Friday, December 14, 2012

Legs up to there

I've had a little niggle in my lower back lately -- nothing crazy or worrisome. Just a bit tender, maybe from crazy inversions, maybe from the wild amount of book lifting from last week, but whatever. It seems to have set itself right after a week of taking things easily and more considered.

The pain, as angering and frustrating and stupid as it was, also made me more aware as I worked into poses. I have always known my core to be my weak(er) point and something I need to activate more. Well, nothing like a little pain in the low back to get you back into feeling. A roadblock, detour ahead. Yeah, you want to go to your back? Think again, that road is closed! Take the core path.

I also became aware of this incredible muscle in the body called the PSOAS, which links the bottom of the spinal column (starting at the 12th thoracic vertebrae) through the hips to the upper inner thigh bone. It is one of the largest and thickest muscles in the body (also known as the tenderloin in animals).  Check it out below, cool eh?


Apparently it is a tough muscle to massage, needing access through the hip, accessed under the intestines, quite the personal area, smack IN the hips, a space full of emotion.

But anyways, seeing the layout of this muscle, it got me thinking about internal rotation of the legs, and the sheer length of the legs. Internally rotating my legs, thinking of the PSOAS, means that I am accessing that muscle but also extending into opening my back. So my legs don't end with my leg bones but actually extend into my lower back. Now that is something to think about in yoga classes. Learning anatomy (and getting injured, HA!) is just an incredible way to deepen a practice.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Believe

There are a few conversations in my little life thus far (27 beckons on Monday), that I remember with utmost clarity and gravity.

Out to dinner one night with a friend, I remember talking about astrology or energy or chakras or something like that and I was quite shy, sheepish and dismissive about it. Calmly, he responded something to the effect 'If you believe it, own it'.

Ever since I have remembered that moment and chosen to be steadfast and bold in my beliefs; believe in who you are.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Two days later

When I was in high school and college, more than having a good night's sleep the night before, the common advice became to get a good night's sleep two nights before. Somehow the body and the mind has a memory that goes beyond 24 hours.

Two days after the inversions workshop I did, I find myself finding new little spots to stretch and discover, when yesterday I was feeling good.

The body in constant evolution.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Vegan. Discuss.

A surefire way to stimulate conversation? Go vegan.

I can't tell you the number of conversations I have had about the way I am eating lately. Invariably it begins with a quizzical inventory of what I don't eat. Which naturally leads to a curiosity to how long I've been holding this up. And then a discussion of what I do eat and what I am missing.

Really, I don't mind this conversation. People are curious, I enjoy chatting about food. It is a way to share knowledge.

What is really interesting are the stories that come out. This past weekend, with guests over for dinner, we talked about veganism and how it affects travel, but, more interestingly, we talked about different approaches to food, family stories, personal histories. Food is universal and we all have some sort of relationship to it, as fuel, as family time, as personal journey. It truly is fascinating.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Let Life Surprise You

Yesterday, I went to an inversions workshop with a lot of floating, flipping, jumping... Now, I've always been able to get up with a wall nearby but somehow, being further away, I've always freaked out.

Learning to fall (tucking your chin to your sternum) was a good first step. I tried distancing myself away from the wall, with plenty of cushy mat to fall on, but still, my instinct was not wanting to fall out of forearm stand. I knew I could do it, but a big mental hurdle remained. Brendan, the teacher, simply said, I can't help you. And while infuriating, he was right, that mental block has nothing to do with strength or alignment - all things that are already in my arsenal - this last step of the journey I would have to go at alone.

Then, somewhere near the end of class, we were going through scorpion pose, and I distanced myself a little further from the wall, maybe a little more than an arm's length - not too close, but not too far - and, tired from a long day of yoga, floated up into a forearm stand, and then leaned into a scorpion, wall-free.

And there it was. That moment when it all clicks. When things snap into place quietly and without warning. Without thinking. Sometimes life just surprises you.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Ask for What You Want

Yesterday I got my ears lowered as my beloved childhood babysitter used to say when I got my hair cut. A funny little barber shop around the corner from my house called Rocket Barber Shop. All the guys cutting, using mostly electric trimmers, had slick hair and some sort of ink. Vintage knickknacks covered the walls, 50s music blared from the open hood of the half car that sat in the corner. I kinda felt like I was on the set of Grease.

Anyways, I was getting my hair cut and had a very clear idea of what I wanted. When my barber thought he was done, I made another request. And then another. While I felt a bit pushy, I truly just believe that I was asking for what I wanted. In the end, I left satisfied with my cut - a feeling I rarely have after a haircut. But the formula is simple, ask for what you want, communicate and those around you will hear your voice.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Pick a Word

A short post, just an idea really, based on a happenstance experiment last night.

A great way to switch up your playlist instead of searching for artist or album? Just pick a word. Brown, Fall, Right, Where... whatever really, see what happens - it can lead to a fun foray through your music library.

Last night's Fall playlist was quite the experience.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Searing Savasana

Something happened in last night's class. Deep in a pigeon pose approached from a different angle, I was able to approach a pose that usually causes me strife by sinking into its layers, breathing into the depths of the muscles, finding tightness. At one point I saw the decorative molding of my Montreal home's front door, so very clearly; I saw the corner down the street, where Elmwood hits Wiseman. Corners, squares, hips. It was such depth even though I found myself with much internal chatter all through class, feeling places of strain and ache and pull more acutely and loudly than before.

And this morning, I woke up in a swirling cloud of energy, I could feel it in my abdomen, in my belly. Light, heat. It's a weird space to enter, uncomfortable, ugly, brambled. And I kept exploring, kept getting nowhere. Breathing into the energy as it surged. A cleaning?

And this evening's yoga class, almost immediately in a trusted space, I dropped into that mindspace of dreams, unfocused darting eyes, a quivering energy. It returned at the end of class in savasana, that pulsing energy, in my forehead, in my chest, in my belly. An energy that is there and existent but non-descript. Going deeper into a room with no space. Call it a searing savasana, call it whatever you want, I just know that the energy becomes fascinating, exploring a depth beyond the body but within it. Unleashing, exploring, this body and this mind are wondrous.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Just a Thought: Take Your Vitamins

Yesterday I forgot and felt a little off-kilter, until I realized why perhaps, I forgot my vitamins! (Or one could also blame the eclipsing full moon?). Amazing how in tune with the subtleties of my body and its shift I have become in this new lifestyle.

With the crossover to veganism, never has it been more important to take my vitamins every day. So important to have your nutritional bases covered.

Not much of a post, just a thought.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Big Guns


It took me by surprise. I was eating dinner with my roommate and we got to talking about our developing yoga practices and she started pointing out muscles that have been changing, and then she turned to me. Look at your muscles, and, for the first time in two or so weeks since I have really poured myself back into my asana practice, I took a look. And bang.

I don't usually post photos of my biceps, but then again, I've never been the guy with the big guns (don't worry I won't become a meathead). I've always been teetering on the edge of satisfied and remiss with regards to my body image, remaining committed to my own regime or non-regime or what have you. I never took to weight training as I thought it was unnatural; I've always believed that to be truly in shape I'd rely solely on my own body and its weight. I grew up eating pretty healthy and leading an active enough lifestyle, running in highschool before finding yoga in college; I've always been lean and slim.

So mid-cleanse at the beginning of this month, something just clicked. With a renewed dedication to founding health for my body, I clicked right back into my yoga practice which had lay fallow for quite a while. Finding a motivating local teacher was definitely another key factor in the equation.

And now, not focusing on the end goal of getting muscles but instead revved about the meditative aspect and the breath/space/strength awareness of the yogic practice in concert with a vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free and alcohol-free lifestyle, I find myself getting results I didn't think possible. BAM. Part of me is still a bit in awe of the transformation. Somehow body conception vs. the actual image of the body haven't always met up at the same point in my life. Regardless, I am definitely superbly in tune with my body more than ever before. And it shows. If it all feels good and this is what happens? I'll take it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

108 Lessons in These Beads



I used to have a set of mala beads a few years ago. I lived in them, meditated with them, wore them to yoga, showered with them. Eventually through such excessive wear, the chain broke. I found them to be a grounding presence, rosewood beads linked together with red string, a quiet power.

So, finally, I've gotten a new set of beads, which, once again I am living in, unbeknownst to those around me. Somehow I feel more confident with them on - as a bracelet, as a necklace - I'm not quite sure why -- perhaps they bring me out of moments of nervousness and fear, to remind me that I am here, the chain continues, it moves, flexible with the flow of life. 

The funny thing about the mala is that it doesn't fit comfortably anywhere -- it doesn't wrap around my ankle, nor does it wrap around my wrist without a slight dangling chain. But somehow it is perfect that way. Nothing is perfect and nothing should be taken for granted. Awareness always, the beads are moving. And while they are loose and I stay alert to their positionality, these beads don't fall off easily -- thus the cultivation of a quiet faith in life's intrinsically balanced trajectory.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Phantom Vibrations

Do you ever get that tingling sensation in your thigh muscle? Y'know, as if you are getting a phone call? I've come to think that in this day and age, where mobile phones are vibrating in our pockets, our muscles are reacting to the localized sensations. Not sure if this good or bad, ridiculous or just plain commonplace, but, all in all, it is kinda funny. Muscles getting cosmic transmissions...

Friday, November 23, 2012

Adrift in Yoga: Man Leggings?

Half-way through yoga class yesterday, I got to thinking (uh oh, this is sounding a little too Sex & The City) as I looked around the room at all the ladies wearing leggings, doing their lunges. The token male, yet again, I wondered, what if a man wore leggings? Could a man wear leggings? Part of me feels that if you aren't a cyclist, a circus performer or a ballet dancer, you really shouldn't. And also if you aren't a model in some sort of French haute couture fashion show. But then again, who cares? I'm sure spandex-y shorts/leggings are good for flexibility and a man should just wear 'em if he wants to -- perhaps not full on leggings but some sort of shorter short, albeit not short shorts. But then again, everything works on the right person.


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

a ripple is a wave

A beautiful piece that crossed my path a week or so ago. Beautifully organic, ornate, sensual and magical.
Jennifer Trask
'Umi' Wall piece
17th/18th/19th century frame fragments, antler, bone (various), graphite slab, 22K and 23.75K green and rose gold leaf, and resin
2012

 Baroque splendor reigns in Jennifer Trask’s unique wall pieces, a combination of her fascination with organic materials such as bone and her fondness for antique found objects. Mimicking the most regal of mirrors, 'Umi', a polished graphite slice, pierced with an antler, is set in seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth-century gold-leafed frame fragments. Evocative of its name ('Umi' means wave in Japanese) the highly stylized leaf forms on the frame resemble waves. Trask drew her inspiration from the water imagery of Hokusai and the contemporary seascapes of Sugimoto.

 Trask’s received her MFA from the prestigious Metalsmithing program at SUNY New Paltz. Her work is part of the collections of the Museum of Arts and Design, NY, Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery, Washington, DC, and the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Texas. In 2011 she was named Fellow in Sculpture/Crafts by the New York Foundation in the Arts.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Putting the ass in yoga class

Pardon me for being frank or rude (but I call it being open and honest). After a particular long day of yoga on Sunday, I have never felt my glutes as much as I do now, well, to be fair it is more around my hips, and these hips don't lie! With all the warriors and lunges, pigeons and horse stances, the posterior on any yogi gets quite a bit of attention (both in and outside of class-- and hence the title of this post). I've always known that I have tight hips (full pigeon or cow face pose always being out of reach), but never more so than yesterday and today. The hips seem to be the central axis of most yoga sequences (well, we all knew yoga classes were hip-py...). I found myself wondering why there weren't poses that really pop into those hips and offer a counterbalance to the elongated form. So in an effort for release, I've invented two poses: skiier's pose (where I pretended to be swishing down the slopes, leaning out into each hip with legs parallel & together) and an adapted hero's pose (where I place my hips between my heels so that moving from side to side gets right into the muscular hips). Feeling such a stretch after a rigorous class may just be part of the process of shifting my practice, my consciousness fully aware of parts of my body and trying to streamline the flow. These hips are just being honest, y'know?

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Deeper

The deeper I go in my yoga practice, the more flexible I become. Yet, the more flexible I become, the more I need to keep track of my joints, making sure my shoulders don't go too far. The gift of depth, I have discovered isn't rewarded by an easy ride, a pass go and collect $200, but renewed and extended awareness. This was a realization I made a while ago, the fact that the path doesn't get any easier, just more subtle, delicate and attentive. Awareness of self, of body, is a presence that can happen ALL the time. No sit back and relax. But that doesn't mean that awareness is a chore; although it may seem tiring at first, it really is a wonder. I have discovered that my body is an incredibly responsive being in its own right. Attention, insight, mindfulness can tap into amazing energy.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Re-collect: Spannocchia

It may have been 6 years ago, but I still remember going to Spannocchia, an agricultural estate in Tuscany to volunteer for a stretch of time. I remember my first day, bailing hay and working hard in the field, true sweat, true work. And my strongest memory would have to have been the shower I took that first day. Never in my life have I needed a shower so badly and never has it felt so great to be clean and refreshed as that first day. Above a view, albeit blurred, that I remember of the main house where I stayed with my parents. Ah Toscana, memorie...

Friday, October 26, 2012

Grey's Anatomy Wisdom

'It might be hard for a surgeon to admit, but there’s no shame in simply being human. It can be a relief to stop hiding, to accept who you really are and let the world see you that way too. A little self-awareness never hurt anybody. Because when you know who you are, it’s easy to  know what you’re about and ultimately what you really need.'

Saturday, September 15, 2012

You're Alive?

Recently, I've read far too often the statement 'I am alive' or 'I am a human being'. These statements of fact seem to strive to want to affirm the basic human condition and, yes, if sung from the top of your lungs to the wide beautiful world, I'd be disposed to allow you to make such statements, but as simple statements they strike me as just too simple.

It makes me think of the time I shared two little anecdotes with a friend. These little stories/mantras/statements struck me to my core. Both came from the same yoga teacher speaking of times in which we wince and struggle through life. The first: if you think very simply about the breath, your continued inhalation and exhalation, it is a marvellous cycle - life wants you to be here. The second: if you stand up and really feel, sense the four corners of your feet, you can feel like you are weighed down, or, you can take the reverse perspective, and think that the world is holding you up.

To me these, two simple turns of perspective, brought me into full consciousness and gratitude. To my friend, she felt they were only facts of mere existence.

So perhaps, with statements like 'I am alive' and 'I am a human being', I am having her reaction. But here I feel it is justified, life is a lot more complex than the mere facts of what you are and your current state, life implies a forward movement in time, there is moment, there is evolution, there are relationships, there are dynamics. And yes, while living is merely enough, these statement cut life short; it is a continuously wavering ocean for us to ride and inhabit, it cannot be summed up in three or four words.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Reflecting Pool

The soles of your feet are black --
they've travelled, unafraid
of contact, full experience. Digging
into the earth, traversing
the sands, collecting
absorbing, evolving.


Evolving, absorbing,
collecting, traversing the sands, 
digging into the earth. Full experience,
unafraid of contact, they've travelled.
The souls of your feet are rich.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Learning from Nature

Antoni Gaudi, the famed and celebrated architect of Barcelona, once said 'The great book, always open and which we should make an effort to read, is that of Nature.' I saw this in his architecture, sinuous, geometric; mimicking the natural world and celebrating its link to greater wisdom.

On Sundays, I usually make an effort to go to Columbia Road Flower Market. While initially I thought it would be idyllic, a pastoral promenade of sellers offering carefully tended blooms, I found, instead, a boisterous scene, full of people, and populated with the most vociferous (aggressive?) flower merchants I have ever seen. Over time, I have grown to love their funny ways and their gruff manner; at the heart of it all, are some magnificent flowers (at some great prices).

My roommate and I purchased a climbing Passion Flower plant at Columbia Road six weeks ago and I continue to marvel at its strangeness and its ability to thrive. It seems to send out the most delicate tendrils, yet, once they clasp on to the trellis, these slim stems coil round tightly and become incredibly strong. Within a month of sitting on our shared balcony/corridor, the plant had surpassed the trellis and is now reaching upwards. At first, I was perplexed at what to do, but this Sunday I had the idea to string twine  across from the outdoor pipes, giving the Passion Flower plant new lease on life, a new path.

There is something incredibly instructive about plants. There is only so much you can do. Give them water, give them light, give them structure; what they do, how they grow, is up to them. You can only take care of them so much. And so life teaches me that there is only so much I can do, the rest remains with faith, what unfolds can bring marvel if you let the unexpected take its path.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Hark!



Glorious summer angels in Barcelona, above on Gaudi's original facade of Sagrada Familia and below at the Columbus Monument.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Hiatus

Apologies for the unexpected hiatus. In the UK, moving flats will do that to a blogger. When it takes three weeks or more to get your Internet set up and functional, blogging from work or on an iPhone just won't do. A lot has happened in the last 6 weeks -- new apartment, new job, a trip to Barcelona, plenty of sunshine -- some photos and reflections soon to come.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Painting the Roses Red



 Another Alice in Wonderland moment in London

Monday, June 04, 2012

At Work for the Jubilee

I don't think I've made so much coffee in my life.

Yesterday I worked at my cafe, Violet, participating in the Wilton Way Street Party celebrating Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee. While I didn't see much of the street from my station behind our La Spaziale espresso machine, the atmosphere in the cafe was festive and we were busy!

I spent today recovering and decided to take a stroll around Regent Park's Rose Garden. And, of course, I found the rose named Diamond Jubilee. Only fitting.

Some images of Violet's cupcake decorations, homemade bunting and the Diamond Jubilee Rose to send you off.






Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Swans in the Lobby



**while also designed by arne jacobsen, these are actually egg chairs -- but for the sake of the title, i decided to be erroneous for the poetry of it.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

The Poppies Blow

On this day in 1915, John McCrae composed his poem 'In Flanders Fields'.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Spiritual Travel

In past few weeks, I have noticed a few travel ads around London that share a similar visual model. Both feature a person's face rendered slightly transparent, a landscape stretching out in the background. Each one speaks in spiritual language; they speak of an interior life, the heart, the soul.



I have seen that Eurostar has created the same visual model for different destinations (I've seen an add for Provence, a visual billboard that actually moves, the winds of travel gusting through). These ads thus make the rail service seem to be a type of guru/enabler -- leading you to the core of a distant place. These ads very smartly play on the sentiment I've definitely felt of discovering a new city, the excitement of travel and enjoying the unfolding of the unknown.

I have to say that I rather like the idea, and find the advertisements appealing (did they come from the same ad agency? or did two people have the same idea?), yet, it is funny to step back and gain a little perspective.


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Iceberg, Straight Ahead


Herbert George Ponting (1870-1935), 'Grotto in an Iceberg', from the portfolio of Scott's Last Expedition, The British Antarctic Expedition 1910-1913, 5 January 1911. Carbon print transferred from the British Museum. (V&A Photographs Gallery)

On this 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic - the supposed unsinkable ship struck an iceberg before midnight on this day in 1912 - I wanted to share an image of an iceberg from another tragic expedition. It seems, whenever there's ice, tragedy ensues. What is chilling (pun intended?) is the fact that this photograph was taken just a year earlier.

On display in the Victoria & Albert Museum in their Photograph Gallery, the caption reads: Pointing was the official photographer for Captain Scott's tragic final expedition.* He endured sub-zero temperatures to document the beautiful but treacherous and uncharted Antarctic. In his book The Great White South(1921), Ponting recalled discovering this cavern: 'A fringe of long icicles hung at the entrance of the grotto and passing under these I was in the most wonderful place imaginable.'

The image, for me, is both wondrous and foreboding. An incredible natural formation, dominantly removed from civilization, the ship dwarfed in the distance by the frigid cavern.

So you can see the Titanic parallels.

*A journey to the south pole from which none of the explorers returned. Ponting, the photographer, had returned earlier to prepare his photographs and film from cinematograph for Captain Scott.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Scream


A rather comic image of Edvard Munch's The Scream (now on display at Sotheby's London) that appeared in Metro in London today. I especially enjoy the mirroring of the anxiety in the work itself by the art-handler on the left. This painting could easily break records at auction in NYC in May.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Friday, March 09, 2012

Monday, March 05, 2012

Veuillez patienter

Today I had this vision of a standing wave.
I know it really is only a phenomenon in physics, sound, or something
But it is told that in Montreal near Habitat 67
there is just such a standing wave (bearing the same name as the nearby landmark)
where people go surfing. Endless and reliable.

It's a cusp that keeps on cusping, a natural phenomenon
that defies its natural truth, to arrive at shore.
And yet, in its lack of motion and its paradoxical state as a wave,
there is an anticipation, as if
it could, in one moment, decide to crash to shore.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

And the band came marching in

Just as I was leaving the preview for the dual shows of Michael Raedecker and Mary Heilmann at Hauser and Wirth, a band came marching in. Literally. The Royal British Legion Band, complete with drums and brass instruments and drum major, processed right into the middle of the room of Raedecker's work. It certainly ended the night with a bang.

Does this always happen at Hauser & Wirth openings? Is this gallery trying to make a statement about current contemporary gallery culture? About the current market?


The work on view was emboldened (for better or for worse: heightened? subsumed?) by the marching band. For his part, Raedecker presented a strong corpus of work of embroidered and painted canvases of cakes and chandeliers as well as sophisticated suburban landscapes. The delicate stitching demanded attention, domestic imagery quite out of the ordinary. Heilmann's bright, sunny, seaside-evoking installations (chairs and artworks that spread across the wall) and canvases in neon hues transported the viewer into uplifting abstraction.


Whatever the aim of the band, the varied crowd already buzzing at the Hauser & Wirth preview had just that much more to buzz about, smiling.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Transitions


This is what an advertisement looks like in the London Underground between posters. In person, the mysterious patch of green captured on camera doesn't exist. I currently feel like I am in this nebulous state of transition. But while I suffer and tense through some of it, I need reminders of just how beautiful these moments are. In yoga, it is all about the transitions, not the poses themselves. These interstices are quite telling of the type of person you are. So here in this photo representing transition is something of the interstice - a texture that reminds me of an x-ray and of the beautifully re-purposed industrial textile waste of Roman designer Luisa Cervese (pictured below). What lies between. The world presents me with a reminder - not to anxiously wait for moments to come - but to dig in to the present, and swim in this textured moment.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Halfway through eating an artichoke, I took a picture


Apologies for all the food photos lately. Actually, no, I'm not sorry. There have just been such beautiful things from the market this week and they're all just begging me for photographic attention, as if I were Cecil de Mille or something. So feast your eyes on some beautiful edible imagery of the season.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Crimson & Gold


What better than blood oranges to ring in the year of the dragon?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Kitchen Capers



To play off yesterday's post, taste the rainbow ;)

Beautiful candycane, yellow and white beets from Ted's Veg at Burrough Market photographed before roasting.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Be Wonderful and Wise

The subtitle of this post should be: How to be tricked into becoming a walking advertisement.

Every Saturday, Tess and I like to go to Burrough Market. And, if we're in good shape (we usually are, but some Saturdays we just need to snooze a little while longer), we get there early before the crowds (and sometimes we get there so early, we've beat out some of the vendors).

After a lovely Aussie-made cappuccino at Flat Cap, a new addition to the Market crew (and an excellent one at that), we make our way over to Ted's Veg, where we always proceed to buy out the place (okay, well not exactly, but it feels like and endless "and this... and this... and four of those...").

Today, the kind vendor said he was giving out free cloth bags. On the one hand I feel that cloth bags have become the disease of our generation. We've moved from acquiring plastic bags to seeing a multiplication of re-useable bags convinced that it's eco-friendly. Yes sure, to a point. Anyways, I digress. On the other hand, it's hard to say no. So we get these new bags. I mean c'mon, the vendor is all smiley and nice, we couldn't refuse.

The bags are beautiful, a rainbow of fruits and vegetables and food in all colours with the motto below: Be Wonderful and Wise. Healthy, inspirational, vibrant and positive. Who couldn't perk up at that? Preaching to the choir, cloth bag, we're already at the market. To be honest, it sort of looks like Tess & I's kitchen (see exhibit A below).



The thing is, there's no info. Who made it? What's it for? The vendor won't say. So we go around touting these new digs, going about our usual, etc. etc.

When we get home, we find out the truth (the bag told us to search for the motto, so we did!). Be Wonderful and Wise is, in fact, the new motto for Lurpak, a brand that is known for their butter. And this new campaign, embracing healthy food in a colourful sunshine paradigm, is meant to launch their newest low-fat spread.

The ad, below, (along with all the branding and website stuff) is done by Weiden + Kennedy aka W+K, the ad agency that brought us Nike's Just Do It and Old Spice's The Man You Could Smell Like campaigns. It's super creative and fun and foody.



But somehow I feel a little cheated. So, unknowingly, I became an advertisement? Why not just embrace butter in all its glory (a la Julie & Julia)? Or, gasp, in moderation?



Why not start touting a healthy olive oil, branch out and actually get healthy? I know, that would go against the 100+ years of history of a company that is KNOWN for butter. It is nice to know that a big corporate company is trying to operate on a human level, spread the love of food, share recipes, think seasonal and connect to the food that goes beyond just its product. Their website is fun and friendly. Explore the rainbow, see what foods are fresh this week and on and on. It taps into people's curiosity about food and connects their product with all the produce they see around them -- just like all that available at Burrough Market. But the last thing I want is to think "Oh look at those beautiful turnips! Hm, I should cook 'em in Lurpak!"

It's sort of like Lurpak has co-opted the Skittles Taste the Rainbow, to bring it stealthily and mischievously into the healthy realm of fun colourful produce (while subtly pushing its own corporate goals of sales). Thus, something just doesn't feel right... How's that for wonderful and wise?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Original McQueen?

Browsing through the oeuvre of Salvador Dali, I came across a few images of figures with heads of flowers. And I couldn't help think of Alexander McQueen. Perhaps the Spaniard's late 1930s flight of fancy re-ignited the late British fashion designer.





Sunday, January 15, 2012

Pure Delight


With their densely packed swirls of cinnamony sweetness between dough that is buttery but not too rich, the cinnamon buns at Violet Cakes are pure delight. While I do work there and am by no means impartial, the rapidity with which these spirals of deliciouness sell out is testament to their popularity -- all the more given that these baked creations have only just been introduced earlier this week.

*image courtesy of the Violet newsletter, subscribe here

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Kitchen Capers

The spirals of brussel sprouts, the systematic reuse of yoghurt jars - all part of the inspiration of Saturday marketing and general kitchen capers. I still marvel at being able to buy a whole stem of brussel sprouts for £1.50.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Daily Om

No matter when I check The Daily Om, it inevitably echoes - either in its inspiration of the day or its daily horoscope - my inner sentiments. So, instead of composing my thoughts, I thought I'd share an echoing parallel of my state of mind.

January 11, 2012
The Ultimate Authority
Using Our Own Minds

To a certain degree, we rely on other people’s accounts of reality to inform us of the nature of the universe. For example, we can’t all be molecular physicists, but we can benefit from taking their findings to heart. In the same way, we often look to teachers, various leaders, and gurus to tell us about the path to enlightenment and the nature of the realm of spirit. While this input from experts is undeniably valuable, our own sense of the truth is ultimately the most important piece in processing the information we take in from external sources. In the end, we are the authorities in our own lives, and we have the final say on whether something generally held as true is true for us.

We need only take a brief look at history to remember that the religious, scientific, and political establishments that ruled the day were all wrong about something at some point in time. This is the beauty of learning, experiencing, and evolving. While we sometimes wish we could just let someone else decide for us what is real and true, this is clearly not a viable option. The good news in all this is that we can confidently devote ourselves to making up our own minds about reality, taking everything that is handed to us as truth with a grain of salt.

This does not mean that we discount the information we receive from outside sources. It simply means that we are vigilant enough to question it before we decide whether or not we agree with it. All the information we receive is useful in the process of helping us make up our own minds. As we allow ourselves to sit with the things we learn, measuring them alongside our own inner sense of the truth and our own experiences, we find that making up our minds is a joyful process of integration that grows us into stronger, smarter, more engaged human beings.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Oh Yes!


This license plate echoes just what I am thinking when I see these cute little vintage cars. They seem to dot my neighbourhood at every corner, or perhaps I notice them everywhere I go. Looking closely I discovered that the car is a Nissan Figaro. Apparently it was originally produced - circa 1991 - only for the Japanese market but became popular in the UK and Ireland. The original Japanese production was only 8,000 and avid car-owners had to enter a lottery to even own one. Such was demand that they increased the production by 12,000. I wonder where all the Brits find their current models, and why they have such a following here in Clapham...

Sunday, January 08, 2012

My Own Personal Orbit

Today, I wrap myself in my own cocoon,
traveling my own path of ideas and tasks,
mundane and grand, flitting from one
to the next, letting the whole
system spin, like the cultivation
of a pearl, or the poaching of an egg, swirling
around a nucleus, long strands wrapping
to form a whole.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Beatrice




Let them come. I've had
my vengeance. And you?
What will you have of me?

You cannot rob me of my life, my innocence. That
has already been stolen from me. Look closer.

A fire still burns, inextinguishable.
I speak to you from a molten calm.



Julia Margaret Cameron, Beatrice, 1866, Albumen print.
For Cameron's contemporaries, the simple title of this life-size close-up head would have suggested Percy Pysshe Shelley's poetic drama The Cenci (1819). The play was based on the true story of Beatrice Cenci, who had her abusive father murdered in 16th-century Italy and was then executed along with her conspirators.

*print and text featured in new permanent Photograph Gallery at the Victoria & Albert Museum

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Paradoxymoron

video

A little optical trip - a 1996 artwork by Patrick Hughes - that never fails to bowl me over at The British Library.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Is it all the same?

I just finished reading Jeffrey Eugenides's latest novel The Marriage Plot. It was a well-written, can't-put-it-down, I'm-going-to-read-this-in-the-bathtub sort of book - the type of book that makes you obsessive about finding out what happens next. And some would say that is the mark of a good book. After reading his previous book, Middlesex, I was curious to see what new tale Eugenides would spin out. Structurally based on the Victorian novel surrounding, you guessed it, the marriage plot, the story, set in the 80s, spins out as a web of relationships and an exploration of mental illness in one of the characters. Compelling. Complex.

But comparing the book with the book I read before (Abraham Verghese's Cutting For Stone) and the book I read before that (Madeline Miller's The Song of Achilles), I wondered if the general formula for fiction was the same. Along the arc of each of the stories, there were moments of learning, love, sexual awakening. Sure the stories were different but, it seems to me that the basic ingredients are all the same. Getting to certain moments in a fictive narrative, part of me rolls my eyes in familiar acknowledgement while another part of me just devours it. Somehow, perhaps, it isn't hackneyed. Maybe these are the moments to which we can all relate.