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shelf 4: the avon owl is watching

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Friday, August 31, 2012
shelf 4

The bookshelf series! I haven't forgotten — summer has just distracted me with its bees and berries and novel reading.

SHELF 4: this is shelf is a remnant of the old organized by color system. I still like how they all are together; it just seems right.  So they remain, guarded by our thrift store friend the Avon snow owl.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte: (READ THIS!!! it makes me laugh forever. JANE!) this edition is one of those Oxford classic tiny books they were doing for a while - the pages are almost but not quite onionskin thinness. I found this at a library sale - such a nice compact little size for a long book.

Malaise by Nancy Lemann - Naaaaaaaannncccyyyyyyy. I wish she was still writing novels because I love the ones I've read. But I haven't read this one - as long as I haven't read it, I can anticipate.

Sportsman's Paradise by Nancy Lemann -  She can be so funny and break your heart at the same time. I haven't read this in a long time but just thinking about how I barely remember anything that happens makes me want to read it again.

The Service of Clouds by Delia Falconer -  Delia Falconer snuck into the Nancy Lemann section! This is an advance copy that I bought at Powell's a long time ago (I think it was a fluke to find one for sale, because they don't normally sell them). As I recall this novel was dreamy, ambiguous, romantic. Clouds, Australia, sanitariums, landscapes, photography. For a long time this is what I thought of whenever I heard the title Cloud Atlas, although they are not alike at all.

The Fiery Pantheon by Nancy Lemann - maybe I loved this one more than Sportsman's Paradise? I can hardly remember now. This one has travel and dervishes in it, though, which endears it to me. I've been trying to think how to describe these books and her style and it just flashed in my mind that they remind me a little bit of Whit Stillman, except instead of being movies about rich young people in New York, they're novels about rich young people from the South. (rich meaning not everyone is rich, but it's an environment where some are very rich.)

Lives of the Saints by Nancy Lemann - the first one of hers I read and probably my favorite. Some of the characters from this book do appear here and there in the other books, but it's not really a series.

Complete Novels of Jane Austen, vol. 1 & 2: I found this set at Powell's AGES ago. (Probably during the 90s Reign of Jane when every couple weeks brought a new adaptation.) I love the covers so much!

Complete Novels of Jane Austen

Persuasion by Jane Austen: Ooh - I think I got this one at an estate sale - the cover is so orange and lovely. I'll post a picture below. I intended to give this as a gift but ended up keeping it due to awesomeness and avarice. I've only read this once - I should read it again.

The Ritz of the Bayou by Nancy Lemann : Poetic non-fiction account of the trial of Edwin Edwards, governor of Louisiana. Subtitle: The New Orleans adventures of a young novelist covering the trials of the Governor of Louisiana, with digressions on smoldering nightclubs, jazz-crazed bars, and other aspects of life in the tropic zone. 

The Sensualist: An Illustrated Novel by Barbara Hodgson - I loved her previous book so much (The Tattooed Map) I was desperate to have this one when it came out. I recall being somewhat letdown, but that is not a fair assessment as I'm sure my expectations were sky high. Ooh, opening it up reveals that my copy is autographed! I remember now - I found this at powells - I didn't go to her reading, but she signed a bunch of books and I got one.

Royal Escape by Georgette Heyer - !!!! I've never read it, but it's a lovely UK edition I got for a song. I think I bought it with the idea that SOME DAY my future beach house library might need it.

Shelf 3: private library nurse
Shelf 2: state quarters, hamlets
Shelf 1: imaginary islands

zinnia world domination requires action

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Friday, August 24, 2012

ORANGE ZINNIA PHOTO is part of my plan for world Zinnia domination. Next year, I will actually plant some.

I realized yesterday that I've been feeling pretty shabby this past month or so. Not terrible, not depressed, just out of sorts and blerg. Maybe it's the summer doldrums, although I love summer so this seems unlikely. I've been working in the garden, which is rewarding but I've not been getting much else done. I'm out of shape, library work has been s-l-o-w, and I generally feel like I'm failing to grasp some obvious thing that everyone else knows. (WHAT IS YOUR SECRET KNOWLEDGE, EVERYONE ELSE???)

Self, I wondered, what can I do to make this shabby just a little shiny? Just asking the question helped. I restarted my drawing a day project - it is so fun and I have no idea why I stopped. I walked to get the CSA share, which I pick up in the park I used to walk in all the time. On the way there, I had a major epiphany about a story I've been working on 4EVAH. Hooray! On the way back, the obsessive lawn-mowing man, who I walked by every day for 2 years when I was walking regularly, actually SPOKE TO ME, which was a first. He said "I used to see you every day! Where have you been?" which reinforced that I should probably resume my park walks. Not because I want to talk to obsessive lawn-mowing man, but because the words out of his mouth were the words in my head. "Where have you been?"

In the spirit of taking charge of myself I also: graphed out my next quilt, which I can't wait to make; got out my soldering stuff because by god I'm going to figure it out. (here's a link to the tutorials I've pinned, including soldering!)

Anyway. I don't have any tidy summation or anything - just a reminder to myself:  I was low, I did some stuff and felt better.


hot weather videos

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Friday, August 17, 2012

Love this video and its sense of happy summer chaos.

Why would you live anywhere else?  I feel the same way about Portland and the whole west coast of the United States, really. Don't get me wrong - I love to visit other places, but I love coming home! (and I love reading about /listening to/visiting people who feel the same way about their home.)

Something about the Best Coast video reminded me of this Mika Miko song from a few years ago that I still love—it feels like summer to me.
(hey! I just learned how to make an m-dash on my macbook. It's option shift hyphen—;——————————)

the bee post

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Thursday, August 16, 2012
bee swarm
Here they are - the long promised (since June) bee swarm pictures! This was their first swarm in a rhododendron that grows near the driveway. They were at perfect eye-level and pretty much just minded their business once they got into swarm-in-a-tree formation. They did freak out the mailman, but he was a just filling in for our regular intrepid, super nosy letter carrier. (For the record, I like her and if I ever were trying to solve a Nancy Drew-style mystery on my street, she's the first person I would talk to.) ANYWAY. Nosy Intrepid (what better traits for a detective, really?) showed me the undelivered mail from the day before which had "bee swarm" scrawled on top of the stack. It was written all wobbly, like he either a) had bad handwriting b) was terrified c) was writing on a stack of mail while walking. All of them could be true, I guess!

bee swarm
Swarm close up! Some quick internet study taught me that swarming is how a hive reproduces. The Old Queen takes off with half the hive and leaves the rest of it to the New Queen. The swarm usually flies somewhere between 50-200 feet away from the original hive to start and then sends out some scouts to find a new permanent home. They can end up miles away!

They're very docile while swarming like this - they're really only interested in setting up a new home and not really too fussed about a mailman walking by or someone sticking a camera in their business.

I can't get over how smooth the edges are - there are thousands of bees in this thing, and they're not just hanging out! They were making a little wax thing in the middle.

There was a lot of bee drama at this point in our story - I assumed (rightly, wrongly, who knows) that these bees came from the 8-12 hives in the big yard behind the back fence. They might have come from the neighbor's house two doors down, but I deemed the newer, closer, more numerous hives to be the likely culprit. (although can you really call a bee hive a culprit? They're wild creatures in man-made boxes -- they do what they want.) I ran over to the house in question to figure out what was going on. They were super nice, but the bees were not theirs! They let some guy keep bees on their property because bees are nice and they have a lot of things to pollinate. I called Bee Guy's number, but heard nothing back for a day and a half. I knew I had to do something, because they were starting to draw attention from people walking on the sidewalk, PLUS what if they flew away and ended up in someone's wall and that theoretical someone called the exterminator. I would feel so guilty!

So I called a Bee Thinking, a company I found online. There are lots of Craigslist people more than happy to come get your bees, but I liked this place because they had hours (I knew someone would answer the phone) and it just seemed like one less decision to have to make (which of these 50 Criagslist beekeepers should I call, etc.). It was high bee swarm season, so they were busy and it would take a few hours for them to get to me. Matt asked for me to call them back if the swarm took off before he got there.

At this point the bees had been in their spot for at least a day and a half and I didn't think they were going anywhere, but I'm no beekeeper! I thought it was unlikely, but said sure I'd call, etc. I never thought I'd have to make that call, but an hour or so later I heard this noise and saw that the bees were agitated and on the move.

Have you ever seen a swarm in the air? It's weird and wonderful and not a little scary - a large buzzing cloud that moves. I think the scary/slightly creepy part comes in because it's an INTELLIGENT cloud putting all the individual bee brains to simultaneous use for the collective. The hive mind for real.

 I called Bee Thinking back and said "OMG they left" which was no big deal to them as they had a lot more hives to pick up. (they were nice about it, though)

But then....

I noticed that they were swarming across the yard in a different tree! Here they are in the air. It was hard to get a good picture because I was standing bee swarm adjacent and a small, primitive part of my brain was FREAKING OUT. They don't bother me in a tidy shape hanging from a tree, but I didn't really want to stand in the middle of that many in flight.

but then they started settling in. (I took this through a window from inside the house.)

I called the bee people back and told them what happened. Back in the bee queue.

slightly different, looser shape than before.

The bee guy and their new temporary hive. He just shook that branch down into the box and said there were probably 12,000 bees in there. Twelve thousand!  The ones you can see on the edge of the box were rubbing their wings together furiously, releasing pheromones to let the hive members who were out scouting know where they were. Sadly, there were stragglers who didn't make it back in time to travel with their comrades. Matt said they might return to the mother hive, or they might just fly around until they died.  What they did is fly back to the site of the original swarm. They huddled together around the wax comb that they built before and over the course of a few days they died. Maybe there weren't enough of them to stay warm? I don't know. That part was sad, but overall it was a fascinating experience. I have a much better idea of what to do should it happen again, and the odds are good it will happen again. I'm okay with that!


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Monday, August 13, 2012
restaurant view

Back in May (yes, I know! This blog lives in a neverending May) we went to a restaurant and had brunch. Brunch wasn't the intention, but they weren't serving anything else and we were hungry. Classic mistake!  It was terrible - too many mediocre sweet baked goods, not enough savory anything. The waitress was nice, but the hostess was determined to make us suffer for reasons of her own. Sigh. But the view was aces, despite the super weird table.

(While we were waiting forever, I may or may not have - in a fit of pique and hangry -  made a promise to come back and be very rude on one of those benches.)

But seriously: the green! the pink sea thrift! the light grey-green of the ocean! It makes up for some dry nasty muffins, I tell you what.

like mountains of the moon

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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Here are some quotes from West with the Night  by Beryl Markham.  Markham was an aviator and racehorse trainer living in Kenya in the 20s and 30s - I'm reading it for book group and enjoying it very much. More on that soon, and I'm going to blog more frequently this week, so 'more on that soon' will mean just that and not what it usually means. (which is that it has fallen off the earth and into the deep vat of my good intentions.)

The first three quotes are about life in the air: I love her evocative writing - she gets across not only the sensation of flying, but of flying over Africa.  The last quote just makes me laugh.
Three hundred and fifty miles can be no distance in a plane, or it can be from where you are to the end of the earth. It depends on so many things. If it is night, it depends on the depth of the darkness and the height of the clouds, the speed of the wind, the stars, the fullness of the moon. It depends on you, if you fly alone - not only on your ability to steer your course or to keep your altitude, but upon the things that live in your mind while you swing suspended between the earth and the silent sky. Some of those things take root and are with you long after the flight itself is a memory, but, if your course was over any part of Africa, even the memory will remain strong. (p. 12)
Ahead of me lies a land that is unknown to the rest of the world and only vaguely known to the African -- a strange mixture of grasslands, scrub, desert sand like long waves of the southern ocean. Forest, still water, and age-old mountains, stark and grim like mountains of the moon. Salt lakes, and rivers that have no water. Swamps. Badlands. Land without life. Land teeming with life -- all of the dusty past, all of the future.

The air takes me into its realm. Night envelops me entirely, leaving me out of touch with the earth, leaving me within this small moving world of my own, living in space with the stars. (p. 15)


As the herd moved it became a carpet of rust-brown and grey and dull red. It was not like a herd of cattle or of sheep, because it was wild, and it carried with it the stamp of wilderness and the freedom of a land still more a possession of Nature than of men. To see ten thousand animals untamed and not  branded with the symbols of human commerce is like scaling an unconquered mountain for the first time, or like finding a forest without roads or footpaths, or the blemish of an axe. You know then what you had always been told -- that the world once lived and grew without adding machines and newsprint and brick-walled streets and the tyranny of clocks.  (p. 38)


Panic-stricken, the little pigs ran all directions, like mice in the dream of a tabby cat. (p. 91)

a note from august six

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Monday, August 06, 2012

 It seems lately if I blog at all, I post some description of an event in the past; a photo of some thing I did or saw a little or a long while ago. Today is about today. (although this picture is a photo of something in the past, it is the past of only a couple of days ago. This is the best recent photo I've got to demonstrate how HOT IT IS today.) (the plant in the picture is fennel that's about 8 ft. tall. The sun is the sun, beaming down hotwaves and vitamin d.) 

Today things:

1) I'm sweating. Today is cooler than it's been the past couple of days - the first day Portland went over 90 degrees for the year we went WAY OVER To 103.  Today is only 87 and I know everyone east of the rockies is rolling their eyes, but still! I wish I had air conditioning in one room. Even an uncomfortable air conditioned closet or something - I feel guilty for wishing I had it when it's only needed a few days a year. (AND YET.) 

2) Pat Benatar - Hit Me With Your Best Shot is playing now! It just seems right with the hot weather. But maybe that's because I lived in (hot) Florida during the Benatar heyday. 

3) MARS!!!! I watched the landing last night on the internet and it made me cry - everyone was so happy! It was such a gutsy mission and it WORKED! Mohawk Guy and Pompadour Guy and all the other Rocket Scientist Hairdos of JPL/NASA in their blue polo shirts, being brilliant and happy and human. 

4) Busby the cat has a limp. I think (hope) it's related to a fur mat that I cut out this morning. I checked out his paws and legs and they seem okay... He might have a bruise or a muscle pull.  If he doesn't start walking normally within the week he's gonna have to go to the vet, which he HATES. It's so traumatizing to him - he does not like getting in the car, no way no how. He yowls and he fusses and it breaks my heart. Since he's normally the strong silent type it traumatizes everyone else.  Poor fellow!

5) Two hours have elapsed since I started this! (I got hot and went outside to water the garden.) 

6) another hour +! (food, shower.) 

7) Now I'm sitting out on the patio and it's nice and cool. The breeze is blowing, and I think I covered up the smell of whatever disgusting thing had putrefied in the kitchen compost pail. (top suspect: watermelon rind. It hadn't been there long and the pail has a lid, but it was really hot. I didn't smell it at all until I dumped it in the regular compost. It was slimy and BAD.)

8) Have you read Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell?  I'm really digging it, but must admit it almost lost me in the middle.  I can't wait to see how it all comes together. This book has been on my to-read list for AGES - once I saw that there's a movie coming out, I knew I had to read it quick before Tom Hanks permanently attached himself to the story in my head. (I've got no beef w/ Tom H., I just like to imagine books myself before I see them on the screen.)

9) Otis (cat) just caught and ate a big old dragonfly - it was truly disgusting. He is so proud.

10) 30 minutes to Bunheads! I'm going to return to the Hanks-less Cloud Atlas until then. 

delphinium mania sweeps the nation

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Thursday, August 02, 2012
delphinium BLUE
from May 29 - better late than never. I can't get over the color on these.

delphinium BLUE
These delphinium (like so many flowers) look completely improbable up close. And yet here they are! (or there they were, since this blog post is at a remove of 2 months and some days)

delphinium BLUE
Sort of like a delphinium spacecraft ready to launch back to its home planet.

garden views
spears and spires of blue lavender on a sunny day.