Thursday, April 30, 2009

William Carlos Williams

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white


Yeah, yeah, it's blue. What of it?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Swine Flu

Just kidding.

I am on break from a conference where I am really getting my nerd on (remind to tell you about spatial data and the problems it poses for confidentiality), and it turns out people still need books and stuff, so I will make this quick.

I know it seems like sewing has taken over everything, but I have, in fact been knitting. Indeed, I have finished the Shetland Triangle:

Before Blocking

Pretty, huh?

The act of blocking* is not my favorite thing to do, but it is transformative:

Shetland Triangle

From this:

Before Blocking Detail

To this:


with just some water, wire and pins.

*For the non-knitters: blocking is the use of water or steam to shape a piece of fabric. It can be as simple as soaking a finished sweater and laying it flat to dry, to meticulously stretching and pinning out a round shawl bit by bit and tapping it gently with steam. This was not quite so meticulous: I soaked it, rolled it in a towel to get most of the water out, threaded some large gauge wire through the top to keep it straight and then pinned out each point (and because it was fairly dry by the time I'd finished, I sprayed it with water). Natural fibers have, to greater or lesser degree, memory: once unpinned, the shawl stays pretty much in the pinned out state. If I need to wash the shawl, I will need to pin it out again, but maybe not so aggressively.

That is all. Back to the conference.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Bad Day Made Better

I am in the middle of hormone hell: run down, crampy, irritable in the extreme. I'd take a couple of days off of work, but it is a very busy time (for not being particularly tied to the academic calendar, I sure get busy at the end of the semester). Plus, I forgot to take an allergy pill and don't have any with me. Why yes, I am on a fast train to Crazy Town.

But I watched two videos of "Across the Universe" which made at least 8 minutes of my morning a little more pleasant.

Fiona Apple's version is just lovely. In the background a bunch of guys cheerfully destroy a soda shop.

Rufus Wainwright's version does not allow embedding, but you can go to YouTube to see it. It is also a lovely version, and his video is more on the surreal side.

I'm hard pressed to say who is prettier, Fiona or Rufus.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Today in Poetry Month

Nikki Giovanni. My mom gave us Spin a Soft Black Song when it came out and it was one of my favorite books growing up (if you can find a first edition, I highly recommend it. For some reason the illustrations are different). My dad and I saw her speak several years ago. When we met her, he thanked her for helping him raise his kids, which I imagine she found...odd. I don't know exactly what he meant, but her poetry advocates having a strong sense of self and of pride. "Ego Tripping" comes from her next children's book, published in 1973. It is one of my favorite pieces of writing.

Ego Tripping (there may be a reason why)

I was born in the congo
I walked to the fertile crescent and built
the sphinx
I designed a pyramid so tough that a star
that only glows every one hundred years falls
into the center giving divine perfect light
I am bad

I sat on the throne
drinking nectar with allah
I got hot and sent an ice age to europe
to cool my thirst
My oldest daughter is nefertiti
the tears from my birth pains
created the nile
I am a beautiful woman

I gazed on the forest and burned
out the sahara desert
with a packet of goat's meat
and a change of clothes
I crossed it in two hours
I am a gazelle so swift
so swift you can't catch me

For a birthday present when he was three
I gave my son hannibal an elephant
He gave me rome for mother's day
My strength flows ever on

My son noah built new/ark and
I stood proudly at the helm
as we sailed on a soft summer day
I turned myself into myself and was
men intone my loving name
All praises All praises
I am the one who would save

I sowed diamonds in my back yard
My bowels deliver uranium
the filings from my fingernails are
semi-precious jewels
On a trip north
I caught a cold and blew
My nose giving oil to the arab world
I am so hip even my errors are correct
I sailed west to reach east and had to round off
the earth as I went
The hair from my head thinned and gold was laid
across three continents

I am so perfect so divine so ethereal so surreal
I cannot be comprehended except by my permission

I mean...I...can fly
like a bird in the sky...

Monday, April 20, 2009

Saturday Fun

On Saturday we went to our friends' Craig and Chrissy's for a party. They have a farm with many animals (including, for your spinning jealousy, Shetland sheep). As it turns out, it is baby goat season. Len plotzed.

So cute!

For the last several months, he has been trying to talk me into getting goats, I imagine the pressure will mount.

Can I keep it?

While that face is difficult to resist, you only have to see all the poo to know what a terrible idea it would be.

Mama and baby goats

No. We are not getting goats!

Baby and Lizzy

We got Lizzy from Craig and Chrissy. They didn't want to keep her because they already had two dogs and a third was too much (do I know that feeling!). But within a few months, they ended up with a third dog anyway (I know how that goes). Apparently Baby was headed for a dog fighting ring and they could not allow that to happen. It looks like Lizzy and Baby are good friends. They are not, I don't know why, some sort of canine politics. Lizzy escaped confinement and spent the afternoon charming everyone.

Hula Hoop Girls

Hula hoops are still entertaining.

Hula Hoop Girls

I don't know who this kid is, but isn't she cute? She didn't quite have the coordination yet to make the thing work.

Sleeping Piggies

Happy pigs.

The weather couldn't have been more perfect (Sunday was 40s and raining). I'm thinking we should round up a bunch of nieces and nephews and take a field trip before the goats become louder and less cute.

No. We can't have goats.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Let me tell you how it will be
There's one for you, nineteen for me
Cos I'm the taxman, yeah, I'm the taxman

Should five per cent appear too small
Be thankful I don't take it all
Cos I'm the taxman, yeah I'm the taxman

--George Harrison

Don't worry, I'm not really going to talk about taxes. However, it seems a boxed set of remastered versions of all 12 original Beatles albums, plus "Magical Mystery Tour" and "Past Masters" (a 2-cd set of non-album singles) will be released on September 9. That is 24 days before my birthday. You know, just in case you were wondering.

In other news, we have the quilt project, which has become quite a Something. "Thorn in my side" would indicate that I am not enjoying it and, unfortunately, I am. "Puzzle" isn't right either. Here is the problem:


I have all of the squares done and I love them. I have a layout that I like (the pictures are horrible and I will not subject you to them). But the fabric which will outline the squares is making me crazy. My original thought was white, which was nixed by general consensus (including by Len). I went to the quilt shop earlier this week and layed squares out on fabric. None of the solids worked and this is what we came up with. I am not convinced.

Sashing Detail

A comment on Flickr summed it up for me perfectly: it is both a bit too busy and there isn't enough contrast in the squares where yellow is predominate. I have a spring green on order for the binding on order, when that comes, I will see if it will work. If so, I'll use this for the binding. If not, my forehead may get bloody from the banging on the wall. Actually, JoAnn's linen section may have a solution.

In the meantime, please enjoy this picture of Len's niece as she calmly pigs out on peanut butter cups:


Monday, April 13, 2009

Today in Poetry Month

Leonard Cohen. With a few exceptions, I tend to think of Cohen as a poet who happens to set his writing to music (I can't imagine that is an unusual opinion). This one is from Songs of Love and Hate (and his first "Best Of..."). I love Tori Amos' cover on Tower of Song.

Lyrics via Cohen's official website.

Famous Blue Raincoat

It's four in the morning, the end of December
I'm writing you now just to see if you're better
New York is cold, but I like where I'm living
There's music on Clinton Street all through the evening.

I hear that you're building your little house deep in the desert
You're living for nothing now, I hope you're keeping some kind of record.

Yes, and Jane came by with a lock of your hair
She said that you gave it to her
That night that you planned to go clear
Did you ever go clear?

Ah, the last time we saw you you looked so much older
Your famous blue raincoat was torn at the shoulder
You'd been to the station to meet every train
And you came home without Lili Marlene

And you treated my woman to a flake of your life
And when she came back she was nobody's wife.

Well I see you there with the rose in your teeth
One more thin gypsy thief
Well I see Jane's awake --

She sends her regards.
And what can I tell you my brother, my killer
What can I possibly say?
I guess that I miss you, I guess I forgive you
I'm glad you stood in my way.

If you ever come by here, for Jane or for me
Your enemy is sleeping, and his woman is free.

Yes, and thanks, for the trouble you took from her eyes
I thought it was there for good so I never tried.

And Jane came by with a lock of your hair
She said that you gave it to her
That night that you planned to go clear

-- Sincerely, L. Cohen

Friday, April 10, 2009

This and That

Len got more chicks on Tuesday.

Bully and Fuzz Ball

The little black one is especially adorable -- her breed is Black Sex Link (I should get some interesting keyword hits from that one!).


Cyndy asked what kind of chickens we have: the yellow ones are dinner, the brown ones are some sort of hybrid which are good layers. We also have Aracunas, Rhode Island Reds and something else. They're Len's project, they kind of freak me out (and rooster scares me).

I've been mostly silent this week because I have been working hard on a presentation about blogging. I find it highly amusing that I should considered an expert on anything related to computers and their wacky ways, but there you are.

Barb S. and ...

Valerie both nominated me for awards. They are such lovely compliments and I deeply appreciate them. I'll take the opportunity to point out some blogs I've been enjoying recently.

Deus Ex Malcontent often has very interesting commentary on the media (he was a producer at CNN until they found out that he had a blog).

Film In the Fridge has an amazing design sense and is at least partly to blame for my new quilt obsession.

Habitual -- I love her photography.

Pretty to Think So is a high school English teacher and has interesting things to say about books, music, pretty pictures and the dumb things teenagers do.

The Crabby Scientist -- It is a good thing to be reminded of just how hilarious my brother is (my personal favorite posts were about their camping trip trip last summer, part 1 and part 2).

Margaret and Helen -- Very funny political commentary.

Flashlight Worthy and The Second Pass -- Books. Need I say more?

Pause for Breath is visual poetry.

NPR's As a Matter of Fact is the NPR librarians' blog. NPR librarian is my dream job.

Monday, April 06, 2009

National Poetry Month

Valerie's recent post reminds me that it is National Poetry Month. My intention is to commemorate the month by posting poems by some of my favorite poets, not every day, but I will try for at least once a week.

This first one is by Hayden Carruth, a poet who I was a little obsessed with in the mid-1980s. This is from Doctor Jazz.


Let me tell you, my dear, about the heron I saw

by the edge of Dave Haflett's lovely little pond.

A great blue heron, standing perfectly still, where it had been

studying Dave's rainbows and brookies beneath the surface.

And I too stood perfectly still—as perfectly as I could—

not twenty feet away, each of us contemplative and quiet.

Communication occurred. I felt it. Not just simple

wonder and apprehension, but curiosity and concern.

It was evident. The great bird in its heraldic presence,

so beautifully marked, so poised against the dark green water.

I in my raggedness, with my cigarette smoldering, my eyes

squinting, my cap titlted back. Two invisibly beating hearts.

Then the impetus lapsed. The heron nodded and flew away.

I turned back into Dave's workshop and picked up a wrench.

If goodness exists in the world—and it does—then this moment

was the paradigm of it, a recognition, a life in conjunction with a life.

But why am I compelled to tell you about it? It was wordless.

And why, over and over again, must I write this poem?

Friday, April 03, 2009

Random Mix Friday

It's that time again, time to take a little stroll through the iPod and see if anything embarrassing comes up. I added 5 songs to the usual 10, just to make sure. I did not add album credit to songs I downloaded singly.

1. Walking on Sunshine -- Katrina and the Waves
I love this song, it's so happy. Also, one of my favorite scenes in High Fidelity (Jack Black headbanging to it -- awesome!)

2. Psycho Therapy -- The Ramones (Loud Fast)
The Ramones are happy, too, in their way.

3. Wrecking Ball -- Gillian Welch (Soul Journey)
This is one of those perfect meetings of lyric, voice and playing. This song just kills me:

Also, she was born the very same day as me: Oct. 2, 1967.

4. Tubthumping -- Chumbawamba

Of course it's a stupid song. But it seems like the song you want driving around with your friends on a hot summer day with the top down. Does anyone do that anymore?

5. Love Train -- O'Jays
"People all over the world, join hands, start a love train, love train." Huh, that sounds kind of dirty.

6. Without Condition -- Ginny Owen (Without Condition)
My one and only overtly religious CD. I especially like the line, "You won't find the answers 'til you learn to question". Questioning faith isn't something that seems to come up that often in the religious music you hear advertised on cable.

7. I Want Candy -- Bow Wow Wow
Around this time last year, I did a One Hit Wonder March Madness e-mail thing. Unbelievably, this song lost to "Play that Funky Music White Boy". I'm still shocked, 'cos this song is awesome.

8. Story of Isaac -- Suzanne Vega (Tower of Song)
Leonard Cohen song. I'm pretty sure you could write a book explicating this song (not to mention the Old Testament story from which it is derived). The link is to the lyrics. It was originally on Cohen's second album, released in 1969, it sounds very much like a condemnation of the war machine: "You who build these altars now/to sacrifice these children/You must not do it anymore/A scheme is not a vision/And you never have been tempted/By a demon or a god". Isaac would know. I love Vega's version, it is so angry.

9. Melt Your Heart -- Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins (Rabbit Fur Coat)
A simple, sweet little song, kind of lullaby like. The lyrics are a little melancholy, "If you're kissing someone who's too much like you/It's like kissing on a mirror/If you're sleeping with someone who doesn't get you/You're gonna hate yourself in the morning". "Its like a valentine from your mother/It's bound to melt your heart".

10. Higher Ground -- Stevie Wonder
This song is pure, funky awesome. Red Hot Chili Peppers version is, too.

11. Heat of the Moment -- Asia
Yeah, I totally had this album. Look at that cover, how good could it possibly be? Yet here it is, on my iPod.

12. She's in Love with the Boy -- Trisha Yearwood
I'm not so much embarrassed by the song, more that every time I sing to it, I choke up. Because I am a weenie.

13. Ace in the Hole -- Paul Simon (One Trick Pony)
I have great affection for this album. It's kind of a time, place and person thing.

14. These Boots Are Made for Walkin' -- Nancy Sinatra
This song is all sheath mini-dress, go-go boots, bouffant hair, and cigarettes. A gin and tonic would nicely as well.

15. Corona -- Minutemen (Double Nickels on the Dime)
This is kind of a lie, the song didn't really show up in the mix, but I heard it on my way to work. The Minutemen make me wish I had had a really cool older sibling, I might have enjoyed the 1980's more fun (instead, I was the really uncool older sibling and the 1980s weren't that much fun). They were a brilliant punk band who had a huge influence on the California scene (once the audience stopped spitting at them). The lead singer, D. Boon, died in a van accident in 1985 (Len uses dboon as a user name whenever he has to sign up for anything on the internet). This song is that mix of country and punk I love so much (an instrumental version can be heard as the theme to the MTV show, Jackass).

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Quilt Squares

I'm moving right along on these. Unfortunately, I am not hating every minute.

Block A
Block A

Block B
Block B

Block C
Block C

Block D
Block D

New Chicks!

New Chicks

Chick in Dish