Sunday, September 24, 2017

David Attenborough on Vulcans; Star Trek: Discovery

Worlds collide, hilariously. 
After I posted about David Attenborough yesterday, Mortmere sent me this [below] Kirk/Spock fanvid "examining the courtship and mating rituals of Vulcans", with narration by the man himself ("from numerous BBC documentary series"). 
The footage is mostly from the famous Star Trek episode "Amok Time", when Spock goes into Pon Farr, the Vulcan primal urge to mate. 

"Amok Time" aired almost exactly fifty years ago, on September 15, 1967. 
Which reminds me--I'm going to watch the first episode of the new Star Trek series with bink & Maura tonight: Star Trek: Discovery
It's on the regular CBS television station tonight at 8:30pm ET--after than you have to sign up for CBS All Access (more info from ars technica).

My expectations are low, but how could I not give this transmission a try?
Nichelle Nichols (left, Lt. Uhura in The Original Series) and Sonequa Martin-Green (First Officer Michael Burnham) 
Star Trek: Discovery
And I think the trailer looks promising.
I like its use of the song "I'd Love to Change the World [but I don't know what to do]"--by Jetta + remix by Matstubs, used on Sense8 too--oh, and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and Person of Interest--I guess it fits the mood of the times?
You know the original from 1971:
"World pollution, there's no solution
Institution, electrocution
Just black and white, rich or poor
Them and us, stop the war"

Saturday, September 23, 2017

My Grandmothers (My Class Background)

I posted a photo of my Italian grandmother the other day.
Below right, holding her baby: Rosaria (DeNicola) DiPiazza (born 1900, Monreale, Sicily –– died 1997, Milwaukee, WI), 1924. 
She was my father's mother.

I wanted to see her photo next to my mother's mother.  
Below, left photo, with bow in hair: my grandmother Meribel (Covert) Davis (1905––1992, Houston, Missouri), eight years old in 1913, with her cousin Fern Owsley Hines.

I always felt like the product of a mixed marriage, in terms of class and culture.

My father's family was Roman Catholic, though as Sicilians they incorporated a lot of ...unofficial elements. My grandmother would throw a pinch of salt over her shoulder (her left shoulder, I think) to ward off evil, for instance. 
In that family line, mine was the first generation of girls to graduate from college.

On my mother's side, my great-grandfather Charles Elmer Covert was a lawyer and an Episcopalian.
Charles was married to Virginia Sutherland (1874–1960), who got her "Bachelor of Letters" from the University of Missouri, Columbia––placing me among the fourth generation of college-educated women in that line. She went on to the University of Chicago for her Masters in English, but dropped out (I wonder why).

My mother's parents were themselves a mixed-class couple: the lawyer's daughter and the son of dirt-poor farmers. My mother's paternal grandfather, James, had grown up illiterate. He learned to read the Bible from his wife, Martha, and he became a traveling preacher in the Church of Christ--a far cry from an Episcopalian lawyer.

I've been thinking more about all this as I read a collection of autobiographical essays that Michael recommended after the death of my father, a professor of political science:
This Fine Place So Far from Home: Voices of Academics from the Working Class (1995).

You can download PDFs of all the chapters. It's good from the very first one, "Stupid Rich Bastards".

It's surprising me, how much the personal stories of class are hitting home. 
My mother was the parent with social skills, and with chutzpah... "entitlement" I guess you could call it, but more than that--she had an extra dollop of nerve:
once she called up the filmmaker David Attenborough---he was in the London phone book––to ask him where she could get a copy of his series on birds of the world formatted for US DVD players.

They talked about how she had raised exotic birds in the 1960s, and he told her he would have his assistant mail her his DVDs as a gift. And he did. 
He was used to colorful characters:

My father got his PhD––education was his ticket out of his family––but he never pursued academic standing, never published (he was a poor writer, but couldn't tolerate being edited). 
He taught his entire career in a four-year State college. (I don't recall him saying he liked teaching.) 
Instead of social skills, he got by on his native charm and smarts––and luck (including the luck of timing--he said it was easy to find a teaching job in 1964).

That took him far, but my father was proud, he didn't like to push into places where he risked losing face. In the face of conflict, or even just debate, he would dismiss people, as if he could freeze them with his resentment.
(I see this resentment in myself too, to a lesser extent.)

This all plays out in how comfortable people feel asking questions.
I've been slow to make the connection, but asking questions has to do with access to information, control of knowledge, and saving face.
Even though my father always said he valued curiosity, he did not like to be asked questions---and he didn't ask them much either.

My auntie tells me she doesn't ask people questions--"I don't like to pry," she says. I think she doesn't want to put people on the spot, or to be put on the spot herself either---the answer may be embarrassing, or it may expose ignorance.

For my mother (and me), asking questions was delightful, like rummaging around in a treasure box.

When I was little, she loved it when I asked her questions. We'd look up the answers, or she'd call the library reference desk.
She admired that Cousin Fern (next to my grandmother in the photo above, wearing a hat) kept a notebook to jot down words and things she didn't know, to look up later.

I'm a mix.  
My mother gave me lessons on things such as how to enter a room where two people are engaged in conversation. (Pause at the entrance, wait for a break, and say, "Excuse me for interrupting...".) 
After she left when I was thirteen, I was left with a father who in many ways didn't know how to navigate complex social waters. He didn't help me look for or apply to colleges, for instance. If my mother could have been bothered (she couldn't), she would have whisked me around the most interesting little colleges... 

(Oops--I have to go now. May write more on this later...)

Friday, September 22, 2017

A Fetching Hat for Red Bear

(Suitable for a royal wedding, eh?)


Pincushion with pins & needles in it, as found
 in a sewing basket donated to Steeple People thrift store

Needles and pins are little swords.
At the embroidery class, people talked about how you can use your own spit to remove your wet blood, if a needle stab makes you bleed on your work.

[I looked it up: there's no scientific reason spit would work better than water. But spit is mostly water, and water will rinse out fresh blood, so spit does work. It doesn't have to be your own spit, but whose else would you have to hand?]

Look online at sewing notions, however, and you'll find a world of cutesification, pastel trimmings and perky sayings. "Make it sew!"

I see their heavier mettle.

UPDATE: my first napkins

UPDATE: Marz with the second two-sided Star Trek napkin I sewed:

Original post from 9/19:
I couldn't embroider today after all, because I burned my finger on the coffee pot (oh, the drama), so I decided to make two-sided napkins on the sewing machine, pairing some of my cotton scraps (mostly from Steeple People) with the Star Trek fabric Dr H sent me recently.

Here's the first one, which took me for-bloody-ever. (OK, just two hours, but that's more than I expected for something so seemingly [seemingly] simple.)

 I didn't realize how futzy it would be to turn under and iron each edge down and to match the two sides up... But the result makes me happy. I only had enough of this particular backing fabric for one napkin, so the others will all be different.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

For a Honey of a Year

Apple & Honey for Rosh Hashanah

I'm not Jewish but have shared prayers for a sweet new year with Jewish friends in the past--this year it's me and my camera . . . my now sticky camera.

Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu, melekh ha'olam
Blessed are you, Lord, our God, king of the universe

 borei p'ri ha'eitz (Amein).
who creates the fruit of the tree. (Amen)  Hebrew

 y'hi ratzon mil'fanekha Adonai eloheinu vei'lohei avoteinu
May it be Your will, Lord our God and God of our ancestors Hebrew
sh't'chadeish aleinu shanah tovah um'tukah.
that you renew for us a good and sweet year.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

That's better, Captain.

I love the Star Trek fabric from Hannah, but everyone was so serious. It needed a little je ne sais quoi.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Stitchery from my Sicilian Grandmother

I've always wanted to copy the pattern on the dress my Sicilian grandmother Rosaria is wearing in this photo from 1924; she is twenty-three.

She is with her first three (of ten) children, in Milwaukee, where her family had immigrated when she was a little girl.

I assume she made all these clothes herself, coming as she did from a family of tailors and seamstresses.

I always thought it would be complicated, but looking at her dress more closely today, I see the embroidery pattern is fairly simple: 
a curly S and a loopy back-and-forth design. 
(The S's look like one of her SOS cookies [recipe].)

I'm going to embroider the design on the little cell-phone bag I'm making for my Auntie Vi-- Rosaria's forth child, born in 1925. (My father was the seventh child.)

Masa works

Adding a couple cups of veggie broth + masa harina ("dough flour"––the fine corn-flour used for making tortillas) worked wonders for the too-tomatoey chili:

it mellowed the acidity with a slight earthy sweetness and thickened the chili a bit

I will add it to chili again.

bink approved >>>

UPDATE: Terrier Towel

UPDATE: Now bink's 60th birthday party has come and gone, I can show you how the terrier towel looks like bink's wire-haired fox terrier Astro, with his sticky-uppy ears:

Original post:
After embroidery class yesterday, I looked in the textile center's little shop. They have a shelf of donated vintage stuff, and I found an old linen towel embroidered with a terrier for $5.

I snatched it up for bink's 60th birthday. (I'm co-hosting with Maura bink's birthday party this afternoon.) 
But the dog looked like a Scottie––all black, with a big beard––and bink prefers tri-colored fox terriers, so I picked out some of its beard and added a couple browns, and it looks more like bink's dog Astro.

And now I'm going over to bink's to fix-up the vegan chili I made last night for her party. It's mostly tomatoes, beans, and spices, and without a meat base to ground it, it's too acidy. 

I looked up ideas to make it less tomatoey. I'm going to roast sweet potatoes and also add a little veggie broth with masa harina--fine corn flour. (I don't think I'll do this, but the suggestion of a little peanut butter sounds good too, like in West African dishes.)

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Sashiko & Podcasts

Sashiko embroidery class yesterday was great, not because I learned a stitch––sashiko is as simple as I'd expected, not much to learn––but because, as I'd hoped, I talked to the other students, getting recommendations about things like podcasts to listen to while stitching, and how to dye with black walnuts.

So, my question to you is,
Can you recommend any podcasts?

During class, I started to do the sashiko, a decorative mending stitch (the name means little stabs), on my pants' leg hem, which was coming undone:

It's hard to make the stitches even and evenly spaced, but when I look at vintage sashiko, which was just how everyday people in Japan mended their clothes, it's not going for that anyway.

In fact, the uneven handwork appeals to me more than evenly stitched pieces.
It shows the human hands, like an upright bass echoes in a way that makes you sense the wood. 

via kimonoboy

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Knitting in Public

I'm off to the one-time shashiko embroidery class this morning---was happy to read this little story in Selvedge about Kaffe Fassett (famous colorist & textile designer):

Kaffe was born in San Francisco in 1937. At the age of 19, he moved to paint in London. He embarked on a kaleidoscope of ventures:
One of the first was a trip to a Scottish wool mill. There, he bought Shetland wool and some knitting needles, and on the train back to London a fellow passenger taught him how to knit…

Kaffe, young and old:

Friday, September 15, 2017

Registration Point

I. The Perceptible Wavelength

I'm not on Facebook, but every so often I look over bink's shoulder at her FB, to catch up on people we both know. bink is FB-friends with my sister, and last night I looked at what my sister has been posting since our father died two months ago. 

It was so strange to me: she's been posting frequent tributes presenting our father as the most "fun, funny, smart, warm, beautiful man"––her words. An ongoing series of photos illustrates how unmitigatedly adorable [her word] she thought he was.

You know how you get seasick when something changes your vision--like when you get new glasses,  or look through a prism? I felt like that, seeing through my sister's eyes. She always adored our father, and now he's dead, she's flattened his complex personality, papering over the man's twisty shadowed valleys. 

I actually felt rather disturbed when I went to bed last night, the way you do when you've had contact with a reality at odds with your own. But as I was lying there unable to sleep, I was comforted to remember something I'd recently read about human vision in The Brain: The Story of You (companion the PBS television series), by neuroscientist David Eagleman.

Eagleman points out that, as you know, "color" is just the name we give to certain waves that we are able to see--it has no objective reality outside the cave of our brains. And other waves, such waves of cell phone conversations and radio stations, are around and in us all the time, but they are imperceptible to us.
"Humans detect a tiny fraction [about 1.5%] of the information carried on the electromagnetic spectrum. ...Visible light is made of the same stuff as the rest of the spectrum, but it's the only part for which we come equipped with biological receptors."

That's true psychologically too, eh?  
We only register other people's realities that fall within the range we CAN pick up, we only process the emotions and thoughts we have receptors for (or, you know, that we have open, working receptors for).

It was always the case that my sister and I saw my father differently--we picked up different waves.  When I'd try to talk about what I was getting from my father, my sister would reject it, and me––once actually (and usefully) telling me, "I don't care how you see it,"––even though she had sometimes been present when my father had done the thing I was talking about.  She seemed psychically unable to see the full spectrum of who he was.

"Each creature picks up on its own slice of reality," Eagleman writes of the brain. "No one is having an experience of the objective reality that really exists:
"What does the world outside your head really 'look' like?
Not only is there no color, there's also no sound: the compression and expansion of air is picked up by the ears, and turned into electrical signals. The brain then presents these signals to us as ... tones.  …The real world is not full of rich sensory events; instead our brains light up the world with their own sensuality."
So, that was a good reminder to me that you see what you can see, and my sister and I simply have different capacities, especially where our parents are concerned.  

II. The Point

But also, as Harry Nilsson's Rock Man said (0:28) in The Point (1971), you see what you want to see:
"You ever see a pterodactyl?"
"You ever want to see a pterodactyl?"

"I guess not."
"Well, that's it: you see what you want to see."

I'd forgotten, but The Point was a big influence on me ten-year-old me. I have yet to this day to see the made-for-TV animated film, which looks pretty great, but I got the album (cover, right--
needlepoint by Kathy Torrence) from the library and listened to it over and over.

Looking it up now, I see Nilsson was inspired by an acid trip,* but at the time, it just felt like someone who got reality--- being a kid is pretty trippy. (So's having a human brain). 

(In fact, I see now that growing up in Madison, I was unknowingly influenced by a lot of trippy stuff. When I got older I was, like, Why's everyone so one-dimensional?)

The Point is about a boy, Oblio, who is exiled with his dog Arrow from their town: "You have been found guilty of being pointless", from the album inserts:

Funny, speaking of rocks and stones, the example I always give of how my father and I related (or didn't relate) is kind of trippy itself––on my part, anyway. I've never done psychedelics, but I was interested in religion and philosophy, which is related, and
when I was fifteen I tried to discuss with my father whether rocks have souls. 

He told me that since we couldn't know, it wasn't worth asking the question.

Well, as the Rock Man says [at 1:39] to Oblio: Being a rock is a very heavy life.

Oblio: Boy, I never realized that rocks and stones were so...

Rock Man: All you gotta do is open your mind, along with your eyes.  
*Nilsson explained his inspiration for The Point!
I was on acid and I looked at the trees and I realized that they all came to points, and the little branches came to points, and the houses came to point. I thought, 'Oh! Everything has a point, and if it doesn't, then there's a point to it.'

The Point--entire album on YouTube, starts at 36:56, narrated by Nilsson

The Point, songs only, pt. 1(no narration) 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Sewing in Public: Making an object by hand

Michael sent me this quote from Rosemary Hill, art historian:
To make objects by hand in an industrial society, to work slowly and uneconomically against the grain, is to offer, however inadvertently, a critique of that society.
--From “Explorations of a Third Space,” Times Literary Supplement, April 23, 1999. Quoted in Morris Berman, The Twilight of American Culture (2000).
Yesterday I chose from my Steeple People Thrift Store stash a linen runner that someone had barely started to work on long ago, and I began to stitch the words. 
I sat outside embroidering at Jasmine, a nearby Vietnamese deli. 
A young man at the next table asked me what I was doing, and I showed him the quote I'd written down. We ended up talking off and on for the whole time he ate his pho––he's a painter, newly moved to town.

A couple people walking past stopped and commented too.
I'm finding that sewing in public solves the problem of eye contact with friendly strangers: You always have your sewing to look at, if it's awkward, there's a gap in the conversation, or you don't want to engage. Very handy.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Prince at Sunset (by happify)

Julia posted on her happify Instagram this photo of Prince in alignment with the Sun, about a mile from my house

Etui too

New words I've learned from looking into sewing notions: 
chatelaine (posted an octopus one the other day), 
and, today, etui.

Etui: (ā twee) a small case for sewing supplies, cosmetics, and other little things, often ornamental
It has a fun etymology, with an unexpected relative:
early 17th century: from French étui, from Old French estui ‘prison,’ from estuier ‘shut up, keep.’
Compare with tweezers.
Nähetui is "sewing kit" in German, as you can see on this appealing one from Laura's German boyfriend, Lutz. It's ornamental and functional--all is tidy and correct inside, but it shows use.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

What I've Been Sort of Reading

Autumn is time to clear the clutter before I have to close the doors and stay inside with my stuff.

Today I packed my bike panniers with books to return to the library, sell to the independent bookstore, or put in Little Free Library boxes---then I took them all out again to take their photos.
I've fallen way behind keeping track of what I'm reading––maybe because since the inauguration (and finishing the fandom book), a lot of it's political stuff online.
This is just a quick photo record--a random round-up.

Did I read these books?
Let's see... From the top down:
Yes; currently reading (Midnight Is a Place, children's novel by Joan Aiken); 

yes (Reagan, like Trump, didn't (couldn't?) differentiate between fact and fiction-- but, unlike Trump, seemed "nice"); 
just the intro; looked at the pictures about the brain; decided to keep Association... because I might; didn't even crack it; disappointed (Carrie Brownstein on her life in music--read it all, but I only care about Portlandia, which isn't mentioned); reference book (making stuffed animals)

Below: FROM MY BOOKSHELVES (or floor)
Books that today I sold to the independent bookstore or gave away in Little Free Libraries

Did I read them?
From the top down:
some stories in it; bogged down, just like the nation (Yugoslavia); partly (fandom research on gaming); ditto; 
got halfway; ditto x 2; 
TOO SAD (A Monster Calls--about a boy whose mother is dying) 

Did I read them, below?
From the top down:
Yes, I love Maira Kalman but have a couple other books of hers and this one about the United States is my least favorite; 
You Don't Have to Say... TOO SAD (boy whose mother is tormented--worth it though); much of it (quotes about aging); fandom research; 
disappointed (Hunger--oddly polite & remote for a memoir about becoming obese after being gang raped as a girl--or maybe not odd, since the point of getting fat, she writes, was to create distance); 
mildly disappointed (as I have been by everything Winterson has written since Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit)

Monday, September 11, 2017

Threads (Made in Brazil)

In the family sewing basket I inherited were little MADE IN BRAZIL paper spools of thread, the type you'd get in traveling sewing kits, and I realized I had a couple more in my stash too. 
I love their tangles, and the palette is interestingly a bit different than the ones I'm more familiar with.

Cephalopod Chatelaine

Looking into sewing notions, I came across something new to me:
the chatelaine, an ornamental or utilitarian chain or clasp Victorian women wore fastened at the waist that held items like scissors, keys, needles, pencils, etc., that might be needed close at hand.   

Celphalopods have been popular for several years now. But how bout this octopus chatelaine from around 1887?

From the Missouri Historical Society: This particular chatelaine holds a compact, perfume bottle, mirror, whistle, and pin holder.
 [Note the crab on the compact.]

From illustrated article and interview with Genevieve Cummins, co-author of the book Chatelaines: Utility to Glorious Extravagance:
"Like a customized Swiss Army knife, a chatelaine provided its wearer with the tools she needed close at hand. For a seamstress, that might include a needle case, scissors, thimble, and tape measure, while for a nurse it might mean thermometers, safety pins, styptics for dressing wounds, all sorts of things. Inspired by the complex key rings carried by la chatelaine, the female head of a French estate, these beautiful contraptions were fashionable as well as practical."
More things found on chatelaines, with photos:
"Chatelaines: Utilitarian Charm" 

Saturday, September 9, 2017

"I have met the type before."

Me & Jackalope, 1996
Wall Drug––Wall, South Dakota

Friday, September 8, 2017

Six Mark Trail Panels, New & Improved

Oh! So fun! Two Three FIVE people have delightfully doctored Mark Trail. [Most sent me text, which I added to the panel.] Thanks, everybody; I love them all! You inspired me to do one too.

The original MT strip with blank bubbles is at the end of this post.

6. By Chris:

5. By Elaine Fine:

4. By The Crow:

1. By Michael:

2. "The Last of Mark Trail," all changes by bink

3. By me, Fresca:

Join in, if you'd like!

Run-Over Pencils

Biking around town this summer, I’ve stopped and picked up several pencils from the road where they had been run over by cars. The pencils split along the wood join, revealing their architecture and the groove where the lead sits. 
Elegant machines.

I showed my little collection to Marz. 

She laughed, “Now you’re picking up run-over pencils.”

Yes. Now I am picking up run-over pencils.

Last night I dreamed about a couple I used to be friends with. Our lives overlapped for a couple years when I was working at the art-college library and they were both finishing their PhDs—she in art history, he in physics. Then they got busy with high-power careers in museums and medical technology. I haven’t seen them in years, but they show up in my dreams sometimes.

I could have been like them. I was steered in the direction of being like them. But I didn’t go that way.

I blogged the other day about poverty—how I haven’t felt poor, even when I’ve had little money, because
I'd had the choice to be otherwise. If choice is power, I haven't suffered too much (relatively speaking) from poverty of power.

After I wrote that, I wondered if I was being too philosophical, if I only had that choice (that power) in theory.

But no, that’s not the case. You can’t always pinpoint a turning point in a life, but I can point to a moment when I chose not to be like those friends of mine.

The summer before I finished my BA in Classics, when I was thirty-four, I went to a week-long conference at the University of Oxford with my professor, himself a graduate of Trinity College. He showed me around, introduced me to scholars, and encouraged me to apply to the graduate program in theology and philosophy there.

It was the summer holidays and the colleges were empty of students. Being there was like being in a Merchant Ivory movie of my life. The days were hot and dreamy. We had tea in the shade of linden trees, eating strawberry meringues out of a cardboard box tied with string. I got a pass to read a manuscript in Duke Humfrey's Library, for my thesis on Saint Ambrose.
I was a little in love with the whole thing—grooves worn into stone steps; scent clouds coming off jasmine draped over walls; leather books on slabs of dark wood; my professor wearing a straw boater with a faded blue band; and with the power of my brain, and education, and the fact that I could understand the scholarly lectures––that this world was comprehensible to me.

I could actually do this, I realized.
I could go to Oxford.

One evening after a lecture, I was walking by myself past the circular Sheldonian Theatre. It was misting rain, but a group of Morris dancers were performing, and I sat on a damp low wall and watched.

And it came to me, sitting there, entirely clearly: 

I don’t want to go here. I don’t know what I want, but I don’t want this life.

Along with it came an instruction to myself: 

REMEMBER THIS. There might come a time when you wonder why you didn’t take this opportunity, so remember how entirely clear you are about not wanting it.

In the twenty-two years since then, I
have felt and do feel a bit weird about my life sometimes, but I’ve never second-guessed or regretted that decision not to pursue academia––even though I may forget the moment of decision itself, like when I wrote about having choices but forgot that crucial one. 

To be like my former friends, I would have had to twist myself out of shape. As it is, I feel that if my life were run over, it would split cleanly, showing that its construction makes its own kind of sense.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Lassie & Mark

Michael has written a Lassie fanfiction: "The 'Clipse"

It's subtly hilarious---feels to me like Dr Strangelove meets Leave It to Beaver, as told by Mark Trail*.

Lassie ran on TV from 1954 to 1973. I never saw one episode, but I could imagine the scenes anyway. For those of you who, like me, don't know the characters aside from Lassie, here's Boomer and Mike the dog––(breed? "a small," Michael says)––and Timmy and collie Lassie:

*You know Mark Trail, don't you?
Michael blogs about him too.

Nothing ever used to happen in Mark Trail. In the 1980s, someone on a community radio station here used to present a weekly "Mark Trail Report",  interpreting the nothingness in mystical-ish existential terms.

Since those days, active plots have disturbed the nirvana of Lost Forest. Still, there are pockets of weirdness. I'd say the art in the strip below suggest the hunting dog ran in the opposite direction of the rabbit. Or, at any rate, it invites us to ponder the plight of the prey. Also, note that Mark appears to have chameleon-like powers to change the color of his camera hand. What could all this mean?

P.S. Michael noted the bunny looks like it's going to eat Mark & Tommy---in response to that, see that last panel doctored by readers, here
Or do one yourself!
I've erased the panel's speech bubbles, and I invite you to create new dialogue--either nab the image, add text in the bubbles, & email it to me or post it yourself, or leave your dialogue in the comments here:

Wednesday, September 6, 2017


I spent all afternoon sorting the sewing basket from my father's house, a collection of sewing notions, many of which pre-date my parents' divorce in 1974. 

I saved all the wooden spool thread, arranged it on this spool-holder (so clever––the shelves tilt forward so you can set the spools on spindles), and hung it on the wall:

Tuesday, September 5, 2017


Oh, I'm so excited---I had no idea this beautiful-looking kids' biography of Leonard Nimoy existed, though it's been out for a year (2016): Fascinating: The Life of Leonard Nimoy, by Richard Michelson, illustrated by Edel Rodriguez.

I'm using this as my destination-bike–ride of the day: I'm going to bike to the library by the Mississippi River that has this book on its shelves.
From the cover flap:
"Leonard knew what it felt like to be an alien. 

...His parents were [Russian Jewish] immigrants who felt like aliens in America, and certainly didn't understand Leonard's drive to perform. 'Learn to play the accordion,' his father told him. 'Actors starve, but at least musicians can eke out a living.'
But Leonard reached for the stars... and caught them."

Monday, September 4, 2017


Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.
Read more at:
Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little. Edmund Burke
Read more at:
I didn't take my laptop out to coffee this morning, I took my bag of Wool Socks to Darn. Usually I email & blog (and job hunt (sort of)) in the morning, often out at one of two nearby coffee shops, and sew later, usually at home.

I decided to turn that around, partly in response to my question to myself that I blogged a couple days ago, being extra-distressed about the state of the world:
What then should I do?

I am not one for protest or committee work (ohgodno). I thought, well, I could sew more in public. I'm mostly repairing things by hand, and that's something of a friendly, homespun political act--mending stuff instead of throwing it out: a handy tool in the Pre- or Post-Apocalyptic Skill Kit!

darn in process, in Star Trek blue and gold
Also, sewing in public knits me into my neighborhood and requires me to be a little bit brave. Funny thing, but though I'm a friendly introvert, I'm a little shy about sewing in public by myself. It's a slightly unusual thing to do, and I'm self-conscious about standing out, and also it makes me available to anyone: 
strangers often stop to ask what I'm doing--curious about the wooden darning egg, for instance.

Today I talked for two hours to the guy at the table next to me, Michael. He's my age--works as a handyman. We've often chatted briefly––in fact, I patched a couple of his work jackets last year.
I've avoided talking to him about politics, however, afraid to because I think he voted for Trump...

Today I engaged. He was going on about how illegal immigrants aren't good for America, and I said, 
"There should be an easy way they can become citizens, like my Italian grandparents did---that's what made America great."

And he said, "That's right! Then they would be part of the country--involved in public schools and owning property. Some of them have been here for years: they should be able to become citizens quickly."

Well! OK, then.

If I wanted to talk politics with strangers, it could be a full time job.
But I'm not going to join in every conversation I overhear!

At another table, for instance, an older white woman was talking about how she'd read that "police stop blacks  …I mean 'African Americans' on bikes more than white people. But they didn't say where they got that information from, they probably just made it up!"

Like that's so hard to believe? And you always fact-check everything you read about white people?

Another good thing about sewing: it's calming, it's meditative, it keeps my blood pressure down. Oh--and of course it gives me more wearable wool socks: winter is coming.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Push Up

"Inspiration Mushroom" from happify (Julia)

(It was an unusually rainy August.)