Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 in Books (or what a nerd girl I am)

Goodreads lets me sort my books now! Yippy! Now I too can do one of those year-end breakdowns of what I read. Here goes:



Total books read: 128 (oh my.)

Fiction: 75

Nonfiction: 53 (This includes 5 crafty books though thatI'm not sure I would call "read" - more browsed through and dabbled in.)





Of all that fiction, here's a further breakdown:

Short story collections: 13

Classics: 2

Poetry: 3

Graphic novels: 4

Kids books: 3



Books not finished: 6 godawfully unreadable books.



Favorite finds of the year:

Farewell I'm Bound to Leave You by Fred Chappell

The Kid by Dan Savage

Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

The Orphan's Tales (both books!) by Catherynne M. Valente



Plans for 2009? More classics and poetry. More educational nonfiction cause I'm a bit heavy on the fun memoirs. More short stories. More of everything really. I'm such a glutton for books.

Blog o' the Day - Sparkle and Glitter

A relatively new find (and a great one at that!) is Sparkle and Glitter. More lists and links and a lot of advice. Its so positive with lots of links to things about style and fashion and inspiration.

Hunt a dream through rain and thunder

One of my favorites:


"For It All" - Emma Bull

Fantasies of violence, breaking bottles on the wall
Hungry for the motion, for the action, for it all.
Road noise on the night street, see the taillights through the blinds
Out there where your dreams slide toward the night side, for it all.

For it all, for it all, what you’re aching for
When the magic’s real and like a fire in the sky
When the deal calls for a sacrifice and you know you cannot die
For the edge the best ones live on, for it all.

You want to be a hero, with the ax about to fall
You’d buy it for the love and for the glory, for it all.
You want to dress in black and lose your heart beyond recall
Hunt a dream through rain and thunder, on your honor, for it all.

In your head, no car is fast enough
In your heart, no love is true
Would it ruin all your solitary fancies
If I tell you that it isn’t only you?

Keep your ankles off the tailpipe, keep your bootheels off the street
We’ll hit the throttle, we’ll hit the redline
We’ll find the edge
We’ll make it sweet
We’ll go for it all.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Updates

What I'm reading: These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer (even though I keep telling myself I need to be reading Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell - but its so damn heavy!)
What I'm listening to: Selected Shorts
What I'm wishing for: This planter.
What I'm working on: a freezer paper stenciled shirt for the boy. (Pictures to come).
What's up next: A newspaper wreath

See enough of life

The street looked like a woman who'd seen enough of life and wanted to sleep it off, push the guy away from her, go home, except she couldn't. She was home. - - - Lynne Tillman, No Lease on Life

Flocks


Birds
Originally uploaded by ILina S
Another random thing that makes me happy is seeing flocks of birds, I love how they all move as one creature. It doesn't matter the type either - a V of geese, a mass of sparrows, any of them moving enmass strike me as a miracle of sorts.

My hometown is also home to thouasands upon thousands of crows that star year round flitting from field to riverside and back again. I've always had an affinity for the clever things and I love catching them in the morning or at dusk on their rgular commute.

Resolution-a-rama

We all know that I don't save resolutions for once a year, right? I'm resolutin' all over the place throught the year. However, I love a good reason to set some goals. Here's my thinking right now:

1. Prettify the house! I mean it dammit. I love color and art and interesting things. So why are most of my rooms still beige even after living here since May. This shit's gonna change. I got a head start on it and sanded and painted a window casing and bought a super cool print with the gift card from my workplace. I've also started replacing switch plate covers before I relized I wanted to change out the switches too. Super progress coming on this whole thing. This place is gonna start looking a whole lot more like us.

2. Feel more comfortable in my own skin. This is a two pronged approach. The first part is the cliched get more healthy already deal-io cause that needs to happen. But the second part is to shed some more self-conciousness. I don't have to be some unattainable wee size to look good. I just need to put some effort into my every day appearance.

3. Take some classes. Knitting, sewing, dance, history of Korea, whatever. Anything. I feel better when I'm learning new things.

4. Change the world (no small feat there). I'm so fricking inspired by our president elect. Anything is possible right now and I want to be part of it so bad. I plan on adding more do-goodness to my everyday life. Starting with four world-changing things a month! This can be writing letters, volunteering, giving money, speaking out, and really anything that helps make the world better.

So please keep me accountable folks.

the gods are bitchy and full of shit

Another amazing one by Cary Tennis:

Aug. 7, 2006 Dear Cary,
I am writing because I am so utterly heartbroken and lonely that I don't know if I can go on.
I am 29, and my boyfriend and true love of 3.5 years just dumped me on my ass. I always considered him my soul mate, my husband, my partner. I always thought he considered me in the same light. (He told me he did constantly throughout the years.) Our families were completely intertwined -- his siblings were like my siblings, and vice versa. We were beneficiaries on each other's life insurance policies. We owned a dog together, cosigned our lease together. Then, almost out of the blue, in bed one night while casually bringing up a topic we have talked about constantly over the years with mutual enthusiasm -- becoming domestic partners -- he mentioned that he didn't think it was a good idea. He then went on to say that he has been unhappy with our "lack of passion" for a while. (I am on libido-crushing Prozac and have a terrible body image problem, low self-esteem, etc.) After a desperate night of many tears, I said that I would work on it -- the very next day I called therapists, made appointments, bought books, talked to friends and started channeling my passion for him by having more sensual, playful sex with him.
Flash-forward: two weeks later. I bring up the topic of my progress with my self-improvement campaign. "How do you think I'm doing?" Basically, then, we start a talk that goes into the next morning, which concludes with the following: "It's too late. Problems that I've kept inside me for too long about our relationship have festered and overcome me, and now I realize that I have fallen out of love with you, and I will never love you again. I want to break up with you."
Everyone, everyone, was shocked. His closest family and friends (not to mention me) were all clueless as to any problems. Maybe twice in the past 3.5 years we had minor talks about our sex life -- he wanted more. I tried, but didn't deliver. I suppose that I should have taken that more seriously, even though I had no idea how serious an issue it would end up being. Otherwise, our relationship, I thought, was literally perfect. Every night we slept in each other's arms after laughing together all day long. Held hands, said "I love you," etc. So there wasn't enough sex, enough passion -- I was getting help.
I know I should probably feel like I deserve better than a man who didn't love me enough to put any work into our relationship, or to open up his mouth and communicate with me about our problems, which I deserved as his partner of so many years. But all I am is devastated, utterly hopeless, heartbroken, totally crushed. I have had no contact with him since. I moved in with my parents. Even though I desperately want him, want to see him, talk, get information ... what's the point? He looked me in the eyes and said, "I cannot love you." Good riddance, right?
After this tirade, my question: How the hell do I get over him? I know it's been done before: People get their hearts broken every day. At least there were no kids (neither of us wanted kids), but we had such a love (I thought), plans for a future together, a life to look forward to. He was "it" for me, absolutely and joyfully. Now I live in a tiny town where everyone knows everyone (I can't relocate because I own a store here), and cannot possibly conceive of ever getting over him, ever moving on, ever finding love again, ever being happy again.
I just need some advice -- what do I do with myself? I am now, ironically, in therapy with a great professional. But I need more. I need steps to take to help me get over my pain. I wish some days I had the guts to kill myself, but instead I soldier on, miserably. I feel like my entire life is shattered and destroyed. I love a man who just let me go, so easily, after so many years, with no warning and hardly an explanation.
Please write to me, say something wise, give me some hope. I am so desperately hopeless and abysmally sad.


Joanna
Dear Joanna,
OK. I will take this on. But I will not offer you hope because hope is a fragile thing, easily dashed. You might better reach for other qualities of more enduring purpose -- skepticism, anger, determination, knowledge of your situation. You need strength and protection. Where will that strength and protection come from? It won't come from hope. It will come from fierce determination never to be blindsided like this again.
Something died. That is what happened. Something died and everyone who loved what died is sad. What died is this thing that you and he had been keeping alive, this wonderful thing that was not you or he but a luminous third being, whose breath was your breath, whose blood was your blood, whose being was like filtered starlight that came through your bones, a twinkling thing that would catch your eye, a twinkling thing that came with a tune, like a tune you hear in a dream that seems to mean everything.
It was this that died. It died and now everyone who loved it is sad.
This thing died and everyone is sad and asking why. Why indeed do things die? Children ask this question. Why? Why do things die? But who is supposed to answer that question?
It would be comforting to have an answer. We could say love is a gift from the gods that is occasionally snatched back.
The truth seems too cruel to say.
So we go on talking just to calm your nerves, to make some music you can listen to as you grieve.
We don't say that the reason for your misfortune is that the gods are bitchy and full of shit, that they are crazy, sick motherfuckers, that the gods spit on us when they're drunk and curse us when they're mad. We don't mention what is actually known to be true, that although sometimes in some places the gods intervene on our behalf, just as often they get lost and don't show up, that they fight among themselves instead of attending to our wishes, that they look at us with interest and sometimes with lust but only rarely with pity, that instead of offering us protection they scheme to have us for themselves no matter what havoc it causes down here! They couldn't care less! They are gods!
We tend to think only of the good gods, the ones that offer us bountiful harvests and invent intricate bees. It's a habit from childhood, when we were taught to think of one good god, when although we dreamed of monsters we were told that god was watching out for us, that there weren't really any monsters there in the closet, that they weren't really crawling around up there in the space between ceiling and roof. No responsible adult would have thought to teach us that among the gods are horrible nasty fucks that would just as soon sprinkle cancer seeds in a womb as devise a perfect delivery of a perfect little baby.
So we grew up with fairy tales, misunderstanding the nature of power, thinking power came with the good. Ha!


So these sick motherfuckers like to screw with us all, and they wait until we're pretty soft and trusting because it amuses them no end to see our horrified expressions when the things we love are crushed in impossibly strange ways, when our cells turn against us and buses lose their brakes, when sisters collapse in warm Hawaiian waters for apparently no reason, when strong minds go amok like frayed, sparking wires. They love it.
We live on the fragile edge of annihilation, imperfectly sheltered from the void, open to the sky and to the asshole motherfucker gods who fuck with us night and day for their own amusement. We pray to a kind and loving insurance god who sometimes provides coverage but who just as often excludes on technicalities the calamities that befall us, looking the other way when he should be watching out for us. And this too amuses the asshole motherfucker gods, who may be many things but are not stupid or naive.
It isn't even so much the dying that we can't handle, it's the surprise, the betrayal, the way you think you'll be OK until they yank the rug out and laugh.
So what do we do? We toughen up. We quit playing patty-cake patty-cake give a dog a bone, we season ourselves, we take the bit in our teeth, we flog ourselves with birch branches, we bitch and moan and howl at the moon and give up our illusions of a soft loving god who hears our prayers and answers them. We board the windows and doors. We wise up and face the fuckers, we quit lying down and taking it, we let go of our prettiness, we prepare for the battle ahead. We say never again will we be caught off guard, never again will we pretend, never again will we believe that this thing we have created cannot be poisoned in an instant by a shit-head god on a bender, fucking up our paradise for his shallow and grim amusement.
Never again will we believe in fairy tales.
We were taught a lot of silly things as kids. Only later would we learn what pleasure the gods take in disrupting our plans; only later would we learn how minuscule are our options, how puny our plans of defense; only later would we learn there's not a whole lot we can do except rub stone in our eyes, interrogate our lovers mercilessly, place fierce guards at entrances and exits.
That's no consolation, really, is it. It's just the truth. You're wiser now though black and blue, sobbing in the firelight, waiting for dawn.

So perfect




We played this at our wedding and it still gets me.

Blog o' the Day - Tiny Choices

Tiny Choices is a wonderful inspiration for being kinder to mother earth. It's chock full of all kinds of ideas and suggestions.

Monday, December 29, 2008

All that sunshine

Blog o' the Day - I Like Tomatoes but not Tom Hanks

I am a regular reader of I Like Tomatoes but Not Tom Hanks. She's funny and I love her randomish hatred of Hanks. The overheard conversations are my favorite though.

Genius

Just subscribed to this column after reading this particular bit which was excerpted in The Sun literary magazine:

Dear Cary,

I have a brief but immense question which I don't think you have addressed directly to date. It has been nagging at me for a while now, but it came back when I started rewatching "American Beauty" tonight. In fact, I paused the DVD 15 minutes into the movie to write you this e-mail.

My history isn't particularly relevant to this question, which I think is pretty universal. But just to be thorough: I am in my early 30s and was raised in households of High Drama (many parental fights, of the screaming, throwing-things, raising-bruises sort, between my mother and father, mother and her boyfriend, father and stepmother, etc., although never toward me).

Is there a way to keep the romantic dream alive?
My relationships (up until the current one) were similarly Dramatic and typically dysfunctional. At a certain point I realized that this wasn't what I wanted, so I took about five years off from all relationships to work on myself and clarify what I wanted. I am pleased to report that my current boyfriend and I have been living happily together for the last six months, after having been good friends for about a year and a half. He is an intelligent, kind, decent, funny and mentally stable man who's also had his share of bad relationships and is motivated to avoid falling into another one. When there's a problem, we are both able to take a break, then come back and work things out rationally. (Hooray!) He's my best friend, we do everything together, he makes me unbearably happy.

Now for the brief question. It seems like all relationships, over time, naturally degrade in either one of two ways: High Drama (as seen in my childhood), or complacent alienation (c.f., "American Beauty"). Surely there must be a third option? What is it, and how do I get there?

I know so many couples who started out just like us, young and happy, and 20 years down the road they wake up and realize they're trapped in a sterile, loveless marriage. They look back and think, "We were so happy back then in the beginning!"

What happens? And how best to avoid it? I have learned how to avoid High Drama, but how do I head off the "American Beauty" scenario? It terrifies me to think that one day I might look back at myself today and wonder, "What happened?"

Needing Insight

Dear Needing Insight,

There are workshops where you can exercise your relationship to give it bigger muscles and more stamina, but my relationship tends to walk by those kinds of things and look in the window and go, ooh, that's scary what they're doing in there. My relationship is kind of shy about working on itself. So instead, each of us in the relationship tends to work on ourselves separately so that when we come together we're more interesting to each other than we would be otherwise. I don't know if that's what it says to do in the book. We didn't buy the book. I'm not even sure what book we're talking about. What I'm talking about is trying to have a rich and full relationship with another person by first being true to yourself.

Being true to yourself these days pretty much means joining the resistance. My wife and I belong to the resistance. We communicate with our friends by Morse code on old-fashioned crystal radio sets. We hide out in church basements and French farmhouses. That keeps us focused on what's important: overcoming the Nazis, fighting tyranny, finding good cheeses.

It's hard to remain independent and quirky. The Vichy regime has so many inducements: healthcare, vacations, cars and boats. But look at how you have to dress to have those things! The uniforms! Look at the way they talk in elevators! So you have to join the resistance. Otherwise they'll beat you down and your marriage will become loveless and sterile. You will look at your partner one day and you'll wonder if he isn't working for the Vichy.

So how do you stop loving someone? Do you just run out of person? Is a person like a jam jar and you finally get to the bottom? If we are like jam jars, then we have to keep filling ourselves up, so when they stick the knife in and start scraping around, there's something sweet to put on toast. You're never out of everything. Rummage around. You've always got something. You have to always be refilling yourself.

Don't assume you're enough as you are. Who could possibly be enough? Superman, maybe. The rest of us have to work at it.

Stay desperate. Make that your motto: We're desperate. Get used to it.

Stay one step ahead of the law. Don't ever get too clean. Disguise yourself when you visit the drugstore for a prescription. Live like a happy, contented spouse, and wait for your moment ... be mad but not out of control ... be contrary but not reflexive ... write incomprehensible verses deep in the night while everyone else is sleeping ... Take long walks by the river before they arise ... resist assimilation ... pass notes to strangers in the park ... remain obdurately convinced of the rightness of your most controversial beliefs ... occasionally be inconsolable ... refuse to name your sources ... stay silent under torture ...

... beware of existence fatigue ... do not believe anyone who calls himself a spokesman ... question yourself mercilessly about your recent whereabouts ... organize yourself for maximum speed ... refuse to use the cruise control ... neither fear nor trust your neighbors ... have a suitcase always packed ... keep your passport handy ... learn a little Arabic ... do not discuss John Ashcroft with anyone. Learn to operate the crystal radio set, and locate the finest cheeses.

In this manner you may survive, and avoid a loveless, sterile marriage.

No eggs would they lay!


Since the boy is glued to the tube watching the entire West Wing series, I've amused myself with countless things these past few days. One is Netflix online documentaries - giving me a chance to watch many films that would provoke eye-rolling from him. I give you The Natural History of the Chicken. So wonderfully strange. Much like the Australian documentary Cane Toads, this takes a rather normal subject and Monty Pythons it. And its probably your only chance to see a lady swim with her pet rooster. Rating this a 6.5.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

All fires

Get home

Blog o' the Day - Just Nimoy (!)

Just Nimoy (!) can come live on my street too. Crafting, list making, lots of goal setting and eclecticness. Her blog is right up my alley.

High school drama


I'm a sap. I love the play Our Town. So when I noticed OT: Our Town, a documentary about a high school in Compton putting the play on I had to take a look. It's sweet. They play is the first the high school had put on in over 20 years. It was a wonderful reminder about how important it is to keep arts in the schools. Giving this one a 6.5.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

So pretty


Looking for love
Originally uploaded by IrenaS
This needed shared.

More 2009 goals

Wreaths and funky mobiles rock my socks off. I plan on doing bunches of them in '09.

Goo

Totally addicted to World of Goo right now.


Weird and fun and adorable. Completely.


Committed


Dan Savage's book The Kid is one of my favorite books ever. I love how he writes about his family - hysterical and touching all at the same time. So I happily picked up The Commitment and was very pleased. I love his stories; my only complaint is all the political arguing. His point is always so much better served through his own experiences. When he starts preaching against the Christian Right, I have to start skimming. Rating this a solid 7 on the Claire scale.

Blog o' the Day - i suwannee

Another blogger that should be my neighbor is Jamie of i suwannee. Cause then we could shop together for pretty things for our houses (her place is seriously gorgeous) and our pooches could play together.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Chock full of pretty


We celebrated the end of the festivities and the leaving of our guests yesterday by watching the movie Mongol. It is stunning! The scenery, the costumes, the actors, the horses, the battles - all of it. Go right out and watch this one and thank me later. I had no idea it was the beginning of a trilogy and now I can't wait to see the rest.
This one gets a definite 9.5.

Blog o' the Day - Persephone's Awakening

So much like yesterday's post, the next few are gonna be very alike - all the chickies whose blogs I'm hooked on and that I think would be cool to live nearby and grab coffee with. Yesterday's started that off and today's is Jen from Persephone's Awakening. Love her craftiness and enthusiasm for adventure and new things.

Suggestions?

I am no tech-savvy guru by any means. Just a few years ago I was declaring that I'd be the last one on earth to own a cell phone. Yesterday, my husband excitedly presented me with this:

Its a super cool new toy, but I need suggestions now. What's the coolest thing I can do with this baby? What application must I go right out and get? Do tell.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Dust


I read Out of the Dust in a day. A series of poems from the viewpoint of a single girl living through the Dust Bowl. Its a pretty powerful way of telling the story. I found it a bit harsh at times for a children's book, but I'd still reccomend it for them. Sometimes the harsh stuff is exactly what they need to read. I'm giving this one an 8.

Blog o' the Day - Happily Ever After in Seattle

One of my very favorite blogs is Happily Ever After in Seattle. Something about Lisa's blog just delights me. Go read it and see (and don't miss her post about skiing!)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Ugh

I picked up Flag Wars because its set in my city. Its a documentary all about the gentrification of an amazing little area near downtown called Old Town East. The film show the struggle between the gay community and the poor African american families in the area.

It was amazingly depressing. The filmmakers went out of their way to show the worst of each side and all the prejudices they could. While I know that their are issues there, I also think that there are positives coming from the area as well. Definitely a big downer of a film.

Only 2 out of 10 on this one.

Blog o' the day - Little Birds Handmade

Little Birds Handmade is a crafty blogger who astounds me with her productivity and constant adorable-making abilities.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

High school awkwardness


We watched Freaks & Geeks over the last few months. Such a good series! Its great to find gems like this, but a bit of a bummer to find out how brief they were.
Anyway, I want Bill to live across the street so I can be entertained by his sweet and hysterical ways. Harris can come by too. How about an 8 on this one? Word to the wise though - after watching these awfully adorable kids night after night, don't go look up and see what they are doing now right away. The sudden transformation from awkward teens to adults is kind of a shock to the system.

Blog o' the Day - A Life in Books

Being the super huge booknerd that I am, I love reading book reviews. However, I choose my bookblogs carefully. I like them to have a good mix of books I have read so I can compare our tastes in books and suggestions for books I have never heard of. A Life in Books fits that bill nicely.

Patty

Monday, December 22, 2008

Oh so pretty

Horton


I adore Dr. Seuss - completely adore all his wonderfully imaginative words and pictures. So when the boy suggested we watch Horton Hears a Who, I was worried about what they might do to my favorite doctor. Justifiably so, it seems. Here's what I think (in list form cause I lurve lists).
1. The animation is breathtaking. The things they can do now are astonishing really. The detail of the clover, the prettiness of it all, the movement - its all amazing.
2. The scenes in Whoville are terribley well realized. The town is amazing.
3. It's Dr. Seuss so a good story to start from is a given.
All this adds up to a pretty okay movie EXCEPT for
4. Some of the humor seemed to try to hard. Sometimes Jim Carrey becomes a little too zany Robin Williams-ish.
5. The story about the mayor's son is BORING.
6. And the worst worst worst atrocity, the ending song was idiotic and did nothing for the story.
I know its just a kids movie, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't try to be better.
Only 4 stars from this girl.

Blog o' the day - Hula Seventy

Hula Seventy makes me strive to add more prettiness to my everyday life and to work on my photography skills. Plus she's a list maker too!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Blog o' the Day - Gennine's Art Blog

I get a dose of awfully pretty artsyness from Gennine's Art Blog. Such prettiness!

determined by necessity


The Things They Carried is composed of snippets of tales and thoughts about the Vietnam war. It begins with the most mind-blowingly good few paragraphs I've read in a long while. Here's a bit of it:
“The things they carried were largely determined by necessity. Among the near-necessities were P-38 can openers, pocket knives, heat tabs, wristwatches, dog tags, mosquito repellent, chewing gum, candy, cigarettes, salt tablets, packets of Kool-Aid, lighters, matches, sewing kits, Military Payment Certificates, C rations, and two or three canteens of water. Together, these items weighed between 15 and 20 pounds, depending upon a man’s habits or rate of metabolism. Henry Dobbins, who was a big man, carried extra rations; he was especially fond of canned peaches in heavy syrup over pound cake. Dave Jensen, who practiced field hygiene, carried a toothbrush, dental floss, and several hotel-sized bars of soap he’d stolen on R&R in Sydney, Australia. Ted Lavender, who was scared, carried tranquilizers until he was shot in the head outside the village of Than Khe in mid-April. By necessity, and because it was SOP, they all carried steel helmets that weighed 5 pounds including the liner and camouflage cover. They carried the standard fatigue jackets and trousers. Very few carried underwear. On their feet they carried jungle boots - 2.1 pounds - and Dave Jensen carried three pairs of socks and a can of Dr. School’s foot powder as a precaution against trench foot. Until he was shot, Ted Lavender carried 6 or 7 ounces of premium dope, which for him was a necessity. Mitchel Sanders, the RTO, carried condoms. Norman Bowker carried a diary. Rat Kiley carried comic books. Kiowa, a devout Baptist, carried an illustrated New Testament that had been presented to him by his father, who taught at Sunday school in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. As a hedge against bad times, however, Kiowa also carried his grandmother’s distrust of the white man, his grandfather’s old hunting hatchet. Necessity dictated. Because the land was mined and booby-trapped, it was SOP for each man to carry steel-centered, nylon-covered flak jacket, which weighed 6.7 pounds, but which on hot days seemed much heavier. Because you could die so quickly, each man carried at least one large compress bandage, usually in the helmet band for easy access. Because the nights were cold, and becauses the monsoons were wet, each carried a green plastic poncho that could be used as a raincoat or groundsheet or makeshift tent. With its quilted liner, the poncho weighed almost 2 pounds, but it was worth every ounce. In April, for instance, when Ted Lavender was shot, they used his poncho to wrap him up, then to carry him across the paddy, then to lift him into the chopper that took him away.”
You're reserving the book right now, aren't you? Seriously good read. 8.5 on the Claire scale.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Glimpses

Ever since I was a wee girl, I've had the inkling that fantastical things viewed from the corner of my eye really exist. Its just that the wizened gnome man disguises himself as a stump by the time you look back or the tasmanian devil dancing in the snow can become a bag caught in the wind in the time it takes to turn your head.

I've never really shook the feeling, and I am kind of proud of that.

Inspiration

This lady has the most gorgeous home. Full of bright colors and fun things. 2009 is the year my house gets some serious prettifying. And it'll happen.

More painting. More roadming vintage shops for one of a kind finds. More making it our own.

Another Festive Idea

And so simple and pretty!

A new kind of tree


this year's tree
Originally uploaded by ATLITW
How awesome is that?

Orphans

When we were dating earlty on, my boy used to drive 2.5 hours to see me. Hang out all day. Talk me into watching scarey movies with him. And then leave at like one in the mornig while I was still all jumpy and frazzled. Needless to say, I'm not a big scarey movie fan. However, I heard such good things about The Orphanage that I had to check it out.


Its not a gorey movie at all. More of a smart and stylish film - kind of reminiscent of The Others. It's all about a woman who was raised in an orphanage until she was adopted. She purchases the old orphanage and moves in with her husband and son (pretty much the cutest lil boy I have ever seen) and has plans to live there a run a small home for special needs children.
It's really good. And even my mister who always raises an eyebrow at foreign language films liked it and looked utterly terrified at times. How about an 8 on the Claire scale?

How true


an idle wanderer
Originally uploaded by KarensJilly

as no matter what

"Happy as a Dog's Tail" by Anna Swir

Happy as something unimportant
and free as a thing unimportant.
As something no one prizes
and which does not prize itself.
As something mocked by all
which mocks at their mockery.
As laughter without serious reason.
As a yell able to outyell itself.
Happy as no matter what,
as any no matter what.

Happy
as a dog's tail.



Gosh I love that poem.

Blog o' the Day - not martha

My bloglines feed is enormous. Really really immense. I seem to add to it much more often than I prune it. There's so many interesting feed out there that I can't help myself. So I'm gonna share a few with you all. Perhaps one a day for a long long while.

Here's numero uno:

I should pick a little known gem for number one, but instead I gotta go with not martha. I simply adore all her lists - from cooking to gift giving to crafting to tech stuff. I'm a true lover of lists and links and this one truly gives me my fix. Plus I love the clean look of the whole thing. Definitely one of my faves.

Friday, December 19, 2008

One of those things


the slender 6
Originally uploaded by I, Timmy
I have decided to share some random things that make me happy. The first one is catching the moment when the lights turn on (or off) on the highway as I'm driving.

It always makes me feel a little lucky.

Housewife dresses

I simply adore pretty vintage housewife looking dresses like this one. And why do I never think to pull a sweater vest over a dress?!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

whimsically grim


Very recently, my brother the library worker left me another surprise in my reserves. Apocalypse Suite is a graphic novel by a fellow from My Chemical Romance. It very much fits the aesthetic of the band - all whimsically grim and dark. I had never even heard of this comic before, but it sure is off to a great start. Interesting characters and storylines with enough loose ends to make for many many stories to come. I'll give this a 7.5 on the Claire scale.

Rat cuteness

Take a look.

Such a sad sweet


Good Old Dogs III
Originally uploaded by dr.Ozda
It's hard to even ponder the feelings brought on by an old dog. I adore dogs and have had many a geriatric old dog in my day. There's such an awkward nobility in a senior dog whose done his duty as a faithful companion for a longtime and now takes his greatest pleasure in a warm spot to curl up and a scritch behind the ears.

My neighbor lady was out this frigid morning helping her aged collie back up the stairs. The poor old sweet thing.

(These two sweeties found on flickr. They are Toaster & Biscuit and are 15 years old. Adorable.)

Note to self

When you finally make up those cool ice wreaths you saw online, it's probably a good idea to pay attention to the weather forcast.

These pretties lasted approximately 1.5 days before they were just a loose ribbon and cranberries all over the porch.



Oh well. They were pretty while they lasted.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

While I'm on the subject of cooking and baking

What are your all time favorite cooks? Here's mine:

1. Ina Garten - something about her is so comforting and soothing. I want her to adopt me as her long lost niece.
2. Nigella Lawson - she uses words like "squidgey" and who doesn't love that?
3. Alton Brown - he's adorable in his passion for food.
4. Tony Bourdain - also very passionate about food and I love his ultra opininated views.


I also must confess a deep affection for Lynne Rosetto Kasper of A Splendid Table. I adore her podcasts.

Dreaming

I love baking wonderful things and passing them off to friends, family, and co-workers. I love the challenge of a recipe mostly. (Isn't that odd? It seems like I should love the enjoyment of those eating the treats more than the mastery of a set of instructions). Things like this calendar make me daydream about quitting my job and becoming someone who bakes and delivers cookies all day.

Admittedly though, cookies are my weak point. I'm dazzling at cakes and cupcakes though.

Avonlea again


In my quest to read all things L. M. Montgomery, I breezed through the syrupy sweetness that is Chronicles of Avonlea. The short stories are full of humor and kindness and small dramas always neatly wrapped up in a few pages. My favorite by far was "The Quarantine of Alexander Abraham." A nice easy read that I'll happily give a 5 to.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A very apt title


Disquiet is a haunting little novella. With only a little over a hundred pages, Leigh sets a very distinct mood of distantness between family members in a huge house. I found the read to be rather like a unsettling Ian McEwan tale. The characters include a beaten wife escaped from her abusive husband, her children, her very frosty mother, and a brother & sister in law dealing with a huge loss. Perfect for a moody overcast afternoon to curl up and immerse yourself in.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Tricky Norse Gods


I picked up Runemarks only knowing that I loved the author's previous adult novels (particularly Five Quarters of the Orange which haunts me to this day). Now you wouldn't think a highly successful writer who usually writes historical novels set in the French countryside would suddenly come out with a fantasy book for teens all about Norse gods and the mortals and goblins who get wrapped up in their dealings. But you'd be wrong. This was a fun read. Odin and Loki and several other familiar names show up. However, you don't have to be familiar with Norse lore to enjoy this one at all. I'm giving this one a 6.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Distopias probably don't all have a Clive Owen


I watched Children of Men the other day and was struck by how completely they created the world around a supremely messed up future. Set 20 years in the future in a world that's gone to hell and people can no longer make babies. this film was pretty gripping. The girl who played Kee was amazing. Clive Owen was great (and as always so nice to look at).
I liked it, and I liked the ending but it seemed sort of anticlimatic. Not that it needed changed, but I do kinda with it had been treated a little differently. Also the super long shots were amazing, and the abundance of animals was pretty cool as well. I judge this one to be a 6.5.

Best coworker gift ever


I work with a whole lot of ladies. Every year I struggle with gift ideas. My coworkers vary in ages. Baked good don't cut it cause one is vegan. This year I hit paydirt. These charming little bulb forcing jars are available at Oakland Nursery for $5 each - plus paperwhite bulbs were 4 for a dollar! Who doesn't love flowers?!

Very cool story

So I listen to my podcasts slowly - and frequently have a huge backlog of them. That's my excuse for just now hearing about P.O. Box 1142 - a secret POW interrogation camp in Virginia during WWII.

The story is fascinating. Read or listen to all three parts - 1, 2 & 3.

I have such a crush on NPR!

2009 Book Challenges

After a dismal 2008 in which I didn't finish a single challenge, I'm buckling down for 2009. Here's what I'll be participating in.

First my own particular goals:

- Read the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
- Finish my 50 nonfiction books for my 101 list. (Currently with only 13 to go!).
- A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
- The Scarlet Pimpernel
- The Mitford Girls

Now for some challenges!

- A Striped Armchair's World Citizen Challenge. I find this extremely intimidating. Precisely why I'm doing it. This challenge requires reading the following categories but not about my own country:
1. A book on politics or foreign policy
2. Economics
3. History
4. Culture or Anthropology/Sociology
5. Worldwide Issues
6. Memoirs/Autobiographies

This will take some serious research to pick the books I want to read.

- The Read Your Own Damn Books Challenge. For this I'm planning on reading:
1. The People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn
2. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
3. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
4. The first three Anne Rice vampire books.
5. Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
6. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown
7. The first two Robert Jordan books

- Continue to participate in book groups. Two of which are Endicott Mythic Fiction & The Classics.

- Audio Books Challenge - listen to 12 audio books in 2009.
1. The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell
Haven't decided on the others just yet.

- Start a mini book club with my husband. We've discussed both reading a nonfiction book a month. We'll take turns picking the book, and I'm expecting a heavy slant towards the history of American presidents.

- Political History Challenge

- A Hundred Shots of Short - planning on reading a hundred short stories.

Subversive

Check out this site - Dear Old Love.

Love it - particularly with phrases like, "Our relationship was like a banned insecticide: It worked amazingly well, but probably would have killed us."

Ponderings for a new year

New years make everything seem so much more possible. I'm no stranger to resolutions and goals - I seem to set a whole bunch every other month. However, that little flip of the calendar is like a brand new notebook given to me to fill up. And I've already begun scheming about how I'd like to fill it.
So here's what I'm pondering:
1. Major house progress. We've been here 6 whole months now and have hardly made a dent in the work that needs done. I'm all for not killing ourselves, but making time for some home improvement every now and then definitely needs to happen.
2. Participate in some reading challenges. Post to follow on this.
3. As always make some major dents in my 101 listy. Specifically up for crossing off or just making progress on:
- See whales. We're pondering a trip to Maine so this may be a distinct possibility.
- Visit (at least) 3 different wineries for wine tastings (i've done 2, and a third will be easy peasy.
- Contemplate big life questions. Answers are becoming more and more apparent lately.
- Get a massage. Already in the works!
- Visit a dermatologist and get checked for skin cancer. Cause I'd like to continue making resolutions for a long long time to come.
- Read Lord of the Rings trilogy.
- Read 50 nonfiction books. I'm currently at 37 of 50. This goal is so reachable.
- Do the 365 days project.
And others of course, but particularly these ones.
4. More posting on here. Mainly cause I love sharing with my internet friends, but also cause it keeps me thinking and plotting.
Mostly, I just want to focus on more. More fun. More creative endeavors. More time and plans with friends and family. More pursuits of my happiness. 2009 is the year that I shall turn 30, and I'm quite determined to make it a wonderful and satisfying one.


Saturday, December 13, 2008

Two tears in a bucket.


After visiting Savannah in October, I just had to read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. My observations:
1. That has to be the best book title ever.
2. The statue on the cover is not longer at Bonaventure Cemetery. The jerks took it out to put into a museum. However, Bonaventure is one of the loveliest, most dreamlike places I've ever been in - except for the stupid mosquitos.
3. I want to read more books like this - full of outrageous and interesting characters and able to completely pull me into the idea of a place. Suggestions? Bonus points for nonfiction suggestions.
4. The title to this post is part of my newest favorite saying. Read the book to realize its wonderfulness.
Rating is a wholehearted 9.

Oooh - a brand new haircolor?

What do you all think of this? But on this head? And oh my my hair was cute back then so maybe its time for a cut too. Hmmmm.....

Plans for today (and maybe tomorrow too)

- Make lots and lots of felt flowers.
- Take a stab at this bird project.
- Cut out stockings & get started on them.
- Make more ice wreaths.
- Go make candles with my ladies club.
- Make some music mixes for presents.
- Clean up music on computer.
- Go get coffee before I fall asleep amdist all my crafting!

(I better get cracking. Making it all so much more challenging is the pup who comes over every 5 minutes, and jumps up to show me a new piece she's torn of her newest toy. Destructo-dog)

Awestruck


I watched The Fountain on dvd the other night. The story is layer upon layer like a beautiful beautiful onion. It vears into the rather odd now and then, but the story is so romantic and wrenching. One of the prettiest films I've seen in a while.

I'm rating this a solid 7.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Silly me


I knew better than to pick up this book. My to-read list is already a million miles long and always growing. However, I love her podcast so I couldn't resist picking up Book Lust. I love her seemingly off the wall lists that are scattered among authors you shouldn't miss. It has definitely bloated my reading list even more. Rating is a 6 on this one too.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Ooooh

If Santa's reading, then I want this. (I really should know better than to go on the Anthropologie site.)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

200 lbs!


I read Half-Assed in a few days. Its a breezy read about a woman's weight loss - about 200 lbs of weight. I liked it pretty much. She was honest and funny and her tone frequently reminded me of some of my smart ass friends. I had a big problem though with the book's lack of structure. The writer started out writing a blog, and in all the blog-to-book books I've read there seems to be a huge need for a serious edit. This was no exception.
That said, I liked Jeanette. I liked what she said, and I appreciated the inspiration. Rating another 6.

Separate Tables

I watched Separate Tables last night. I picked it out of a list of Oscar nominees. (I quite often like the idea of expanding my movie education by doing things like that).





The movie is all about longterm residents at a hotel, each dealing with painful loneliness. As the story progresses, many characters find ways to reach out to eachother, but not in the modern sappy romantic comedy style of many of today's movies. There's a lot of real pain and flaws and issues here.

I've been pondering my lack of a rating system on here. Generally, my reviews are "I liked it!" or "Ugh." I'm completely inspired by Books I Done Read whose rating system I love. So in honor of that, all reviews are getting a 1 - 10 placement.

This movie gets a solid 6, mostly because the actress who plays the hotel keeper was amazing. Absolutely amazing.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Juts & Wheezie


The Sand Castle is a quick glimpse into a day with Juts & Wheezie. If you haven't read the Six of One book, it won't mean as much to you. (And if you haven't, by all means go get it at once! I adore all the books written about this particular family!) But its a nice visit with a pair that I find delightful.

Giveaway news

FYI - I'm participating in a giveaway along with my fellow artsy danger ladies over at our etsy team blog. You have a chance to win the next eleven days just by posting comments. Go take a looksee and help spread the word if you would.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Must be the holidays


I witnessed the above at my local garden center. Almost Flying Spaghetti Monster-ish.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

So perhaps I need a scanner


Cause taking pictures of paintings is hard. But this was my creation for the week before Thanksgiving. The week of the holiday, an awful cold, family obligations, and busyness, kept me from creating anything.

I'm really fond of this lil guy though. Not sure if he'd be a good addition to my etsy shop though, but I'm pondering it.

December is a busy busy month

This I will do in December (cause I've been list-less for far too long):

- Bake up a storm and distribute to everyone.
- Sew something, anything.
- Create (at least) four new items.
- Participate in my etsy team's giveaway.
- Lose (at least) 5 lbs & then reward myself somehow (Thank you, Sparkpeople!)
- Make (at least) 2 etsy sales or swaps.
- Complete two 101 list items and make progress on 2 or 3 more.

Admirable


I watched Shut Up and Sing, the documentary about the Dixie Chicks, online on Netflix. More than even their convictions and their sticking to their guns, I was impressed by their friendship. It was a really good movie.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Classic


I watched Adam's Rib the other night. I frequently find myself in a Katharine Hepburn kind of mood. This was cute, but not as giddily wonderful as I had hoped. Although I did love the scenes of the couple at home doing regular sorts of things.

Kreativ Blogger

I just realized that I've been tagged by Allison at Nimoy! Creations.

I'm supposed to share 6 random things about me. Hmmm....

* I got my first grey hair this August the day I turned 29. Figures!
* I get anxious if I don't have at least half a dozen library books on my night stand waiting to be read.
* I didn't learn to ride a bike until I was 24. I blame it on growing up in the country.
* I love to be barefoot and wear shoes as little as possible - even when its freezing out.
* Sunshine is vital to my mental health. I think our house was chosen primarily becaus eof all the windows.
* I took a fencing class in college and although I sucked at it, I had terrible lots of fun playing Highlander with my friend and chasing eachother along the bike paths with swords.


Hmmm...I shall tag:
Jen at Persephone's Awakiening
Lisa at Happily Ever After in Seattle

And anyone else who wants to play along.

So pretty


Can I admit to wanting this dress very much? Cause I do. And also this blazer. And this sweater vest in green or polka dots.
I blame it all on holiday shopping that gets me looking at too many temptations.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Adorable


My Neighbor Totoro is just about the cutest thing I've ever seen. Its all about two little girls and the forest spirit that only kids can see. And the people behind this movie get it so right! The relationship between the sisters, the wonders of being a kid, the delight of new experiences - all of it just perfect and wonderful. I caught myself grinning through this entire film. Absolutely adorable!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Monday, November 24, 2008

Suddenly, Last Summer




I recently watched Suddenly, Last Summer. Meh. I came away with mostly an appreciation for Elizabeth Taylor's wardrobe in the movie.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Another not so great


After hearing the buzz about The Watchmen for for-fricking-ever, I finally picked it up. And was not enthralled. The characters didn't intrigue me all that much. The storyline was a bit interesting but just not enough. I love the idea of aged, not specially abled super heroes. It just didn't seem that enough was done with them.

I wanna see it

007



I managed to go and watch Quantum of Solace yesterday despite my awful head cold. Perhaps it was the vast quantities of snot impeding my enjoyment, but I liked the previous one better.

However, I enjoy anything with Daniel Craig in it. Look at the man!

On the way out, my husband and I were discussing how he needs some new threads and I decided that Mr. Bond's style should have some influence on his puchases. He laughed at that.

Creating one thing a week

















That's the new goal anyway! Perhaps another goal needs to be improve my photography skills cause this photo of it stinks. Anyway, I've managed to create something brand new to the world for two weeks in a row. Here's the first. It's a mixed media picture. I'll post the second week's creation as soon as I can do it some justice in taking its picture.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

This is the life

Just discovered Amy MacDonald and I'm highly impressed.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Blech


Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is to give up on a book that you aren't enjoying. The Town That Forgot How to Breathe had an interesting premise but was chock full of characters I couldn't give a damn about and some lazy ass writing here and there. Returning it to the library was a relief.

I wanna be a bookaneer!


Un Lun Dun is so extremely fantastic that I'm insisting everyone I know read it. So thoroughly imaginitive and unique! The London that isn't is marvelously described and the characters are so unexpected and interesting. If you liked Harry Potter or His Dark Materials, read this immediately. Even if you didn't like them, read this immediately. Fan-freaking-tastic and so much fun! (I have so used up by quota of exclamation marks here but its so worth it).
"I'm Margarita Staples." She bowed in her harness. 'Extreme librarian. Bookaneer.' "

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I'm hoping


It's really important to get out there and vote today.