Pining For: Northeastern Autumn

Last year, around December, I began a slow burning pine session for the Northeast and New England. Especially for its stunning Autumns and snowy winters. Home from Dallas, finishing final papers and decompressing from a semester of no free time for entertainment, I started watching Gilmore Girls, set in Connecticut. It may be the one television show I have watched from beginning to end.

While I'm not always enamored of the developments and characters, I am usually deeply satisfied with the supposed geographic setting and the references to places such as Cape Cod, Boston, and New York. Watching this show has filled some deep internal longings for home, small towns with old institutions, long-term female relationships, and the smell of dried leaves.

A recently viewed episode yielded a surprising treat. Sparks (and, not shown here, a still intact Sonic Youth) in Stars Hollow, slightly akin to the many towns on Cape Cod I got to know each summer while visiting my Grandmother. According to these lyrics, the olfactory sense is the sense that strongly evokes memories of the past. It's true.

I have been feeding my hunger for the northern effect in other ways. Higher consumption levels of maple products, apples, and squash based meals accommodate some sensual needs while films, especially 70s/80s Halloween and horror, help re-ignite memories. A wood-fire scented candle would bring it all together. 

Elvira: Mistress of Darkness, 1988, with Cassandra Peterson.
Set in Massachusetts, famous for its witch trials, this is a flick I've been watching since childhood. Upon a recent re-watch, I realized how much this contributed to my feminist, hedonist adult character and was glad to see that it still holds up. 

Eraserhead, 1977, David Lynch.
Drab tones reminiscent of cold days walking with a purpose in Philadelphia or Providence, Rhode Island. 

For reading in a time travel vortex created by a hot bath, John Demos' The Unredeemed Captive: A Family Story from Early America, 1994, gets me close to the colonial New England landscape. My imagination takes me to something like this magical picture of abandoned mills on Erie Canal which I captured during a sad occasion trip one year ago. 

Dreaming of another chance next year, to breathe in the crisp air and taste cider doughnuts. For now I will screw the past, and appreciate the tropical storms, rockabilly bayou terror, and rich Mexican traditions found throughout the Texas-style season.

Alex, Jamie, and Goose Halloweenie by Maria-Elisa Heg, 2015.


Jorge Ben For Writing Papers

Still dancing to the Brazilian sound as I finish up writing for the semester. This album, which I cannot find anywhere, is my main motivator right now (coffee, chocolate, and sunshine in one package). Please enjoy it with me! 

Jorge Ben, Tropical, 1976

If anyone has a lead on where I can get this on either CD or vinyl, for a reasonable price, I'd be very happy to know.

UPDATE: Record procured! Obrigada!


Brasil 4-Ever

The best thing about this semester has been the work-adventure to Brasil. Even though I'm now in a deep hell pit, two weeks behind schedule on all these papers, I have a million magical memories and no regrets. This clip of live music encapsulates my feelings much better than words or images.

The beginning of the best night in Vila Madalena, São Paulo
We all danced...samba, then salsa, til 4am.

Thanks to SMU for hosting our seminar group in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. 


TJ Clark, Manet, and Hidden Messages of Academic Support

In my readings this semester I have noticed, on several occasions, some embedded notes of support in art historical texts. Yes. Could they be purposefully included by the author, knowing their reader is probably overtired, overstressed, and one moment away from a jump off the bridge (for the fresh air!)? My decoding of certain passages had led me to believe that the author IS addressing me specifically, and all art historians in training, offering cheeky encouragement for the road. Here is one passage, from TJ Clark's otherwise tortuous The Painting of Modern Life: Paris in the Art of Manet and His Followers: Manet, the great Realist painter, discusses his own self-doubt/self-pity with French poet Baudelaire.

Manet: I really would like you here, my dear Baudelaire; they are raining insults on me, I've never been led such a dance...I should have liked to have your sane verdict on my pictures, for all these cries have set me on edge, and it's clear someone must be wrong...In London, the academy has rejected my pictures.

Baudelaire: So once again I am obliged to speak to you about yourself. I must do my best to demonstrate to you your own value. What you ask for is truly stupid. People are making fun of you; pleasantries set you on edge; no one does you justice, etc. Do you think you're the first to be placed in this position? Have you more genius than Chateaubriand and Wagner? And did people not make fun of them? They did not die of it.

Jamie: This exchange between friends Manet and Baudelaire, though, perfectly describes the emotional climate of my graduate program, always high stakes, always high drama. If only I could shout his words around the department like some kind of aural apotropaic.

Olympia (1863)

by Edouard Manet
Musée d’Orsay, Paris


Óscar Muñoz

Back in June I found myself wandering the halls of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Although the riches there are endless, one exhibition, now closed, really enraptured me. "Permission to be Global/Prácticas Globales" showed a collection of Modern Latin American artists grouped together into four thematic categories. Latin American art is nothing unusual around Houston and Texas, but, naively, I was surprised to learn that this was the first exhibition at the MFA in Boston. Even my mother, mildly interested in art, European mostly, was entertained and thrilled by some of the works. I swear she spent more time in those galleries than anywhere else in the museum. I was certainly not complaining. One of the artists I was introduced to was Oscar Munoz, from Colombia. The clip below is from a longer black and white video piece entitled Sedimentaciones (Sedimentations), from 2011. Projected onto three tables, the video loops a simple act. 

Oscar Munoz, Sedimentaciones

What we presume to be looking at is a darkroom, laid out with identification pictures in various states of development and a sink on either side. A disembodied arm reaches in from off camera, to lift a photo into or out of the fix solution. These arms move the photos to the sink where they either reveal a portrait or erase it, born or washed away by the liquid. That the video is projected onto a physical table, exactly like the one holding the photos, is very effective. It's almost as if you're complicit somehow in this terrible, gentle act of erasing identities.

I might not have understood what the artist was referring to if I hadn't encountered two things over my Houston tenure. First was a book given to me by a new friend, Great House by Nicole Krauss (2010) and second, the Antonio Berni show at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (2014). Although I only read some of Great House, it is so hypnotic and complex that I had to reread it several times, it was enough to plant a new piece of historical information. One of the first characters, a poet from Chile, is thought to have been kidnapped and made to "disappear." I didn't know if this was part of the novel or part of history really, until I saw the Berni show. An Argentinean artist, also working in the 20th century, makes visual references to social issues like these disappearances (desaparecidos) in his masterful works in many media. Truly one of my favorite artists.

Antonio Berni at the MFAH

In Chile and Argentina, and other countries, forced disappearances, when political dissidents are kidnapped and murdered without a trace, have claimed tens of thousands of lives. One nasty detail that I remember reading was that many of these people were pushed out of airplanes, while still alive.

Now Munoz's video makes total sense.
Although there may be connections to the political history of Colombia, where disappearances have happened much more recently, Munoz is also interested in concepts of memory, time, and optical illusions.

I'm so taken by this artist that I'm translating parts of his book, Documentos de la Amnesia, from Spanish to English. This process, however challenging, is truly rewarding in that the thoughts, his ideas, have burrowed much more deeply into my psyche.


Roundup: Texas, The Early Years

This is where we moved into our first home, found important work that we enjoy and people, too. In Texas, I became an adult maybe, learned to network, found mentors, and managed to succeed through another round of academic applications while Alex published his first book, impressing artists statewide. We traveled widely around Texas, from one end to the other, and to our neighbors, New Mexico, New Orleans, and Latin America. And of course, probably my favorite thing about this strange land, the food: strong flavors, queso, Topo Chico, fish tacos, spicy everything, and always, pan dulce. Many of these were new to me! Here's to the next several years we've signed up for: in Dallas, the one place we have yet to discover, and where I'll be working toward my PhD.

New in town, October 2012. Exotic flora.

The East End in Houston. Wild colors and Western wear.
Oak Tree canopy on my favorite street. 

My first project at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston: Winterhalter and Worth in Hirsch library.
Road trip West, Hill Country/Central Europe of Texas.

Enchanted Rock

San Antonio

Soo Sunny Park at Rice Gallery

Marfa, Texas

Daydream: Baptismal Font

A day in the country, toward Hill Country, where the wildflowers spring up for a too quick chance to share their transformative encouragement.

On the edge, in the depths and ever, ever close to the next adventure.


El Mariachi and Mexico

Recently returned from number one on my top five in five years travel list, Mexico, and I'm all kinds of nostalgic about the experience.

As soon as we arrived back in Houston we went straightaway to the closest Mexican restaurant. Even after I discovered I had purchased a nice parasite as one of my only souvenirs I still wanted to ask for tacos in Spanish and lie in mild pain with a telenovela going (and I was worried about drug war crimes). After a few days of hosting my new friend, eating mostly oatmeal with coco water, I am finally feeling normal. For my last night of self-pity and laptop television I put on my best Mexican night dress for Robert Rodriguez's El Mariachi, 1992. We'd seen posters all over Mexico, but I think it was for a glamorous remake (not the original with a $7,000 budget).

I was blown away by how good this El Mariachi is. It's just the perfect recap for a visit to Mexico; the bright light, hot sun, range of colors, and it doesn't hurt that el mariachi is a dreamy weirdo. The film is consistently hilarious, even wacky, but with plenty of genuine, human touches. Rodriguez really masters the lo-fi technique here and it is very, very satisfying. I could watch it again if only I had a few mango paletas close by.

Leading up to this film viewing, related to mariachi:
1. Right before Latin America we attended Go Tejano Day at the Houston Rodeo, now an annual tradition for us. Reliant Stadium was completely filled for the post-rodeo musical entertainment. To warm us up for the beloved tejano band, Pesado, there was a Mariachi Competition. The groups we saw were led by incredible women with great outfits and choreographed moves. So impressive.

2. In Mexico City we found dozens of roaming, rag-tag to showy peacock, mariachi groups at Plaza Garibaldi. 

Basically los mariachis get dressed up to varying degrees, bring their instruments, and busk in front of a museum dedicated to Tequila and Mezcal. We saw them in the streets for blocks before the plaza, soliciting for off-site gigs. You can actually drive over and hire them for a wedding or birthday party elsewhere in the city. Once we got there it was so enchanting we couldn't refuse a song. One of the more rag-tag groups crowded very close around us and sang out a romantic song about a beautiful lady. Eyes were on me during the chorus. 

Since these guys were so close I couldn't comfortably return their gaze. Instead I focused on some inanimate details: a faded Mickey Mouse sticker on the smallest guitar, the sad repairs hastily done on another, or the amateur tattoos on one really mournful looking guy's hands. For sixty pesos (approx. 4.00USD) it was a memorable time both for the musical atmosphere and for a peek into the social world and history of mariachis. 


Next, Next Adventures

I've been pretty lucky with my traveling schedule. Nothing exotic lately, but a closer look around my new homeland. Included on some recent trips are the Germanic parts of Hill Country, west of Houston near Austin, coastal experiments down the Gulf, and the most extreme visit: far, far West Texas. For this we drove and drove and drove clear across the state for two days until we made it to incredibly magical Marfa.

I'll get back to that story next time, because all I can think about right now are the trips I'm threading through the following six weeks.


Mardi Gras, 2002.

Second: MEXICO!

Coatlicue, National Anthropology Museum, Mexico City


Get Your Mind Going

Hungry for something deeply provocative? Here is a double feature that spontaneously unfolded over this weekend.

My original double feature, one I had been inexplicably imaging for many, many years, was meant to be Klute and Krull. I don't know what propelled this set other than the strange sounding one word titles. We'd already had a look at Klute and left it unimpressed half way through. When Krull arrived shortly thereafter I had somewhat reduced hopes. It lasted about five minutes in the machine. Out out!

In place of my failed programming we agreed, at around 10pm Saturday evening, to fire up last year's The Act of Killing. This documentary, conceived of and directed by (Texas born) Joshua Oppenheimer, was shocking in the vein of Herzog. I was not expecting to empathize with the antagonists re-enacting, cinematically, their sordid exploits in Indonesia during the 1960s.

The Act of Killing, 2012. 

Throughout the film, I must say, we were wracked with questions and discomfort. Without going into a needless review: I recommend this film for those of you interested in the incredible. The concept, production, and resultant dialogue are reminders of the power of visual arts, human connections, and the problems therein.

Despite the fact that we were a little shaken and perplexed by the unfolding events in the film we drifted off to sleep without any soft chaser. I'm surprised that I was able to do so easily.  

A last minute decision the following day to attend Slavoj Zizek's The Pervert's Guide to Ideology, along with a mob of other Houstonians, gave us the critical language for framing and understanding The Act of Killing. Throughout this film I kept getting antsy to share with Alex the connections that could be made (beyond the fact that both films use cinema, implicating themselves as characters superimposed or unseen, as a vehicle for advancing particular ideas).

For an out-of-academia academic Zizek's vitality for applying complicated theories to pop culture and relating them contextually is a life giving nutrient. Of course there were plenty of arguments that were completely lost on me, but during two thrilling hours there was plenty of activity among my brain cells. So many of his ideas and comments are in line with my underdeveloped ranting sentiments, especially consumerism and desire. I especially appreciated his take on the stupid film, Titanic.

Still from They Live.

After Zizek relented with his manic mad genius charisma we went straight toward the booze for an extended discussion, this time including a couple of our friends from the MFAH's conservation lab (and oddly enough we ran into another couple of conservation colleagues at the bar).  

All of this, along with a caffeine jolt picked up at the Kafeneio (Nescafe Frappe!), got me buzzing with excitement. The complicated feelings unearthed from watching the documentary, heightened by the rapid fire, wide ranging knowledge and theoretical lingo from Zizek, has me feeling quite alive and well. When I worry about my critical mind, my unanswerable questions, I will think of Zizek and be comforted.


The MFA, Houston Fall Exhibitions: Marvelous

There is so much good stuff going on here at my little museum.

Koloman Moser: Designing Modern Vienna 1897-1907 through January 12, 2014
Austrian delights abound at this small show of graphic works, furniture, decorative objects, and textiles. Even though I'm not a fan of "graphic design," these works are luscious and thought provoking.

Koloman Moser, Schwämme (Mushrooms), design no. 4003, 1899, execution: Johann Backhausen & Söhne, Vienna; wool, silk, and cotton, MAK–Austrian Museum for Applied Arts/Contemporary Art, Vienna

Koloman Moser, Poster for Frommes Kalender, 1899, execution: Albert Berger, Vienna, colored lithograph on paper, Serge Sabarsky Collection, New York. Photo: Hulya Kolabas, New York

Antonio Berni: Juanito and Ramona through January 26, 2014
Mid-century Argentinean works from collage artist Berni. Having these around the museum completely changes the environment from solemn to playful with a human touch and a wild bit of whimsy. The installation is superior.

Antonio Berni, Las vacaciones de Juanito, 1972, acrylic, metal, rubber, fabric, and various materials on wood. © José Antonio Berni

American Adversaries: West and Copley in a Transatlantic World through January 20, 2014
Two major artists meet with their most well known works and it's pretty exciting to see these paintings together. The exhibition itself is captivating as it evokes the era so well by including various ephemeral items such as textiles and clothing and the artists's tools. Despite my lethargic interests in eighteenth-century American art, this show, curated by Rice and UT, Austin graduate Emily Ballew Neff, totally won me over.

John Singleton Copley, Watson and the Shark, 1778, oil on canvas, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Ferdinand Lammot Belin Fund. Image courtesy National Gallery of Art

Benjamin West, The Death of General Wolfe, 1779, oil on canvas, Ickworth, National Trust, Suffolk. 
Image © Hamilton Kerr Institute, Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge

I especially love this watercolor painting of Sir Lever's cabinet of curiosities (Wunderkammer!) and the curatorial notes I found from the British Museum are so fascinating I had to include the whole story below. It's definitely worth a look!

Interior of Leverian Museum, London; view as it appeared in the 1780s (drawing made on the spot).
Sarah Stone, c1835, W
atercolour, The British Museum

The Leverian Museum was founded by Sir Ashton Lever (1729-1788), a gentleman of substantial means whose property included both coal mines and Manchester real estate. He was also a man of many interests, of which ornithology was the overriding passion. In the 1760s and 1770s he acquired an enormous collection of birds, amongst other materials, which he displayed in the former royal palace, Leicester House. As a friend of Captain James Cook, Lever acquired exceptional Pacific ethnography, which was displayed alongside the natural history collections.

Unfortunately Lever overreached himself financially and had to dispose of his collection, by lottery, in the 1780s. Before doing so he commissioned Sarah Stone to depict the birds, ethnography and antiquities. However, this version is most likely a copy since it is dated 1835.

The British Museum, opened in 1759, permitted artists and amateurs to draw and paint objects in its collections and many private museums, like the one set up by Sir Ashton Lever in 1775, also permitted, even encouraged, drawing and painting, by providing 'Good Fires in all in the Galleries.' Sarah Stone's earliest dated drawings are of objects in the Leverian Museum painted in 1777, two years after it opened; by 1784, she had painted over a thousand.  

In 1789 she married John Langdale Smith, a midshipman who shared her interest in painting and exhibited a portrait at the Royal Academy in 1791 when she exhibited paintings of birds at the Society of Artists. She contributed a view of the interior of the museum in its new location in the Rotunda to a published companion to the museum, which showed some of her framed drawings of birds, shells, flowers, etc. hanging on the entrance arch, but she painted little after her marriage, apart from live birds her husband brought back from his voyages. Following a pattern which seems to have been typical for young women who gained reputations as artists, she exhibited at the Royal Academy before her marriage as 'Miss Stone', when she was described as a 'Painter', but afterwards, as 'Mrs Smith', she was an 'Honorary Exhibitor'. There is no doubt that her watercolours, whether she was paid for them or not, served as an additional exhibit or attraction for the owners of the museum, their 'curiosity' value in being produced by a young woman perhaps underlined by her lack of skill in comparison to works produced by her male professional contemporaries.


Europe 2012: What Did I Miss?

In Italy:

The Bargello Saracino, 1579, Florence, or so I thought.

This guy, a good looking wooden jousting target constructed for rude Renaissance era festivities, captivated me during grad school. There is very little data on his history and the only book that mentions him at all is in Italian. Even though I didn't expect to meet him so easily, I combed through the Bargello, where he is a supposed resident, with no success. I tried asking museum personnel, in poor Italian I admit, but they had no idea. It didn't help matters that there is no artist or title, oh you know the Renaissance sculpture! Its status as a sculpture is even tenuous. Luckily everything else in the Bargello is spectacular. I'll be back to find you Saracino!

The detail put into this is so intriguing. 

Catacombs in Rome. 

Sad, but it was too damn hot for a walk along the Appian Way. Next trip to Rome will take place during reasonable temperatures. Oh, but aren't these early Christian paintings incredible?

Bearded Christ in the Catacombs of Commodilla

In Turkey:

Hagia Eirene, Istanbul, built in the 4th century.

Once in Turkey I learned that the Hagia Eirene is only open for concerts and there weren't any during the two weeks we were there. This former church is remarkable for its interior decoration, an unadulterated example of the Christian iconoclasm which lasted roughly from 754 to 843. All of the figural painting had been whitewashed, a common tactic less reversible than adding plaster which is what the Muslims did.

During Iconoclasm figural representation was criticized for encouraging outright idol worship from earlier Pagan practices. Crucifixes, vegetal scrolls, and Biblical text were used in favor of the well known characters.

Hagia Eirene, Istanbul

Songs That Make Me Cry

From Lina Wertmüller's Swept Away, Piero Piccioni's Turquoise (1974)

Turquoise and Andante Improvviso are the gorgeous stand outs from this soundtrack. Both of these arrangements evoke a kind of delicious horror sound with that deep Argento-esque romantic tragedy flavor. The voice works a haunting embodiment of a salty wind tossed ocean wave, an enchanting, malefic seductress. One listen is never enough.

From Wong Kar Wai's In The Mood For Love, Michael Galasso's Angkor Wat Theme Final (2000)

Another stunning soundtrack from another favorite film. This arrangement, tearing at your heartstrings, defines longing in its truest form. 


From Watertown to Texas: How I Saw The Cure at Austin City Limits

Growing up in Watertown, NY, I spent a lot of time with my grandfather. He was particularly fond of country western music and constantly played Patsy Cline or tuned into the Grand Ole Opry and Austin City Limits when I was visiting. I'm not sure if I liked the music much back then, but I realize now that I was seriously influenced. Although I once spurned country music as the only music I didn't like, I'm way interested now. What it took, apparently, was a big move to Texas.

Around the same time I claimed country to be the worst (high school probably), I was deep in love with a British band fronted by a man with dark hair, sometimes teased into a wild sculpture, red lip stains, and smudged black eye makeup. If you haven't figured it out: this is Robert Smith of The Cure, my biggest dreamboat. Robert Smith was my only high school boyfriend, really. I never was the dating type back then.

Why Can't I Be You, The Cure, 1987
Still my favorite band. 

By some magic I learned that we were going to be visiting friends in Austin during the Austin City Limits music festival, an outdoor festival not limited to country western, and that the headlining band was none other than The Cure (whom I've only ever seen once before in a serendipitous Hard Rock live taping at a closed studio in NYC, 1999. Thanks to my friend Jose from FIT!).

I'm in the front row somewhere, stage left (with a pierced lip, cat eyeglasses, and blondie hair).

I knew I had to try seeing them again. Forget about the fact that there were no $300 tickets available. In Austin the festive atmosphere was infectious. We had a bite to eat as the sun went down, grabbed some hot Vietnamese coffee to go, and set off for Zilker Park.

Zilker Park, Austin, TX

Luckily my wonderful group was totally into the adventure. About 20 minutes of walking in the desert chill and we started to hear the unmistakable sounds of Robert Smith. Excited, we propelled toward the final stretch: a hike through the nearly black wooded path leading into the park. Led by the enchanting soundtrack (which at times unfortunately crossed into Kings of Leon on the second stage), we made our way to the entrance of the festival and from there we could actually see the stage and the projection screens.

Victory! We stood in our happy spot listening to the wondrous music for while and at the last minute I made a quick dash past the guards and into the park! Running like a wild woman toward the stage, I felt an incredible rush of ecstasy that will last in memory for a long time. O Robert!

Post Cure morning bliss and breakfast at Bouldin Creek Cafe on S. 1st


Two Exciting Works at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

On my last visit to Philadelphia I found myself wandering around the great museum there (surprise surprise!). I made a quick pilgrimage to some of my old faves, but as it happens with art and museums, the more you look, the higher the chance you discover something you hadn't noticed before. Of course, I was hanging around the European art galleries mostly (although I did drop in on Joseph Cornell).

My photos couldn't capture the magic, but these paintings are worth spending a generous amount of time in front of. Both of these works are predella panels from different altarpieces. A predella is the space beneath a grand altarpiece. These spaces are usually filled with small scale narrative paintings that relate to and expand on the more well known religious events depicted in the altarpiece, which are usually something like a crucifixion scene or the annunciation. 

Agnolo Gaddi, The Legend of St. Sylvester, 1380, tempera with tooled goldGallery 210, European Art 1100-1500, second floor

In Gaddi's painting, Pope Sylvester I (d. 335) binds the mouth of a dragon, sealing off its poisonous breath, and revives two victims who lay prone in the foreground. The crowned observer on the right is the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great (ruled 306-337), who, according to legend, had been cured of leprosy by Sylvester. 

Dragons painted in this era are always interesting subjects, formally. I especially like how this dragon is a pet sized cutie and how tenderly Sylvester seems to be interacting with it. 

Botticelli's The Last Moments of Saint Mary Magdalene, 1484, tempera

Tempera as a painting medium can be sublime. Because the artist mixes pure pigment with a binding agent, egg yolk, and water to thin, the translucency of the quick drying paint works well to create a mystical world. Very fitting for the religious paintings found here and throughout the middle ages toward the Renaissance. 

Look at Magdalene, a lovely 15th century Cousin Itt. Depicted as a mass of golden hair, she's a face less apparition, a symbol floating on curls. Instead of these figures appearing fully corporeal and integrated into the architectural space, their presence hesitates, flickering as if flames of a candle. The impermanence and delicacy of life is in contrast with the strength of the Pietra Serena in this Brunelleschi-esque building.

Some art historians say that the transparency shown here is the product of a mistake or somehow unintentional. Whichever the case may be, I think it's pretty spectacular and very effective.



The Man Without A Past, 2002, Wins My Heart

This summer is magnificent in some ways. Although we don't have glamorous travel plans and the days are sometimes too long, too hot, there are little treats to be had. I've shut off various social media for a refreshing peace which is turning out to be a very nice treat. My museum projects are interesting and intellectually satisfying. Every evening we have a twilight bike ride. Summer rain in Houston is better than anywhere I've ever been. Sometimes there is a magical rain that sprinkles down while the sun is shining and at night the lightning shows are terrific. A gigantic sunflower has sprouted up in our backyard. We have a backyard! 

After tonight's bike ride we made a spicy batch of iced chai, homemade pizza dough, and chocolate chip habañero almond cookies. Oh and we watched this incredible piece of art which made me just so damn happy:

All I want to do is watch films written and made by Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki. There are a million reasons why. Find out for yourself and enjoy.