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fare thee well 2008

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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I am blinged out like Mr. T right now!! okay, not really. But I am wearing three necklaces and one of them is made out of a sea urchin. I'm thinking the sea urchin has got to count for like, 12 gold chains. The other two: one Wilma Flinstone fake pearl necklace in blue, one dog tag thingy with words on it -- all handmade, but none by me! Maybe I should resolve to make some necklaces in the new year. I used to like doing it, but fell out of the habit as is so often the case. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

2008, here's to you! You were obstreperous, infuriating, and straight up disappointing in a lot of regards, but in spite of this (or maybe because of this) I found my way to a more serene state of mind than I've had in years. I'm still working on a lot of the big questions (like "what do I want, anyway?"), but I feel more confident that I will find the answer. Actually, it's not a single answer! It's more of a rolling answer -- it has to be flexible. What I think I want and what I really do want are often divergent.

One of the biggest epiphanies I had all year (and I hesitate to call it an epiphany since it crept up on me rather than arriving via divine lightning bolt) was that I had to, HAD TO let go of a lot of expectations. Believe it or not, the most persistent ones were negative. If I was unsure about something (and I'm unsure about so many things), I figured in order to play it safe I should anticipate the worst... this is a bad policy. (for me, anyway.) Reminding myself that I DO NOT KNOW what the future holds and that it just as easily could turn out good as bad -- that was a game changer as they say in the world of presidential punditry. I guess what I'm saying is letting go of a lot of that stuff (which often had little to no relationship to reality -- if you've got a good imagination, worst case scenario can take you pretty far afield into the stealth stress zone before you know it) has made it easier for me to be in the present moment. There was a time when I'd have been embarrassed to say anything as new age hippie dippy as "the present moment" except it's true and that embarrassment is exactly the kind of mental gymnastics that keeps you out of the present moment. ANYWAY. it's getting late so I am going to go to bed. (after de-blinging. I don't want to sleep in sea urchin!)

I'm really looking forward to 2009, but in a "great things are possible" kind of way rather than an "I must achieve XYZ" way. But I still plan to work really hard! More on this tomorrow. For tonight -- happy new year to you! Oh! one last thing: I was working yesterday and the due date for books checked out on the 30th is January 20th. I told one woman they'd be due back on that day, and she said "I will be at the inauguration!" She was so happy and excited, which of course made me happy and excited. I do not expect that I will agree with everything President Obama does, but I know I won't want to throw my shoes at the television every time he speaks, which is an improvement already!

exit up close

countdown to tiny pink boot

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Wednesday, December 31, 2008
hot foot

Exciting New Year's Eve News: I had a tremendously successful afternoon of running errands! (running errands sounds so domestic and housewifey or househusbandy, which is just weird. Housewifey/husbandy, or associate pastory. Why is that? it should sound more exciting, what with the RUNNING and the potential for ERROR built right in.)

I will try to get at least one more post in (after this one) before the new year arrives -- one that is a bit more reflective (COVERED WITH REFLECTORS) of the year now ending, but I was way bummed to notice I'd only managed ten posts all month, and thought this pink boot picture was worthy of ERRAND RUNNING REPORTAGE.

(while I am here and talking about rubber shoes, what is up with crocs on adults? They're fantastically ugly and they're DANGEROUS. I can, of course, due to my magnanimous nature, allow that everyone has their own footwear aesthetic. I like flip flops and chuck taylors, which is no doubt horrifying to some. Personally, I think crocs look cute on kids under 5, not ridiculous on kids under 12, and that's where it should end. At 13 you should turn in your crocs and get a certificate or something. BUT NO. Croc devotees will tell you that it's the only thing that fits their feet, that it's the only thing that gets them through their long shift at the hospital, that it's so great to have a shoe they can simply hose off (!), that it's none of my goddamned business what they wear below their ankles, etc. the usual, and so on. All of which is probably true, but they really are dangerous -- crocs broke my friend's shoulder! Beware the croc! and shoddy croc-alikes!)

(now I have to post again tonight because I cannot leave the year on a shoe screed.)

right on and okay

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Sunday, December 28, 2008
icy teeth at the park
(from before Christmas)

The snow is almost totally gone! We're now looking forward to the more traditional pacific northwest winter weather of rain and driving winds. I don't mind, but I loved the snow! It was incredibly beautiful. I've been working the past two days and have heard more bellyaching about the weather than you would believe. (mostly, I think people are just happy to be out of the freaking house -- after we've covered that they won't be charged any fines for the days the library was closed due to weather, the next logical step (apparently) is to say "well, in Boston/Chicago/ Milwaukee they know how to handle the snow!" or "I have lived here for my whole life and have never seen it this bad" (although old timers have of course seen it worse, which they describe in loving elaborate detail) or "I put my weather machine in my top secret ice cave and you'll never see the sun again! Mwahahahaha!!" (All of these people are my favorite.)

ANYWAY, I'm getting ready to go to a postponed Christmas dinner. Yay!! It was delayed due to weather, and I'm glad I get to see my friends, eat a lot and open presents even though it is December 28. (I love the continuous celebration, although I think at this point I am fueled almost entirely by caffeine and cookies.)

icy teeth at the park

But, the reason for this post is to show you some pictures I took at the park right before Christmas. Someone(s) had gone out in the middle of the night or early in the morning and made this crazy ice labyrinth type thing from the crunchy ice layer on top of the snow. (I love you, whoever you are! This is even better than the giant snowball, although I think the snowball will persist until summer.)

icy teeth at the park

(these photos were all before Christmas. Now we're in the messy melting phase.)

A Christmas Carol

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Thursday, December 25, 2008
swing set

Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Festive Yule! If you observe it and it's around now, I wish you the very happiest of celebrations. If you do not, I wish you the very happiest of thursdays!

Thanks to the unusual (for portland) amount of snow, my whole week has been spent mostly indoors, reading and eating and whatnot. (Whatnot family: couch potato.) Since this is how I planned to spend Christmas Day, I decided I needed to do something to differentiate this day from all the rest. Solution: read A Christmas Carol. I'd never read it! I know, I know! It's a holiday classic. I'm familiar with the story, have seen countless ads, movie versions, comedy sketches, jokes, bah humbug, etc, but I'd never read it myself.

I remembered that I have a nice hand-sized copy, picked up at a used book sale a while back, so I went digging through my shelves and found it -- a lovely British edition (printed at the Aldine Press, Letchworth, Herts) that was first published in 1905. (mine was the 1960 printing.) It has wonderful illustrations that remind me of the style of drawing I love so much in the Oz books. Anyway, I really enjoyed this book! (Maybe I should note here that I had a falling out with Dickens somewhere in college. I can't remember why, but he was on my shit list for a long time for reasons that undoubtedly had very little to do with him and everything to do with whoever I was fighting with about it. I'm well over it, but have yet to have any kind of Dickens Emergency so it really hasn't come up.)

The story of A Christmas Carol reminded me a little of Nightmare Before Christmas, even though, of course, Dickens was first. Well, not the story so much as the fact that it's got your spooky element and your redemption element and your holiday element. It's got ghosts! It's got feasts! It's got guys who cheat a blind-man's-bluff for lascivious purposes! It's creepy (Marley's jaw in his lap?!), it's funny, it's sentimental but not as cloying as a million Tiny Tims would have us think; it's a reminder that living in the world of people is not always easy, but it's better than the alternative. Live while you're alive! ETCETERA! Plus, Dickens never met an alliteration he didn't like, he punctuates like a madman, anthropomorphizes everything in sight, and is really very funny as I've mentioned already. (he loves the exclamation point! a lot!) He also loves food. Or his readers loved descriptions of food and he happily obliged. This is from a section in "The Second of the Three Spirits" describing some shops on the way (via ghost transit) to Bob Cratchit's house. Keep in mind that this is just a small selection, and after he finished with this, he went on to describe the Grocer's and the Baker's. (caveat lector: I think I gained 15 pounds just reading it.)

"For, the people who were shovelling away on the house-tops were jovial and full of glee; calling out to one another from the parapets, and now and then exchanging a facetious snowball--better-natured missile far than many a wordy jest--laughing heartily if it went right and not less heartily if it went wrong. The poulterers' shops were still half open, and the fruitierers' were radiant in their glory. There were great, round, pot-bellied baskets of chestnuts, shaped like waistcoats of jolly old gentlemen, lolling at the doors, and tumbling out into the street in their apoplectic opulence. There were ruddy, brown-faced, broad-girthed Spanish Onions, shining in the fatness of their growth like Spanish Friars; and winking from their shelves in wanton slyness at the girls as they went by, and glanced demurely at the hung-up mistletoe. There were pears and apples, clustered high in blooming pyramids; there were bunches of grapes, made, in the shopkeepers' benevolence, to dangle from conspicuous hooks, that people's mouths might water gratis as they passed; there were piles of filberts, mossy and brown, recalling, in their fragrance, ancient walks among the woods, and pleasant shufflings ankle deep through withered leaves; there were Norfolk Biffins, squab and swarthy, setting off the yellow oranges and lemons, and, in the great compactness of their juicy persons, urgently entreating and beseeching to be carried home in paper bags and eaten after dinner."

And now, to prove that I'm not entirely unaware of the ridiculous excesses of this season, here is a photo of an insanely creepy/wrong yet somehow charming to me glass monkey ornament.

snowball monkey

shortest day!

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

(woodpecker movie from saturday)

HOORAY for the winter solstice! It happened (according to the internet) at 4:04 AM pacific time. (I am intrigued by the double 4's. I keep noticing doubled up numbers lately.) Anyway -- I miss the sun and I'll be glad for the days to start getting longer.

It's still beautiful and snowy here, but the furnace stopped working some time last night. the good news: it's not the only source of heat, I have lots of layering items and it will be fixed tomorrow. Right now I'm sitting in front of the fire (v. nice!) with blankets, fingerless gloves, many layers, and a hat. I would try to work this up into some kind of tale of Dickensian winter suffering (with, like, COAL and socks that need to be darned only I can't because I have frostbite in 9 fingers from selling matches to victorian villains all day), but since my reality is considerably more comfortable, I will refrain.

green light

These pictures are from earlier in the week -- it's snowed a lot more since then (although not nearly as much as at Maggie's house -- holy cow!) , but I haven't caught up on my flickring quite yet. I worked at my favorite library this week -- it's close enough that I was able to walk, which is when I took this picture and the following. I walked for two reasons: 1) it's down a pretty steep hill that is always causing problems when it's potentially icy. It's much easier to walk up than to drive up when the weather turns bad. 2) I really wanted to spend some time IN the weather, since it's so unusual for us here. It was lovely! (I should walk there all the time, but I never seem to leave soon enough.)

yellow house
I love how sunny this yellow house looks against the snowy sky.

snowball 1
From Saturday. I think there are drunken elves who go to the park and cause mischief every night. This snowball was probably about four feet tall, and made of snow and leaves.

SOLSTICE BONUS: I love this Beatle video! I saw it on Fluxtumblr tonight -- so great! I haven't seen many Beatle performance videos that aren't the usual ones (from Ed Sullivan, Shea Stadium, their movies, etc.). I love that this was in a recording studio context, I love Ringo's tie, I love that George looks cool, that Paul is wearing a sweater vest (!!), that John looks like his transformation to werewolf is almost complete, and I've always liked Hey Bulldog anyway.

unrepentant sentimental jaywalker

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Saturday, December 20, 2008
It snowed like crazy today! All day! It's almost midnight, but still really bright out because of the white. (the sky is currently a beautiful pinky-mauve nighttime snow sky.) The novelty hasn't worn off for me yet -- it's all very winter wonderland-ish. I managed to get out and take a walk and some pictures earlier today, but flickr is not cooperating so none of those tonight. I expect I'll have plenty of time tomorrow as the less delightful freezing rain is supposed to start and I don't like being out in that unless absolutely necessary.

For now I'll say that I have been having a surprisingly peaceful week. Things have been upside down, compressed and nerve-jangly (weather, work, deadlines, etc.); I've fretted over a lot of dumb stuff, but almost everything I worried about turned out better than fine AND I rediscovered the joy of jaywalking. I vow to never cross at the corner again! (unless I feel like it.) Take that, johnny law! I will or I won't and you can't make me say otherwise.

Plus, and I know this sounds hopelessly sentimental (blame it on the season, the snow, the bossa nova), but sometimes people are just wonderful. Not even fancy stuff (although sometimes!), but more an accumulation of everyday kindnesses. It makes my heart feel stretchy like gumby instead of sharp like a wind-up robot. (plastic dinosaur? matchbox car?)

okay -- more soon and I mean it for real. I still plan to write up something on wordstock -- I loved it this year! and now that it's been over a month, I feel free to fabricate wildly to fill in what I cannot recall.

Now I'm going to go get under a lot of covers and read a book I've been wanting to read for a long time. (I love this snow!)

baby, it's cold outside

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Monday, December 15, 2008
frozen puddle

I think I title a blog post this every time it is cold, but I don't care because baby, it IS cold outside. It's true!! It's not just wah wah temperate winter town two snowflakes whining like usual, it's really freakin' cold!

Winter here is not about snow shovels and sustained cold temperatures, it's about the occasional freak ice storm and a large variety of winter raindrops: small, sharp and sideways, fat and cold, and the invisible frozen mist (this is the kind where you don't think it's raining but get wet nevertheless). Large scale sustained cold is not the norm. (sustained damp? yes.) This is the coldest stretch we've had (or will have, when it's done) in over thirty years. For now it's a novelty -- anyone I saw out wandering around this afternoon of closed schools and telecommuting was clearly on An Adventure. Next phase is probably Brave Little Toaster, followed by Complete Epic Cabin Fever Breakdown which will spread like zombies from neighborhood to neighborhood. Good times!

But now I must hurry up and go to sleep. I had a wicked migraine most of Sunday and was fighting off residuals today with a lot (a lot!) of caffeine. I got a lot done, but only to the messy disaster stage that every one of my projects gets to before the it may not be finished, but I'm done with it stage. I have one hundred million things to do, but I'm actually looking forward to most of them! Woo hoo! But sleep first.

frozen ferns
(I love how the green looks in this light! the snow changes everything.)

paper stories

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Saturday, December 13, 2008
I've been doing some Christmas shopping on Etsy, and I must report that it's very satisfying. If I'm spending money on gifts, I'd rather it go more or less directly into the hands of people who make things. This is probably not a sound theory as far as large scale Economics go, but it certainly makes me a lot happier than plonking down my credit card for mass produced whatever. Not that I haven't enjoyed plenty of mass produced whatever in my lifetime! But this holiday season with money tight all around, I decided I'd rather do it this way -- it's like small scale patronage! and I can do it in my pajamas! (Although I'm still buying books, which I can also do in my pajamas.)

Here are some items and sellers that've caught my eye recently. I've been reading a lot of fairytale/fable type stories lately and have thinking about paper, so these items fall into this theme. It may be too late to get something by Christmas, but maybe not! (Most sellers will tell you in their announcement section.)

I've seen Elsita featured in various craft/design blogs, and for good reason -- she's fabulous! She does a lot of different paper-themed art, but my favorites are the silhouettes. She offers reasonably priced prints of her amazing papercuts. (and occasionally original papercuts -- not cheap, but so wonderful!) This one is called "The Secret Anatomy of a Young Girl." She has a lot of fairy tale themed papercuts -- amazingly detailed work. She also offers some pieces in small 4" x 6" prints which are even more affordable!

I love the idea of shadow puppets and toys of the imagination in general. Orange Moon Toys have several different themed sets: (dinosaurs, thai legends, whales, Barack Obama, giant squid, castle, zombies, etc.) I like the pirate possibilities of this Battle of Trafalgar set. If you think you're too old to stage puppet shows (whatever!), these would be great party decor.

Roadside offers flat prints of dimensional paper sculpture. I love these a lot! She's fond of the circus, various acts of flying through the air (hot air balloon, umbrella, parachute, kite, carried by birds, cloud climbing), and also has some more straightforward portrait-style images (the letter, the camera, the road ahead). In the Woods print available here.

Speaking of paper, design, and setting your imagination on fire, Design*Sponge has collaborated with the New York Public Library on a series of Design By The Book video podcasts about inspiration. I'm enjoying it very much! The project is this: Artists of various disciplines were invited to participate in a challenge -- they must come up with a design based on inspiration gleaned at the NYPL. The idea is that most people do not realize the VAST RESOURCES available to anyone with access to a library. (although it must be noted that some libraries are going to have a deeper collection than others. The NYPL is especially rich.) It's like a detective story, except the clues they are searching for are not about Professor Plum in the Kitchen with a Candlestick, but regarding the elusive and amorphous subject of inspiration. (with a chorus of "I didn't even know such books existed!") There have only been two episodes so far. The first one was an introduction to the project and the artists. The second featured a (gratuitous! but I liked it anyway) cameo by Isaac Mizrahi and introduction to librarian Jessica Pigza, who is working with the artists to bring them items of interest from the collection. Good stuff! You can view the series a number of ways (including free iTunes download), all of which are enumerated on the NYPL page for the project.

nice hat!

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Saturday, December 13, 2008
pink mosaic

I have been having the wiggiest week I've had in a while. Everything is harder than it should be -- not that I expect to fly through the air with the greatest of ease, but I should, for example, be able to charge my camera battery with minimal drama. [epic examples of camera drama and existential purpose of life drama redacted. I'm going to write instead about pink hats and my paranoid suspicions about the abnormally full moon.]

I think this general unease is probably because of the GIANT FULL MOON which I saw last night (lookin' good, moon!) but can't see tonight due to the weather. (There's a massive bank of clouds that wants to snow, but since it's not cold enough it's just raining that heavy, fat-bottomed rain where every drop looks like a cartoon tear -- SO COLD but not quite cold enough to be the giant fluffy snowflake it wishes to be. I feel your pain, rain! let's write poems together.) But I digress... what's with the attitude, giant space rock? Is it because I happened to mention in passing that 23% waxing crescent is currently my favorite moonphase? (I leave room for a change of mind or change of heart or change of whichever spirit or organ determines these things). My theory is that the giant, MENACING THE EARTH WITH ITS NEARNESS 100% full moon was close enough to hear me (don't be fooled by the daylight people -- you can't see it, but it can see you) and decided that in place of my usual spoon-shaped temperament (rounded and practical), it would put a serrated paring knife-shaped temperament (short and sharp). (Does the moon often get involved in temperament replacement? I was going to say no, but I think it slots in under "lunatic tendencies" and is therefore a reasonable guess.) Fortunately, that jagged draggy feeling is starting to go away.

Now about that hat. Thursday night I went to IKEA with my sister to get the part for the thing. (can you crack my holiday code?) As I was leaving the fabric department* a little girl sang out across the aisle "I like your hat!" (hot pink wool cloche, awesome if I do say so myself.) I spotted her and saw that she was ALSO wearing a pink hat -- hers was knit with a rolled brim. I told her I liked her hat, too. She said "thanks. they're almost the same!" At first I thought she was making some kind of "ha ha! I like your hat which is identical to mine -- good taste, total stranger" joke, but she was only about six or seven and it seems that she really did like my hat and was pleased that I liked hers too. (and I did. don't lie to kids -- they can smell bullshit from 1000 miles and will make you pay.)

*(foiled once again! why did I have to fall in love with the one fabric they are always out of? WHY? or is this why I love it? If a bolt of it unexpectedly arrived on my doorstep would I be unspeakably happy or somewhat disappointed? "I thought you'd be bluer.")

(I promise, PROMISE, that I will have some posts soon that do not relate to me either talking to myself or receiving insults or instruction from inanimate objects. It has been a weird couple of months.)

sanctioned unicorn wagering

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008
winter afternoon

This picture was taken a week ago. I thought it looked sort of like an ice cream sandwich, if you substitute blue sky for ice cream. (the trees are not any part of my atmospheric ice cream dessert -- they're just trees, which is enough.)

Tonight, for reasons I can't explain, I read my journal from January of this year. I'm pleased to say that I feel 32% less crazy right now than I did then! (probably more than that, but let's not get carried away.) I'm less sad and more ... I don't know. Hopeful, maybe. I feel less stuck somehow, which is huge. Of course journal entries only tell part of a story (usually the crazy part), but I was glad to discover that I could read them and not get caught up in being embarrassed or upset or whatever all over again. Mostly I thought that if Right Now Me could tell January Me anything, it would be to keep it up, things will get better, ditch that mopey playlist, maybe write about something good that happens every now and again, and p.s. don't start slacking off on your walking or you will be regretting it in December.

I wonder what November of Next Year me would tell Right Now Me? I hope it's something like: you'd better rest up and take your vitamins because 2009 is full of good things and you won't want to miss them.

(Hey! Imagined NoNY Me is totally boring with the generic grandma platitudes. What's next? Don't forget to floss?? How about: don't forget to take a fencing class because you're really going to need it during the CowboyRobotZombiePirate crisis of early May! yeah! how about some more specific advice, INoNY Me?? Beware the following: thermostats, laudanum, purple flip-flops, traveling monorail salesmen, novels about shopping, clove gum AND MUCH, MUCH MORE. )

RN Me: umm. oookay.

INoNY Me: embrace the following: spontaneous travel, invitations, red shoes and pink socks, the spirit of generosity and forgiveness, reading more, writing more, the enigma of everyday life.

RN Me: no lottery numbers?

INoNY Me: No. The lottery has been replaced by a form of Obama-sanctioned unicorn wagering that you cannot possibly understand until after June of 09.

I made it from paper

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Monday, December 08, 2008
I am almost done designing my christmas cards! Although designing sounds a little arty farty for what is mostly a trial and error mixture of grim panic (this will never work!) and gleeful relief (I will glue something over it!). I only have a couple more days to get it all figured out so I can get them in the mail for reasonably timely arrival (i.e. before 2009), but I think it's within the realm of the possible. Hooray!

Speaking of paper, a few weeks ago at work I was checking in returned materials from the book drop and came across these two paper-centric CD covers within 5 minutes of each other. Different patrons, too!

first up is T.I.'s Paper Trail. This is so well done! I LOVE how this collage portrait is made up of manilla envelopes, graph paper, security envelopes, ledger paper -- all humble materials available to anyone who recycles their junk mail or knows someone who works in an office that recycles paper.

Next is the Caesars' Paper Tiger. Paper guitars! paper drums! paper bow ties! I love how this looks like someone had it all planned out, maybe on a little paper bandstand, and then the cat walked on the table and mixed it all up. Sometimes mixed up is better.

SPEAKING OF TIGERS... I now bring you a moment of "wait? the hungry WHAT? he wants to eat WHAT? in a CHILDREN'S BOOK???" I'm speaking, of course, of the Hungry Tiger of Oz. He doesn't actually eat any babies, but he's always at war with himself. He's a slave to his appetite and manages to keep it in check, but unlike some fictional would-be villains, it's a real struggle. Hungry Tiger quote of the day: "I don't believe fat babies taste like gumdrops. I'm quite sure they have the flavor of raspberry tarts. My, how hungry I am for fat babies!"

meanwhile, back at the ranch

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Thursday, December 04, 2008
Fun times were had in the book quarter of the pearl district Wednesday night!

* I really wanted to say something here about how the neighborhood has changed so much from the olden days when I used to work nearby and I really wanted to use the word UNCTUOUS, since it popped into my head unbidden and immediately cleaved to UNGUENT, even though that is so wrong! Get apart, you words! You don't mean what I mean! (I am going to start a line of lifestyle cosmetics made from photographs of trees called Not Your Mother's Unctuous Unguents which will become one of Oprah's favorite things and will sell like hot cakes (which no one buys anymore), despite the fact that it will be naught but a beautifully packaged jar of AIR. Know that I bottled each one myself!)

Martina and I headed down to Powell's for a reading and for a little christmas shopping. (I cannot even wrap my head around the fact that it is December. Are we sure about this? I think it's still late October. Have you been fooling with the space/time continuum again? I can always tell.) Here are some photos.

(I have a bunch of other stuff that I keep thinking I'll have done to post, but I keep not having it done so here's another PHOTO POST. But it's bookstore photos for once and not suspicious squirrels or a day in the life of a leaf, so that's something.)

pink sunset

...except I have to post this one tree picture! The sunset was really pretty -- the clouds were leaving (it was sunny today) so we got enough light to get some color. Some PINK color.

paris review reading

Philip Gourevitch, post-George Plimpton editor of The Paris Review, was reading at Powell's. The Paris Review has a new collection of interviews -- the 3rd of an eventual 4 volumes. It was so interesting! We were a little bit late and had to stand (which seems to be the way of things anymore), but it was okay. I have a preferred to lean against shelf in the architecture aisle which affords a decent view. Gourevitch did read some from the book, but mostly he talked about the philosophy of the Review interviews and how honored he was to be a part of that legacy. (I always appreciate when someone embraces being the steward of something larger than themselves -- be it the earth, public libraries, or in this case a literary treasure trove.) It was interesting to hear the balance between making the interviewer as invisible as possible and getting a great interview. They have to make themselves invisible and give the writer being interviewed enough space to say what they want to say, but be assertive enough to get the good stuff. He noted how odd it was for him, coming from a primarily journalistic background, to EDIT an interview to the degree they are edited for TPR. Not only are they edited, but the subject has an opportunity to review before it goes to press! He did note that writers, unlike most politicians, are working toward some kind of truth all the time, so if anything they may sharpen up something rather than water it down. (He gave the example of Kurt Vonnegut, who "chewed through" five (5!) interviewers and in a sense ended up interviewing himself.)

It made me really want to read the interviews, which wasn't an attitude I necessarily had when I went to the reading. He talked a lot about the writer's struggle to stay free -- even free from themselves (their egos, etc.). He quoted the oft repeated Hemmingway saying (originally in a Paris Review interview): "the most essential gift for a good writer is a built- in, shock-proof shit detector, " but perceptively noted that this shit detector is often needed to keep a writer out of their own way -- to detect their own shit, to stay free and say the true thing that needs to be said.

Now, on to the rest of the store! The readings are held upstairs in the Pearl (like the district!) Room gallery. This page has a map and a great little 50 second video tour of the store. If you've never been to Powell's before, it gives you a good sense of what it's like. (ENORMOUSLY WONDERFUL.)

mmm Modigliani

We snuck out during the Q&A through the M aisle of the art books. New and used books are shelved side by side. Looking at this picture, I can tell you that I have always liked Modigliani (his name, his paintings), and that a lot of the Taschen art books are on a really good sale right now.


A-Ha! In the gold room there is MURDER and INTRIGUE and fantasy, sci-fi, and manga. (I do love that the rooms are named by color. I feel like I'm either in an Andrew Lang Fairy Book (Rose Room) OR in a locked house English Mystery (Gold Room).)

title narrative

Hee. There are remaindered books along the window wall in the blue room (which I think may be my favorite room) -- they also have a collection of old fancy hardcovers. These were just like this, in this order: The Runaway, Secret Marriage, You Can't Have Everything. I think it tells a pretty evocative story! The Late Miss Hollingford was actually to the left -- I was all "ho ho! it would be funny if it was on the end!" so Martina picked it up and made it happen! Poor Miss Hollingford. There was a copy of Lavender and Old Lace two books down that I kept thinking was ARSENIC and old lace, which would be one way to deal with the bounder who forced her into her secret can't have everything marriage.

available posters

This was hanging in the blue room, advertising posters for sale in the orange room. I want the poster of the posters, but, as Miss Hollingford would no doubt quickly tell me if only she could, you can't have everything.

planet elbow

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Sunday, November 30, 2008

I got off work just after five this afternoon -- it was dark already, but the sky was a clear purply blue inky color that was so beautiful I thought to myself that it couldn't be more beautiful. (exact internal quote: "the sky could not be more beautiful!") But then I turned around and saw the delicate little sliver of crescent moon with venus and the other planet that isn't mars that's hanging out right now (saturn? jupiter? one of those dudes) and thought !!! holy crap! it CAN BE more beautiful and it is right now! the only thing that diminished my pleasure was that there was no one to tell right away. My coworkers at this branch are all individually lovely human beings (apart from the douchenozzle), but collectively they are somewhat angular and not easy to talk to, much like a bag of elbows.

me: would you look at that!
collective bag of elbows: <<<<
person who has worked there more than I, in a whispered aside: I think they like you!
me: oh, good.

Anyway -- the important lesson that I have mostly learned in 2008 is never say "it can't get any worse!" but ALWAYS say "it couldn't be more beautiful!" because when that goes wrong it's the best kind of surprise.

(the photo in this post is unrelated to events, except that it was taken at the same time of almost-night and I like it.)

I like your moxie, Sassafras

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Thursday, November 27, 2008
Happy Thanksgiving!

I was going to make a list of everything I'm grateful for, but the truth is I am so full of gratitude for so many things it would take a really long time and I've got STUFF TO DO, including making:

Cranberry, Cherry, and Walnut Chutney:

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/2 cup port or other sweet red wine
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 cup dried tart cherries
1 (12 oz) package fresh cranberries
2/3 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Orange rind strips (optional)

1. Combine first 4 ingredients in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Add cherries, and cook 1 minute. Stir in cranberries; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes until cranberries pop. Remove from heat. Stir in walnuts, grated rind, and extract. Garnish with orange rind strips, if desired. Cover and chill.

This is really good and it goes together very fast. It's also delicious in turkey sandwiches later on!

AS I WAS SAYING. Here's a small sampling of things I'm grateful for today:

Pie: I can't elaborate or I'd be here all day. But, you know, PIE.

Pushing Daisies: (from whence I took the title of this post -- moxie sassafrass was directed at Chuck (aka: Lonely Tourist Charlotte Charles) last night by an octogenarian billionaire stuck in a chandelier, undead for one minute.) (!!!!) My thanksgiving wish is that this kind of zippy banter stages a comeback, along with "I like the cut of your jib!" (used by (among others) Monty Burns, another ancient fictional billionaire.) I don't know why they make me laugh so hard with their moxie, lime rickeys and 23 skidoos, but they do!! (I am also inordinately fond of Variety Speak, even though it is 2/3 unintelligible to me -- I think a lot of it is of the same sidecar-swilling era.)

Frankenstein: Without which I probably wouldn't be calling the cats FIEND! (Busby) and VILE CREATURE! (Dash) all the time. These names really suit them. Of course the novel was great for a million other reasons, but that's the one I'm thinking of today.

the exclamation point: I know I abuse it as a mark of punctuation, but I swear to you they appear in little thought balloons over my head all the time.

Everyone in the world who has ever made me smile or made me think: there are a lot of these people, many of whom don't even know it. But I know, and I'm enormously grateful! (example: THANK YOU, girl in the bright green coat with purple tights at the library yesterday -- I like your style!)

Okay, I have got to get to it. I understand there's food to be made while a fiend and vile creature are on the loose. It's my hope that I can accomplish what I need to do without a pitchfork and torch wielding mob.

Happy Thanksgiving/Thursday/New Moon wishes to you!

technical difficulties

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008
My internet is broken! From home (where I am) it's wonky and crazymaking. Fortunately, someone's coming tomorrow to fix it. Good thing, too -- I'm working myself into a state of Veruca Salt foot stamping I want it now! petulance, which is so irritating. But, since I've purloined access (which is very Veruca in a way), I'm going to post some pictures taken on November 13. (Thank you unknown neighbor with unlocked yet unpredictable wireless!)

November 13th was one of those Woke Up Wonderful days where the sun was shining, the birds were singing, every song on my ipod was perfect and everything seemed extra great for no discernible reason at all.

ginkgo mania

I'm crazy about this ginkgo tree. I think it's even more striking when the leaves turn yellow.

ginkgo mania

close up! The leaves are so textured -- they feel like really heavy, supple paper.

crows keep me company

the crows were keeping busy.

almost gone

The light was so wonderful! the sun was shining, but the clouds were coming in and shifting around. This was taken less than an hour (pointed in the same direction) as the blue sky ginkgo picture. Okay -- time to get this posted before my borrowed wireless disappears. I have to say, the good vibes of the 13th seem to work even by thinking about them because I feel much better than I did. Now I only have 12 minutes to get ready for work, but it was worth it.
Happy Tuesday!

at home with victor frankenstein

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Saturday, November 22, 2008
I am having a wonderful lazy saturday. My sole job today is to finish re-reading Frankenstein for a Read the Classics book club meeting at the library tomorrow. I haven't read it since college -- it's funny how much I've forgotten. It's also weird finding penciled notes (in my handwriting) in the margins. Oh, current me is plenty irritated with college me for marking in the book, except when current me thinks "hey! that's a pretty smart observation there, college Jen. Why didn't you retain it?"

Victor sure does like to talk. A lot. And so modest! He's the kind of guy who would go on and on and on in a plane or on a train or you know, on a boat in an ice field. I would be reading a magazine or listening only with half an ear because he's really full of himself and kind of a bore -- maybe with one earbud still in (I know it's rude, but I don't know him and it's both presumptuous AND rude to talk the ear off a stranger in a confined space) until some small corner of my brian recognizes what he's actually saying and the gum falls out of my mouth.

"I paused, examining and analysing all the minutiae of causation, as exemplified in the change from life to death, and death to life, until from the midst of this darkness a sudden light broke in upon me -- a light so brilliant and so wondrous, yet so simple, that while I became dizzy with the immensity of the prospect which it illustrated, I was surprised, that among so many men of genius who had directed their inquiries toward the same science, I alone should be reserved to discover so astonishing a secret."

I still have a ways to go -- Victor is just coming home to Geneva after creating his monster, going crazy, and learning of the death of his brother William. I think it's just about to really get cracking. (why did I wait until dark?! At least there's no lightning tonight.) I can't wait to get to the Monster. Now there's someone who could keep the attention of a distracted seatmate. I would listen to him for hours if it weren't for the fact that he probably wants to rip off my arms and hit me with them. He does have a way with the curses and warnings: "I may die; but you my tyrant and tormentor, shall curse the sun that gazes on your misery. Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful. I will watch with the wiliness of a snake, that I may sting with its venom. Man, you shall repent of the injuries you inflict."

Okay. Back to it. I hope I don't scare myself sleepless.

ruthless tidying

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008
almost serrated

Everything and nothing is happening simultaneously this week, right inside my head. It's benignly disconcerting, but not debilitating or anything -- a definite lull, but not an unpleasant one. It feels like my brain is chugging away at some mysterious calculation in the background, but in the foreground I'm cleaning. (I'm trying to learn a lesson from Ryan Adams -- this quote (via Vulture) made me laugh and laugh: "You could eat sushi off my bookshelf. My cleaning regime is like a  battleground. I'm Genghis Khan and my cleaning products are my Mongolian army and I take no prisoners." ) TAKE NO PRISONERS! ha ha! I should get that tattooed along with a feather duster on my forearms. I currently have many, many prisoners that I shift from one holding facility to another. (edit: I just realized Genghis Khan is showing up a lot lately here and there -- he's also in a Thomas Frank quote below in the Weekend Items post from last week. where will he be next?)

Anyway! I hope by the time I get my brain back I have the answer to something really good and not just a sharper recollection of the sixth grade or where I put that paper I've been looking for. At the very least I hope for some ruthless Mongolian cleaning power.

(Busby the cat is trying his entire bag of cat tricks to get me to let him outside. He has danced a fandango on the narrow windowsill in front of my desk, he is currently batting his patented cutie eyes at me and I know he's only a minute away from piteous whining. But he can't go out! there's a cat-eating coyote roaming the neighborhood, so he has to stay in at night. Poor abused creature! He makes sure he does not suffer alone.)

the weather and colors are changing faster than I can upload pictures, but here are some from the past week or so:

japanese maple

this is a japanese maple I walk by often -- I think they're very pretty. This one is conveniently squatty AND on a hill so I don't have to do anything but lean over to get a picture.

The squirrels are so suspicious, but also incredibly curious. If you're looking at them, they're looking at you. I find them hilarious for reasons I don't fully understand. (Maybe it's like those people who always laugh when they see someone fall down? I don't know!)

floating my boat (currently)

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Monday, November 17, 2008
perfect dancing

Five songs on my shuffle that I'm always happy to hear:

Tabasco Sole -- Voluntary Butler Scheme: !!! This song! It's like going to the UK with the Jackson Five for the express purposes of a) stealing the devil's shoes b) putting the devil in the oven on high c) playing the piano in the lift d) hotstepping in the devil's stolen shoes d) doot doot doot doot dootdootdootdoot e) I've been delightfully overwhelmed by doot doot doots and no longer remember what item was meant to be "e)." This list doesn't even begin to address the depth of my affection for the band name, which sounds like a university late night sure bet pyramid scheme for clean socks that falls apart in the harsh light of day, although I would posit that any scheme that ends with this song is a success. (From Fluxblog last month.)

Sister's Got a Boyfriend -- Rufus Thomas: Everybody's got something -- "Sister's got a boyfriend, Papa's got a shotgun... the dog got pnuemonia." for one week I'd love to have the ghost of Rufus Thomas follow me around and sing/narrate my life. This would undoubtedly goose me in the ass so that his unique talents wouldn't be wasted singing "Jen's reading the internet, agaiiiiiiin/ now she is crocheeeeeting." (although that already sounds more interesting when I imagine him singing it in his shorts and cape, punctuated with stax/volt horns!) This song is from the completely fantastic Complete Stax/Volt Singles 1959-1968 Collection. Every sad song sounds happy, every happy song sounds sad; most of them are inexplicably wonderful and some (like this) are perfectly bizarre.

Lovin' Machine -- Wynonie Harris: "I just built me a brand new lovin' machine!" This is what would happen if the good time mad scientist/inventor that lives in the ramshackle mansion at the top of the hill (the one with the laboratory in the basement, not the one with the cemetery in the backyard) was also a sociable but lonely broken hearted saxophone/boogie woogie piano playing pervert. Go up to his house and have a chat and a look around (keep likely points of egress in mind, although you probably won't need them) listen to some records, but for god's sake don't eat or drink anything. Seriously. "you put a quarter in the slot, things light up, and out comes your lovin' in a dixie cup" (I think I got this from Said the Gramophone, some time in the misty past.)

Roller Girl -- Anna Karina: Every time I hear this song, my lack of go-go boots is sadly and sincerely felt. (The imaginary ghost of Rufus Thomas just reminded me that a current lack of boots does not have to be a permanent lack of boots and that striped socks can be acquired almost instantaneously. who knew he'd be so helpful so soon?) From the Pop a Paris: Rock and Roll and Mini-skirts vol. 2 collection. Go here to watch Anna Karina sing this song while jumping around in Serge Gainsbourg's orange shirt, harry potter glasses, some long socks and a hockey glove. You know you want to! "roll, roll, roll roller girl!" (illustration by Hannah Karina, who also has lots of photos of Anna Karina in her photostream.)

Happiness Runs (Pebble and the Man) -- Mary Hopkin: This is one of those songs that at one point I might have dismissed as hippie dippy la la la, let's make patchouli scented sand candles, everyone!, but it never fails to cheer me up at least a little. Not once has it failed, and I've tested it extensively. Usually I'm not one to respond immediately to this kind of sincere soprano, but I love it! (the Donovan version is good too, but I like this one better.) "Happiness runs in a circular motion/ Falters like a little boat upon the sea/ All our souls are deeper than you can see/ You can have everything if you let yourself be/ Everybody is a part of anything, anyway/ You can have everything if you let yourself be/ Happiness runs, happiness runs/ Happiness runs, happiness runs."

indeed we needn't, need we?

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Friday, November 14, 2008
Gold Diggers of 1933 (Busby Berkeley/1933) -- I just watched this movie twice. Here are some reasons you might enjoy watching it, too:

1. GINGER ROGERS!! I love Ginger Rogers! She's funny, she's beautiful in a human way, and best of all she's a 12th degree black belt SASS MASTER. She's barely in this which is a shame, but when she's on the screen I don't care about anyone else. (plus, she's expert in pig latin!)

2. To answer the following questions: is Zac Efron the Dick Powell of the new millennium, or was Dick Powell the Zac Efron of 1933? Ruby Keeler looks kind of like Katie Holmes in this picture, right? RIGHT.

3. It's racy. So racy they even have John Waters in one of the accompanying documentaries. (He speaks about the huge production number Pettin' in the Park, but the movie is pretty suggestive outside the confines of that particular song as well.) It was made after the Hays Production Code was enacted, but right before they actually started enforcing it.

4. Inexplicable roller skating. Well, it's not exactly inexplicable -- it's roller skating as a form of commuting AND police transportation, right in the middle of the aforementioned highly suggestive song, Pettin' in the Park.

5. I love how the big Busby Berkeley dance numbers allegedly happen on a Broadway stage, yet they're often HUGE with a cast of 100's that could really only conceivably happen in a Hollywood sound stage or an airplane hangar. They do usually end with the flourish of a curtain coming down, but even so, that's a lot of disbelief you have to suspend. But they are so freaking bizarre and beautiful, I don't care at all!

6. The whole thing ends with a giant production number about forgotten men and the bread lines. This sounds strange and maybe it is a little strange to have this huge marching formation of homeless former soldiers at the end of a fairly raunchy sex comedy, but it was very topical and I think kind of risky at the time.

7. As Gold Digger movies go, I found this much more enjoyable than How to Marry a Millionaire. Joan Blondell is aces.

8. Billy Barty = creepiest roller skating baby EVER. (or maybe it's charming and my charmometer is broken.)

9. If you're looking to add to your list of comedies that deal with the Great Depression (My Man Godfrey, Sullivan's Travels), this is a good one. I don't think it's as good as either of those (both wonderful), but it has Busby Berkely production numbers including inexplicable roller skating and Ginger Rogers singing in pig latin. That counts for a lot in my book.

10. The clothes are fantastic.

I couldn't decide what youtube video to include since there are so many available! the trailer was tempting, but I decided you can't go wrong with Ginger.

crocodile news

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Wordstock was so great! I think this might have been my favorite year apart from Year One. (or was it two?) Anyway. More on that very soon. What I can tell you right now is that Lynda Barry is even more awesome than I thought before (which was PRETTY DAMN AWESOME since Ernie Pook's Comeek, particularly How To Groove On Life , has gotten me through some agitated times). She's solid gold awesome.

This crocodile picture is unrelated, except it reminds me of this imaginary alligator I used to have when I was a kid. His name was Abe (for the president), and he was always dispensing useful advice while simultaneously inciting irresponsible behavior. I'm not sure now if I really really thought he was there, or if I just loved making up his exploits. People asked after him ("how is Abe, anyway?") so he kept pretty busy. I believe this coincided with my espionage obsession, so there were lots of stealth missions and disguises. He was very gifted at hiding for a creature of his size and could work an enigma machine like nobody's business.

The tree picture below is just because I thought it was pretty. I didn't used to have an imaginary tree, although now I'm regretting it! A tree could be a very stealthy ally as long as it didn't do things like drop all its leaves at once or shake uncontrollably. I'm sure I would have had a nervous, terrible liar tree who meant well but couldn't play it cool. A flop sweat kind of tree, if trees could do that. Poor tree. Maybe it should stay home at mission control.

The tree below is a civilian.

weekend items

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Saturday, November 08, 2008
I love this picture of Bessie Smith! She looks so joyful, yet was obviously bedeviled by the blues. A quick iTunes survey reveals following flavors of blue:
graveyard dream
far away
any woman's
chicago bound
frosty morning
haunted house
easy come, easy go
rocking chair
bo weavil
down hearted
gulf coast
oh daddy
mama's got the
bleeding hearted
lady luck
yodling (!!)
sam jones

That's a lot of blues! (some with a delightfully macabre tilt.) Any good men in this collection are dead or absent; the ones left are mean or otherwise unsatisfactory, but somehow unavoidable. But I do believe she enjoyed herself, or at least found her art in expression of suffering -- look at that smile, that dress, that pose! She is so buoyant and full of life; her hands won't stay by her side.

ELECTION METHADONE: Like many election junkies, I am having a hard time adjusting to life without polls to check every fifteen minutes. As curious as I am about what kind of dog the Obama girls will get, it doesn't drive compulsive browser refreshing in quite the same way. ANYWAY. I found this seven part series of behind the scenes election reporting at Newsweek to be very interesting and even more illuminating of the stark differences between the two campaigns. Highly recommended! It's worth it to read the whole thing. Speaking of behind the scenes, I love this flickr photoset of the Obama family on election night.

I very much enjoy Thomas Frank's column in the Wall Street Journal. (I just picked up his latest book, The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule from the library -- woo hoo! What's the Matter With Kansas? is really good, too.) Ooh -- his Powell's page has a video --

As I was saying: His latest column is titled Conservatism Isn't Finished. In it, he describes the great culture wars and how we'll never see the end of them because the GOP manipulates this conflict to their benefit. "The reason those wars have raged ever since 1968 was because they help Republicans win elections. For Democrats to wish that they would please stop was about as useful as asking Genghis Khan to a tea party." Here's one of my favorite quotes: "John McCain's campaign was not just another culture-war offensive; it was a flamboyant pantomime, grotesquely exaggerated in each of its parts, and, ultimately, separated from the life of the everyday Americans it claimed so extravagantly to revere. It was "overripe," to borrow the term Johan Huizinga used to describe late Medieval culture. The campaign's vision of America was like a Norman Rockwell painting in which all the figures wear flag pins and weep swollen, steaming tears for their betrayed homeland."

WORDSTOCK is this weekend. I would link to the website, but it is WRETCHED and makes me mad every time I try to get to the schedule -- there's automatic video (with sound) and the menus are hard to navigate. ARGH! it is enraging. But I am still very much looking forward to attending! Off the top of my head (since the schedule is not easily accessible) I can tell you that Aimee Bender, Lynda Barry and John Hodgman will be there. And a lot of other people. Exciting/excruciating details to follow.

the change we seek

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008
(Note: I planned to post this last night, but my internet connection went awol while I was uploading images so I went to bed instead. "today/this morning" was Wednesday.)

I've spent most of the day reading articles and commentary and answering my "can it be true?" question with an emphatic "yes, it can!" It feels pretty good. Last night it was just too much to take in -- my happiness, relief, pride and hopes for this new beginning got all tangled up with a bunch of other Already In Progress strong emotions and I was overloaded. This morning was better. Mostly, I think, because it was not just a beautiful dream!!

One of my favorite things today (besides seeing IT'S OBAMA in huge letters) has been looking at various election related slide shows and photo essays*. (the NYTimes and the Huffington Post both have some good ones.) I love seeing huge long lines as people wait to vote all across the country. I love seeing people celebrating around the world, I love behind the scenes photos from the campaign, I love seeing newspaper headlines and magazine covers from all over. Most of all, (unrelated to slide shows) I love that the electorate finally got its shit together and voted to begin the work ahead. There is so much work ahead!

I was watching part of Lou Dobbs today (I realize it's a sickness), and was shocked to hear both Lou and David Frum speak of Obama's community organizing without sneering. Even they had to acknowledge that something big has been organized here. I'm so happy that we as Americans are not just invited to be a part of it, but considered to be essential to success! (compare to the last 8 years of toddler-like "I DO IT! I am the decider!" toy throwing tantrums.) Anyway -- I have some photos and things to say about Oregon's Vote By Mail, but I don't have the pictures uploaded yet so it will have to wait. (I'll do it before the inauguration!)

Here's one of my favorite parts from Obama's speech last night. I love that he doesn't back away from the hard work ahead and that he emphasizes that this is the work of our nation -- we must all share in it: "What began twenty-one months ago in the depths of winter must not end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek - it is only the chance for us to make that change.  And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were.  It cannot happen without you."

*thursday update: interesting post on the Year In Pictures about a photo essay on

**Design for Obama has some great poster art images and gets more daily.

can you hear it?

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Monday, November 03, 2008

So much going on! The main thing being that I think my brain has finally imploded. It's really peaceful here under the rubble, although I'm starting to hear music in the water pipes which is kind of disturbing.

(but also kind of cool!)

(but worrisome!)

(it's just one set of pipes, so it's not like I'm staggering around town with a tape recorder capturing my secret symphony which sounds great to me but just like running water to everyone else. someone would call the cops (of course) and I would have to explain and it would sound as crazy as it is, until either the implant or the tiny pipe-dwelling musicians (and choir!) are revealed and I am VINDICATED! the end.)

I'm not going to say much about the election in this post, except that I'll be working until the polls close tomorrow. This pleases me! The library is an official ballot drop-off place, and I love watching people come in and vote. I worked the last day of the primaries and it was pretty thrilling to see people waiting in lines to drop off an envelope (TRUE FACT). I can only imagine how great it will be now that we've FINALLY arrived at the general election. I am a big old sentimental sappy sucker, but I have an excellent poker face so I should be able to get through it without any embarrassing I heart democracy outbursts. (I will just say this: do you think anyone kissing a ballot as they drop it off in a public library is voting for McCain? Me neither!)

ANYWAY. If you need a break from fivethirtyeight or CNN or Daily Kos tomorrow (or any time!) here are some wonderful things that have come up in my feed reader recently:

1. This great post at Sunset Gun about It Happened One Night. I love this movie! I enjoyed Kim Morgan's reviews when she wrote for Willamette Week, so I was happy to find her again when she was rightfully praised on Bright Lights After Dark.

2. The Fluxcast -- the podcast of Fluxblog. #18 was just released today (Monday) -- I haven't heard it yet, but #17 is a lot of fun, and so are all the rest. I never know what will be on it -- sometimes something new, sometimes something old, always something interesting. I've fallen out of the habit of listening to the radio, but this replicates that sense of anticipation: what will come next?! I love listening while I'm out and about -- either in the car or on foot. On more than one occasion I have frantically grabbed around for a pen to write down the name of a song before I realize that it's okay! I can find out later.

3. Leslie and Dag are on vacation in Ecuador and the Galapagos! Her internet access has been spotty, but I love getting as it happens reports from the equator.

4. I am ready to buy Roger Ebert's rice cooker cookbook, RIGHT NOW. "How does the Pot know how long to cook the rice? It is a mystery of the Orient. Don't ask questions you don't need the answers to."

5. The Year In Pictures: I came to this blog a while ago via The Sartorialist. It embodies one of the things I love best about the internet: an expert who is generous with his expertise and genuinely enthusiastic about his subject. I always learn something.

BONUS: puppycam, for when everything else is just too much. sometimes, for the preservation of blood pressure, a person needs to watch a pile of puppies sleeping. Thanks to the magic of the internet, NOW YOU CAN.

happy halloween!

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Friday, October 31, 2008

For some bah humbug reason (I'm not sure which one), I wasn't going to carve any pumpkins this year -- but then around 3pm I was OVERWHELMED with the need to make a jack o'lantern, so I ran around and found some pumpkins, came home and made three.


I'm a traditionalist. I love looking at the beautiful and/or elaborate pumpkins out there, but when it comes time to make my own I like triangle eyes and a wide gappy grin. They're so jaunty. (and easy!)

scary witch

Happy Halloween from the 70s! I'm pretty sure that this was taken just prior to going out trick or treating, and I'm similarly sure that the cat was not too thrilled with the whole program. (This is a picture of a picture, since I couldn't find the original. My dad used to take a lot of b/w photos and developed his own film/photos.) I only recently saw a color photo of this costume -- my face was green and the yarn trim on the cape was ORANGE -- mom always made great halloween costumes for me and my sister.

One of the trick or treaters tonight was in a homemade pirate costume. She had a drawn-on eye patch and a scimitar made from cardboard and aluminum foil. MY FAVORITE! She was only about four, but sang the whole trick or treat song (although her mom had to prompt her to get started). Her mom was dressed as a hippie in a caftan with a Make Peace not War sign and a painted daisy on her cheek, the pirate's dad was also dressed as a pirate, but he had a baby strapped to his chest which just made it funny.

In short, I love halloween, I'm sorry that I almost let it go by without doing ANYTHING I solemnly vow that next year I will get with the program earlier. But better late than never!

Here are a couple of halloween videos -- the first one is a recitation of The Raven by Christopher Walken, with lovely creepy illustrations by Gustav Dore. (via: Bookshelves of Doom)

and then this silly/funny robot horror film from the Obama campaign.