Tuesday, January 31, 2012

New Loo Ceremony.

The school took part in the First Flush ceremony for the newest Portland Loo. As usual, adding children to the mix was delightful.

Listening to the speeches.

Waiting to sing our songs

Tara is ready to lead the 4/5 chorus.

After singing, ("New Loo" performed by the 4/5 chorus to the tune of "Blue Moon." Also, "Skip to my Loo" by the entire school) we did the first flush by doing a massive "all school" push that began in the K/1 grade blend and traveled up through the grades. Each student carefully--for the most part--pushed the arm of the student next to them all the way to the end of the line...

...where Julie passed off the flush to Tara and she ran inside and pushed the button. This resulted in a great photo that was in the Saturday Community Section of the Oregonian. Sadly, the photo is not included with the web site article.
The Oregonian's video (which sadly includes an ad) has a slide show and the Skip to My Loo song.

Books read in January 2012

There was a lot of reading this month, but it's January in Portland, Oregon. This means cold and rainy. Scrolling through, I see that there were several YA selections, some of them quite good. Quite good YA selections can be read in a 24 hour period easily. Would you like to read a very good YA book? Pick up The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. You won't be sorry.

Sophie Flack.
This was a moderately interesting novel about a NYC ballerina. I wasn't in love with the story, but the insider information was interesting. It did not, however, solve the ballet mystery I've had for years which is: why do dancers wear their tights on the outside of the leotards when rehearsing? This makes no sense to me.

Ursula K. LeGuin
Poems, she means. But I think the title is a play on age too. Some good ones, some of which will be appearing soon on my poetry post.

The Disciples
James Mollison
I. LOVE. THIS. BOOK. Just when you think there is nothing new anyone can do in photography, along comes Mollison, who decided to take portraits of people attending concerts--in London, in the US, in Italy. Then he chose 10 representative images from each concert and knitted them into a panorama of concert goers. The Lady Gaga goers were particularly gaga-eque, and the Katie Perry fans were brightly colored, but I have to say my favorite was the Rod Steward layout, with ten 55-plus men with spiky blonde hair and a good bit of fat on them. It's an incredibly delightful book to page through, but I found it even more fun when I read the synopsis of the photo shoots, found in the back of the book, and then looked at the pictures. This book is highly recommended. If your library doesn't have this, seek it out in the bookstore or even purchase it for yourself. It is that good!

Dash & Lily's Book of Dares
Rachel Cohen and David Levithan
Matt and I read aloud.
I think "David Levithan, read aloud" is even more delightful than "David Levithan read to oneself." I went on a campaign this holiday season recommending this book to people as a very good holiday read, but alas, only Matt experienced its holiday charms. Perhaps you could put it on your calendar for next year...

The Order of the Stick: Snips, Snails and Dragon's Tales
Rich Burlew
Matt and I read aloud
Tales unrelated to the OOTS story, but still fun. We even got an OOTS version of Hamlet, just after we read and viewed the play.

50 Miles from Tomorrow
William Iggiagruck Hensley
Read for Kenton Book Club
I enjoyed the detail of the author's early years in his small Alaskan village. I was less interested in his fight to retain native lands as Alaska became a state, though I do think it was a very important thing. The natives of Alaska came out a lot better than the natives of the lower 48 states. Overall, an interesting read.

The Fault in Our Stars
John Green
When I was a young teenager, I went though a phase of reading books where horrible things happened to protagonists: going blind, getting cancer, father's diagnosed with Alzheimers Disease, boyfriends dying, etc. I suspect that reading these "cancer books" about other teenagers going through really awful things helped me navigate my own adolescence. After all, everything around and including me might be changing, but at least I still had my sight, health and a fully mentally functioning father. So "cancer books" have a dear place in my heart. I myself have had the luck to never have anyone close to me battle cancer (knock on wood) so I can still freely read books about cancer and enjoy them without bringing my own experience to them.

I found this to be a (this word seems wrong, but it isn't) delightful "cancer book" full of much humor, interesting insight and just the right amount of tugging on heartstrings. John Green has written yet another wonderful book on many levels. The NPR review mentioned that Green "writes for youth rather than to them and the difference is palpable." Well said. Are you a young adult? You've probably already read it? Are you a Nerdfighter? I know you've read it. Are you an adult? Put it on you list.

Lips Touch Three Times
Laini Taylor
This is about the grapic novel-to-text ratio I appreciate. Taylor's fascination with female-centered mystical Eastern European-esqe settings appeal to me and I gobbled up these stories.

What Now?
Ann Patchett
Friend Kelly hooked me up with this book!
Five stars for the text, which was an adaptation of a graduation speech Patchett gave at her alma mater. You might think that you don't want to read a graduation speech, but you would be wrong.

Two stars for the copious amounts of photos inserted into the text. I understand that they were fleshing things out, but I could have done with out the double turning of pages necessitated by two page photo spreads. I also found the photos incredibly cliched. But the writing was magical. I read the whole thing in about an hour or so, which means you should grab and read.

Naomi & Ely's No Kiss List
Rachel Cohen & David Levithan
Mostly because the Naomi character was incredibly annoying (what's up with all her wingdings in place of actual words? Not cool and hip. Nuh-uh!) I did not really like this book. Ely was a bit better, but not much.

The Girl Who Fell From the Sky
Heidi Durrow
Read for Kenton Book Club
Multnomah County Library's Everybody Reads Selection 2012
I drank this novel--set in Portland--down quickly and greatly enjoyed the city-specific details. It wasn't the weightiest book, but I thought it particularly compelling when discussing issues of biculturalism.

I am Number Four
Pittacus Lore
YA Sci-Fi that was apparently made into a movie so horrible that Roger Ebert's review is actually quite funny to read. This book was compelling enough that I put off the planned evening activities to finish it. It had good themes: retaining cultural identity when living within another culture; growing into you powers (in this case the character actually had powers, being from another planet); fitting in and putting down roots. It had teen romance without being sappy and an adult character who was helpful, not harmful. I've already got the next book on reserve.

Started and Did Not Finish
Some books this month, but I neglected to write them down. So sorry.

Poem for January 2012: Dawn Revisited

Here it is: http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org/index.php?date=2003/08/28

I chose this poem because in some ways it is a sufficient "new year, new start" sort of poem. However, though the light is returning, we are still in the dark of winter. "How good to RISE IN SUNLIGHT!" I would project forcefully at the dark, rainy sky as I walked to the train in the morning. Aside from using this poem to chastise the earth for something that is perfectly natural, I also greatly enjoyed the phrase "prodigal smell of biscuits."

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sabbath report

I've decided to create my own Sabbath celebration. This came about because I was reading The Blessing of a Skinned Knee: Using Jewish Teaching to Raise Self-Reliant Children, by Wendy Mogel. She made the point that it is important to work, but also that it is important to stop working. Ah! I don't have a time when I officially do that. Mogel likened getting ready for a "rest day" to going on vacation. It's a bit of a pain to get everything organized and in order so you can leave, but the time spent on vacation is worth it.

So, being Unitarian-Universalist, I made up my own Sabbath. Mine begins at sundown on Saturday and goes until sundown on Sunday. Ideally, I will have food prepared for the week and the house in order at the start of my Sabbath.

What activities will be Sabbath approved? That answer is still coming. Ideally, I want to go to church, though that hasn't happened yet. Reading and movie watching are on the "yes" list. Going for walks? Yes. Socializing with friends? I'm not sure yet, sometimes scheduling things makes me feel trapped. Doing work around the house/in the garden/cooking? Probably not, unless that's what I really, really want to do and am not doing out of a sense of obligation.

I'll check in monthly to see how my Sabbath is going.

Had a candle-lit meal with Matt with vegetables and everything. Then we hung out. I worked at church for the 9:15 service, but came home and crawled back into bed for a nap and reading.

I cooked so there could be a Sabbath meal, but then wasn't really hungry for one, so just had some soup with Matt. We played two rounds of the game "Letters from Whitechapel" and then off to bed. Sunday I lazed about in bed and then hauled myself out to see a movie. There was a goodly amount of reading, which was nice.

Well, not the most relaxing Sabbath. Saturday night I had theater tickets and went to that. It was fun. Sunday I got up and delivered one round of the neighborhood newsletter. This is a task that happens quarterly and it happened to fall on a Sunday. Then I went to church, not for church but to volunteer at the Religious Education desk. This is a task that happens sporadically, but happened to happen on this Sunday. Then Matt picked me up and we saw the Vlogbrothers tour stop in Portland and went out to eat. I came home and the Sabbath was over, but I was the opposite of rested. It's made me realized how important it is to take that day. I'll make sure to carve it out next week.

Three sentence movie reviews: Mad Men Season III

The show goes on and I go on greatly enjoying it. What's up with Don Draper? And what about that lawn mower?!?

Just one thing weeks of January

Just one thing is the one thing I do (or attempt to do) each week to keep the house from overwhelming me.

January 1-7
Top shelf of laundry area
Did! Yay!

January 8-14
Next two shelves of Laundry area
Didn't do! Boo!

January 15-21
Next two shelves of Laundry area
Didn't do! But because we are contemplating a change which might end up with the removal of shelves. Stay tuned.

January 22-28
Go through cookbooks and make sure they are all really the ones you want.
Did it! Yay!
Wrangling of the top shelf. Before:


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Hal Holbrook Mark Twain Tonight.

Hal Holbrook is 86 years old, a full sixteen years older than the 70-year-old Mark Twain he is portraying in this show. Using Mark Twain's writings, Holbrook talked about this and that, and there was a lot of "the more things change, the more they stay the same" as Mark Twain had a lot to say about incompetent congress, incredibly wealthy fat cats and distrustful media.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Essay: Both names, please.

Think back to the last time you introduced yourself, either in person or on the phone. Did you say, “Hello, nice to meet you, my name is [first name] [last name.]” Or did you perhaps say, “Hello, nice to meet you, my name is [first name.]”

My guess, based on my experiences of late, is that you only introduced yourself with your first name. And I’m writing five hundred words about how I think you should also include your last name in that introduction. Here’s why.

I am paid to be an office manager which means I’m the person most likely to answer the phone at my job. Because I work in a school, a lot of the phone calls I answer are parents calling for a variety of reasons: child is sick, child is leaving with someone different today, child is coming in late, child forgot lunch, you get the picture. Inevitably, when I answer, I hear, “Hello, this is Sara.” Or “Hi, Patricia, this is Bill.” And while I reply with a cheery hello, I’m mentally flipping through my Rolodex to figure out which Sara or Bill this is. Most of the time I can identify the caller by the end of the phone call, either because they give me identifying information (Ah! Sara the mother of Sam! Bill the father of Jacob!) or I eventually recognize their voice. Every once in a while I have to ask, “I’m sorry, but which Sara am I talking to?” It’s quite embarrassing and it would save me the trouble of asking or scanning that mental Rolodex if they would just add one more word: their last name.

It makes a difference in person, too, for that same reason. I had a woman volunteer to do lunch duty in September and unfortunately I had not quite learned her name. I regretfully asked, and she told me her first name. It didn’t ring any bells and I searched our parent database, but she was not there. The next day I made a note of which child she brought in to school and cross referenced her and it turns out that the name she told me was her nickname and I only had her formal name in the database. A last name would have cleared up the confusion immediately.

Once upon a time, some curmudgeonly commentator pointed out the lack of last names a few years ago and I took note that I was following the general trend. I do my best to buck the trend, though sometimes it’s awkward as in the following scenario:

New person: “Hi, my name is Mark, nice to meet you.”

Me: “Good to meet you Mark, My name is Patricia Collins.”

And then I feel like the weird one for using two names. But it’s for a cause I believe in, so I persist.

Why do we do it? My theory is that it is part of the general tromping toward informality we’ve been moving to ever since those darn baby boomers decided they didn’t like all those bourgeois trappings, man. No one my age has EVER referred to me as Ms. Collins, because said baby boomers have pretty much verbally beaten that out of us, “Don’t call me Ms. Parker, call me Ann! When I hear Ms. Parker, I start looking around for some old lady.” A socialite once commented that now that people don’t ever call her Mrs. Socialite, she never gets the shared intimacy of saying, “Oh, just call me [first name].” And I couldn’t agree more.

Since we are not referring to each other as Mrs., Mr., and Ms. So-and-so, let’s at least give ourselves the knowledge of each other’s last name. By letting others in on your last name, you are inviting them to join your circle, and giving them valuable information they won’t have to awkwardly ask for later.

Join me in using both names today!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Our Loo!

Have you heard of the Portland Loo? It's a public toilet designed to avoid all the usual problems of public toilets. They've been pretty successful here, enough so that Portland is starting to sell them to other cities. Recently, the city has decided to install one in the North Park Blocks, directly across from the school at which I work. We are very excited about this because we are hoping it ends the practice of people using the playground or our parking lot as their bathroom. And today the loo is being installed!

There was a lot of preliminary work setting things up, but after that is done the loo itself is dropped into position. Here it is on the truck.


Moving into position.

Almost there:

And, crack blogger that I am, I forgot to take a final picture. But you will see it when I show you the pictures from the First Flush ceremony, which will happen next week. In the meantime, look at the awesome design for the door on the loo. Apparently, each Loo's door reflects the character of the area the Loo is located. The city asked the school children to create the design. We picked out a quote by Emerson and all the kids drew flowers. A selection of them were chosen and sent to the city and a woman came up with this fabulous design incorporating our flowers. We even got our own copy of the door to hang in our school, which is what you see here.
Do you want to read more about the Loo? Here's an article from the Atlantic: http://www.theatlanticcities.com/design/2012/01/why-portlands-public-toilets-succeeded-where-others-failed/1020/

Sunday, January 22, 2012


Most of the time, I'm happy with my car-free existence. Or, to put a finer point on it: the existence in which I don't own a car myself, but my live-in boyfriend does so we get to use it for dates and I can drive it sometimes when he is not using it. I like that not having a car means that I have two ways to get to work: taking the Max or biking. I like that when I have to go somewhere and use public transportation, I can read. "How do you read so much?" people ask me. The answers: I'm a fast reader, work 32 hours per week and am not very social. But one of the keys is that when I'm on the Max or the bus, I've always got my nose in the newspaper or a book.

I love that the employer-paid-for Trimet pass means I pay very little to haul myself around town. I love that sometimes when taking public transportation, I can just change my mind and walk. I love the "public-ness" of public transportation--the smells (though sometimes, not pleasant, always a great reminder of the "us" of "us") the people watching, the stories that come from it. I love peeking at what people are reading, eyeing their shopping bags and wondering what their story is.

When I bike or walk, I love that I get to where I'm going under my own power and have time to memorize poems and sing some songs. I love that I watch the scenery, that I am "in" the weather. I love that people say, "You biked here?!?" "You walked here?!?!" as if that was some miraculous feat only accomplished by lesser gods.

And some days I don't love my car-free existence at all. Today, for instance, when I just want to see a movie at a theater I know will take me two buses and a good twenty minutes of waiting in the cold rain to get there I wish more than anything I could just jump in my non-existent car and drive there in only twenty minutes, with no stops for other people to climb on and off. When the bus is hot and steamy from so much vapor coming off of people I can't see out the windows I always feel a very special kind of car sick that I don't enjoy much. I wish that when I am done watching the movie I could just jump back in my car, set the radio to my own station and zip home, avoiding just missing one bus meaning waiting the full 16 minutes until the next one and then just missing the connection which means huddling in the corner of the bus shelter and holding my book just so so the rain doesn't come down on it.

Most days I like my car free existence. But today I would love to have a car of my own.

Warm Tree

This jaunty red scarf provides just the right amount of je ne sais quoi for this sopping wet tree. Well accessorized!

Three sentence movie reviews: Ides of March

This was a nicely acted film populated with actors I love to watch and it moved right along with tension building throughout. However, I did not love it, because aside from the token actress and the "stand by your man" political candidate's wife, there were no women in this film. Yes, politics is still a man's world, but there are a lot more women involved than shown in this film.

ps. I love this poster. It's one of the best I've seen in a long time.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Essay: When the web site comment form still doesn’t result in customer service.

I don’t expect a lot from Fred Meyer. They have made their choices and I know what I’m getting when I go there. If I want to talk to a knowledgeable (and even cheerful!) employee I will go to New Seasons, but at Fred Meyer I am on my own. However, recently I was infected with a bit of curiosity and turned to the company website for an answer. And now I know not to expect much from that venue, either.

Fred Meyer, for those of you who don’t live within its reach, is a combination grocery and variety store which was founded in Portland and spread across the northwest before being bought by Kroger. I grew up shopping Fred Meyer in Boise, Idaho and today in Portland, Oregon, a lot of my paycheck is spent at the store that is four blocks from my house.

Recently, I was buying crackers and I noticed the generic brand of Triscuits was not on the shelves. This was unfortunate, as I liked that brand and it reliably cost less than standard Triscuits. There are never employees available to answer questions in the grocery department, so when I came home I went to Fred Meyer’s web site and sent a brief note enquiring as to the status of the generic Triscuits.

A week passed. I received the following email:

Dear Ms. Collins:

Thank you for contacting Fred Meyer. Regrettably, I am unable to say with any certainty as to whether or not this product is being carried at your location. Please speak to your local store director regarding product availability as our office does not have access to inventory/ordering information. They can check inventory at other locations and will be able to advise if the product can be stocked and/or ordered. In addition, I have forwarded your request to the store manager for further review. Please do not hesitate to contact us at
888.247.4439 if you have further comments or concerns. Thank you for your patronage and have a great day


Brandee Powell

Consumer Affairs

Reference: 11429548

So Brandee Powell was able to tell me that 1)She has no idea about my local store and 2)I should contact the store director directly. She was not able to tell me what the store director’s name was or how to contact her or him, but was able to forward my information to said director for further review. What have I learned from Brandee Powell? That Fred Meyer’s web site is pretty much useless for answering questions and that Consumer Affairs employees can’t do a bit of research to find out what products their own stores carry, or even direct me specifically to a company employee.

So it’s been a week since I received the above email filled with the opposite of information, two weeks since I emailed the original question and that question still has not been answered. It’s not a life or death detail, and I can certainly live never knowing what has become of my generic brand snack crackers. But if you are going to have a feature on your web site offering customer service, it might be nice to actually have customer service by answering the questions submitted.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Two Hour Delay

Snow was forecast, but I didn't get excited. We had some Tuesday, but it wasn't sticking. Going to bed Wednesday night there were two scenarios: the temperature would stay low and a bunch of snow would drop on the Portland area. Or, the temperature would increase and we would get a bunch of rain. I woke up Wednesday morning, hearing the rain and I assumed that we had missed the snow entirely. But no! We got a couple of inches before the rains came!

And those couple of inches were enough to delay school for two hours. We started at 10:30 instead of 8:30. Of course, Wednesdays are also our early release day. We are done at 1:00. So school started at 10:30, the kids had ninety minutes of learning followed by 30 minutes of lunch and 30 minutes of recess. Then everyone went home. It was kind of a lame day. 31 (of 142) students were absent and I don't blame them one bit.
Still, I did get some things done and had a nice nap before going to school. That was nice.

Monday, January 16, 2012

What I did on MLK Day.

Three gallons of milk, a large pot and various small bowls of things. What else could I be doing but:

...making cheese!

I made my first pressed cheese: queso fresco. After it presses for eight hours, I can eat it.

When I wasn't actively making cheese, I planned this year's growing season. Sentinel helped.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Essay: Baby...

Last week, Steve Duin, columnist for the Oregonian, lamented the misogynistic, graphic, abuse of women—or in this case woman—as seen in the David Fincher version of the movie The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. He wondered what his 21 year old daughter made of the violence and compared the different message given by another movie of the holiday season—Hugo.

Well, I’m not related to Steve Duin, and I am not 21 any longer, but I am a woman and I do have something to say about women and movies. While the “business-as-usual” depiction of violence against women is, and continues to be disturbing, my feeling is that it part of an even bigger problem. To twist a line from the band Cake, when it comes to women appearing in movies, “baby, we’re never there.”

In comparison to men, women’s stories are rarely told on screen. If we appear at all, it’s usually in one of two ways: as the biblically approved “helpmate” to further the male protagonist’s story; or the jezebel role keeping the male protagonist from something. Let’s take other movie Duin mentions, Hugo. The man character is a twelve year old boy. The secondary character is an aging toy seller. Both of these characters have female companions to help them along their journey: the toy seller has a supportive wife and the boy has a friend, the granddaughter of the toy seller, who might hold the key to solving one of the movie’s mysteries. Don’t get me wrong, Hugo is a good movie, well acted, well directed, beautiful to watch and I recommend it (although it is a tad slow.) But if you are looking for a story about women—their thoughts, their feelings, their journey, their growth—this is not your film.

And neither are most other films. I didn’t believe this myself until I started keeping track one year. I put each movie through the Bechdel Test. In order to pass the test, a movie must answer in the affirmative to the following three questions:

  1. It includes two women
  2. Who talk to each other
  3. About something other than a man.

I didn’t expect a large number of movies to meet this guideline, but I watch a range of movies, from big, dumb blockbusters, to mainstream fare to independent and foreign films. Given such breadth, women would be somewhat represented in these films right?

Wrong. To my dismay, the vast majority of the films I watched that year did not even meet the first criteria, either having no women at all, or one woman (the wife/girlfriend role.) Sporadically I would view a film with two women in it, but when they did interact, they—yep—talked about a man.

This is a problem. It’s part of the blatant and pervasive sexism that seeps through every part of American culture. Women make up half of the population, but our stories--at least the ones that have something to do with a topic other than finding love--are not told. We don’t see ourselves on the big screen. The fact that we are rarely, if ever, on screen tells a bigger tale about our place in society than any movie made about the subject.

What to do? Let’s get some more women writing scripts and women directing and producing, heading major studios. Perhaps men could also take an interest in movies that tell women’s stories. We’ve got stories to tell and not just about how we landed our man.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


My friend Deborah invited people over to celebrate the sixth night of Hanukkah. As it has been before, it was a lovely and relaxing evening that left me wanting to celebrate Hanukkah too. Luckily for me, my Unitarian faith has no problem incorporating other religious traditions into my spiritual practice. Deborah mentioned that she bought her menorah at the Goodwill, so I resolved to keep my eyes open for one too. Instead, I scored at New Season's 75% off holiday merchandise sale. I brought home this beauty:

for a steal!
I'm not sure yet what my 2012 Hanukkah celebration (beginning the evening of December 8) will look like, but I've got the main piece of equipment and I can't wait.

Essay: My secret resolution.

Note: one of my goals this year is to write essays regularly for the blog. My goal is to have about 500 words ready to publish every Thursday. I'm not sure how good the writing will be from week to week, but my goal is to publish every week, so what gets written is what is published. As always, comments are appreciated.

Last year I made two public resolutions, accomplishing one and failing at the other. But I made another resolution, didn’t tell a soul and was very successful in keeping to that resolution for 2011. I resolved to not take a single class, in anything, for the whole year. No one-day workshops in gardening, no short series of exercise classes, no free classes at the library, no learning a new technique, new hobby, a new way to cook. Whatever knowledge I had going into 2011 was not going to be supplemented by any new knowledge given to me in class form.

Why did I do this? Sometime in 2010 I realized that I was out of control with the classes. My classes budget (actually performances/classes) was wildly oversubscribed and that red figure in the budget continued to be troubling. So money was an issue. Time was the other issue. Off the top of my head, I know that in 2010 I took two classes in growing fruit, a beekeeping class, a 10 week ballet series, a running group at my gym and an eight-week harmony singing class. All of those classes took time away from my already established interests, leaving me excited about the new thing I was doing and frustrated that other things (the gardening, the cooking, the reading, the regular, already paid for, exercise classes at the gym) weren’t getting done.

So I stopped. It was incredibly freeing. When the catalogs for community education classes arrived in the mail, I just tossed them in the recycling bin. When the emails about gardening series arrived in the inbox I just deleted them. When I read flyers on bulletin boards, I just moved on. There was no burst of nervous excitement. I didn’t have to wedge the class into my schedule, figure out where the money was coming from to pay for it or get caught up in the dream of how it would transform my life.

Because that, I realized as the year progressed, was what the problem with classes was. Upon the discovery of a new class I would invest a ton of emotional energy into the fantasy of how my life would be changed by this new thing. A ten week series in ballet would leave me more graceful and with the will to transform my body into the lean carriage of a professional dancer. A series of classes about growing fruit in my backyard would open the door to bushels of fruit and the dedication to the daily upkeep involved. A series in harmony singing would propel me toward a side career in folk music performance.

But none of those classes created those things in my life. The ballet left me frustrated, at the state of my body right now and how incredibly hard even the beginner class was. The fruit growing classes gave me knowledge, but left me overwhelmed as to which step to do next and so nothing was done. The harmony singing classes were a joy, and also a frustration as I repeatedly failed to hold my end of the harmony bargain. The sad truth of the matter is, forming a “new” anything takes a lot of time and effort which is tough for a person whose time and effort is pretty well parceled out already.

Last year, what I felt the most was peace that the person I am currently has many interests already to keep her occupied. And I had the realization that I need to carefully select the classes I take, being respectful of my time and my budget. I also need to keep in mind that the end result of the class will not be a brand-new me. It will most likely just be the same old me, with a bit of new knowledge who may or may not have the will and the time to integrate the topic into my already full life.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Three sentence movie reviews: Medicine for Melancholy

There were parts of this movie that were odd, went on a bit too long or were just awkward. But I found the main male character delightfully amusing ("'preciate it" he said often at the beginning of the film, almost like a nervous tic, and that won me over) which partially made up for the somewhat flat female lead. If you are interested in views of San Francisco, or are intrigued by the "Before Sunrise" concept turn on its head, this is a movie for you.

This just in! She found the Peeps!

The ones I gave Aunt Pat last June. She just phoned. I was beginning to think they would never be found, but she said the birds don't eat as much seed in the summer so she was just getting to the bucket. Now I have to be on alert. Where will the peeps turn up next?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

And this too? Where DO you find the time?

Dishcloth #3
Dishcloth #3's pattern had a lot of yarn overs and left twists which gave me ample opportunities to drop stitches, which I did often. At one point I was short six stitches, which resulted in my counting stitches as the end of the row more often. I think the next time I knit this pattern I will use markers to delineate where the transitions are supposed to be.

Three sentence movie reviews: Comedian

If not for the inclusion of Orny Adams--a steaming bundle of neurosis and uncertainty who was painful to watch--this would have been a much better movie. I understand the dramatic contrast between the seasoned pro and the up-and-coming comic could have been an interesting one, but Adams was so unlikable that I mostly just waited for him to go away. There were some interesting and also delightful moments, like Jerry Seinfeld telling the story of the Glen Miller band tromping through a slushy Iowa field, but I'm not sure it's worth watching the entire movie to experience them.