Friday, November 30, 2012

An Ode to the Coffeehouse

If you're paying attention at all, you'll notice that I post a lot of pictures on my people blogs from Gray Owl Coffee, a local place here in Norman. That's because I'm there all the time. 

Ironically, I'm not a huge coffee drinker.  I've never have been, but I love all the rituals that surround coffee and its consumers.  I love seeing my Facebook friends post about not having had their morning cup.  Part of me feels almost jealous that I can't gripe about the same thing. Not having had your morning swig of Diet Coke just doesn't have the same ring to it.* I love the smell of it, I love the feel of a warm mug in your hands, I love the variety of mugs people use to drink it, I love all the accoutrements that accompany the coffee: the cinnamon shakers, the raw sugar canisters, the little stir sticks.  I love all the pretentious kinds of coffee out there: latte, macchiato, espresso, iced coffee, Irish coffee, Turkish coffee, frappuccino, coffee milk (that was a favorite of mine when I was a kid, which is probably why, even though I don't drink real coffee, I can certainly stomach a latte with no issues whatsoever), cappuccino, mocha...the list is endless. Coffee drinkers are automatically elevated to Wordly Knowledgeable Individuals in my mind when they order anything other than say, coffee.  

Which brings me back to Gray Owl Coffee. Not only do I love the way it smells in there, but I love the groovy people that go there, the groovy music that is always going in the background**, the groovy furniture the use to decorate the place. I love the sound of the barista banging the used coffee grounds into the garbage and I love to hear the steamer heating up milk. I love that I can bring my daughter there to hang out and play backgammon and I love that my son has met girls there on first dates. I love that everyone from a 7-year-old to a retiree feels comfortable there. I don't love that I almost feel like a fraud, frequenting the place as I do and not being a real coffee drinker, but that's another entry for another day.   

It has a roving cast of characters, so I doubt I'll quite frequenting the place anytime soon, fraud status be damned. Here is Jenna, the woman is generally working the counter on Tuesday evenings, the night Libby and I go to hang out. She's in the process of making my low-fat pumpkin latte.  

Well...never mind.  Apparently I've run out of space on the allotted servers and can no longer post pictures unless I a)delete photos or b)fork over money to Picassa.  

Greedy bastards.

*Yes, it's true.  I drink Diet Coke in the morning. But I'm quitting. It's my 2015 New Year's Resolution.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Post Secret Today

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Riley

I ran into him on Sunday--he was headed home from a classic car show. He sorta caught my attention seeing as the steering wheel is ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THE CAR.  

I wanted so bad to ask what the thing was worth, but I'm not rude. So I googled it.  It's worth a LOT.  
Put me behind the wheel of that thing, and I would instantly turn into dyslexic driver and be running into fire hydrants within 2 miles. 

He's had this car, a Riley, (BMW now owns the brand) for 40 years and it is pristine condition.  I think because he's only driven it 1 mile a year as evidenced by his odometer:  

What he was most proud of, however, was the way the engine sounds. 

"I wish you could get a picture of the sound". 

"Oh, I can take care of that."  

I cornered him for 15 minutes. There were even costume changes, as I got him wearing three different hats.  

It's really too bad I'm so shy.  -> 

Monday, October 15, 2012


There's a ceramic artist in Oklahoma City who makes corsets out of clay.  

But that's not what I'm going to show you today. Today I'm going to show you pictures of her bathroom, which is the most spectacular bathroom I've ever seen. There's no way to give that place justice, so you'll just have to make do with some of my paltry photography and go from there.  

First of all, the artist: 

Nicole Moan

Secondly, the method: She designs pictures, oftentimes based on her father's art, and then reconfigures the art in ceramic tile. Not square tiles, mind. This is ceramic tile in all shapes and sizes: everything from swirls to puzzle pieces to stars to squiggles. She first has to make the tile--an extraordinarily time-consuming process as I can fully attest, and then she methodically installs it so that it becomes representational art. Then of course she has to grout it all, which is arguably more of a pain in the ass than the tile work. 

I'm featuring her bathroom here, but her entire living room floor is her own ceramic design (again, based on her father's artwork), as is her main hallway, and of course the the kitchen counters and backdrop are an eye fiesta. 

On the subject at hand. 

Her bathroom, floor to ceiling, is decorated in this wonderful "Under the Sea" motif. And when I say floor, I don't mean she has blue 4-inch ceramic tiles on the floor so she could concentrate on the walls and ceiling. I mean the floor is a canvas in-and-of* itself. 

Naturally I didn't take pictures of the floor.  

But you can see pictures of it here, along with her wonderful bathtub and toilet. I would frankly be scared to do my business on that throne for fear of insulting the thing. 

Here are some detail pics. These are just little treats that are around her (several) mirrors: 

Sometimes I feel like somebody's watching me. 
One. By. One. she installed these details. This is OCD at its best. 

This is the sink. Complete with a bug in a bottle. Which no bathroom should be without. 

The counter top is designed to look like water is flowing onto the floor, so the floor (Yeah, I'm back to the floor. What of it?) by the counter is textured in such a manner to emulate water. 

Stay with me.  

You can see from the sink picture that her hand-made, costume counter top is configured of some plastic-y, resin-y substance that can be only be summed up as witchcraft. Add to this the knowledge that there are multiple layers of goodness to look at on the counter alone, including glitter (!), and I swear to Poseidon you'll feel like you're on an acid trip after being in there for three minutes.** 

Here's a glimpse of the ceiling: 
Who has the patience for this? I would be a drunk by now. Seriously.  
You see those pieces on the bottom section? Those are actually mirror shards reflecting the ceiling pattern. 

I'll give you a minute.  


Check this out: She even had the nerve to put WINE BOTTLES in the opening where her window was. Here's a snippet of her can get a feel for the concept here. 

Takes going green to whole new level.  This is destined to happen in my home somewhere. 
The entire installation took three months of almost constant work to complete.

She says sometimes her friends will call her and ask her to come over to take a bath. I personally maintain she's at risk every time she allows someone who doesn't live in the house to cross the threshold. Because if it were me, I would padlock myself in there and never leave.  -> 

*Do you hyphenate "in and of"?
**I assume. I've never actually done acid, but that bathroom can't be a far-off depiction of the kaleidoscope+ I understand goes on in the brain after ingestion. 
     +Of course I didn't spell that correctly the first time.   

Monday, October 8, 2012

Laundry Day

It was 8:15 on a Saturday morning. I had been awake since before 7:00. 

Let's be clear here: I don't do before-seven-o'clock on a Saturday morning. Life circumstances that forces anyone out of bed before, say, 9:45 on Saturday morning is simply sadism engineered by The Man. But there I was, up, out and about because my kid has the nerve to want to improve his chances for a better future by taking the SAT. What's worse is it was completely overcast so I couldn't even head downtown for some nice urban shots in the dewy early morning light.  

Therefore I was meandering as I had some time to kill before photography class--driving around a part of town that used to be my stomping ground; the school sponsoring the SAT is my high school alma mater. I get up to that part of town periodically and always drive around a bit to check out the lay of the land. It's amazing, isn't it, the changes that can happen to a major street over the years? The building I'm always most nostalgic about, other than the high school itself, is the one that used to be a bowling alley. We actually learned to bowl during the winter months of PE my freshman year and we walked to that bowling alley, where Coach Burtschi expected us to keep score by hand. The bowling alley also had a snack bar, and oftentimes after school my friends and I would go hang out there. They served Mr. Pibb. Plus they had a Pac Man machine. 

The building, amazingly, is still there but the business is long gone. Tucked in next door these days is a laundry mat.  

Which is where I met Elizabeth.  

She had gotten behind on the chore over the past week because one of her daughters was in the hospital. The little girl has an immune-deficiency disorder and bites, scrapes, abrasions, etc. can turn into impetigo in short order. Her body has a hard time fighting the infection and she requires IV antibiotics to get rid of them.  Summertime is worse.   

Elizabeth, her father calls her "Beth", married her high-school sweetheart; he's now active duty in the Marines. He just signed on for another tour of duty.  

"So you're going to have to move around a lot, I guess?" 

"We just bought a house, so I'm staying here."

As it turns out, Elizabeth works at the laundry mat on the weekends. She doesn't usually bring her clothes to wash with her, but right now the dryer at home is broken. She has to pay to do her laundry, but she gets reimbursed the expense in her paycheck. A small perk.  

She's also bi-lingual, English and Spanish, and helped me purchase chicken tamales from a man who came in peddling his wife's cooking for some extra money. I bought a baker's dozen for dinner that night which set me back $12. They were still warm. -> 

Friday, September 28, 2012


It is without question the tackiest thing in the world to take your camera to a memorial service.  

That being said, I took my camera to a memorial service last week.  

I didn't bring it out during the service--God, give me some credit. Afterwards at the reception though, I spotted this man from across the room talking with my friend. Not doubt he was offering his sincerest sympathies to her as she just lost her father, an inevitable loss I've yet to face and one I hope I don't have to encounter for some time. At any rate, I couldn't help but notice his dark and mysterious good looks coupled with a long, lush ponytail earrings and matching necklace.

He's sorta dashing, amiright? 
He just happened to be talking to her when I approached her to bid my farewells. She told me he's an artist and described his process. Check this out: He puts a pen to paper and says "what do you want me to draw?"  And you say something like "a shoe." Then, without ever letting the pen leave the paper and with one continuous line he produces art!

My friend has one of his pieces displayed in her living room. It's gorgeous and I know it well. I said in jest* I would get him a napkin so he could draw me something too. 

To his grand credit he was willing to produce and actually tried, but it didn't work--there was too much texture on said napkin. Then he said "OK, now I'm on a mission. Let's find some paper." In short order, after some quick thinking, I was able to produce a canvas so he could work his magic:     

This may or may not be drawn on the back of the memorial pamphlet. 

I really didn't have any intention of taking his picture until he drew this. As I was setting up to shoot him in action (I got too engrossed watching the picture appear and missed my opportunity) he said, pointing, "the light is better from over there."  

I die. 

There's more! Not only is he talented and knows about photography, he's also a consultant to the Oklahoma Supreme Court for Native American issues.

And a DJ on The Spy.

And charming. 

Did I mention the matching earrings and necklace? -> 

PS: RIP Edward Hardy Summers, OK Supreme Court Justice. This blog entry vetted and approved by my dear friend Julia. I'm so sorry for your loss.