Sunday, January 27, 2008

In spite of fear my cello teacher talked me into joining orchestra.
"It's fun", he says.
"It's fun", I repeat. "No one cries?"
"No", he says.
"There are going to be children there who can do this better than I can."
"No. Well, yes, that's true."
But I went and actually, yes, it was fun. In spite of how awful everything sounds right now, getting started, it's easy to imagine how wonderful it will be to have everything come together. Even out of tune and out of rhythm it was pretty great. I have a terrible time with keeping beat but Ashley says nothing fixes that faster than playing with other people. I didn't count but there are more than 20 of us. I am the oldest next to the teacher. Some of the kids are really good and some of them are like me. I think it will be okay. It's another weekend commitment but Ashley and I think this is a way for me to improve my overall skills and it's not forever.

Sunday we went to Costco where Theron saw a fort play set. "I need that to put in the front yard so I can go there when I need privacy."
"What? You have a whole room with a door you can close, how much privacy do you need?"
"But my room is too small and crowded."

"I think that means you have too much stuff. Or you could just clean it up."

"I can't clean up that much! My goodness, it's your house!"

Here's another book review, I'm almost done with this one. The Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross. In this story computers and mathmatics can open doorways to alternative worlds where brilliant as well as idiot monsters are waiting to come through. The hero works for The Laundry, a government agency that deals with these things. The book is full of exciting and gruesome encounters. The hero may kill a tentacled creature that is trying to kill him and his new lady friend, but instead of thanks he is hounded by accounting who want him to explain why he came in late and to fill out the necessary paperwork justifying the expense of cleaning up the mess.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

An embarrassment of riches

My friend, Naomi, and I loooovvveee the library and we looooovvvveee to use the online hold list so that exactly what we want to read comes right to our local library, right to the front desk. We keep the list stacked because sometimes you're the 400th person in line, or sometimes you're first but it still takes 3 weeks for it to show up from Sherman Oaks. It's a thing, too, because they recently made a policy that although placing a hold is free, if you don't pick up your book within 10 days they charge you a dollar. Perfectly fair and appropriate, but some weeks it becomes a giddy race to get there in time. Not because we mind giving the library a dollar - I frankly wish they had a donation box at the door - but missing the book would be a disaster especially if you've been waiting for the Omnivore's Dilemma since April.
Last week SIX books on my list came in and two more are on the way. So I am reading A LOT. You never know how long you can renew an interlibrary loan book until you try it. I regret that I skimmed through a couple I probably would have savored.

Look Me In the Eye by John Elder Robison - brother of Augusten Burroughs. It is his story of having grown up with Asperger's syndrome at a time when no one even had a name for it. Most touching was when he told how adults thought that he preferred to play alone, but really he never wanted to be alone. It was that he was such a failure at making friends that he knew he couldn't really be around other children and it was the most bitter disappointment of his life.

The Cloud Atlas by Liam Callanan. This novel revolves around a soldier during WWII who is in the bomb squad and he is sent on detail to Alaska to look into the mysterious bombs arriving stateside by balloon from Japan. The balloons, by the way, really came here but were not successful in a big way. Perhaps because the press agreed to suppress reports of found balloons, the Japanese may have thought it wasn't working. One balloon did hit the mark in Klamath, Oregon and was responsible for the only WWII casualties on the US mainland due to enemy causes.
Anyway, that's not really all the novel is about. The main character falls in love with a half Russian, half Yup'ik Eskimo woman. I can't say how they are connected without ruining the story, but it was very interesting and sad, and not at all trite and predictable. I didn't really have to rush through this one - it was very fast and interesting reading and it came early in the deluge.

I did rush through House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielwski, as much as you can rush through a book that is more than 700 pages and has 3 - 4 narratives going on at a time. Maybe I'll try to get back to it someday and I haven't turned it in yet because I'm not sure I'm done with it. Actually, I'm not going to try to explain too much. Reading it is not so much reading as it is strategizing. The basic story revolves around a documentary made about a house where rooms and hallways appeared out of thin air. Before calling in any authorities or the press the owner hires some men to come in and take an expedition into the depths of the house. They are gone a loooonnnnngggg time. The owner, his brother, and a friend go on a rescue mission.

There's more but that's enough for now. Back to the books.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Don't answer the phone.

It's just someone telling you if you want to vote No you need to vote Yes - or something like that. Or they want to connect you to your senator's office so you can repeat what you've just been told to say.

Look at this instead. How many of us in the 21st century have seen needle lace work in progress? I saw this at work this week and it's so amazing. I want to try it. (In my copious free time!!!)
The design is sketched out on paper or stiff cloth. The lacework is anchored down to the backing which will be removed later by snipping the stitches on the back.

I had never thought about how this was done and when I saw this piece it took me a minute to figure out what I was looking at. I think it's kind of thrilling to imagine all the images you could conjure up in lace. Imagine a Spiderman with a bunch of webs all around. Tres jolie!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Work and Play in the Big Easy

Ashley and I went to New Orleans last week to give a little two day workshop for the State Museum - they're doing a move project. Ashley and I showed slides one day and did some hands-on the next day. We feel it went very well. We had to travel separately so I could leave Theron at Grandma's house. My red eye flight out of Bakersfield was cancelled at the last minute (!!!) so instead of getting in the next day at 7 am I got in at 10:30. I ended up having to take a van back to Los Angeles to begin my trip. All in all it took 17 hours - it wasn't so much a red eye as a black eye. I had to sleep in the airport in Charlotte. I will say the best planning I did was to roll up my down pillow in my carry on bag. It fluffs right back up and boy was I happy for that one little luxury. When I got there I took a quick nap, a shower and headed over to the museum where Ash was already about done with his portion of the presentation. So I just hooked up my computer and jumped into mine. I was sleepy but it was good to get it over with.
The second day was at their warehouse in Baton Rouge - a good 90 minute drive away. The weather was rainy but warm. We stopped at a mini mart and threw a bunch of treats in the bag like Crawtator flavored potato chips and vanilla Moonpies.
Here's a blurry picture inside our hotel room, right in the French Quarter just steps away from Jackson Square. I meant to take a picture of the unicorns on the bedspread.

Here's the beautiful courtyard of the hotel.

Here we are on Decatur Street after beignets and coffee with my Aunt Susie and her Louis.

French Quarter at night. People still have Christmas lights up until Epiphany and then there were already decorations already up for Mardi Gras. Oh, and for the LSU/Ohio game that was a couple of days before we arrived. Ohio lost but people said they hardly looked sad, it was a big party.

I haven't been to New Orleans in 15 years but I fell in love again. Aunt Susie says people are slowly getting on their feet and that Mardi Gras should be of pre-Katrina quality. Jim and P.C. pointed out one of the two bars that stayed open during the storm and Ash and I had a little drink there. There weren't many people out Wednesday and Thursday night but it was still very lively. Everything bad looked so good. I had to keep telling myself, No, You do not want a cigar. Or a take-out daquiri that comes in a rainbow of colors, swirling around in big wall-mounted mixers looking like Slush Puppies.

Ashley on Canal Street.

My first oysters ever, at the Bourbon House, where we were the guests of Ashley's old friend, Jim, and his wife P.C. They were divine. The oysters were good, too. I was sad we didn't have the opportunity to get more before we left.

Anyway, as we are reminded, again and again, it's a small world. We ran into some people we knew from New York who were there taking down an exhibit. If we'd all tried to organize a get together from scratch I'm not sure we could have managed it, but there everyone was.

We really want to go back soon for an actual vacation when we can take Theron. He would love a swamp tour and he would probably get a kick out of all the pirate knick-knacks around. He did fine with Grandma. Every day she would gel his hair to get his cowlick to lay down. Friday she asked if she could spike it. He said no. She said why not, don't you want to look cool? And he said, "I don't want to look cool! I just want to look appealing."

So, back to real life again.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Happy New Year

This year, as usual, we had our annual seafood pigout, and maybe all that holiday overeating or the fact that Ash was feeling a little down, we actually had left over crab. It's unheard of, I tell you. We celebrated the new year at 9, to correspond with new year's in New York, and went to bed. Silly us, we thought we'd be asleep by midnight, but we forgot about all the illegal fireworks that appear on our street absolutely every holiday.
Theron's new computer games are a big hit. He actually spends a lot of time with the educational game which, in addition to math and spelling, have taught him to compose pictures and play music. Then when he's done with that it's on to Harry Potter. He was taking a walk around the castle yesterday and I asked him where he was going. He said he was just taking a walk since he doesn't really go to Hogwarts, he wanted to have a look around. Then he showed me the Great Hall. "This is where the headmaster sits" he says. Then he waved his wand around the chair, and says, "Next time Dumbledore sits down he's gonna really burn his butt, man."