Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Rufus in Paris

You probably know that I have a gorgeous son named Rufus. Well it turns out there is another gorgeous tibetan terrier named Rufus and he lives in Paris.

Rufus' mom, Sarah Hay, is a thirty something English fashion journalist living in Paris where she reports on fashion shows and cultural events in the city for magazines such as UK GQ Style, i-D magazine, Financial Times Style and edits which is an online micro-magazine for W Hotel Paris that's opening in February 2012. Rufus is a nearly eight year old TT who likes to walk around Paris and the forest of Fontainebleau. He likes to eat raw carrots, dislikes mushrooms and enjoys socialising with packs of dogs in large green spaces.

Sarah on Rufus:

My dog, a Tibetan Terrier called Rufus looks cute but he and I both know that he’s not an ornamental toy, he’s an everyday, hard working guy. I’m a freelance fashion and culture journalist who has no qualms about spending endless hours and days at my computer writing, researching and thinking; it’s my dogs job to tell me when it’s time to get away from the screen, go for a walk and engage with the real world again, which he does twice a day. Because he needs to eat, pee and exercise, he’s really the one who reminds me to do the same for myself. Before I met my dog, I’d be surrounded by towers of pizza boxes during deadline. I’m proud to say, since meeting Rufus, those days are over.

Sarah, centre, between Alban Adam from Mugler and DJ Mimi Xu

A huge part of my livelihood comes from attending opening parties, socialising and knowing what’s going on in whichever city I’m living in and during my twenties I had a lot of fun. It’s no secret that drink and drugs are present around the fringes of media and entertainment industries and now in my thirties, I have a few friends who went through the painful process of finally reaching AA or NA which fortunately I never had to do but my dog has played and continues to play a part in that too. Since I got Rufus I’ve never gone out and come home two days later, I have somebody waiting for me now, I have a responsibility to a little dude who’s a lot of fun to be around, he keeps me grounded and shows his love for me in ways that are so clear as to never be misinterpreted. You could argue that this eight kilo bundle of jumping fur has saved my life.

So how did Rufus and I meet? By accident. I had just moved to Paris, was looking for an apartment and went to see an English girl who was letting go of her place. She had rescued an adorable if eccentric dog that looked like a Lhasa Apso but had a big character, we got on right away but he was a handful for his owner. Rufus constantly yanked on his lead, he was too insecure for his owner to even go to the toilet in a restaurant, he didn’t care to be petted and was known to bite. The dog was a bundle of nerves and the owner said that she had a new job where she would be travelling. To cut a long story short I took the apartment and the dog too. I moved out of that apartment a few years ago but Rufus and I are still together! He's come a long way from the lost dog that he used to be.

I don’t know if Rufus is a pure Tibetan Terrier but he definitely has the character of one. He’s an agile guard dog. My understanding is that the breed, nicknamed Little Lion by Tibetan monks, was raised to possess a bark that, when heard from behind doors, suggests that the dog is bigger than it actually is. Tick that, his bark is certainly sharp and deafening. Tibetan Terriers are naturally happy, playful and comical little dogs and Rufus is certainly that too. He’s the little joker in the pack and since being sterilized he’s never had one single fight with another dog. I always tell nervous dog owners in the street or in the park that even if their little terriers, Chihuahua’s or Jack Russell’s growl or snap, it’s no bother to Rufus, he moves too quickly to get nipped and just carries on with his own business; that of being happy.

This quality is another part of his “job” as the life of a freelance journalist comes with a rollercoaster lifestyle. A huge high can be followed by a deep plunge and it’s priceless to have a presence around you that’s impervious to all of this. His mood is constant, his needs are grounded and simple and he really doesn’t care if I’m late because I’ve been interviewing Angelina Jolie, Karl Lagerfeld or Justin Timberlake, these excuses and these people don’t mean anything to him. He doesn’t care how I look, he doesn’t really care if I’m feeling lazy and don’t feel like walking either. All Rufus cares about is that I’m there, we’re together and we’re going for a walk, preferably for a run in Vincennes, the forest and lake that lies to the south-east of Paris. Everything else is boring to him, he’s not interested. That said, if Jolie, Lagerfeld or Timberlake had pieces of cheese or chicken in their hands then that would be a very different story – this dog has a lot of love and energy to give, especially if you’re packin’ cheese.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Oranges and Cloves for Christmas

Can you believe we are taking oranges and sticking cloves into them? Dad tells me it is an old European Christmas tradition. We used clementines instead of oranges cause that's what we had around the house. It turns out clementines are actually better for this project as their skin is not as tough and easier to poke the cloves into. After the pic above was taken, we rolled them in cinnamon and placed them in a wooden bowl. I must admit they do smell great.

I got to wondering about this "old European Christmas tradition" so I sniffed around a bit.

In Renaissance times, both exotic spices and citrus fruits were not commonly available nor easy to come by. Fruits were only available in a particular season and only for a short span of time. The technologies to support year-long agriculture, specialized storage (refrigerators and the like), mass harvesting, and cross-country (and cross-continent) delivery were all many decades away. During the time, simply possessing such things as citrus fruits or exotic spices was a sign of wealth and prestige and what better way to get the attention of a paramour than to give some of that wealth to them?

As with any gift, it is always polite to thank the giver for their generosity. A kiss was often all a demure young lord or lady could part with, so thus began (in theory) the practice of the kiss in return for the presentation of the cloved fruit!

Like that story? It's totally fabricated, but it sure does sound like it could have happened that way! Historians assure me that during Medieval and Renaissance time periods a lot of things we take for granted were wholly absent. As the new world had yet to be exploited, all new world flora and fauna were as yet unknown, so medieval Europe wouldn't have known what an orange was even if a sparrow dropped it right upon their heads. Although I assure you, were that to happen, they would have cloved the strange ruddy round object immediately. Really.

It turns out that cloved oranges are also know as pomanders. The first pomanders were made from gold or silver. They were shaped like balls and hung by a cord from the waist. They were filled with sweet smelling herbs and spices, and used as perfume. They were also thought to keep one from getting sick.

The most likely actual use of a cloved fruit was as a pomander and worn on one's person as a type of human air freshener or left in places where one might wish to disguise odors. While giving one's paramour 'primitive deodorant' might seem a little crude by today's social mores, it might have been perfectly acceptable in time periods when personal hygiene was a bit less advanced.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Dancer as Walker, Baker, Reader

The first time she performed the role of Dewdrop in “George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker” with the New York City Ballet, Ashley Bouder was 17 and made a memorable entrance: she fell on her face. Now 27 and a principal dancer for the company, Ms. Bouder is in her eighth season as the Sugarplum Fairy and her 11th as Dewdrop. She will perform that role in a live City Ballet broadcast in movie theaters on Tuesday and on the PBS program “Live From Lincoln Center” on Wednesday. Ms. Bouder lives on the Upper West Side with her boyfriend, Matthew Dibble, 35, now touring in Twyla Tharp’s “Come Fly Away,” and their dogs: Scout, a Beagle; and Enid, a Boston terrier. On nonperforming Sundays, she unwinds with the dogs, naps, posts to Twitter and has a big dinner.

LATE RISER I sleep until between 10 and 11; I would sleep longer, but I know I have to get up and walk the dogs. They’re angels; they sleep with me. I put the coffee on, feed the dogs, and jump in the shower.

WALK, THEN TWEET I grab a cup to go and take the dogs around the block, come home, and drink a few more cups while I watch NY1 and catch up on e-mail and Facebook and Twitter. My family and friends are on Facebook; it’s a nice, no-pressure way to connect. Three years ago my friend Daniil Simkin, a soloist with the American Ballet Theater, told me I had to do this thing called Twitter because it’s like “one big status update.” Twitter has become a little overwhelming. I follow 164 people and they tweet all the time!

FAVORITE TWEETERS I recently began to follow Ricky Gervais — he’s really funny. I used to follow Will Ferrell but I don’t think he’s funny anymore. Barack Obama, for links to his speeches. I was an Artist for Obama in 2008.

LUNCH WITH A BOOK When the weather is nice, I take a book and sit outside at Bella Luna at 88th and Columbus. I’ll have soup, a glass of red wine and the linguine with meatballs. I got a Kindle a month ago, but I do love real books — I just finished Jock Soto’s autobiography and Alison Weir’s “Eleanor of Aquitaine.” If it’s awful outside, I cook a big omelet with bacon, cheddar and broccoli. And I’ll eat Greek yogurt while I’m making the omelet.

A WALK AND A NAP After lunch I take the dogs to either Riverside Park or Central Park. If we go to Central Park, we might walk for two hours; my hound likes to smell everything. Then we go home and everybody takes a nap on the bed. During the season, I often have rehearsals or performances on Sundays; when that happens, Monday is my only day off.

COOK, MAYBE BAKE If my boyfriend is away, I’ll stay home and cook myself something I really want, broil a steak and make a salad with everything in it, or make one of my mother’s recipes, like pork chops with mushroom gravy and potatoes. It’s a substantial meal, and I of course feed the dogs some, but I have a small stomach, so it takes me forever to eat it. On my day off sometimes I’ll bake. I don’t have a sweet tooth, but I like pumpkin, so I make pumpkin muffins or pumpkin banana bread. It doesn’t last.

TV AND STRETCH I take the dogs out around 8; I like to walk them three times a day. Then I’ll watch TV or Netflix — nothing special, my TV night is Wednesday for “Modern Family” — and drink a glass of wine or two, mostly pinot noir. When I’m watching TV at night, I’m not a couch potato, I’m always stretching and exercising. I’ll put tennis balls under my back or feet. I might be on the floor doing the splits. Or I have the heating pad on. I have a machine called the Reflex Roller; it massages my legs and calves. I’m learning a new ballet, “DGV: Danse à Grande Vitesse,” by Christopher Wheeldon, so everything aches.

BEDTIME I go to bed around 11:30 and probably read for a couple of hours before I fall asleep.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Random Licks by Glenn Close

Did you know that Glenn Close is related to Marjorie Merriweather Post? She is a great dog lover and has her own blog, Random Licks. Here, she posts about another great dog lover, Lauren Bacall. Thanks Glenn!

It's a supremely daunting challenge to write an introduction to a woman who has been declared one of the American Film Institute's top 25 film legends of the century. So I'm not even going to try. In this era of sound bytes, spin and packaging, Lauren Bacall defies categorization. She is feline and ferocious, bawdy, beautiful and brilliant. She is my neighbor and friend, who happens to be totally in the thrall of her spectacular Papillion, Sophie. When I approached Ms. Bacall about doing a profile of her and Sophie, she told me that she wanted to be interviewed in person and invited me to her home in the venerable Dakota on New York's Central Park West, where I had the great pleasure of spending the afternoon with Sophie and her handmaiden, Lauren Bacall - surrounded by extraordinary art and artifacts, pictures of family and friends and evidence everywhere of an amazing life and career. It is an afternoon I will never forget. As fall starts creeping into the trees around Sheep Meadow, the Great Lawn and down the paths of Strawberry Fields, we are planning to walk our dogs together in the park. Or should I say they are planning to walk us.

Glenn Close: When and how did you become a dog lover?
LB: I was always a dog yearner. I didn't have a dog growing up in the city with a working mother. As an only child, I yearned for someone to talk to. When I was sixteen, we got a champagne-colored Cocker Spaniel and named him "Droopy". He was very male. From the first moment, he was very possessive of me. All my dogs have been possessive of me. We eventually mated Droopy and kept one of his girl puppies---Puddle. I went to Los Angeles for a screen test when I was eighteen years old. My mother followed me out later. The dogs came, too.

In LA, Droopy was killed by a hit-and-run driver. There was a place in the valley where a nutty woman had a funeral parlor for dogs. I went to pay my last respects to Droopy. All the dogs were there in open caskets. Droopy was resting his head and paws on a pillow. It was terrible.

Bogey and I had Boxers. We were married on Louis Bromfield's farm in Ohio. Louis had Boxers that would fight under the table at dinner. He gave us a week old Boxer puppy for a wedding present. We named him Harvey, after the invisible rabbit. Harvey was really smart. He knew he wasn't allowed to get on the furniture so he would only put two paws on at a time. He would sit between us if we had a fight. Harvey died six months after Bogey. I went to see him at the vet's and said goodbye. Five minutes after I got home, I was told that after I left, Harvey had eaten his dinner and died.

Join Glenn Close in Lauren Bacall's apartment to meet Sophie.

GC: I know that you are devoted to your Papillion, Sophie. If she were a human, what kind of car would she drive?
LB: A Mercedes coupe. A perfect two-seater: one seat for her and one for me.

GC: What is Sophie's pet peeve about you?
LB: She doesn't like it when I'm on the phone. She doesn't like to be made to leave the boudoir when she is all curled up. She doesn't like it when I don't get out of bed when she wants me to.

GC: What is your pet peeve about Sophie?
LB: She dictates. I'm her slave. She barks when I'm on the phone. She doesn't like it when my back is to her.

GC: What musical instrument would Sophie play if she could?
LB: A trumpet.

GC: What does Sophie think about cats?
LB: She doesn't like other animals, especially white dogs. She barks at every dog in the street. Every dog that sees her wants to kill her---Labs, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds. They think she is a snack.

GC: What excites Sophie the most?
LB: A diversion, like when my son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren come over.

Also, she has a stuffed Shar Pei that she humps. After she goes for a walk, she runs into the bedroom and humps her Shar Pei. Then she has a long barking conversation with it.

She has her own chair with a cashmere throw on it. She always has to rest her head on a pillow or a stuffed animal. She loves soft toys. Her first love is her Shar Pei but she also has a soft pig, and some bears.

She loves the country. She will sit for hours at a drainpipe waiting for a chipmunk to come out. She also loves chasing squirrels.

GC: What is your favorite thing to do with Sophie?
LB: Snuggle. In the morning I have breakfast in the kitchen and I pick her up and hold her and her little body warms my chest and makes me feel so good. (Actually, she'd much rather be on a man's lap than a woman's.) She knows life is all about her. She's spoiled.

GC: What would be Sophie's favorite movie?
LB: Well...she doesn't watch television, but I think she would like Now Voyager. She would appreciate Bette Davis. She would be attuned to the hallowed moments.

GC: What is it about you that makes Sophie most proud?
LB: When she's just had her bath and looks beautiful and when she behaves well. But I still wouldn't want to cross her. I'm afraid of her!

GC: What is Sophie's idea of perfect happiness?
LB: To be in a gondola with me in Venice. Just as long as we're together.

GC: What is your idea of perfect happiness?
LB: When there is no one in the house and the phone stops ringing. (Of course, if it stopped altogether, I'd panic.) Happiness? I've tried the two-legged ones, and the four-legged ones win.