13 June, 2009

Raindrops on Roses

These are a few of my favourite things.
Another list.
I like lists.
In fact, let that be number one...

1. Lists
The virtue of lists (versus a list of virtues...) is infinite. I could list them but then, it might all seem a bit too frightening. Like a vortex sucking us in on ourselves. But lists are a magical thing. Everyday parlance is littered with lists: laundry, grocery, honey-do. "Enough organization, enough lists and we think we can control the uncontrollable," observed one of the faceless unendurably attractive assistants on the TV show House. By now you would think there are enough lists, but still we keep jotting things down in an orderly fashion. So why do I love lists? Aside from the obvious virtues of helping us remember things, keep us from procrastination, relieving stress and freeing the mind; lists bring order to the chaos. "People are attracted to lists because we live in an era of over stimulation, especially in terms of information," says David Wallechinsky, a co-author of the fabulous Book of Lists. "And lists help us in organizing what is otherwise overwhelming." Moreover, lists are finite. They don't usually go on and on. And if they do, you can skip to the bottom of the list. The Internet Movie Database, for instance, lists its "bottom 100 movies as voted by users." (Incidentally, the winner —er, loser —is Zaat, a 1975 sci-fi fiasco). But most important of all? Lists can be meaningful. Who hasn't jotted down the pros and cons? Who hasn't listed the many ways we love someone? Or listed our favourite films, favourite songs, our favourite moments with a person, 25 random things about ourselves? The list, as they say, goes on...

2. The Tate Modern
While my love for what's inside sometimes waxes and wanes, my love for the building itself never dies (For love, my friends, does MANY things... it "changes everything", for example. But as ALW is about to show us in some spectacular of mind-blowing proportions, IT NEVER DIES...) It is so open and welcoming and embracing. The space (though, admittedly, difficult to get to on public transport) is a jewel inviting you to discover the treasures within, or lounge on it's lawn in the sunlight, or simply to enjoy the view in it's cafe with a glass of curiosity cola. Go Tate Modern. You are a thing of beauty unto yourself. And I don't care if I am the only one who can see it. (PS. Oh yes, and it is FREE... what is friendlier than free?)

3. Watermelon
Ahhhhh FOOD PERFECTION... Alright. I admit it: I am watermelon obsessed. I shamelessly gulp down this fruit in all forms. A storehouse of vitamins and minerals, watermelons keep your heart and nervous system in blooming health. It's juicy, sweet, and succulent. Rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B1, Vitamin C, and healthy fibers, lycopene and antioxidants, I look forward to watermelon season every year, and have mastered (with the guidance and Shaman-esque teachings of my fellow watermelon obsessed mother) the art of selecting the perfect fruity specimen by "THWACKING" it (if you will) in the customary Silber manner and listening for the ever-magical CRACK of a "good one." Ohhhhhhh the CRACK of a "good one." How melodious. How intoxicating. The essence of summer.

(Note: Art related to the Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos commonly depicts watermelons being eaten by the dead or shown in close conjunction with the dead. This theme appears regularly on ceramics and in other art from the holiday. Watermelons also appear as a subject in Mexican still life art. Weird. Love that.)

4. Breakfast for dinner
I could eat it EVERY. DAY. Why is all breakfast food so incredible? Brioche, oatmeal with fruit or raisins, cereal: the best food in the world, scrambled eggs with salmon, paaaaaaaancaaaaaakes, omelets, sausage, bacon, toast toast toast... the list is endless! Breakfast for dinner: nothing better.

5. Peanut Butter
[Details here.]

6. Owls
When I first met my friend R's kids, the oldest thought my name was not in fact Al, but OWL. It stuck. When I call R, OWL SILBER comes up. I love it. I love it because I have always loved owls. This winter Paperchase did an Owl design that I spent a FORTUNE on. I inwardly squealed when I passed the shop on The Strand and whilst shoveling owl merchandise into a basket, immediately phoned R who requested a set of Owl eggcups. It was a moment of madness...

But my love of the owl is not merely aesthetic or sentimental, it runs deeper. There is a sort of global reverence for the Owl. The witch's companion (famously accompanying the likes of Merlin and Harry Potter, as well as dwelling in the Hundred Acre Wood), the owl is deeply connected with magic, wisdom, intuition, education, messages, longevity and heightened senses throughout the ages. What's not to like? They are majestic as well as whimsical, and I like the hours they keep (us theatrical types share the same secret powers of the night...)

In some middle and far eastern cultures, the owl is a sacred guardian of the afterlife, ruler of the night, a seer and keeper of souls transitioning from one plane of existence to another. The ancient Greeks attributed the owl to Athena, goddess of wisdom and foresight. This symbol was used on Greek coins and therefore also became associated with wealth. Native Americans attributed owls with wisdom and sacred knowledge. The shaman would call upon Owl medicine for insight into the truth of ill-intent. Plains Indians wore owl feathers to protect against evil spirits. West African and Aboriginal Australian cultures also saw the owl as a messenger of secrets, and companions to medicine people. In the Celtic tradition, the owl (cailleach-oidhche), represents wisdom, clairvoyance, stealth, initiation, change and detachment. Always aware of its surroundings, the owl uses intuition courageously, with insight into hidden truth, and a guide between earth creatures and Underworld deities.

The owl’s gift of heightened senses enables it to see through deception, external appearances and illusion and to discover hidden truths. (Appparently, if you are drawn to owls or owl symbolism, you may have this same ability to uncover secrets. People may feel uneasy around you, as if you are able to see through pretence). The owl also teaches us to acknowledge the dark side of our personality, and in that darkness we may find a source for growth.

7. Leon (addicted to their organic brown rice and glorious coleslaw that accompany any hot dish. And of course, their low GI brownies with dark Valhrona chocolate and ground almonds and fruit sugar instead of ordinary flour and sugar. (They believe you can have your cake and eat it... and I love them for believing that...)

8. Guerrilla Poetry
Let me explain... I love to leave little poems written on snatches of napkin, say, in unexpected places for people to find. I love to think that perhaps it brightens some one's day to have found a napkin poem lying about waiting to be read.

9. Postcards
They are little magical gifts of beauty and sprightly correspondence. Send them! It takes but a moment to jot down a loving or whimsical message (perhaps a quote or piece of poetry?) I like to keep a few around with me at all times in my diary, in my bag, with postage pre-attached and ready to mail the second a burst of correspondence hits me! It is better than email, better than facebook, it is handwriting, it is "I-thought-of-you-and-sent-this-wrote-this-and-now-you-are-reading-it." Magic! Sometimes I make my own, and I also like to collect truly odd postcards and keep them in a little box with my art supplies or in a special wall-hanging thingy made for photographs. Sometimes for inspiration, at other times just for enjoyment.

10. Recycling
One of my objectives has always been green living and recycling has been a tricky one to crack. London doesn't make it easy, so I am one of those people who brings heaving, gigantic bags of tin cans, plastic bottles and heaps of paper to those vats provided outside the tube station. People stare at me on the bus. One time, someone stared while drinking a can of Fanta. When they were done drinking they threw it on the floor of the bus while making direct eye-contact with me. I picked up the can, shoved it in my giant earth-friendly bag and said "It's not madness, it's recycling. You're welcome."


  1. AnonymousJune 13, 2009


  2. I am SO happy you mentioned breakfast for dinner! It's so wonderful! :)

  3. Did you leave guerrilla poetry at the Pret A Manger on the strand last thursday?! I found a slice of t.s eliot's Marina on a napkin by the window...? I KEPT IT! I WOULD TOTALLY die if I knew this was your "work"!

  4. OH MY GOODNESS mra451! YES! MARINA was my poetic assault!! SPREAD THE POETIC LOVE!!

  5. freaky weeeird ^^

    and i distinctly remember one of your stories where you mentioned "recycling your passport" that made me chuckle :) you're so passionate

  6. the art of the postcard is sorely missed by ME. Good to know someone still spreads the snail mail love.

  7. AnonymousJune 19, 2009

    Oh no! I was going to read your salt mine story tonight. And you've taken it offline. You know that 'on the list' feeling when you've got something to read. And now my list is ruined.

    In protest,


  8. AnonymousJune 19, 2009

    Where did the Salt Mine posting go?!?


  9. You forgot:
    a. Meeting people in public transport
    b. rasberry jam


  10. You are an amazing writer! I really enjoyed reading your post. There are so many things that are on my favorite list, too, including owls :) I shared the post on Facebook. I hope it's okay. Have a wonderful day!



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