a painting each day

i'm so pleased to have found artist ann elizabeth schlegel's painting-a-day-blog. i happened upon it while in the numb state i was in a couple days ago, after i heard about daisy from kay. i loved the way ms. schlegel rendered everyday objects like bottles of tabasco and boxes of good-n-plenty. when i found the painting of the milkbone dog biscuits, with its colors so true i could remember sneaking a bite of one in secret as child, and with daisy's memory so close and stinging, i was beside myself.

one thing that i think sets ann elizabeth apart from other painting-a-day weblogs is that she accompanies each original oil painting with a little history of the thing she has painted. so along with the milkbones, there is the story of milkbones:

"Milk-Bone is a brand of dog biscuit. It was created in 1908 by the F. H. Bennett Biscuit Company, which operated a bakery on the Lower East Side of New York City. Originally named Maltoid, the biscuit was a bone-shaped treat made from minerals, meat products, and milk. Sometime between 1915 and 1926 the biscuit was simply named "Milk-Bone", owing to the high composition of cow's milk. In 1931 the bakery was acquired by the National Biscuit Company (now Nabisco). The biscuit was the only Bennett product carried over after the acquisition.

Over the next few decades, the Milk-Bone was expanded to include a number of different flavors. The marketing focus was also shifted from Milk-Bone being merely a dog treat to a product that promoted cleaner teeth and better breath. Nabisco, under the ownership of Kraft Foods, sold the Milk-Bone rights over to Del Monte Foods of San Francisco, California in May of 2006."

the milkbone painting is sold, but there are many others, just as wonderful, each one saturated with its own deliciousness to memory, each just a hundred dollars to have as your own.


miss daisy

for kay and sean

one wants to look sidelong at death
as something partially visible
or only distantly heard
a cruel inexorable seacliff far off,
privately owned

i'd like to speak and never be at a loss
for words, negotiate sadness as easily as children
trace around the periphery
of their outstretched hands with crayon
as sure as i am unsure

trail a tangible border around the contour
of her absence
inscribe a shining rim along the verge
of her diminishing quiddity
that is so lonesome and purifying
and colossally clear
so simple and frank and and transmittably solacing

that it would enfold you in its sepals
and bestow you with a curative and anaesthetic pollen
while blocking out everything not germane
to the magnitude of your vital
and wooly grief

and afterwards set you down gently
in the afternoon sun
blinking and swaying as if after
the saddest of matinées

into a redolence awash with clarity and collapse
sending you luminous and fierce
and altered and amplified
into the new usual



every february a small carnival sets up in the fairgrounds parking lot just across from my house. the trailers and flatbeds start arriving on tuesday and by wednesday everything is up and running. usually by thursday i've got to wait until midnight for the rise and fall of screams to die down, and by sunday i'm filled with loathing for its monotonous music and neon.

this week's rain has turned the carnival sad and ghostly, has elicited from me a tenderness toward its empty swings and pointed tents, its tilting bear ride and dragon roller coaster for babies.

pictures such as these are better black and white.

but on the periphery of the carnival, i came around to the back of a trailer. its occupant, in a desire to make a temporary home homier, had placed an artificial pot of sunflowers outside the door.

needless to say, this warmed my heart.


a new blog on the block

local dialect is my friend karen's new blog, and i'm so pleased that she started it. its focus is, as she puts it, on "the beauty and the sometimes quirky details of place." she and i both live in the same town, but in reading her patient and vivid observations about petaluma, i realize i tend to take the town i live in much for granted. were i to read about petaluma through her eyes while i inhabited some other city, i'd want to move to petaluma right away. but i know it's the "habit" in inhabit that makes everywhere you don't live seem more alive and exciting. thanks to karen i'm seeing it again as the treasure that it is. i've decided to start a series of photos tracking the progress of this new awareness. this is the first one.

karen's most recent post pertains to the french class we both attend on thursday mornings; her response to the word "pique-nique," which we learned yesterday was an ancient word. as modern as it sounds, its roots go all the way back to the etruscans: pique as something picked at, nique as a little thing without value, to stand for things brought along on an excursion, and eaten with the fingers.

our lesson yesterday began with words for different sensations of taste: spicy, hot, peppery, salty. this led us to piquant, and a more involved discussion of flavor: amer, acide, aigre, apre. bitter, acidic, sour, acrid, each distinct.
and led us to pique, and the picnic, the eating we do in the open air. later in the lesson somehow, we came around full circle. laure reminded us that the stratosphere keeps all earth's air contained, therefore we are all breathing each other's air and the air breathed by people who lived thousands of years ago. the first picnickers in what seemed like their separate spheres. we're breathing their air and using their words.

"comment en sommes-nous venues ici?" asked laure. how did we get here? how did we come around to this. language is a form of travel, of public transportation. if you are the one doing the pedaling, you say "a bicyclette." if you're riding on the back of someone else's bicycle, you say "en bicyclette." if you go by train, by the conveyance of something much larger than you and you are not involved in making it go, you say "par."

by. on. in.
laure says, "the preposition is such a misunderstood and neglected little thing."

she says this kind of delightful thing all the time.


transitory homes

camilla put in a link to artist do ho suh in her blog yesterday, and ever since i saw his "perfect house" installations i haven't been able to stop thinking about them.

here he created entire interiors out of translucent nylon sewn to shape. box pleats and gathers. a mere slip of a house.

a seashore home and the conquest of mildew, but not frailty. use a large needle and don't worry if it grows blunt.



must needs a doorbell, for no one would hear you if you knocked.


"flowers" (post-glimpse)

this is what happens: after seeing the word "flowers" written on my bank teller's hand the day after valentine's day (presumably so he wouldn't forget to buy his girlfriend flowers on that obligatory day), i become subsequently hyper-aware of "flowers." i become the goalie of "flowers." none get past me without my noticing them.



the day after valentine's i went to the bank. i noticed, while my teller was doing my transaction, that he'd written the word "flowers" on the back of one hand. the word had partially faded, probably from his morning shower. i have thought about that fading reminder several times over the last few days. it is more pronounced in my mind for the fact that i glimpsed it faded.

this is a photo of my plum blossoms budding. it has been clothesline weather for days, though the forecast promises some rain. i like it both ways, i've developed a marked admiration for the weather in all of its forms. i suspect it's an age thing, for when i was child i remember puzzling over how fascinated adults were with the weather, and it seemed to me that the older the adult, the more fervent he or she seemed about the weather.

now i've arrived at the age of weather zealotry. i never check the forecast, preferring to get it by word of mouth. or just get wind of it on my own.


my spring chicken and a haiku

sunday at the tearoom,
someone sneezes violently
no one blesses her



30 days until spring

what changes
neatly turning in the blue air
punctuated by white moths

and i am no match for my stuck windows
painted shut last september

so i open the doors

to the drone of lawnmowers
the hearsay of flies

and i'm ready for something
that knows i'm expecting it
and it's all i can do


head over heels over mutual appreciation

when i say "this is a REALLY GOOD MOVIE" i'm never exaggerating. writer-director-actor andrew bujalski is brilliant at portraying a world that is realistic in the best possible awkward and honest way reality can be.
just go read some of the reviews on it over at rotten tomatoes: saying things like "frighteningly intuitive and alive in numerous layers, even when it looks like nothing's going on," and calling it "the dark side of waldorf education."

in addition, it turned me on to bishop allen, the band i was heretofore unfamiliar with and am now more than a little dopey over.

friday flickr feature: throw your kids into the air!

the throw-your-kids-into-the-air pool on flickr makes me wish i still had some small kids so i could throw them in the air too.

go here to get the photostreams:
this one was my absolute favorite but it wouldn't let me upload it.

happy friday!


this hall is where we keep the bloggers

i love married to the sea, which i found through bb, the best information architect ever.

they have some fantastic prints for sale, such as this one which i love:

and some equally unique tshirts like this one (though it's sold sold out at this time):

but married to the sea is also a place where you can go and get a daily comic made by drew and natalie dee, like the blogger one above, and like the strange hat exchange below:

i like them so much i think they're headed for the sidebar.


a sweet old fashioned sado-valentine

and a little love haiku by apollinaire:

"your tongue
a goldfish swimming in the bowl
of your voice."


good goodwill find

"but not for physical advantages alone do we of the Young Men's Christian Association commend dancing, for here is provided also a medium...for destroying that feeling of diffidence and for correcting that shyness of manner which is best overcome by actual contact through an activity that provides the opportunity to meet, get acquainted, see, and be seen."


notes from the writer's almanac

"It's the birthday of the novelist Mary McGarry Morris, born in Meriden, Connecticut (1943). She took 10 years to write her first novel. No one knew she was writing it in all that time. Her neighbors noticed that she was going out less and less, but no one knew why. Morris didn't want to tell anyone she was writing a novel because she didn't want people to ask how it was going."

it's also boris pasternak's, bertold brecht's, and eva pfaff's birthday (west german tennis star). i'm so fond of her name. after emily's contest over at the black apple, my infatuation with sibilant names has been reconstituted.

the photo, by not the fishes, is one of my friday flickr favorites that patiently waited until saturday.

i think you'll like charity shopper's photos too. this one in particular brings a smile to my face:

"have a banana"


moi, moi-meme, et moi

there is no real equivalent to "me, myself, and i" in french, at least none that laure, my french teacher, could think of. technically, this translates to "me, myself, and me." nonetheless, i love the way it sounds. it makes me want to make up a song out of it, a song of myself. a different one than walt's. waltz. a very ordinary sentence like "the last time i saw your glasses they were in the desk drawer" reaches such musical heights when it's said in french: "elles etaient sur la table la derniere fois que je les ai vues." no wait. that's another sentence: "they were on the table the last time i saw them." they are no longer on the table. the glasses keep moving in a very mysterious manner: "la derniere fois que j'ai vu votre lunettes, elles etaient dans le tirior du bureau." these are the things that songs are made of: the ordinary turned suddenly mysterious again. the surprise so familiar, it is almost foreign.


why it doesn't feel tickly and pleasant when you tickle yourself

"The answer lies at the back of the brain in an area called the cerebellum, which is involved in monitoring movements. Our studies at University College London have shown that the cerebellum can predict sensations when your own movement causes them but not when someone else does. When you try to tickle yourself, the cerebellum predicts the sensation and this prediction is used to cancel the response of other brain areas to the tickle.

Two brain regions are involved in processing how tickling feels. The somatosensory cortex processes touch and the anterior cingulate cortex processes pleasant information. We found that both these regions are less active during self-tickling than they are during tickling performed by someone else, which helps to explains why it doesn't feel tickly and pleasant when you tickle yourself. Further studies using robots showed that the presence of a small delay between your own movement and the resulting tickle can make the sensation feel tickly. Indeed, the longer the delay, the more tickly it feels. So it might be possible to tickle yourself, if you are willing to invest in a couple of robots!"

link via del.icio.us.


"one of the things i know about writing is this:

spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it all, right away, every time. do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. the impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. something more will arise for later, something better. these things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. you open your safe and find ashes." --annie dillard

photo by kanako sasaki. link thanks to lena corwin


my tribute to 3191

3191: a year of mornings is my favorite photo blog. the premise is this: two friends who live 3191 miles apart each post a photo every morning, creating an unplanned diptych that, every day, is sumptuous and inspiring. the photos mostly capture fragments of what is ordinary about mornings: crusts of leftover bread on a plate, a toy left on the floor, rings left by a water glass on the counter. the trouble with the things i see everyday is that i cease to see how lovely they are. i get to thinking i need to go somewhere else when i want to find interesting things. 3191 always reminds me how i can elevate the ordinary in my own life, and see even the most mundane things with a fresh and admiring eye.



"when the weak want to give an impression of strength they hint meaningfully at their capacity for evil...

...it is by its promise of a sense of power that the evil often attracts the weak." --eric hoffer

i have this ongoing trouble with a chef at work. this quote helps me remember that his meanness is a direct result of his obvious deficiencies, his long list of shortcomings, his looming cowardice.
this quote helps to articulate why so many people who end up as leaders are rotten at it.

i just have to say that the poor man in the encyclopedia photo is probably not evil or weak. well, he may be, but he may also be kind and incredibly courageous. it's just that the patch and strange contraption give him a sinister air.


burst: a romp and a whoopee

is, in karen penley's own words, a "traveling circus of art, making basic principles of art fun and accessible, broadening the vision of young audiences.here's the website. i went to her first "burst" performance on friday, to be at the helm of the video camera, and it was just wonderful. she incorporates dance, music, lavish costumes and props, and the brilliant animation of sean jones to enhance "burst's" antics and surprises. as you can see, i was fascinated with how the shadows interacted with the animation itself, introducing a third element, a mezzanine. the kids, there were about two hundred of them, went berserk with delight. after the show, one girl crept up shyly to ask for karen's autograph. what karen is doing is unique, bringing the unabashed power of play in learning to an environment that, in my opinion, could really use a little fluffing up.

for this is how the school principal, standing very rigid, introduced the show to the children:

"well, this is kind of an artistic thing, and i hope you like it, but be a good audience."



pungent adjectives of disesteem

i just got a subscription to thinkmap's visual thesaurus, a delightful online tool. i think it might just be the best twenty dollars i ever spent. enter a word into its machine and you get back an entire constellation of words related to it in varying shades and meaning, which you can then click on and see a veritable fireworks display of new words shower out from that origin. i just can't fully express my happiness over its design and potential scope. and i swear this is not an ad.

lots of great links to be had through this site as well. for example, i found the phobialist there. it has been in the making for several years and is the most extensive list of phobias i've yet to see. who knew there was a bonafide name for the fear of sourness?

of northern lights, dinner conversations, and sexual questions?