Let’s have a celebratory party! Can I throw my own party? Is that a no-no? Because I’m pretty excited about my book, This Charming Man, being released into the wild and we should at least have a drink, right?
If you run into me in person I suggest not asking me about it unless you want your ear talked off. It seems like I should have used up all my excess verbiage in actually writing the book, but nope, I still have plenty more to say about the characters and the setting. So brace yourself if you engage me in that conversation.
And I could spend all day thanking Jugum Press for publishing me, adding me to their eclectic cache of books. Even you think you’re not into my book, well there’re probably some books over there you’d like. The editing Annie Pearson did for me was so above and beyond, I’m eternally grateful.
So let’s celebrate, get you a copy of the book and settle in with a drink and a quiet read. After you can come over and I’ll cook and we talk about the book,okay? Or alternately you can go review it in the venue of your choosing and I’ll just be over here drinking and hoping that you liked it.
It’s 1991 and Steven Frazier has danced away half a decade in the Seattle club scene with his beautiful-but-poisonous best friend, Adrian. Two glittering princes against the world, too high above life to care about what they might be missing.
But everything changes when a chance meeting with older—not to mention handsome—businessman John Pieters, reveals a cosmopolitan world and possible futures Steven’s never considered.
Flashy club clothes won’t impress John, this charming man who knows so much about many things. Motivated by fantasies inspired by his crush on John, can Steven finally fight Adrian’s sick hold?
As he steps out into the larger world, supported by new friends, Steven must prove to John—and to himself—that he’s not a hedonistic rhinestone club kid, but a true diamond in the rough.
I hope many of you are already reading The Gay Men Project. If you aren’t I’m glad to introduce you to it. It is, I suppose, something like Humans of New York, but both larger and more narrow. I love reading the first person accounts of these men’s lives. How diverse their experiences are, how different. Seeing the older men talk about the times they came out, how they came out, how being gay affected their lives. And the younger men, not all, but so many saying how being gay is such a small part of their identity, just a thing, nothing to make a big deal about.
I think about this a lot, this split. I am so grateful, so thankful, that simply being gay is slowly becoming meaningless. Just an aspect of a person, not their entire identity. This is hugely important and the kind of acceptance we’ve been fighting for all these years. And I feel a little loss in the face of it. ‘Gay’ has never been a homogenous (heh) culture but a mass of connected subcultures and it’s hard to see those dissapear. Yes, the terrible sterotypes, the negative judgements are washing away with them and good riddance. But there was once a narrative that we are losing. An oral tradition of sorts, codes of conduct, akin to secret handshakes, passed down from generation to generation. And even the stereotypes weren’t all bad, many existed and allowed you to find your own, even when outsiders couldn’t quite see what was going on.
Truly the need for secrecy was awful. It existed to keep gay people safe. That there was so much threat, to their jobs, lives, and persons, that it required being hidden was terrible. Being 40, I lived only on the very far edges of that, heard about, passed down verbally to me, as the history of a subculture. I’m glad the threat is lessening, dissipating. But the stories, the transfer of information from person to person is disappearing too. Becoming ancient lore, mythology, something barely seen. Subtext in old books and movies is lost, without this code and key to understand it. And that part I’m going to miss when it’s gone. It’s becoming a humorous stereotype of all it’s own, gay movies now filled with a greek chorus of older gay men shaking their heads at the youth of today for not knowing the great gay icons, not knowing the struggle.
The Gay Men Project preserves some of this passed on history. You can see bits and pieces of it in older men’s stories, still being shared, in a different way to the next generation.
I also love the diversity of pictures, of people. In an era when gay men’s bodies are becoming as scrutinized and modified as women’s have long been, it’s nice to have a break from the sculpted abs and designer clothes. To see real people shouldn’t be be so refreshing, but it is and it’s a great reminder that being out is what gives us all freedom. When you can see that these are simply your neighbors, your friends, your family, integral parts of your community. Not monsters or perverts, but average people, it’s so very important to the cause, to equality, to freedom.
So thanks, Kevin Truong, for the work you’re doing to relay this these beautiful stories and pictures.
Last night I went and saw Only Lovers Left Alive with Darrah. It was playing, as far as we could tell, only one week, Mon-Thur, two shows a night, at different times each night. At a theater inconvenient to most anyone who would probably be interested in it. If they could even discover it was playing. 7pm on Thursday and the audience was the two of us, a solitary fangirl (I saw you, ma’am and recognized what you are), and two 50s-ish guys. I mean I guess the theater can argue the limited run was for lack of interest but, c’mon, Nashville. Why wasn’t this at the Belcourt,and publicized, like at all?
Still I’m grateful we saw it the theater, and in a quiet theater no less, because it was amazing. I couldn’t watch the first couple minutes, where everything was spinning. Too vertigo-y for my delicate brain constitution, but the rest of it was fucking perfect.
I want to crawl inside this movie and live forever. I over identified with Adam’s character, so crawling inside it obviously means Tilda Swinton would be my wife, which is all I’ve ever wanted out of the world. But there’s more reasons than that. My coworker asked what it was about this morning, and I said, “it was vampire movie, but if I had to use single words to describe it they would be: soft, comfortable, calm and romantic.” There really wasn’t angst and suffering in OLLA, just a little irritation and exasperation. And of course, the vampire thing. I started reading Anne Rice and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro when I was 14 or 15. Yep the vampire thing is kind of over played in pop culture now, but it will always be a huge part of my emotional and intellectual upbringing. OLLA was the vampire movie of my goth teenager dreams. It filled me with the same calm wonder as discovering the Romantic poets did, or finding The Chameleons UK and feeling like someone else really understood my inner world.
The pacing of the movie was oddly relaxing. There was no real sense of urgency in it, even when people were hurrying to do things. There was tension, but it never felt scary or anxiety inducing. There was just this pervading sense that whatever came could be handled, somehow. Which is perfect, if you’ve lived forever and been through everything, sure this too shall pass, you know it will. The film was also very much a snap shot. No long flashbacks, only casual discussion of their long past together. Just here, right now, a small window into a long long life. And everything was left to be inferred. There was no explanation for vampirism or powers or anything, it was just a given you’d know some parts and figure out others.
And of course now all I want to do is go shop for just the right white leather jacket. I mean if I can’t marry Tilda Swinton can I at least please be super cool like her?
I left the theater feeling both calmed and utterly delighted. I want to write stories like this. Stories that are merely a slice of life, a small window of a larger tale, but still utterly engaging and interesting. Stories that lack complicated plots but are rich and detailed with character, scene, setting and tone.
I totally recommend OLLA, but watch it undistracted, so you can live in it while it unfolds.
So ever since I saw the movie I have been thinking about the striped sweater that Kristen Wiig wears on the plane in Bridesmaids.
Of course it’s no longer in stores and all the similar ones I can find are priced way out of anything I can afford. So I set out to make it. How hard could it be, anyway? It’s like three pieces of fabric.
Test run #1 wasn’t the right fabric, but close enough. I used a shirt pattern I already had and tried to guess about how it should be broken up between stripes and black. The end result is wearable, although just not quite there yet:
But it’s close and super comfortable and it’s the first tee shirt I’ve ever made! Sewing with knits is not fun. Seriously do not like it. But the end result is good enough that I’m definitely keeping it. My second attempt I drafted my own pattern and found better fabric. Alas the pattern fit was wonky and way off and the fabric shrunk like crazy when washed. Still it is also wearable if not exactly perfect:
So close and yet still so far. I might make one final run on this. Redraft the pattern, keep hunting for the right fabric and eventually end up with the unbelievably simple shirt. Or maybe I’ll just give up and be happy with what I have. I mean I know how to sew tee shirts now. A whole new world of sewing is open to me!
Scrolling back through entries here I see I’ve often posted at length on the Winter Solstice, but not for the Summer.
Summer begins at 6:09pm. In Middle Tennessee, the sun today rose at 5:30am, then sets at 8:07pm, giving us 14.6 hours of sunlight. The longest day of the year.
I’ve always had a complicated relationship with the Summer Solstice. Here in Tennessee I feel a little cheated, perhaps because of our latitude. If I was in Seattle today I’d have a full 16 hours of daylight, being so much further north. It is one of the glorious delights of the North, the drastic changes in the amount of light make you value the seasons. It somehow gives you more visible seasonal drama beyond mere temperature changes and plants returning to life. And yet, even in the Great North I always felt the Summer Solstice to be somewhat bittersweet.
The light diminishes after flaring it’s brightest on this day. In Tennessee it means less in than it does in the North, as it will never get as dark in winter, so there is less burden to bear on that end. Indeed, the longest days of summer are still ahead of us, if we are measuring by heat, laziness and availability of good food cooked outside on a grill. But the light passing has always felt like loss to me. A downward journey that eventually ends in the darkness of winter. The beauty of autumn is joy to behold. As is the desolation of winter in it’s own way. Still today feel like an ending, a turn we took, walking away from spring. Fortunately spring will return next year, no matter what we do, and on the Winter Solstice we can look longingly at the slow the return of the light, knowing that spring must come on the heels of the sun’s return.
I don’t know the origins of my dark view of midsummer. Perhaps growing up so far north, where the loss of the sun means so much darkness. Perhaps it’s burned in genetic memory from my Scandinavian and Scottish ancestors. It’s no mystery that the Scandinavian cultures, and for northern European ones, celebrate Midsummer as a massive festival. Because indeed today feels massive, like the most there is, the best you can have, ALL the sunlight. And yet it is only today, quickly fleeting, like everything in life.
“She knows, now, absolutely, hearing the white noise that is London, that Damien’s theory of jet lag is correct: that her mortal soul is leagues behind her, being reeled in on some ghostly umbilical down the vanished wake of the plane that brought her here, hundreds of thousands of feet above the Atlantic. Souls can’t move that quickly, and are left behind, and must be awaited, upon arrival, like lost luggage.”
– William Gibson, Pattern Recognition (full quote here)
Yesterday morning (relatively speaking, to my current sense of time), I got on a plane in Barcelona. It flew out over the Mediterranean, which was spectacularly blue, and then turned sharply and went directly over Sitges, a town I had visited just days before. I wept copiously with a great sense of loss as the plane went over the entire length of the Pyrenees, until reached the Bay of Biscay and turned over the Atlantic, towards Philadephia.
I am presently too tired, too soul-lagged to tell you about it. Indeed I may never getting around to writing a narrative of it, but I promise lots and lots of pictures as soon as I get all 500+ of them sorted and tagged and all that modern day nonsense that allows me to foist my living room vacation slide show on you. For now my soul is still somewhere over the Pyrenees, perhaps, still dreaming of the Mediterranean.
What Spain Was Like
Spain was a taut, dry drum-head Daily beating a dull thud Flatlands and eagle’s nest Silence lashed by the storm. How much, to the point of weeping, in my soul I love your hard soil, your poor bread, Your poor people, how much in the deep place Of my being there is still the lost flower Of your wrinkled villages, motionless in time And your metallic meadows Stretched out in the moonlight through the ages, Now devoured by a false god.
All your confinement, your animal isolation While you are still conscious Surrounded by the abstract stones of silence, Your rough wine, your smooth wine Your violent and dangerous vineyards.
Solar stone, pure among the regions Of the world, Spain streaked With blood and metal, blue and victorious Proletarian Spain, made of petals and bullets Unique, alive, asleep – resounding.
Just read a line in a Sherman Alexie story about standing in line at Bartell’s and suddenly I’m so homesick I’m not sure I can live through the heartbreak of it. In my head I ask Sherman Alexie if he imagines how many of his throw away lines profoundly affect people? I think of every word I’ve put out there, every bit of fiction I’ve written, and no one has ever come back to me with the important words, with the phrases that I labored over, they only come to tell me about the how they were moved by my fast lines, the ones that drop out, that I don’t consider at all before I put them to paper.
Perhaps the lines I don’t labor over mean the most, come more truly from me? Perhaps there is no meaning in any of it and will just keeping spilling out words, looking for the turn of phrase that will free my soul and find it someday. Perhaps Sherman Alexie labored over that line and still will never know will never know how his two sentences made me break my own heart. I could write him a letter and tell him, but I would labor too hard over the words, I would lose the importance of sharing what he gave me. I have always been writing this letter to him in my head, through out the years, every time I read his stories and poems. A letter that never makes it to paper, to computer screen, never achieves more than some small form of therapy for me.
I am talking to Sherman in my head (can I call you, Sherman, I feel we are close enough now) about my homesickness, about how I cannot ever really understand where he is from and he cannot understand how I am from where he is now. I tell him it is a continuum that no one but me can see, a story that can’t quite be told, but is important all the same. And the The Butchies pop up on shuffle on the old mp3 player and I start to cry because this is more homesickness than a soul can bear. But this makes me get up and start to cook dinner: fettuccine alfredo with smoked salmon (real, PNW smoked salmon), peas and caramelized onions. Because I am homesick and if I lived close enough that I could call my mom and ask if I could come over she would walk to me to a restaurant near her house (one Sherman Alexie has surely been too) and I would order some variation of this dish because you don’t really find it anywhere else in the world, not the way we make it in Seattle.
And while I am chopping onions the mp3 player turns again and gives me Kevin Gordon singing Watching the Sun Go Down, and I remember how I stopped at 6:42 am, on my way to work, to photograph the sunrise over an electrical power station, and got distracted by some horses too. I think of how the redbuds are surely more beautiful this year than they have ever been before, blooming riotously, everywhere, making the edges of every roadway glow purple. I think of how the heat in Tennessee makes me feel warm all the way through to my bones, like I’ve never been warm before.
So I tell Sherman that he is lucky indeed, to be able wait in line at Bartell’s, but he has to go through cold rain to get there and I am saved by the sun and the green in spring and the sounds, all the sounds, here in the dirty South. Perhaps I am homesick for a place that no longer exists. A place I visited, moved through in childhood, that is just a fairytale now, I can not go back. My adult self does not have the magic to cross back over the boundaries of the places I’ve been before, I can only go to new places or create them myself. And I’m still crying when I sit down to eat my dinner, but not because I miss anything. I am so lucky to have been so many places, both real and imagined. Lucky to be me and to be still so full of emotions good and bad (love) about all of those places I have been and the people in them. Even the rude lady in the Bartell’s line that you have to tell to fuck all the way off. So thanks, Sherman, for reminding of my home, the past one, the new one, the one that is always me and goes everywhere inside my heart. I’m certain that you never knew that namedropping Bartell’s in a story would make some girl in Tennessee break out the fancy smoked salmon from way back home and cook herself a good dinner on a night when she would otherwise have been too tired, too worn down by work, to do more than make a quesadilla. Thanks for dinner, Sherman, I really feel like we are close now.
(Pictures taken early this morning in Tennessee, when I stopped, before I even had coffee, to remember that there is beauty in the world. Even when you feel like you break to pieces because of the stress that swirls around you and puts the anxiety inside you, there is still the color purple and leaves that were not that green yesterday and sunrises. The redbuds really are spectacular this year.)
It seems sometimes that I’m on a biennial cycle for domain name changes. And really once every two years is good. Considering the amount of domains I own and don’t use and the ones I always think I want, I feel like I do a fairly good job of sticking with something at least just long enough for people to get used to it before I change again.
It doesn’t change as often as a hairstyle, maybe, but it’s a similar inclination. I like the outside, the label, to represent the work I’m doing. Even if the reasons for that name choice are only clear to me it makes me feel like I am properly presently myself.
So in line with my other projects this year, this space, is now evereadysmile.com. All previous domain names will still redirect here, so no need to do anything your parts, really.
Of course I did all of this yesterday while this site, and my others, were intentionally blacked out in protest of SOPA and PIPA. Which means you probably missed everything I posted at Love Letter for an Occupant yesterday as well. It wasn’t an intentional taunt, but I got a new camera and was all excited to start posting pictures, the fact that my site was blacked out be damned!
I’ve only had the camera for a couple days, most of which have been spent at work, so I haven’t even had time to photograph anything that wasn’t inside my house (or my office I guess, but that’s even less interesting).
If you thought my web page layout was bright and jarring, well, it’s a reflection of my house and maybe the inside of my brain too. I can’t tell if this is good picture exactly, because when I look at it I simply think about how much I love my bed and how I wish I was in it reading a book instead if in my cold, cold office, or just about anywhere else.
Though everything is starting slow (and thus properly) I think my current projects are going well, both the public and the private. I posted a large self portrait without make up on yesterday on Love Letter and I’m still having pretty conflicted feelings about it (which was the point, pushing limits). It’s funny because I only wear make up, hmm, maybe 40% of the time? Events, any time I have to meet or talk to a lot of people or if I’m feeling either particularly insecure or particularly badass. An astute friend once said to me, “You don’t give a fuck today.” And I thought for a second and said, “No, is it that obvious?” And he said, “Well, you don’t have any eye make up on and you only do that when you don’t give a fuck.” Which is a pretty good summation of the entire situation actually. And yet, while I’m fine going bare faced into the world most days, it feels different to capture on film and leave it up for everyone to always be able to see. As Lyle Lovett says, “Here I am, yes It’s me.” Take from it what you will, because what you see will never be what I intend you you to see, which too, is as it should be.
First project started: Love Letter From an Occupant. This will be predominantly a visual project. Go follow it with your own Tumblr or add it to your feed reader or bookmark to read later and then ignore it. Or you can ignore it right out, I don’t mind. I will probably set this up so it streams to Facebook directly, though hopefully not intrusively. Probably I will add a wrap up of what happens over there here periodically as well.
I am actually glad for Facebook’s existence. It’s allowed me to better keep up with my family than I ever could, and brought me back in touch with people that I am thrilled to have found. But frankly it makes me lazy on the internet. I have been actively participating in online communities in a variety of ways since about 1992. It has opened doors to me, introduced me to many of my friends and made me creative in ways I never could have imagined. I think Facebook actually damages a lot of that. It’s easy to thoughtlessly toss up a picture, or a quick status and stop thinking about why things are being shared or taking the time to really write about things. I can’t give up Facebook because it is my main connection with some folks and that’s okay, but I am spreading out more this year than I have for the past couple years.
To some extent I’ve been locked up inside myself for the last 30 months or so. I am thankful that I’ve had the time for introspection and the chance to find myself again. Now I need to stretch a little creatively and a little personally. The Tumblr project is personal. I know from past year’s experimenting that I can’t do a picture a day or anything that requires specific time commitments, but there are pictures, narratives and imagery that I’d like to be sharing more thoughtfully and hopefully this project will be the beginning of that.
I wouldn’t say I’ve been too busy to blog, but you know, just too lazy. And I have so many things to share. Alas I won’t be sharing most of them here, because I still need to take or edit pictures and think about what to say and blah blah blah blah.
In the meantime, I’ve got a million tabs open with other things I’m thinking about, so it’s best I think to share some of them here so I can clear my head of them.
1. I can’t stop coming back to this picture. Firstly, Clint Eastwood is sexy. Period. At any age. But, um, WOW, this is above and beyond. Secondly, this picture so harkens to a long gone by era that it makes me incredibly wistful for time when I wasn’t even alive. Fortunately I figured out how to hack my Kindle, so I can make this one of the screensavers. It’s the little things in life, people.
2. Go listen to this Kevin Gordon song. I’ve seen him play it live at least half a dozen times and every time the room goes quiet like people realize that something is happening, like really happening. It’s a moving song that also touches on time gone by, and puts you right back into it, even if you didn’t live it the first time. Take some time to listen, this isn’t a background song, this is a slow build up, get involved in listening song.
3. The UN says women’s right to make choices about their own bodies is a basic human right. On the one hand I’m pleased with this though I doubt it will make any immediate impact in any women’s lives. On the other hand I’m appalled that we still live in a world where this is even in question at all. And not just in poor, “backwards” nations or countries under religious rule, but in our own land of the free. It is my basic human right to make choices about my body, how are we still having this discussion.
5. It’s my dearest, oldest, closest friend’s birthday today. Even if you don’t know her, imagine the sister that made me who I am today and do something nice for someone you love in honor of friendships that cross the years and the miles. I love you, Boots!
I have been completely over hauling my tiny bedroom to make it more colorful and more comfortable since winter is inevitable and bed should always be welcoming at the end of a cold day. I’m 98% done and pictures of the whole thing soon enough. Today I made throw pillows for the bed:
This is made from the curtain that I didn’t end up using the room, deep teal canvas. I applied the stencil repeating diagonally with fabric paint. the back is a soft, dark brown stretch twill.
This is made from the piece of cream canvas left over from the curtains I did hang. I painted the stencil on with fabric paint, did a terrible job of masking it, got paint everywhere and hand embroidered some stitches into the design to cover the paint flubs. I wanted yellow or brow piping on this, but I didn’t have either in the house and I’m making an effort to use what I have laying around, rather than buying more stuff. I’m actually really pleased with how the blue looks, though I do think yellow would have been great to highlight the stitching. The back side of this is piece from the sheets currently on the bed so I can pretend it all ties together.
And here they are on the bed! YAY! The pinwheel quilted pillow in the middle was made by my friend Michael Frazier, about a decade ago. He has since died, but this pillow always makes me smile and think of him. I think he’d like the pillows I made today too.
Hooray for pillows! And for projects finished. Now to get back to the 10,000 other things on my weekend to-do list that still aren’t done.
This is the mosaic of the pics to I took in Maine (click it to see them all on Flickr). I sort of love it. This is basically in chronological order, a few Boston pics at the beginning and end and a lovely depiction what I saw: buildings, sky, ocean, sky, ocean, beaches, forests, oceans, sunsets and sunrises. I love how the colors in the mosaic look like a whole day, bright in the middle and dimming at the end.
I had a great trip. I feel like I should say something philosophical about traveling alone but I don’t know what. It was great the freedom, but it was bittersweet enjoying restaurants alone. I’m utterly i love with Maine. I’m sure this is like when people visit Seattle and the weather is gorgeous and they gush about how amazing it is and I’m like, yeah, grey 9 months a year. Like, clearly Maine must be awful in winter but still it presented itself to me as something wonderful. Like a place I’d only read about in books, a place of my imaginings made real. Which I guess it is. I’ve filled my Amazon Wishlist of Maine things to get through out the next few months so I can keep in my head how I felt while I was there. Especially while I was out on the water. I miss the ocean so much.
I’ve been working on several sewing projects at once, which kind of is and isn’t a good idea. I am slowly sewing my way through every premutation of Simplicity’s Lisette 2211:
I started with a muslin, in some unlikely colored fabric I had sitting around:
I left off the sleeves and edged it in black bias tape. The pattern calls for buttons on the faux placket detail, but I thought with this fabric it actually looked better without them.
I’ve actually worn this a bunch. Despite the fabric’s weird chartreuse coloring and pattern, it’s really comfortable and summery. YAY!
I didn’t set out to make exactly the skirt on the envelope. I’m trying not to buy fabric rather just sew with what I have on hand, and what I had looks just like the envelope:
This pattern runs really big. I went down two sizes from what I originally cut in the skirt and I will probably have find a way to sneak some elastic into the back waistband or something to make it comfortably wearable. The top has some nice details which are kind of lost in the fabric I picked:
I haven’t tried it yet, but I suspect the blouse will get some wear untucked and belted with jeans or something. I just really love it’s funny little Art Nouveau print and care not all that it’s really too busy for this pattern.
I have the shift dress cut out from this pattern as well, in some grey cotton twill. I’ve been having trouble deciding on a color to go on the collar/placket, as everything I’ve picked looks too matronly or too twee. Hoping to finish it this week.
I have been working the long promised bird dress as well. It’s nearly done, just needs hemming and finishing on the sleeves and neck. However, I’ve decided to forgo the tie belt the pattern calls for and make my own self fabric belt with a buckle. This will surely end up being more work than the whole dress, but hopefully it’ll be worth it.
This weekend I also made a little tunic out of a pretty remnant I got for a couple dollars:
I used Simplicity’s Cynthia Rowley 2586. Holy cow, is there a lot of ease in this! This is down two sizes from what my measurements said I should cut and I’ll probably take another 3 inches out of the side seams before I wear this out. I’m really glad I muslined this. My plan is to make a dress from it next and I would have been swimming in huge tent if I’d done that!
Last month’s wadder is still hanging around. I’m thinking I might try and recut it into the Cynthia Rowley pattern. Hopefully I can mange that with out confusing myself too much and destroying all the fabric.
I spent a good portion of this past holiday weekend trying to prove to myself that I could still sew with some success! My last few projects have been frustrating wadders that I’d like set on fire, rather than wad up and throw on the floor. But this weekend I produced three neatly made, wearable pieces, which maybe didn’t end up being to my taste or my style, but are definitely proof that I at least sort of know what I am doing. Pictures hopefully taken tonight, if I can be bothered to stop catching up on Doctor Who long enough to snap myself.
I bought a new leather belt. It smells like Europe. It was made in Canada and not China (like surely my last half dozen belts were) and I wonder if that isn’t the difference. I mean, it smells like leather, but it smells like leather I only associate with Europe. It’s wonderful and merely opening the box it came in filled me with fantastical memories of the streets of Florence and the amazing foothills of the Pyrenees, of shopping in Amsterdam and riding night trains through Germany. Even if I was to never wear the belt (which I surely will) the price was 100% worth the evening of those memories. To that end I leave you with a tiny slice of vistas I have seen.
I might have way over committed myself in the past couple weeks. If I owe you something, I promise it’s coming quickly.
Between my new position at work and a a few days out to the PNW to see Crackerjack Sister graduate, I’m wiped out. My capacity for critical thinking is surely at an all time a low, and even that is devoted to work.
I did have a great time in Seattle. I put the pics up here, though most of them are probably only interesting to you if you’re related to me in some way. I tagged along on many shopping trips from which I benefited greatly (new Converse, fancy new shirt, excellent new dress). I got an awesome new laptop which is so light and fast that I feel like I can go everywhere with it, though I probably won’t, since one doesn’t need to be computing all the time.
Back in TN now, where it looks like we got a very brief reprieve from the oppressive heat. I’m already planning to stay inside all weekend and finish projects of my own and other people’s. At least the cicadas seem to have all passed while I was out of town! Plus I missed Bonnaroo and CMAfest crowds, both of which are cicada like in their noisy and mass.
Obviously no sewing going on lately. I did buy new handbags yesterday as I can’t resist a good deal. I love Fossil handbags. All of the ones I’ve owned except the one I’m currently using, which I got used, quite cheap and I just sort of hate it. So I got this one and this one (in a brownish grey not depicted there) for $101 total for both! I spent forever standing in the store trying to decide which and then made a last minute choice to get both. Hurrah! I should be set for a good long time now. Both came with an extra detachable strap and I can’t figure out what it’s for. The extra, removable strap is that same length as the strap on the bag already. If it was much longer or something, it would make sense to me, but at the same length, it just seems weird.
So, uh, yes, there’s all the news that’s fit to print. I better get to doing something, so I’ll have something good to show off, eh?
I took these pictures with my phone to remind myself of the color of the sky after 9pm, in June in the Pacific Northwest. One of the things I really miss is the summer light.
Dress in a day! Hooray! Today I made this Donna Karan Vogue 1236 pattern:
This is a toile for a future dress. It is a definite win, the ever elusive wearable muslin:
I made it out of a lightweight cotton in a purple, black and blue stripe. I think the fabric looks a little homespun, in a nice way. I was trying it on with my Converse as I was sewing and was pleased with it as lightweight summer running around dress.
I tried dressing it up too:
And then I wore it around the house undone, which is maybe a little too tent-like to wear outside of the house unbelted:
I am happy with how this turned out, but I will probably cut down the pattern a size or maybe two for the final dress. This works, but doesn’t exactly need to be quite this big! I will probably make the wide belt pictured in the pattern as well, but I was very short on fabric for this go around.
I also finished a few alterations I had lying around this weekend too. It’s nice to finally make a dent in things I mean to get done. And! I took pictures of my house in a semi-clean, semi-put together state and will hopefully get those uploaded this week. And pictures from my trip a couple weeks ago. I guess I still have some projects but need to put some dents in.
This is my old Target housedress that I have worn thin in places. It’s perfect for lounging and pulling something on fast, but I’ve been wanting a cotton version of it for humid summer Southern days. I found some ridiculous border print peacock quilting cotton and took a few evenings to pattern out and sew my own version of it. I finished up all the details of it this past weekend.
And the back:
The cotton is definitely a little stiffer than the original rayon dress, but I think after a couple washings it’ll be just fine. I’m very pleased with how this turned out. There may be another one in my future in something cotton but with a softer hand.
I got amazing a lovely birthday day wishes and gifts from so many of people this weekend. In lieu of actual content here’s pictures of a just a few of them:
Handmade table runner and pretty bowl!
Le Creuset cassole dish getting it's first use.
And, yep, that all pretty much sums up my weekend! Sewing and eating. Oh I also read a book, The Painted Boy by Charles de Lint, which I’d highly recommend but only if you’re already into YA magic realism already. Had a great Friday night birthday party at the Family Wash, missed everyone who wasn’t there, most especially my family. More house pictures and birthday pictures just as soon as everything is all unpacked at home (that’s soon, I swear it is).
I’m in the market for a used dresser or side board or cabinet of sorts to replace the cheap, small emergency shelves set up in my sewing nook. I’m simply hoping to stumble across the right thing in a thrift store or whatever and paint it (or I figured I’d be happy with something like this). However I stumbled across this re-do the other day and now suddenly I need something I can refinish with a squid. Like I will waste away, pining for a squid dresser if I don’t get one.
click for pictures from the books locations, in case you werent already wishing you were in Provence right now
I just finished reading Guy Gavriel Kay’s Ysabel. The Lions of al-Rassan is one of my favorite books and I really enjoyed The Last Light of the Sun. If I find I like an author I generally seek out more of their books, but I rarely read anything about those books or the author. I’ve been burned too many times by finding out the creator is a jerk and I find it’s easier to just read a story in the void and only bring to it my current preconceptions of the world and not any negativity about the author or to be pre-influenced by reviews I’ve read. So based on my two previous reads it seemed safe to assume that Kay wrote character stories in fictionalized versions of historical events (al-Rassan is essentially El Cid and Moorish Spain and Sun is Alfred the Great defeating the Vikings). Which he does write, right? He just also writes other things, apparently.
Ysabel reads like a YA urban fantasy, you know the ones where you’re just a teenager in the city and suddenly you get caught up in the drama of the fairy world? (See Charles de Lint‘s Newford saga stories or Holly Black‘s Modern Faerie tales.) Kay’s story relied more on the strange possibility of magic and history colliding and less actual fairy tales and the setting, Provence, was as much of a character as person in the book. It was enjoyable and neatly written, it made me dream and think and still left something lacking. I just didn’t engage enough with any of the characters. I was compelled to keep reading by the mystery and strange magic and French Celtic history. And while the main characters were likeable enough, they were real enough, still they just didn’t make me care enough. I’d recommend this, but save it for the airplane or the beach.
After reading I tried to sleep, somewhat unsuccessfully, because of a string of late, late night thunderstorms that seemed so threatening that I got up from my bed under the windows and went and curled up on the couch (not under windows and further from big, bad thunder). But as I drove in to work this morning, the storms had left behind a jumbled mess of crazy clouds rushing out and everything is so very, vibrantly, overwhelmingly green, especially against the grey sky. And I remember, as I do every year, that I (and surely everyone else) continues to live in Tennessee because spring is so sensational. It’s really astounding how the trees fill in and the colors. It’s like God is talking directly to you, just for a little bit, daring you notice every leaf and every change and be grateful for it. And it will be hot soon enough, spring so fleeting like the first flush of being in love and overwhelmed by it, but it comes back every year. It’s worth the storms and the heat waves and the grim winter. The Steve Earle line, “Tennessee is green in spring” is like the understatement of the century but at the same time anyone who lives here understands the depth and meaning of that little statement.
I’m pretty sure anyone reading this knows that there is weirdness on the internet. Indeed in the grey fringes of the net there be monsters the likes of which you should never click on. And I suspect most of us stick to some regular circle of online places to visit, only occasionally straying out when someone offers a link of promised amusement.
I read a lot of sewing and fashion blogs. It encourages me in my sewing, gives me ideas and tips and keeps me thinking about it when I’m not doing it. But even in this tiny subculture there is much weirdness to be found. Now in fairness, fashion is weird, or people try and make it weird, but sometimes it’s just incomprehensible to me. And I don’t mean bizarre, haute couture, or strange high fashion you could never wear. No, I mean things like Hel Looks. As far as I can tell, this is a street wear fashion blog from Helsinki. Like the Sartorialist or Urban Weeds. But I can’t figure Hel Looks out. Is it satire? Are Finnish people just so weird that they are actually parodies of their own stereotypes? Yes the clothes displayed here are offbeat and funky, but not, in my opinion outside the range of actually normal for urban young folks. However when I start reading their comments with the pictures I begin to feel as if I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole.
I know a lot of people. Hundreds of Americans I call friends or acquaintances, dozens of Europeans and a smattering of folks other places. I read a lot of news, a lot blogs and a lot of fiction. I follow links on the internet, I eavesdrop on conversations, I pay attention to the way people talk, what they choose to talk about, and how they address other people. And given all the data I have I’m just sure that no one, ever, when asked about fashion influences says, “I like German submarine officers, especially their caps and headphones.” Or “I like to wear these trousers. Even my friends want to wear them.”
So either the world is much stranger place than I thought, something is wrong with Finnish people, or this is satire, right? Or maybe it’s surrealist art?
Finland is longer a country full of people in folk costumes or is it?
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