Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Ten things- the letter b

And_Old_Lace, who I know from over on LiveJournal was having a game. She assigned me a random letter, then I have to come up with ten things starting with that letter that I love. Then I write about it in my journal. Should be easy, right?

1) Obviously, books. All of them pretty much. I love the weight of them in my hand, the smell of the pages whether its a crisp new book just out of the carton from the publisher or a musty old book that has spent aeons in the back corners of the library. I love the serifs of the fonts and the feel of paper under my fingers. I sometimes see someone around who has one of those Amazon Kindles or the Sony Reader and I feel sad for them. See, they're not reading a real book. Oh, maybe they're reading a real novel or non-fiction work, but those electronic files in portable devices are not, nor ever will be real books. Rant over. Heh. I guess this sort of thing happens to you when you work in a bookstore for seven years.

Above picture by Austinevan and used under creative commons license. Isn't it beautiful.

2) Boho. I know. I should hang my head in shame because the boho thing is so over played, but I love it. Whether its the interiors of Wary Meyers or dresses like this I envy and covet them. By the way, if you've got any idea where I can get a dress like that one, but in my size, let me know.

3) Birds. It makes me happy beyond all reason to look up into the sky and see them flying. In particular, I find large flights of pigeons to be particularly moving. On the ground, they're these pudgy comedians, wobbling their head back and forth as they walk, puffing their feathers and chest out. In the air, they are so graceful and free. They're precision flyers too, as if some group mind is controlling them, and yet not, because while they move together, its not as if they are in formation.

4) Bandshell. Or in particular, the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in downtown Chicago by Frank Gehry. It's like the waves of Lake Michigan frozen into a moment of eternity.

5) The Big Bang Theory. I don't have a TV, so I only get to see episodes when I visit my sister (and her Tivo!). I love this show though.

6) Bossa Nova. I love this album and this one. But this is my favorite song. I love the Bossa Nova for the joy of the sound. Even sad songs, no, especially the sad songs have it. Perhaps there's a little wallowing in how beautiful love lost is, but that's kind of the point.

7) Beans. Probably one of the most significant parts of my daily diet now that I've gone veg. I'm not a huge fan of soy beans or chickpeas, but just about any other kind is fine with me.

8) the BVM. In a bathtub. I grew up in a primarily Catholic town, so there were a lot of these around. Even though I'm no longer a Catholic myself, I still look at them fondly and with a bit of nostalgia. We didn't actually have one ourselves, but I always wanted one when growing up. My grandmother, who lived just down the street from us, had an inside statue of the BVM that was actually quite beautiful and over two feet tall. I think she brought it back from a Church trip to Italy.

9) Brasilia by Broyhill. I'm particularly enamored of the coffee table by them, based off the Cathedral by Oscar Niemeyer. I nearly bought one on eBay but determined that its really too big for the space. It made me really sad to not get it though.

10) Billy Collins

Monday, August 25, 2008

I know I've been m.i.a.

Do I have a good excuse. No, not really. I've been writing a novel in a month, supposedly. Just like NaNoWriMo except I've elected to do it without the support of everyone else doing it. I'm just sort of stupid and stubborn like that. Except I'm pretty sure I'm not going to make it. I've got like 20k words to write still to reach my goal and less than a week to do them in. Urgh. Some good vibes might be nice at this juncture.

I've also been working on a project with recycled materials, including a wool sweater from the thrift store. More about that later. I'm excited though. I think it looks pretty good for being one of the first things I've done with a felted sweater. It was already felted at the thrift store, so I didn't feel guilty about cutting it up.

In other news, we've gone more or less vegan sort of. I've been letting myself have a brownie which no doubt contains eggs and possibly milk when I go to the coffee house to write. It's really hard to write without a brownie for some reason. I'm rationalizing it because my favorite coffee house doesn't have any vegan treats. But every meal and treat made at home for the last three weeks has been vegan. Things I'd never thought would be in my fridge, like almond milk and soy yogurt are in my fridge. Oh, and this dreadful vegan cheese that Mr. Campion just had to try. Definitely better to give up the cheese completely than suffer that again.

In other other news, my back has been more or less out of order for two weeks. It keeps sending me messages about how it's sorry for the inconvenience and so forth. I've just started seeing a chiropractor and its been an improvement. She's so nice and most importantly, she hasn't blamed me for what's wrong with my back. So often when I've gone to a regular doctor, whatevers wrong with me has been blamed on me, either by implication or outright statement. Anyway, I go to a chiro that uses the activator method. You'll never go to a neck cracker again once you've had gentle treatment by the activator method.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Thunderstorms and musings on the car free life

We had ferocious thunderstorms tonight, complete with tornado warnings. In fact, I can still see flashes off in the distance of lightening far away, with the faint rumbling of thunder. Luckily, the tornado warnings came to naught, at least around here. I did discover just how loud the local tornado siren is though. We're literally across the street from it. This is how loud it is- it hurt my ears, even with all the windows shut. It drove my poor little cat frantic to the point where she was running all over our condo, looking for some place to hide from it. Oh, and we lost power for about two hours, starting while I was making dinner. Luckily, we have a gas stove, so I was able to continue cooking, once I got out our emergency camping lantern. Every once in a while, I think about wanting one of those new induction electric stoves with the smooth top, for easy cleaning. But then something like this happens and I come to my senses.

But earlier in the evening, before I had started dinner, I had been sewing. More on what I'm making later, but as sometimes happens, I ran out of thread. White thread. How did that happen? It always seems like I've got about eleventy billion spools of white thread floating around the house. Normally, I just would have hopped on the bike and ridden the two or so miles to Hancock. It's not a far ride, nor particularly difficult. There's one super busy street to cross and one parking lot I go through where you have to watch out for cars not looking where they're going. But it had been raining all day, more or less. It was raining then. The sky was looking threatening, though I hadn't heard of the tornado warnings yet. It didn't seem like a great idea to head out into bad weather, not when it was an optional thing. Oh, and it was about twenty minutes until the store closed.

At that moment, I had one of those thoughts. I get them very rarely. It was the "if only I had a car" thought. If only I'd had a car, I would have hopped into it right then and gone off to get my thread. You don't think a lot about the weather when you have a car, or at least not until it gets pretty extreme. As it is, I didn't finish my project tonight because I didn't have a car. Which isn't to say I'm complaining about this. I wouldn't have been able to finish my project anyway, most likely, because of the power outage. Though if I had that thread, I would be sewing now, instead of blogging.

But, it made me think- was it necessarily a bad thing that I'm having to delay my project a little?

I was about to plunge right into a rolled and machine sewn hem. This delay gives me a chance to think about other options. Do I want to see if I can find some matching fabric and make a bias binding instead? What about some other form of trim as an edging. Instead of going to Hancock's, tomorrow after work, I could take the time and make a trip to Vogue Fabrics, a bigger and better fabric store.

Not having a car prevented me from having something I wanted right then. Is it always such a good thing to have what we want right now. I recall reading somewhere a while back that the secret to success and happiness, according to some psychology researchers, is the ability to defer gratification, at least for a while. Perhaps, if I did have a car, I could have convinced myself that no, I didn't need to go right away, but one thing I discovered during the period where we were "car light", before we went totally car free, is that when you have a car, it becomes very tempting to use it. Very hard to say no to just a few little trips.

I could go on about carbon footprints and how much money we save by not having a car (hundreds a month, even without a car payment), but the truth is, I love not having a car because it allows me to live life more at my own speed. I get nervous going too fast. It always feels like a little bit of my soul gets left behind and takes a while to catch up to me. I get scared about the danger, going as fast as a car can go.

But more than anything, I can be car free because I love my bike. I've always loved bikes since I was a little girl. A bike is freedom, to me. I'm taken back to childhood, when it seemed a miracle that I could move that fast, that far. Back then, a bike could take me away from my house, to the library, to the fabric store (I learned to sew at a fairly young age), to the lake where I could stare for hours at the reflection of the sky in the still waters. Even now, I can remember those feelings as I pedal.

The picture above is my bike, which is a Country Road Bob, single speed, by Van Dessel Cycles, with a custom paint job in Tiffany blue, with a pearlescent overlay. I had the drops replaced with a mustache handlebar and the stem raised about as far as it could go, to give me as upright a posture as possible on the bike.

The storm is picking up again. I'd better wrap this up and put it up, just in case I loose power again. Lord, what an evening. I've never seen weather like this.