Monday, March 31, 2008

Read in March

I finished seven books this month, which, considering that there was a week of vacation in there, doesn't really seem like very many. Still, this month's take was three more than the average American read last year. (And yes, one was a picture book which I read in 10 minutes, max, but it still counts.) Interestingly, this month, I finished almost every book I started. Four of the books were fiction, so I'm still going through a pretty big non-fiction period. I would guess that normally I read one nonfiction book for every ten fiction books I read, though I have no statistics to prove it at this point. I could throw together some data, but I'm a bit busy right now. Also, except for Bad Haircut I really enjoyed every book I read. I think Goodreads is coming in handy that way. In fact, I think I'm going to wander on over to Goodreads and take a look at my "to-read" list so I can request a few things.

The Buffalo Soldier
Chris Bohjalian

Jon Agee

Body Drama
Nancy Amanda Redd

New Kings of Nonfiction.
Ira Glass, Ed.

Bad Haircut: Stories of the Seventies
Tom Perrotta

Looking Back: A book of Memories
Lois Lowry

North River: a novel
Pete Hamill

Started but didn't finish.
Meditation Now or Never
Steve Hagen
A good step-by-step guide, but if the title is to be believed, it is "Never" for me. I'll read it again when I'm ready to take on the practice in earnest.

Didn't even start.
The Moments Lost: A Midwest Pilgrim's Progress
Bruce Olds

Resolution 2008 Update. Letters written March 21-31.

I finished another group of LEX letters. I like to send them off in batches of five. Sara also did a good job of keeping my mailbox from being empty, sending me letters and postcards.

(I'm having trouble with formatting, so sorry I can't do the bullet points this time.)

March 21. None. Exhausting last day of work before Spring Break. Ironically the most exhausting thing was dealing with the Postal Service, who had me on hold for an hour and made me call back two times to get the information I needed.
2 Letters back! Both from Sara.
March 22. LEX Letter. What's your favorite food to fix for yourself when you're home alone?
March 23. LEX Letter. Tired of kids and grandkids? Ready to discuss serious subjects? Paint drying. Grass growing.
March 24. LEX Letter. Prefer movies on the big screen? Enjoy the previews as much as the movie? What makes a good movie good?
Letter back! Sara.
March 25. LEX Letter. Favorite cities, travels, rivers, campgrounds?
March 26. No one.
March 27. Sara.
March 28. People who own my favorite undeveloped property in my neighborhood.
March 29. None. Dealing with end of spring break and the fiasco.
Postcard back! Sara.
March 30. Sara
March 31. Art & Sole. Business letter.

Do you want to respond to one of the LEX listings? You can, without becoming a member. Write a comment and I'll tell you how. If you like to write, you should become a member, it's easy and not expensive and fun.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

A carrot.

I know you are out there reading, some of you. I know that some of you read regularly. I know that not all of you are Sara and my mother. But you never comment. You may not have a blog, so you might not know that comments are kind of like crack. Once you get one, you want so many more. So don't be shy. Comment away.

Maybe you don't have anything to say, and that's totally fine. But I'm guessing when you read a post, you think to yourself, "Interesting," or "I never knew that." or "What?" or "She spelled "reclaimed" wrong and wrote "of" when she meant "all" and she incorrectly uses quotes within quotes." Just take a second and throw that thought into the comment page.

Before I had a blog, I never commented. I was a bit shy and it felt weird putting my thought up there. I was worried I wouldn't spell something right or didn't have anything profound to say. Now I just comment as a matter of course, on almost every single post I read, especially if I am personally acquainted with the person who is blogging. You may not want to comment on every post, but once in awhile would be nice. I would love it so much.

I would love it so much that I'm starting an incentive program. The first five people who comment on this post and say something--anything--about any of the previous posts on this blog will get a little something homemade by me in their mailbox. If this is successful in the future I will embed prizes in blog posts. Or, random posts with more than just a Sara comment will get prizes. Don't be shy. Comment today.

p.s. Matt Johnston is exempt from this program. I know he doesn't read this blog (which I find a small failing in the boyfriend department) but I have a feeling if I tell him I am doing this he will wander over and comment. Nice try, Matt. You might want to read regularly.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Good quote.

This was in Dulcy Mahar's column in the Oregonian today. It's from English poet Abraham Cowley, and was written in 1666,

I never had any other desire so strong, and so like to covetousness, as that one which I have had always, that I might be master at last of a small house and a large Garden.

Three sentence movie reviews--Enchanted.

Just as Jim Carrey was the person to play a live action cartoon character in The Mask, so is Amy Adams the actress to play a fairy tale character transported to New York City. Enchanted was so enchanting, I walked out of the theater without my purse. Though I am disturbed at the trend of the soon-to-be-cast-aside-girlfriends having thick black eyebrows.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

North River: a novel. Pete Hamill

Delaney is a neighborhood doctor during the depression, struggling to make ends meet in a time when people have no money to pay the doctor. One spring morning he arrives home to find his estranged daughter has left his three-year-old grandson on his doorstep while she runs off to try and find the boy's father. Coping with the arrival of his grandson changes his life.

I've liked every book I've read by Pete Hamill and this was no exception. Delaney was a terribly sympathetic and likable main character and Hamill injects humor and warmth into his story while supplying an underlying tension that kept me reading. This was a book I kept putting down as I got closer to the final pages, because I didn't really want to finish it.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Good advice.

Charles Veley is some rich dot-com guy that travels all the time. He is featured on I read an interview with him in the Oregonian and was struck by the genus of the answer to this question.

Q: Do you plan ahead or wing it?

A: Plan as if you need to schedule every waking minute, and then, once you get there, set aside the plan. By doing all the planning as if you had control over all aspects of your trip (which you do not) you'll have enough knowledge to make good decisions when things start going haywire (which they will.)

I've never minutely planned everything, or even very much, for a trip because I didn't want to turn into the anal, planned-every-minute girl. But because I don't plan every minute, I often have no idea of what I could be doing while on the trip. This seems a great combination. Go Charles Veley. I guess dot-com millionaires are good for something after all.

Do Unto.

The quote on the frieze of this building cracks me up: "Do vnto others as yov wovld they shovld do vnto yov"

The "v" as a fancy "u" and the funny syntax lend a sort of Russian Jewish immigrant flavor to the golden rule.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Lint Wrap Up.

Well, the season of Lent is over and I think it is time to call and end to my season of Lint. I was going to extend the Lint project through orthodox lent, but I've decided not to as I am busy with the garden and other projects and a soon-to-start class.

I went great guns at the beginning, but the last few weeks tapered off into nothing. I started Parkour classes and those take up five hours of my Saturday with which I would otherwise have been doing Lint things. I accomplished some good things in that time:
  • Divided my closet into summer and winter wardrobes.
  • Donated all clothing that I didn't like
  • Realized how few clothing items I love
  • Explored some new consignment stores and reacquainted myself with some old favorites.
  • Bought eight items of clothing and accessories.
  • Tried on 30 pairs of pants. Found one that fit.
  • Read a lot about style and wardrobe assembly
  • Learned a handy trick for checking pants to try on.
  • Realized I need to shop constantly, not just twice a year.
And so, with that last realization, the lint project lives on. I'm going to try to go shopping at least every other week until I get to a point in my wardrobe that I feel like I have enough. I'll most likely go to the Goodwill store on the way home from church, but I could also regularly visit two clothing resale places that are near my job. I'm still on the lookout for pants that fit and still really need new tops. When I find new items I'll post them here.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

First Day of Spring.

It may be spring, but it was freezing this morning.

Ice forming.
Frost frosting.
Floating row covers freezing.
Spinach emerging!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Were you wondering what 130 people in the Portland area named their children 4-5 years ago?

I can tell you:

Zachary, Samuel John, Anna Elena, Miles Lincoln, Connor, Wren, M. Mackenzie, Sage Aradia, Sorrell, JanCarlos, Jamison, Ava, Nigel, John Alan, Karynne, August "Gus", Maggie, Hyden, Krisandra, Oscar Matthew, Milo, Porter Jay, Elijah,Samuel, Jackson, Silas, Eleni, Alejandra, Leah, Ace, Carson E., Pasha, Mariella, Hazel, Sullivan, Ten, Cleo, Arden, Zoe M., Valen, Mason, Jackson Lee, Tuesday Louise, Carte, Jasper, Olivia, Gabriel, Violet, Maha Hanna, Zoe, Delilah Rose, Skyler, Rhionne, C.T., Jasper "Jack", Tapley, Alexandra, Madeline, Mia, Grace, Kassia, Karla, Hazel, Coen, Elawyn L., Natalie, Uma, Ezra A., Benjamin, Alexandra, Tobias, Cole, Aidan, Selah, Edme, Isabella, Ezra, David,Maya, Alice, Hudson, Joseph Dodge, Chiara, Dhruva Krishna, Rachel, Orion, Sam, Nicolas, Zoe, Zora, Lily, Nora, Evan, Lucy, Landon, Maya, Molly Donyale, Phoenix, Aiden Theo, Simona, Joran, Justice, Alec, Emmett, Jasmine Nicole, Rose Helen, Coleman, Tenzin, Jackson Green, Max, Lily Ann Mason, Colin Foley, Zachary W., Isabella, Charlie, Lucian, Umoya, Jibril, Anika Jaz, Helena Rose, Nicholas Richard, Jeremy Palmer, Ukiah, Ira "Bird", Lyla R., Jude, Cole "Spike", Prashant, Milena R., Gabriel, Soren, Clara D. C., Isaac, Brendon

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Resolution 2008 Update. Letters written March 11-20.

Mid-month saw the arrival of my Letter Exchange magazine and provided relief from poor Sara who would probably get a letter every other day if I hadn't found discovered this great source. She would like the letter getting, but then feel guilty when she didn't respond promptly, which I've told her isn't a huge deal as she certainly hasn't resolved to write a letter a day, but you know how she is. When I wrote a letter to a LEX member, I've included what they wrote in their listing.
  • March 11. Sara. Letter.
  • March 12. Sara. Letter.
  • Letter back! Nestor Ramos.
  • March 13. LEX Letter. Do you blog? Where? What about?
  • March 14. LEX Letter. Charm bracelets. Tell me the story behind your favorite charm. If you don't have one pretend you do and tell me the fictional version of your favorite charm.
  • March 15. LEX Letter. 1.5 miles from an empty mailbox.
  • March 16. Jenna. Letter.
  • March 17. LEX Letter. Let's write topic letters. Simple start: five favorite T.V. shoes and why. Initially, no politics or religion. Your topic next.
  • March 18. LEX Letter. College student living in Savannah, Ga. Send me your tips on surviving college life.
  • March 19. None. Bad mood.
  • March 20. LEX Letter. Thirtysomething writer looking for a penpal who can be supportive like the perfect bra in a world where gravity wins.
Nestor Ramos is my movie review boyfriend, as I think I've mentioned before. I enjoy him because he is very funny, as his letter back proved. An excerpt:

Thanks for writing! Always nice to hear from someone who enjoys my work. Actually, you're the first. But I imagine the second will be pretty nice too. Mostly I just get mail from people who are upset because I've mocked some movie in which they were an extra. The time I said Cher was built from wax and car parts, some lady offered to spit on my grave.

I sent off a big packet of five letters to the letter exchange on March 19. It will be interesting to see if I get any letters back. It's a little weird writing letters to people you don't know. But I excel at blathering on both on and off topic, so it isn't too bad. I really need to work on my handwriting. I hope people can read my blathering. Perhaps I should have had a year of resolving to write neatly before my year of letter writing.

Do you want to write to any of the LEX Letter people? Tell me by posting a comment and I'll tell you how you can, even without being a member of LEX. Though you should be a member of LEX. It's very fun.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Bad Haircut: Stories of the Seventies. Tom Perrotta

I've enjoyed every other book I've read by Tom Perrotta, but not this one. I kept putting it down and picking up other things. The plot follows a normal teenager from age 10 to college, but I never really took to the main character.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Four rows of windows.

I stand at the Max stop across from this building a lot. It took me awhile, but I eventually noticed that each of the upper floors of this building has different windows. I wonder how that came about?

Dental Arts.

Another city block is being transformed. It is happening a lot downtown right now. The block to the right, which appears to have nothing on it, was a parking lot a year and a half ago. They tore up the parking lot, built and underground garage and this spring will install a park. "Tear up a parking lot and build a park" or something like that was the tag line with that project. It had "Big Yellow Taxi" in my head for weeks on end. The block north of the soon to be park is also coming down. A big mixed use office tower/retail and maybe condos? will be sprouting there next. The Virgina Cafe moved down the street and around the corner, but I'm most sad about the Mercantile, which was a clothing store too fancy for me to shop in, but which always had nice window displays. It has moved around the corner and down the street too, but now it's not on my walking route.

I wanted to take a picture of the dental arts building before it goes, as it always seemed like such a nice little upright building.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Looking Back: A Book of Memories. Lois Lowry

After seeing Lois Lowry in Portland, it was fun to read this book. Her talk followed the same format as the book: a photo from her life followed by a short essay telling the story behind the photo and how that story inspired her writing. A quick read, but very captivating and moving.

New Kings of Nonfiction. Ira Glass, Ed.

A fabulous collection of nonfiction writers. It turns out I'm a somewhat "king reader of nonfiction" as I have read three of the pieces in the book in various sources. (Dan Savage's Republican Journey, Michael Pollan's Power Steer and James McManus' World Series of Poker.) Ira Glass, my radio boyfriend, says in the introduction:

"As far as I'm concerned, we're living in an age of great nonfication wiritng, in the same way that the 1920s and 30s were a golden age for American Popular Song. Giants walk among us. Cole Porters and George Gershwins and Duke Ellington's of nonfiction storytelling. They're trying new things and doing pirouettes with the form. But nobody talks about it that way."

I loved almost all of the pieces in this collection and reading it, I lamented that I don't have time in my life right now for a subscription to Harpers and Atlantic Monthly where I used to read great nonfiction like this all the time. I can still remember reading the World Series of Poker article. I was completely absorbed and not only do I not play poker, I don't really understand the rules of the game. The way the article was written, however, pulled me in. How far would James McManus make it in the World Series? From that point on, any reference to poker in my life was immediately linked to that article.

In this book, I particularly enjoyed Malcolm Gladwell's titled "Six Degrees of Lois Weisberg." Do you know Lois? I wouldn't be surpised. I also liked "Losing the War" by Lee Sandlin. In 50 pages Lee Sandlin gave an overview of World War II and challenged me to think differently about the D-Day invasion. I'm ashamed to say that "Host" was only the second or third piece I've read by David Foster Wallace though I have read a lot about him. I love his footnotes (see rant in the review of "The Year of Living Biblically") and his footnotes within footnotes were particularly delightful. I think his writing style most emulates how people read things on the internet.

Great short nonfiction informs people without the time or inclination to immerse themselves in a subject, for it provides enough information to get them asking questions. When done right, it successfully transports the reader to another world.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Recycled Fashion.

Today was a teacher planning day so there was no school. On these days, Art4Life, the before and after school care program at our school has "all days." They usually do something fun, like today when they made clothing out of recycled materials:

B's stunning hat:
I's sassy shirt:
M's spotted skirt and hat ensemble.
B's fabulous purse. That would be a four-square ball she has repurposed.
P's lovely headband/hat.
M had a fabulous dress made for her. The front:
The excellent sleeves in the back.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

My So-Called Life.

I got the complete series from the library and I love it. I missed it the first time around because I was in college and had no time for tv, but it's almost better that I'm seeing it now. The pilot was filmed during my senior year in high school and it's like a free pass back to adolescence for me. I also have the added bonus of now being halfway in age between Angela and her parents and I can see both perspectives.

The writing is smart and funny and perfectly captures the dramatic, self-centered, grandiose thoughts that are so cringe-worthy when rereading your own journals, but so delightful when someone else is thinking them. A perfect example from "Why Jordan Can't Read":

"Love is when you look into some one's eyes, and suddenly, you go all the way inside, to their soul... and you both know, instantly. I always imagined I would fall in love, nursing a blind soldier. Who was wounded in battle. Or maybe while rescuing someone in the middle of a blizzard, seconds before the avalanche hits. I thought, at least, by the age of fifteen, I would have a love life. But, I don't even have a "like" life."

The only thing better than the writing is Claire Danes' delivery.

The characters are also incredibly realistic for a television series. The main character is confused about who she wants to be, the "bad girl" isn't one dimensional and the "maybe bi" character doesn't collapse under gay stereotypes. The parents don't just flit in to deliver the moral message once per episode, they have their own struggles and bad judgments during the crucial split-seconds of parenting.

And the clothes! My god, the clothes! There was a whole ugly floral thing going on in the 90's I had completely blocked out of my brain. It's wonderful to see what was actually being worn. And the flannel! And the baby doll dresses with the little clip in the back! And the flannel baby doll dresses! In episode two Rayanne is wearing a flowery long skirt and black Converse high tops, a look I wore at least once a week through high school and during college.

I'm excited to see what happens as the series develops. And I rejoice that complete series are released on DVD.

The Letter Exchange Arrived Today!

I'm so excited! It's a little magazine, with articles about writing and letters but I'm most excited about the listings. I won't run out of correspondents for many weeks, and maybe even some will write me back. I wrote my first letter tonight to someone who wrote:

Do you blog? Where? What about?

Others that sound interesting to me:
  • Charm bracelets. Tell me the story behind your favorite charm. If you don't have one pretend you do and tell me the fictional version of your favorite charm.
  • Define the good life.
  • How does understanding your family history contribute to your sense of self?
I can't wait for the summer issue to come out to see if anyone writes to my listings.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The only time I like flowering plum trees... right now in the spring when they are blooming. The rest of the time I find them to be an "eh" tree. Sadly, there is one right in front of the house. I think it clashes with the paint job and dream of it taking sick and having to be removed. I could then replace it with a more color appropriate choice. I'm so superficial.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Lois Lowry

Lois Lowry spoke tonight at the First Congregational Church. The lecture was sponsored by the library. I was excited to go, as I loved a lot of Lois Lowry books growing up, especially A Summer to Die and the Anastasia series.

I did not properly realize that a lecture by a children's book author would be attended by so many children, but of course they were there in droves. I arrived later than I planned, because I was trying to load a spreadsheet into Google Docs for the other blog, so when I got there, the only seat I could find was waaaaaay in the very back of the balcony. Here was my sitting down view.

And here is my standing up view. There is Lois, down there on stage. And doesn't she look great? I know, I couldn't see her very well either. I hoped that she wasn't going to make a lot of use of that screen, as I had to sit straight up and lean to the left too get a view of it.
But she did. And I was glad she did as she gave a nice lecture about how she gets ideas for her books. She used photos from her life to illustrate the lecture and it was delightful. Those of you who don't have access to a Lois Lowry lecture can get the book Looking Back: A Book of Memories, as it covers a good amount of what she said.

I was very interested to lean that she based A Summer to Die partially on her sister's death. Also, that she had four children before she was 26. She also told a delightful story of the strange meeting between her and author Allen Say.

I also had no idea that Lowry is a photographer and her images appear on some of her books. We got to see the picture that is on the cover of Number the Stars. Lowry used to do portrait photography especially of children, and when she contacted the parents of one of her subjects to see if she could use the image on the cover of the the book, the parents told her that she would have to ask the child, who was all grown up by that time. We also got to see the picture she wished she could have used for the cover of The Giver (there was a band aid problem) and the pictures she took for the covers of Gathering Blue and Messenger.

When she got to the question and answer part, I learned the reason why the same edition of a book will be released with more than one cover, thanks to an observant child in the audience. It turns out that the publisher will put different covers on if it is going to put the book in two categories, say adult fiction and young adult fiction. Fascinating.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Give me a "S"! Give me an "O"!

Give me a "R"! Give me an "E"!

What's that spell? Sore!

Yep, that's what I am. Really, really sore. But it's an interesting sore, and not like any I've had before. Generally, when I start some new venture, I end up sore, but the soreness in very localized. Last fall, for instance, I ill-advisedly did 30 lunges when I had been doing none and I ended up unable to sit or stand without grunting. My hamstrings and quads hurt for more than a week. I was, however, able to easily grab a can off the the upper reaches of the cupboards without any trouble. Or usually when I start a weight training program my arms end up hurting while I can walk around with no problem at all.

Sunday I woke up and before I even moved I knew I was sore. Getting out of bed, I felt the whole extent of it. I am sore from my neck to my feet. I feel like cartoon characters must feel when the steamroller rolls over them and they get pumped back up with air. Everything hurts. And everything hurts about equally. Reaching up to get something? Ouch! Sitting down? Ooof. Turning my torso to the right or left? Eeek.

I practiced my rolling tonight in the backyard and there seemed to be much more grunting than there was on Saturday. This might be because there was no music playing to cover up the grunting, but I have a feeling it is because the whole act of squatting, curling and rolling causes wincing.

Resolution 2008 Update. Letters written March 1-10

The handy thing for me about this resolution is that I often have the thought, "I should get (or make) [insert name here] a card." They should get a card because something is sad or happy or interesting in their life and I bet they would like a card. Then I never get around to getting/making the card and the moment passes. With my handy resolution, the cards get gotten. Or made. They are mostly made.

I have a card making box with blank cards, (I just use the Avery kind you can print on your computer printer--though I never print them on my printer), crayons, markers, glue, construction paper, pastels and scissors. I actually enjoy making the cards, though the results are sometimes a bit uneven. That happened with Allegra's card. I wanted to make a sun on the front of the card and so I cut out a big round orange circle. I then cut out many tiny orange sun rays and carefully arranged them and then glued them onto the card. I glued the orange circle on top, admired my work, went to write something on the inside and discovered I had glued everything to the envelope.
  • March 1. Amanda. Card.
  • March 2. Hafidha. Card.
  • March 3. Deborah. Card.
  • Email back! Teresa.
  • March 4. Teresa. Letter
  • Letter back! Leath.
  • Letter back! Nicole.
  • March 5. Allegra. Card.
  • March 6. I think I wrote someone this day, but I didn't make a note of who. I'm nothing without my notes.
  • March 7. Forgot.
  • March 8. Leath.
  • Letter back! Sara.
  • March 9. BroMAunts. Easter inquiry.
  • March 10. Dana. Letter.
  • Letter back! Sara.
Also, due to this resolution I've found an effective means of communication with my brother, mother, and aunts (BroMAunts). If I want to ask a question to all of them it takes four phone calls, minimum and usually more if I need to relay information back. I don't like to talk on the phone anyway, much less making four phone calls. If I write the question--say "What are we doing for Easter? And does anyone want my extra Asparagus crowns?"--four times on postcard and send it off they talk amongst themselves and get back to me. It is much easier.

The other happy thing about these 10 days is that I got some good letters back. Honestly, there is nothing nicer than finding a letter in my mailbox. It's better than chocolate.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Three sentence movie reviews--Persepolis

Beautiful animation throughout this grim and funny movie. Spunky young heroine, smart and acerbic grandmother, wise parents all come together to get through war. The best use of "Eye of the Tiger" since Rocky III.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

I'll be playing catchup.

I'm really behind on blog posts. I had a few busy weekend there and it all plied up. I've got the drafts in for the rest of February and I'll get working on them. Look for: book updates! Lint updates! Resolution updates! A three sentence movie review! It's all coming soon. But in chronological order. So you'll have to keep clicking on February. So sorry.

Parkour and me.

The Oregonian once per week publishes a feature called, "My Workout." I enjoy reading about what other people do to get and stay in shape and I also pick up good ideas. One guy does push ups and sit ups daily equal to his age, which I think was 45. I thought that was a good idea so for awhile I did push ups and lunges equal to my age and sit ups three times my age. Then I got bored and wandered off to other things.

This week, the "my workout" featured Adam Dunlap, who spends four hours a day doing parkour. In the feature, he explains what parkour is, and if I could ever get the article to pop up in the very lame Oregonian's search engine--there. Here's his explanation:

"Also called free running, parkour began about 20 years ago with a Frenchman named David Belle. Practitioners are called tracers or, in London, where it's popular, traceurs.

In Dunlap's words: "Tracers interact with their environment using only their bodies to overcome obstacles in their path. Whether it be a 12-foot wall, a 10-foot drop, cars, rails or other natural or man-made obstacles, a tracer learns the appropriate techniques to overcome even the most difficult terrain."

How I explain it: running and jumping.

Here's a YouTube video of a female doing it:

And here's Adam Dunlap himself.

I've been feeling better lately, with much more energy and looking for something to do. I don't want to start another weight program, and I've been building up the bike muscles again, but frankly, I've been feeling bored. The Oregonian feature had a few links about parkour, which I notice did not show up in the online version, and so I took a look. It turns out that Adam Dunlap himself is teaching parkour, and an 8 week class was starting on March 8. I emailed him to see if there was still space available and there was so I decided to do it.

The first class was today. Adam gave me a discount because I'm the first woman to sign up--it's a sport that attracts adolescent males. So the discount was nice, but then I was worried it was going to be me and a bunch of 17 year olds.

I took the Max and then a bus and then walked (the gym is all the way out in office-park hell Beaverton). When I got there I found my classmates were: an 11 year old boy, a 12 year old boy, a 17 year old boy, a 20 year old guy, a guy around my age and me. The class was so much fun! First of all the gym is really cool. It has some treadmills, etc. and some dumbbells, but the majority of the gym is a big open space with some fun things along the side wall. If you click on that link above, there are some pictures at the bottom. They have a double staircase and a bunch of things that I'm sure have real names, but I would describe them as, railings, sort of parallel bar railings, some varying platforms to jump up to and down from and some u-shaped things to jump over and run under.

We did a warm up, then did some things like ducking through railings, and bear walking on parallel bars and jumping up to the platforms and bear climbing up the stairs. It was hard, but very fun. My scalp was sweating and After that we took a fitness test and worked on crawling and rolling. It turns out I need a lot of practice crawling, and my roll over my right shoulder isn't so great, but my left shoulder roll is good. I got to demonstrate that for the class. After rolling, we did a cool down and that was it. I came home and took a bath but I can tell I'm going to be sore tomorrow. But that's okay. I had fun.

Branch in sidewalk.

On the way to Parkour Class, I found this branch growing through the sidewalk.

This seems to be the nearest tree. It can't have grown from there, could it?

Friday, March 7, 2008

Body Drama. Nancy Amanda Redd

I. Love. This. Book. Nancy Redd has written a book with "Real Girls, Real Bodies, Real Issues & Real Answers" as it says on the front cover. The book is divided into five sections: shape, skin, down there, boobs, hair and nails. Each chapter covers several different "dramas" such as "My face is a zit factory" or "It's bumpy or lumpy down there."

Aside from very informative text, there are also photos. Many photos of actual women. In the back there is a two-page layout of front and back naked views of several different women. There is also a spread (hee hee) of 24 different women's vulvas. Nothing is airbrushed, and the constant message is that your natural body is wonderful. It's like a more direct "Our bodies, ourselves," but with pictures.

I'm pretty savvy in the body department, but I learned a lot too. Third nipples? There is a picture and explanation. Pubic lice? Yep. Stretch marks? Picture. The pictures were my favorite part though I also enjoyed the true confessions from the author. Now that I've devoured this book, I'm waiting for the boy's version.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Buffalo Soldier. Chris Bohjalian

I loved the two other books I read by this author: Midwives and Trans-Sister Radio. I liked the way he took an out of mainstream topic (home birth, sex change operations/NPR) and wove that topic into a gripping narrative. This book I didn't love as much as the ones I read before, but I still found myself reading "just a little bit more."

Terry and Laura's twin daughters are killed in a flood. Two years later, they take in a foster child Alfred, an African American, who is not sure what he thinks of rural Vermont. The neighbors, a retired college professor and his wife, take an interest in Alfred and give him a book about the Buffalo soldiers. The other main character is Phoebe, who becomes romantically involved with Terry.

Though I really liked all the other characters, I didn't like Terry for the majority of the book. This made reading difficult as I couldn't figure out how in the world this story was going to end. There was a dramatic event at the end of the story that perhaps sold the ending to me, but it involved a bit too much coincidence for my tastes.

Bohjalian does not use quotation marks. This is incredibly annoying at times, because quotation marks weren't just invented because the printer wanted more work, they were actually needed. At times I couldn't tell who was talking and had to go back and reread. Overall, okay book.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Resolution 2008 Update. Bloom is off the rose.

So I'm at a stuck point in this resolution. At this point I've written to a lot of people I know and a lot of people I don't know. I feel like I've run out of people to write to. Added to that, is the fact that I've not gotten many letters back, which I entirely expected as no one writes letters anymore. What I didn't expect, is how depressing it feels to open an empty-except-for-bills-and-ads mail box every day when I've been writing so often. So I've been researching pen pals.

Pen pals. You remember those from when you were little, right? You had a friend from overseas and you wrote to them a few times and then never again, right? They were fun because they had funny terms for everything like "pen friend" and "girl guides" and "go on holiday." I need something like that, but an adult who wants to send mail, not email. Not surprisingly, given that no one writes letters anymore, it was a bit difficult to locate such a thing.

I did an Internet search for "pen pals mail" and came up with a lot of crap. Let me tell you what I am not looking for when looking for a pen pal. I am not looking for love, nor am I looking for love from attractive women. So pictures of attractive women displayed prominently on a pen pal web site are not something that would keep me reading. Nor do I like flashing things on web sites. You think they are fun, but I think they are trashy and I navigate right away. I am also not looking for a site that is jumbled and cluttered and looks like Aunt Matilda revved up her new fangled computer and haphazardly built a site. Note that those last two things often go hand-in-hand.

I flirted with the idea of writing a prisoner, but the prisoner web site I went to was kind of skeevy. I did find a nice organization that connects people with Jewish inmates. Apparently, they make up a small percentage of prisoners, but antisemitism is rampant in the prison system so it is especially hard for them. Non-Jews can write to Jewish prisoners too. If you are interested, the web site is

I did find some promising things, they are as follows.

The coolest one I found was called postcardx. ( ) Here, you can click a link and send a random person a postcard. You can also add your address to get random postcards, and there is a link to discuss things. I will use this when I am totally desperate, and have absolutely nothing to send to anyone.

A long shot, though quaintly old-school is SAPE ( formerly known as the Soviet-American Penfriend Exchange. For the cost of a SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope for those of you born after 1985) you theoretically get a list of a bunch of potential pen pals in former Soviet countries. I've already sent off my application, but don't expect anything will come of it.

One of the most interesting leads I've found was the Letter Exchange. ( Here you subscribe to the Letter Exchange and three times a year you get a publication with some articles and "listings." Each listing has a number associated with it. If you are so moved, you can write to the person who posted the listing, but instead of sending it straight to the person, you write the number from their listing on the front of the envelope. Then you put that letter (or letters) with correct postage attached, in another envelope and send the whole thing to the Letter Exchange's address. Once they receive the envelope, they forward the letter to the correct person. Genius! The person can then write you back directly if you have included your return address, or if you have listed your LEX number, they can write you by sending a letter to the Letter Exchange which will be forwarded back to you. With your yearly subscription, you get 20 free words to make your own listings. Once you have used those 20 words, each word costs 50 cents. There are a variety of categories to list under.

I'm pretty excited about this option and have already printed out my subscription form and written my listings. They are:

1. In the category of "Women's Studies": Are women's colleges necessary any more?

2. In "Insights": I'm overweight, but I've never felt better.

3. "Nature and Gardening": My best camping trip? Bruno Sand Dunes. Yours?

I'll send my subscription off tomorrow. My listings will appear in the June publication and they will send me the current issue as soon as they get my application. I can't wait!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Requiem for a calculator

I've had this calculator since my junior year of high school. It was the third calculator my parents bought me, as its predecessors kept getting broken because books would fall on them in my locker. (Notice the clever use of passive voice there--I certainly had nothing to do with those books falling.) My mother told me it was the last calculator she would buy me. And it was. I used it from then until tonight when I accidentally dropped it. The solar panel broke and the calculator, she is no more. Farewell, friend. You served me through many a math problem.

Terrific. Jon Agee

This is a picture book with great illustrations. It's the story of Eugene, who wins a trip to Bermuda. "Terrific," is his reaction, "I'll probably get a sunburn." He doesn't but something worse happens. I read it to a K/1 class on Read Across America day and they liked it though not as much as I did.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Read in February.

Only five books this month, though I dabbled in many more than that. This was a huge nonfiction month, both due to the Lint Project and to the arrival of a couple of nonfiction books that were on hold. I like nonfiction, but often find that if I read too much of it, I need to retreat to fiction, if only for a book.

The Mermaid Chair
Sue Monk Kidd

The History of Love
Nicole Krauss

Ready to wear: an experts guide to choosing and using your wardrobe
Mary Lou Andre

Comeback: A Mother & Daughter's Journey Through Hell and Back
Claire & Mia Fontaine

If the Creek Don't Rise: My Life Out West With the Last Black Widow of the Civil War
Rita Williams

The Pocket Stylist: Behind-the-Scenes Expertise From a Fashion Pro on Creating Your Own Look
Kendall Farr

Started but didn't finish.
Secrets of style: the complete guide to dressing your best every day
Editors of In Style
I got started on this, but they spent too much time discussing how to disguise flaws, so my attention wandered.

The look.
Randolph Duke
I enjoyed this book. Randolph Duke had a nice section about "the line" which was good to read. He also had flattering name for body types. No "pears" were mentioned. I read through the work clothing section and wandered off when I got to casual wear.

Didn't even start.
Truth and Bright Water.
Thomas King

(The remaining books were checked out for research purposes and I finished the research portion of the Lint Project before I got to the books.)

10 Steps to Fashion Freedom: Discover Your Personal Style From The Inside Out
Malcom Levine & Kate Mayfield

Business casual made easy: the complete guide to business casual dress for men and women
Ilene Amiel & Angie Michael

The Lucky Shopping Manual: Building and Improving Your Wardrobe Piece by Piece.
Andrea Linnett

Sam Saboura's Real Style: Style Secrets For Real Women With Real Bodies
Sam Saboura

Chic Simple Dress Smart for Women: Wardrobes that Win in the Workplace.
Kim Johnson Gross