corner view

From where I'm sitting by Susie Lubell


I see a little boy whose love of trains is second only to his love of electrical wires. He asks to take a train every day after preschool. But his sister needs her nap. Foiled! So if she wakes up at a reasonable time and all are in good spirits and we can still catch the 5:11 southbound or the 5:18 northbound trains, then I indulge this particular obsession. I love trains too. I wish this one could take us to Holland or Thailand or Spain, but San Jose will do. And just in time to catch the 5:31 train back home for dinner.

Corner View - Vending Machine (Holy Smokes) by Susie Lubell


Well I didn't have time this week to snap any local vending machines but this morning I remembered a picture that I took a few years ago on a previous trip to Israel. It's in Jaffa, the old sea port south of Tel Aviv. There's a lot going on in this pic. But basically it's kind of a game type vending machine. Except instead of grabbing a stuffed bunny of choice or a plastic car, you're aiming for your favorite brand of cigarettes. Huh? And the thing is decorated in little animal illustrations like it was for kids. I swear.

For other convenient snacks and additcions, hop over to Spain.

Corner View - Spring by Susie Lubell

Seder Plate

Seder Project

Happy Passover everyone. Traditionally in Hebrew you say Happy Spring Holiday. It's the holiday that celebrates deliverance from slavery (when the Israelites were slaves in Egypt way back in the day) and the rebirth and renewal that is spring. These are pictures of our seder plates - the ceremonial plates that are the centerpieces of the seder table. One was the real deal, a beautiful plate that my cousins got us for our wedding from the Portuguese Synagogue in Amsterdam, and the other was a clever art project my mother-in-law brought from Israel. On it you find the most important symbols of the holiday, many of which symbolize springtime  - the egg, the parsley, the charoset, which is chopped apples and springy! This holiday is the best. There's so much involved. I was leading the seder and trying to tell the story of Passover to the four kids at the table and trying to make it snappy because kids at a table generally want to eat, but there's so much to the story and so many themes and characters. They should really make a movie. Oh wait! They did.

But by far the best part of the evening, and the part that the kids had been anticipating since, well, last Passover, was a visit from the Prophet Elijah (Eliyahu). It's kind of our version of Santa Claus, but without the gifts. Toward the end of the seder we open the door to let in Elijah who drinks from Elijah's cup, a special goblet (read: holy grail) that's in the middle of the seder plate. So for the last four years we've made my brother Aaron dress up in a white sheet, a tallis, a rasta hat, sunglasses and a white beard and dance in while we sing his song. He twirls in, takes a sip of wine and leaves before the kids start to suspect that Uncle Aaron is not at the table. The kids are simultaneously terrified and captivated by Elijah and the adults think it is HYSTERICAL. Later on I went outside to get some mint to make tea and my son was concerned that Elijah was still out there and would get me. Love it. We might have one more year before the jig is up.

For more spring in your step, head over to Spain.

Corner View - Front Door by Susie Lubell

Machane Yehuda

My husband and I customarily take a day to explore Jerusalem whenever we come to visit. Saba and Savta watch the kids and we spend the day walking around, eating, watching. It's always great. We usually spend our time in the Old City but on this visit we concentrated on the area called Machane Yehuda. It's a giant fruit, vegetable, candy, plastic container, appliance, broom, spice, fake Levis, pastry and cheap sandals market. It's where I used to shop every Friday morning when I lived in Jerusalem. It is total chaos. We love this place.

So we spent a few hours strolling around. We had a shwarma at a place called Moshiko's, which was next to a barber and across from a mini-synagogue. You know, in case you need to pray while buying your groceries. I guess it's more for the sellers to pop over and do their thing morning, noon and night ritual. I wish I had a picture of the five old guys hanging out at the barber. They were adorable. Especially when they halted conversation to stare at a beautiful, big-boobed, Scandinavian tourist walk by. Classic!

Corner View - Miniature world by Susie Lubell


When Jane asked for suggestions last week for miniature worlds I thought ant hill off the top of my head and then what do we come across the very next day while hiking at Nahal Absor in the Negev? Dozens and dozens of anthills where gargantuan ants spend all day every day hauling bits of our world into their miniature worlds. I wish I had a picture of my thumb next to these puppies because for whatever reason, maybe the toxic chemical plant nearby, they grow bigger than your average city ant.


But not as big as these suckers. The very next evening we went out for a walk at a nearby kibbutz where they have a huge sculpture garden and we came across gigantic ants! So I had to snap those too.Before they gobbled me up!

For more miniature worlds, visit Jane's sidebar. Happy trails!

Corner View - Street Photography by Susie Lubell

Arab Market

We're in the midst of preparations to leave for Israel on Monday so instead of a Corner View of where we're at, here's a Corner View of where we're going. This is a typical street scene from the Arab Market in Jerusalem's Old City where my husband and I always go to have fresh squeezed orange or carrot juice, a delicious meal of pita, ful, hummus and salad chopped up as tiny as possible and plenty of local olive oil. It's right next to the Armenian guy who sells old photos of Jerusalem so we always stop by to admire. Sometimes have tea. Although he'll talk your ear off. Don't say I didn't warn you.

And then we get kenafe (cheese, pistachio and honey) for dessert at Jabar's which is a little closer to Damascus Gate and in the quarter where we're not super welcome, politically anyway. It's been two years since our last visit. I'm hoping to gather inspiration for some new work. In fact, a friend there just told me she's taking me to a restaurant in the Jaffa flea market where everything's for sale. Even the table you're eating off of! They just add it to the bill. Genius! I feel inspired already.

So I may not post for a while. We'll see how it goes. Or maybe I'll post a bunch at 4am as we muddle through a 10 hour time difference with our kids. Oy.

Now head over to Spain for more street photography.

Corner View - Wisdom from an elder by Susie Lubell



My dad used to always say, there are two rules to live by:

1. Don't sweat the small stuff.
2. It's mostly all small stuff.

I know he didn't make that up. But it's still true. I find that the older I get, the better I am about this. Yesterday, when my kids were engaged in a painting project, to transform the huge cardboard box that our stove came in into a kids only playhouse (this is doubling as my entry for last week's theme: re-purposed), my son decided that my house needed a new coat too. It was just a porch beam. It was tempura paint. I chose not to care. Though I did explain that my house was already painted the color I wanted and he best stick to his own abode, lest he start on the interior walls tomorrow.

Head over to Spain Daily for more words of wisdom.

One announcement: The lovely Liv Lane of Choosing Beauty is hosting her weekly Wednesday give-away and this week it's one of my pieces - Woman of Valor. Please stop by her inspiring website and leave a comment about the bravest thing you've ever done and she'll draw a winner at random on Friday. This is my first time doing anything like this so go over and leave a whole bunch of comments...xo

Corner View - Holiday by Susie Lubell


The holidays seem like a hundred years ago now. We celebrated each night of Hanukkah with different friends. The kids lit candles, opened gifts, spun the dreidle, sang songs. Now that they're older we're really enjoying the holiday. Although I think I may have to re-evaluate my gifting strategy for next year and reverse the one present per night policy. My son would wake up every morning and pester me about his gift the entire day. Can he have a hint? First letter? How big? That got old. But it's hard to compete with Christmas. Not that it's a competition. But Christmas never backs off. The commercial part of it anyway. It's always bigger than life. Even during a recession. This year I finally got questions like, why can't we have lights on our house like everyone else? And so it begins. We're not like everyone else. We make our own light. And our own chanukkiah (that's what we call a menorah)! The idea for the rocks covered in tissue paper came from Aimee. By the eighth night it felt like an inferno. And for Christmas we did like all good Jews. We went to the movies while my mom babysat.

To see how holidays were spent around the world, visit Jane and take the tour.

Corner View - Corners of my home by Susie Lubell

I have been remiss in my corner view participation. Started by Jane of Spain Daily, it's a group of bloggers around the world who post on a weekly prompt. I just usually can't get my act together in time. This week's prompt was Corners of Your Home. So here they are, for better of worse. I left out the corners that were full of crap. Except for one corner that is desperate for a makeover. Can you tell a lot by someone's corners? Maybe...

I collect rag dolls. Porcelain painted faces? No thanks. I collect the soft kind and the raggier the better. Here are two from South Africa, that I bought in Israel and one from New Zealand.

We have a lot of books. Paperbacks. I can't bring myself to part with them. And I don't want them in boxes in the attic because then there's NO CHANCE I will ever look at them again. This way they're out of public view but easily accessible. You know, for when I want to reread Othello.

I have kids. Two in fact. One of them, the boy one, sleeps here. My friend Ayelet in Israel made those chickens. I wish she would sell them on ETSY or something but for now only sold in shops in Israel. The quilt is from a wonderful woman in an adorable shop in Rosh Pinna, which is a little artist town in Northern Israel. It has the Hebrew alphabet on it. And the image above his bed is obviously from Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree, one of the greatest books of all time. I painted this when I was sixteen.

Even more books. And some friends atop the books.

This corner is actually in our hallway. Kind of a peculiar little place. We turned it into a kitchen. With a view of the Andes...

Here is a quiet corner where I can relax (and nurse - back in the day). My Grammy crocheted that afghan. It's good to have a place to breathe when this is what your office/studio looks like...

Good grief.

Thanks for coming over. For more corner tours visit Jane and her people at Spain Daily. Vaya con Dios.

Corner View - Contrast by Susie Lubell

The first ketubah I ever made was for my brother. I was 20. I'm not really sure how it came to pass that I would do this for them. They probably saw prices for ketubahs in the Judaica shops (this was before and decided baby sister needed to pitch in. I never even discussed it with them. I just drew what I wanted. A giant colorful tree and the Jerusalem buildings I'd been drawing for a while. And I think they gave me a photo copy of some text they'd found. And it came out beautifully considering I put very little thought into it. That's probably what made it so nice. It wasn't wrought with ketubah-making anxiety. These are the only pictures of it that remain. It's my brother putting a nine iron through it when he got divorced four years later. Not his best moment.

I've since done four others: my other brother's (I'm happy to report they are going on 17 years I think), my own, my friend Heidi's and most recently for my friend Adam. Here's where we encounter the contrast. With Aaron's ketubah, I just painted what I felt like painting. No consultation. Total freedom. No stress. It was for my brother who I knew would be happy with anything I came up with. And he was. Adam's ketubah was a different story. I was doing this as a "professional" or at least semi-professional. It required hours of consultation to figure out the exact imagery that best united two very different people and two very different aesthetics. And by contrast to Aaron, whose idea of Judaism is listening to Matisyahu while drinking a beer on his balcony, Adam is a professor of Jewish History at a seminary in Los Angeles. And by contrast to the rabbi for hire at Aaron's wedding who didn't even read the ketubah aloud during the ceremony, Adam's would be read under the chuppah by a world renowned Aramaic language scholar (a buddy of Adam's). One thing I'll say, even though I was cursing through the process of creating Adam's ketubah (sorry Adam) I learned a lot about what it takes to do this as a business. In fact Adam himself once said he doesn't feel bad for being my most annoying client. It's good to get that one out of the way early. And he was right. I am the master of customer service now. And more importantly, I trust my creative instincts. I loved my brother's ketubah and, despite the challenges, maybe because of the challenges, I loved how Adam's ketubah came out. And I loved how much they loved it. Now I'm just trying to reconcile that 20-year-old artist who doesn't care what the world thinks and paints from her heart with the 36-year-old artist who worries too much about screwing up.

Recently someone ordered Adam's ketubah as a print for his own wedding so I finally had the impetus to stitch together the six scans of the original (which was much larger than my bitty scanner) and digitize the whole thing. Hopefully it will live long in many people's homes. And never come in contact with a nine iron.

For more interpretations of contrast, visit Dana and the rest of the corner views.

Corner View - Water by Susie Lubell

There's nothing more exciting than a Fireman's Pancake Breakfast for a couple of little kids who love pancakes and fire trucks. They even got to get a taste of the action spraying pylons off a ledge with 400 pounds of water pressure. That's a lot when you yourself only weight 32 pounds!

It's a tough job, but someone has to be that cute in a mini fire fighter jacket.

For more Corner Views, visit Dana while Jane is still incomunicado. Meanwhile I'll be over at the water cooler on my THIRD day contracting. Loving the free Special K with strawberries...

Corner View - My Dream by Susie Lubell

I don't remember when it began but for as long as I can remember I've been the go to person for artistic renderings. Need a sign? Susie can make you one.

Need a forty foot mural for a school house in a Bedouin village? Susie can whip one up. Or two. (or five).

Then when I was in business school I had this dream that I could maybe work as an artist (when I got a 65 on my first finance exam). I painted a bunch of funny little figures one weekend and brought them to a wacky little folk art gallery downtown and the owner said she'd display them. She sold every one and gave me 60% of the proceeds. So I built a website and told everyone I knew and we had a little "gala opening".

And I sold enough of those little guys to pay for my husband and me to bike from Budapest to Prague through Vienna for a month after I graduated (but only enough to sleep in a tent).

Then I reproduced a bunch and made them into cards and prints and invitations and what not. Sold some of those too.

But I started getting sick of those little guys. And had some little guys of my own. And by then I had a business school job and a mortgage and some school loans and I kind of lost sight of my dream. Until my friend asked me to paint her ketubah* and that's when I suddenly woke up.

Good morning! I started painting again. A lot. Different things. That's when I remembered my dream. I forgot about all of those reasons why my dream was impossible and started living my dream.

For more corner views visit Dana, who's hosting this week while Jane is globe trotting...

*traditional Jewish marriage contract

Corner View - LOVE by Susie Lubell

Time for another corner view and this week it's all about the L word which in our case stands for LAWNMOWER. That's right. And what comes after capital L but capital M which stands for Monday. And why do we LOVE Mondays so much in our household, despite the fact that we have to wake up for school and work and dress two squirrely kids and make lunches and hustle out of the house when we'd rather be lounging around in our pajamas for an extra day of weekend? Because of the guy who mows the lawn at the school across the street. Our corner view is literally of an elementary school yard and my kids LOVE nothing more than to wait and watch for Mr. Lawnmower to pull up in his humongous lawn mowing monstrosity and cruise back and forth making nice patterns in the grass. He always comes on Mondays and my kids always greet him with a wave and a shout (but only if they're fully dressed and done with breakfast. That's the part I love). He never hears them because he's wearing industrial grade ear muffs to dull the deafening noise but he always smiles and waves and my kids adore him.

To see some more LOVE go here.

Corner View - Souvenir by Susie Lubell

So I've been following Spain Daily for the last few weeks on the recommendation of Aimee from Artsyville and it's been a lot of fun to see what all is going on for Jane in Spain (falls mainly on the plain). She's an American living in Spain for the last seventeen years and the rest of us are living vicariously through her. Anyway, she started "corner view" or at least I think she did and every Wednesday she posts photos of her "corner view" based on the topic from the week before and then posts the topic for the week ahead. I decided to join, of course on the toughest week. The topic for today was "souvenir". As in, what's a typical souvenir from where you live. And I laughed to myself that the only thing people come to Mountain View to do is pick up their paycheck. Or a burrito from world famous La Costena's (right next to La Costco).

But today after preschool, I stopped to take some pictures on our way home. When people come here for important meetings with, say investors, or professors at Stanford or lord knows who (former Secretaries of State, for instance), sometimes they stop here...

...and pick up a microchip keychain or something. And then they head over here for their VIP tour including a tet-a-tet with Larry and Serge.

But, of course, everyone who works there isn't really working. They ride their Google bikes across Google street over to the Google field to play Google ball. It's enough to make you spew-gle.

Not especially inspiring. Not for me anyway. But it does mean that there's free wireless all over the city. What do you think about that Jane? Pretty rad, huh.

And now to see some really neat corner views, go to the side bar on Spain Daily and collect some souvenirs...