Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Last week at the ballet studio, several people announced they were November-born, including two of the dancers below.  Lovers of life that we all are, we immediately declared a party at our house.

My friends in the rehearsal studio, two years ago.
They created stiff circles of tulle on the floor here.

Picasso or Cole Porter may not have been present, but it dawned on me that our impromptu soirée wasn't too different from a Paris-in-the-'20s scene.  We had dancers, artists, an actor, a musician, arm-chair philosophers (sometimes, even the real thing), and a scientist!  Just missing were the writers and poets.

Our Artistic Director (seated),
formerly from American Ballet Theater,
during our rehearsals

First off, our ballet Artistic Director was celebrating his birthday.  He had danced with world-renowned American Ballet Theater in New York prior to moving out West.  His pregnant wife was surprised his photos were in some of my old, ABT performance books.  (I used to attend ABT's season at the Metropolitan Opera House and pick up the books at the performances.  This was before I knew him personally - and before his wife ever met him.)  We reminisced about his old ABT friends - dancers I admired, even worshipped, and on my very lucky days, shared barres with in NYC. 

My dear friend, Virginia, whom I wrote about in Life is Beautiful, provided all the good bubbly as we celebrated her 86th birthday too.  Months ago, she had been generous enough to offer what gallery paintings we liked for our walls, and to rotate them until we'd found one we couldn't say good-bye to.  (Her art gallery overflows as much as her champagne collection.)  I was ecstatic to serve as her extended exhibit space.  So, we spent a fair amount of time clinking flutes in birthday toasts while engaging in art appreciation.  Now that's a civilized way to spend an evening.

Loaned to us from Virginia's art gallery.
I like discovering textures in it daily.
But is the marred surface
the result of 
her housekeeper's
vigorous cleaning?!

Another friend, a ceramic artist, was also a celebrant. Her works happen to be around our house too - from wabi sabi vases to our daily serving dishes.  Wabi sabi is a wonderful, Japanese aesthetic - defined by imperfection, transience, and natural beauty.  Does that concept speak to you?  It does to me, especially contrasted against geometric perfection.  We celebrated this theme by putting my friend's irregularly-shaped bowls and plates out for our little party.  (You can check out her whimsical creations here in Yukari Art)

An example of my friend's
wabi sabi vase
on the floor of our foyer

Let's see. We mentioned dancers and artists.  Now, the actress.  She had recently played a small part in a film scene with Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson - yes, the protagonist at the core of "Midnight in Paris"!  She was still giddy from the experience.  Of course we pressed her, and she confirmed that Wilson is as cute and charming in life as he is on film.

Finally, the culmination of this evening out of Time was sitting by the piano while our musician friend played Gershwin and ragtime.  The live music punctuated our discussion on the origins of rag (which I never knew was a technical term - "ragging out time") and Jazz.  The genre couldn't have been more fitting that night. 

After all the champagne, music and art
Midnight in California

Sometimes, the best experiences are unplanned, fleeting, joyous celebrations of life.  Wabi sabi style.  I didn't even appreciate the evening until everyone had gone and I thought of writing this post.

Now, if I could only round up a poet or two for the next gathering ... 


  1. Those are some gorgeous photographs. I'm new to your blog and hadn't realised that you're a dancer, how lovely!

    Talking of Paris, I'm just back from a trip there, do pop by the blog if you fancy meeting me in Le Marais, just bring your best hat and your dancing shoes...


  2. This is the sort of evening I wish I was invited to all the time! Sounds divine! I always love your ballet photographs - so interesting what you wrote in your comment about not understanding ballet until you learnt to hold everything in - I now absolutely understand what you mean. Flamenco and ballet aren't as different as I thought they were!

  3. How lovely! I do agree that the impromptu celebrations are often the best. A few years ago someone gave us lots of Irish whisky and a gigantic smoked salmon. We just called a few neighbours and asked if they were free that evening. We had a lovely party with salmon and whisky. Normally we don't particularly socialise with these neighbours, although we know them well enough - but they were unexpectedly good fun and we do see more of each other now. Your home looks absolutely beautiful. I suspect that even without the loans it is like an art work in itself - an impression I got when reading your earlier posts about it.

    I always envy people who can make art part of their life. I had a good friend who was like that and it always makes me frustrated when I then turn back and look at my own home, full of papers and books and ironing and shopping.... oh dear....

  4. Wonderful, love those photos x

  5. Love your blog! You're very creative! :)

    Wanna follow each other?

  6. What a wonderful, eclectic mix of people! It all sounds like so much fun, with lots of stories to tell... I might not be a poet, but can I join the next do? xoxo

  7. you have a beautiful home and the post makes me so happy and nostalgic!

  8. I had to read this twice in order to absorb all the wonder of the evening and people you describe. It sounds like my idea of the most perfect, spontaneous get-together imaginable. Your friend Virginia's penchant not only for good champagne and great art - but for sharing both, sounds utterly wonderful.
    I'm a fledgling writer and aspiring, apprentice poet - is there an imaginary waiting list I can put my name down on for being notified of such impromptu gatherings in a few years' time???!

  9. Wow, this was such a wonderful post with such tales to share. What great friends. I'd imagine just being there encompassed by such creativity and good company. I love impromptu gatherings. Ahh, the joys of life!

  10. Dear Rosalind, Sabine, Veshoevius and other blogger friends interested: it would be so delightful to have a gathering of our own someday. What a concentration of talent from the internet in our little corner of the world! - J xx

  11. I would love to join all of you in the gathering.
    Thank you so much for each and everyone of your comments. You can tell they come from the heart with a wonderful writing mind.
    I am honoured.
    Much love and admiration.

  12. Me too, me too can I join in too? I also have a November Birthday. What a brilliant impromptu evening and wonderful mix of people in your beautiful home. Perfect. Xxxx

  13. Wow what wonderful photos!
    I used to do ballet dancing. Always wished that I would have stayed with it.

  14. I love your blog, such a lovely insight into a stranger's life=)

  15. Oh, Jenny - this is so strange: maybe it's because I'm home in bed with a mild fever.. I suddenly thought of you, and was thinking that I hadn't visited your blog for a while, or spoke with you, and I was reading this post - thinking of asking you if I could use the top shot, at high res, to play around with as art like we did last time - and then i'm reading, and scrolling down, and looking at that wonderful textured shot and thinking WABI SABI.. Stephanie (Odyssey), who's commented here - she and I had a little chat on her facebook wall recently about wabi sabi.. I'm going to have to email you a pdf of a layout that I did, years & years ago - pre-blog - I was trying to get a book published, a photographic book on the concept of wabi sabi which none of the London publishers could wrap their head around!!

    It is incredible.. of the people here, so many of them - Rosalind, Veshoevius, Dvora.. they're all women I've gotten to know in real life, to be friends with. Sabine and I used to be friends, too. And Maya, who I still haven't had the chance to meet, but who is like a virtual friend.. this is such a lovely lovely post, and it would be wonderful if we could all be in the same actual place: we should all descend on your beautiful modern house someday! Bearing gifts.

  16. Hi Jenny,

    I've never heard of wabi sabi, so glad I have now though! These posts lifted me out of my funk, so glad I stopped by here! I'm just sooooo tired these past few days. Only a few weeks to go, and I'm lucky to have the chance to rest before the big day (that's how I'm trying to look at it ;)). Forgive me if I can't leave a comment worthy of the beauty of this post. I love how each of your posts is like a prose poem or (if we're being Japanese :)) a haibun.

    On another note, my host site, Weebly, released my home address and phone number (both old ones from last year thank goodness) to the worldwide web, so I'm considering taking my site down immediately or letting it languish without renewing it and perhaps blogging again through blogger or wordpress. You and Rosalind are the only two bloggers I've been following anymore, so I'll let you both know what I decide!

    Happy holidays and thank you for the heart-warming and beautiful posts!


    P.S. I'm reading a book I feel like both you and Rosalind would love. "The Thirteenth Tale." Gorgeous prose, a mystery and stories within stories with a Du Maurier "Rebecca" feel to it... xoxo


Dear Fellow Aesthetes, I love hearing your thoughts. I think the other readers find them valuable too! Much love xxx

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