There is a certain combination that in this new day - this new age - I find myself seeking in just about every medium, every day. That is the combination that makes BEAUTY.

Beauty is different in the New Now. Or I am different in the New Now, don't know which. But in this time of deep austerity, of questioning what's important and finding what matters, beauty is not just the single dimensional kind of pretty it once was. It involves the 5 senses. Now, it involves a 6th. The new 6th sense is how we bring beauty alive from our computer screen when we don't have the options we once had to go out and seek it. Not only is it possible, it is dynamic, and very real. And free.

You read my daily blog, The Daily Now. Everyday I go looking for something that inspires. It's research, beauty research. The presiding principle for The Daily Now is that beauty lives in the eye of the beholder. That may worry you, for what I find gorgeous may not even rate for you. All I ask of you is to come and visit, and see for yourself. Some days you'll look, say Hmmm (in that I-guess-I-get-it, kind of mystified, whatever sort of way) and you leave me and get on with your day. But I'll wager you go on with something different having visited. I do the research, you make your choice about how it effects you.

Roasted Radicchio with Blackberry Vinaigrette, Eating is Art

Beauty changes us, in a second. The newsstand is lined with magazines advertising the 1001 best gifts of 2009. Rarely do the gifts themselves merit such hyperbole, you may not even pick up the issue (on that "beholder of beauty" premise), but without fail, these glossy pages deliver on color and creativity, they're styled to delight.

It's that - it's the color, pattern and texture. I go even further in my beauty combination. It's music and voice. It's taste and temptation. That's beauty. Beauty itself is a performing art. Here's a list of my current 6th sense source for beauty, where the 5 real senses mingle. (Whether you buy it or not is your choice. It's free.)


The Jewels of New York

101 Cookbooks


The Errant Aesthete

Three Beautiful Things


Laura McPhee, Photographer


The Pursuit of Happiness, History and Illustrations by Maira Kalman


Emerging art every day at Artist-a-day

Art and prose at the Blue Lantern


Pret a Voyager


WFUV, Fordham University's unique radio station

and finally,


Bart Boehlert's Beautiful Things



Last year, Thanksgiving launched this blog. We were a few days into the New Now and it was sinking in, fast, as we felt like we were sinking even faster.

Our whole life has been a walk on the balance of control. Growing up was about taking control. Twenties were about being out of control. Thirties were realizing that control was hovering just outside our reach. The forties, I used to say, are the point on the trajectory when you are experienced enough to do it all and mature enough to handle it.

And then mid-way through, that crashed too. Control - no such thing!

So Thanksgiving again, we're in the same spot with the same concerns and yet, just a little less fear. We've gone one time 'round the seasons and I'll be damned if the sun hasn't kept coming up!

I'm facing into Thanksgiving having a little less control than ever. The place in me that used to contain that urge is filled with something different this year. It's this tiny temptation to just let it fly. With that, behold an image of doing just that. And Katie Couric has handled a lot more stress than I ever will.

Moliere said: “All the ills of mankind, all the tragic misfortunes that fill the history books, all the political blunders, all the failures of the great leaders have arisen merely from a lack of skill at dancing.”



If you don't ask yourself where the center is, you won't find it.

The New Now is like a stallion turned out on a windy day. He gallops, flings himself through his Universe. Then stops fast, shakes, shudders; 2,000 pounds of momentum takes flight from the beast's body and dissipates like a ghost.

Here, has the pace stopped or is it still in motion, somewhere else, outside our realm? I wager, the latter. Nothing about the New Now is rational - or rationality, like the Now itself, is in the process of redefinition.

We say with a smirk, a shrug of complicity, "it's hurry up and wait". But that is because we are desperate to measure the pace ourselves, to have a hand in every beat of it, we want to mold its passing in order to divine its outcome.

It's when the stallion stops so fast you're liable to be tossed over its hock, that's when you need to get off, go find your center. You think I'm talking about a spiritual retreat, that sutra spot -- fingers lightly touching, your eyes closed... No, that's not what I'm suggesting. I'm not that calm, are you? I can count sheep faster than they can jump. I'm talking about a physical place, your space, where you stand, where you sit. Your center.

The New Now is a time, it is a state of being, and it is a place. Build it around you and go there to wait. Stallions stop short, they absorb the air and the sound and the sense, then they start moving again. They hurry up, and wait.

I Ask You
Billy Collins, Poet Laureate

What scene would I want to be enveloped in
more than this one,
an ordinary night at the kitchen table,
floral wallpaper pressing in,
white cabinets full of glass,
the telephone silent,
a pen tilted back in my hand?

It gives me time to think
about all that is going on outside--
leaves gathering in corners,
lichen greening the high grey rocks,
while over the dunes the world sails on,
huge, ocean-going, history bubbling in its wake.

But beyond this table
there is nothing that I need,
not even a job that would allow me to row to work,
or a coffee-colored Aston Martin DB4
with cracked green leather seats.

No, it's all here,
the clear ovals of a glass of water,
a small crate of oranges, a book on Stalin,
not to mention the odd snarling fish
in a frame on the wall,
and the way these three candles--
each a different height--
are singing in perfect harmony.

So forgive me
if I lower my head now and listen
to the short bass candle as he takes a solo
while my heart
thrums under my shirt--
frog at the edge of a pond--
and my thoughts fly off to a province
made of one enormous sky
and about a million empty branches.



Feature article in today's New York Times: "Job Woes Exacting Heavy Toll on Family Life". For those who have experienced job loss, the reality of these words is like a glass of cold water in the face. Our home life is described in mirror shards of detail on the national front page. The rational iota of our brains knows that grown up stresses trickle down and reside with our young ones. But in order to survive the New Now, we want desperately to believe the running refrain from those who aren't walking in our shoes. "A blessing", they often call it. They say: Being home offers the gift of time to enjoy and tend to our loved ones.

But Michael Luo's article refutes this rather useless mantra. Quantity time does not equate to quality time. Think about your last 10-hour drive kids 3-abreast across the back seat to visit the in-laws. I don't care how good your integrated car entertainment system is...

Now overlay the worry, the fear. The disorientation of losing your "space" by being given infinite amounts of it.

The "Heavy Tolls" article is read days after being popped with the latest unemployment report: 10.2% jobless. It's a one-two punch which throws the panorama of our national family circumstance into black + white. The job loss happens to us, but the effects are suffered by others. The others I'm talking about are those who didn't do anything to deserve this. Accident of birth, shared address.

It's the truth of parenting. Once we were owner-operators. We spent money, we owned the debt. We got drunk, we felt like shit. We spewed and fought, we kissed and made up. With a spouse, a family, these consequences are divided equally regardless of culpability. You feel like you have no control? Go inside your 10-year old.

No one is exempt from the pain and anger, the frustration and helplessness. It's been said that these kinds of experiences are character building, they teach lessons about what's important, about the moral rectitude of frugality. Those benefits are like pension monies, you realize them in your sixties. That is, if you haven't paid them out to survive along the way.

Resist. Relax. None of this is a blessing. But survive it intact, we must. The pay-now is to teach our children that we have what it takes to navigate the ship. A small ship, for a long journey.

Resource for survival: Heather T. Forbes Beyond Consequences Institute. Subscribe for a daily reflection aimed at the heart of resistance as it applies to parenting.



Beating the pavement, making it happen, finding the angle. The way home from New York City today was the most vibrant pastiche of color. I'm doing what I can. I am a spouse, a partner, in the New Now.

The time is passing with each leaf as it drops. When it goes, it goes. When this time passes, it's gone.

Home, kids got here before me. Backpacks strewn and noise all around, in stereo. No school tomorrow. There's that effervescence of holiday, no rules, lots of potential.

What will they remember? That I came in from a day in the City and went upstairs to the computer? Or that I came in from a day in the City and turned on the oven, inviting sifters and stirrers to take their posts? There is no more creative place than in the kitchen.

Amy's Apple Pecan Cake
Adapted from Maida Heater's flourless apple cake

2 cups ground almonds
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
2 cups apples, peeled and chopped
1 stick butter (1/2 cup), room temperature
2 eggs
3/4 cup agave nectar - you can get this cheap at Trader Joe's, less cheap at a health food store
2 Tbsp plain yogurt

1 cup pecan pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk together almond meal, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon in a large bowl.

Cream butter and agave with hand mixer until light and fluffy. Fold in apples. Add eggs one at a time, stir in yogurt. Mix butter mixture with almond mixture. Mix in some of the pecans, if using. Sprinkle some on top.

Bake for 25-30 minutes. Watch for pecans as they brown, they can burn in an instant. Pull the cake out when a toothpick comes out clean.