Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Books read in September 2014

This month's selection provides good examples of how to write children's books in verse (Brown Girl Dreaming) and how NOT to write children's books in verse (Miss Emily).

Top contenders:

Picture books: Nothing really blew me away, though all are fine.
Middle Readers:  El Deafo
YA: Brown Girl Dreaming
Grownup:  American Wife. (But I've been recommending this for years, so I assume y'all have read it by now.)
Nonfiction, children's: Tiny Creatures
Nonfiction, grownup:  Bad Feminist, Many Are Called

Picture Books
 In New York
Marc Brown
Read for Librarian Book Group
Mostly I had the following sour grapes thought while reading this book:  "How nice that you found fame and fortune by creating Arthur and can afford to live in your lovely part of New York."  But that's just me.

Chicken Squad
Doreen Cronin
Read for Librarian Book Group
Amusing beginning reader.

Little Elliott, Big City
Mike Curato
Read for Librarian Book Group
Nice retro illustrations.
Middle Readers
Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere
Julie T. Lamana
Read for Librarian Book Group
Another forgettable/not right title (perhaps I should have a running list).  Forgettable title aside, I very much enjoyed this tale of Hurricane Katrina experienced by a 10-year-old.  It's an interesting contrast to the other Hurricane Katrina book (Zane and the Hurricane) I read recently, and I thought this one was much more gritty and "real" in details.  I had trouble getting started, but once the hurricane got going, I wanted to keep reading.

Leroy Ninker Saddles Up
Kate DiCamillo
Read for Librarian Book Group
DiCamillo's writing is good, but her illustrator is better.  Very fun story of a cowboy without a horse who acquires one.

*starred review*
 El Deafo
Cece Bell
Read for Librarian Book Group
Highly recommended.  The graphic novel story of how author Cece Bell lost most of her hearing and the way her hearing loss shaped her childhood.  Full of really fun and funny details and gently heartbreaking.

Through the Woods
Emily Carroll
Read for Librarian Book Group
Super awesome and creepy stories, richly illustrated.  I couldn't read them before bed.

Miss Emily
Burleigh Muten, Matt Phelan
Read for Librarian Book Group
Rather twee and treacle-y story of Emily Dickinson having an adventure with some neighbor children.  It was written in verse.  I was not a fan.  The illustrations were disappointing too.
*starred review*
Brown Girl Dreaming
Jacqueline Woodson
Read for Librarian Book Group
Books written in verse seem to be a thing now, but most of the stories could be told just as well if they weren't written in verse.  Not this one.  The poetry could stand alone and the story that flowed from the verse was compelling.  Very well done.
*starred review*
American Wife
Curtis Sittenfeld
Read for Kenton Library Book Group
This was a re-read for me and I loved it just as much as the first time I read it.  
Nonfiction, children's
 *starred review*
Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes
Nicola Davis
Read for Librarian Book Group
I really loved the way this book talked about scale of things.  It was helpful to this reader who is much older than the intended audience.

Nonfiction, grownup

*starred review* 
Bad Feminist
Roxane Gay
Some essays read like a bit too much like a comparative literature paper, but most are insightful and funny and manage to hit both high and low.  My favorite was "Typical First Year Professor."

Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight
Alexandra Fuller
Kenton Library Book Group
The story of a woman of English descent growing up in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe.  The writing was fine, the details were spectacular.  There were a lot of things to discuss at book group and it was the first book in a long time that we all liked.

50 Photographers You Should Know
Peter Stepan
I greatly enjoy seeing the works of good photographers and have decided to check out books of good photographs on a regular basis.  But which books?  Enter this handy guide to expose (hah!) me to many interesting photographers.  I especially loved the timeline feature.

Darya Pino Rose
Pino Rose wants us to stop dieting and instead work on improving our food habits.  There is a lot of solid advice.

*starred review*
Many Are Called
Walker Evans
I didn't even finish reading 50 Photographers You Should Know before I put this on hold. Evans concealed a camera in his coat and took surreptitious pictures on the New York City Subway during the late 30s and early 40s.   I loved seeing older women before plastic surgery became a thing and also the many hats people wore as a part of daily life.

Happenings at the City of Roses Motel Site.

What's this?  A fence directly in my way on my walk to the train?

It seems that I will not be accessing this sidewalk at least through the end of the year.

Some establishing photos:
The sign as it stands now. 

I have had mental plans for this lot for years.  This area will be the garden, ringed on the outside by orchard trees.

This smaller section will be where the small house I will build will be located.

Opposite view of sign.  I wonder if the rose bush will survive whatever is coming.
Stay tuned.  Change comes quickly.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The fourth summer of my summer reading volunteering.

This year's t-shirt is my favorite so far.  It's the first one I haven't immediately donated to Goodwill upon completion of my service.  If you want to volunteer for Summer Reading contact the library volunteer program early next year.  Summer Reading volunteers help children keep track of where they are in the summer reading game.  They also distribute prizes and answer questions.  The two hour per week shifts are fun.  Volunteer today.

(Note that my summer reading volunteer service ended in August. I just forgot to take the picture of the shirt until the end of September.)

Friday, September 26, 2014

Three sentence movie reviews: In a World

Breezy and fun comedy that illuminates the darkened corners of the voice-over world.  It's chock full of people you will recognize* and voices your are familiar with.**  I thought Lake Bell sold herself out by writing the Gina Davis speech, but other than that, this was a very fun movie.***

Cost:  Free from library
Where watched: at home, as a palette cleanser.

poster from: http://www.impawards.com/2013/in_a_world.html

*Apparently I recognize Alexandra Holden from Friday Night Lights playing someone named Suzy.
**Vinnie Van Lowe from Veronica Mars is in this.  And the bald friend of R in Warm Bodies.
***And a comedy with no defecation!

Three sentence movies reviews: Never Let Me Go

This is a compelling and well-acted movie with such a quietly disturbing premise I was forced to watch another movie afterward just to cleanse my palette.  I recommend it for anyone who enjoys the three lead actors and also would like to see the current Spider Man with an English accent.  When not being quietly disturbed by the plot, I wondered if Andrew Garfield was British.*

Cost: Free from the library
Where watched: at home.

*It turns out he was born in the USA to a British mother and an American father.  They moved back to England when he was three. So he's both.

poster from: http://www.impawards.com/2010/never_let_me_go.html

Progress on apron.

Sure it took me taking a personal day of vacation to finally get back to work on my apron.  But I did it.  I scheduled in "sewing" from 8-Noon and sewed for that entire time.  There was some seam-ripping (or "unsewing" as I've rechristened it.) and also I seem to have purchased half-inch bias tape rather than the quarter-inch the pattern called for, but I'm rolling with it.

Here's where I ended up.

Random Song: Hate it Here.

By Wilco from the Boyhood soundtrack.

I love Wilco anyway (at least when they aren't wandering off on their sometimes feedback-filled meander songs) but this one really caught me.

10 movies that marked me.

I wrote this for Facebook.  But I figured why not also post it here.  And here it is.

I watch a lot of memorable movies but the movies I find most memorable (and thus one can say marked me) are often linked to an event or place or time period.  So here’s my top 10.  I’m putting them in the order I watched them chronologically (from little girl to this summer)

Singing in the Rain
Tied for first in my “favorite movie” list.  I saw it as a girl with my mother and loved the music and the dancing and Lena Lamont’s voice.  I’ve watched it again and again because there’s always something to hook into:  the story, the performances, the costumes, the songs.  I’ve seen a theatrical production and even watched it on the big screen (thanks Cinema 21!) and I never get tired of this film.  Though I confess I tend to fast forward through the endless Cyd Charisse dance scene.  It’s just as enjoyable at double speed and done that much sooner.

Angie Fuller asked me to accompany her to the theater.  Footloose was playing.  We were in fourth grade (and thus a tiny bit young for this film).  It had been raining at recess that day and my shoes were still sopping wet hours later.  This was the first film I saw without my parents.  When my mother asked me how I liked it, I said, “There was a lot of swearing.”  The dawn of VHS meant I watched this movie over and over and over again.  Long before I was a teenager, this movie taught me that trying to keep teenagers from doing what they wanted to do was pretty much a lost cause.  And that there is a time to dance.

Stand by Me
Number of times I’ve seen this film?  Twice.  Once when I was about 12 and once when I was in my 30s.  Amount I remembered of this film upon re-watching? Nearly 100%.  The first time I watched it was the perfect age to see this, just a year or two younger than the protagonists. I was also an 80s girl completely in love with the 50s, so the setting worked for me.  This movie marks the beginning of the end of the era of watching movies with my parents.  During most of my early teenage years it was too uncomfortable to try and process my own reactions and theirs while taking in a movie.  I also remember this movie fondly because of my mother’s aghast reaction to the mailbox baseball scene.  “That is a federal offence!” This movie also got me interested in Stephen King, who was (along with V.C. Andrews and the authors of bodice rippers) among the first grown-up authors I read.  The story of friendship and change is what ultimately sticks with me.  It’s a heartbreaking film and not just because River Phoenix would be dead seven years later.

My favorite girl movie of my teenage years and one I think many people overlook.  Four friends graduate from high school and plan one final weekend together before going off on their different paths.  The early 60s beach setting was awesome and the high-jinks that ensue are memorable. It’s highly quotable.  Pudge (yes there is a character named Pudge and yes, she’s of normal weight) says at one point “It isn't a bone at all, it's a muscle. This cousin of hers dated a Clemson Tiger who sprained his in a game, and she had to massage it every night when it got hard because he was in so much pain.” It also has a really fabulous soundtrack and a big dance number.  I’m just now realizing this movie may be the reason my friends and I went on a road trip after graduating from high school.  We met neither a "Chip" nor a "Buzz," but we still had a good time.

Dazed and Confused
I must have seen this before I graduated high school in 1993, but it didn’t really hit home for me until I watched it again in 1994 or 1995.  By that time I’d gone off to a women’s college with hazing rituals that were eerily similar to the ones depicted in this film.  I love the high school bacchanalia aspect of this film.  The soundtrack has been played to death, but I loved it for a long time.

“We should go see Fargo,” said the guy who would become my college boyfriend.
“What’s that?”
“You’ll like it,” he assured me.
We hadn’t spent much time together, but he was right.  We went to the Academy of Music Theater in Northampton, Mass. and I laughed throughout this film.  It’s too violent and incredibly tragic, but I fell in love with Frances McDormand and her angel of a pregnant Marge Gunderson, unflappable in the face of so much senseless mayhem.

Chasing Amy
I’m guessing the films of Kevin Smith will most likely only last as period-specific examples of this and that.  I’m also guessing this film hasn’t aged well.  But there was a time when I loved it for exploring the idea (however awkwardly) that sexuality can morph and change.  It also explores male friendship in a way that I hadn’t seen much on film at that point. Holden and Banky’s breakup comes years before the bromance comedies of the last decade.  I watched this at the Academy of Music in Northampton too.  And let me tell you, watching Chasing Amy with a bunch of smart women from Smith College is a different experience than watching it in your standard multiplex.  There was hissing.  More than once.  From all areas of the theater.

Almost Famous
Also tied for first in my “favorite movie” list.  In September of 2000 I was poor.  After a few months of unemployment, I had finally found a job, but I was still catching up financially with the things I let slide.  So it was a few weeks before I could scrape together the cash to see this movie which I watched at the Lowes Harvard Square Cinema.  I remember being surprised at how funny it was—the previews had played up the drama—and I remember being so happy to be watching. For me it’s a perfect film.  I love this movie because it’s about the end of things and the beginning of things and every single performance is spot-on.  Philip Seymour Hoffman’s speech about being uncool remains a top 10 movie moment for me. 

What’s Your Number
A recent find (thanks Heather) and one I loved so much I watched it twice in one day.  What seems to be a silly rom-com plot (woman feels she’s slept with too many men and decides to look up all her past conquests to see if any are husband material) delves much deeper into the subject of how females are supposed to be in society.  There’s also great sister stuff and a slow-rolling romance with the hunky Chris Evans.  And Anna Faris’s comic timing is impeccable. 


Too soon to deserve to be on the list?  I can’t tell.  But as I said in my original review, there was a time before someone made a movie over 12 years with the same actors, and there is a time where that concept now exists, and I'm happy to have experienced the changeover.  I’ve been thinking about this movie since I saw it in August so that’s a good sign for longevity.  Cinema 21 was the perfect place to watch it, old theater, red seats, packed house. Great movie.

What movies have marked you?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Moneta work uniforms improved!

I still love the uniforms, but I am less enamored of keeping my bra straps from showing.  I resolved to make those things that keep them in place.  I don't know if those things have an official name, but I guess I can call them bra strap holders.  I did a search and found a good tutorial that explained how to sew in the kind where you crochet the thread and attach a snap. Here's the link.  However, I was having trouble getting the crochet-with-thread technique to work, and wanted these done, so I got out some ribbon I had and improvised.  The result was great.  They don't really match, but you can't see them from the outside anyway and they keep my bra nicely in place.

Monday, September 22, 2014

So this is really a thing.

I was reading the paper while waiting for the train and I kept being distracted by something white in my peripheral vision.  It kept being my hair.  

It is strange to think that someday when I see the hair out of the corner of my eyes it will be light instead of dark.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Long overdue postcard spiffing.

My postcards stack up next to my computer and the idea is that I change out the display on the wall every time I get enough postcards in the stack to make a new row.  That hasn't really happened, I've just been stacking.

It's been months since I've switched them out.  But it's time.  A gust of wind made the currently displayed postcards askew.

Here's the new result.  44 postcards displayed. 
They look great.

Thursday, September 18, 2014


Matt and I were going out to dinner, but first we stopped by Kenton Cycle Repair to have them look over his bike before his big ride.  Here's where the Kenton Bike Shop is located.

They had a lot of bikes for sale outside, so I took some pictures.  

I love these fenders.  They look really cool.

This is a nice little Raleigh.  With good fenders too.

I love this red road bike.

I wouldn't mind owning this one.

I always appreciate a nice Trek.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

I can only imagine the story behind this.

I know why there are ketchup and mustard dispensers sitting in the kitchen at work.  They are being used by the children to make peace flags.*  By why this mustard dispenser has a label on it that says, "predators are too close"?  Who knows?

*It occurs to me that the above sentence will make no sense to anyone else but staff at school.  So here's what they did:  children color coffee filters with crayola-type markers, then the mustard/ketchup containers are filled with water and the water is sprayed over the coffee filter and that causes the colors to run on the coffee filter.  The filters are hung to dry et voila!  Peace Flags.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Three sentence movie reviews: Revenge of the Nerds

Part of the Ruby Oliver Film Festival

In which a group of nerds overcomes their own persecution by oppressing women.* Setting aside my feminist convictions,** I thought this story was rather sweet, although its time has passed.  I mean, who isn't for the nerds?***

poster from: http://www.impawards.com/1984/revenge_of_the_nerds.html

*I mean seriously!  Creepy spying with what we would now be calling web cams!  Having sex with a woman while pretending to be someone else (which is rape)!  Using a topless photo of the woman you have just raped to raise money for charity!  All very bad things!  I'm not going to go into how the women in the Mu sorority were all fat, and thus lesser women.  But I could.
**As I often do when watching movies.
***We're kind of living in a nerd nirvana right now.

Yep. Breakfast.

Anyone who has taken a drive past breakfast places on the weekend knows how popular breakfast is in Portland.  I don't know about the rest of the state, though.  

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Three sentence movie reviews: His Girl Friday

Part of the Ruby Oliver Film Festival

 I tend to have a problem with plots where the leading man isn't listening to what the leading woman is saying and then the script proves him right in the end, as if  the leading woman doesn't know what she really wants.  So there was that, but putting that aside (as I have to do so often when watching movies) this was chock full of witty banter and really clipped along, which is not necessarily a feature in movies of yore.  Overall, a very good watch.

poster from: http://www.allposters.com/-st/His-Girl-Friday-1940-Posters_c43268_.htm
This poster is hideous! What have they done to Rosalind Russell?

Buckman Wonder Wander

Khris Soden, an artist living in the Buckman neighborhood, gave three walking tours of the neighborhood.  They were called Wonder Wanders and each was about an hour long.  On the Wonder Wanders we looked at details of the neighborhood, heard historical facts, and told our own stories. I was only able to attend the first one, alas, but here it is.

We started our wander at Crema.  Emily, the woman with the dog in the above photo, talked about how the building's construction made use of inexpensive materials like cinder blocks.

The builder also installed art on the exterior of the building.

Emily lives in an apartment above Crema, so she took us to her apartment.

It's a loft-type studio with a lot of light due to the garage-door-as-window in the unit.

The builder purposely left each unit very sparse in design because he wanted the tenants to add their own touches.  Emily makes bicycle bags in her apartment.  

We then walked across the street to get a better vantage point for Emily's neighbor Thom Ross, who is a woodworker.  He and two other people bought this building to use as work space.  Thom still has a work space, but he also has built a house in his portion of the building.  You can see how it has risen up out of the one-story building.

This is Thom, and Khris.

Thom let us go into his house.  The entry door preserves the exterior of the building.  

There's a small growing space that Thom is still working on.

Before you enter the house proper, you can look up and see the house rising out of the building.

This is the first floor which has the kitchen, dining room and a breakfast nook. Also, a really nice garden.

The kitchen, which Thom has designed so it can be shut off from the rest of the house so the smells don't permeate all levels of the living space.

A view into the kitchen from the dining room.  I'm guessing he made that bread as he mentioned he likes to cook.

The incredible garden with plant wall.

And eco roof.  Thom said the wall was hard to figure out how to get the right ratio of water.  There were a lot of dead plants and getting out the ladder before he figured out that the plants needed to be saturated with water regularly.

A look through the dining room at the staircase.

You can see where the picture can be lowered, cutting off the kitchen from the rest of the house.  You can also peek into the second floor.

Orchid in window.

Thom said it was important to have the eco roof  because the upper floors look right on onto the roof.  At this point Thom asked us if we wanted to see the other levels.  Did we ever!

This is the living room on the second floor.  Thom said that it turned out to be a summer and winter living room.  This is the summer living room.

And here's the view of the eco roof.

Bar area.

Winter living room.

Stairs.  This house has a lot of stairs.  It also has an elevator.

The third level has the bedroom, bathroom, an office and a deck onto the other eco roof.

Thom located the trees on the building's structural beams, because they can take the weight of the heavier planters.  He also planted the roof so there is color year round.

More roof views.  Thom has installed gardening boxes so he can grow vegetables.

We are now on the fourth floor.  This is a flexible space good for guests to stay or to use for projects.  There's a full bathroom on this level too.

The view from the fourth floor.

Nice contrast between the eco roof and the regular roof next door.

And we've made it to the fifth story, where the cats love to hang out on the deck.

More view (and big picture)

Peeking over into downtown.  We think this hole will become a four-story apartment complex.

The fifth floor sitting room.

And exercise area.

Peeking over Ankeny Street.

This tree is visible in the first picture from the street.

More street views.

Then we took the stairs around (and around and around and around) until we came to the street level and Thom's sign on his door.  From there, we commenced wandering.

Incoming apartments/condos.

A lot of detail on this porch.

Wandering by Central Catholic and learning the nickname of their playing field.

A peek at the Central Catholic playing field, nicknamed the Boneyard, because there was a cemetery on this plot.  The graves were moved to Mt. Calvary Cemetery.

Khris tells us his own story about the Central Catholic sign.

Learning about the Ghost Bikes.

Here is Nick Bucher's information on the Ghost Bikes site.

Ghost bikes are often decorated.

We walked by Lone Fir, and I noted it has a very fancy new sign.

I took a picture of this for future note.

Khris tells us about the Dawg Terrace, which is a renovated apartment building designed for dog owners.

It includes fire hydrants in the yard.

And these great bike parking spaces.

Khris explained how Portland once had a goodly number of gullies, which were evened out by sluicing out the roads.  Here he is pointing out that the original level was at the top of this wall (the ground was even with the graves in Lone Fir Cemetery) and the road was dug out and used to fill a gully down the road.

Trolly tracks.

Another view of the cut down street.

Brightly colored house.

Mural of Africa on the garage door.

The signature.

Learning about the grisly box of human remains discovered  in the 1960s on the former trash heap that was on this lot. The house from that time period has been replaced, but the killer is still alive and living in the Oregon State Penitentiary. 

Learning about how the many jogs in the road came about.  It seems that when there is no central planning agency, as was the case in Portland until the 1920s, developers can make their own decisions.

Nice detail on this door.

Our last stop was a Food Cart Pod next to Crema. 
Thus ended the Buckman Wonder Wander that I attended.  Thanks Khris, for the great tour.