Sunday, October 23, 2016

Along the Mississippi River

bink & I spent the day along the Mississippi, downtown by the river locks and the old flour mills

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Alice in Wonderland, Homemade

Looking for pre-Internet examples of fan-works, (before copyright [it's complicated {1}], what we'd consider "fan works" were something of a norm), I found the first film of Alice in Wonderland, 1903, at the endlessly intriguing vault of the British Film Institute (BFI) youTube channel.

People are always making new versions of Alice, including a book by our own ArtSparker:
Dreaming Alice (links to viewer where you click on photos to turn pages). 

These are just the film's highlights--you can watch all 9 surviving minutes of the original 12 min. film, restored.

Directed by Cecil Hepworth and Percy Stow in 1903 at the Hepworth studio, 37 years after Lewis Carroll wrote his novel and eight years after the birth of cinema. [2]
"…The Cheshire cat is played by a family pet [@ 1:25], and the film features the family dog, Blair."
--from BFI Screenonline

Star Trek TOS used Alice too, in "Shore Leave" (1966).
Alice asks Dr. McCoy if he's seen a large white rabbit and he points in the direction he saw it go.
  {1} "Q: Are the [Alice] books and the pictures still copyright protected?

"A: No. When the Alice books were published, they were copyright protected until 42 years after the first publication or 7 years after the author’s death, whichever was the longer. Later, the 1911 Act replaced the 1842 Copyright Act which extended the period to 50 years after the author’s death.
This means that the copyright on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” subsisted until 1907 and that of Through the Looking-Glass and what Alice found there until 1948.
As Tenniel died in 1914, his illustrations came into the public domain in 1964. This includes the colored illustrations for the Nursery Alice.

Notably the British Copyright act did not protect the stories and illustrations from being reproduced abroad. Many foreign publishers, for example in America, were therefore able to publish the story and Tenniel’s illustrations without permission from Carroll, while they were still copyright protected in the UK.

"Disney’s cartoon movie still remains in copyright. If you wish to use movie stills, video, audio, or anything else from the movie, you’ll need to ask permission from Disney Consumer Products."

[2] Birth of Cinema: the Lumière Brothers "Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory" (1895) [links to youTube].

More on the films of the Lumière Brothers.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

So, what shall we have for breakfast?

What to have for breakfast: that is the question.

I often ate the bright green pistachio (so called) muffins at the coffee shop this summer. At the end of the summer, I had gained 10 lbs and the shop posted the calorie count of all their foods (something that will be required by law in 2017). 
Those muffins had 690 calories each. 
I'd have done as well to eat Snickers bars. Three of them! (250 cal. each)

So, not those then.

I started exercising again about six weeks ago, and as of today, I've lost 4 lbs., which is encouraging, especially considering I didn't exercise all that hard or change anything else (except to stop eating muffins). 
But since my father had a heart attack last week, I figure I should make an effort to change my diet too.

Breakfast is tricky.
I like to go out and work on my laptop, and the coffee shop's "healthy" choices are half a cup of dry oats in a cardboard tub ($3), or a 2-pack of hard-boiled eggs with a shelf life of 21 days (peeled, yet) ($1.99).

I need a strategy.
I decided to make my mother's rice pudding, to take along in the morning. 
This baked rice pudding is like egg custard thick with rice–– you can almost pick up a piece, not like the creamy stove-top kind.

Baked Rice Pudding

1 cup uncooked rice
3 cups milk
½  teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
½ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup currants
4 eggs, beaten

Boil rice in milk and salt until done, about 45 min.
Add everything else but eggs---slowly stir in the beaten eggs last. Pour into a buttered baking dish.

Bake at 325º for 30 minutes. Stir and sprinkle nutmeg on top.
Bake another 30 min.
My adjustments: 
I use brown rice, cut the sugar in half (1/4 cup = slightly sweet), skip the butter, swap out vanilla for fresh grated ginger.

I was going to take a photo of my rice pudding, but it's not a photogenic food, so here's an illustration by E. H. Shepard for A.A. Milne's poem Rice Pudding instead. (When I was a kid, the flying shoe fascinated me.)

Mary Jane is refusing to eat her rice pudding. 
"What is the matter with Mary Jane?" the poem asks repeatedly.
She won't be consoled, and the poet never discovers (or never reveals) why she is behaving this way. 

Still reading Solomons' Far from the Tree, I fear the onset of some neurological disorder... But probably she's just tired of "rice pudding again."

Father and Son: Autism Video

I want to clarify that the essay I mentioned yesterday, "Welcome to Beirut", by a mother of a son with severe autism, is about her reaction to the initial diagnosis, not her take on the entire experience. 

For a view further down the road, let me add this 2 min. 50 sec. video--can't embed it, but it's worth hopping over here:
"Bill Davis and Son, Chris: Autism" 

"The father of a severely autistic high-schooler talks about the joys and pains of raising his son.

"Chris was born with a long list of disorders. His diagnosis, “one of the worst ever,” included  swollen intestines, neurological damage, mental retardation, self-injury, and severe autism.

His father, Bill, relates, “Chris did not communicate. He did not sit down. He didn’t put on clothes. He wouldn’t go outside. He ate the walls. He ate the table. He ate the rug… It was a 24-hour-a-day job.
It changed my life completely. Put me in another direction. I was able to love unconditionally.
I never thought of him as this poor, broken human being that we need to cure. He’s not sick.”

Wednesday, October 19, 2016


“It is not suffering that is precious, but the concentric pearlescence with which we contain it.”
--Andrew Solomon, Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity [review]

left: cross-section of a drilled natural pearl; right: cross-section of a pearl-oyster shell, Natl' Academy of Science

Far from the Tree is turning out to be well worth biking in the rain for, so far. I'm on page 256, in the Autism section, having read Deaf; Dwarfs; and Down Syndrome. The book is 960 pages. (260 of those are notes. I love notes.)

I'd also checked-out a book on child development by Alison Gopnik, The Philosophical Baby, which I skimmed. It's OK but seems to be shaped by a Marketing team, complete with a Gerber baby cover.
Not so Solomon's book.

Solomon focuses on people--parents and children--doing their best, trying their hardest in the gamut of challenging circumstances.
He quotes from the well-known "Welcome to Holland" piece written by the mother of a boy with Down syndrome:
You plan for a trip to Italy, but when you get off the plane, you're in Holland. It's a shock that calls for an adjustment, but it's good in its own way.

The mother of a child with profound autism wrote her own version, "Welcome to Beirut." (Today it would be Aleppo.)
"One day someone comes up from behind you and throws a black bag over your head. They start kicking you in the stomach and trying to tear your heart out. … This is the day you get the diagnosis." 

I've given myself an official vacation from working on my book this week. I've certainly stopped working for days at a time during the past 7 months, but I always felt guilty, that I should be writing, so it was hardly a vacation. 
I actually think I need to step back, not just because I'm dealing with other stuff but for the sake of the book. I'd been close up for so long, it got like standing too close to a dot painting: I lost sight of the overall pattern.

So for a week, I am taking a page from Calvin:

[You can find links to both essays, Holland and Beirut, on Caffeinated Autism Mom]

Also see video (2 min 50 sec): "The father of a severely autistic high-schooler opened up about the joy’s and pains of raising his son"

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Thinking Like a Baby Potato

tl;dr: Yesterday I biked 12 miles rt to check out an interesting library book from a branch I'd never been to. 
Exercise + Adventure + Thinking + Luck = Happier 
The Allure of a Really Good Question

Wandering around online, reading about mid-life drift, I came across Alison Gopnik [her site], a child-development psychologist whose midlife depression was alleviated when she found a really good, broad question to investigate. 
When her life fell apart at fifty, she tried Prozac (hated it), yoga (bad at it), and meditation, which she liked because it was interesting:
"In fact, researching meditation seemed to help as much as actually doing it. Where did it come from? Why did it work?"
Studying Buddhism is beside the point, supposedly: it's a practice, not a theory. But for some people, thinking may be a spiritual practice--Karen Armstrong writes about that being the case for her, in The Spiral Staircase, which I just reread.
"Armstrong says [in an interview] her spiritual practice is now study, which she likens to the practices of Benedictine monks. When I'm sitting at my desk, I will get moments of awe and wonder and transcendence'…" 
Q: What verb do you think best captures your relationship with God? 
Armstrong: Seek. I seek and will seek forever without possibility of finding the clinching moment. 
Anyway, as Gopnik looked into it, Buddhism reminded her of one of her favorite philosophers, "the neurotic Presbyterian teenager,"18th century Scot David Hume.

She explains:
"Here’s Hume’s really great idea:
Ultimately, the metaphysical foundations don’t matter.
Experience is enough all by itself.
What do you lose when you give up God or “reality” or even “I”?
The moon is still just as bright; you can still predict that a falling glass will break, and you can still act to catch it; you can still feel compassion for the suffering of others. Science and work and morality remain intact. Go back to your backgammon game after your skeptical crisis, Hume wrote, and it will be exactly the same game."

Here's the question that got her up and running again:
Could Hume have been influenced by Buddhism, little known in Europe at that time? 
I'm not, in fact, particularly interested her question. 
What excited me was the reminder that throwing your net wide into life and getting curious about what you haul in is what I love too, and when I feel impeded from doing it [a complicated thing], I can fall into a slump.
Or, wonderful reminder, the other way around---if I'm feeling low, it helps pull me up.
Gopnik wrote, "Instead of going to therapy, I haunted the theology sections of used-book stores and spent the solitary evenings reading." 

And she found that yes, Hume could have learned about Buddhism through the nearby Jesuit college. In the 1700s, Gopnik writes, "Those creaky wooden ships carried ideas across the boundaries of continents, languages, and religions just as the Internet does now (although they were a lot slower and perhaps even more perilous)."
(Though it wasn't necessary that Hume knew about Buddhism–– Descartes & Enlightenment Co. coupled with his own teenage existential crisis being sufficient inspiration for his breakthrough.)

The rest of the story is here: "How an 18th-Century Philosopher Helped Solve My Midlife Crisis: David Hume, the Buddha, and a search for the Eastern roots of the Western Enlightenment", (Atlantic, 2015).

The Espresso of the Mind

This process of casting + curiosity seems to be what babies do intensively, according to Gopnik's amusing TED talk "What Do Babies Think?"

"Babies and young children are like the research and development division of the human species. …When children do experiments we call it 'getting into everything' or else 'playing.'
…So what's it like to be a baby? It's like being in love in Paris for the first time after you've had three double-espressos. "

The Internet helps adults think like babies again, eh? It's easy to feel overwhelmed, disoriented, and delighted, like babies must often feel.
Gopnik has written several books about babies & childhood for laypeople. In her latest The Gardener and the Carpenter she talks about how children thrive more if you let them ramble like plants than if you structure them like lumber.

The Unexpected Potato
That's great advice,  so far as it goes, to pay attention to your kids and to love them; 
but what does it mean to "love them"?
Easy to answer, maybe, when kids end up producing the flowers or fruit the parents expect. 
But what if they don't? 
How do you love your kid who kills the cat? Or who simply asks different questions than you do?

I haven't read her book, but the Guardian's review of it recommended pairing it with Andrew Solomon's
Far from the Tree (2012), about families in which the children are very different from their parents in various ways; they're deaf, prodigies, criminals, dwarves, transgender, etc.
Solomon himself is gay, dyslexic, and lives with depression, which is where he starts his investigation---with his own experience of being a child very different from his parents.

This sounded great, so I looked it up and the closest library where it was checked-in yesterday was a branch I'd never been to, 6 miles away. 
It takes a couple days to get a request filled, so I decided to bike there. I took a busy street with a bike lane, and I realized I was much more interested in my surroundings than I am on off-street bike paths. 

I stopped at a Goodwill and bought a pair of jeans, and on the way back I ate lunch at a Best Steak House I never knew existed. I was so happy to find it.  

You know those old chains? 
When I was a kid it was my favorite restaurant because you could see your food cooking on the grill, you got to dress your own salad, and––I don't even like potatoes, but––you got YOUR OWN WHOLE BAKED POTATO! 

It's all exactly the same, still---greasy yet fluffy Texas toast, and a refrigerator case of woven wood bowls filled with iceberg lettuce. 
I was so happy serving myself Bak-O bits and French dressing,
I didn't even mind when it started pouring rain; I was only about 3 miles from home, and it was fairly warm out (70º).

I took a hot bath and spend the solitary evening happily reading on the couch.
via tumblr
What About Breakfast

Solomon also wrote the Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression (2001) and I just read the transcript of his TED talk on depression–– "Depression, the Secret We Share" [transcript or viewing options].
It's good, and I recognized lots of it––not for me (I just ("just") get sad & blue, not clinically depressed––this bit, for instance [boldface mine]:

"People who are depressed will also say, 'No matter what we do, we're all just going to die in the end.' Or they'll say, 'There can be no true communion between two human beings. Each of us is trapped in his own body.'  

To which you have to say, 'That's true, but I think we should focus right now on what to have for breakfast.'"

I remember saying exactly that sort of thing to my mother:

"Think about the table, the teapot in front of you, maybe that'll replace the Holocaust for a little while."
But it's like pulling a boat through mud, when you have to focus like that on every miniature action to keep the mudslide away.

And Solomon says that too:
"Depression is so exhausting. It takes up so much of your time and energy, and silence about it, it really does make the depression worse."

He talks about what works too, which varies hugely:
"My favorite of the letters that I got was the one that came from a woman who wrote and said that she had tried therapy, medication, she had tried pretty much everything, and she had found a solution and hoped I would tell the world, and that was making little things from yarn."
This makes me laugh. Sewing clothes for bears! Investigating David Hume! Biking on busy city streets! 

Whatever helps. 


Dad Update

Thanks to those who asked. ---My dad is back home, very much better after his heart attack, and well looked after. He starts cardio rehab this week.

Monday, October 17, 2016

"Fictive Frames"

Bob's has a new tire-framed mirror that I love in their bathroom, (they're a motorcyclists' coffee shop), so I took my laptop in to take a photo. 
I keep meaning but failing to carry my camera with me everywhere, but in this case, the the laptop photo is better, even if fuzzy---it reminds me of mirror play and "fictive frames" in Northern Renaissance paintings.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Red Bear, Blue Jeans

Red Bear has been humming to herself, 
"When I wake up in the morning light, 
I pull on my jeans and I feel all right..."*
patiently waiting for me to make her a pair of blue jeans for fall, which I finally did.

Here she is this October afternoon, wearing her poppy crown from Marz, and a knitted cap my auntie made me.
(I haven't made her a top (yet), but she doesn't care. Naturally bears do not get cold--clothes are purely optional for them.)

I seem to sew new bear clothes when I'm a bit shook up:
this weekend my father is in the hospital for observation after having a heart attack. 
They say he's doing very well, but a strange thing happened:
my sister showed him a photo of my new haircut yesterday, and he called and left a message saying he "really liked it."
This is weird.
In contrast, last month, I sent him a mug with a cute squirrel on it, and he replied with an e-mail saying only that he was "dubious of its provenance."

??? (It was made in China, but what's not?)
That's more his usual style. 

I know he loves me, he just doesn't usually give praise. If he wants to start, I'm all for it. 

Also, he's all signed up for a cardiac exercise program to start this coming week. He, at almost-86 years old, has gone to the gym 3x/week for twenty years, but now he will get monitored until he's quite steady again. So that's good.

I've gotta say, it made me glad I've started exercising again and is a good nudge to start to think about eating better again too. I went to the farmers market with bink today and bought from an old Czech guy a bottle of homemade sauerkraut that seems like it would protect you from anything, including bears. 

Meanwhile, my auntie is learning to spin wool at the knitting shop and has even bought a wheel. 
She said, "What's a 91-year-old doing buying a spinning wheel? 
I'm living as if I'll live forever!"

Why not? Why stop if you don't have to?


* David Dundas, "Jeans On", 1976

Saturday, October 15, 2016

New Look: Sheared

Last month at a coffee shop, I met a young man with a fabulous hair cut: short sides, with a flop on top. Turned out he was a hair sytlist at a "salon", so I, who usually pay $14 for a 10-minute hair cut, made an appointment for yesterday. 

I'd pictured Sue Perkins, but the mirror shows Alan Bennett:

The nice young man gave me a tip for my fandom research: drag queen cos-players, like Dax ExclamationPoint [her Instagram] here.

Ohman, the work (and money) involved in looking amazing...

Anyway, here--my haircut isn't bad at all, really--it's just going to require some work (like gel, to get it to lie right).

Friday, October 14, 2016

Autumn Paisley (Milkweed)

I biked past a patch of split-open milkweed pods yesterday and thought, … paisleys.

I paint these in gouache, making them up as I go along.
This one isn't exactly a paisley, but it goes in my paisley file.

Thursday, October 13, 2016


Remember how Wall-E is solar powered and has to recharge in the sunlight when his battery runs low?

Still feeling a bit low myself,
I decided to invite myself on a little bike ride this pretty, sunny fall afternoon--
--just a few miles west on the bike path to Lilac Park,
a roadside mini-park established in 1939 along the new WPA-built Highway 100. 

There's an old beehive-shaped fireplace there. 

Also, really impressive burs:

It was cheering to have a tiny adventure. More are called for.


People in the northern hemisphere sleep more in October than any other month according to some report I read while researching for my auntie who was wondering if she's sleeping more lately because of the season or because she's ninety-one.

I've been sleeping more too: 
besides the dwindling light, I've been a little sad lately because of some sad things. For both reasons, I changed coffee shops back to Bob's, which has big, sunny windows (and an old gas pump):


But aside from getting a little more sun, I don't need to pump myself up if I'm feeling sad; it's better to lie low for a while. 
And I find it comforting to read about other people who live with sadness or even with depression--so yesterday I was reading and watching some of those stories online.

I had to turn a lot of them off though: 
the ones that are full of expert advice to get out and exercise, eat more Omega 3s, etc. just make me feel like a loser.

Psychologist Sami Moukaddem in his TEDx talk on living with depression & suicidal thoughts says the same thing: well-meaning lifestyle advice can make him feel lonelier and worse:
"And the last thing I need is another sense of defeat."

"You find your way back to the shore…"

I'm not depressed, just sad because of circumstances, but Moukaddem's story applies to sadness too--his suicidal depression was caused by circumstances, including being a child in Lebanon during the civil war [via his bio])--and he went on to work with people who've survived extreme trauma.

From the transcript "Sami Moukaddem on Living with Depression and Suicidal Feelings":
"Not all depression is the same...  I see [my depression] as more of a physical illness, and an ailment of the soul and the psyche. In my situation, I was clear that there was trauma in my childhood. So I decided I was going to approach it through psychology work and not take drugs. 
"The best analogy I can come up for depression is that you are in the sea and the current pulls you. When the current pulls you, the common wisdom is that you don’t fight it, because if you fight it you get exhausted and you drown. The wisdom is to surrender to it. Wait for the current to spit you out and then you find your way back to the shore. 
And that is what thirty years of depression means to me. Thirty years of finding my way back to the shore."
Also--look--he has a stuffed animal! 

"It's OK not to be OK"

My sadness is not much related to how Kevin Hines felt when his brain disease (bipolar disorder) drove him to jump off  the Golden Gate bridge (he was one of the less than 1% who survive the jump), but I really liked him and what he has to say too: 

When I'm up for it, I do appreciate the sort of 10-steps lifestyle advice he writes about here, especially since it comes from the inside:
"After My Suicide Attempt, I Made This Plan to Stay Alive and Well"

Kevin is also part of a good article, "Jumpers" from the New Yorker. (Thanks for reminding me, Michael.)

"We love you, my heart…"

And then, from the other side, there's this story about sixty-one year old Julio De Leon, who was cycling across the George Washington Bridge when he saw a young man who'd climbed over the railing.

“I got off my bike,” Mr. De Leon said, spreading his arms, as if he were going to embrace the air. “I showed my hands like that. I started to move to him a little bit.

"I said: ‘Don’t do it. We love you, my heart,’ something like that.

“In one second, only in a second, I just moved and grabbed like this” — his right arm curled like a shepherd’s crook — “and I keep him with me,” Mr. De Leon said.

--"On a Bridge, a Quick-Thinking Cyclist Saves a Life on the Ledge," New York Times, August 4, 2016. 
For more info or help if you are struggling:
"The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals."
Outside of the United States, please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of international resources.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

What I'm Reading

Orange Crate asked if people have night stands. 
I don't really; I have a little stool where my lamp sits, which I call a bedside table because that's what my mother always called whatever piece of furniture was beside the bed.
But my mattress is on the floor so whatever I'm reading before I fall asleep lies splayed there.

Right now I'm reading:
1. The current Economist

2. The Spiral Staircase, a memoir by religion scholar Karen Armstrong--I tore out the final chapters (lying on top) to take with me on a walk around the lake (didn't want to carry the whole hardback book).
 3. Embed with Games: A Year on the Couch with Game Developers, by Cara Ellison--the crowdsource-funded writing of game journalist as she spends a year sleeping on the couches of indie game designers. I'd've barely understood this book a year ago.

4. Ransom, by Sam Malouf
Homer fanfiction, eh? A reimagining of the meeting in the Iliad when Priam goes to Achilles' tent to ransom the body of his son Hektor.

I also just put on the floor next to the mattress a free-standing adjustable book holder--some sort of Victorian contraption? that my mother had.
In it are books I am sometimes reading or plan to read:

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Tea Time

I invited friends over for tea this Sunday afternoon, partly to show off my newly painted walls, partly to force myself to finish putting everything back onto the newly painted bookshelves, and partly as an excuse to bake a cake, now it's baking weather.

I made a pear upside-down gingerbread cake.
It needed to be gluten free, and I don't know anything about working with gluten-free flours, so I souped-up a  plain, g-f box mix with molasses & fresh grated ginger root, and I beat the egg whites to add some lift to the heavy batter. 
I poured the batter on top of pears I got at the farmers market this morning sautéed in butter and brown sugar.

The cows on my kitchen curtains ^ looked on.
The guests haven't arrived yet, so I can't say how the cake tastes, but it sure looks right anyway:

Saturday, October 8, 2016

2 Movies: "Things are happening in a place that you ignore."

I saw two movies this week in which children instruct their parents on Internet social media:
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014, dir. Alejandro G. Iñárritu) and Chef (2014, dir. Jon Favreau).

1. In Birdman, Sam (Emma Stone) lights into her forgotten-action-hero father (Michael Keaton) for his narcissistic attempt to be relevant by putting on a Broadway play based on Raymond Carver's What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, which Sam scorns as "a book that was written sixty years ago for a thousand rich old white people."

She's wrong: What We Talk About was published in 1981, only 33 years earlier. Her mistake is a brilliant bit of writing: the book's so irrelevant to her, the correct date doesn't matter; 
but if you're one of those "old white people" (like me) who know it's a mistake, you are implicated in her rant ––and yet you also get the pleasure of recognizing that Sam herself could be a character in a Carver story.

She goes on and says something I feel like saying to people my age who sneer at Internet culture (e.g. fandom):
"You want to be relevant... Well, guess what? There's an entire world out there where people fight to be relevant every single day;  things are happening in a place that you ignore…"

I'm not a fan of either Carver or Iñárritu. 
I actually only watched Birdman because I'd recently rewatched  Tim Burton's two Batman movies and admired Keaton as a perfect Bruce Wayne/Batman, so I was curious. 
The more recent Batmans (currently, Ben Affleck) are not like anyone you'd ever know, but Keaton plays him as an everyday awkward broken person––with expensive high-tech toys and a weirder obsessions than most, yeah, but otherwise much like the broken people we know, or are.

Birdman is a little too *KA-POW* packed with profundity for me.
I prefer the excellent Batman Returns (1992, sixty years ago!).
It's actually pretty interesting on weirdness and even gender stuff--while Batman's costume is a traditional male military fantasy, for instance, Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman sews her own costume, like moms used to. Like a Halloween costume from hell, her claws are sewing machine attachments:

2. Oh, damn. Blogger was changing the font size on me (why?!?!), so I was cutting and repasting the text back in and lost what I'd written about Chef.
Luckily, like the movie, it was simple:
the ten-year-old son kindly instructs his father (and by extension, viewers his gengeration, like me) in Twitter and Vine use. The father's ineptitude is played for gentle laughs, and he, a chef, offers something that never goes out of style:
good food.

The movie is a predictable and--unless you're vegetarian--pleasant food-porn and family reconciliation fantasy. 
No profundity, no complexity involved. Its mistakes are just that: mistakes.
Having worked as a cook, for instance I thought it was unbelievable that the dad would let his ten-year-old work in his food truck. (Also, it's illegal--for great reasons.)
Second, Sofia Vergara (love her!) needs to wear a hairnet. Imagine as you're eating your Cuban sandwich getting one of those long hairs caught in your throat...

Friday, October 7, 2016

Blog Birthday: Nine Year Review

L'astronave is nine today!

I thought I'd do a little retrospective and write a thoughtful summary, but looking through the archives yesterday, mygod, there's so much (2,236 posts, to be precise).
So I just copied the first line(s) of the first post each year, and chose a photo or two to represent the year. Even that took several hours. 
Here's my hop-skip-jump through the past nine years:

Year 1 began Sunday, October 7, 2007.
 First line of blog post Sunday Morning:

"One of the things I have missed most about blogging (it's been two years [since I shut down my first blog, flightless parrots]) is having a place to keep found words--things I overhear, for instance, or bits and pieces of writing--like a nest where magpies keep objects that catch their fancy." 
Here's my bookshelf that year--the one I just (now = 2016) repainted white-gray. Maybe it looks like a magpie's, but actually I'd purged most of my (many) books.


Year 2 began Tuesday, October 7, 2008.

First line of blog post  
. . . 365 Days, 438 Posts:

"Sometimes you can untangle yourself, unlike Robert Mitchum's character in Out of the Past (left, with Jane Greer, 1947)."

This year I make my first live-action movie, the 8-minute Orestes and the Fly. 

      v  Screencap of me with bink, Fly, costumer, and co-producer.

Year 3 began Wednesday, October 7, 2009.

First lines of blog post 365: Marimekko Psycho:

"I'd forgotten there's a Finn Style store on the second-story skyway downtown. 

Yesterday I popped in for the first time and saw a Marimekko poppy shower curtain for $5, down from $49 because a worker had cut a tiny slice in it, opening its packing box."

Right: working on geography book for teens about Finland, in front of the wall that I just painted brown.
I'd painted it sea-green that year for the little movie I was making with bink (based on a Finnish saying, herring are too small for Christmas dinner).

Also made the best of my movies (5:30 min.), with bink:
The Disinherited (A Comic Sci-Fi Western).

Year 4 began Thursday, October 7, 2010.

First line of blog post Blog Is Three:

"When I started, it'd been almost five years since my mother killed herself, and I was still dragging her death around."
The next summer, I walked the Camino de Santiago with bink and Marz.

When I got home, I did something I'd always wanted to do: 
<  jump off the Lake of the Isles bridge.

Year 5 began Monday, October 10, 2011.
 First line of post
My Eulogy for Susan Barrett Newhall, (1934–2011):

"Over the past few weeks––starting, in fact, around the time Barrett went into hospice––my friend Marz and I have been reading out loud the children's classic Charlotte's Web."

That winter I made Tiny Rhino's Moving Advent Calendar, almost every day for 24 days before Christmas filming a number, something to open (to mimic a calendar window), and a reveal.
This is one of my favorites, with a clip of Sufjan Stevens and the laundromat I used to go to:


Year 6 began Friday, October 19, 2012.

First lines of post Grant Driven:
"After 3 months working as a nursing assistant in a nursing home, I pulled my wrist tendon so badly, I had to quit. I also inherited some money from my favorite uncle, who died this spring. (R.i.p., Uncle Tony.)"

wearing wrist splints

Year 7 began Monday, October 7, 2013.

First lines of blog post Staggering to the finish line:
"I turned it in !!!
The ms of the sanitation history book (for teens).
I feel like I ran a marathon."

The series of vegetables + spacecraft I water-colored this year are some of my favorite things I've made.

Year 8 began Tuesday, October 7, 2014

First lines of post Year Seven, Day One:
"Today is l'astronave's seventh birthday and my first day of my new job: I leave in an hour to go lead activities with seniors [living with dementia] ...and toddlers."

Year 9 began on Friday, October 9, 2015.

First lines of post Think Like an Astronaut:
"I've been reading astronaut Chris Hadfield's memoir An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth.
His advice for Humans on Earth is to be prepared for anything,
 . . . and enjoy it."

I start making outfits for rescue stuffed animals, like this Mountie jacket for Black Bear from the Salvation Army in west Duluth.

Year 10 begins today, Friday, October 7, 2016.

7/12th of the way through my Year of Living Fannishly, working on getting physically stronger, and hopingtogod we in the USA don't wake up on Nov. 9 to a bloated tangerine as president...

Thursday, October 6, 2016

New Look (in process)

It's the season for a fresh start---or at least fresh paint.
The bookshelf is going from a Royal Tennenbaums-inspired raspberry to a glossy slightly-grey white (inspired by finding a can of it in the Bargains Bin).

The two walls that were deep red are now brown--a new color for me. I'm going to paint all the other walls white (in the facing room too). Brown and white--I wouldn't think I'd like that combination, but I really do. 

Meanwhile, most everything I own is on the floor [not shown].