AJAX BELL

Author of the Queen City Boys books


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In which I read, so you don’t have too.

I feel like in any given week I vacillate between trying to finish all the half-watched series in my Netflix queue and to finish all the books, well, just all the books.  This week it’s books.  I spent all of Sunday finishing Justin Cronin’s The Passage.  Multiple fails on my part here.  I didn’t (as is my tendency) research the book at all.  So it’s probably safe to say that if I’d known it was the first in a trilogy and I ‘d known it was 800 pages long going in (it’s always hard to tell on a Kindle which is something they really should fix) I might have felt differently about the book.  But honestly it would have benefited from an editor able to make it 200 pages shorter.  But it wasn’t just my not knowing.  The author failed as well, I think.  The first 250 or so pages were amazing, excellent, well written and engaging.  And then I spent the rest of the book waiting for it to get good again.  Not only did it not get good again, it didn’t end (the trilogy thing).  Incredibly frustrating.  And I was perhaps so disappointed in the decline of the story as it went along that I doubt I’ll bother with the next 800 page bit he puts out, trilogy or no, I just don’t care enough now to even find out what happens.  Cronin’s writing is engaging enough that you keep turning pages, assuming the good part is just around the corner, but it never was.  And the characters in the second part of the book are flat and flaccid, not vibrant like those in the beginning.   For some satisfaction after I finished reading, I went and read a bunch of Amazon reviews and many folks felt the same way I did: starts strong, winds away into nothing.  And I kept pushing through in hopes of it improving, of some of the new characters turning out to be likable, but alas.  Fortunately I think I needed a restful day and now I’m done so I won’t waste any more days on that book and  can start a new one from the dozens in the ‘waiting to be read’ pile.  Or I guess that should read waiting to be read “pile,” since it’s all on my Kindle and not actually in a pile like we used to keep books in the olden days.

Yesterday I had a 45 minute wait in the doctor’s office I spent much of it with my eyes closed trying to remember the best parts of The Passage all that came to me was fleeting images of Colorado autumn, or what the walk to the Zoo in Memphis is like, or glasses of tea on hot summer, water beading on the sides.  So I’ll grant Mr. Cronin that he does an excellent job places descriptions and has a way with words, but now, a few days later, none of the characters have stuck with me at all.

After reading up on The Passage I fell down the Amazon rabbit hole and started reading customer reviews of the book I intend to read next.  Which is either brilliant and amazing, or dumb, confusing and derivative. So now do I want to read it so I can feel superior to the people who didn’t get that it was brilliant, or will I read it and wonder why I wasted my time? And this, my friends, is why I always go into book blind, or with a few words of rec from friend and not much more.

Because I’ve been sewing so many utilitarian, solid colored skirts I haven’t been posting pictures.  I mean you saw the one, right? The other look the same but better.  Basic staples.  I don’t need to show you pictures, in the same way I don’t give you the recipe when I make mashed potatoes.  Still I am doing stuff so here’s a quick shot of what’s currently half done on the sewing table:

Only the bodice is actually done, the ‘skirt’ here is just folded fabric.  It will be a kimono sleeve, empire waist summer dress when it’s done.  But look how pretty, the fabric!!  Wheee!


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it’s only thrifty if you save money, not if you spend money you otherwise wouldn’t have

So I probably spend way more in thrift stores than is reasonable.  But I guess If I am going to buy things I don’t need, it’s better to spend $3.99 on them than say $39.99.  I recently hit the Goodwill in Berry Hill, producer of the awesome Blowfish boots.

A few weeks ago, Talks to Owls and I were hiking and I was wearing my favorite Converse One Star camp shirt (I have two actually, one in grey and one in purple, I think I was wearing the purple one) to keep the sun off, because I’d rather wear long sleeves than sunscreen.  I was lamenting my choice and saying I needed to hit a thrift store or two and get some light cotton, WHITE button up shirts for my summer sun screen use.  Guess what the Goodwill turned up yesterday?  My exact Converse shirt, in my size, in white, looking as if had never been worn (and perhaps it hadn’t there was a bunch of other Target stuff there that still had the original tags in it) for $3.99.

Some days you just can’t lose.

Unless of course after going through all the shirts, you hit up the misc. section and start looking through framed pics for your walls.  Sure I found a great pair of 30s-ish, Grandma looking prints of magnolias to put up in my kitchen (pictured above), but am I the only person who could possibly buy the exact same piece of art in two separate thrift stores? Yep, the long rectangular, colorful bird picture above the dresser in this pic? I bought another one of those.  In my defense I studied it for a long time to determine if it was the same picture, or if was similar but with different birds (which would have been AWESOME).  Alas, it’s the same.  So, uh, if anyone shares my interests in art that looks like your grandmother would have hung, let me know.  First commenter genuinely interested in it, gets it (and yep, it’s framed identically and everything).

And then of course there’s the things one really, really doesn’t need, but buys anyway:

It’s a swan thing for, I guess, holding your rings when you taken them off?  Never mind that I already have an item specifically for this purpose, but look at it!  It’s a swan!  I’m trying to imagine some way I can use it to hold sewing notions or something.


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Link round-up

Every year about this time I start searching again for something similar to a perfume I loved that was discontinued years ago.  I often start with an internet search for the scent notes in it, this year my search produced this. Really? We want to smother little boys in lavender and bergamot and tell them that’s how the Hulk smells? I’m, uh, actually I’m not at all sure how I feel about this.

Architectural Legos. Whee!  On the one hand, I wish we still lived in a world where you just got Legos and had to make your own things you imagined out of them.  On the other hand this is sooooo cool.

I think this link has made the rounds a bunch already, but these carved books are so spectacularly sculpturally beautiful that they must bee seen again and again.

Look at this fat little junco!  So sweet!

I almost never go to Threadless because I end up falling into some kind of time void where I lose hours looking at the awesome shirts.

This Mexican papel picado skirt is so incredible.  She says it didn’t take her that long, but I can’t imagine I could produce something handmade this spectacular in a year.  Still I want one very badly.  Hmm, maybe almost badly enough to try it myself.

Click boxes for notes.  Make tiny songs.  Refresh and start over.

Gravity marimba in a forest.  I don’t think I need to say more than that. Oh, it plays Bach.

 


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the absence of desire is the end of suffering

(You may as well just this skip this incredibly whiny, self-involved venting about furniture shopping.  It even bores me.)

Okay, I’m nearly done being a drama queen about moving and furniture.  Seriously I’ve felt like the swoony scarf lady in the Gorey Mystery! intro or something for the last week.  Oh, whoa is me, couch shopping!  So terrible!  Pity and lament for me.  On the one hand, wah wah wah, my sad first world problems: I can’t find a thing to spend money on.  But on the other, I really do just want a nice, comfortable house and it shouldn’t be that hard.  After much personal torture in furniture stores looking for a couch I gave up all of my criteria except for ‘not ugly’ and ‘comfortable’ which led me back to the very first store and perhaps the second couch I sat on.   Bonus: it was also the least expensive of everything I looked at.  It is now neatly settled in the middle of my living room, just waiting for me to have time to enjoy it.  YAY COUCH!

However, progress isn’t really being made.  I also ordered some other furniture for the bedroom and the office area.  Which is now either dreadfully back ordered or discontinued, leaving me with my possessions still in boxes and a sense of displacement.

–I actually started writing this post a day or so ago, saved it to work on later and then had an exchange in email about furniture shopping with Talks to Owls, which I will just paste here as it sums up how I feel today:

I’m living out of boxes, I’m uncomfortable, I haven’t been in a place I feel comfortable in a long time, shopping makes me feel overwhelmed and like crying and something I HAVE to do instead of calmly regrouping at home and enjoying my life, which I can’t do because I’m living out of boxes. It’s circular and miserable. I just want the stuff to appear there. I don’t even give a s*** where it comes from or if it falls apart in a year and has to be replaced.

Plus the shelves have to be exact dimensions to fit into the spaces I have, so even if I spend hours roaming antique stores and thrifting and what ever, the chances that I’ll stumble on something that will be the thing that will fit seems unlikely.

So no, it isn’t fun, it isn’t a quest, and it isn’t leisurely.

That said, here’s the basic list of pieces I need to be able to unbox, if you stumble across something in your thrifting and antiquing you think would fill one of these gaps, feel free to point me to it: http://www.amazon.com/wishlist/CY3P41H7D6MX/

(In TTO’s defense, he didn’t deserve this email bitchfest, since all he’d done was comment on finding a better chair than the one on my Amazon list, however the chair is just a small piece of my problem, obviously.)

And of course since I’ve sat down and looked back at the list of things I still need to find, I feel overwhelmed again by the scope and cost of the whole thing. And then I’m additionally upset because it feels like the whole world is in turmoil.  North Africa is blowing up and I want to cry for the normal people caught in Libya’s civil war. Our own country seems to have declared war against the average working man and is tricking its citizens into punishing themselves by giving up all their power.  There is so much poverty and suffering in our own borders and so much hate and misdirected anger that it’s painful to turn on the news.  And here I am wound up and miserable because I can’t find easily and affordably find the furniture I want in the country that provides us the most options in shopping ever seen in history?


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Honey, I’m home!

Haha!  I was just looking at that picture of the living room of my new apartment in my last post.  “What a nice room,” I thought.  Is does not look like that now.  Right now it looks like some sort of mad bomber set off a device filled with card board boxes and crafts supplies.  I haven’t even looked in the (surely tidy) closet which Shan so generously unpacked and hung all my clothes in.  Thus this morning I dressed in the only known clean pair of work pants (washed on Friday and left all weekend crushed in the bottom of a laundry basket, luckily I had the foresight to borrow an ironing board from my landlord yesterday to make curtains) and sweater despite the crazy warm temps here, I knew where the sweaters were (it’s a light a weight one as I could find).

A big, giant thank you to the men who hauled all my furniture up the stairs and did not break or damage anything.  Everything is in the place and ready to go, except, well I have only a lone office chair to sit it, which has been moving between the sewing table and the computer desk all weekend.  I think when I finally get around to having a couch it will be the most exciting thing ever.  Or, you know, even a single chair that doesn’t roll.

Here is my Amazon wish list, it is lofty and full of exciting home things I need (psst, my birthday is in 67 days!) or just want (there’s a lot of wanting going on).  I’m hoping to spend the next couple weeks scouring thrift and antique stores to find a drop leaf table for the kitchen and a couple chairs for in there.  And shelves, or something for shelf use. And anything else I see that I might need. It’s weird I feel like I have a relatively minimalist kitchen set up (at least as minimalist as it can be for someone who likes to cook) and yet I’m still surprised by house much stuff one needs even for a small household. I have purchased hundreds and hundreds of dollars of things in the past few weeks and still there’s more (always more).  I can barely comprehend how much stuff it takes to set up a new household for one person.  I totally understand the origin of wedding registries now. It’s just craziness.  Anyway, if you won the lottery this weekend, feel free to get on Amazon and buy me that couch.  In the meantime I’m contemplating how I can build one from the boxes, boxes everywhere (and not a place to sit) and few throw pillows.

Here is the picture I posted on FB yesterday of the kitchen:

I meant to take one this morning of the sea of  unpacking misery, but alas, did not remember too (although I did take out the trash!).  Here’s hoping I can make today a short work day and start making a dent in the mess, yeah?


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Start at the beginning of time

Happy New Year!  It’s 1-1-11, so I am calling it a new beginning.  As with so many beginnings I have no idea where the end will be.  I am going to try and not burden myself with too many resolutions, too many stumbling blocks to trip me up if I fail at them.  Instead I will simply say that I am determined to end 2011 in a better place than I am beginning it.

And in the course of that I hope to exercise more, sew more, learn more about sewing, read more, sleep more, and smile more.  And, you know, floss regularly.

In lieu of anything deep or meaningful to say in my own words, I’ll start the year with some of my favorite poetry.  Frederico Garcia Lorca:

Clock Echo

I sat down
in a clearing in time.
It was a pool of silence.
White silence.
Incredible ring
where the bright stars collide
with a dozen floating
black numbers.

First/Last Meditation

Time
is in night’s colors.
Quiet night.
Over enormous moons,
eternity
is set at twelve.
Time’s gone to sleep
forever
in his tower.
All clocks
deceive us.
Time at last has
horizons.


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My house, in the middle of my street

I know I’ve been promising pictures of the new house for months.  Well I have them, although I wonder why I took them when the house was so messy (don’t you go saying that it’s always messy).   If you want to see the whole house, endless hallways and all, I’ve put a set up at Flickr. I some how skipped the bed room all together, and the porches, and the laundry room and the bathroom (the tile is cool), but you’ll get some idea from the pics, I guess.

The house has many good points, but for the first time ever I have my own dedicated sewing room!  Look:

Ha!  These pictures didn’t seem so dark originally.  But there it is, in all it’s messy, lavender glory. It has fabric and notions and machines and books and shoes and a little TV for DVD movies to keep me company.  I want to get another table, for cutting, to put where the red tupperware bins are currently.  So yeah, I should get on some sewing projects, huh?


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The season of giving

That is, the season of giving things to ME.  Look what Talk to Owls bought me:

It’s a shiny, PURPLE, girly bike for riding ’round town and ’round the park.  In case you forgot, TTO is charming, sweet and generous.  I didn’t forget.  I didn’t even need the bike to remind me, although it sure is nice to have.

My mom got me a shiny new phone which  am quit smitten with.  Except for getting used to typing on a touch screen it is perhaps the easiest, most intuitive device I have ever owned.

I also finished THREE sewing projects this weekend.  Pictures and project progress updates soon, I swear.  For now I am going to go take my last autumnal apple cake out of the oven (don’t be sad, winter gingerbread cake starts soon). And read a book.


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filling in the cracks

I really need to get some pictures taken of the new house for you all.  Also I need to get some pictures up on the walls in the new house.  In the mean time here’s some before and afters of my minor home improvements.

Here’s my sewing room pre-paint:

It just wasn’t a relaxing blue.  Too much like a plastic cap on a water bottle or something. So I fixed it:

Pretty! And inspiring! Will soon get some pics of it now that it’s all full of furniture.  It lacks a comfy sitting chair, but is otherwise and excellent personal retreat.

The living room is gorgeous with greenish grey walls, a huge fireplace and rich, dark wood floors.  Some creepy clown painted just the wall over the fireplace this hideous, yucky, utterly uncoordinated red:

This picture does not even begin to demonstrate how much this red really, really does not fit in this room.  Painting would have required exactly matching the surrounding paint. Too much trouble.  Instead we upholstered it with some heavy black twill fabric I had laying around:

Now it’s a lovely, theatery media center.  Also we have no fancy cable in favor of internet TV.  I’m so stupidly pleased with Netflix streaming.

—-

It’s not my usual source of content for you but here’s two celebrity photos that have made me really happy this week:

Manly (there’s an alternate universe where I’m married to Matt Damon and Clint Eastwood is my dad and they are besties)

WHEEEEEEEEEE! (look at that face!  Also, wow, I wish I looked as effortlessly cool as Alyson Hannigan when I was just hanging out)


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Ain’t nothin’ gonna to break my stride

"Raven and the First Men" by Bill Reid at the Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver, BC.

I think the less said about moving the better?  I will say that no matter how long you have to complete it (3 weeks or 3 days) it still sucks just as much. Also rumors of my impending move to the West Coast have been greatly exaggerated.  Sorry.  All I can say about that is that in this economy good jobs are better than freedom to move around.  And in any economy it’s nice to keep a good boyfriend close as well.

Of course since I haven’t been thinking about anything but moving, I don’t have anything else to talk about.  I read this old post from Bruce Sterling.  There’s a lot of irrelevant info in there so let me quote the important parts:

What is “sustainability?” Sustainable practices navigate successfully through time and space, while others crack up and vanish. So basically, the sustainable is about time – time and space. You need to re-think your relationship to material possessions in terms of things that occupy your time. The things that are physically closest to you. Time and space.

In earlier, less technically advanced eras, this approach would have been far-fetched. Material goods were inherently difficult to produce, find, and ship. They were rare and precious. They were closely associated with social prestige. Without important material signifiers such as wedding china, family silver, portraits, a coach-house, a trousseau and so forth, you were advertising your lack of substance to your neighbors. If you failed to surround yourself with a thick material barrier, you were inviting social abuse and possible police suspicion. So it made pragmatic sense to cling to heirlooms, renew all major purchases promptly, and visibly keep up with the Joneses.

That era is dying. It’s not only dying, but the assumptions behind that form of material culture are very dangerous. These objects can no longer protect you from want, from humiliation – in fact they are causes of humiliation, as anyone with a McMansion crammed with Chinese-made goods and an unsellable SUV has now learned at great cost.

Furthermore, many of these objects can damage you personally. The hours you waste stumbling over your piled debris, picking, washing, storing, re-storing, those are hours and spaces that you will never get back in a mortal lifetime. Basically, you have to curate these goods: heat them, cool them, protect them from humidity and vermin. Every moment you devote to them is lost to your children, your friends, your society, yourself.

It’s not bad to own fine things that you like. What you need are things that you GENUINELY like. Things that you cherish, that enhance your existence in the world. The rest is dross.

Do not “economize.” Please. That is not the point. The economy is clearly insane. Even its champions are terrified by it now. It’s melting the North Pole. So “economization” is not your friend. Cheapness can be value-less. Voluntary simplicity is, furthermore, boring. Less can become too much work.

The items that you use incessantly, the items you employ every day, the normal, boring goods that don’t seem luxurious or romantic: these are the critical ones. They are truly central. The everyday object is the monarch of all objects. It’s in your time most, it’s in your space most. It is “where it is at,” and it is “what is going on.”

It takes a while to get this through your head, because it’s the opposite of the legendary of shopping. However: the things that you use every day should be the best-designed things you can get. For instance, you cannot possibly spend too much money on a bed – (assuming you have a regular bed, which in point of fact I do not). You’re spending a third of your lifetime in a bed. Your bed might be sagging, ugly, groaning and infested with dust mites, because you are used to that situation and cannot see it. That calamity might escape your conscious notice. See it. Replace it.

Sell – even give away– anything you never use. Fancy ball gowns, tuxedos, beautiful shoes wrapped in bubblepak that you never wear, useless Christmas gifts from well-meaning relatives, junk that you inherited. Sell that stuff. Take the money, get a real bed. Get radically improved everyday things.

Sterling says some other great stuff, but the main thrust here is rethinking your (my) relationship with stuff.  Obviously we all do this every time we move.  That’s the easy part: you look at something and think, “Do I like this enough to pack it, carry it twice, unpack it and put it away?” But I feel like I haven’t been saying “No,” in answer to that enough.  So I’ve been thinking much harder about what value objects have to me.  Are they sentimentally meaningful? Like old pictures of my grandparents? If yes, I’m making them active by doing things like framing those pictures and putting them up in my office where I see them everyday instead of just storing them away.

I think some of it is a factor of age as well.  I can look at knickknacks and trinkets now and think, “Am I using this as a way to express or define myself?”  If the answer is yes, then out it goes.  I guess maybe I know myself better now?  The same is true with books.  Do I have this book so people will see it and think that I am the kind of person who has this book? Yes? Away with you!  Of course, I also have a Kindle now, which has greatly changed my relationship with books.  I still love books.  I still want them.  But now I look at them and keep only the ones that are rare, special, or with strong visual impact. Shelves of paperback novels I might read again someday? Gone!  If it can be acquired from the library or for the Kindle it doesn’t need to take up space.

And it isn’t happening this week, moving or not, but I would like to move toward simply owning less stuff.  Or more stuff, as long as it’s genuinely meaningful or useful.  I have been thinking about this for a long time and I am glad to have a chance to begin to seriously act on this change.

If you’ve read this far and you’re still wondering how the picture on this post relates, it doesn’t really, but it does.  I just really love that sculpture and I found a postcard picture of it while I was packing and discarding unnecessary objects, so I thought I’d share the picture with you, rather than hoard away the post card.


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Coming up for air again and again

[Most of this post has been sitting in ‘draft’ form for a week or more.  Lately I just can’t seem to line myself up to post, or finish any thing really. Will work on posting more regularly here to hopefully give my non-work life some structure. My weeks ago post saying that I am all over the place has definitely been true.]

Went Weds. night last week to the seeekrit pre-opening of the Mas Tacos storefront location.  She did an amazing job on the location.  It feels like it’s just a south of the border taco joint that’s kind of outside time and space. The atmosphere made the tacos even better. Especially the awesome jukebox. They open on Tuesday, if you’re in Nashville, you should go.

I’m also desperately awaiting the opening of the Brentwood location of the Local Taco [HA!  Since I wrote this, it’s opened and I’ve been–didn’t like it as much as the original location, but we did go on opening day, so they get some super slack].  This is my new favorite place ever.  Partly because I love tacos and having more places to get them is good.  Partly because the tacos are gooooood.  And once they had sauteed Swiss chard with Shitake mushrooms as a side that was so spectacularly out of this world, I don’t even know how to explain it to you.  I do know I’ll be cooking more in the near future and I see a lot of experimenting with Swiss chard until I can duplicate that amazing dish. YUM YUM YUM.

It’s been stupidly hot in Nashville.  Fortunately I am house sitting for some friends that have a lovely pool.  Air conditioning is great for keeping cool.  Swimming before bed is even better.  It turns out that if you go swimming right at sunset, the bats are circling the yard and skimming the top of the pool for about 20 minutes. It’s a little weird, as they fly low right over you, down the length of the pool and then up. I can’t tell if they are skimming the surface accidentally while looking for bugs, or if they are cooling their bellies on hot evenings. It’s kind of like being in a nature show though!  Last night a hawk sat on the pavement surrounding the pool, just watching, until he noticed me and flew up to watch from the nearby tree.  I wonder if he was waiting for the bats?

Work is, well, work.  I know I haven’t been writing here.  I could say I don’t have time, but that isn’t true.  I’ve spent a lot of evenings reading on the porch (until it’s gets too dark or too hot, hot usually happens first), or out running around with Talk to Owls, or just, I dunno, pretending I’m getting “stuff” done but mostly flitting around like a spaz.  Housesitting means vacation really, since most everything I think I should be doing requires me to be in my own house.  Work has leveled out to normal hours. So I have time, though mostly I’m too tired to bother doing anything creative, fun or useful. I don’t see that changing in the next few months.  Plus my learning curve on the job is really steep right now (speaking of, I should totally be working right at this second–I’m purposely procrastinating until I calm down enough to feel like I’m actually absorbing information).  I guess what I am trying to get at (ironically in an all over the place kind of way) is that I’m completely scattered.  Mostly in my home/personal life, but that’s definitely bled into work (not in getting work done, but in understanding the work and fitting it in to a convenient pattern).  Even though I am reading and swimming and trying not to overwhelm myself with “Right now I SHOULD be doing…) still I feel like everything is speeding by at this accelerated pace that was created by work in the 6 weeks following the flood.  Working less doesn’t seem to be allowing me to fit more into my life.  I can’t seem even to focus enough to explain to myself how I feel right now.  Loose ends, I suppose.  Lots and lots of loose ends. Come too short to even tie together.


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when summer arrives it sparkles

Another Sunday afternoon at work.  This is, I believe, my 24th day in a row at work.  And cloudy with a chance of storms.  I swear there’s been like 2 dry days this month.  I’m sure I heard some weather guy say weeks ago that the second half of May would be dry.  I guess it’s drier than May 1 & 2, but then almost anything would be.

I’ve been too busy/tired/overworked/uninteresting to post lately.  I almost posted the other night to tell you about my night off.  It consisted of watching recorded eps of 30 Rock, soaking my feet in epsom salts, and eating a dinner of cheese toast dipped in marinara, olives and white wine spritzers.  It was actually a lovely evening.

Last night I used my night off to go see Kevin Gordon, Eric Brace and Peter Cooper at Puckett’s Grocery.  It was a wonderful, intimate show, that way that only seems to happen in Nashville.  There were kids dancing around. One toddler called out, “Good bye, Peter, I’ll be right back!” as her parents carried her out the door.  As if, someone from the stage commented, she was going to drop her parents off and be right back to party.  Good music, good company.  The waitress told my date he looked like Russell Crowe.  Fun was had by everyone, I htink.

The drive to Leiper’s Fork was beautiful as always.  I saw several deer eating in rich people’s yards.  A Bull resting after a long day of standing about in a field.  A heron flying overhead.  Turkeys hunting down dinner.  A bat swooping low to get the good, early evening bugs. On the drive home, I missed a fox because I was looking out the wrong window.  But it didn’t matter because out my window were fields and fields of fireflies.  So dense and bright that it looked like fairies were dancing between the trees.


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joy joy joy

This is my new car.  She doesn’t have a name yet.  She is a Toyota Matrix S.  She has fancy tinted windows, a sunroof, power everything and good stereo. She is, by far and away, the nicest car I have ever owned.

I have been working insane, ridiculous, crazy hours at my new job as result of the aftermath of the floods.  It’s slowly getting under control, but I don’t know when I will come up for air socially again.  I actually conducted most of my new car purchase by email and phone.  It turns out that if you are very busy, you can just call the dealership and tell them you are very busy but want to give them money, and they will bring cars to your work to test drive and do as much paperwork as they can without you.  It’s awesome.  A good tip from my mom for all of you!  You don’t even have to be busy to use this tactic, just lazy!


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At least there will be cake.

We have reached that time of year again!  Count down to my birthday!  This year I am counting down not because I am excited but because I am sort of ambivalent about it and trying to get excited. I have a weird thing about birthdays that end in 7.  Like 30 and 35? No big deal. 37? Do not want.

I’m not planning a party, although I might road trip to New Orleans for Jazz Fest that weekend.  Who knows? We’ll see. Maybe I’ll just around and eat cake and feel sorry for myself.  The possibilities are endless.

And as always, no presents necessary, though I do like little notes from any and all of you.  If you really need to show your affection, I’m down for non-material gifts (spa or massage certificates, theatre tickets and the like).  If you really, really want to get me something, the two things I want the most are multiple yards of this fabric or these boots (size 8).  Both make me swoony.  And yes, I would make a dress of the fabric and wear the boots with it. Every day. Still, if you are spending money, consider donating to Haiti relief in my name.  Or the American Heart Association.  Of course my birthday is 34 days away, so you plenty of time to win the lottery and do all of the above.

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rainy days and Sundays

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I had the best day at Cheekwood.  It rained, but not too hard, so I dressed in my Seattle gear and was unfazed by it as we stomped through the gardens.  The museum had a superbly curated American Impressionist exhibit.  But the high point was the security guard.  We were going to take a quick pass through the Fabergé exhibit, as I’d seen it before but my companion hadn’t and we stayed because the security guard was giving a long, impromptu history lecture on the exhibit to a bunch of wealthy, 60+ white women.  He was a 40-something black man and his speech patterns and slang indicated sort of an average Southern, probably lower class background.  But.  Oh man, I can barely describe the beauty of the lecture he gave.  He had clearly spent a ton of time researching the history of Fabergé, the Russian Revolution, the Czars and all.  I sat on a bench with my phone and tried to transcribe notes of what he was saying.  All I managed to get down was:

“Yeah, Fabergé don’t make no junk.”
“You on that internet? Get on Netflix and get ‘The Czar’s Eggs.’ It’ll tell you about this. About that Nicholas and his Czarina and that one boy he had with the hemophilia. He was okay, then this knucklehead, Rasputin, comes in and it’s just a shame that People’s Revolution killed all those people.  Just a shame.”
“That artist [Fabergé] you got to give a high five too, the highest of fives.”

He went on about this one particular object , the Imperial Lilies-of-the-Valley Basket, and how there were 42 Fabergé eggs in the world but the Imperial Lilies-of-the-Valley Basket was the only one.  He told the ladies how the Czarina loved it so much that she took it from room to room with her so she could always admire it.  He knew, in depth, about each object in the Fabergé collection, he spoke how they were made and what they were used for.  Talked about Fabergé using his art to gain favor with the Czar by pleasing the Czarina with gifts.

As we were leaving he was telling about how everyone should come back for the upcoming Chihuly exhibit and demonstrated a fairly extensive about of knowledge on the that subject as well.

It was so pleasing, so wonderful to hear someone who was clearly self taught, speak so eloquently (in his own way), proudly and so knowledgeably about art.  Really, it was joyous and filled me with glee.

Afterwards we walked the water gardens and the Japanese garden in the rain.  Sat for a while under the roofed viewing area in the Japanese garden while it rained harder.

Then I spent too much money in the gift shop.  And had a lovely conversation with the woman who worked there (Mom, I think it was same woman as when you and I went) about art and about how Chihuly is such a marketing maniac that you can’t barely stock a gift shop without his say so (I didn’t get the impression that she cared for him much, heh).

Sometimes I think I could stay in Nashville forever if I could work at Cheekwood.  I wonder if they need a digital archivist?  I could maintain their botany library and the family’s private collections!  Heaven!

Here are some of my favorites of the Impressionist pictures I saw today.

Otto Stark – French Garden

Luther Emerson Van Gorder – Japanese Lanterns

Lilliam Wescott Hale – An Old Cherry Tree

Edith Baretto Parsons – Turtle Baby

Charles Coutney Curran – In the Luxembourg Garden

There was also a William Posey Silva piece that I can’t find a picture of that was called “Garden of Dreams” c. 1925 That was lovely.  Definitely want to see more of his work.

Yes, today was very good day.

Picture taken today with my phone, out the rain-streaked upper window of the Cheekwood mansion.  The window was in the middle of the Impressionists exhibit and I thought it looked Impressionistic too.


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Love at first sight

Bought for a song from a lovely little old lady too arthritic to sew.  Works.  But… It really needs a new power cord/pedal assembly.  Debating buying one ($45–much more than the machine)  or seeing if one of my music nerd friends is enough of a patch cable making dork to just wire/solder new cords on to the existing female plug end and pedal that I have. Still, despite all that–LOOK HOW PRETTY!  This picture does not do it’s shiny chromeness justice.  This is the ’57 Chevy of sewing machines  (it’s a ’57 Canadian Kenmore).


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Obligatory Annual (Nerdy) Ides Post

The Ides of March

The term Ides comes from the earliest Roman calendar, which is said to have been devised by Romulus, the mythical founder of Rome. Whether it was Romulus or not, the inventor of this calendar had a penchant for complexity. The Roman calendar organized its months around three days, each of which served as a reference point for counting the other days:

Kalends (1st day of the month)
Nones (the 7th day in March, May, July, and October; the 5th in the other months)
Ides (the 15th day in March, May, July, and October; the 13th in the other months)
The remaining, unnamed days of the month were identified by counting backwards from the Kalends, Nones, or the Ides. For example, March 3 would be Five Nones—5 days before the Nones (the Roman method of counting days was inclusive; in other words, the Nones would be counted as one of the 5 days).

Used in the first Roman calendar as well as in the Julian calendar (established by Julius Caesar in 45 B.C.E.) the confusing system of Kalends, Nones, and Ides continued to be used to varying degrees throughout the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance.

So, the Ides of March is just one of a dozen Ides that occur every month of the year. Kalends, the word from which calendar is derived, is another exotic-sounding term with a mundane meaning. Kalendrium means account book in Latin: Kalend, the first of the month, was in Roman times as it is now, the date on which bills are due.

(This is simply a repost of a post I’ve made annually for a 4 or 5 years now.)


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useless information


It’s sunny and vaguely spring like outside.  I’d like to be out there.  Alas, I am sick.  Again.  It’s like my sinuses are total drama queens and get all uppity if I stop paying attention to them.  Sadly they can only get attention by pouring snot down my face.  Gross.  Sorry.

So in the interest of attempting to entertain myself (and you) here’s some search terms people have used to find my blog.  I think we should have some sort of game where we make sentences out of them.  Or maybe write short stories using all the search terms.

photos of kind deeds
how can we make spring
cherokee purple tomato
sunlight deficit disorder
vampire diaries house
kiss under star trees
stuff to goodwill
fancy stockings
wear stockings vampires rock
original fashion pattern
profoundly sad
white blouse
men blouse sew
fox news skirt length
learn how to kiss
how to create neat seams after sewing ugly ones
rhubarb custard souffle
“old busted hotness”

I think “fox news skirt length” is my favorite.  What is that even about?

And while I’m sharing, here’s my semi-regular cleaning of the open tabs on my desktop.  I apparently can only close them when I’ve shared them with you all.

How to order a beer in 50 languages.  Very handy.  Maybe need to bookmark on my phone for future use.

In the past I have often imagined using shipping containers for building.  None of my previous ideas were as fantastic as the ones here.

Fairytale skirts.  I’m not sure I would wear these, but I love them nonetheless.

The third one here is totally me. Heh.

One hundred book jackets in a box.

I took today’s picture in March 2003.  It’s the Quad at the University of Washington.  Warm days and cherry blossoms are the stuff my current fantasies are made of.


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shopping related injuries and retail therapy

I went thrifting Monday and stupidly didn’t get a cart.  Last night my left arm hurt and I quickly realized that it was from carrying armloads of stuff around the store for hours.  Oops.  My old lady status increases daily as I realize things like this.

Most of my purchases were project related but I did manage to find one fantastic dress for myself.  New, tags still on.  The stitching is slightly ripped at the waist, but easily enough fixed.  Indeed it needs slight alterations for perfect fit in that area anyway.  And new buttons and a matching slip, as it is fairly see through.  Still, even with the work ahead of me it was well worth the dollar I pair for it.

And an up close of the pattern:

Turquoise buttons and a turquoise slip and it will be perfect of spring ever arrives.

Remember my “no spend” for February?  No non-necessities (I don’t count dollar dresses in this). I was doing FANTASTIC.  Until yesterday.  But sometimes the universe says, hey, here’s the perfect $80 shoes at 70% off and you can’t say no.

$23 worth of love.  Think these shoes, this dress.

You may well wonder what I was doing in a shoe store if I’m not spending money unnecessarily?  Well I was hopefully looking for inexpensive, but quality and comfortable shoes for work.  Walking for hours on concrete floors seems to take the comfort out of shoes quickly.  I find I need at least three pairs to rotate between and at least one of those comes to the end of it’s useful life for waiting tables in three or so months.  I did manage to find a new pair of clogs.  And again, my old lady status rises daily:


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How I spent my winter vacation

Today was a do nothing day.  It snowed and snowed and snowed.  Tons of snow. Okay, well, a little snow in general, but a lot of snow for Nashville.  We just aren’t equipped or prepared for it this far south.  And it was a little layer of ice, a few inches of snow, more ice, more snow and a final topping of ice.  Suffice to say, given the opportunity (and a rare Saturday off work), I stayed in bed.

Which isn’t to say I did nothing.  I managed to some stuff.  I did dress up all warmly this morning to go clear the snow off the porch and steps (for the fourth time), only to discover that after the previous clearings there was nothing left but ice.  Am considering dumping a couple buckets of warm water down it tomorrow.

Since I had pants on already, I took a few pictures, just for the memories.  I confess, I just don’t like snow.  I get it, I mean, I know people like it.  They like snow sports and days off school and the sort of freedom to goof off that Americans get when it’s a rare or major snow.  But I don’t like it.  Yes, it is pretty when it’s freshly fallen.  Yes, it is quiet and pleasant for a romantic walk or an introspective one (if dressed properly).  Still, I don’t like it.  Sledding?  Cold, wet gross and mostly associated with getting snow down the back of my pants. Not fun.  Ditto snowball fights and snow angels. And, after the initial pretty snowfall, urban snow is just gross. Mashed up, dirty, trodden on and weirdly polluted.  Traffic is awful.  Especially in places like Tennessee where almost no one knows how to drive in it, and the few transplants who do either opt not too, or get too cocky and forget that all the other people on the road have no idea what they are doing.  I just don’t like it.  It makes me cranky, crotchety, bitter and unpleasant.

Um, oops, oh yes, I wasn’t ranting, I was detailing my day.  So I went outside.  Then I came back in and hunkered down with my laptop all day.  I installed all the software that had fallen by the wayside when I updated my OS.  I reinstalled all my fonts and lost some time to finding a few pretty new ones (I do love fonts).  I cleaned out my browser bookmarks (backed up first, of course).  5 years of bookmarks.  FIVE YEARS.  Whole folders of hundreds of links I hadn’t even looked at in 2 or 3 or more years.  There’s something oddly satisfying about doing that kind of clean up.  I tided a few folders on my computers.  Organized some photos.  Backed up everything on my external drive.  Managed to clear up 54 gigs of space on my laptop (a lot of stuff had gotten duplicated in the transfer after the OS upgrade, I guess).  Spent a little time tweaking things, as Windows 7 is easy and lovely and light but still new in some ways. I made to-do lists of other things I need to do (which I will start on as soon as I post this). I shopped for and purchased a new bedspread (mine is functional, and in decent shape, it’s just uncomfortable and I kind of hate it). It was a day of nothing and still something of a useful day of clearing up loose ends.

I also watched Twilight.  Now, I haven’t read the books and have no intention of it.  I have very clear idea of the plot through the whole series and I know why some people like it and why others don’t.  I’ve heard critiques of author and of the film.  The whole thing borders on a pop culture joke. Still, I was curious so I watched it.  I admit to liking some pretty lame movies.  I don’t expect my entertainment to always be highbrow or anything.  And overall, for what it was, this movie wasn’t that bad.  It was silly and very cheesy but could have been enjoyable.  However, Edward (or rather the actor playing him) really ruined it for me.  Wow, his BAD BAD BAD overacting and weird pained looks and just bizarreness in how he played the character.  It was painful.  And also, the movie was pretty beautiful in parts (enough to make me really homesick for the West Coast), but I’m unclear on the decision not to have shot it on the Olympic Peninsula, where it takes place.  I recognized a lot of the PNW locations they used (mostly in Oregon and south central Washington).  They were gorgeous locations, but they didn’t look like Forks.  Perhaps the choice was made because there isn’t much picturesque about Forks.  Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of good memories tied to Forks and the surrounding Reservation and forest land.  Just, you know, it doesn’t look anything like central Washington or Oregon.  And yes, it was a cheesy movie, but aside from Edward’s bad acting, what really pulled me out of it was not at all feeling  like where they filmed it looked right.  Like it was green and grey and wet in all the right ways, but it wasn’t the coast.  It lacked salt air or something. I suspect I’m a minority of viewers who would have such a problem.

I’m actually quite cheerful and pleased with my day, even though I suspect this post comes over all rantypants and insane.

Hi!  What did you all do with your Saturday?