Artist, humanist, revolutionary, peacemaker, president.
Hope is a state of mind, not of the world. Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously heading for success, but rather an ability to work for something because it is good... ...Work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed.
Pie! So easy and so easy to get wrong! I ventured from my tried and true "Joy of Cooking" recipe, thinking the Internet knows better... I tried a highly touted recipe on Allrecipe.com... And instead of Mom's crust, I tried--on the insistence of the lady in the grocery store who insisted she knew these things--the Betty Crocker crust mix in the package... Pasty, gummy and no wear near enough for two nine-inch pie crusts...
So, what do we learn?
Pi = 4/1 -- 4/3 + 4/5 -- 4/7 + 4/9 + 4/11 + ...
Pie = Joy of Cooking's apple pie filling recipe + Mom's crust
All the candles lit. All the cookies baked. All the presents are wrapped.
Alle Kerzen brennen. Alle Plätzchen sind gebacken. Alle Geschenke verpackt.
Just need to finish the dress and write the Christmas letter. Ugh.
Es bleiben nur noch das Weihnachtskleidchen nähen und Weihnachtspost schreiben. Uff.
I'm obsessing a little over my Christmas decorations this year: I picked up three old watercolor paintings of nisse or Tomte. Supposedly, these were used as the backdrop to a school play some fifty years or more ago somewhere in Sweden. One image depicts furnaces dancing around a Christmas tree, another shows nisse mocking a poor juicey goose and then this one...a nisse on a globe collecting cookies (?) or chocolates (?) from a cookie/chocolate spewing volcano? These backdrops are quirky and weird in equal measure and that is why I like 'em!
Diese Gemälde haben bei uns und heimgesucht und suchen mich entsprechend heim. Diese sind aus den 50ern aus einer schwedischen Grundschlue und sollen angeblich die Kulissen aus einem Theaterstück gewesen sein. Die Motiven sind Nissen bzw. Tomte, die jeweils die armen Weihnachtsgänse anlachen, kekseausspeienden und tanzenden Heizöfen feuern (?) und dies oben, wo ein Nisse auf der Weltkugel steht und Kekse (?) Schokolade (?) aus einem Volkan sammelt. Die Motive sind gleichermassen sowohl sonderbar als auch charmant und sie gefallen mir deswegen. Wenn jemand die Geschichte kennt, würde ich mich sehr freuen diese zu wissen!
So, it rained the other day. One benefit of Southern California sunshine, is that with rain, we usually get a rainbow in the deal. I run outside--avec camera--toward late afternoon to see if the miracle of refraction has happened yet again. And look what rolls by! A "make love, not war" hippie car! Nutty.
Also geregnet hatte es. Ein zusätzlicher Zuschuß aus der südkalifornischen Sonnenschein ist das Refraktionsnebenprodukt aus dem Regen. Ergo laufe ich samt Photo zum Vorgarten auf Regenbogenjagt. Jawohl: entsprechende Refraktion. Aber dennoch fährt ein happy Hippie "make love, not war" Benz mir entgegen? Na, sowas!
And speaking of nutty. It is 3rd Advent already! And I have a present for you: Squirrelly! "Squirrelly" is defined as "eccentric and restless". If you are one or the other or both, perhaps you would like to make one of these!
Na sowas zum 2.: Schon 3. Advent. Und ich habe ein Geschenk für Dich... Squirrelly! "Squirrelly" bedeutet "ekzentrisch und rastlos". Solltest Du entweder eins oder beides sein, vielleicht möchtest Du auch ein Squirrelly nähen.
Squirrelly is a little plush pattern that is my gift to you!
Squirrelly ist ein Kuscheleichhörnchenschnittmuster und mein Geschenk an Dich,
Squirrelly can be stitched together using a few scraps. Wool or Eco felt works nicely, too.
Squirrelly kann aus Stoffresten genäht werden. Woll- bzw. Eco-Filz geht auch.
Squirrelly stands on his own: If you fill him partially with lead weight or pebbles, Squirrelly makes a dandy fine bookend.
Squirrelly steht von alleine. Wenn dieses doch mit Steinchen bzw. Blei gewichtet ist, dient Squirrelly auch als Bücherstütze.
Yes, this is my gift to you! You may download the pattern and instructions below. Pattern sheets are uploaded individually. I'm not that PDF-savvy to get them all onto one file without changing the size.
Warning: These images contain happy words and thoughts. Do not be encouraged or think happy thoughts upon reading these messages. These messages do not have the approval of the City of Hermosa Beach.
The City of Hermosa Beach has recently taken a strong stand against chalk tagging. As well they should. The Hermosa Beach police department is conducting an investigation into the perpetrators of such chalk tagging, conducting interviews with possible witnesses and so on. It appears that the culprit(s) randomly chalk happy words and pictures without prior approval. Never mind that the messages are of happiness and encouragement and joy, we simply cannot allow people to continue to spread happiness in public. Happy words and thoughts require prior approval. Furthermore, chalk is a gateway to more damaging forms of graffiti, like spray paint. Never mind that chalk disappears on its own in about three days and perhaps one would choose chalk over spray paint for exactly that reason. Chalk is gateway. Period. Like drinking water is a gateway to swilling vodka. Water balloons? Gateway to molotov cocktails. And research has proven conclusively, that every smoker of crack cocaine started with breathing air. So best to close up these graffiti gateways before things get entirely out of hand.
Chalk, furtherfurthermore, is dusty. The chalk dust could get on someone's clothes or shoes, even their hair (if they really tried).
The miles of very fine sand on the other side of this wall could also make its way into someone's clothes or shoes or hair...but that is entirely beside the point. There is a world of difference between chalkdust and beachsand. There is. I mean it.
This must be stopped.
The Hermosa Beach police thus far have no suspects. The similarity between this random person's tattoo and the happy hugging heart is entirely coincidental.
Please remain vigilant against happy thoughts or any desires to randomly express happy thoughts in Hermosa Beach. Especially you, Random Person.
Happy Thanksgiving, dear friends! I hope you had a happy and healthy holiday.
This year, for Thanksgiving, I came up with a brilliant idea. My brilliant idea was this: Most of my neighbors down toward this end of the street were staying home for the holiday and did not have family coming to visit. But all were planning to make a big ol' meal. Big meals lead to leftovers, so my thought was, I'd have all my neighbors over for a big leftover potluck on the Friday right after Thanksgiving. Brilliant. They all said they'd come by. I cleaned, shopped, rearranged furniture, polished glasses, pulled weeds, bought flowers, baked three extra desserts, cooked four extra game hens, bought ice, dropped into the Salvation Army several times over the past weeks to hopefully scrounge up half-way presentable serving dishes...you know the routine when you expect lots of company.
I expected around 20 people. And 2 showed. After they left, I was left with the Nancy from Seventh Grade lunchroom, in assigned seating at a table where none of the other girls liked me. They had every reason not to like me: I came from a different school. And I was weird. It was entertaining to natter and titter and chuckle behind their peanutbutter-and-jelly-on-Wonderbread at my expense. For them. Less entertaining for me...
"It was a fantastic party, Mommy! Everything looked great!"
"But nobody came," I said.
"Well, it was their loss. They missed out. It was the best party."
Who is this little girl?
"You need to be more confident, Mommy. You're great!"
Who is this little child? She is so young, so little compared to other girls her age. And so...wise..? So very wise.
Every last run to the grocery store, every moment spent dusting and polishing and vacuuming, every embarrassed "oops, sorry I missed it..." text I got the next day, was worth this very moment looking into my girl's big brown eyes. I am so very thankful.
Anna relayed to me recently, that some kid at school asked her why she dressed "that way," why she dressed "weird."
She answered (without missing a beat), "Because I am awesome. And because I am awesome, my clothes need to be awesome." (If you could only picture the great amount of sass, what we call "Annatude," that Anna put into this statement...). I don't dress her, haven't for years: She picks out her own outfits every morning and she has plain jeans and t-shirts from which to choose. Inevitably, she's got on crazy colorful knee socks, high tops, a fluffy patchwork skirt, a shirt of ten different colors...well, you know how I sew... As my girl approaches middle school age, I worry greatly that something--such as Seventh Grade lunchroom girls--will come along to kill this spirit, douse this sparkle, tarnish her shine, diminish her giant radiating aura, deflate her natural happiness. I hope she continues to be her own person, follow her own quirky drumbeat. I really do.
This is a new little outfit for her: A pair of Cardiff pants and the shirt is a bit Frankenstein...Quiara and Antonia, I believe... The knits are from Banberry Place. Just luscious stuff.
My girl invents things. Yes, she calls these innovations "inventions". Her inventions include "the Melon Cat". A melon, which is also a cat. Or "the Box Bunny". A bunny, which is also a box. And there is "Sue" and "Mini Sue"-- winged, monocular creatures with no legs and arms, but bow-tied head-tentacles. And so on. The practical uses of these inventions have yet to be discovered. Frederick DeMoleyns, J.W. Starr and Joseph Swan, who all held patents for incandescent electric light bulbs decades before Thomas Alva Edison declared, "I have just solved the problem of the subdivision of electric light!" can perhaps relate. So, we'll give Ninja Cats and Ninja Mushrooms a little more time before society and technology catch up. Anna keeps here inventions logged here, in a securely locked Hello Kitty diary.
For now, these new inventions do a fine job of watching over Anna as she sleeps. This painting is an original 1970s "Armantino" (ooh la la!), a study in yellow and white, which is a metaphor of the bleak landscape of America's post-Viet Nam War jaundiced red/white Cold War worldview. Or served as a bright focal point and picks up the floral tones in the 1974 Barcalounger of the Year. Yep, "B" is probably the correct answer. Notice the signature: Anna and I have added ours: Anna traced her inventions and I painted them in.
Yes, my girl inspires me. Another big source of inspiration is Farbenmix, which celebrates seven years!! A cupcake toast to you Team Farbenmix (from Cupcake Couture, winners of the "Cupcake Wars"... territory, resources, water, religion, oil, and now cupcakes? Do we humans have to go to war over cupcakes? After having had a taste of a heavenly concoction of Salted Carmel something-or-other, well, I may have to reevaluate my pacifist tendencies...)
"Grausam": That's German for "dreadful" and "atrocious" and all manner of description of misery. The root word is "grau" as in the color "grey." (I wonder what etymological leap those Teutons or Visigoths or Saxons had to take to make such neutral grey so horribly "grausam.") Grey is generally featureless, dull, something neither black nor white. But, in reality, that is most of our reality, isn't it? Concrete surrounds us, haze and clouds diffuse and obscure what is plain to see. Each action we take, according to Newton, has an equal, opposite and collinear reaction. Every decision, every good intention has a dot of black, the yin and the yang swirling into it's resolute blend of grey. Our greatest advances, conveniences and technologies have devastating consequences. Grey is where one must be most aware of the details and the textures of things, actions and decisions. It is the land of ambiguity, charted, but not navigated by William Golding in Lord of the Flies. Ambiguity bothers us: it requires us to think, to decide between easier, more right, more wrong, most best, less worst, knowing full well that the equal, opposite and collinear reaction is pretty bad, too. We demand that our politicians have laser-like abilities to discern the black molecules from the white molecules and never offend, never inconvenience, never waiver, never impose, never give up, never give in, never concede, when society can really only operate with but the greying cataracts of our limited vision. Grey is the dust that settles after the bomb explodes, it is the ash remaining from the burning of books, it is the bit of bone left remaining after the hunt. But grey is the soothing fog that gently hydrates, the hair at grandmother's temple, the stones on the stoop of the place that is most home.
Stopover in an airport before dawn: Neither day nor night, neither here nor there.
After our visit to Beijing, I feel a great deal of ambiguity about the Middle Kingdom. Much is good there: In the past decade, China lifted the greatest number of people out of poverty in the history of mankind. But at what cost? This is brand-new, gleaming glass, grey and steel shopping mall in Beijing, absolutely devoid of any shoppers. This shopping mall is so empty the store clerks leave their shops unattended to play badminton in the echoing halls.
The grey zone of progress in Beijing: The spectacular high rise office and condominium buildings are constructed by workers, very often peasants from the provinces, who live in shanties on site.