Stormy Monday: Niki de St. Phalle



I’ll be continuing on with the reveal series this week, but my head and heart are so much with all my friends on the Eastern Seaboard that I want to take a moment first, to wish everyone safe passage through the storm.


Austin was–and still is–a safe haven for many people driven from their homes by hurricanes.  Each storm is unique. There’s no way to compare what’s happening right now in New York, D.C., and elsewhere to what happened in New Orleans. Nevertheless, I can’t look at images of Sandy like the one above without vivid memories of watching Katrina, and then Rita make their inevitable way into the Gulf.  It makes a gut-level difference, having lived through those events, even secondhand. I can’t even imagine how it feels for people with more direct experience.


So far, my city friends seems to be tackling storm prep with typical style. Reports on Twitter suggest wine and liquor stores are emptying out–and apparently there was a run on kale in Brooklyn.  I’m seeing many crockpots fired up to make chili, braised ribs and other comfort foods before the storm truly arrives and much ice cream consumed before the power goes out. I’m crossing my fingers that all the media attention will mean those without true shelter will get some help during and after the storm.


In the meantime, since I’m worried, but can’t help in any practical way, I’m depending on sympathetic magic. Last night I found myself roasting chicken and squash and braising turnip greens as though guests might arrive at any moment. Today I’m wearing the Niki de St. Phalle, a perfume named for and designed by the artist, who agreed to the project in order to raise funds for the building of her tarot sculpture garden. I chose it partly because it’s one of my most powerfully witchy scents, a deep green perfume laced with the live, rusty fall air scent of marigolds, from a cobalt, snake-festooned extrait bottle…



…and partly because one of de St. Phalle’s statues is watching over Manhattan right now, from a comfortable berth on Park Avenue. It looks cheerful enough from across the street:



But get a little closer and you see it has some power.



Not enough to ward off a hurricane. But it’s something.  And right now I’ll take what I can get.


Stay as safe as you can, friends. The rest of us are watching and waiting.



  1. Laura E. (@Soulclaphands)

    Powerful talisman, that statue. Sympathetic magic – I like this notion – a good choice for those of us who are prayerful but not necessarily religious (like me). Joining in the hopeful thoughts.


    • I’m glad you like it, Laura. I like your description, too: “prayerful but not necessarily religious.” I’m always looking for more, and better, language for that kind of feeling.


  2. A run…on kale? And just when I was feeling pessimistic about the future of the human species. My glass is half full!


    • I think the report was partly tongue-in-cheek, but Brooklynites are well known for their love of kale in its many forms (chips, pesto, smoothies, etc.)!


      • I had no idea about that love of kale.

        Have been checking in on NY and NJ family and friends, who are all
        doing fine, though without power for now. The news is awful. I was so focused on the local behavior of the storm (which was not as bad as expected) that
        I’m just hearing about the fires in NY.

        More of that sympathetic magic, please.


  3. So glad to hear you like Niki. It is definitely a favorite of mine…..and I love the bottle. Perfect for halloween. Thanks for the post!


    • Thanks for your comment! Yeah, that bottle is a killer. I’m not usually a bottle person but I’m pretty sure I fell for Niki unsniffed because of that bottle.


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