: Jordyn Cormier