Monday, October 29, 2007


I really need a vacation.

This whole year has been so packed and so busy with non-stop action that we have failed to go on even one full vacation. The best we've been able to do is a couple of weekends here and there, and neither of those took us very far. Part of this is me being busy, part is kids being busy and part is Kirk being busy. This past week I was so busy that I would forget what I was suppose to be doing in a few hours because I could only think about what had to be done right this minute. I totally forgot we had a dinner to go to Saturday night because after I collapsed in a chair thinking I was finally done for the day at 6:30 pm, Kirk reminded me that the day wasn't over yet. I know, dinner out sounds nice, but it was actually a business dinner and that's the second weekend in a row I had to play attorney's wife at a business dinner on a Saturday night, so that's getting a little old. That's not like normal going to dinner at all.

When I first had Holden I remember staying home with him when he was a baby and I was actually sort of bored.

I can't even remember the last time I had time to feel bored.

When did my life spin so far out of control that we don't have time for family vacations?

So my goal for 2008 is to carve out some time. I'm trying to plan our family vacation for March, so where do you think we should go?

Friday, October 19, 2007


Look at this darling little dress shop I snapped a photo of from the car while we were in Scotland. There wasn't anything particularly unique about it. When I took it, we were on our way to the airport on the way home and I was kicking myself for being stupid and not taking photos of more darling little shops like this one. Almost every shop there is a little specialty shop. There were darling. But the darling was everywhere, so I kind of didn't take special note of it until we were on our way home and I realized how much I would miss all the cute quaintness of it all.

There was a dress shop like this in my hometown when I was growing up. It was called Deb n Heir - a play on the word "debonaire" which is what we called it. We bought all our dress clothes there and most of our other clothes. It was pretty pricey. It's still there and it's still pricey. We did not have a ton of money growing up but my mom took a part time job so that we could always have new clothes from Deb n Heir. All the little old ladies who worked there knew us well. Knew our sizes. Often they would call my mom to tell her they had new merchandise and that she should really come and see. I spent a lot of hours in that store either trying things on myself or waiting while my sisters tried things on. I feel as though I spent a lot of time in dressing rooms as a child.

It's nice to shop in places where people know you by name or at least know what you are probably looking for. I love quaint little shops and in my fantasy world I would only shop in cute little stores owned by people who knew me by name. Stores that looked like this

We had stores like this in my hometown growing up too. One was called Johnsons Drug and it had a little luncheon counter. I ate a lot of marshmellow and banana milkshakes, grilled cheese sandwiches, homemade french fries and pickles there. Oh, and egg salad sandwiches. I'm getting hungry just thinking about their food. The waitresses name was Lennae and she wore one of those little pink waitress outfits like on that show "Alice". She always brought me an order of pickes right away when I sat down.

Sometimes I feel like we really don't get to have this kind of experience anymore. But there are places in Phoenix that I love and that are quaint and where at least some people know my name. The guys at Kohler's Hardware on 16th street know me. So do the ladies at Mediteranean House Restaurant around the corner from there. The woman at the Stock Room on 7th street knows us (especially she always remembers Kirk because of his pen fetish). And there are cute places where I just like to shop or eat, well, mainly because of their quaint factor (but also, often because they are great). One of my very favorites is La Grande Orange at 44th street and Campbell, LGO has delicious pasteries, sandwiches, salads and pizza and is just darn cute. I adore the tuna and the crepes with fruit and creme fraiche.

Next up is Tammy Coe Cakes at 7th street and Roosevelt
Tammy Coe cakes are also at LGO, but her solo location is Roosevelt & 7th. She and her husband live upstairs
from the shop, you can sit outside and watch the scenesters. They have delicious bread made by her husband. The thing I love about stopping in to the Roosevelt location is it isn't as rushed or busy as LGO and you can always grab a cake really easy and be out of their quick if you need. Sometimes they have more selection of cakes and cupcakes towards the end of the day than LGO too - get the ooey gooey coconut cupcakes. Plus again, cute factor.

(I know, it looks like it's more about the dog than Tammie Coe, it's the best I could do)

Next is Willo Bread & My Florist Cafe at 9th avenue and McDowell , it's darling, great olive bread at Willo and you can pick up some yummy local produce and hummus too. My florist is great for a lunch with you girlfriends or a nice night out. We love to go on weekend nights when the pianist is playing. They call her the human ipod because she can play anything. Try the Cheese Sandwich made french style on a baguette, it sounds kind of weird but it's pretty great. Get the cheese and fruit appetizer with cranberry chutney, it's seriously good! Outside of Willo they have a big row of white adirondak chairs where you can just chill in the morning if you want. If I lived in the encanto area I would walk here all the time. Some friends of ours almost bought a house in the Encanto Willo area just so they could walk to My Florist and Willo Bread!

Next Pane Bianco, Central Avenue, Between Indian School and Camelbback, sort of kitty corner to Central High (how's that for a lame address, to lazy to look it up). Pane Bianco is seriously delicious. You can't eat inside, it's too small, you have to eat on the porch outside where there are giant picnic like tables. Sometimes you have to share these tables with a stranger, but that's okay, you will not mind. All the food is ridiculously good because it is an extremely limited menu. You get your choice of a couple sandwiches a day (maybe 3), some focaccio bread with a few things melted on top, a couple of salads, whatever local produce is available that day, maybe one dessert (but it will be something like Janie's homemade rice pudding). There are no fountain drinks either. It's bottled water, bottled sparkling water, bubble-up in the old fashioned green bottle (made with real cane sugar) and I think they are offering cream soda now in a brown bottle. What's to love then you ask? They are making the bread all day in the giant pizza oven behind the counter and it is seriously warm, tasty and delicous. My favorite order is available everyday, the other sandwiches change as per the whim of the owner, "Focaccia bread with local sliced tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, with basil leaves". Delicious. Ask for a side of salt, they'll give you a little container of french sea salt to sprinkle on. YUM.

Okay this one is a little different but bear with me...

Next Up:

Nogales Dogs, parking lot
of the music store at 20th street and Indian School, after about 7 pm.

Nogales Dogs opens around the time the music store is about to close. They have a portable hot dog stand, set up some tables, and they are good to go. You should go and get some Nogales Dogs and some Mexican Coke. If you speak spanish, all the better. I do not, but we manage to muddle through the transaction together. The hot dogs are ridiculously good, cooked wrapped in bacon, they come with queso, chopped onion, diced tomato, grated cheddar, mayo on a homemade bun, and you can get jalepenos if you want. They are sort of like a chicago dog went south of the border. I never would have stopped and tried it except I kept seeing them out there all the time and tons of people stopping. Then a friend who is seriously germ phobic stopped and said they have their county license up and are inspected. Plus she thought the food was awesome. Try it when you're feeling adventurous and cheap. We can feed the whole family for less than the cost of going to McDonald's. Oh, and if you're feeling flush get the Mexican Coke.

And now places I plan to try soon: Matt's Big Breakfast on about 2nd street between Roosevelt and whatever that next presidential street to the west is. It's suppose to be super delicious but everytime we try there is a line out the door of people waiting with newspapers.

And this place looks pretty awesome! It's called the Welcome Diner and it's around 10th street and Roosevelt. I think it can only seat around 9 people at a time, it's a counter only. If you've already been let me know, but I'm definitely making this one of my next places to try:

So What have you discovered that you love?

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Spanish Conquistadors

Bad Day for Meth Lab #3 by Kelly McLane

My own personal history with art begins on a big plush red couch in a furniture store. I am "lalygagging" on the couch contemplating half rolling, half throwing myself from that couch onto a another couch and eyeing the space inbetween, trying to calculate if I might fall through the crack and if so, how hard will it be to extract myself, and if so, how mad will my mom be? While I am going through this internal dilemma, I watch my mother wander about the great big warehouse-like furniture store looking not at the furniture (because we already have recently purchased the requisite 70s couch in the style of the early spanish conquistadors, replete with appropriate wraught iron decor through-out the house) but at the artwork on the walls. My mom peruses print after print after print looking for just the right thing. I think "just the right thing" would match the conquistador decor, it should have a lot of red and black and maybe gold in it. Maybe flowers would be nice. She never finds what she is looking for. The walls in our house remain white and barren for years. But everytime we pass a furniture store I know my sisters and I will have time for a game of hide and seek beneath the glass tables stashed about between the gold and avocado furniture, because I know my mom will have to look for the perfect picture to hang above her couch. This is my introduction to the world of art. An auspicious start to be sure. Later, I will learn to love art. But it's a long drawn out process from the comfort of the plush 70s couches to a love for Edward Hopper.
Cape Code By Edward Hopper

Hopper is one of my favorite artists, but my first recognition of a desire to know more about an artist or art in general was being drawn to buying a calendar of Monet paintings when I was still in high school. I read a little about Monet and liked his work, although I don't think I entirely understood what I liked about it. But it sparked an interest. When I went to college I sincerely desired to know more about art and to ends I took a art history class.
Nympheas by Monet

I loved that class so much, that art history seemed like the best major ever, but it's really hard for a girl raised on thinking art comes from furniture stores to imagine what one would do with a major in art history, so I didn't entertain that thought for long. But the class exposed me to some really great paintings and a rudamentary knowledge of the subject. For the first time I realized artists weren't just trying to make something pretty, they were usually trying to say something - which is when I became fascinated with the language of art. This painting by Van Eyck probably started my fascination with the subject. Once I realized you can spend an entire hour of class talking about one painting and still not explore all it's subtle text, I was hooked.

The Wedding by Jan Van Eyck

And apparently on some subconcious level I was unaware of, I became interested in artists as well. I didn't even really know Kirk was an artist when I started dating him but I did start dating him at this same time. I also dated this guy below while Kirk was on his mission. The relationship didn't go very far but I did truly appreciate the fact that he was a talented artist (as an aside, I only recently discovered some of that "mormon art" you sometimes see in people's homes is produced by this guy I dated back in the 80s). His name was Derek Hegsted (or is, I suppose) and I was impressed by the fact that he called himself an artist. It seemed sort of audacious. But accurate. I don't know, I was drawn to that aspect of his personality I guess.

(Derek Hegsted in his studio)

This is when I became really fascinated with artists as people. I read everything Warhol for a while. Warhol seemed like the quientessial artist personality and I wanted to understand that. I still like Warhol. He's not the world's greatest artist but he was certainly talented, and interesting, and smart and prescient.
Self Portrait by Andy Warhol

And it was really cool when I was finally able to go the National Gallery and see some of his work. And the work of hundreds of other famous artists. I got to see some of those Monet's up close, which is way better than seeing them on a calendar. And for some reason this painting by Da Vinci really arrested me - it's so much better in person, and there's some quality in it that really drew me in and kept me interested in art on a whole other level.
Portrait of Genevra de'Benci by Leonardo Da Vinci
There are so many great artist in the world, it's overwhelming to start thinking about what you love about one artist over another, or even to justify why you like a particular artist. I have my favorites, and I have others I appreciate and I have others who I admire, but don't particularly respond to the work. It's always an adventure to discover new artists and new work and learn to appreciate artists who have been around for a long time. Below is a Hopper and if I really think about American artists, I think I'd have to put Hopper at the top of those I really respond to in just a pure visceral way that is difficult to describe. The other painting is a Hockney. A lot of Hockney's work sort of bores me and I have a difficult time "getting" but this one is really great and in spite of being such an iconic piece, really stands up over time as a sort of brilliant modern work.
Sunday Morning by Edward Hopper

Spash by David Hockney

These days I am more interested in local artists and new artists. These are some of the artists I really like lately. Really, there are too many to represent fully here, this is only a small sampling.

Ron Richmond

Brian Boner

Brian Kershisnik

Steve Yazzie

Lu Cong

Melani Coraddi

And of course, one of my favorite artists, the one I am married to, Kirk Hays. We went to the artwalk in Scottsdale last night and First Fridays last Friday - and I never cease to be amazed at the wealth of language just outside our doors waiting to speak to us.

It sure beats the heck out of laying around on red plush couches wondering when your mom will ever find that perfect "pretty" Spanish Conquistador that matches the furniture.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Location, Location, Location

Growing up in Rexburg Idaho made my childhood feel exceptionally long. Frankly, I thought it might last forever, and I wasn't really interested in being a child forever. High School seemed to take forever. There's lots of time to think. And what I thought was that, I really didn't want to live there forever.

Later on, I lived in Utah for quite a while. I liked Utah, and I liked Salt Lake specifically. In fact, I thought we would stay there forever.

We lived on a lovely tree lined street near downtown, close to everything we loved and we were content. Or, at least I was. Once Kirk started thinking about law school everything changed. He got into a lot of east coast schools and we particularly considered Columbia, Georgetown, University of Virginia and Cornell. So we took a little trip to visit the schools to help us make a decision. Columbia really was the best school in terms of reputation, and to some extent, the scholarship we got there was the best too. So it seemed like the likely choice, but you know, just to be sure, we took a look at it. Here's Columbia and Morningside Heights in NYC:

Looks great right?!

Except it didn't look like that to me the day we were there. It looked like this:

And this was just too much. I couldn't picture it. I couldn't imagine living there, working there. I couldn't imagine surviving there. And so that was that, we settled on University of Virginia instead:

And after 3 years of law school and missing the West and the sky and for a lot of other reasons, we headed back, closer to Utah, but not quite, to Phoenix, which feels like home now:

And I really love it.

But sometimes, I read something like this and I really wonder. If I had been more mature, would I have loved New York? Would our life have been very different? Or roughly the same? I don't know. Sometimes I go back to that time in my head and I wonder if we made a hasty decision. The scholarship money was better, we met a ton of church members that day on campus, one was even copying his primary lesson on the law school copy machine - how's that for a sign? But I was so overwhelmed by it all. And in the end, leafy trees and a prettier setting won out.

Maybe it wouldn't have mattered in the end. And I'm really not one for regrets, they are really useless.

But I hope my own kids will feel the freedom to go wherever their adventures might take them - even if that means I might miss them. Selfishly, I feel the same way my mom did "please stay here". But deep down, I really hope they'll always be able to amazing things, and never be afraid.


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