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ranunculus, cumulonimbus, altocumulus

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Ranunculus are one of my favorite spring flowers. They're so generous with their beauty and the name - can you beat the name? I love the word ranunculus: it sounds like a kind of cloud, or a nemesis. Isn't is a perfect nemesis name? Just to test it out, try shaking your fist at the sky (maybe at a ranunculus cloud) and shouting RANUNCULUUUUUUUUUUUUUUS!  See what I mean?


Despite the perfect-for-a-nemesis quality of the name, I love the reality of the situation. I mean, look at these! They look like a hybrid peony/rose/poppy/tissue paper flower.


A bunch of them together? The best! It's like a spring petal party happening right the hell now.

spring color

I took these photos at the garden center and I can't remember the name of this flower. Whatever it is, it's too pretty to leave behind, so here it is.

garden shop: the pansies

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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Pansies are so personable. Even this one without as much of the traditional pansy "face" looks like she's waving you in so she can shut the door.

Pansy army, obviously.

The general. (you can tell because of the moustache.)

Mary Blair knew what I'm talking about - check out these pansies for Alice in Wonderland:

Coming up next, the pansy's garden shop cousin, THE RANUNCULUS. 

uncooperative birds

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012
spring outside my window
 A million of these tiny birds (they're the size of 2 jumbo cotton balls or  1.5 large marshmallows) converged on the tree outside my window the other day. They're so cute! I thought this even after I witnessed them plucking blossoms off the tree - were they looking for bugs? eating petals? just destructive thugs?

I couldn't get a good picture of them for anything - adorable as a Disney cartoon bird until the minute I picked up the camera, then it was all twiggy profiles and fluffy bird butt.

spring outside my window
Are they on the lam for crimes committed in another tree? Or maybe they just don't like having their picture taken. (I also dislike having my picture taken.)  I'm pretty sure they're house finches; they had pretty little red throats and seemed kind of finchy.  Sometimes the little birds are hard to tell apart - but I like All About Birds as a destination to figure it all out.

Did I mention that there was a Cooper's Hawk sitting on the birdbath the other day? He was just hanging out, freaking out all the little birds and squirrels while having a through the window staring contest with Busby the cat.

shelf 1: imaginary islands

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Monday, March 19, 2012
shelf 1

AKA, The Nick Bantock and friends shelf.  What do they have in common? All the books are illustrated, most are interactive (envelopes to open, maps to read) and there are so many imaginary islands. (if not islands, then lands or towns or institutions.) All of them - even the autobiography, I'd guess - are a conversation between the normal everyday world and a mysterious, sometimes visible other world. Most of them are romantic and ambiguous, which is a combination I enjoy in fiction. I hadn't opened any of them in years until I was preparing this post. Here's a list of titles:

The Venetian's Wife: One of my favorite Bantock books.

The Artful Dodger: a beautiful autobiography that I have looked at but not read

The Forgetting Room: I read it once and was disappointed, but honestly, who knows what I was expecting.  I was probably expecting a lot. The art is wonderful, the prose less so.

Windflower: I haven't read this -  I got it at The Title Wave, which is where the library sells its discards.

Original Griffin & Sabine trilogy: I've read it at least twice, but it's been a long time. I loved opening the envelopes, reading the letters, the general mystery of it all.

Next three G & S books, even though they don't have G & S: have not read them, but I found them at the Title Wave and they appear to have all the loose parts accounted for. I think there are now 9 books total, but I don't have the remaining 3. Yet.

Museum at Purgatory: see comments for The Forgetting Room.

The Republic of Dreams by G. Garfield Crimmins: This was a late, after-Bantock acquisition for me. I got it as a sort of escapist present to myself during dark employment times. (I wasn't employed as an evil wizard or anything, it was just a REALLY STRESSFUL job.) This book's more about a specific place (The Republic of Dreams) than about any particular relationship. TRoD is sort of like Pepperland, only with more naked people; they don't wear clothes unless they feel like it, because clothes are like, a tool of the man, man.

The Tattooed Map by Barbara Hodgson: Oh, man. I LOVED THIS BOOK. I haven't looked at it in a long time because I'm afraid I won't love it as much as I did. It's set in North Africa and I loved the collages, the old photographs, and of course the am I going crazy or is there a map appearing on my hand? storyline.

The Secrets of Pistoulet by Jana Kolpen: This one is set in France, and it's a magic realist-lite/fairy dust/ recipe book. The narrator is trying to recover from a broken heart and goes to this little town and stays at this little inn, and there are magic recipes??? (I am going from memory, here.) She cries a lot, I remember that much. In a lot of ways, this is a Gift Shop sort of book - the cover looks great and goes well with displays of rosemary infused olive oil and hand-painted pottery dishes. Looking inside the cover, it appears that I bought this used at Powells - I was going all-in on books with removable parts. It was originally a graduation gift from "Mademoiselle L"'s aunt or mom or grandma and she sold it for cash money. That sounds about right.

The Legend of The Villa della Luna by Jana Kolpen: Hey, hey! it's the sequel! More of the above, although as I recall Mademoiselle J was getting over her broken heart and glancing out of the corner of her eye at the village shepherd or cheese monger or mysterious stranger or someone like that. As I was looking at this shelf a couple of weeks ago, I remembered that this book ended on kind of a cliff-hanger so I got the last book in the series out of the library. Will she find her One True Cheese? I haven't read it yet, but I'll let you know!

This whole shelf is like a late-nineties time capsule.

don't let me forget this page

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Monday, March 19, 2012

This made me laugh! (via Margaret Atwood.)

I had fun at John Carter

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Sunday, March 18, 2012
I had so much fun at this movie! My sister and I went to see it yesterday afternoon. It reminded me of a hybrid Indiana Jones/ Star Wars experience - thrilling, funny, lots of fighting, sand and dust.  It's not as good as the best of either series, nor is it as bad as the worst of either series. I found it to be solidly entertaining.  Should the other two movies of this proposed franchise be made, I will go see them. Yes, it was silly in parts, but it's Adventure Movie silly, which is the nature of the beast. If you can't wrap your suspension of disbelief around a a civil war veteran traveling to Mars via a magic widget, you probably weren't much tempted by this story in the first place.  Besides, there's something almost cozy about an other-planet adventure that happens in our own solar system.

The cast is great - I especially enjoyed Bryan Cranston in his small part as Powell; Dominic West was delightfully weaselly as the baddie prince of Zodanga (ZODANGA!); Mark Strong was evil and bald in the way he has perfected; I was happy (as always) to see James Purefoy. As the titular John Carter, Taylor Kitsch was broody and believable - I thought he pulled off both the fish out of water comedy and man out of time pathos of his role, all while performing nonstop action, mostly naked. Not everyone can do that!  Lynn Collins was tough, beautiful and smart as my new favorite character Dejah Thoris,  princess of Helium. She's an orange badass scientist princess -  how many of those do you meet in a year?  Having never read the book (although I've just downloaded the free ebook), I didn't realize how much Star Wars borrowed from this story. Princess Dejah is the obvious ass-kicking loyal-to-her-people predecessor of Princess Leia.

 I laughed, the guys behind me laughed and at the end they both said it was better than they thought it would be. The showing I went to - middle of a Saturday afternoon, 2-D -  was a little over half full, and appeared to be a mix age and gender-wise. (although overall there were probably more dudes than ladies.)

The reviews for John Carter have been mixed but much of the discussion has been less about the story on screen and more about domestic gross and how expensive it was to make.  These reviews almost uniformly have a very discouraging title, but some eventually come through and say "if you like this sort of thing (you know who you are) you will probably have a good time at this movie." I do, and I did!

Now I will cherry pick quotes that reflect my views:

A word on costuming and awfully wonderfulness, from the Salon Review titled "Will John Carter Rank Among the All-Time Bombs" (a review that seems mainly concerned with the perceived universal badness of movies about Mars):
Playing the ruler of Helium and father of Dejah Thoris, Irish actor Ciarán Hinds gets to wear the most awesome military uniform I’ve ever seen, which appears to have been jointly designed by Julius Caesar, George Washington, Idi Amin and Karl Lagerfeld. (Sacha Baron Cohen’s fictional Arab dictator can eat his heart out.) At its best, “John Carter” is a mightily impressive spectacle, cleanly photographed in dusty reds and brilliant blues by Daniel Mindel, which dares to straddle that elusive boundary between awfulness and wonderfulness. It’s awfully wonderful, or wonderfully awful.

The NYT review has a more neutral title -  'John Carter' with Taylor Kitsch and Lynn Collins:
Messy and chaotic, in other words, but also colorful and kind of fun. The movie begins in an atmosphere of Victorian spookiness: an old manse with dark paneling, a sealed tomb out back and many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore piled up in the study. In the blink of an eye we’re in Arizona Territory just after the Civil War, which is to say classic western territory, with monumental rock formations, beleaguered cavalrymen, bellicose Apaches and a dark saloon into which a taciturn stranger comes a-moseying.
Carter, stripped of his shirt and endowed with extraordinary leaping ability (something to do with gravity), befriends some noble Tharks (voiced by Willem Dafoe and Samantha Morton), acquires a loyal Martian “monster dog” and falls in love with a Heliumese (Heliumian?) princess named Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins), who is both a fierce sword fighter and a big shot at the Helium Academy of Science.
There is more. There is nothing but more: a huge cast, soaring digital architecture, creatures both adorable and fearsome, lines of dialogue (“Thurns are a myth!”) made even more ridiculous by being uttered in earnest. The silliness — much of which is clearly intentional — is blended with some genuine grandeur.

I had fun. Normally, it would be enough for me to just tell my friends in person if I thought they might enjoy this movie - but since John Carter is getting piled on from every direction, I wanted to say that I liked it publicly. 

the owls are not what they seem

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Thursday, March 15, 2012

I think this owl is trying to mind-control me from his perch on an eye-level bookshelf. On the one hand, he's a humble thrift store Avon owl that used to hold Snow Owl Moonwind powder sachet, at least according to the sticker on the bottom. (Maybe that's just a cover. Maybe he's in Avon witness protection or something.) I bought him as an owl-joke for my cousin, but then grew attached and kept him myself. But how many horror stories start with some innocent tchotchke? SO MANY. These b/w "film grain" photos make him look scarier than he really is. (Or maybe they reveal exact levels of scariness. I may have to turn him around before I go to sleep.)

I digress. I came here to talk about books.

books at the top of the stairs

This is the bookshelf at the top of the stairs. (Yes, that's a giant pile of shoes in the lower-right corner. They aren't ones I really wear anymore and this started as a temporary spot until I sorted out the ones going away for now and the ones going away for good - but the kitten hides his choicest toys in there, so I've leapt on that as an excuse to continue doing nothing.)  ANYWAY - I had this idea for a fun blog project: a photo for each cube, and I'll write a little about what might be in there. The shelves are more or less tidy since I just had to take everything out and put it back in (to paint the floor), but they're only in vague order. I always like to see people's bookshelves, so I thought WHY NOT? I will show some of mine. It'll be fun! Maybe I'll figure out the perfect way to arrange them.  This isn't meant to be some kind of complete inventory or 500 book reviews, it's just one set of shelves and some book chat. I would love it if you did it too! (no pressure - just think about it.)


The owl made me do it.

First shelf post will come Friday afternoon, unless I go to the movies in which case it will be Sunday evening.


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Wednesday, March 14, 2012
It is raining today, but here are some sunny day photos of CROCUS. I love the name crocus! it sounds like it was coined by a botanist who happened to be a frog or a toad.

Crocus (a different variety than this) is where saffron comes from.
...maybe crocus was named by a crocodile botanist.

[side note from my window: it is raining, but there are 3 robins hopping from branch to flowered branch in the cherry tree -  a very charming scene that thankfully distracted me from the machinations of crocodile botany.]

With stripes! It looks like silk.

sun: shining

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Wednesday, March 07, 2012

  • the light was so nice this morning - it's sunny today, so all spring things are hastening along. There will be daffodils soon. 
  • I worked on the story I've been working on forever. It keeps turning in these directions I didn't expect when I started, but so far that's been a good thing. I need to finish it. I'm in a finishing mood. (I'm nowhere near finishing.) 
  • I watered houseplants and vow to take better care of them. Otis the kitten thinks they're his personal jungle and they deserve some extra love for not throwing him over the balcony.  

  • afghan is almost done! I'm crocheting it together and have done all the horizontals - now to go the other direction (and weave in the ends and stitch around the edge, etc. etc.) It sounds like a lot, but it's so much closer to done than it was as a bunch of piles of squares. I think I can get it done before it's too hot to work with it on my lap. Woo hoo! 
  • I need to finish  Triangle: The Fire that Changed America before Sunday for book group. I'm not sure I'm going to make it... the sun is shining and as fascinating as Tammany Hall bosses and turn of the last century labor practices are, THE SUN IS SHINING. I'm still just at the beginning, which also makes it harder to go on -  something terrible is coming and I want to know but I don't want to know. 

my own super tuesday

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Tuesday, March 06, 2012

This is the best picture I've been able to get of the Amaryllis so far. The red is so bright and ridiculous, cameras just don't know what to do. The flowers are gorgeous and on full blast right now, broadcasting at top flashy flower volume. 


I've been feeling less than fabulous for over a week, which culminated in an abrupt, sweaty, nauseated departure from work on Sunday. As it often goes with a stomach virus, I felt much worse for a little while, slept forever and now feel so much bettter! huzzah. This poor cat picture has nothing to do with being sick and then well, it was just sitting here for another post I started and abandoned last week. 


I really wanted some solid yellow or red ones, but these snazzy watermelon chevrons were available in my size for less than a gabrillion dollars and now they live on my feet all of the time. I never want to take them off.  I look forward to stomping in puddles and walking through mud like it's no big deal for a good long time. Yeah! 

IN OTHER NEWS: I finished the quilt I was working on - pictures as soon as I get them off my camera.