things I like this week, vol. 38

Faux sherling-lined velvet mouse slippers, which I would find a way to wear everywhere.

. . .

Hell yes, Amanda Palmer. Hell yes.
. . .

Could be useful.

. . .

A NY Times article entitled "Battle of the Somm," which explained a good deal of jargon as well as some interesting tidbits, my favorite of which was:
Although the cheapest wines ANCHOR prices on a list, Somms are anxious to offer good wines at every PRICE POINT and often take pride in finding excellent wines for the shallow end of the list. However, many diners are embarrassed to order the cheapest wine on offer and erroneously suppose there is some magic inherent in the second-cheapest bottle.
The bolded, capped vocab words got a bit obnoxious, though.

. . .

Found it while looking for a good stock photo of blues dancers.

. . . 

Ode to Broken Things
Things get broken 
at home 
like they were pushed 
by an invisible, deliberate smasher. 
It's not my hands 
or yours 
It wasn't the girls 
with their hard fingernails 
or the motion of the planet. 
It wasn't anything or anybody 
It wasn't the wind 
It wasn't the orange-colored noontime 
Or night over the earth 
It wasn't even the nose or the elbow 
Or the hips getting bigger 
or the ankle 
or the air. 
The plate broke, the lamp fell 
All the flower pots tumbled over 
one by one. That pot 
which overflowed with scarlet 
in the middle of October, 
it got tired from all the violets 
and another empty one 
rolled round and round and round 
all through winter 
until it was only the powder 
of a flowerpot, 
a broken memory, shining dust.

And that clock 
whose sound 
the voice of our lives, 
the secret 
thread of our weeks, 
which released 
one by one, so many hours 
for honey and silence 
for so many births and jobs, 
that clock also 
and its delicate blue guts 
among the broken glass 
its wide heart 

Life goes on grinding up 
glass, wearing out clothes 
making fragments 
breaking down 
and what lasts through time 
is like an island on a ship in the sea, 
surrounded by dangerous fragility 
by merciless waters and threats.

Let's put all our treasures together 
-- the clocks, plates, cups cracked by the cold -- 
into a sack and carry them 
to the sea 
and let our possessions sink 
into one alarming breaker 
that sounds like a river. 
May whatever breaks 
be reconstructed by the sea 
with the long labor of its tides. 
So many useless things 
which nobody broke 
but which got broken anyway.
 - Pablo Neruda (of course), trans. Jodey Bateman

. . .

It's not so much to ask for a huge library with vaulted ceilings, is it?


Christmas is here (and gone) again

I meant to make this post Christmas day - and I meant to take pictures with a camera better than my iPhone - but neither happened, and I'm posting them anyway. I always love seeing other people's holiday traditions, and I am naively assuming you do, too.

The tree, complete with presents.

Always a real tree.

A relic from the 70's - my parents had the album on cassette and it defined the holidays for me as a child.

Rather spring-timey for Christmas Eve dinner, but I enjoyed it anyway - this is the first time I've actually used my grandmother's china, despite being in possession of it for several years. It was my first year making the traditional French-Canadian tourtière,too, but I didn't take any pictures of that, for though it was delicious, the top crust broke.

Eggs, bacon, fried potatoes, chocolate croissant, coffee that soon had Bailey's and peppermint schnapps in it, and a mimosa. Heaven.

The cat in Christmas-cheer mode.

And the final Christmas tradition: White Christmas.


thoughts on the end of the world

On this now apparently post-apocalyptic Friday evening, I thought a poetic reflection on doomsday might be refreshing (especially after all those incessant Facebook memes). 

Fire and Ice
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
- Robert Frost

I am particularly amused by this poem when you factor in the possible implications of the author's last name.


things I like this week, vol. 37

James Franco's Ideal Bookshelf.

. . .

. . .

Machu Picchu in 16 Gigapixels.

. . .

Life is transitory.

. . .

First, when you're developing a custom fragrance, it’s about really listening to the client. I ask about their past, where they are, where they want to be—so that I can really try to distill their story down to its essence. Then I select, and we explore oils with histories and stories that might resonate with this essence of the client, really bring out its beauty, its complexity. I mean, you can't have reverence if there's no history, no intention. You may like vanilla, for example—but why, how? Ultimately, I look for a real context and concept for the fragrance composition in the layers of these relationships between the plants’ essences and the client’s essence. so that the fragrance becomes the way they all connect. This connection is so layered and meaningful that when the client smells or wears it, they really feel something special, something no longer ordinary . . .
- Haley Alexander Von Oosten, as told to ITG

. . .


. . .

"The Last Smoke," available as a poster, which I want.

. . .

 And other smoky cocktail, this one easy enough that I might try, from here:

Hazy Whiskey Cocktail by Gather Journal
A couple of whole cloves
1/2 stick cinnamon, broken into pieces
2 oz rye whiskey
1/2 oz B+B liquer
1 dash Angostura bitters
1 strip orange zest
1. Chill a snifter or tumbler in the freezer for 10 minutes.
2. Place the cloves an cinnamon on a small heatproof plate. Using a kitchen torch or a butane lighter, burn the spices until they begin to smoke. Invert the chilled glass over the spices to trap the smoke.
3. Combine the whiskey, B+B and bitters in a separate ice filled glass. Stir. Flip over the smoky glass and strain the mixture into it. Add the orange zest. Drink. Enjoy. Repeat.

 , , ,

. . .

Another 20x200: The White Oaks.
. . . 

Iman on the subjects of her hairdresser and parenting:
But he does my daughter’s hair also, because she’s the same as me. Actually, he came in and gave her a few fuchsia streaks in her hair. I’m cool with the fuchsia streaks. And my husband [David Bowie] can’t say anything! Once, my daughter saw the pictures of Ziggy Stardust and she said, ‘Why are you wearing makeup?’ And he was like, ‘Why didn’t she say anything about my hair?’ [Laughs] He just said, ‘It was the ‘70s.’ We all tell her, ‘Oh, it was the ‘70s!’—we tell her that for anything! She’ll say, ‘Oh, you smoked,’ and we say, ‘It was the ‘70s.’ [Laughs]
. . .

Christmas decorating of all kinds.
. . .

When I am working on a book or a story I write every morning as soon after first light as possible. There is no one to disturb you and it is cool or cold and you come to your work and warm as you write. You read what you have written and, as you always stop when you know what is going to happen next, you go on from there. You write until you come to a place where you still have your juice and know what will happen next and you stop and try to live through until the next day when you hit it again. You have started at six in the morning, say, and may go on until noon or be through before that. When you stop you are as empty, and at the same time never empty but filling, as when you have made love to someone you love. Nothing can hurt you, nothing can happen, nothing means anything until the next day when you do it again. It is the wait until the next day that is hard to get through.
- Hemingway on writing, quoted in a fantastic post entitled "The Daily Routines of Famous Writers."

. . .

I was going to post a different excerpt from this page, but given the events of this past weekend, this one seemed more appropriate instead.

"All I Ever Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten," by Robert Fulgham
All of what I really need to know about how to live, and what to do, and how to be, I learned in Kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sandbox at nursery school.

These are the things I learned…

Share everything.
Play fair.
Don't hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don't take things that aren't yours.
Say sorry when you hurt somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you. Give them to someone who feels sad.
Live a balanced life.
Learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day.
Take a nap every afternoon.
Be aware of wonder.

Remember the little seed in the plastic cup? The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.

Everything you need to know is in there somewhere.

And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.


vonnegut on the blues

 . . . Back to music. It makes practically everybody fonder of life than he or she would be without it. Even military bands, although I am a pacifist, always cheer me up. And I really like Strauss and Mozart and all that, but the priceless gift that African Americans gave the whole world when they were still in slavery was a gift so great that it is now almost the only reason many foreigners still like us at least a little bit. That specific remedy for the worldwide epidemic of depression is a gift called the blues. All pop music today - jazz, swing, be-bop, Elvis Presley, the Beatles, the Stones, rock-and-roll, hip-hop and on and on - is derived from the blues. 

A gift to the world? One of the best rhythm-and-blues combos I ever heard was three guys and a girl from Finland playing in a club in Krakow, Poland.

The wonderful writer Albert Murray, who is a jazz historian and a friend of mine among other things, told me that during the era of slavery in this country - an atrocity from which we can never fully recover - the suicide rate per capita among slave owners was much higher than the suicide rate among slaves. 

Murray says he thinks this was because slaves had a way of dealing with depression, which their white owners did not: They could shoo away Old Man Suicide by playing and singing the Blues. He says something else which also sounds right to me. He says the blues can't drive depression clear out of a house, but can drive it into the corners of any room where it's being played. So please remember that.
- Kurt Vonnegut, from A Man Without a Country


things I like this week, vol. 36

Literary jokes for the win.

. . .

“After all these years, I see that I was mistaken about Eve in the beginning; it is better to live outside the Garden with her than inside it without her.”
-Mark Twain

. . .

They're tiny perfume-filled glass bottles. You're supposed to violently throw them on the ground to make the room smell pretty. The website gives no recommendation for how to clean up the shards of glass, which implies a level of decadence I'm not sure I'm comfortable with.

. . .

 Indi Apparel in Zocalo magazine. (I am still quite proud of the makeup.)

. . .

Cats. Accompanied by Neruda quotes. (The internet is amazing.)

There is also Calming Manatee.

. . . 

From Gatsby, of course.

. . .

Children's books reimagined as minimalist posters.

. . .

An interesting perspective on homosexual marriage: the tradition of "two-spirit" people in Native American tribes.

. . .

A clothing wishlist:

a dress for tango

and a dress for New Year's.

. . .

Bar cart inspiration, and two ideas for drinks:

smoked cocktails (they're apparently a thing. I am intrigued) and . . .

a recipe for apple cider sangria that I will be concocting at the earliest opportunity.

. . .

Lincoln in realistic color.

. . .

Vintage WW2 photographs superimposed on shots taken in the same spot in modern times.

. . .

A river of 10,000 lighted books in Melbourne. At the end of the night they started giving them away to passersby.

. . .

Friends of mine on top of Mt. Lemmon.

. . .

And a poem:
Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting --
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
-Mary Oliver


on houses

There is symbolism in so many things, I think.

I should rephrase. Being mostly of an existentialist mindset, I think there is no inherent meaning in anything, but that the meaning we create is what is of importance. So, more accurately, I see symbolism in so many things.

Houses, for instance.

I just moved - packed up all of my suddenly myriad belongings in two days - hauled all of it to a new place on the third day - cleaned the old house from top to bottom on the fourth. I am exhausted.

When Colin and I first broke up, and I started looking for a place because I thought I'd have to move when the lease was up, everything I looked at was far out of my price range and felt like a coffin: rectangular, solid, confining, with a distinct lack of light. Suffocating. I couldn't breathe in them. It was appropriate, since our splitting up made me feel like I was drowning.

I clung to our house, then, to its light, to its space, to the quirks of its layout. I wasn't ready to leave a place where I had been, for years, happy. And when my landlord gave me until October, letting me pay only half-rent, I thought, okay. October is a long time away. Colin has until October to change his mind, to realize how much he loves me, to come home, before we lose this house forever. In my head, losing the house meant losing any chance he and I might have to reconcile.

Yet life still somehow moved forward. My stuff stretched to fill the house that slowly started to feel far too large for just me and my kid. When Colin and I began talking again, began piecing ourselves back together both individually and as a couple, it was around the same time that I was forced to start looking in earnest again for a place to live.

It seemed an impossible task: find something cheap enough that I could afford on my own if things didn't work out with Colin; find a place big enough that all three of us could fit if we did.

I finally found one and had to put the deposit down before he even had a chance to see it. By then, my mindset had changed: I didn't want the old house, any more. There was too much space. There were too many places where we had spent time in our own worlds, too many harsh memories lingering among the pleasant ones. It was a beautiful house, and it was good for us, but it was time to move on, to start again with something new.

We got back together the week before I moved, and it was him (and a couple other angelic souls) that helped me do it - our first big collaboration as a couple again.

All my stuff is in the new apartment, piled in boxes I didn't even have time to properly label. In the coming weeks I am going to be sifting through everything I own, paring it down, discarding of anything superfluous, of anything that doesn't make me happy. In a few weeks, Colin will be here, too, having done the same thing.

And so we begin again, rebuilding, free of the extra belongings, of the space that kept us apart before.



We have lost even this twilight.
No one saw us this evening hand in hand
while the blue night dropped on the world.

I have seen from my window
the fiesta of sunset in the distant mountain tops.

Sometimes a piece of sun
burned like a coin between my hands.

I remembered you with my soul clenched
in that sadness of mine that you know.

Where were you then?
Who else was there?
Saying what?
Why will the whole of love come on me suddenly
when I am sad and feel you are far away?

The book fell that is always turned to at twilight
and my cape rolled like a hurt dog at my feet.

Always, always you recede through the evenings
toward where the twilight goes erasing statues. 

- Pablo Neruda


this is pretty much how I feel about everything.

Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that "all men are created equal." We now practically read it "all men are created equal, except negroes" When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read "all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics." When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty -- to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocracy [sic].
- Abraham Lincoln, Letter, 1855 (via my friend Steve's fb)


endeavour flyover

The shuttle Endeavour did a low flyover of Tucson this morning on its way to museum status in LA. They did it to honor Gabby Giffords and her husband, Mark, who was the shuttle's last pilot. 

With a friend's reminder text and a stroke of luck, I ran outside just in time to see it go past my school.

I had no idea how low 1,500 feet actually is (absurdly low!) and how exciting it would be to see it so close.

I didn't get my camera functioning in time to capture it, but one of my students did: 

And this much better quality shot was taken from just over the mountain you see in the picture above, by a friend of a friend whose name I don't know:

It's nice, when I so often feel fed up with the way our country functions, to see something so awe-inspiring and so positive.


things I like this week (month), vol. 35, pt.2

I like people and I like them to like me, but I wear my heart where God put it, on the inside.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald

. . .

A really lovely example of musicality.

. . .

 From a friend's facebook.

. . .

An art joke, a pop culture reference, and a social commentary all in one. I'd wear it. 

. . .

For a true writer each book should be a new beginning where he tries again for something that is beyond attainment. He should always try for something that has never been done or that others have tried and failed. Then sometimes, with great luck, he will succeed.
 - Ernest Hemingway, Nobel speech

. . .

 Currently my favorite blues video.

. . .

Spain, 1950, from the Sart's vintage reader submissions.

. . .

Found via my friend Elise's new blog. Her commentary is good, so I won't elaborate, but I do love me some Otis Redding. And songs you can blues to.

. . .

I love the look on her face. Tango, at its best, is something like a twelve minute long vertical cuddle to music. 

. . .

I am fascinated by this picture. I didn't like it at first, but the more I look at it, the more details I find that I enjoy - the iPhones face down on the blanket; six figures but no faces, which feels almost like what she's taking a picture of is not the people but the space between them; the incongruous stuffed animals beside the reclining girl who looks so relaxed as to be sleeping.

. . .

I love Like the Vodka for her humor, but she's a beautiful writer, too, and this post about the beach really resonates:

. . . like the distant roar deep within a conch shell pressed to your ear, my need to be near the ocean is muffled but omnipresent. I developed a fantasy around the age of nine or so that involved me as a grown-up, living alone by the sea.  Whenever I had trouble sleeping, I’d conjur a very specific image of where I lived and what I was doing to help me drift off. There was a cottage on stilts right on the beach, shelves and shelves of books, usually a dog but interestingly — no husband or kids. Very Gift from the Sea, years before I had actually read it. In my fantasy it was always cold and dark but I was tucked snugly away in the little house, wrapped in a white fisherman’s sweater at a desk by a window overlooking the moonlit beach. In my fantasy I was an accomplished writer and I’d be composing something brilliant on a typewriter. A manual typewriter. This was a mid-’70s fantasy, after all.

I still summon that image on nights when I can’t fall asleep, although some important details have changed. There’s room now for a husband and son, and I’ve traded up to a laptop. But outside the window of the little cottage the moon still shines bright and cold on the infinite water.

. . .

I have always loved this description, accurate or no. (Scans from here). 

. . .

Laura does not only make pictures, she makes good pictures.

. . .

The instrumental before and after the main part of the song is wonderful.

. . .


things I like this week (month), vol. 35, pt. 1

I'm not normally a fan of this woman's work, but something about this keeps drawing me back in. Perhaps I'm just in a water color mood.

. . .

Slim Paley did an entire post on watercolor, but these wallpapers were my favorite.

. . .

Zombie nouns. Ew. 

. . .

An essay about death and my lovely city (how strange to hear about it from an outsider's perspective):
After a few days of searching, I found an explanation in the words of an articulate Mexican woman when I asked her what was with all the comical skeleton drawings. “We do that on purpose,” she said, “dress them up like the rich. Look at you now. Who cares about your clothes? You’re still dead, aren’t you?”

Appropriate, considering that the Day of the Dead parade is just around the corner. I can't wait.

. . .

This guy did 30 portraits of himself on 30 different days doing 30 different drugs (or combos). The results are fascinating.

This is absinthe, and the one below is crystal meth.

. . .

An essay about the idiocy of the locks symbolizing love on Paris' bridges:

“The fools! They haven’t understood a thing about love, have they?” was the conclusion recently of a 23-year-old waiter at Panis, a cafe on the Left Bank with a view over Notre-Dame. At the heart of love à la française lies the idea of freedom. To love truly is to want the other free, and this includes the freedom to walk away. Love is not about possession or property. Love is no prison where two people are each other’s slaves. Love is not a commodity, either. Love is not capitalist, it is revolutionary. If anything, true love shows you the way to selflessness. 

To understand love in the French style, you need to go back to the 16th century and the emergence of the libertines. If today the word means “dissolute person,” in France it has also retained its 16th-century flavor, carrying with it an air of much-envied audacity and liberty. Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir famously never married and never lived together and, although a couple in the absolute sense of the term, they had lasting and meaningful relationships with strings of brilliant minds and pretty faces. They deemed jealousy bourgeois and banal. 

. . .

Neil Gaiman, as a child, climbing a drainpipe. From his facebook.

. . .

Here, here, and here.

. . .

11 songs inspired by literature.

. . . 

Real working tents (so the site boasts [I know nothing about tents]), but in awesome designs. This one is the best. I want it desperately.

. . .

Maynard, in a Playboy interview, about Arizona wine being awesome:
I have a blend that’s basically a Cab/Syrah/Petite Syrah blend with a dash of Mavasia in it — Anubis — that’s pretty solid; it just won a silver medal in the San Francisco International Wine Competition. This is the first year that an Arizona wine won not only a gold medal but a double gold medal. Three different A.Z. winemakers got medals this year: I got two medals, Tim White from Arizona Stronghold won a double gold for their Cabernet, and Page Springs Cellars got two silvers and a bronze. In a situation like that when you have three completely separate winemakers from different places in Arizona, for them to medal at all in a blind competition certainly speaks volumes.
. . .

(more to come)