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delicious crime pastry

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Friday, May 29, 2009
speed bump

the boring news is that I've been having computer issues again, or still. I think they're related to the ones I was having before -- index problems, mostly. I'm chasing down a fix (I think I'm close!) but should it come down to it, I have a recent backup and if I need a new hard drive they're not that expensive or difficult to install. It could be worse! It's either mostly fixed right now, or I'm in some eye of the hurricane moment of calm. (now I have Eye of the Tiger stuck in my head. Thanks a lot, computer problem!)

In other news, last night I had a dream where I stumbled across a Russian organized crime ring that was involved in... (are you ready?)... PASTRY SMUGGLING! There was a non-descript storefront, and then a whole James Bond-style crime warehouse full of crime pastry. Sweet delicious crime pastry. One of the gangsters was trying to convince the boss to get into the pizza game and presented him with a beautifully colored but conceptually difficult pie made of grated beets and pepperoni. Then I woke up, the end.

wash yr hands

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

So, last week I went over to my friend Blondie's house to have lunch and hang out. It was a lovely day! We looked at the vegetable garden she put in*, we looked at the amazing quilts she's been making (she's a fantastic fiber artist) and I met her new cat Deter. The sun was shining, lunch was delicious and I finally got to give her the birthday present I've been hanging on to for SIX MONTHS. I gave her handsoap . Hee hee. (it makes me laugh every time I look at it!) I made her promise me that she'd actually use it -- by the pictures she sent me later that night I can see that she is:

(I find this freaky yet hilarious.)

(lettuce head babies, the natural rival of the cabbage patch kid.)

*the entire city of portland is preparing for the impending collapse of large-scale commercial agriculture by planting vegetable gardens. I have seen more front yard raised beds than ever before! I made a bamboo pyramid for my beans to climb and am wishing for one of my near neighbors to get egg-laying chickens. (although since it's a bar on one side and a compulsive sidewalk washer on the other, I'm not holding my breath.)

reading the signs

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Saturday, May 23, 2009
take one

(note: I am sunburned! or sunburnt! barely, but still.)

A couple of weeks ago for Mother's Day, my sister and I took our mom to one of her favorite nurseries near Salem. Usually these gardens are in full bloom in early May, but due to our long cold winter they're a couple weeks behind. Almost nothing was blooming! We had fun anyway, as is our habit. My favorite thing about this garden (which is primarily for selling iris), is the signage. There are a bunch of iris named for cheesy blended drinks or saxophone songs from the 80s, but some have that little extra something.

Fiery Temper
I imagine all the other plants in this bed are stressed out of their minds trying not to piss off Fiery Temper. Rumor has it she stabbed some azaleas who dared ask if that was her natural color. She did it with a garden stake, was immediately remorseful and moved shortly thereafter.

Aggressively Forward
I'm sure I don't need to tell you what's going on here. Some find him charmingly straightforward, others find him obnoxiously full of himself.

This one recites the Poe poem The Bells once a month, every month. (Twice in October, when it is merely a rhizome in the ground keeping time, time, time/ In a sort of Runic rhyme.) As you might imagine, reactions are mixed.

Dangerous Mood
I wonder what it means in the language of flowers when you get a bouquet of these?

Deep Dark Secret
or these? (is the secret about the extra 0 in the price?)

Ominous Stranger
were they sent by the Ominous Stranger? What makes him so Ominous, really? Is it one of those "really pale, only goes out at night, keeps looking at my neck" kind of deals, or is he more of a brooding loner type? Or something more prosaic? (I bet Tintinnabulation knows.)

Tempting Fate
Or, rather than ask anyone, you could just go out with the Ominous Stranger anyway. I'm sure it will probably be fine! Of course you don't mind going to his deserted castle located between a wolf covered mountain and a hyena filled canyon! You'd love to meet his orphaned niece and nephew in need of a governess, who happen to be creepy twins in matching tattered velvet outfits. (THEY ARE 13!) Sure, you'd like a drink and it doesn't bother you at all that there is something dissolving in the bottom of it, and that the O.S. "isn't thirsty" because he "had a drink yesterday" and "doesn't"

Hmmm. I have a strong intuition...

.... okay, seriously! I'm going to have to send Fiery Temper along to shout some sense into you. Tempting Fate is one thing, but you go too far.

orange makes it alright

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Thursday, May 21, 2009
orange poppies

I'd planned on something different for tonight, but when I got home from work I didn't feel like doing much more than sitting on the couch. It was a long day.

(work involved, among other things, being told "you're so nice, but don't work so hard. We've got all day to do this" by a co-worker, and literally running to the travel section to placate a cranky russian five minutes after closing. "You have five copies! they told me! I drive forty minutes to get here!" I have a feeling he ran a host of other errands in that forty minutes, but he managed to be charming enough in his faux-outrage to get me to do what he wanted.)

orange poppies

orange poppies are good, though. These are blooming like mad in my front yard right now.

orange poppies

They don't last too long, but they're awfully pretty while they're here.

wordstock: aimee bender

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009
I cleaned out my bag and found the little notebook I used to take notes at Wordstock. Remember Wordstock? It was six months ago! I can hardly believe it. I planned on writing up everything I saw shortly after it occurred, but that never happened due to laziness or craziness or both. Like usual. There's a bright side! This extra time means I no longer feel like venting my spleen about dumb things that irritated me, yet I'm still filled with good feelings about that which pleased me -- the magical old fashioned TEST OF TIME. (I do not always pass the test of time, so it's exciting for me to see that it's possible.)

November 8, 2008: Aimee Bender was the first writer I saw read at '08 Wordstock and she was great! She read her short story Dearth from the (excellent) collection Willful Creatures. If you are familiar with her stories, it's the one with the potato children. If you are unfamiliar with her stories, it's the one with potato children. (potato children!) You should read it again or for the first time because it is wonderful and bizarre, weird and beautiful, earthy and potato solid.

I love her stories and am surprised to find that I love them more now than I did when I first read them. (I liked them a lot then.) They're sticky on the brain -- little bits adhere when I'm thinking of other, seemingly unrelated things all the time. Her stories are often in the style of fairy tale or fable; even though they take place in the more or less recognizable modern world, their spirit is aligned with the old fairy tale notion that it's dark and dangerous in the wood rather than the more contemporary sparkly tidy Disney happily ever after. She acknowledges the darkness inherent in being a flesh and blood human with dreams and desires, but there's also that spark of hope and grace. Some stories are more than a little disturbing, some made me laugh outright. Her characters want things that are not always wise for them to have. I like her stuff.

After she read her story in full, she did a question and answer session. I'm sure I've been aided by time erasing the memory of the painfully awful questions that crop up in every single author Q/A I've ever witnessed, but the questions were good. Or maybe I only wrote down the good ones. Or maybe she answered even the bad questions with good answers. (some people are really skilled at this. Of writers I've seen read, Steve Almond, Neil Gaiman, Michael Chabon, and Charles Simic are all master straw questions into gold answers people. I think some of it has to do with practice and answering a lot of questions on book tours or in a classroom, but I also think it demonstrates a generosity of spirit. In any case, if you have the opportunity to see any of them read you should take it!)

Here's a rough recap of the questions and answers -- a lot of people asked about her writing process.

What are you reading?

Alice Munro. (she indicated that she was late to the Alice Munro party, but being late was better than not showing up at all.) (note to self: look into Alice Munro.)

How did the potato story come about?

She answered that she writes for a set period of time every day and sees what bubbles up -- but mostly it was born from a love of the word potato, which she indicated is fun to say as much as possible.

I can't really tell from my notes, but I think this next bit was a continuation of the "how" question:

She talked about the fairy tale style of storytelling, and how she liked working with it because the plot is imposed on the character rather than motivated by character. Her (the character's) psychology is expressed through how she responds to this metaphorical world.

Do you set an agenda?

No -- then the story is no longer following its own rules. (quote by v. woolf about agenda corrupting the writer's intent. of course I didn't write down the quote, just that there was one.)

Your stories seem to often be about frustrated people trying to connect. How do you connect?

How we connect and don't is a lifelong obsession!

Someone asked about poetry (my notes said to look up Denis Johnson, so she must have mentioned him.)

She said she's influenced by it, but doesn't write it. Fiction that feels more like a poem is the fiction she loves best. (ME TOO!)

How do you write?

2.5 hours a day, 5-6 days a week. She does have to force herself, or she'd not do it. 2 hours when she gets up, then she STOPS. She makes herself sit through the restlessness. She found it incredibly helpful to change the way she thought about writing and impose this structure.

She jumps around while writing and works on more than one project at a time. If you keep doing it, the work will accumulate. Always working, but you can't force where the work happens.

Novels are tough. (note: I haven't read her full-length novel yet, only her stories.)

Write what you're interested in that day. Not what you think, but what you are. It allows for a lot of freedom.

On not naming her characters: There are advantages and disadvantages to not naming them. She likes archetypal quality of not naming. It confers the advantages of staying in the world of fairy tale and myth.

photo note: the author photo was one I found on the internet from a reading she did at Book Soup. She looked pretty much like this at our reading, except instead of being in front of a lot of books, she was in front of a giant screen with her name on it. while looking for a photo, I found that Book Soup also had a podcast of her reading a different story, which you can download here.

potato head photo info here.

video vacations

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Monday, May 18, 2009
Due to the gift of a bird (stunned but still alive) from the orange cat, I am up far ahead of my alarm with no hope of more sleep. Monday starts now!

(The bird is fine and back outside. The cat is beside himself.)

Here are two videos that caught my eye lately, via MBV . They're both lovely and do the trick if you're suffering from early morning bird/cat induced heart palpitations.

first an unofficial Grizzly Bear video and Red Balloon homage:

and next a completely charming sunny and sandy Little Joy vacation movie:

the doctor is in

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Sunday, May 17, 2009
ha! I found this foil while cleaning out my pockets to do laundry. I got it earlier this week wrapped around a piece of free chocolate (one of many in a bowl) that someone left on the table in the lunchroom at work. (it's not really weird thermal green -- I decided it looked better with a little photo booth flair.) The grammar seems a little hinkey to me, but the good thought behind it overrides those concerns. (plus, it gave me an opportunity to say hinkey -- this gift keeps on giving!) For the sake of investigation, I tried one more piece -- but this advice/aphorism was the best.

Now I'm re-gifting the sentiment in case anyone looking needs some encouragement from Dr. Dove. (sorry, I ate the chocolate!)


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Friday, May 15, 2009
Mr. Crow and friend
Mr. Crow and his puddle twin. Which one is the evil twin??? What? Not every set of twins has a good one and an evil one? It's like I know nothing of genetics! Are you sure that applies to crows? Because puddle crow looks a little shifty if you ask me.

I love this tree
I love this tree. The sky looks like this a lot during April/May.

I took this about a week ago -- already it's so different! The green hardens as the season progresses, which sounds nuts but I swear it's true. It's still all soft and tender here. (I don't mean it hardens to become some kind of thuggy green El Seed style plant matter supervillain or anything -- just that the green toughens up a little as the summer approaches.)

trending up

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I've got a bad mood hangover. I think it started with the relentless headache that has been pursuing me for three days. (I ditched it, though! if the headache and I were in a movie with a chase scene, I just duped it with a maneuver so painkiller obvious it will be slapping its hand on the steering wheel and creatively cursing while I laugh and fishtail my convertible into the metaphorical sunset where headaches are personified by movie cliches and my hair flies around attractively instead of whipping me in the eyes. Yee haw!) Where was I? Oh, right. So anyway, I've had this on again off again (now off) headache, I've been feeling generally pathetic and sorry for myself (delightful!), and work was a pain in my ass.

I worked at one of the big regional branches today -- this is one where I love the patrons, the building is beautiful, the staff are all nice, but I swear the feng shui is wrong or something because there are problems every time I go there! Today I only worked 5.75 hours, yet 4.5 of them were on the desk. (this is WAY TOO LONG and against the usual custom of no more than 2 in a row. Public, I love you, but there are limits.) The good part was that I got to issue a lot of new library cards to kids. I love this! Especially the ones who obviously really want the card.

My favorite today was a little boy who was probably right around 7. He had red hair and freckles and filled out the form himself. I always try to talk directly to the kid when I give them the Library Card talk, and I try to make sure I'm really talking to them and not just parroting the laundry list of points to cover, since while it may be the 15th card I've issued in an hour, it's his very first library card ever. I'm sorry to say that I was distracted during our transaction because there was an old lady at the self check machine nearby who had volume control issues. (she reminded me of Principal Skinner's mother on the Simpsons. "SEYMORE! this damned machine doesn't work. How will I check out my erotic fiction?!") I apologized for being distracted and redheaded freckled boy (with glasses!) got his books and I think it was fine.

There was an altercation today that involved teenagers, much voluble swearing and forced ejection. I was helping the wife of a middle aged couple sign up for a new card while this was going on. We were chatting about putting things on hold, while in the distance what had been just part of the background noise erupted into a volcano of FUCK YOUs, which led the husband to ask if it was always like this at the library. (my answer: no. True answer: more often than you'd think if you haven't been in a library since the 1960s.) He then asked (as chairs were being pushed around and a crowd was forming) if this behavior was a cultural thing or if they were just retarded. (my answer: ... True answer: they're teenagers. it's a cultural thing AND they're retarded.) After that bit of excitement I had at least 2 little old men come up to the counter to regale me with tales of the good old days when librarians shushed people.

Anyway, somehow the overall awfulness of this work day (which comes nowhere NEAR the awfulness of my old job, so I'm not really complaining) made the rest of my nonsense recede and that's where it's been all night. I found some Youtube distractions, headache's still gone, Lost was !!!! and I don't have to work tomorrow. Things are trending upward and I hope they continue!

tree swing

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Friday, May 08, 2009
The moon is so full right now it's ridiculous. I guess it's only as full as it ever is, although the weatherman said it's the "full flower moon" tomorrow night, whatever that means. (maybe if you look through a telescope there's a long multi-colored silk scarf from here to there, and when you get to the end it changes into flowers and a dove flies out of the moon's top hat carrying a little banner that says "tah-dah!"? I think that's probably it. Why don't they just say so?) Anyway, I think it looks extra full to me tonight because the sky is clear and there are no clouds to hide behind. I guess that's good news for advertising the underground (outer space) magic club going on up there. Astronomy is confusing but strangely exciting! (Remember, on the moon it is necessary to say space abracadabra -- plain old abracadabra won't do. It's like Simon Says or something. Don't ask me why, it's just one of those things you can either learn the easy way or the hard way.)

SPEAKING OF SPACE: Apparently Harrison Ford was all over my park. I knew he was in the movie that was filming, but I didn't know he was there, if that makes any sense. One of the other regular park people was telling me all about it the other day -- I now know her name and the name of her dog. (I'm friendly in the smile and wave kind of way at the park, not really chatty -- but there were extenuating circumstances here -- she had to tell me about Harrison Ford, and I had to find out if she knew anything about THE SWING!) But first, Mr. Ford: I didn't see him (or anybody but security, really), but she said that he was there and walked all around to check things out. Had coffee and read his paper at one of the tables. She said that someone was telling her that she should go and talk to him, but she didn't because she figured that he probably really treasures his privacy. I also got the unsolicited 411 that he's a lot more (no words here, just hunched her shoulders and leaned forward a little bit) than she expected. But then she said "but what did I expect! He's not still Han Solo, for god's sake!"

swing (rope)
I was interested to hear this, but what I really wanted to know about was this FANTASTIC swing that appeared out of nowhere. Obviously not nowhere, but it was a mystery to me. It was well made out of rope and boards and bolts, hanging on a very long drop from one of my favorite trees. (I know I say "my favorite tree" about 12 times per blog post, but this one is so great!) It was all tied with rope and fancy knots -- no bolting it to the tree or anything. I have NO IDEA how whoever got up there and did it, but MAN it was so cool and I'm glad that they did. (obviously not officially sanctioned because there is a standard issue safety swing set right nearby.)

I asked Connie (park lady pseudonym) if she knew anything about it. She was still Solo-struck and wondered if the film crew had left it -- I say no since it appeared after they were gone. MYSTERIOUS. She agreed and said she thought it was "very romantic" and that everyone should have their picture taken on it, although it was so wide it would be hard to get your arms around it. I figured it was probably built for more than one person, we looked at it for a minute or two more, both wished aloud that the park people would just leave it up and then went on our respective merry ways.

ipod (rope)
(right after I took the picture of the fancy rope knot, this song came up on my ipod.)
This swing was so cool! But I knew it couldn't last -- sure enough, two days later I got there to see that the ropes had been cut about 7-8 feet off the ground. (high enough that would be Tarzans (drunk and/or juvenile) wouldn't get any ideas.) The following day (today) all traces of it were gone. But it was there and I saw it!
puddle swing
(puddle view)

wednesday night one two three

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Wednesday, May 06, 2009
ONE) You know one of the things I love best about LOST? they totally score it like an old movie. If you weren't paying enough attention to know whether or not this or that particular time leap or revealed identity was actually a big deal (rather than business as usual in the Jungle of Mystery), the dun dun dunnnnn style music will tell you so! (Is Ben evil? the music says yes! But evil and INTERESTING.)

TWO) I hate those Jared ads so much. They offend me on so many levels my brain short circuits when I try to break down exactly why.

THREE) speaking of mall-quality jewelry, Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman's "open hearts" necklace for Kay does not look like hearts. It looks like cartoon butts. So yes, if you'd like to buy your mother or girlfriend or wife a diamond encrusted cartoon ass, I think you can stop looking!

more soon! involving han solo, a tree swing, and my latest minor epiphany.

epic puddles

| On
Monday, May 04, 2009
spring green
I should say straight up that this was my VERY FAVORITE puddle picture from the other day. Just as I predicted the night before, there were puddles everywhere. At that point the movie trucks were still at the park but I was over the novelty of those and was focused on these puddles, which thanks to some trick of the light were AMAZING. (Or I'm just crazy, which is a distinct possibility.) It was like Alice in Wonderland or some other mirror world where it seemed like you could jump through into the puddle, but if you didn't get back to your own world before the puddle dried up you'd be stuck there. It would seem fine at first, but then you'd find out about the screaming fire worms or that there's no such thing as chocolate or whatever and wish you hadn't been so "la la la, puddle adventure" hasty. Of course with as much as it's been raining, you wouldn't be stuck in puddle world for long, because exit puddles, bigger and more extravagant than ever, are forming this very minute! (I wonder if you could travel to other rainy locations through puddles? hmm. Puddle Transport Technology. This could be an even better idea than my Underwater Transatlantic Pneumatic Tube People Mover!)

puddle mosaic
Here's more. I restrained myself and made a little mosaic rather than posting every single puddle picture, even though that's really what I want to do. I think part of what made them so great is how they changed so much as I was moving past them. It was easy to believe that things were moving on the other side of the puddle too. Plus, the light was such that every blossom on every reflected branch was brighter, the green was greener. I could look up by looking down, which I thought was pretty cool.

Yes, I even took a puddle movie with my camera! It's not great because not only am I not a great movie-taker, but I decided to take this one while holding a bunch of other stuff so it's wobblier than it had to be.

I think it rained every kind of rain today. It started just cloudy, then changed from overcast to misty to light rain to persistent light rain to great fat drops hurtling toward the dirt. It curtailed my day of vegetable garden prep, but hastened my day of novel-reading, so I won't complain too much. I was weirdly weepy all day too, but I think that's not weather related so much as due to The Traveling Sadness. (which, while a bummer, I much prefer to The Traveling Dread.) (I don't think they travel by puddle, but what do I know?)

(I feel much better now.)

may first

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Friday, May 01, 2009
Happy May Day! One of these years I'm going to figure out where it is in this town they have a maypole and check it out. (I think they have one at Kennedy School, which is near!)

I didn't visit a maypole, but I did go for a walk and was BUSTED for leaving flowers around the park by a little old German lady. She was front following me for a long way. I could tell because she kept looking over her shoulder, sitting on benches, and generally lurking around about 100 feet in front of me. Of course I would turn around or look at the sky or play with my camera because she was acting so shifty I wasn't sure I wanted to hear whatever she had to say. (now that I think about it, it must have been a pretty hilarious sight with both of us in clumsy spy mode.) ANYWAY, I thought I'd ditched her (tied my shoe!), but I came around a corner and she jumped out of her car (!!!), which forced me to remove my earbuds and capitulate as gracefully as I could. The first thing she said was "I know it is you. It is you who are leaving the flowers. I saw you before here! I know it is you. Why do you do it?" I don't really have a ready to dispense cogent answer for this so I kind of shifted around and said "because it makes me happy." She wanted to know if it was in memory of anyone. No, no, not really. Are you sure? Yes, I'm sure. I do it because I think it looks pretty. (German "hmmph" in response to this.) WELL, it turns out she was giving me the third degree because she does the same thing at Laurelhurst park!! and was recently busted by someone there. ha ha ha! But she does it in memory of a friend who died, which is touching and makes me feel like some kind of flower/tree dilettante. BUT THEN somehow she made me say that I do it because it a) makes me happy b) I think it's pretty and c) it might make other people happy too. She totally surprised me by saying "I bet the trees like it," which was completely loopy and completely perfect, because of course I secretly hope that the trees like it, too.

Here are some pictures (various years) from the Beltane Fire Society celebration -- it always stirs up some kind of primal feeling when I see these. (Like "thank god the sun is back!") I think it would be something to see in person.

Here's the May Queen and her warrior princess court. I think this looks so cool! It's so interesting to compare this May Queen, with her ritual and court and bigass fire with pictures of the many high school May Queens. The Sad Crazy Lady I worked with last year was May Queen at her high school 35+ years ago, and wore a beautiful white dress (still has it, it's lovely), had a court and all that jazz, but it was more along the lines of prom queen or homecoming queen than flat out pagan queen of fertility. They didn't set the gym on fire.

speaking of fire... the Edinburgh festival apparently features a lot of red-painted naked people, which seems as it should be.

And here's some T.Rex! From Ride a White Swan, which features these seasonally appropriate lyrics: Wear a tall hat like a druid in the old days/ Wear a tall hat and a tattooed gown/ Ride a white swan like the people of the Beltane/ Wear your hair long, babe you can't go wrong

Hee hee! I love seeing all those groovy French teenagers doing their teen thing and trying to act cool while mugging for the cameras. Or not moving at all. The lip synching is really bad too, but it hardly matters! It reminds me of the Corny Collins show from Hairspray, but French and with T. Rex.