Thursday, June 28, 2012

Photography Friday: Photography in Mexico at the SFMOMA

Lourdes Grobet

In walking around San Francisco, I kept seeing posters for the Photography in Mexico exhibit at the SFMOMA.  Photography? Old love.  Mexico? My new love.  I didn't catch the exhibit (48 hours in San Francisco is just not enough I tell you) but wanted to share a few of the works that they featured.  The whole exhibit is a selection of Mexican photography from 1920's until the present and has a special collection of photographs from the Northern Border territories (maybe in the next retrospective we'll see Michelle Frankfurter included) The one thing that I find very exciting about this exhibit though is that many of the works seem to be from Mexican photographers - often times here when I've been exposed to photography of Mexico, it is actually Americans who are doing the photographing.  I think it would be fascinating how the works might change (or might not) when it's not from the lens of foreigner looking in.

The show runs until July 8th  -  let me know if anyone makes it. I'd love to hear more!

Graciella Iturbide

Lola Alvarez Bravo

Edward Weston

Alejandro Cartagena

All photographs via SFMOMA.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Patent leather, History and Ansel Adams at the St. Francis...

Just wrapped up the quick blur of the San Francisco trip - but hey, I always love seeing the Pacific! Especially from my room, I'll have some more pictures coming but on this trip I got to stay at the Westin St. Francis - one of the more historic properties in the Bay Area.  I was up on the 27th floor so between the external glass elevators on the way up, and the 270 degree windows in the room, when the fog lifted it was ocean all around.  Even from the heart of downtown.

But the one thing I would have loved to see in that hotel would have been the famed Patent Leather Bar by Timothy Pfleuger designed in the heyday before the 1920's  - literally patent leather.  The bar is no longer (I bet they bring it back during a renovation) but you can see a few pictures of it in the lobby - and its' pictured above, with the ceiling shot below.  What's particularly interesting (well...other than a bar made entirely out of black patent leather - if that's not ahead of its time, I don't know what is) is that the pictures themselves are taken by Ansel Adams, taken on a rare commercial assignment.  The hotel in general has painstakingly arranged historic notes, photographs and memorabilia throughout the main floor so that you really get a sense of being part of a historic hotel, which is always a winner with me.  In fact, even if you're not staying there I recommend popping in for a bit of San Francisco history. As I was checking in, the photograph of a very young Queen Elizabeth II entering with an even younger Ronald Reagan caught my eye.  If it's good enough for QEII, it is certainly good enough for me!

Lobby Master Clock - the first on the West Coast.

If it's good enough for QEII and Ronnie....

Morning view, just after sunrise from my room...

Morning view on a foggy day.

Light up the night - evening view.

First two photos by Ansel Adams, remaining photos on iPhone via Instagram.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

New York, New York by iPhone...

In San Francisco still today but wanted to share these snaps from last week in New York - luckily the next flight I will be on tonight will take me home and the next flight after that will take me on vacation - hurrah! Couldn't come fast enough.  It's definitely time.

Also, I realized that whenever I'm in NYC for work, it always rains.  But those cloudy skies out of those skyscrapers (um, slept on the 49th floor!) are something that I come to expect from my trips and they end up being comforting in some way.  Maybe I just need a trip to New York  just to go to New York - no work, just New York - I bet some sunshine would be in it then!

And speaking of New York, did you catch last week's Lessons for Clara?

My favorite skyscraper...

From the dark interiors of the Monkey Bar...

I love that you can always find the classics in NYC...

Art deco details...

View from the 49th floor...

View from my meetings...

Dinner in the neighborhood...

Monday, June 25, 2012

It's more fun in the Philippines...

Waiting for my flight to San Francisco last night I caught this new ad series on CNN for the Philippines and just had to share.  First of all, in the sea of tourism promotion adds I think it really stands out for the quality of its content.  And for its allure - I mean, don't you want to go there pretty much immediately? And eat halo-halo? pretty much immediately? Just becuase you like to say "halo-halo"?

And second, the Philippines always has had a special place in my heart ever since I worked there for three months after college.  Probably one of the most challenging jobs I've ever had but hand down, one of the best experiences I've ever had.  Professionally it was one thing, but personally, it was an eye-opener.  I had several internships to choose from and I picked the gamble: far away, not in my field, in a region I really didn't know much about.  One day I'll see if I can share some photos from the trip (they're on film! gah - does that date me?) but in the meantime, this little video should give you a good idea.  Oh, and the smiling thing? Totally true. And the scuba diving instructors? They might just give you something to smile about - not that I would know anything about that...Ahhh, to be 21 again.  I'd love to go back one day - it's been ten years and I'm convinced it would at once a different world, and at once nearly the same. Which is to say, more fun.

Check out all the "it's more fun" pics here .

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Notes from the Field: Bustling Bucharest (Part II)

Coercion by mici sausage and a Weber Grill? Yep, that's what Emily from Em Loves Beer resorts to in Bucharest.  Read about it in the second part of her interview below - and then look for this adventurous lady in Burma!

Did you miss Part I of the Notes from the Field interview? Check it out here


When did you realize you were far from home? 
For the scrappy Schlink family, home is where my husband, son, and dog are. Gag, gag, total cliche, I know! 

What’s the most important thing about re-creating your home at post?
Our Weber grill. We use it to  coerce people to hang out with us. 

Three things you can’t live without at post?
1. Espresso beans. Sadly, Romania isn't known for coffee, so we end up ordering our beans from the states to satisfy caffeine cravings.
2. Vanilla extract. Pancakes are a staple in our house, and the vanilla I have found here is as disappointing as thinking it's Friday when it's only Wednesday.
3.  iPhone. It gets me out of trouble. A lot. The roads in town and out of town are confusing and incomplete at best. When I am traipsing about with Deets (my son) I need to make sure I am only "kinda" lost. It is also my camera, my communication, my resource for instant gratification. I bet everyone feels that way, yah?

One thing you thought you couldn’t live without but have had to?
Smoke free bars. Man, going out takes on a whole new mind set now that smoke is omnipresent in restaurants, bars, cafes. 

What’s your daily uniform? 
Maternity wear with a big 'ol elastic waistband, shirt, Simple canvas shoes. Just for comparison: A 30 year old Romanian woman's uniform? Skinny jeans, embellished tank tops, stilettos, large sunglasses, an even larger handbag you could pack your cat in, and cigarette in hand. And forget about shorts on anyone over the age of 10.

You’re having guests over on Saturday night, what’s on the menu?
Grilled mici (lamb, pork and beef mixed sausages, their national dish) and chicken, roasted potatoes, tomatoes, green beans, and olives. My God, the olives here are so CHEAP!  Of course, Ciuc beer.

Dream post for next assignment? Why? 
Burma. Hands down, without a doubt, Burma. Untouched beaches and incredible history?!  'Nuf said.

One thing you wished someone had told you before arriving?
I wish our housing people at the embassy were forthright and honest about the conditions and status of where we live. No sidewalks to walk anywhere outside the complex, no taxis (exception: maxi taxi) to take us for a ride, no promised ammenities, and weekly power/water outages have made us a bit cranky. We would have made a bigger fuss about living in the 'burbs.

Parting thoughts? 
Obviously, I could complain about the nuances of Romanian living, but I actually do like living here. Bucharest is a GREAT hub for travel, and the country is so stinkin' beautiful once you get out of the city and full of opportunity to dive into some intense history. It's been over two decades since communism fell here, and they are slowly but surely coming into their own.

A gal and her double distiller for making Palinka (plum liquor).
She's pouring a healthy dose of Afinata, blueberry liquor.

Stork Lounge

Piata Unirii, Cluj Romania

Black Sea, Constanta Romania

Fortified church in Viscri, Romania

Named in her honor. Sure why not! Bucharest Romania

All photos by Em Loves Beer

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Notes from the Field: Bustling Bucharest (Part 1)

We're back with a new installment of Notes from the Field - I'm especially excited about this one.  Not only is Emily, our lady on the ground in Bucharest, a down to earth and totally funny (correction: hilarious) writer, we have kind of a fascination with Romania over at our casa so we really enjoyed this one.  Emily is fantastic about getting out there and seeing what there is to see, doing what there is to do, all local-style (hello, maxi taxi!), which is part of what the foreign service is all about, and a part that's often forgotten.  You can read all about her Bucharest adventures on her blog, Em Loves Beer (and I love that name!).

Check back tomorrow for Part II to see what makes Emily feel far from home, what's on her daily Romania fashion agenda and what she'll whip up if you pop by her place for dinner on a Saturday night - and of course, more pictures!


Diplomat or Diplo-Spouse? Diplo-spouse

Current Post: Bucharest, Romania

Three words to describe your current post: Unsystematic, post-communist, surprising.

Best thing about Bucharest:
The best thing about Bucharest is that you can easily leave Bucharest. While the city has its charms here and there, it's the rest of Romania and eastern Europe that has the good stuff. Mountains are about 1.5 hours away with endless deciduous/coniferous forests, and beyond the first few peaks are loads of fortified churches, castles, and cities. Flights out of Bucharest can be cheap too, taking you to Budapest, Istanbul, Prague, or even Sicily for a reasonably priced weekend getaway.

You have visitors in town for the weekend, what does the weekend look like? 
Staying only in Bucharest? Yeesh. Our visitors must be properly fed with Romanian delicacies if only to say they tried it. That usually consists of grilled mici (sausage), mamaliga (funky polenta) and some sort of cabbage soup in Lipscani, aka "old town," washed down with bere (beer). They'd walk off the calories by walking through at least one of Bucharest's MANY city parks, Herastrau being the biggest. The people watching there is always a trip.  Parliament is a gargantuan building worth gawking at, at least once. Perhaps a trip to the Peasant Museum for some culture, and I'd encourage a detour to their botanic gardens. Their collection of flora is impressive, notably their roses.

If we are lucky enough to get out of Bucharest, I'd insist on taking them to the mountains instead. Most likely to Brasov, approximately three hours north. It's prettier. And more fun.

If you’re in Bucharest, you must try:
The farmer’s markets. There's no such thing as hydroponic tomatoes here.

Most difficult about living in Bucharest:
Driving with a conscience and patience. I've heard Turkey is worse, but only in Romania does a vehicle turning left have the right of way. In all directions. Really?

Biggest adventure at post?
Alone: The first time I hopped on the dilapidated #445 maxi taxi to find the metro to get to a downtown park with my 16 month old child. I was 2 weeks new to Bucharest and didn't speak the language well at all. The doors didn't close properly while en route, and I was surrounded by gapers who seemed mystified my child only had 1 coat and 1 hat on (early November). They really like to dress their children warmly around here. The maxi taxi clunked down the road barely missing oncoming traffic, passing Orthodox churches along the way. Almost in unison the crowded bus commenced the reverse Catholic signing of the cross, three times. Stray dogs skidded between cars, a pig in a flatbed truck was leashed via nostrils and chain passing on the right. Strangely enough, pheasants were perched on the side of the road, watching the world pass by. The maxi taxi rolled to a stop after 45 minutes to drive 6.5 km thankfully at the metro stop I was looking for. Perhaps this is not exciting to some folks out there, but I heard stories from other expat ladies who had been here 2 years without ever knowing how to take the bus anywhere. It made me pretty happy and liberated.
With family: Driving a packed car of four adults and a toddler, over 500km to see the Painted Monasteries in northern Romania. It was a monster drive with terrible roads, tourists, and rainy weather along the way, heading through single lane gorges with rock on one side, cliff on the other. However, the views of Romania were in some parts insanely beautiful, others just eerie and depressing. The best part? Driving shenanigans were totally forgotten the minute we laid eyes on the monastery walls.  See my blog for more pictures and details.

At the Bucharest Farmer's Market.

A marcelerie in Bucharest: mici, pork chops, beefy goodness.

Winter in Romania: operation snow dump.

Painted Monastery in Bucovina

Love honey? Miere stations are all over the country.

Fall in Romania.

Springtime in Romania: ten shades of gorgeous!

Brasov, Romania

All photos by Em Loves Beer

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Bringing the shore to the city...

In case you missed it, there's a little guest post over at DC Celine today! The lucky gal is vacationing on the shore this week, but for those of us who aren't  - I've put together a few ways to bring the shore to you here in Washington, DC this summer!

Check it out here - and don't forget Capitol Hill Barbie's post on what to pack for a summer weekend and how to mix the pieces up - that already made my packing list infinitely easier already for those couple of day jaunts.  Genius.

Monday, June 18, 2012

A home for Manhattan's Mad Men...

I've been saving this house just like I've been saving the Mad Men finale (don't tell me what happens! I haven't seen it yet!). But arrived in New York today so feeling a bit Manhattan and Mad Men today all in one go - just something about the business and the suits and skyscrapers here that always makes you feel like you're doing "something"...

But for when you need to duck out of it all, this house seems to have it all which was in House Beautiful a few months back.  Furthermore, you can totally see touches of Washington (see? it turns out that DC and NYC are not all that far apart).  My personal favorite DC-ism here are the Thomas Pheasant dining chairs (pictured below) - I've heard they're available for purchase on the market now rather than only to the trade but if those don't fit the bill, they have the same ones at the Hay Adams hotel that you can take a little sit in over a meal.  I love some of the colors in the house, especially the saturated teals - that's all Mad Men for sure - teals...corals...there was something about the hues used then that you just don't see anymore.

Hello, NYC, it's good to see you again!

All photos by Eric Piasecki for House Beautiful.
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