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snow on the valley floor

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Friday, March 28, 2008
It's snowing!! They said it might, (they = International Cabal of Meteorologists) but I never believe them because they are prone to ratings-grabbing hysteria and are notoriously unreliable. Maybe I'll start my own faction, the Benevolent Order of Intuitive Weather. We'll be wrong a lot too, but no one will expect Intuitive Meteorologists to be right, so we'll SEEM right more often. When they (ICM) say in that teasing way on the evening news "will we see snow in portland?" the answer is almost always "no" for most of the city. (the exception being the west hills or wherever it is that people are still somehow in the city limits, yet have enough acreage to keep alpacas.) My point = SNOW! At the end of March! I knew I should have picked daffodils yesterday. I'm sure it will turn to rain very soon; maybe by the time I finish writing this, which would be convenient because then I won't have to brush the snow off my car.

<--- sit here --->

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Thursday, March 27, 2008
Sit Here
another installment in the ongoing saga of ... Love Graffiti At The Park:

I spotted this a couple of weeks ago on the bench part of a picnic table. My shoe was untied and I was looking for a spot to fix it without kneeling in mud. (my right sneaker comes untied AT LEAST once every time I wear them. Obviously I need a remedial right-shoe-tying course or video or something. Maybe I should ask the advice of a competent six-year old. Why only the right shoe? Why so many mysteries lately?) Anyway, imagine my surprise when I looked down and saw SIT HERE marked out with fairly generous arrow (generous considering these were sharpie directions in a public park). CURIOUS. I looked to the right of the arrows and saw the rest of the message, "I LOVE YOU BABYYY!!" What's going on here? Why did he or she have to sit right there? Three Y's? is this a code of some sort, or did the writer simply get carried away by the time they got to the end? I don't think this is the same prankster as the Love Sticker Leaver or the Chestnut Person, but I do think it's funny that 95% of the graffiti in this park is very sweet if a little bizarre.

sit here because I love you babyyy

In Other News, I need to do some remedial right pinkie typing drills, because 4 times out of 5 I don't hit the P key hard enough on this new keyboard and I end up having to do all kinds of backspacing. As problems go, there are worse ones to have. Two days later and I still LOVE my new computer (of course) and am taking much delight in things that would not amuse an eighth-grader for ten minutes: the CD cover screensaver, for one -- I put it on just to watch them go! and also the ridiculously fun photo booth program. It's so silly and limited, but that's what I love about it. I have been pushing buttons and holding things up to the camera and having a fine old time. The cats are not amused, BUT I AM! I like that it's so limited -- in a lot of ways that makes it easier to experiment.

And now I must go read the last segment of Joann Sfar's Vampire Loves graphic novel. (Lithuanian emo-nerd vampire Ferdinand has a record collection and lady problems. It's really pretty funny. Or if you prefer, from the second link "At once silly and serious, wild and poetic, Joann Sfar’s disquieting tales are filled with intelligence and rich humanity. Vividly illustrated and sensitively written, Vampire Loves is alive with color, wisdom, and humor.")

does this keyboard make my hair look funny?

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I am typing this on a beautiful new macbook. Don't I seem smarter and more attractive? ha! The newfangled keyboard and trackpad are going to take me a while to get accustomed to, I can tell you that much right now. I had the old ones broken in the way I like! Worn smooth! However, I am already accustomed to not having to wait one million years for anything involving video to load. My beloved old laptop was SEVEN YEARS OLD. It roamed the earth with the mastadon; it used to hunt pterodactyls uphill in the snow every winter! It had a noisy letter-skiping keyboard and no battery-life but, of course, I miss it even though it is sitting right over there (---->) on the edge of my desk. It was starting to make ominous clicking noises and refusing to burn CDs, so my sister made the sensible suggestion that instead of waiting for it to fail completely and resorting to desperate expensive measures to save all the data I have spectacularly failed to back up, I could get a new computer now and get everything moved over BEFORE the trouble starts. Done and done! (I was going to get a new computer in the next couple of months anyway, so it's not like I've been compulsively ordering diamond fingernails off the internet or other frivolous shopping.)

all things being equal

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Thursday, March 20, 2008
spring green
Happy Vernal Equinox! -- day and night equal length today, but from here until june it will be longer days. (hooray!) I love spring and summer in this city. I intended this post to be longer, but instead I will keep it short (for now) since, thanks to Martina, I have a ticket to go see Barack Obama at the crack of dawn and I should really go to sleep. It's her birthday (and the first day of spring!) and she gave me a ticket. That's some good birthday karma right there. Happy Birthday, Martina!

Happy Spring, other people in the northern hemisphere! Happy Autumn, people in the southern hemisphere!

cherry pink
this is like the tree that blooms right outside my window. I think it's actually a plum and not a cherry, but "cherry blossom" sounds springier, somehow. today, in perfectly fitting spring weather, there was a freak hail/rain shower with a lot of wind. There were pink petals mixed in with the rest and it was really quite lovely (nature's ticker tape parade!), although I was happy to be inside looking at it rather than outside in the middle of it.

I don't know where else to say it, so I'll say it here: today at the park I saw a hummingbird! The funny thing was, I heard it first! They sound like large bugs -- their wings do make a humming (more of a buzzing, really) sound. What I always forget is that they also make this really distinctive smacking noise when they're looking for food. I would have thought it way to early for hummingbirds, but the green one I saw today thought differently. (it's so funny that I saw one since I was JUST thinking about them the other day.)

Peonies! They look like aliens at this stage. Or shiny cooked cabbage. Cooked cabbage aliens at a dance. "would all cabbage aliens please leave the dance floor?" They always refuse, thank god. They persist, looking strange and not of this earth, leaning on each other and swaying back and forth until May/June when they become some of the most beautiful flowers you've ever seen. (they smell good, too. Way to go, cabbage aliens!)

puddle reflection
this is from tuesday. It's been raining a lot, but also sunny a lot. Usually in the same day. More soon.

confessions of a DEQ scofflaw

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Monday, March 17, 2008
chandelier tree

The tags on my car have expired and I have NO DESIRE to go and get them renewed. They expired on the 2nd of February, but since it doesn't say the day on the little number tag (only the month), I always wait until the end of Feb. to do it. Except this time! Now I am waiting for who knows what. I have no good excuse: I don't anticipate any trouble passing the test, I have the money, it's not far or really even that inconvenient. It's sheer cussed laziness on my part, but now some perverse stubbornness has kicked in; the longer I wait, the less I want to do it. It's getting bad, too -- I find myself running yellow lights, turning without signaling -- being the opposite of extra careful, like I want to get caught and hauled away to DEQ jail! I am at war with myself once again; this time it's the honest law abiding citizen (who, to be fair, is usually in charge) trying to take down the lazy DEQ-ignoring moving-violation petty criminal who has somehow gained ascendance. But the HLAC has to go undercover, like Johnny Depp in 21 Jump Street! I probably should go take care of this tomorrow, before I find myself drag racing or operating an illegal taxi service. It's a cry for help, I tell you.

(the photo is from a road trip in 2005, in which I drove through a tree! not this tree, but a different, roomier tree. It was one of those things where you say to yourself "why the hell would I want to drive through a tree???, but once you get there all sensible objections evaporate and are replaced with the knowledge that yes, I will drive through a tree. I have to say that the gift shops in the redwoods, particularly anywhere in the vicinity of a drive through tree, are really TOP NOTCH for kitschy wonderfulness. or awfulness. Really, it's both. Wonderfully awful, awfully wonderful.)

I would name that dog Archie Bunker

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Sunday, March 16, 2008
I saw a dog in the park today that looked just like Archie Bunker if Archie Bunker were a small white dog. (JUST LIKE HIM! I expected him to open his mouth and call me meathead.) Archie Bunker (the dog) reminds me of Paul Anka (the dog) from Gilmore Girls, which reminds me that I have seen The Return of Jezebel James by GG creator Amy Sherman-Palladino. I want to like it, but I can't quite get there.

First, the good: I like Parker Posey; I like Lauren Ambrose, even though it looks like she doesn't have any eyebrows; I like Diane Weist, even though her character seems (thus far) to be a sloppy outline of "neurotic mother who makes her daughters crazy in opposite ways." I thought that one of the best moments of the first two 1/2 hour episodes was the interaction between Sarah (Posey) and a random little girl in her office -- Sherman-Palladino writes believable (to me, anyway) smart little girls.

On the other hand: the laugh track has got to go. (OH MY GOD! Why are they still using these? If it's funny, I'll laugh all by myself, I promise!) I know a series has to hit the ground running these days, but other half-hour comedies have shown that there are ways to introduce characters and their quirks without bludgeoning the audience. (30 Rock, The Office, My Name is Earl for example.) I felt like they were wasting a lot of their very limited time belaboring some pretty obvious information. I think this show would work better if it were a one hour drama that is also funny, like say... Gilmore Girls.

In other news, I just checked my library hold list, and the new Lubtisch Musicals box set is in transit to me! I am so looking forward to Maurice Chevalier being dapper and dirty in what the link above refers to as "these elegant, bawdy films, made before strict enforcement of the Hays morality code." Elegant and bawdy -- you don't see that in combination too much these days, at least that I'm aware of. Feel free to enlighten me.

Relatedly, this post at Bright Lights After Dark tackles the issue of the short guy's burden (particularly Charlie Ruggles) in "matters of pre-code l'amour."

And speaking of MUSICALS... Joss Whedon is apparently doing a limited internet series musical with Neil Patrick Harris and Nathan Fillion!!! Hooray! Here's a quote from Joss' post at Whedonesque:

"This much I will say: It's the story of a low-rent super-villain, the hero who keeps beating him up, and the cute girl from the laundromat he's too shy to talk to. And I'm having the time of my life.


Neil Patrick Dr. Horrible
Nathan Captain Hammer
Felicia Penny

And a cast of Dozens!

Coming soon."

I can't wait!

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Monday, March 10, 2008
daffodils are blooming! These photos are from years past, but I am willing to testify in a court of law that they look pretty much the same this year.

daffodil bud
in bud

spring is getting closer...
in the rain

in the sun

daffodil (closer)
up close

yellow and orange


hooray! boo! tinfoil hats for everyone!

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Sunday, March 09, 2008
Here is a random sampling of things that have been making me happy lately, in no particular order:

1. Amy Poehler -- Poehler cracks me all the way up! She has a wide streak of unpredictable but generous energy that I always enjoy watching. She doesn't just play the matriarch or the sexpot or the little girl, she's all over the map in the best possible way. She's really smart and she seems like she is HAVING FUN, which makes me happy. Her interview in Bust magazine last year was great -- The Huffington Post has excerpted some of it here. She talks about how she gets her agent to send her parts for guys (since some comedy writers "freeze up" when writing for women), and her "feminist agenda," which is to see more women comics over 30. "You know, when we were growing up, there were female leads in comedies over 30 who actually looked like they could live in your building. Like, Terri Garr, Lily Tomlin, Bette Midler, Diane Keaton --"

anyway, it's a good interview which unfortunately is not online in its entirety. If you happen across the magazine, read the whole thing because she is FUNNY.

2. Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens are both visible and gorgeous from portland today. (sometimes the clouds hide them completely.) Both very snowy and scenic in the distance.

3. 30 Rock -- Just got season one (from the library!) and I can't believe I haven't been watching this all along. I'd seen an episode or parts of episodes here and there, but OH MY GOD. (there is one part I saw in a promo which my sister and I often repeat to each other, which ALWAYS ends in helpless giggles -- it's Alec Baldwin's Jack Donaghy saying "Of course I'm in a tuxedo, it's after six o'clock. What am I? A farmer?" -- just the way he stretches out the word farmer makes me laugh and laugh and laugh. That it works completely devoid of context is a testament his talent and to how sharp the writing is on this show.)

Everyone is so good! Tina Fey I loved (so much!) already, Tracy Morgan is perfect here -- "they said I smoked crack. I don't smoke crack, I am straight up mentally ill!" (I had limited tolerance for him on SNL -- he was either brilliant or exhausting.) And of course Alec Baldwin, who is so very good at what he does. (The whole fracas around Alec Baldwin's behavior in his personal life gets me wondering about the line between public art and private life and how much the latter should influence opinion of the former. (but then there are celebutantes whose private life is a huge part of their public... I hesitate to say art, so let's say offerings. it gets confusing.) I haven't really gotten to an articulate place with this wondering, but since I just had a conversation with a friend who was conflicted about having broken her Woody Allen ban, it's on my mind.)

I can't believe I watched that trainwreck Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and didn't watch 30 Rock from the beginning. I mean, I probably STILL would have watched the other, but my bitching would have been more varied with this to compare it to.

4. Maira Kalman -- !!! "She dated George Gershwin, for God's sake!" I just started reading The Principles of Uncertainty and it is so good I can't stand it. I love her use of color, her oddball obsessions (some of which I share) and that she kept a diary through paintings. She is thoughtful, melancholy, hopeful and whimsical. I wish I could paint! This book is made up of work from her NYT blog, but it's so nice to hold in your hands and look at it on paper. I recommend a) buying the book (I still can't believe I found it for 3.98! it was meant to be) or b) putting the book on hold at your local library.

you make me feel like slapping:
Vampire Weekend: slap, slap, slap, slap. I'd read the odd headline here and there, but not really followed the Vampire Weekend phenomenon. I was, of course, excited that there was a song about Oxford Commas (anything to do with punctuation or parts of speech or counting or alphabets is usually alright by me), but I listened to it and was kinda "eh." I mean, it was okay, but it did not thrill me. Maybe the subliminal taint of the inevitable backlash had worked its way to my uninformed brain. The song didn't stir animosity in my heart or anything, I just didn't care. I didn't care at all, that is, until I saw them last night on SNL -- now my overwhelming desire is to somehow transport myself through time and space so I can slap them each individually during that performance. They made me mad just looking at them! This so rarely happens! (although I also have the same reaction to Matthew McBlahblah and GWB-- I think it is a reflex located near the perhaps overly sensitive smugness detectors in my brain.) They seem DESIGNED to elicit this response, so I must assume that this is an art band whose objective is to irritate mild mannered viewers into fits of open-handed slapping. What's up with that? They reminded me of nothing so much as the Squares (Baldwin and the Whiffles, specifically) from John Waters' Cry Baby. What I wanted more than anything was for Wade "Cry-Baby" Walker (or Uncle Belvedere Rickettes, even) to come roaring onto the stage and launch into some impossibly, hilariously lewd rockabilly anthem.

slap, slap, slap, slap.

On the other hand, maybe they just caught me at a bad time. I'm fully aware that my reaction is irrational and they're probably perfectly nice.

Tinfoil Hat Alert: apropos of nothing so much as the date, did you know that the GOLF LOBBY is one of the biggest proponents of Daylight Savings Time?!?! I hope this is some kind of internet hoax, because I don't know that I can wrap my head around bending time for the whole nation in order to sell more golf clubs.

three key mystery

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Friday, March 07, 2008
What a strange day! I had high hopes for getting a bunch of stuff done since I wasn't working anywhere today, but instead spent the morning in a weird weepy fog. Yesterday was good, things are generally going well, but I was inexplicably sad all morning. I did manage to drag myself out the door and head down to the park -- eyes puffy, nose red, etc. A VISION OF GLAMOUR, as always.

On my way there I ran into the park guy who always reminds me of the kind of shifty diplomat in a third world country that appears in certain cinematic thrillers. He's the fatcat american who is charming but untrustworthy, although you are forced to work with him at some point near the very end when he either helps or betrays you -- whichever suits his purposes. He's probably not like my imaginary shifty diplomat/embassy employee at all -- would a shifty diplomat have a standard poodle that loves to chase squirrels? I doubt it! This guy has been nothing but cordial to me; I don't know why my brain insists on making him a shifty u.s. diplomat in a banana republic. Observation #1: the brain is a mysterious organ/realm/zone.

Once at the park, I found three keys. How weird is that? THREE KEYS. Two of them were together -- at first I thought they were luggage keys (like keys for old hard-sided aqua-colored samsonite. I had a good ponder about who would be dragging samsonite through the park in the middle of the night and so on, as one does), but then I figured they were more likely keys to a bike lock or something more prosaic than hard-sided aqua-colored samsonite. They were shiny and silver with jagged even teeth. I put them in my pocket. Observation #2: I think I want some hard-sided aqua-colored samsonite. Observation #2a: am I turning into a park kleptomaniac?

I walked some more. My ipod struggled to cheer me up, the sun struggled to shine, the dog-humans struggled to throw tennis balls far enough to please their furry masters. Something caught my eye at the base of a tree -- another key! how weird. This one was gold and had a round circular tag on it that said "garage, 35.00" in little old lady cursive. (you know the kind.) I left it there, but had to pick it up the next time I went by. Three keys in one day! I'd like to think that it has some meaning because it is just so strange, but I suspect it is Observation #3: I will pick up shiny things.

As for my mood, I am feeling much better. It finally started raining for real here, so maybe I was picking up some bad barometer vibes or some other Milli-Vanilli Blame It On The Rain Malady.

wednesday? seriously?

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Wednesday, March 05, 2008
spotted pony
(this charming spotted pony is part of the Portland horse project, in which people attach tiny plastic horses to curbs with horse rings. If you follow the link, be sure to look at the Portland Pony Pictures on the sidebar; there are some very dramatic poses.)

Where has this week gone? I am way behind! It has been hard for me to keep my butt in my chair long enough to write up anything. (sun shining. mind wandering. spring fever imminent.) You know what?  I miss january's blog a day project! I never would have been this far behind back in the halcyon days of JANUARY, when it was rainy and miserable and dark at 2pm.  I am going to have to go to list form. (I love how I make it sound like a list is the method of last resort and not the only thing I would ever do if I thought I could get away with it.)

fun at the library: There was this young guy with tattoos everywhere (including knuckle tattoos: TRUE LOVE) who was ridiculously excited that his book on the history of barbershops was in. He couldn't find his stuff on the shelf (sometimes holds are misfiled or the patron is alphabetically challenged), so I went and got it for him. When I came back to the counter and put his books down he was so happy -- "I've been waiting for this!!" which made me happy because a) it is so random, b) someone else in the system was really excited about the history of barbershops, because my knuckle tattoo guy had to wait.

sometimes you have to adjust your thinking: I went to one of my favorite casual family thai places for work lunch earlier this week. I was originally planning on grabbing a sandwich at the fancy grocery store and going to the park, but it was raining so I decided indoor dining would be better. This place is really good, really cheap and really close to work. Anyway, the first time I went there for work lunch with my book I was seated at one of the small tables along the wall -- no problem, although it was small enough I had to do some rearranging to fit everything and still read. This time the guy took me up to the front and a big table for four. At first I was all hooray! room for my book (it's v. good), but then I became paranoid that this was the next step to making me sit outside; that I was being exiled to the corner. Fortunately sanity returned and I realized that I had the best table in the place! I was facing the window, could see out onto Hawthorne AND I could still eavesdrop on everyone sitting behind me. (they were unfortunately boring, but that's not the restaurant's fault.)


something new every day: Author Marc Acito takes on the challenge of one new thing a day to shake himself out of a rut. I love this idea!

Can you resist?? Werner Herzog and Errol Morris are talking to each other in The Believer. I could listen to those crazy weirdos all day! "Despite all of our efforts to control something, the world is much, much more powerful than us, and more deranged even than us." More deranged even than us, indeed.

sidewalk love: check this out at fluxtumblr. It cheered me tremendously -- I love sidewalk philosophers. (although it seems to be seven signs of love short! maybe it's the first in a series of sidewalk romance epiphanies.)

the fortune cookie to which I aspire: Best Fortune Cooke Ever, via boing boing. I am pleased to say that my fortune cookies have been getting better, although they're not that good yet. After months, perhaps YEARS of "good things come to those who wait. Be patient." and "Acceptance is the key to peace of mind" and other platitudes of patience that made me made me want to stamp my feet (good thing they come wrapped in a cookie), things are starting to look up. Fortune cookies in the last two weeks have included "One who admires you greatly is hidden before your eyes" (hilarious!); and a rare double fortune in one cookie that informed me 1)"you have a keen sense of humor and bring out the best in others" (lame) and 2)"You would prosper in the field of wacky inventions" (AWESOME!)

portland video: I wish I could remember how I came across this Scout Niblett video; it is lovely, lovely, creepy and sweet. It was filmed in portland and features Will Oldham in a skeleton costume, a bridge (steel bridge?), Sauvie Island and much, much more. Youtube video below, link to high-res version here.


march arrives, mars attacks!

| On
Saturday, March 01, 2008
Happy new month!

March first already -- I can hardly believe it. February was a bit of a foggy blur, somehow. (foggy blur sounds like a lame batman villain excuse: "I don't know, officer. I was just standing here minding my own business and then everything went, you know, foggy and blurry. When I came to I was as surprised as you are to see myself in this fog suit. I know nothing about the mayor of Gotham being bound and gagged in the trunk of my car or about the sixteen canvas bags stamped with dollar signs and full of non-consecutive twenties that one would assume, if one knew anything about this, are to keep him from rolling around and making noise.")

favorite overheard comment at the library this week: "I'm not a hippie, I'm an anarchist! We hate hippies! ... I eschew all labels!" (she was fooling around when she said it, but it was still funny!)

most difficult to decipher note made during Decemberists' Concert last month, just looked at by me today: Maybe I should have looked at my notes a little sooner because I have NO IDEA what "eyebrow devils" means. EYEBROW DEVILS?? I must also note that there is definitely room for improvement in my rock show penmanship.

Deep Prince thought: So, I was walking in the park today listening to my ipod (as is my habit), and Let's Go Crazy came on. Many times I'll skip older songs so I don't wear myself out on them. (more likely: my ipod, which is either dying a slow electronic death or nearing sentience, will refuse to let me skip or randomly skip songs itself.) Anyway -- Let's Go Crazy, says Prince. Okay, says me. The lyrics that jumped out at me this time are ones that make me think that people who say that Prince is the modern incarnation of those sexy mystic poets of yore (Donne, Marvell, Kabir, etc.) are on to something:

We're all excited
But we don't know why
Maybe it's 'cause
We're all gonna die
And when we do
What's it all for
You better live now before the grim reaper
Come knocking on your door, tell me
Are we gonna let de-elevator bring us down,
oh, no,
let's go

Let's go crazy
Let's get nuts

I know you could argue it down to the "hey, baby you know you want to/carpe diem (in my pants!)" school of poetry, but I think there's more to it than that; the fear of god is present as well. (Metaphysics of Prince 101 -- I would totally take this class!)

Sick in the right way: I love this post at Said the Gramophone (and the song, too):"Huey "Piano" Smith suffers from chronic and severe cases of both rockin' pneumonia and boogie-woogie flu. Such a dual affliction is admittedly as rare as steak tartare, but Smith's song, prototypically symptomatic of his condition, leaves no doubt about the authenticity of his so-called suffering. [...] In fact, so profound is Smith's case that not even Jonas Salk himself would be capable of finding a cure. Thank goodness then that the man known as "Piano" learned to live with his ailment, even joining forces with the similarly sick: namely, a baritone sax player, who, if my ears do not deceive me, has a mean case of R&B fever, and a drummer with whooping cough of soul.

(there is some really funny and wonderful text represented by ellipses above, so you'd best go over there and check it out.)

And now, some photos for the first of March:

march hellebore
I think a hellebore on March 1 should become a new blog tradition. This, like last year, was taken at the garden center since I don't have any hellebores of my own. (why don't I? They're so pretty!)

garden center landscape
Oooh -- these were fun. There was plastic wrapped around the edges of the usually open building to keep it a little warmer for the plants, which made a surprisingly good backdrop for a photo. This one looks kind of asian to me.

early cherry
this was from the 28th -- cherries starting to bloom at laurelhurst park. Hooray!