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greetings from the surface of the sun

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009
little red lights

Today got up to 107 degrees. In Portland!! I believe we have collectively, as a city, wilted. I also totally dented my car by running into another car, which was stressful and sweaty. (it was a parked car and a long story -- I did leave a note and am waiting to see what comes of it.* Many thanks to the kind woman who took pity on me, crossed the street and helped me out since I was literally stuck on the corner.)

There is good news, though -- before I dented my car I found an awesome new to me art supply store and I did just spend the weekend camping at the beach with friends, which was totally fun! (note: camping with running water.) more on that soon.

I am delighted to be working all day tomorrow in air conditioned library splendor, although it's only supposed to be 104!

(this picture is from a much nicer day -- July 18th-- when I was sitting with my people on the lawn at Edgefield watching Andrew Bird/ the Decemberists.)

*I just heard from the guy and he seems reasonable, we shall see!

bedside table

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Friday, July 24, 2009
new sneakers
This month is getting away from me, but thankfully not in the I Think I'm Going Crazy way of June. (you don't know the half of it! I never wrote up my interior elephant brain theory, a theory which either explains a lot in the "oh, yeah! interior elephant! I get it" way, or it explains a lot in the "interior elephant? what? WHAT?" way.) ANYWAY. July has been full of top quality people and adventures, which continues on through the weekend. (road trip!)

Here are a few things about a few books I've read more or less recently or am currently reading (although Candy Girl was many months ago). I hope to write up more of these in the near future.

The Wordy Shipmates -- Sarah Vowell (2008): finally started reading this -- I'm still at it, so I'll just give you this quote for now: "I'm always disappointed when I see the word "Puritan" tossed around as shorthand for a bunch of generic, boring, stupid, judgmental killjoys. Because to me, they are very specific, fascinating, sometimes brilliant, judgmental killjoys who rarely agreed on anything except that the Catholics are going to hell."

Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper-- Diablo Cody (2005): I read this ages ago and kept getting stuck on what to say about it (it's a gateway book to many discussions including feminism, the sex industry, self-esteem, journalism, sexual power, memoir, how much is too much, how little is too little, etc.) but this tiny capsule review thing is totally liberating! Here's the deal: Juno's infamous hamburger phone, love of retro slang and pop culture references are all over this book; there's also much sexually frank narration. If this knowledge fills you with dread and dismay, it's probably not the book for you. Also in this memoir: more than you ever wanted to know (if you're me) about what goes on in the Champagne Room. Cody's a very engaging writer and gives all kinds of fascinating strip club insider detail (wigs, performance names, clipboards, who gets paid when and for what, the dollhouse, the variable nature of personal dignity, etc.), but she keeps the reader at a distance. I don't think a memoirist is obliged to explain everything to exhaustion, but I did feel like there was a disconnect between what she was showing me and what she was telling me. The obvious comparison is that the book is written with the same kind of transactional intimacy as a pole dance -- you see everything, but she's not really there.

Moby Dick -- Herman Melville (1851): let's check in with the sailors of the Pequod.

current mood: "All was now a phrensey."

Ahab: still crazy.

Ishmael: sly joker. (genial desperado.)

Queequeg: noble savage.

Flask: butterless yet.

Starbuck: a worried man. (has a worried song.)

White Whale: at large.

Also reading: the Maggie Quinn, Girl vs. Evil series by Rosemary Clement-Moore. These YA (young adult) novels are written (with varying degrees of success) to fill a buffy-sized void. Instead of being a vampire slayer, our heroine Maggie has psychic abilities which she is just learning to control. The first book is her senior year of high school, the second has her in college where I expect she'll stay for the duration of the series. Like Buffy, she has a plucky smartass attitude, supernatural adventures, a mentor, friends, boy troubles, and more homework than she'd like. It's an interesting world with appealing characters, but it doesn't have the multi-layered metaphorical richness of Buffy. To be fair, the series has only begun and maybe it will deepen and become more complex as it goes on. These books are fun and fast paced, but I think they work best if you allow a little time from one to the next. I may have something more specific to say after I finish the latest, which is called Highway to Hell. (Road Trip!)

my best bee, etc.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009
globe thistle
Leslie, Bec and I were in pursuit of raspberries, marionberries, and blueberries -- we were desperate last minute berry pickers, but the farm is used to this and has people trained to flush late portlanders out of the bushes and herd them back to the entrance at closing. I love the hand painted signs for various you-pick areas and I also love globe thistles. (also berries in case that was unclear.) Too much love? Never! (I hate a bunch of stuff too, but why dwell on it?)

the green bench
love this green! This bench was in what I think was my favorite lavender farm in the lavender festival (not to be confused with berry picking, which was another day entirely)...

lavender valley
This wasn't the view exactly from the bench, but close. Most of the farms were in Yamhill county (also known for wine) -- some were up on hills and reminded me more of eastern Oregon, but this one was on a river deep in the valley. there was clover on either side of the main lavender field and a creek/river/long skinny body of moving water to the back.

busy bee
Here's my favorite bee picture taken that day. It was windy, which made it easy to mistake the movement of the thousands of bees for a breeze, at least at first -- once I got close enough I could hear them buzzing. There were so many, but somehow it never got killer bee scary. I think because the lavender is relatively close to the ground and honestly -- what would bees want with people when there's all that delicious pollen right there?

Not to mention that I had onion rings for lunch. (Actually, I had french fries, but I poached onion rings from others at my table. These walla walla rings are DELICIOUS.)

nobody ever suspects the butterfly

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Friday, July 17, 2009
I have 1,000,001 things to do today before it gets hot, but I don't want to do any of them. The good news is that none of the items on my list are urgent on the level of, say, "vent the reactor core," but my life will be a lot easier if I just get up and do them. But all I want to do is sit here eating cold cherries and drinking diet coke. Wah. And so the summer hot weather whining begins!

astronomy report: something woke me up at about 4 this morning so I looked out the window and saw the waning crescent moon shining bright in a still dark but getting lighter sapphire sky. It was AMAZING, but I went back to sleep anyway.

Urban Wildlife Report: there are THREE raccoons in the plum/cherry tree outside my window. It's kind of freaky, but they're good little climbers. (they are also scary smart. Now I'm paranoid that they're writing on their raccoon blog that I'm a "good little typer, but would it kill her to comb her hair???" raccoons are very fastidious.)

I love the striped body on these butterflies.

I'm working on a post about some books I've read which I thought I'd have ready by now, but there's still one paragraph that makes me want to stab things so I suppose I need to fix it first, lest it start some summer stabbing epidemic. I would feel bad about that.

On the other hand, it gives me an opportunity to post some butterfly pictures! These were taken in the front yard.


I love that the swallowtails return every summer. Or, more accurately, that there are swallowtails here every summer. They have a lifespan of less than a month, so I know it's not like the same butterflies are wintering in hawaii and coming back here for the hot months. (just so you know I know! I'm all up to date with my vague recollections and google search bar typing, which isn't much help if you're wrong the same way a lot of other people are wrong. It happens! but I think I'm right this time.) (although some monarch butterflies DO migrate and live months rather than weeks, but it can take up to three generations to make the trip. I'm going to stop googling now.)

I think they're really beautiful, but they're also pretty dang creepy when you see them from the front or the side. You know how in the movies butterflies land on someone and it's magical and romantic? It gives me the gigantic creeping heebie jeebies! they have sticky feet and would gladly feast on your flesh if it was nectar. Nature, man. I do everything I can think of to encourage butterflies to return to my garden, though. I figure if there are enough flowers they will keep their creepy sticky alien insect feet to themselves.

I knew butterfly laughter would sound like this.

submarines and dinosaurs

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Happy Bastille Day! I've always had a fondness for Bastille Day since it's the day before my birthday. How considerate of you, France, to overthrow the monarchy one day and hundreds of years before my birth! I appropriate your fireworks as I'm sure they spill over into the 15th. This reminds me:::wavy lines of reminiscence::: of a thing from french class my freshman year of college. I was taking french 101 (since I was too embarrassed to continue studying spanish -- my high-school spanish teacher had a very heavy tennessee accent, I was in a new state and a new school and feeling unsteady enough as it was). Anyway, we were doing that beginning language thing where you learn months and numbers and years. Our instructor went on and on and on with many vocabulary words about le quatorze juillet and all the public drunken merriment that accompanies it, and how NOTHING (RIEN!) happens on le quinze juillet because everyone is sleeping it off. Then we went around the room and had to state our birthdays. I was first and took a certain amount of perverse pleasure in le quinze juillet, because that's just the way I am sometimes. :::wavy lines of returning to the present:::

Here's some good summertime stuff:

Beck having a rambly, charming, Irrelevant Topics conversation with Tom Waits about many things including, but not limited to: playing music, the oscar meyer wiener mobile, amateur submarines in echo lake park, the tyranny of 'best of' lists, and the probable last song standing. (bad news for my friend David who hates that song with the white hot heat of a thousand suns. "it's a DIRGE! I don't know why anyone would sing it to celebrate anything.")

Carrie Brownstein is learning to love Phish. I love the as it happens quality of this series of posts and am eagerly following along even though I have little to no interest in Phish as a band. (I fall into the category of people who are somewhat Phishophobic for no reason other than a vague sense that they are a hippie jam band that my brain associates with Jimmy Fallon's Jarrett's Room sketches -- you know, the ones with the webcam and Horatio Sanz's stoner character always worried that "Phish broke up?!")

The link above explains the project, and these link to the updates so far: update 1, update 2, update 3, update 4

And here are some videos that have a very summertime feel to them -- both for the band Mika Miko:

I love the energy and simplicity of this video. (via I can't really remember who, probably stereogum)

... and this one --- dinosaurs, asteroids, apple juice -- need I say more? (via We Love You So)

clammy weather confessional

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Monday, July 13, 2009
today was cold + humid, which = CLAMMY, which is as delightful as it sounds -- until it started raining and just became cold and wet. (also undelightful.) However, saturday was the most perfect type of sunny summer day imaginable, which was very nice for driving around and visiting the lavender festival, which is what I did! (photos still on camera.) As much as I love the sun and the heat (for at least a few weeks a year), I must admit the rainy weather is nicer for sleeping, if only because the raccoons are silent.

ANYWAY. I have been uploading pictures and just came across these from two weekends ago on Sauvie Island. I went with my sister to get more berries for jam, and we ended up touring the whole island which was great fun.

sauvie island
From Kruger Farms, where we bought the berries. It was the last day for strawberries, and we got one of the last picked flats. Then we were starving, which turned out to be no big deal because every weekend Kruger has a bunch of food carts. I had a grilled veggie burger with cherries on the side (I added the cherries), which was very good. They also had grilled corn on the cob, which I was very sorry not to have eaten. Maybe next time -- the summer is still young! Anyway, there were a ton of people, but it was festive rather than annoying.

sauvie island
On our drive we made it over to the mysterious beach side, where I have never been! Sauvie island has sandy beaches along the Columbia river. (Most infamous are the 'clothing optional' beaches, but we only drove by those.) Anyway -- as you can see, it was a nice day for the beach. I don't think I'll ever love a river beach as much as I love the ocean beach, but this was really lovely and 2 hours closer than the ocean. I could totally see packing up a lunch and a lawn chair for a day of reading in the sand.

sauvie island
this picture is just to show that you can see mt. hood from here. (at least 2 other mountains are visible from the island, but hood was the only one I could see from the beach.)

sauvie island
I love this picture. It looks very british-children's-story bucolic to me.

sauvie island
barn! grass! barbed wire! I took this out the moving car window. This looks like the kind of place where you get bitten by a snake and die a slow and horrible death because the snake took your phone and refuses to call for help. (or maybe there are barn dances! But you have to look out for the phone stealing snakes and the tractor mechanic with the fast hands.)

sauvie island
there is a little sliver of barely visible day moon in this picture, but mostly I like it for the gentle curve of the grass. (On the other side of the grass is the beach.)

tap tap tap

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Friday, July 10, 2009
I got my computer back today -- it is fixed and I'm much relieved. Somehow I even got a new top case (including keyboard!) that cost me zero dollars, which was good because the rest of it was out of warranty and cost more than zero dollars (but much, much less than a new laptop). The best news is that the time machine backup works JUST LIKE IT SHOULD -- I plugged the thing in and whoosh! all my stuff was back where it goes. Anyway, the experience was not something I'm eager to repeat, but it was much less stressful than it could have been.

I'm still catching up on things, but here's some stuff I saw recently that's ready to go and too good to wait!

Dude Watchin' With The Brontës -- this CRACKS ME UP. I love Anne's expression in the last panel.

The Jenny Lewis See Fernando Video -- such a perfectly lighthearted spy/caper video. What says summertime more than espionage in pink gloves, vintage sunglasses and false eyelashes? Maybe a car chase! Poison darts and knife throwing! Cheesy disguises! It's downright inspiring, is what it is. (I love summer.)
(via stereogum )

Jenny Lewis "See Fernando" from Team G on Vimeo.

seven four twenty zero nine

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Saturday, July 04, 2009
hello, internet!

I'm having computer problems and am writing this on a sister-borrowed laptop. The good news is that it's sunny and wonderful outside so I've been working in the garden and enjoying the summer weather, both of which have served as lovely distractions from my electronic panic. (If the sun goes behind a cloud before I get my computer fixed, I will freak right out.)

In the meantime, I'm reading books (hooray!), watching movies (hooray!) and working on inventions in the laboratory. (okay, maybe not one of those.) I've also discovered that I am really REALLY used to writing by typing. Switching back to a pen and paper has been interesting. I type a lot faster than I can scratch out words with a pen, although I suspect it's a skill that comes back with use.

Happy 4th of July if you celebrate!! If not, happy July In General -- July is one of my favorite months, and not just because my birthday is in it.