This Thursday through Sunday May 27th - 31st Barefoot Books is running a 20% off sale! This is a great time to stock up on some of the very best books, toys and story CDs for all your road trips and warm afternoons lying around the house. Barefoot creates beautiful things for kids of all ages. Their web site also offers activities that you can download for even more fun. Click on the link on the right to see my families favorites on my recommendations page and then enjoy exploring the entire site.
May 26th is the birthday of Dorothea Lange. She was a documentary photographer best know for the work she did during the Depression under contract with the Farm Security Administration ( FSA.)
This image, from 1936, is of Florence Owen Thompson and her 2 children. Entitled "Migrant Mother" it's Lange's most well known work.
It's likely you first encountered it when studying the Depression. Perhaps it burned into you, as it did to me.
Or maybe it was this one - White Angle Bread Line, San Francisco - 1933 - that hit you hard.
Her images told the truth about the plight of those most affected by the Depression; the farmers, the migrant laborers. Because they were distributed free to newspapers across the country, people all over America saw the same story unfold. Thus the images served not only to tell a story but to help unify the country to take action, or at the very least support action, to aid those most in need. Of course you're never going to get full agreement on any social programs, even during the Depression, but Lange's work was instrumental in strengthening national support for President Roosevelt's WPA and the nearly 8 million jobs it provided.
In 1941 Lange was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship but, after the US entered WWII, she gave it up to record the internment of Japanese Americans in relocation camps like the one in Manzanar, CA. She was on assignment for the War Relocation Authority (WRA) but her pictures were so obviously critical of the entire situation that The Army impounded them and they were not widely seen.
Boy With Baseball Bat, Manzanar, 1942
The political genius of this picture is hard to overstate.
In 1952 Dorothea Lange, along with photographers Ansel Adams, Barbara Morgan and Minor White, founded Aperture, a foundation dedicated to promoting photography. Aperture began by publishing a quarterly periodical. The foundation started publishing books in the 1960s and opened a Chelsea gallery in 2005.
Lange was also a photography teacher. A frequent class assignment was to " shoot where you live." Challenged once by a student to shoot where she lived, Dorethea came back with pictures of her own foot, disfigured and often painful due to the polio she had contracted when she was a young girl. For all her world traveling, all the suffering and beauty her eyes saw and photographed, this was where she lived.
After hearing this story, told by Linda Gordon in her book Dorothea Lange, A Life Beyond Limits I was inspired to do the assignment myself. Bearing in mind that I can't take pictures of the inside of my own head here are 2 attempts-
This picture, taken a few weeks ago, is only very slightly composed. It's my kitchen, my tiny island, and this is what it usually looks like. The flowers, beloved old-fashioned roses from the farmer's market, are my birthday present to myself. Their petals had fallen just that way and I left them until they were scattered by my cats. That's my purse in its resting place, right next to a stack of mail and a bag holding a gift for a friend Those are my pots and pans, scissors, knives. A peek of dish towels. In the background my favorite reading spot, above it a much loved painting by a Native America Artist called Marcus Caldwell. He uses traditional Navajo imagery, Americana and real bingo cards his grandmother played at the casino on the reservation. Beyond - 2 doors, one set opening to my garden, one to my laundry. You can see a bath-mat drying over the top of the door.
Another accurate picture of where I live would be the front seat of my car.
Yep, 100,000 miles and it shows, sudoko addiction, coffee cup and coffee spills down the side of what ever you call that middle part, my hat, my ghosts of those who have been in the passenger seat.
OBVIOUSLY I'm not comparing my pictures to Dorothea Lange. Please, people. But I do love the idea of the "where do you live assignment."
I have been looking forward to the opening of Sweet Rose Creamery, the new ice-cream shop from proprietors Zoe Nathan and Josh Loeb (Rustic Canyon, Huckleberry) for months. Today, at noon on the dot, the doors opened. My kids pleaded with me to let them stay home from school so they could be the first to taste the ice-cream. I said no. I had to. They have testing all this week and I thought that was a little more important. Not much, but a little.
A favorite story about my mother, who I have been missing a lot lately as this past Sunday was Mother's Day -
Me with my mom
One day when I was in the 4th grade, shuffling my feet under my desk and looking at the posters, at my friends, out the window, anywhere but at the blackboard, a head suddenly appeared in the classroom doorway. It was my mom. She whispered something to the teacher and I caught the words "family emergency." The teacher motioned for me to gather my things and go with my mom who was standing looking a little too pleased with herself for anything to be really wrong. Still, I was a bit nervous. We got into the hallway and I asked, "What's the matter?" "Nothing" my mother replied. "Gone with the Wind is playing at the movie theatre and I want you to come see it with me." It was an great afternoon. We shared a large popcorn and I discovered, for the first time, the power of the movies. What I realized as an adult, long after my mom had died at age 40, when I was just 15, was that memories, the tender, precious memories of really special moments with your parents, are more important to a kid than almost anything. Gone with the Wind was playing in revival just that one day. Sweet Rose Creamery will be open for many years to come. You have lots of time to make special memories there with your own kids. And isn't that what you are really doing when you take your kids for ice cream? It's also a terrific excuse to give yourself a treat. If you need one.
I, on the other hand, needing no excuse other than my own sweet tooth and of course you, my dear readers, sat alone in the parking lot for 20 minutes before the Sweet Rose doors opened, praying that when I got in there wouldn't be any problem with the hot fudge. So - here's what I had for lunch about an hour ago- a 2 scoop sundae with vanilla and cafe luxxe coffee ice creams, chocolate fudge sauce, butterscotch sauce, and salted walnut crumbles. Oh, and whipped cream. Delicious. Did you expect anything less from Sweet Rose? The texture of the ice cream was perfect, soft, yielding in the mouth with no heavy mouth feel afterward. Not too sweet, wonderfully flavored. The coffee was especially good. I also tasted the ginger, so good I asked for a hand packed pint to bring home, and the banana. A pint of caramel came home with me too, as did this beautiful thing -
a s'mores ice cream pie. The homemade marshmallows were torched just before the pie was put in the box. Sweet Rose offers this size (serves 1-2) as well as larger sizes in flavors that will vary. Today they also have strawberry cream and banana caramel.
All the ice cream is made using Clover organic milk and cream. Several flavors are ready to go. A frozen yogurt, scooped, hadn't "set up" yet but will be available this afternoon. I hope that it's on the menu frequently.
Single scoops are $3.50, 2 scoops will run you $5, $6.25 for 3 scoops and $8 for a pint.
Like any good ice cream parlor Sweet Rose has a nice selection of shakes ( $7.50), sundaes ( $7.50), floats ( $5.50) and malts on the menu. A fantastic fudge pop, tasting like frozen chocolate pudding, costs $4.50. Bear in mind as you consider the prices that the ice cream is made with organic milk and cream - costs more and well worth it.
Sweet Rose offers 2 flavors of homemade waffle cones-
lots of toppings-
a variety of bottled drinks -
and root beer, cream soda and coke on tap for the floats. Root beer float, root beer float.... I know what I'm getting tomorrow, er, I mean next time.
The place is really charming, a contemporary take on an old fashioned ice-cream parlor.
Several tables on the patio that is soon to be shared by the newest Cafe Luxxe, set to open in a month or so.
Currently Sweet Rose Creamery operating hours are Wednesday thru Sunday 12-9. There is plenty of free parking in the Country Mart.
UPDATE as of 6/30/10
Sweet rose is now open 7 days a week from noon to 10pm
Sweet Rose Creamery
Brentwood Country Mart
225 26th Street
Two posts in one day because I am so dazzled by what's happening!
A second set of House Finches is starting to build a nest in the porch beams. We had a pair build 3 weeks ago. Their hard work was a total success and the last of 3 chicks flew this past Thursday. I have been missing them. And now, look! Can you see what she's using for the foundation of the nest? Flowers from the garden.
She's actually going into the garden, plucking Marguerita Daisies with her beak and carrying them up to the beam.
I'm so charmed by this beautiful beginning but, admittedly, a little worried. The site is not ideal. It's not as sheltered as it should be and we have been getting some pretty big winds lately. I'll keep you posted.
Come into the Garden, Maude
For the black bat, night, has flown,
Come into the garden, Maude
I'm here at the gate, alone
And the woodbine spices are wafted down
And the musk of the rose is blown
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
It's May! Birthday month - month of flowers - month of warm, blue air.
When I was a little girl I loved the old-fashioned May Day ritual of giving someone special a small bunch of flowers, gathered into a paper cone and hung with a ribbon on a door knob. For me the "someone special" was either my mother and my teacher. Nobody does this anymore (nobody did this when I was a kid.) But I had read about it in Anne of Green Gables or some other 100 year old book between whose covers I spent the greatest part of my childhood and I loved the idea. So, for a few innocent years at least, I did it.
I can't give you a paper cone of flowers but I can give you these - with love and wishes for a most beautiful month.
But I must gather knots of flowers
And buds and garlands gay
For I am to be Queen of the May, mother
I'm to be Queen o' the May!
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
It's spring fever - you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache you want it so... Mark Twain
For it giveth unto all lovers courage, that lusty month of May
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