26 January 2006

Roy G. Biv

Today I drove the Bug down to my local Sherwin-Williams to hunt for a swatch of Banana Cream paint. I am weak to the almost constant temptation of painting and repainting the rooms in our house...(sometimes it takes awhile to get it just right.) In fact, the only space that has retained its original color from the previous homeowner is the rich lipstick red of our dining room. Most of the other rooms in the house have been slapped with rollers and trim brushes at least a few times in the past two years. I’ve had a couple of mishaps with purple: a lavender bathroom that looked like old lady eyeshadow…and the time I painted the entry hall bright Barney purple -- a failed attempt at finding an inviting shade of plum. We recently (re)painted our guest room a vibrant peacock blue, transforming it into a cozy workspace for Jeremy to hide away and song-write. And I like it a lot. So far.

It was on our visit to Savannah last November that we discovered a beautiful creamy yellow on the walls of the Eli Whitney Room where we stayed in the Gastonian B&B. I had to have this color.

Our bedroom at home is drab khaki-taupe, and since we only have one small window and lots of deep stained moldings, the space feels almost absent of light. Jeremy calls it a cave. I have been thinking a lighter color might be just the ticket.

So last week I called up the Gastonian and asked to know what color they had painted the Eli Whitney Room. Sherwin-Williams Banana Cream.

Color is such an important thing to me. I don’t think I could have a house with every room painted white, even though I'd like the cleanness of it. If you enter our house today and begin walking from room to room, you’ll move from Iced Apricot to Blue Lagoon. Ruby Red to Pale Sage. Fresh Butter to Misty Sea...

Banana Cream seems like the logical next choice, don't you think?

Sounds like a carnival fun-house, I know…but for us it feels like an artist’s palette every time we turn a corner. To me, that feels like home.

24 January 2006

me and kate.

kate winslet has an advertisement for american express on page twenty of my InStyle magazine. There's this great black and white photograph of her chewing on her fingertip, with one leg crossed to reveal the bottom of a prunish bare foot in need of a pedicure. Presumably, kate's hard at work studying an oscar-winning script, but she looks just disheveled and normal enough to seem relatable. On the page that follows, she answers questions about her life in order to show the importance of her relationship with her credit card. There's something about this ad that makes me want to be kate winslet, just for a minute. Perhaps that's the intended purpose.

Sadly, I cannot be kate winslet inasmuch as I am not English, nor do I own an American Express card, nor am I a celebrity, nor have I ever worn a corset. Even so, no one can stop me from answering the “My Life, My Card” questionnaire, so away I go...

(I am not going to look at kate's answers until I finish mine, and then I’ll see how much we have in common.)

My name: Kierstin Casella

childhood ambition: (in this order) to be Crystal Gayle. to teach. to write.

fondest memory: working in the garden with my dad. my wedding day.

soundtrack: simon & garfunkel on vinyl.

retreat: New Orleans. an aromatic day-spa

wildest dream: to have a cooking show on the Food Network

proudest moment: caring for my dad when he was sick with cancer; anytime I’m with my husband

biggest challenge: overcoming fear. remembering what's true.

alarm clock: my husband’s coffee breath in my face

perfect day: one that’s full of good surprises

first job: telemarketing

indulgence: gourmet chocolate

last purchase: fabric to make a purse

favorite movie: tie-- amelie & the sound of music, depending if i'm feeling more creative or nostalgic

inspiration: art museums. good books. nature outside the car window.

My life: makes more sense the older I get.

My card: Kroger Plus, Nashville public library, Starbucks, debit

[# of answers the same or similar to kate winslet: 1
We both love chocolate. I always knew we were kindred spirits.]

For Kate's answers, buy the February issue of InStyle with Uma Thurman on the cover.
For Jeremy's answers, (I made him do the questions too,) visit his blog

22 January 2006

What a weekend should be…

On Friday night, our friends Kevin and Mandy came over for impromptu pizza and a movie, but the best part was just sitting in the living room and talking. It’s been awhile since we’ve had friends over for an evening…we had a hard time letting them go home.

Saturday. I did one of my favorite things in the world to do: I went wedding dress shopping! One of my oldest and closest friends (my once roommate), Lisa, is getting married so I’ve been having fun helping her hunt for the perfect gown. I might be a little sad when she actually picks one because the hunt will have to end. Yesterday made me miss our wedding day. Friends flying in from across the miles. My dad there to walk me down the aisle (he was more nervous than I was, I think.) Watching all our friends and family come up to receive communion. Dancing against candlelight to Tom Waits's “Take It With Me” sung by Matthew Jones. The white chocolate Kahlua cake. Being twirled swiftly around the dance floor by my father-in-law until I thought my head might fly off my body. It was one of those dances where you can’t help but laugh the whole time. Phil Keaggy singing “Silly Love Songs”--definitely a moment I won’t forget. And running through a rainfall of deep-colored rose petals holding the hand of my brand new husband. It’s good to reflect on those memories every once in awhile. I probably do more often than a regular person.

In the afternoon, Jeremy and I headed out for a matinee. We decided on Capote, a really good movie, but pretty dark and intense. He was such a complex character, Truman Capote. Manipulative, insecure, self-obsessed, tortured and brilliant all at the same time. Harper Lee’s character was in the movie as well. I need to go read To Kill a Mockingbird now. She inspired me to come home and work on my book too.

After the movie we walked around the mall where we bought a new lamp, then bumped into Todd and Christie and my favorite member of their family, baby Elliott. I can’t imagine a cuter little person than him. I had missed all three of them. They are some of our dearest friends who we hadn’t seen in at least a month.

Jeremy and I left the mall and made our way back toward our neighborhood--to Margot cafĂ©’ for a late dinner. It’s the best cozy restaurant in a two-story house that belongs in Tuscany. A glass of red wine. White bean casserole. Bread pudding and French press coffee for dessert (this time we split it.) And we talked and planned and laughed and dreamed. I was thankful for the hour wait to get our table, and the next hour to sip wine and wait for our slowly-prepared food to arrive; we were having so much fun. No computers or cell phones, no distractions, no dishes to wash. It was a perfect date.

A weekend full of good friends, great memories, delicious food, and little surprises… makes me glad that Sunday is a day for rest.

19 January 2006

sometimes you get what you wish for…

The strangest thing happened. Spring came early.

On the night before last (the night of the grey-day-on-the-sofa) I learned the reason that the sky had been so thick all afternoon. I’d gone to let the dog outside and saw beautiful white snowflakes drifting down against the street lights.

Jeremy and I wrapped up in scarves, hopped in our Subaru Forester and went driving around to see what winter looks like when it does its job correctly. We listened to the radio, turned on our heated seats, and just drove. Eventually, we ended up at the Cheesecake Factory and split dessert. Okay, I’ll be honest, we didn’t split dessert. We each ordered our very own slice of heavenly cheesecake piled high with cream and white chocolate shavings to match the snow. (After eating little besides chicken broth for a few days, I felt entitled to indulge.)

By yesterday morning, the snow had made a light layer over rooftops and car windshields, even hiding the brownness of our winter lawn. It’s the first real snow we’ve had this winter, and somehow even those few flakes made me feel happy and calm for an hour or two.

Then today, I got my wish. After a very rough night’s sleep last night, I awoke this morning to find the snow melted and the temperature raised at least 30 degrees. The weather in Nashville tends to be pretty schizophrenic, but this time I’m not complaining. From snow to spring in a matter of hours! I’m in a short-sleeved top, and beyond the windows there’s a crisp blue sky and plenty of sunshine. I just let Sam outside to play and noticed a huge green tree stretched out above our neighbor’s roof, blowing back and forth in the breeze. So tonight for dinner, I’m making rosemary chicken with wild mushroom sauce from my Rachael Ray cookbook. I have no choice…it’s springtime…even if only for today.

I might even do a little painting.

17 January 2006

Turn, Turn, Turn

The sofa is my new home. Here, I can see out two windows—one in the wall, one in the door-- to naked trees, hazy vacant skies, and a lot of rain.

I sit, propped up against a pillow, with the dog curled up in a bright yellow blanket on the rug below, and write all day long between cringes. Paula Deen on Food TV is my current audience...or maybe I’m hers. She’s making peanut butter balls today. I’m stuck with soup and JELL-O for lunch. I’ve got some sort of mystery ailment…strange jabs of pain in my right side that have been going on for about a month. I’ve had four rounds of tests and been scanned all over, but I’m still waiting for someone to figure out what’s happening. In the meantime, I’m basically avoiding food and resorting to watching it on television instead.

Giada is on now, with that exaggerated smile that covers her face. She is eating a gooey sandwich. Jeremy just happens to be in the kitchen stirring up a batch of her marinara recipe. He’s pretending it’s spring.

If I could snap my fingers and make the day different, there would be green leaves and buds on the trees outside and rays of sunshine pouring down. Sam would smell better (he needs a bath badly), and I’d be in the sunroom painting on my new easel and canvases, with a plate of muffins and an iced coffee nearby. For dinner, I’d make something with lemons a handful of fresh rosemary plucked from the garden.

I'm sure in order to really appreciate days like that (I know they’re coming, just around the corner) you have to have to endure a few grey days on the sofa. I’m just really ready for this down period to be over. I guess it’s like it says in Ecclesiastes (and my favorite song by The Byrds) “for everything, there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.”

05 January 2006

A Rare Kind of Friend

I set out to write a book once. It was the craziest thing. I had a job at the time, something freelancy (kind of like now) and I used to go to coffee shops to work because I needed to be around people for inspiration. I would hop from the coffee shop on 21st Avenue to the coffee shop on 12th to the coffee shop in Hillsboro Village named after a dog. One day, I found myself at the coffee shop on Broadway, sitting in an overstuffed chair with my favorite summer coffee drink -- an iced grande two-percent cinnamon latte (two percent indicating the kind of milk, not the amount of cinnamon.)

Suddenly out of nowhere, I felt the compulsion to write a book. A memoir I think. I just started writing like a madwoman. I wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote until my last sip of coffee had been slurped and my computer was blinking out of power. Then I went home and wrote some more.

I guess you could say that my book was like a far less humorous Seinfeld episode: a book about nothing in particular. It was fifty pages of random events in my life pieced together in hopes of making an interesting story.

The first sentence of my book was not great at all, but I will share it with you anyway. Here it is.

“I’ve always dreamed of having a rare friendship, the kind of friend who sits and sips red wine with you, quietly, in the moments when nothing needs to be said, holding back advice just for the sake of letting you feel their presence.”

That’s it. See? Not the best.

None of the friends around me have lost a parent, so no one really knows what to say to me I guess. It’s not that I think people don’t care…it’s just that I think people don’t relate, so it’s hard for them to know what you need at a time like this, which is just to know that people care.

Anyway, I read those first lines from my book a little while ago, words I wrote at least four years ago and have read few times since because my old writing causes me to shudder. I am not sure what I was thinking about at the time that I wrote it--from what I recall the rest of my book wasn’t anything about friendship. Tonight when I read it though, I instantly thought of my husband.

Earlier this evening, I was making dinner. Spaghetti with my grandfather’s sauce. And as I drained the pasta I noticed two wine glasses sitting on the counter that Jeremy had washed this morning and set out for tonight. I was thinking about just how amazing he has been through all of this, how endlessly patient he is when I don’t want to leave the house to see people because I am too sad and don’t feel like faking it. Or how comforting he is when I wake up in a panic in the middle of the night, again, for no reason I can put my finger on. Every single time, he pulls me close to him, tells me that he’s right there, and that everything’s okay.

We are figuring it out together. I am figuring out how to move along in life again, and he is figuring out how to keep being there, a stable presence, sometimes with a word to push me just a little, sometimes letting me be where I am, and other times sitting with me quietly in the moments when nothing needs to be said at all.