Archive for the 'books, films & music' Category

ReadNex Poetry Squad

Friday, August 5th, 2011

“It doesn’t matter who you be, just be who you be. Be different.”

The Hudson Valley is packed with artists and it’s exciting to discover who is just down the road. I love these guys.

wild rosebush

Monday, June 27th, 2011


How it stands there against the dark
of this late rainy hour, young and clean,
swaying its generous branches
yet absorbed in its essence as rose;
with wide-open flowers already appearing,
each unsought and each uncared-for.
So, endlessly exceeding itself
and ineffably from itself come forth,
it calls the wanderer, who in evening contemplation
passes on the road:
Oh see me standing here, see how unafraid I am
and unprotected. I have all I need.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke


Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

When I lived in the city my connection to the weather and the seasons was very limited, the markers of change broad and unsubtle. Rain. Snow. Hot and sweaty. The day the leaves arrive on the trees.

Here, I look out the window and the grass looks 2 inches taller than yesterday, but has that sweet smell; the clover is blooming.

The peonies are here, gorgeous and brazen, then all of a sudden over, knocked out by the rain we wanted so badly.

The peas need to be picked daily… but not for long, and here’s the first strawberry. It tastes so good, shared between friends. Fruity communion.

Nature’s changing is fierce and constant. There’s an intensity not unlike riding the subway at rush hour, and it is tempting to turn the abundance and ferociousness of all this growth and plenty into another “should”, another chore, another reason to complain.

I hope I won’t do that and ignore the potential lesson — that life is plentiful and messy and overwhelmingly beautiful. And that just as we grieve the passing of one life, or season, or botched crop, another bursts open ahead.

“Listen, God love everything you love – and a mess of stuff you don’t. But more than anything else, God love admiration.

You saying God vain? I ast.

Naw, she say. Not vain, just wanting to share a good thing. I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.

What it do when it pissed off? I ast.

Oh, it make something else. People think pleasing God is all God care about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back.”

— Alice Walker (The Color Purple)

universal layout

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

Since moving upstate I’ve been using my library a ton. The catalog is online and inter-library loan means I can request books from throughout the region and then walk a block to pick them up. No months of waiting followed by hours of heavy schlepping on the subway. I am liking the country life.

I’ve been devouring my way through unabridged recorded books (secret sanity-preservers for those of us who work with our hands) as well as glossy, gorgeous books on home improvement, knitting, baking, and of course gardening.

I was a little disappointed with Designing the New Kitchen Garden by Jennifer Bartley. I think she shot most of her pictures on overcast days and they are not quite as yummy as I’d like.

Then I turned the page and saw this.

Look familiar?!

I’ve never seen the book before; I designed my layout over the winter, doodling variations on graph paper.

My raised beds and the ones in the book are the same shape, the same width and length. The only differences are that my layout allows more room at the entrances and between the outer and inner beds so you can get a wheelbarrow through easily, and I have a path around the perimeter.

Jung’s theory of the universal unconscious is looking good to me. Patterns seem to be out there, waiting for us to reach out and find them.

hope dances

Thursday, January 8th, 2009

I just had a birthday and my brother sent me the most amazing gift – a film he made using consecutive still photographs we shot when he visited me 3 years ago.

I had been commuting the full length of Manhattan several days a week and wanted somehow to describe the experience. Together we came up with the idea for this film and we spent hours riding the trains and taking pictures.

We didn’t shoot any film, just photographs one after another  (I can’t remember why) so when it came to editing it was an enormous task to stitch the photographs together, like an animation, and then edit that footage. But he did it, and I think it’s absolutely beautiful. What a gift! Thank you, Garth.


Thursday, May 1st, 2008

*shown here in Verdana – blasphemy!

The other night we watched Helvetica, a documentary about that particular typeface, typography and graphic design, and their role in our culture. Graphic design was my major in college so I had fun watching famous designers talk about their intense typographic passions.

Helvetica documentary still image

Like one of the designers in the movie, I was of the last generation to study graphic design pre-computers. Or at least that’s how I started; I witnessed the transition. Initially we had a full-time photo typesetter in the Visual Communications department. When we wanted to mock up a layout we would look at type books and either draw the letters by hand or else specify what we wanted her to generate for us. She printed the text on glossy photo paper and we used surgical scalpels to cut out the words and paste them in place. It was laborious.

When I started my degree there were two Apple Classics jammed in a corner of the animation studio. I used one once, during an afternoon computer introduction class. By the time I graduated half the print shop had been taken over by Macs running Quark, alongside a giant laser printer.

In my final year I was able to create a curve of text on-screen instead of by snipping the paper between each letter and then curving the tiny strip to shape, simultaneously trying not to get spray adhesive everywhere and my sleeve stuck to the page. A door opened too suddenly no longer meant half-an-hour on the floor, rounding up vital paper scraps.

Now obviously I love computers (or this blog wouldn’t be here) and designing layouts with current technology is dreamy in its ease. But watching the documentary took me back to the time I spent immersed in letterforms, and the physicality of building a layout with paper. Those techniques, while maddeningly slow, were in direct relationship with the materials, and that is how I work best. I like to build – with beads, with stitches, even with tiny strips of paper.

winged migration

Thursday, August 23rd, 2007

winged migration

The cats have always exhibited a great disinterest in television, except for the one time when Annabelle went behind the set to see if she could catch the cheetah on the screen.

Winged Migration was on PBS last night, and this time Annabelle was watching. Pretty soon Wolfie came along. According to some highly unscientific polling favorites were the Dancing Cranes and King Penguins.

the upholsterer

Sunday, July 29th, 2007

I’m listening to Dickens on tape. My favorite quote from Dombey and Son:

Paul sat as if he had taken life unfurnished
and the upholsterer were never coming.

plant sitter

Thursday, July 12th, 2007

Whenever I plant cuttings I think of The Plant Sitter. It’s a children’s book, about a little boy who takes care of his neighbors’ plants while they’re away on vacation.

One night he dreams that the plants grow out of control until they completely fill his house and knock down the walls. He goes to the library, reads gardening books, and prunes the plants, potting the cuttings and giving them to the neighbor children when they come home.

Repotting also makes me think of my favorite teacher in primary school who taught us how to care for green things; we had forty plants in our classroom. It pissed off the school administrator, who thought it was somehow damaging the building, and made us feel like we were on a mission, protecting the lives of the plants.

seven things

Saturday, May 5th, 2007

I’ve been tagged by Spirit Cloth for the “seven random facts/habits” meme, so here are mine:

  1. I’m addicted to historical novels by Dorothy Dunnett. One outcome is that while reading on the subway, this

    has been visible to all, and I have been suffering the imagined indignity of being perceived as a romance reader.

  2. …which leads me to my second thing. Whenever (rarely) I buy an issue of Martha Stuart Living, I feel as self-conscious as if I were buying porn. Perhaps these two really belong in a single “I get embarrassed while reading” category.
  3. I keep and categorize beads which are faulty and unusable: a bowl of white pearls, one of stones, and one for colored pearls and glass.
  4. Sometimes when I’m going to sleep I think, “Soon there will be coffee.”
  5. As a child I had two guinea pigs called Gin and Tonic. I don’t know who named them. I like liquid G&Ts, but that came later.
  6. I once shook hands with Lady Di.
  7. I can write backwards.

I pass it on: the next stop will be, pink nest, miss frugality, the brown wall, and buddha is.

The Rules
Start with 7 random facts/habits about yourself.
People who are tagged have to write their 7 things on their blog, then choose another 7 people {or in my case as many as possible} to get tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave them a comment to tell them they have been tagged and to read your blog.