Thursday, November 30, 2006

This a hanging bowl by Portland artist Carol Lebreton. She makes beautiful plates and bowls and wild rattling animals and plant pods all out of clay and magic. I bought this bowl for my sister even though I'm pretty sure I like it a lot more than she will. I try to support local artists when I can, especially around the holidays. It can be a challenge when it comes to buying for my relatives. My family has a fairly conservative, waspy aesthetic. I go to holiday craft and art fairs and everything is way too funky or retro or has too many pop culture references or is made out of felt. No matter how cute, useful or durable it may be, nobody in my family is going to be happy about a gift made of felt unless it's made by my four year old nephew.

I still say SHOP LOCAL even if it makes your family think you're weird. They probably think that anyway.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

It was nice to see one of these horses still hanging in there. They used to be all over the city, wherever these rings were built into the curbs. How could this not make you a little bit happier? But they get stolen, probably just because they can be. Fuckers.

Read more about the Horse Project and look at the cool pictures there.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Not today, but the feeling of today. In other words, better, softer, sweeter. This was taken from the car window on the road to the beach where I will be in three days. No computers. No clients. Just storm watching and fire watching, whiskey and hot tubs. Aaah.

Monday, November 27, 2006

I went to this school in the corner of Vermont to watch fireflies and to listen. I came away with a new pile of debt and a few acquaintances that occasionally feel like friends. I don't feel nostalgic for the place. The irritating combination of boredom and fear that pervaded my days there will keep me from ever longing for them back. But there is something that nags. Surrounded by those flashes of talent and the steady flow of ambition, it was easy to believe I was a writer. Now, over a year later, I struggle to maintain that belief. While I generally succeed, the effort often leaves me ragged.

Pardon the whining. Just suffering a bit of that writer's isolation I've heard so much about. Good stuff.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

There is no adequate caption I could write for this catalogue photo. I can't stop looking at it. I can't stop thinking that if I don't buy some knitted neck warmers this man will drive his son to my house and the boy will sneak into my bedroom and kill me with an injection of poison, expertly delivered.

This whole site is chock full of oddly compelling knitwear and aerobics clothes and art.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

When I'm waiting to go home after the gym, I sit and look at this sign across the street from the bus stop. Apparently, there's great, I mean GREAT opportunities to be had in selling jerky over the internet. The patriotic banners and endearing handwritten plea almost had me convinced. Plus, I kept reading the first part of their website as FUTURE ME AT and while I didn't know what it meant to future someone, I thought it sounded interesting.

Friday, November 24, 2006

I highly recommend the red umbrella. People around here don't use umbrellas as much as you'd expect in such a rainy climate. It takes a steady downpour before most people do anything but pull the hood up on their raincoat and duck their heads. But today I ran my errands under cover of my new red umbrella and found it actually made the thick, flat, grayness of the morning seem a little less oppressive.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanks for a grand meal lovingly cooked and served to both myself and our cat.
Thanks for two kinds of chocolate pie.
Thanks for a day of doing nothing I didn't want to do.
Thanks for my family (in some far away state).
Thanks for my friends.
Thanks for this little life.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Tonight, I went to pick up a DVD and while waiting in line I picked a copy of "The Garden of the Finzi Continis" off the Foreign Film Oscar Winners shelf. Out jumped this crazy bug as if it had been waiting for days, maybe months, for someone to release it from its prison behind this movie box. I stifled a cry of suprise and watched as this big, brown, winged bug fled to the back of the man two places up from me. And there it sat. And it didn't move. And nobody seemed to notice it, not even the man on whose back it sat. Should I have tapped him on the shoulder and said, "Excuse me, you have a giant bug on your back?" Should I have lunged forward, over the shoulder of the person in front of me in order to flick the nasty beast off the poor unknowing patron? Should I just have left the Finzi Continis alone, knowing I had no intention of renting them? Even as the man approached the checkout counter, the bug held on, waiting, perhaps, for a free ride out into the cool, damp air.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Ah, the street of broken dreams, shattered hopes and now...Road Rage! Apparently, sometime yesterday a guy in his car got pisssed about some kids crossing against the light at one of the main intersections on Hawthorne. The guy parks, gets out of his car and starts yelling at the kids. A viscious beating ensues. Next thing you know, the driver is slumped outside of Starbucks and bleeding all over the sidewalk. Idiots all around!

Business owners around here worry about surviving in a town that has a new chic shopping district popping up every season. They hang banners and buy decorative medallions. They throw parties and street fairs. They periodically rip down all the flyers stapled to the poles. But none of that is going to change the fact that mixed in with the interesting, intelligent and wonderful people of this neighborhood are a bunch of assholes that stalk the streets and make shopping here an adventure more than a joy. Despite this, I always breath a sigh of relief once I'm back on this side of the river. My funny little home.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Is this spider torture? Sean and I threw several pieces of Pirate's Booty up into the web this guy has built over my sink. I'd never seen a spider really work, you know? He wrapped this piece of fluff up and tossed it out of his web in less than a minute. I wish I had a fly to offer instead, but, alas, no. I wonder how long they can live without sustenance? Do they insist on staying the course even if the position they've put themselves is detrimental? Or do they cut and run knowing that, ultimately, surviving is more important than saving face amongst their spider peers?

Sunday, November 19, 2006

This picture has been hanging in my living room on loan from my amazing painter-friend, Elaine Close, since she was my roommate years ago. Sometimes, thinking about Elaine, myself or any number of other friends, I start to wonder what happened to throw us all off the "normal" societal course. We are college educated and many of us own houses, but beyond that, there are no marriages or babies or retirement investments. Usually I pay no attention to my life in comparison with some vague national average, but then I visit with relatives or hear a news report about the stock market or, as I watch the news, feel relief sweep over my childless life and I'm reminded that, perhaps, I've gone astray.

Is it because I'm a writer and have surrounded myself with artists who, apparently, were either not listening or not interested in the lessons of their parents? Is it some sort of generational thing, or some sort of flaw in the liberal arts education system? I'm not sure. But here we are. All of us surviving despite our lack of 401Ks, PTAs or PDAs. There will always be those who don't understand, and sometimes, I will be one of them. Still, it's nice to know that alternatives not only exist but that they actually work.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Check out this clip from a documentary titled
I caught this on OPB some time ago, and thought about it again today when I saw this graffiti coverup. It's a great piece that is both funny and serious and haunting and silly. Plus, Matt McCormick, the guy who made it, is a Portlander.

Friday, November 17, 2006

I'd never seen this particular truck before. It's a truck for Powell's, and yes, that's a guy reading Keats and, no, it doesn't say Powell's anywhere on it either. Anyone who reads seriously knows about Powell's. Despite a little anti-unionization thing they had going on a few years back, the place still rocks. There are no comfy chairs to sit in, soft music to listen to or small, manageable-sized bookshelves to browse. It is huge and ugly and often overwhelming and that's why it's easy to get lost in a book along one of its cavernous, poorly lit aisles. Check out the Interviews and Q&A sections on the Powell's website.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

No, that's not a black and white photo. Tonight I'm planning on spending as much time in the living room as possible. I'm a bad judge of distances, but I think if my giant cedar gets blown over by the insane winds we're having, I'll be okay as long as I'm on the far end of the couch. I made the mistake of peeking into my back yard. If I weren't so worried about the whole thing coming down, I would have enjoyed watching the graceful and wild dance of its branches.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Enlarge this photo to find out what Daddy Bush was served "for his pleasure"

I had to milk these San Francisco photos for one more day, because despite the vacation, the universe is insisting I slow down even more, hence, the head cold that seems to be getting worse by the minute. OK. OK. I get it.

Monday, November 13, 2006

I somehow doubt that Aria Antiques existed when I lived in the Bay Area as a wee lass of twenty, but the street it sits on was one I often frequented. There was a store on Grant Ave. once, its green walls lined with postcards from every era. Postcards fit my budget perfectly back then and so it became one of my favorite shops. If Aria was there at the time, it must have been too expensive for my tastes. This wonderful, weird and spooky shop had piles of these insect diagrams like the one in the window and anatomy diagrams and a map of the defense plans for the city of Paris in WWII. All of it cost far more than a giant stack of postcards, so while I coveted the graceful muscle man, I left empty handed.

The postcard shop was gone and so were my twenty-year old notions of moving to that mysterious little loop of the world. Back then, it was a place whose air felt right in my lungs, as if some pocket in my brain still held the taste of my first breath. This time, draped on the arm of my common law, there was a stench to the city that was only rarely alleviated by a whiff of eucalyptus. That pocket in my brain must have sealed itself off. I have no regret for the paths I didn't take, but there's always room for wonder.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Who stops on their walk across the Golden Gate Bridge to express their hatred this way? Of course, I also wonder who writes a thing like "Bite Me" in wet cement. Tagging also baffles me. If the taggers actually had balls and tagged someone who deserved it, it might make a tiny little bit of sense, but to tag some mom and pop store is just stupid. It's rebellion that has absolutely no intelligent component. And that's today's rant.

San Francisco, on the other hand, was sunny and fun. We ate a lot of donuts and chinese food and burritos and more coffee than any sane person should have. I didn't see a single cat the entire time we were there, not a single one peeking out of a window. As much fun as I had, I can't entirely get behind a place like that. The great thing about dropping down into a bustling city is that it reminds me of how much I love the slow green pace of home.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The bad news is that this is the only spot of blue in the sky this morning. The good news is that this is a spot of blue in the sky this morning.

Just because it's easy to be cynical doesn't mean you shouldn't be. There is an endless supply of fuel for that fire. However, today and maybe for the next few days I am allowing a bit of optimism into my outlook. Afterall, sometimes the sheep accidentally end up following a good path (okay, even my optimism has to be tinged with cynicism...sorry). Sometimes the idiots shoot themselves in the foot. The sheep will eventually stray. The old idiots will hand the gun off to the new idiots. But today, I breath a sigh of relief. So long, Rummy. Santorum is toast. Our local mean little man was sent packing. And even though this happened days ago, this hypocrite was exposed for what his obviously soulless eyes have been saying all along, i.e. I love gay prostitutes and meth!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

It's taken me so long to figure out how to work my new camera and download a photo that I have no energy left for a celebratory rant against the republicans. Maybe tomorrow. Hopefully, tomorrow.

Monday, November 06, 2006

The key to listening to the universe is finding a good interpreter. What does it mean when I trip on the curb and smash my camera, and injure both the knee and shoulder that were already hurting? What does it mean when I have to chase my undeposited checks down the street and save them from rushing down the sewer (unlike earlier this week when the checks simply fell out of my pocket and were lost, unbeknownst to me)? What does it mean when I get teary over an ad against a local anti-abortion ballot measure?

Oh sure, I have some ideas about what I should do with all these signs, but really, my interpreter is EXTREMELY slow. I won't know what I should have done until I am long past the point of being able to do it. I can only hope that I'm supposed to take a short vacation in a few days because, damn it, that's what I'm going to do.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

I don't know where my Nov. 3rd post disappeared to. Maybe I subconsciously deleated it because I wrote about how it's bad to ignore signs from the universe telling you to SLOW DOWN, STEP AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER, READ A BOOK. Oh, and WRITE A BOOK, the whole book too, not just the first three chapters over and over. Ok? Ok.

Or, if you're Julie Wilson at Seen Reading you will stop and make up stories about people and their books. Clever lady.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

I just finished reading this New Yorker article on the writer Susan-Lori Parks.

“When you wake up, and look at your lover or husband, or whatever, that’s a way of honoring your commitment. But then you get out of bed and say another kind of prayer when you sit down at your desk. I wake up every day and say, ‘Yes! I’m a writer!’ When you make that commitment, all sorts of things move toward you.”

This sort of statement always inspires me at first because I think, "Sure, I can wake up and say 'I'm a writer' and all the stuff I need to be a writer will find me." And then I get a little annoyed because there is clearly something more going on with this woman. She wrote a play a day for a whole year! She hears voices and turns those voices into characters in her plays! I'm not saying she's manic, but she's certainly not sleepy. Do you have to have that kind of energy to really be a writer? Can't a person plod along, take naps and dream of beautiful sentences? That kind of thing won't win you the Pulitzer, but it's still not a bad way to be.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Ignore my obvious discomfort with having this guy's arm around me (he was a good friend of mine that year, but now I have no idea what his name is) and take note of the thrift shop threads, mash of necklaces and handsewn purse that were my staples in my late teens/early twenties. I hated the idea of a new, unscuffed pair of shoes or jeans that were unfaded. I always wore an olive green cardigan. When one of them wore out, I'd go find another.

Yesterday, preparing for my much unwanted stint as a juror at Gresham Circuit Court, I realized I no longer own any funky clothes. I thought if I dressed a little weird they would be less likely to put me on the jury, but there was nothing I could do. Those days are gone. My last thrift store dress was tossed out last year. And yet, despite my entirely respectable outfit I sat in the court room and told two lawyers, a judge and all my fellow jurors that I have an inherent distrust of the police. That girl with the shaved head and moth-eaten sweater would have been proud.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Short hair, long hair, no hair. The many faces of my young adulthood. I'm still friends with some of the other people in those photos. Some have drifted away. Others have been purposely cut. Such is the way. Regardless, I wonder what they are doing these days and if they ever have fits of slightly repulsed, slightly anguished nostalgia the way I have lately. I blame it on all the alterna-teen music I've been listening to. The Smiths are really very funny. Joy Division and Bauhaus and Brian Eno. Silliness all of it. And maybe it's because one of my characters is fixated on his past. Or maybe it's because I've been watching a lot of Stranger's With Candy episodes, which despite it's wonderful absurdity, rings a note of truth.