Archive for August 2008

Sarah Palin?

August 29th, 2008 — 12:41pm

If John McCain becomes president, he will be the oldest President to have ever been elected to office. He’s a cancer survivor. And, for his VP, he picks Sarah Palin, Govenor of Alaska.

Is this someone ready to lead the country? What does she know about the running of the federal government?  The military? Does she have any foreign policy experience? She is, as Obama said, a heartbeat away from the Presidency and it seems to me she is not ready to assume that mantle.

This looks like a desperate ploy on McCain’s part — like in a basketball game where you’re down to the last three seconds and you shoot from the other end of the court, just in case you can sink it.

I don’t know if choice this will sink McCain’s candidacy, but it’s hard to tell how it will help.

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Yoga Journal at the Democratic National Convention

August 26th, 2008 — 9:47am

I got a call a few days ago from’s talented editorial director, Andrea Kowalski. She tells me we’re sending a blogger to the DNC, and could I send a press release out on it. “Oy,” I thought, “If anyone at all writes about it, it will be to make fun of it.” But send I did.

Leah Garchik wrote about it in her column today, sharing my fear of being lampooned by New York press. LA Times will write about. And, I hear, Newsweek.

The blogger, Sara Avant Stovers, first dispatch, from the Convention manages to mention New York Times reporter David Carr, Daryl Hannah, and Bobby Kennedy in the same breath. Pretty cool.

So though I fear yoga will be made fun of, I also know that press is press. And if anyone dares ask me if yoga is more Democratic than Republican (I mean really, can you imagine John McCain in any yoga position?), I’ll tell them the practice predates the political parties by, oh, at least 4500 years.

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My Closet

August 22nd, 2008 — 3:33pm

I’ve noticed, without planning or trying, that every August I clean out my closet. Not such exciting news, but this year, my annual closet cleaning gave me an unanticipated gift.

I not only found some clothes I really liked but had forgotten I owned, I also realized how many lovely things I have. Instead of my chronic case of the “gimmees,” and “let’s shop!” I felt like I have enough. My closet wasn’t lacking anything (except a great pair of gray slacks). I have plenty and don’t’ need to keep filling it (and myself) up with more stuff.

I’ll try to remember that.

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John Edwards

August 11th, 2008 — 7:32pm

Whether in politics, Hollywood, or in my personal circle of friends, I don’t care who sleeps with who. I don’t care if a politician is gay (unless he’s a homophobe in public, then all bets are off). So I just didn’t get what all the hoopla about John Edwards was about.

“Why all the fuss?” I asked my husband Scott, a journalist. “Who the hell cares, besides his wife and kids?”

Scott gently pointed out  that this man could have been Obama’s nominated VP, or even the nominee himself.  And had that happened — well, disaster. The democratic nomination derailed. John McCain the next President.

The country deserves better than Bush. Better than McCain, and, I guess, better than Edwards. It deserves Obama. If he wins, I will throw a party on January 20, 2009, and toast the end of an eight-year nightmare.

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Mandy Aftel – Alchemist

August 2nd, 2008 — 10:22am

I picked my boys up from camp yesterday, and got them fabulous cupcakes from Love at First Bite — a cupcakery (who cares if that’s a word) smack in the heart of Berkeley’s “Gourmet Ghetto”. (The boys each wanted crushed oreo cupcakes. I, in a fit of rare discipline, declined). As we were walking back to our car, I told them I wanted to show them something cool. I pointed out the window of Mandy Aftel’s workshop, filled with antique perfume bottles. Mandy is a perfume maker, and I had interviewed her for a piece I wrote several years ago on cooking with essential oils. Just as I was pointing out the different shape bottles, the door opens, and out steps Mandy with her boyfriend.

“Hi Mandy,” I said,  reminding her of who I was. Knowing this was a rare chance to bring my boys into her perfume studio, I asked her if I could briefly show the boys her workshop. She very graciously said, “of course.”

I knew my boys would love her space, because it’s magical. She has a perfume “organ,” a three sided workspace that allows her to mix scents within easy reach. Stepping into her workshop is like stepping back in time, when alchemists and witchcraft reigned. My son Jack asked her if he could smell some rose scent, and Mandy began describing the difference between Moroccan Rose and Oman Rose, the difference between essential oils and absolutes, and top, middle or base notes. We smelled Frankincense, Oakmoss, Lavender, Tobacco, and my personal favorite, Black Spruce.

We spent about a half hour there, as Mandy kindly entertained my boys questions. Smelling her perfume mixtures is a completely different experience from anything you’ll find in department stores (I don’t wear perfume for this reason — they smell, and in fact, are synthetic), and while I can’t say I love all of Mandy’s fragrances — I find them all interesting (she’s coming out with a black currant fragrance this fall that is wonderful, deep, earthy, and berryish).

As we left, I said, “Fellas, you’ve just met a witch, and I mean that in the very best possible way,” to which Mandy gave us a big smile.

Magic is still alive and well in the world. And Berkeley seems to have a higher than average amount.

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The Xocolate Bar

August 1st, 2008 — 7:31pm

I am madly in love with The Xocolate Bar — a new chocolate store in Berkeley at 1709 Solano Avenue. Owned by Malena and Clive, a former metalsmith and glassblower respectively, their chocolates are deep, rich, and wonderful (my favorites are the Kalamata Olive truffle — salty and sweet, and the Cardomon ganache). Malena makes her own molds, and the results are gorgeous — a zaftig Venus of Willendorff, a spritely Bacchus, and lusty Kama Sutra tiles. And if that weren’t enough, the molded chocolates are covered with an iridescent shimmer. They even serve vegan chocolate (no carob silliness here!). And, they serve it all with great smiles and good will. The store has become a favorite hangout for me and my boys, and if you live in Berkeley or are just passing through, I urge you to stop by and taste their divinely inspired confections.

I had just come from Mandy Aftel’s perfume studio (more on that another time) where she had given me an absolute of Black Spruce (how wonderful is Berkeley?) I gave Malena a smell from the bottle and I had, what I humbly consider, a flash of genius — conifer chocolate for the holidays! Malena seemed amused and interested. Come December, we shall see if she and Clive have whipped up something foresty and sweet.

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