Monday, September 30, 2013

Postcard from Arlington Virginia

It's Baby Bear by Kandir Nelson.  From Sara who is a fan.  She postcarded to chat about her day.  I postcarded her back.

Books read in September 2013

Shoot. Here it is the end of October and I haven't yet written book reviews for September.  Except Bluebird, which was so hideous I immediately wrote the review before time could smooth out the edges and I didn't think it was so bad.  So these will be short reviews, which is too bad, because there were some good books this month.

Far, Far Away
Tom McNeal
Read for Librarian Book Group
A fairy tale set in Nebraska narrated by the ghost of Jacob Grimm.  Incredibly awesome.  A five-star book.  Until, unfortunately, it morphs into a grim Chelsea Cain-type thriller at the end.  I wasn't so much a fan of that.  Still, worth the read.

Ottaviana &  Wicks
Read for Librarian Book Group
Graphic novel featuring three women who work with primates.  Interesting.

The Spectacular Now
Tim Tharp
I read this immediately after I saw the movie so the two melded a bit, for better or for worse.  Great main characters, interesting setting, a look what can happen when alcohol is more than a social lubricant. To me, the book ending was much more satisfying than the movie.

The True Blue Scouts of Sugarman Swamp
Kathi Appelt
Read for Librarian Book Group
"Ugh. Raccoons are characters?"  J-fiction is not my favorite and I never read books with animals as main characters so I wasn't too thrilled to tackle this.  But guess what?  The book is great. The multiple character viewpoints (animal, human, mythic) are interesting.  The plot is gripping and multifaceted and it would make a great read aloud, especially if you like to do different voices.  Top notch.

One Came Home
Amy Timberlake
Read for Librarian Book Group
Horribly hideous title. Which is too bad, because this is an outstanding book.  It's got a spunky main character, an interesting historical setting, good information about the passenger pigeon.  Plus it's an adventure story,  road-book, and a mystery with the tiniest bit of romance sprinkled in.  Very well done.  If only someone had counseled Ms. Timberlake about her damn title.

Etiquette & Espionage
Gale Carriger
Read for Librarian Book Group
Fun Steampunk take on finishing school.  It's more of a "finishing" school.  As in finishing people off.  The world was not fully developed, but it was entertaining.

Andrew Smith
Read for Librarian Book Group
Very, very funny.  Best 14-year-old Junior in high school.  It captured well the wanting of adolescence.  My only problem was the cover, which featured a picture of a bloody nose on the front and a comic version of the same bloody nose on the back.  I had to put post-it notes on both sides.  Other than that, I was a fan.  Many people were not thrilled about the ending, but I was okay with it.

Bob Staake
Read for Librarian Book Group
Nope.  Not a fan.  I was charmed at first, by this picture-only picture book, though I found it a bit tough to follow the narrative on some pages.  But the library has it in the "Parenting" section of children's books for a reason and that reason has to do with the ending.  Good for helping a child understand death, I guess, as long as your belief about death involves floating up into the clouds.

Final daily paper.

RIP seven day Oregonian.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Really? No Desk? Really?

And the hits just keep on coming.

Thanks, Oregonian, for getting rid of three days of home delivery, the movie critic, the music critic, the theater critic, so many other things I'm too mad about to remember right now.  Thanks also for getting rid of the Desk, the column that watches out for consumers.  What, were you afraid that we might report our formerly quality newspaper to its own consumer complaint column?

This would all go so much better if you would just admit you are giving us a lesser product. 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Three sentence movie reviews: Crazy, Stupid, Love

Having seen this film, I feel as if I must make the following point very clearly: People--I'm quite serious here--feel free to recommend movies to me; especially perfectly done romantic comedies that are actually FUNNY as well as ROMANTIC and take nimble turns of plot I don't really expect.  This movie has been out for TWO YEARS and someone just mentioned it to me this summer, which is a shame because due to the excellent caliber of motion picture (acting/plot/bevy of talented performers) I feel that my life would have been changed, and for the better.  So don't hold back; if you see a movie you think I will like, by all means let me know what it is.

Cost:  free from library
Where watched: at home with Matt in the same room, but not really paying attention the first night.  Then sitting next to me on the next night when I convinced him to watch it, instead of just listening.

(I don't only blame you guys.  I also blame the poster.  It is not at all right for what this movie is. It's also the reason I didn't see it in the theaters, because I figured I knew what it was about.  But the poster is not an accurate reflection of the movie.  Trust me here.)

Friday, September 27, 2013

OMG! Who let this headline get through?

re: the movie Don Jon.

You can take your new era and shove it.

How I used to read the paper seven days a week:  a bundle of a paper was delivered to my doorstep and I read it.
How I will read the paper 3 of seven days per week:  supposedly on my tiny phone.
Except the stupid digital version doesn't work on my phone.  That blue square is where the content is supposed to be.  You know, because we are calling it "content" now, not "news".

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Prompt writing: as the days grow longer.

This spring, I took a writing class offered through Write Around Portland.  It was called "Prompt" because each week we would meet and write for a limited amount of time--usually somewhere between 2-8 minutes--to a number of different prompts.  As the school year grinds to a start and I have less time to write, I will be featuring excerpts from my writing class in lieu of the weekly essay.

As the days grow longer, I'm vaulted into the summers of my past.  Long, languid days filled with swimming and reading and watching a bit too much TV.  Swimming lessons when young, swim team when older, pining to be old enough for a part-time job, working that part-time job and cursing the loss of the long, languid days, while simultaneously gleefully spending my paycheck on whatever I wanted.  Summer was freedom.  From school, from schedules, from most expectations, from the daily grind of the average middle class American girl.  Summer was car washes for band fundraisers, boyfriends ending relationships and so many movies watched and books read.  Every summer I would look forward to the day my feet would be tough enough to spend the entire day barefoot.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Missing the point of the qualities inherent to glass:

I see this a lot at school and it amuses me.  Since glass is transparent, another way to do this would be to stack both signs together and affix them on just one side of the glass.  By doing so, you get the following advantages:
  • the flier facing the elements is protected by the glass, yet still readable
  • four pieces of tape hold up two fliers vs. eight pieces of tape holding up two fliers
  • you need not spend time carefully aligning two posters so they match each other

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Three sentence movie reviews: 2 Days in Paris

The sequel to this movie--which I watched first--was full of zany humor, and I assumed this would be the same. However, it was much less zany funny and more desperate funny, which I found enjoyable in a chuckling sort of way.  I haven't seen Adam Goldberg in years* and spent a lot of time contemplating why, as an actor, he would get all those tattoos.

Cost:  free from library
Where watched:  at home

*I heard he has a new TV show this fall?

Colette Patterns' Laurel. Tracing Dress pattern.

Remember how I still have two dresses to make before I finish with the uniform project?  Me too!  It's been a while, but I did some work today.

First I checked the shirt pattern against the dress pattern and found that the dress pattern is exactly the shirt pattern, but longer.  Score.
Then it was a matter of taking my personal shirt pattern and marking where it hit on the dress pattern.

Then I just traced the shirt pattern and switched to the Collette Pattern original pattern for the bottom of the dress.

Friday, September 20, 2013


Yipes.  This house and the lot next door were for sale. I had thoughts of buying them both.  I didn't, but someone else did and it looks like this house is not long for this world.  Given that this is on Interstate, I expect something multi-family will sprout in its place.

Apparently, International Talk Like a Pirate Day was yesterday?

I was confused as to what would motivate someone to graffitti the joke, but someone clued me in.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Prompt writing: at the water's edge.

This spring, I took a writing class offered through Write Around Portland.  It was called "Prompt" because each week we would meet and write for a limited amount of time--usually somewhere between 2-8 minutes--to a number of different prompts.  As the school year grinds to a start and I have less time to write, I will be featuring excerpts from my writing class in lieu of the weekly essay.

She sits on the lip of the pool, her legs dangling in the tepid water.  Her hair is pulled back and summarily shoved under a swim cap and the vinyl pulls her forehead back, nearly lifting her eyebrows.  She stretches her arms above her head, arching her back, then drops them and rolls her neck a few times.  She trails her hands in the water, waiting to shift a bit.

Swimming is always hardest at the water's edge.  Once she has submerged her body, it's a matter of moving her limbs, breathing rhythmically--things she's done a thousand times before.  But while on land, swimming seems incredibly hard.  Years ago, she solved this problem by diving in, but times have changed and the pool rules don't allow it.  Too much liability.  So now she sits on the precipice, still a land mammal and not yet an aquatic one.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Postcard from Nebraska

This is from Jacob.  He's a 30-year-old graduate student studying both neuroscience and psychology.  That sounds interesting.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Postcard from Belarus

From Lidia.  Her hobbies are travel, work in the garden, knit and patchwork.  

Look at the great needlework stamp with the extra bonus of fringy edges.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Three sentence movie reviews: Kings of Summer

I had to wait through the entire summer before time was found for the boyfriend and I to see this movie.  It was worth it, though, because what I saw was the perfect mix of adventure and humor and heartache and best of all:  freedom, which was portrayed in that way that only adolescents can experience freedom.  Several times I looked at Matt and he was slack-jawed with delight, because this is that kind of film.*

Cost:  $3.00
Where watched: at the Laurelhurst with the boyfriend.

*seriously, this was a perfect movie.  You must see it.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Sienfeld, you have never left me.

Every since the episode when George's father reads a book about "Serenity Now" and attempts to achieve said state by yelling "SERENITY NOW!!" every time he became angry, I can't not laugh when I see the phrase.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Prompt Writing. When everyone was asleep.

This spring, I took a writing class offered through Write Around Portland.  It was called "Prompt" because each week we would meet and write for a limited amount of time--usually somewhere between 2-8 minutes--to a number of different prompts.  As the school year grinds to a start and I have less time to write, I will be featuring excerpts from my writing class in lieu of the weekly essay.

One of the rules of Prompt writing is that you are to "assume fiction."  And so this is partly me, but I was also thinking of Molly Ringwald when I wrote this.  I heard an interview where she talked about how she wrote for years before publishing because when she did publish, she wanted it to be good.

I do my best writing in the morning.  I like the quiet, the breaking darkness and the chill in the air.  I look out my back door as I write, watching the shapes emerge in the backyard.  First, my face is reflected in the glass, then the trees and the fence become visible as light seeps into the sky.  But I've always like times best when everyone was asleep.

As a teenager, I stayed up later than my parents and brother, listening to music, puttering about in my room.  The silence of the night freed me from the task of having to be me and I felt myself relax as the hours went on, dropping deeper into my work.  Now, I wake early, on the tail end of the night, and slip into a sweater and then my chair.  I have things to do.  The day is before me, but for a few minutes this time is for me and the characters I've created.

I like to read about authors and how they write.  The haphazard process for this one, the structure of another's routine.  Sometimes, when I am writing, I think of the Catholic women, going to mass every morning before slipping off to their jobs, or home to feed their families. I understand the attraction of the ritual.  The daily need to be in a specific place at a specific time saying specific things.

If I miss a few mornings writing, I get jittery, filled with the words that need to escape me, to make it onto the paper.  No one pays me to write; there is no reason to continue doing it.  But here I sit, morning after morning, weaving characters and plots together into something different from myself.  After writing, I set down my pen, spent, and gaze into the sunlight of another day.

Postcards from Singapore and Russia

Here is a postcard of an ink and watercolour piece called "Cascade II[iii] from Chaomin who is a 21-year-old from China studying in Singapore.  She's in Environmental Engineering.

The Russian postcard came with a beautiful envelope.  Less blurry pictures to follow.

Look at the stamps!  And the cancellations!

And the drawing on the front!

Here is the postcard from Nina.  I am the first Postcrossing person she sent a postcard to.  So exciting!  She is a teacher in a secondary school and she likes her work, reports that the school year will begin in two days.  Her favorite quote, which she wrote out and translated for me is:  You are rich when you don't need anything, not when you have many things (much money).

It was a very cool mail day.

Ah, beginning of school, how I loathe you.

My desk.

Memo to middle-aged mom: No. One. Cares.

I'm writing this more than a month after I snapped the picture of this article/headline and I'm still annoyed.  I understand that teenagers feel like everyone is watching them.  It's a developmental stage and they grow out of it.  I have much less patience for adults who think the world is their audience, when the world could care less.  Either wear the two-piece or don't, but don't inflict your psychodrama on the rest of us.  Geez.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


I pick up most of my library books from the hold shelf rather than the stacks.  Along with the book comes a piece of paper with my name on it which, after having checked out the book, I fold into quarters and use as a bookmark. It's quite handy.  But imagine my surprise when I received a text message from my friend across town.  What are the odds?

Well, not as wild as one would think.  We are both in the same book group and that book was on our list for the monthy.  And there are only 10 copies at the library, so that narrows the chances a bit.  But still, funny that she would get the book right after me and a fun text-message surprise for my afternoon.

ps.  We both liked the book.
pps.  Which was Far Far Away by Tom McNeal.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Flowers? For Me?

No.  They were delivered to one of our teachers.  The delivery woman explained they were for the teacher's daughter, but I was to give them to the teacher. I put the flowers in the office and passed along the note that her daughter's flowers were there, assuming she knew the drill. She did not, however, because she arrived in the office thinking they were flowers from her daughter to her.

They were not.  They were from her daughter's ex-boyfriend congratulating the daughter on her recent engagement, with a very passive aggressive message that made all of us roll our eyes and chuckle.  Needless to say, the daughter wasn't interested in said flowers and was out of town, so guess who got to keep the flowers?  Me!  Thanks ex-boyfriend! I loved them.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Catio Tour. Last stop.

There were more stops on the east side of town, but time was running out so Fantastically Fenced was our final stop.

I liked this one because it looked like a normal yard.  The overhang keeps the cats from jumping over the fence, but otherwise looks fairly normal.
The fencing is also powder-coated.  Which probably explains why the estimated cost was around $3,000.
Backyard view.
Gate from the driveway.
Sunny perches.
Side yard view.
On our way out.

Catio Tour stop five.

Garden Gazebo.

This one had two cats sitting in it.
There is a bridge from the house to access the gazebo.
Detail of the attachment to the window.
Nice Gazebo, designed and built by one of the owners.
The cats seemed content to observe us.
And we them.

Catio tour. Stop the fourth.

A Yard with a View.  But before we get to the yard, I liked this little window box.
The couple used mesh fencing to keep the cats in and the predators out.
Here is the way the cats get to the second level deck.
It was built the same time the Portland Tram was built.
The cats have a very nice view.
Closeup of the mesh fence.