Thursday, May 24, 2007

HNT #21: Wall of Frames

I was inspired to share this due to my blogger friend who wished to get some frames and create an art wall. He's the one who inspired me to carry my camera everywhere and take more photos. He takes great photos. I told him here that what I do is haunt Goodwill and other thrift stores for frames for one or two dollars. Maaaybe three if it's unique. (He is also nominated for Hottest Daddy Blogger at Blogger's Choice me at least get him up from page 5 by going here and voting for him. Hurry, I think voting ends soon.)

I also mentioned that some of the HGTV designer shows give you the tip of taking many different frames and spray-painting them the same color, then the frames look like they go together. Or, like I did, you can make them go together by having them all be different.

This wall has grown organically. It started with the vertical line of 5x7 art over toward the left: those are birthday cards sent to me by my dad over the years. (Speaking of birthdays, tomorrow is my 40th. I'm having a party...just a reminder to youse in the area that I've invited...PLEASE SHOW UP. I need you. I'm TURNING FORTY. And if I didn't invite you, it could be an oversight...drop me a line if you want to come.)

Top right, that's a watercolor I did several years back. I just dabble. I get around to painting about once a year. I hope to paint some of these flowers I've been photographing. Speaking of flowers, see the lower octagonal frame? I printed that photo with my new color laser printer. A birthday gift from my sweetie. See those flower photos here.

I was talking to my sweetie Steve about the wall last night. I like the random nature of the thrift store find, and I like that I break the aesthetic rules. Some are too close together, there are blank spaces where there shouldn't be. It keeps growing. It's always not quite finished. It's always ready for another frame, another piece of me.

The old photos? My grandparents on their wedding day, and later with their children, my mom and her sister. The Buddha photo on the right? My altar, from a newspaper article on people and their personal altars. It was called "Altared Spaces." The back of the head? That's me waiting for the plane in New York, wanting to see what my new hair stick looked like when in my hair. Which brings me back to my blogger friend, I bet he likes the New York scenes. That's how we first met...he found me due to my first New York trip stories.

Click here for more HNTs, and click the photo for a larger version. I welcome questions about what you see.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Just a little walk in April

Well, it happened. I just uploaded my 200th photo to flickr, and flickr told me it was going to start hiding older photos because I have a free account. If I upgraded to pro, the photos would be revealed. They got me. I upgraded to pro...25 bucks a year. Well now at least I can put them back into sets. (You're limited to 3 sets with a free account.) And I don't need to downsize the photos because I have plenty of storage space. This wasn't going to be a talky blog...just pictures. So here they are:

like teacups

green flowers like teacups



tree blossoms

tree blossoms

little blossoms

curly leaves

HNT #20: Festival

For four or five years my library system has held a Dia de los Ninos y Dia de los Libros. It began with just one library branch, now it is held on different days at four or five. This was the first year I happened to be working at a branch that holds the event. It took over the whole library (back in April) with face-painting, flower-making, photos with Curious George, food, and live music.

Curious George was quite popular, and I began to wonder if I would ever get my chance for a photo op. (On reflection, I realized I have never before had my photo taken with a storybook or Disney or other costumed character.) The poor volunteers needed to take frequent breaks because it is hot in there.

Finally, I got my moment...the Polaroid camera ran out of film, and I stepped in and asked a friend (who just happened to be nearby with her little boy) to take my picture with Curious George, using my camera. Just one photo, all we had time for before the volunteer returned with film and more kids lined up for their photos. Unfortunately, just one blurry photo. The kids glued their Polaroids to cards with a magnet for fridge posting. I'd helped my co-workers with the card prep. I also helped a little bit with the backdrop. The clouds and the sun are my handiwork.

That day I learned to make tissue paper flowers. It's so easy. I made a few while at the reference desk, gave a couple away.

Go here for everything HNT. It's the 2nd anniversary.

Rhododendrons and the Hawthorne

I've been so busy lately that I've felt the depressive weight of responsibility and worry. I've always been one to meet deadlines, to get done just a little early so if something unforeseen happens I have a little bumper of time. As an organizer I worry when I depend on others to fulfill some task and they don't get these things done just a little ahead of time. I feel harried even when I take a break and do something recreational, because still peaking over my shoulder is that thing I can't do anything about at the moment. Much as I enjoy these offerings I make, I'll be glad for a break after June 2.

At least when I go around town I can relax on the bus and read or observe. When I walk I can pause to snap a picture. Somehow in the last month I accumulated about 140 photos on my camera. I've got some catching up to do.

I just tried using Tabblo. So far I don't like it, discovered it over at JeannieGrrl's. It might be nice for creating nice layouts, but it loads slowly and when I tried creating a tabblo just now the tools responded slowly and I couldn't move around on the screen the way I wanted. Oh well, I'll just stick with the blogger layout for now. I like a simple page anyway.

This rhododendron by our door had been peaking it's buds out for a few days when I snapped this on April 8. (Click all photos for larger image.) It's nice to arrive home and have a few more flower petals greeting you at the door.

Just a few days later some of the blossoms revealed themselves.

On April 19, the lovely ladies had opened their skirts wide.

A week after that as I walked home after dark, the presence of the hawthorne tree beckoned to me from a block away. The white blossoms had a slightly orange tint from the street lamp.

I had to pause and soak in her presence. This tree is always there, just a tree in front of my house. She sends red berries to the sidewalk that I must sweep up before they make a big splotchy mess. Those blossoms would float to the ground in a few days, rain will make them a gluey mush. At this moment though, she compels me with all her blooming sensual pungent fertility to pause and acknowledge her. She takes my breath away literally, sparking allergy-related respiratory distress, but that seems a minor inconvenience as I struggle to find a way to take in her presence that envelops me and dominates the night street. I snap a few photos, but I know that pixels will not grasp this ungraspable moment, this other-worldly embrace from my otherwise pesky friend the hawthorne tree.

Finally, mid-May, our other rhododendron begins to catch up with her blossoms. Different sides of the house make quite a difference.
More photos and thoughts from my ramblings to come soon.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Books Read

Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison
A girl is abused by her stepfather. Hmmm that sounds familiar. I continue to be impressed with Dorothy Allison. Some writers humble me with their brilliance. Others I can relate to, and can aspire to write like them. I could see myself writing like Dorothy Allison....pretty straightforward, with just enough moments of poetic clarity. I just want to remember some quotes:

Daddy Glen smelled of sweat and Coca-Cola, of after-shave and cigarettes, but mostly of something I could not name--something acid, bitter, and sharp. Fear. It might have been fear. But I could not have said if it was his fear or mine. I could not say anything. I only knew there was something I was doing wrong, something terrible. He said, "You drive me crazy," in a strange distracted voice, and I shuddered but believed him.

"She hates herself," Mama told us when Reese repeated what Deedee had said. "And I don't know that God has much of anything to do with it." She gave me one of those sharp, almost frightening looks she seemed to have developed over the summer. "People don't do right because of the fear of God or love of him. You do the right thing because the world doesn't make sense if you don't."

Aunt Raylene's house was scrubbed clean, but her walls were lined with shelves full of oddities, old tools and bird nests, rare dishes and peculiarly shaped rocks. An amazing collection of things accumulated on the river bank below her house. People from Greenville tossed their garbage off the highway a few miles up the river. There it would sink out of sight in the mud and eventually work its way down to Aunt Raylene's, where the river turned, then rise to get caught in the roots of the big trees along the bank. Aunt Raylene said the garbage drew the fish in, and it was true that the fishing at her place was the best in the county. The uncles went to Aunt Raylene's to catch carp and catfish and big brown unnamed fish with rotting eyes and gilded fins that people were afraid to eat. Uncle Earle and Uncle Beau would put out their poles with little bells on the lines and stand in the tire smoke to drink whiskey and tell dirty stories. The bells would tinkle now and then, but they didn't always stop to get their catch. Sometimes the whiskey and the stories were too good.

Psyche in a Dress by Francesca Lia Block
The universal stories of women in love, immortalized in the archetypal Greek myths, these are written in verse in modern day mythical Hollywood. Very clever way to point out that many of us look to celebrities to fulfill our archetypes. This may sound forced and contrived, but it works quite well. The verse is very smooth, easy to read aloud, in fact required. A couple of friends and I were talking the other week about how not everyone experiences this kind of love, the transformational love of Psyche's journey toward Eros. When one does, this story is oh so very helpful. When it happened to me at the age of 30, I had the synchronicitous good fortune to come across She by Robert Johnson, a Jungian analyst. This tight little book of fiction might do just as well, and I loved the way the author of Weetzie Bat incorporated the stories of Echo, Euridice, Persephone, and Demeter as inclusive of Everywoman's love journeys.

That moment of awakening to the god Love:

Is beauty monstrous?
If so, then my sisters were right
His beauty was so sharp it could have cut
out my heart
He lay naked, sleeping on my bed
How could it be?
Why had he chosen me?
I wanted to run and hide from him

As I stood amazed, a drop of wax from the candle fell

and touched his bare shoulder
He cried out and lept up
His face filled with pain

"I told you not to look at me," he said
"My mother was right"

No girl wants to hear those words

He was so bright, a conflagration
And I
I had seen too much
I had seen the god
I was not
a goddess

Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
Watching the movie inspired me to read the book. Like any book by DWJ, worth reading for a fantasy reader. In the movie, you get the idea the wizard knows the old woman is the girl he met in the town, not so clear in the book. The ending differs significantly from the movie in an interesting way.

Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin
A girl dies too young. Sixteen and never been kissed. She's died to find herself on a cruise ship crossing the Nile. Snippets of Egyptian lore flavor the story, but this does seem to be a world created mostly by the author. When people die, they begin from the moment of death to age backwards. Injuries heal by aging backwards. People find their calling and work for self-fulfillment. People can view their living families through magical telescopes, paying 1 eternim for 5 minutes. Because she is so young, Liz Hall doesn't want to accept her death. She hasn't loved yet, hasn't got her driver's license yet, and hasn't yet accepted she can do these things while aging backwards in Elsewhere. She even tries to contact her living family, a forbidden and dangerous act. Doing so begins to open her heart to accepting her rebirth in this new life. Neat take on post-death world. (YA fiction)

Movies Seen

Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill
Can you feel the love? It's clear that Mark Bittner loves his friends the wild parrots. Perhaps it is his unabashed caring that pulls in his love, the filmmaker. He makes their lives so vivid, narrating for us the characters of the individual birds. He feeds them, talks to them as to old friends. He feels the grief of leaving them, reveals their grief for lost birds. The death of an old grandma bird is as poignant to him, and thus to the viewer, as a human friend sinking from illness to death. The glorious green spots of the flock winging across the sky, what a sight that must be to see in San Francisco.

North Country
The personal is political. In some places, it's still man's world. Women trying to be coal miners in the North Country are repeatedly harassed, threatened, and greated in their locker room by shit smeared cunt grafitti on the walls, semen deposited on their change of clothes. I grew up with a confidence that it was a world of equal opportunity, but this happened in 1984. The case was finally settled in 1998. This wasn't just a Lifetime movie made for the big screen. This was a hefty film in the ranks of Silkwood and Norma Rae. It took one woman. One woman willing to endure the smear campaign, a stalker (not covered in the movie but mentioned in the dvd extras), the possibility that she would be branded in her company town for good as a hater of men, an outcast. She brought us the first class action for sexual harassment, established a precedent that really ought to have happened long before.

A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints
Based on true events from the youth of writer/director Dito Montielo. Coming of age in Queens. This fit right in after watching 3 episodes of Rescue Me. I'm fascinated by these unabashed portrayals of NY men and the gritty violent edge they must live with, or so the movie and shows suggest.

Vash the Stampede is sort of a Zorro in a world of Batman bad guys in an outerspace spaghetti western anime. Vash the Stampede keeps getting blamed for the violence of others. He acts the idiot, but dodges bullets and saves the true innocents. Two female insurance agents follow him in an attempt to stop the chaos and costly insurance payouts. They take several episodes to believe the blond goofball is the legendary outlaw. A black cat crosses the screen in every episode.

20/20 Transgender Children
Wonderfully sensitive account from mainstream TV about children who know from before they can talk that they were "born in the wrong body." These kids were featured because they have accepting and loving parents....think of how many must be living whose parents see such children as wrong, defiled.

Bill Moyers Journal Buying the War
If you did not see this, follow that link and watch it online. The Iraq war was sold to America through propaganda. Those of us in the peace movement could see this, but our voices were stifled or spun. Nice thing about this, they can't spin Bill Moyers.

I saw this come through the library and I thought, hmm, an adult swim anime. i found Cowboy Bebop via adult swim. this looks like similar scifi, i'll give it a try. Before Bebop (and Spirited Away) I didn't like anime. Cowboys in space, great jazzy bluesy music, creative worlds and space ships..anime allowed for flexibility in aliens and their ships. While not quite as good as Bebop, Trigun is also satisfying as a cowboys in space anime. (Another Western in space that I love...not anime...Firefly.) The main character has a bit of Zorro in him, starts out acting fey and goofy, the insurance girls following him don't believe at first that he could possibly be Vash the Stampede. Not the guy that leaves a wake of destruction. Somehow he's developed this reputation while he refuses to kill others, even bad guys. Somehow he persistently emerges unscathed. Who is this superhuman? Check it out and see.

Thank You For Smoking
A tobacco lobbyists meets regularly with an alcohol lobbyist and a firearms lobbyist. They call themselves Merchants of Death. The MoD squad. The twisted logic of spin rules their world, and the tobacco lobbyist dad finds acceptance from his kid by teaching him the ways of spin. Somebody needs to do a kick in the pants satire like this about the Bush cabal. I suppose unfortunately nobody can touch that.