Bumble Ward

edvardmunchstrand.jpgMunch's summer house was not far from my family's summer home, in Åsgårdstrand. He spent every summer there between 1889 and 1905, fell in love with the pretty town and with a married woman, Milly Thaulow (Mrs Heiberg).

The Shore of Love (Kjaerlighhetens Strand) is the 2010 summer exhibition at Haugar museum in Tonsberg. It's a rare treat and one of the biggest Munch exhibits ever held outside of Oslo or Bergen.  The images are familiar to Munch fans – the lovers, the girls on the beach, the big Norwegian moon spreading light across the water.

Andy Warhol was a great fan of Munch.  He first saw the work at a gallery in New York in 1982.  Both men lost a parent at a very young age, and both, it seems were obsessed with death.  His paintings and silkscreens are inspired by Munch's The Scream, Madonna and Self-portrait with Skeleton Arm.

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julia_siegler_3.jpgEvery Wednesday evening, I drive down Sunset Boulevard towards the beach. Now that it's summertime, the sun can almost blind you; it hangs low and bright in the sky to the west.  There's a certain release and relief you feel driving towards the ocean.  You can see the sun glinting off it as you round the wide curves of the road.  Gardens are full of roses and apple trees. Kids are riding bikes, walking dogs. 

I was listening to Sam Cooke with the windows down, the warm air blowing around, when I passed the traffic light at Cliffwood where an enormous shrine has been set up.  Banks of flowers and candles, mostly flowers now, some in long planting boxes that you might put outside your front door, mark the spot where a little girl was killed earlier this year, as she crossed the road to get the school bus.  She was 13 and as she ran across the road to get the school bus, in full view of her mother and her schoolmates, she was struck by two cars.

It's odd, but every week I forget it's there, and every week I find myself choked up as I pass it.  It could have been any of our children, I have to remind myself.

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food-safety-tips-5.jpgWhat makes a better Mother's Day than a picnic?

I contemplated this while driving down Sunset Blvd tonight, the big ol' moon silhouetted behind the palm trees, on one of those nights in LA when you feel true glee at being alive in the smoggiest city in the United States (it's true, it was listed today).

Think about this:
A roast chicken, some hummus (lovingly made, in our case, by the Maharishi, a true Lebanese purist when it comes to the blending of garbanzo beans, garlic, lemon juice, tahini and olive oil), some Arabic bread, some bright, sweet, red tomatoes, a punnet of sweet strawberries, a little Sancerre, a pretty tablecloth, the children (let's pretend for a moment that they're not too old and reluctant), a couple of dogs for good measure.

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palmsprings.jpgThe desert palate is grey and yellow now. The grey of sagebrush, and the vibrant yellow of daisy-like brittlebush that bursts in great round humps among the rocks.  In fact, it's gloriously golden absolutely everywhere in Palm Springs.  These plants flower only once or twice a decade, so I feel enormously grateful to have been there at the right time, not that my Hipstamatic does them justice.

Sunday was the last day of the Coachella Valley music festival and the girls had very reasonably agreed to a 5pm pick-up, forgoing the chance to see Thom Yorke or Phoenix. It's a school night, after all. With a happy two hours to spare, annotated map in hand, I embarked on an architectural tour of Palm Springs. Some of the best examples of mid-century modern can be found within spitting distance of Palm Canyon Drive. I tried but failed to visit the Elrod House (1968, John Lautner) on Southridge Drive, saw the Ship of the Desert (1936, Earl Webster & Adrian Wilson, and the stunning Kaufmann House (1947, Richard Neutra).

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thanksgivingtable.jpgThanksgiving is my favorite holiday. (Although come Christmastime, you know I'll be making the very same declaration, ditto Easter). This year we are having about 22 people for lunch. In LA, people say "What are you doing for the holidays" and I say sunnily "Oh, I'm having 22 people for lunch." They look at me in horror and ask why I'd be doing such a thing or tell me to make it a pot luck. Truth be told (and I am dear reader, a great advocate of truth as you know) I look forward to these great family feasts. I love sticking post-its all over my food magazines, and pulling down dusty cookbooks from the top shelf, and rifling through old recipes, and sitting in bed at night with the Maharishi swapping ideas for stuffing. The most brilliant thing is that my husband, the Maharishi, my very own James Beard (no pun intended) is a fantastic cook and a most excellent collaborator and so these things tend to go pretty smoothly. As long as we don't drink too many glasses of pre-lunch champagne, that is.

If nearly twenty-two years of marriage has given us anything it is the intricate dance of the kitchen. We could be blindfolded and still we'd know where the other was and what they were doing. Words are just superfluous and not because we'll be invariably listening to the NPR Julia Child & Jaques Pepin Turducken story or a lovely festive niblet from David Sedaris (yes, he has become a holiday favorite) but because things no longer need to be spoken. It is the kitchen dance of lerv.

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