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goodbye april, I'll miss you

| On
Thursday, April 30, 2009
I'm so tired and need to go to sleep, but I wanted to take a minute to say sayonara to the month of April, which was really a pretty good one for me. It's been busy, but I've got ideas and plots and schemes, all of which are necessary for a kindly disposed to the world Jen.

Amazing links, philosophical thoughts, and photos of puddles coming soon!

p.s. I just got a great (so great!) haircut that I think may actually give me super powers. I'm going to try bending spoons with my eyes tomorrow -- I'll let you know how it goes. It may just be that I have the power of sassy hair, which I promise to use only (mostly) for good.

p.p.s. everyone who is awesome: thank you so much! I really appreciate it even if I don't say so very often. I think it all the time. (If you read this and wonder am I awesome? the answer is probably yes.)

odd but fun and fine

| On
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
softball and movie trucks

They are filming a big movie somewhere around here this week and my park is full of movie trucks. They go pretty much around two full sides of the park. It's weird but novel and interesting to me. Since I go there almost every day, I can give you ratings on the security guards: The old guys are not too fast and like to sit down but they see it all. (Including cameras -- I got into a huge argument IN MY HEAD about how it was a public place and you fascists can cram it, I can take a picture if I want. Of course they were completely unconcerned with me and my camera, so that was yet another unnecessary brain argument.) Today there were really young security guys, both of whom I think I could defeat in a dazzling war of wits by throwing a rock in the opposite direction. One looked harried and worried, the other was practicing his karate moves and looked like an observe and report style mustachioed sociopath. (I'm sure he's very nice and can probably break a two by four with his forehead.)

at the park

Anyway, it's been funny to see how all these little pieces of Things Happening at the park made sense once I figured out what was going on. About a month ago, they put in an electrical meter thingummy so there was a lot more power than needed by little league. About a week before the trucks actually arrived they started marking off parking (it was just the frames but no permit). I thought they were going to repave the road, although I couldn't figure out why they were only going to pave half of it! Then of course I thought they were going to film IN THE PARK and maybe they are, but I kind of think now they're just using it for staging because it's the only place nearby convenient for forty billion trucks full of equipment.

(I am probably totally wrong, but I like to have a working theory.)

In trying to figure out what was going on I found this site, which not only helped me make a pretty good guess as to what movie it is, (my money is on "untitled crowley project"), but also has a lot of pictures of oregon and many tax incentives. Ooh, the "search locations" feature is fun! I just found 8 potential Alien Landscapes (in the "doubles" section), and I've only been to about 4 of them!

raining, pouring, snoring (whaling)

| On
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
big puddle reflection

It is late and it's raining and this photo is from several days ago, but I think that this is probably what it will look like tomorrow, so it's like a picture OF THE FUTURE from the past. Like that. (it is late! and it's raining!)

My schedule has gone petite bananas for the last few days (lots of spur of the moment "I can be there in an hour" sub jobs), so I haven't had time to post the things I wanted to post, but I did want to say that just yesterday I helped an Abe Lincoln Beard Victim who was only SEVENTEEN and wearing a plaid shirt. (clearly of the pioneer timber town throwback school of abe lincoln facial hair.) He was trying to do the right thing by paying off some fines, and I was trying to do the right thing by not asking inappropriate facial hair questions. We both were successful, and there was much rejoicing across the land.

In other news, I think I might have to make a reading schedule for myself, which feels weird and wrong, but it's the only way I'm going to ever get through Moby Dick (and other long books I wish to read), which is ridiculous because it is completely charming and soon to be completely bonkers once Ahab gets WHALE FEVER. (I suppose he already has the fever, it just is waiting to be reignited.) Whenever I read it I have heart-eyes for Melville, but somehow it is too easy to put it down and not pick it up again.

Anyway, here's a little bit that charmed me regarding my beloved butter and the propriety and pecking order of the cabin table. (Flask is low man on the cabin table totem pole.) "Least of all, did Flask presume to help himself to butter. Whether he thought the owners of the ship denied it to him on account of its clotting his clear, sunny complexion; or whether he deemed that, on so long a voyage in such marketless waters, butter was at a premium, and therefore was not for him, a subaltern; however it was, Flask, alas! was a butterless man!"

A butterless man! such an evocative description.

open letter

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Friday, April 24, 2009
Dear Every Guy in Portland Who Has an Abe Lincoln Beard (and there are a lot of you),

At first I thought you were maybe some pioneer timber-town throwback. It happens; I understand. Now I see you everywhere: young, old, short, tall, hipster, redneck, banker, burglar, made of felt. WHY? Is it just fashion, or some unknowable inner impulse? Do you like the idea of a beard but wish to emancipate yourself from the tyranny of a mustache?


Not Judging, Just Curious

sunny days

| On
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
The clouds are coming back, which means that this bout of portland springtime sunshine is drawing to a close. It's been a magnificent four days though! People are cheery and the plants have exploded from the ground or winter sticks with leaves and blooms. Daffodils are on the wane and dandelions are on the rise. Grass grew inches overnight. I OPENED THE WINDOWS! Even though it happens every year around this time, it's still like the best kind of surprise.

Now I need to go close the windows and put on some socks, but here are some pictures from yesterday, which was the apex of april 09 sunny days if you ask me.

I love this tree -- it's got a sort of curvy akimbo thing going on.

let's have a picnic! What this meadow picture doesn't tell you is that the horseshoe pit is just over to the right, so it's a picnic at your own risk. (although no one was playing horseshoes, so I say let's go for it.) Dandelions and daisies! this is the perfect spot for reading, too. Theoretically. In practice there are crows who demand to know what page you're on and spoil the ending, curious off-leash dogs, runners, bikes, pickpocket squirrels etc. etc.: dangers of a city picnic, but still worth a try! And unlike country picnics, NO BEARS. At least I haven't seen any yet.

beautiful bower
this is a tiny little scrubby tree that reminds me a lot of Dr. Seuss or maybe Sideshow Bob, due to its skinny zig zag trunk and improbable hairdo -- it's one of the loveliest blooming trees I saw yesterday, but it's no showoff. It blooms this way because that's what it does, not because it requires any oohs or aahs from passerby. It makes me happy.

I saw these dappled violets on the way home and it was almost too much! They smell good, too.

Now my bare feet are cold and it's time to get busy on all the things that were pushed aside due to SUN MANIA. All well and good, but I miss the light and gentle heat already. Although I suppose if it were sunny every day, I wouldn't get excited about the prospect of its return.

fancy weather

| On
Tuesday, April 21, 2009

today's weather was obnoxiously beautiful. more on that soon (maybe even before it starts raining again!), but until then here's some fancy tree and sun video action.

people watch in paris

| On
Sunday, April 19, 2009
paper heart

1. fall in (heart) w/o fear [(heart) = drawing of a heart]
2. learn another language
3. Dri Take a gondola ride in Venice
4. kiss the man I (heart) in front of the people watch in Paris
5. See an original Klimt
6. Drive across U.S.
7. Go to the top of the Empire State
8. Write the great Am novel
9. See the great wall
10. learn to cook & enjoy it

This list came into my hands on Saturday -- it was written on an index card and used as a place marker in a library book. One of the pages* who was out shelving brought it over to me at the circ desk and said "it fell out of a book." (you would not believe some of the things that fall out of books.) I'm not sure why she brought it to me, but I'm glad she did.

I think this list, which was written in a scribbly hand with a blue fountain pen, is so... I don't know. Poignant and banal, human and in progress. I have a pretty clear picture in my mind of the person I imagine made this list, but this picture is almost certainly wrong. (I laugh and laugh to think of someone figuring me out from a random 10 list, but the urge to try is impossible to resist!) If only I knew what book it came out of, I would have an even better idea... (if it was a novel, what kind of novel? travel book? self-help book? kick boxing book? cook book?1000 lists to make before you die book?)

*library vocabulary: page = the good people who put the books on the shelves.

dept. of eagles, how may I direct your call?

| On
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Press ONE for EAGLE CAM: on a bald eagle nest in Sidney, British Columbia. There’s more to see during the day, but at night you can hear frogs and crickets.

Press TWO for MUSIC VIDEO: This is creepy/disturbing and beautiful all in one. The dancing ghosts are my favorite.

ION, the sun has been shining and photosynthesis (I ASSUME) has accelerated my spring fever, which means time is bouncing like a super ball and nothing is getting done according to the schedule in my head. But the sun is shining! For now!

briefly bright

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Monday, April 13, 2009
(it has been rainy here, but I went to a great nursery over the weekend and saw some lovely colors.)

cropped hummingbird
HUMMINGBIRD! I know it's kind of blurry, but they're hard to get with a point and shoot. Or at least they are for me.

purple and gold
I want some of these, but of course I can't remember what they're called.

golden bells
this is related to coral bells somehow, perhaps by even BEING coral bells. But I'm not sure.

Since I just deleted several sentences about a suspected mind-wiping force field around the garden center, maybe it's time for me to go to bed...

who knows

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Saturday, April 11, 2009
Here's how it is right now: the moon is low, yellow, an eyelash less than full. There are several bar patrons on the corner singing one of their own a boozy happy birthday (at 12:01), and I don't know. It's spring. I was looking through a Simic book to find something short and a good fit for the time and season -- I was debating between a couple that were almost right but not quite right for the moon, then people started singing so that changed the search a bit. Then I remembered that E.E. Cummings was big on spring so I pulled that off the shelf and found one with the moon as a balloon and there you have it.

who knows if the moon's
a balloon,coming out of a keen city
in the sky--filled with pretty people?
(and if you and i should

get into it,if they
should take me and take you into their balloon,
why then
we'd go up higher with all the pretty people

than houses and steeples and clouds:
go sailing
away and sailing into a keen city
which nobody's ever visited,where

Spring)and everyone's
in love and flowers pick themselves

E.E. Cummings

state of april (blooming)

| On
Thursday, April 09, 2009
Now is the season in which we residents of portland must remember to take claritin or PAY THE TERRIBLE CONSEQUENCE. (sneezing, watery, itchy eyes, etc and so on.) There is pollen everywhere.

white camellia
the camellias are going like gangbusters right now. (gangbusters? what the hell, brain?) They are SO BEAUTIFUL, but then they drop off the tree and make a huge decomposing mess beneath. But the good part is very very good.

spring: very exciting!
I see green! (no, really! it's there.)

purple tulips
this tulip picture cost me .50 in late fines at the library. It's not very interesting, so I will add pirates. I was walking to the library with the intention of taking a walk, returning books due the day before right before opening to avoid fines, picking up some books and walking home. Perfectly ordinary! I tried this last week and just missed it by 10 minutes, which was due to being ready to leave and then deciding to change my socks at the last minute. This time, I felt pretty sure I was going to MAKE IT. Unfortunately for this plan it was a beautiful sunny day, which meant I stopped to take a lot of pictures. There were pirates having some kind of sword fight on the brick retaining wall and I had to wait TWO MINUTES for them to clear out of my way to snap this picture, which meant I was two minutes late, which meant I didn't get my books in on time to avoid the fine. Pirates, you owe me some money.

under looking up
I love this weeping cherry, even though they give it the same awful dutch boy haircut every year. But from underneath you can't tell.

spring sky
this is what the sky looked like today. Not raining, exactly, but not not raining either. (it is raining now.)

you're wonderful gimme your hands

| On
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
1) I have spent the last few days painting what seemed like 100000 linear feet of wall, but was actually an average hallway. I'm happy to be finished!

2) based on my 100000 linear feet calculations, I feared I would develop forearms like Popeye. NOT A GOOD LOOK FOR ME. Although maybe it's just what I need for these giant anchor tattoos to make sense.

3) I listened to Ziggy Stardust all the while (minus two hours). I hadn't listened to it in a long time -- is there a bad song on that record? The answer is no! I know it's a crazy spaceman glam rock opera (my eyes are shaped like hearts just thinking about it), but all of these songs -- even those that are crazed spaceman glam rock opera exposition, hang together apart from the larger Ziggy framing device, which is not something every rock opera manages.

4) watching Ziggy-era Bowie videos on YouTube, I have come to the conclusion that Tilda Swinton would look great in all his clothes. Someone build a time machine so that they might play androgynous glam rock SPACE TWINS in a movie, please.

5) I should have painted a crazy spaceman glam rock opera mural in the hallway. Maybe next time.

6) here's a live performance from 1972 of the closing track, Rock 'n' Roll Suicide, which sounds like it should be a bummer, but it isn't and I LOVE IT.

"Oh no love! you're not alone/ You're watching yourself but you're too unfair/ ... / You're not alone gimme your hands/ You're wonderful gimme your hands"

Magic Books & Paper Toys

| On
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
by Esther K. Smith (2008)

This is a great book! I've always been interested in paper and paper folding, so when I saw this title at the library I was intrigued. The cover is compelling, but the insides are even more so. (Actually, both covers are compelling: Magic Books and Paper Toys each have their own half of the book, joined by instructions for a pleated möbius strip -- you have to flip it over to read the other.) There are instructions for pop ups and cootie catchers, flip books and hexaflexagons (there are directions for flexagons of all kinds, but hexaflexagon is the most fun to say), snake books, map folds, accordion flip flaps (!), magic wallets, spinners (aka thaumatropes) and a lot more besides. The project photography is appealing and the hand drawn how-to diagrams are very easy to follow -- extremely helpful for some of the more complicated folds. I've had this book from the library for a couple of months, but now someone wants it back -- before I've mastered the hexaflexagon! curses! But I've had it long enough to decide that it would be a fine addition to my permanent craft book collection.

grow sweetly wild

| On
Monday, April 06, 2009
The Other Kingdoms

Consider the other kingdoms. The
trees, for example, with their mellow-sounding
titles: oak, aspen, willow.
Or the snow, for which the peoples of the north
have dozens of words to describe its
different arrivals. Or the creatures, with their
thick fur, their shy and wordless gaze. Their
infallible sense of what their lives
are meant to be. Thus the world
grows rich, grows wild, and you too,
grow rich, grow sweetly wild, as you too
were born to be.

by Mary Oliver, from The Truro Bear and Other Adventures

April is National Poetry Month! I like this poem a lot and think it goes nicely with the trailer for Where the Wild Things Are.

The Unfortunate Miss Fortunes

| On
Friday, April 03, 2009
by Jennifer Crusie, Eileen Dreyer, Anne Stuart (2007)

The Unfortunate Miss Fortunes are three magical sisters living in Salem's Fork, West Virginia. Their flighty but gifted parents are long dead under what now appear to be suspicious circumstances -- the girls have been on the run, trying to conceal their talents and live normal lives, but of course this is complicated when you can turn into a bird or change your clothes without taking them off or throw things at people without lifting a finger.

Let's meet the sisters: Dee Fortune (power of: shape shifter!) is the overly serious, red-haired, responsible oldest sister; Lizzie Fortune (power of: alchemy!) is the peacemaker middle sister with hippie skirts, long blonde hair, and the wildest, most potentially world-disruptive magic; Mare Fortune (power of: telekinesis and perfect movie recommendations!) is the impetuous black-haired baby of the family. They each have a signature color (green, purple and blue, respectively) which is usually expressed in little puffs of colored smoke in moments of high emotion. (reminiscent of the three fairy godmothers in Disney's Sleeping Beauty.) Xan is the villainous witch-aunt of a certain age who wants their power and will take it any way she can.

The title of the novel and the name of the town indicate that Jennifer Crusie, Eileen Dreyer, and Anne Stuart set out to write a fast and funny book filled with sister-power, romance, and cartoon evil -- a worthy destination! It reminds me of the TV show Charmed. I don't think it's just because of the obvious three magical sisters similarities, but also because it aims for the same kind of cheesy, breezy, danger-kissing-RUN-stop-sexy dance-I smite thee target. Fun, sometimes almost scary, but it doesn't take itself very seriously. It's safe unless you're Shannen Doherty.

But maybe it's too safe! I think this book could have taken itself a little more seriously -- I definitely get that these three authors love each other's company -- a lot of that fun comes through, but it also has a wide stripe of slapdash, "hey ladies! let's write a supernatural romance novel!" It seems possible that with three powerhouses like this writing (between them over 100 novels published), they held back a bit or didn't give it as much attention as they would a standalone novel.

One of the problems of a collaborative novel with this much plot is that it feels all crammed up; three separate romance novels representing three separate styles duke it out (each author takes a sister), all while trying to serve the overarching story. Dee is featured in a secret sheik/greek billionaire-style romance, Lizzie receives humid tutoring from a powerful (and sexy, of course) sorcerer, and Mare faces job/destiny/little sister issues and the complications of long-lost love.

I love Jennifer Crusie. She doesn't just write couples, she writes communities; her characters all live in a larger world. She reminds me of Austen in this regard -- you don't just get Eliza Bennett and Mr. Darcy giving each other incendiary looks across the dance floor, you get her sisters and his snobby friends and so and so's Aunt Mary noticing and offering their opinions, asked for or not. I haven't read Eileen Dreyer or Anne Stuart apart from this collaboration so I'm not sure what their regular style is, but I do know I could spot the Crusie sections in a hot minute -- they were where the world got bigger while remaining intimate. (She wrote for Mare, and I think Xan, but I'm not positive on the latter.) I would love to read a solo-Crusie supernatural novel.

I had a few moments of true enjoyment while reading this book, but it mostly felt like a middling episode of Charmed when I suspect it could have been like a GREAT episode of Charmed.

rainy day bicycle

| On
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
I decided to walk to the library today because it's spring and because I had ants in my pants and a hold to pick up. It was raining (like always), cold and windy, but by the time I got far enough to think "maybe later would be better" I was already wet and decided to go with it. It turned into a nice walk -- it's just over a mile each way with one steep hill, but I get to go through a fancy neighborhood with grand old trees.

ANYWAY. I passed one bicycle chained to a street sign, then another and another. This is what NE Portland looked like during the rainiest part of April 1, if you happened to be in the vicinity of a bike chained to a street sign or bus stop.

rain bicycle
It was raining so hard! But my jacket is waterproof and look at all that green.

Rain Bicycle
this is on my shortcut route. Later in the season the sidewalks right across this street will be covered with pink petals. (please note my heroic effort not to put any flower pictures in this post.)

rain bicycle (library)
this one right outside the library almost doesn't count because it's not chained to a street sign, but I do wonder what happened to that paper bag hooked onto the handlebars. There's no way the bag handles would survive the soaking they were getting.

rain bicycle (bus stop)
bus stop, wet day, she's there, I say /Please share my umbrella/ Bus stop, bus goes, she says, love grows/Under my umbrella.

Due respect to The Hollies, but there were no umbrellas, nobody (but me walking by) and not even the bus. Just this bike chained up. I wonder if it's planning an outing on its own.

All in all, a very satisfying (if soaking) walk. The coffee shop I walk right by on my way home was making toast, which I could smell for most of the block. (I didn't stop to get any, but it turns out that toast smells really good when you're cold and wet.)