Monday, January 29, 2007

this says it all today

Except for plastic bobbins. I had to call my sewing machine service guy for that one. I haven't procured any plastic bobbins yet so it remains to be seen if they cure Helen's hiccups, but if that's really all it takes, I'm going to ask said sewing machine serviceman to make a house call anyway so I can give him a great big kiss.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

looking up

When I was a little kid, I used to sometimes lay on my back on the floor and try to imagine what life would be like if we lived upside-down on the ceiling. What can I say - I was an only child.

This morning I lay on the refinished wood kitchen floor, which is scrumptiously warm and toasty from the radiant heating coils underneath, and played with Iris and looked up and thought about what a good, full week it's been. It was a busy work week and a busy life week, even if you count (and I do) the fact that I've been spending way too much time just watching the snow. Maybe it's because I grew up mostly in the south (another weird thing about me, perhaps?) so while everyone around me is grousing about traffic and snow tires and so on, I still find snow really magical.

I didn't spend much time at all on the computer, aside from work, last week. It wasn't intentional; it just didn't happen. Other things happened instead. Like serendipitously running into my husband as I left my office downtown, riding along with him to the neighborhood where he had a meeting, and finding the perfect pair of dressy yet supremely comfortable black shoes while he talked to his client. Wearing said shoes out on a date with him. Dinner with friends. Singing silly songs with Iris. Taking her to the cafe for a cookie. Playing on the floor. Reading the new CRAFT:zine, which I really like. As I said, it was a good week, full of non-digital pleasures. I should try that more often.

I have been in a bit of a crafting coma except for a couple of mini-projects I worked on in the Cook Forest. This is partly due to the aforementioned snow-spotting, and partly to my class and my new job starting, but probably mostly because my nomadic studio is migrating yet again, this time back to where it began. So I'm not really set up, and it takes time to get set up, and I haven't really spent that time. Also Helen is having some issues that make me have to take a deep breath before embarking on any sewing, but sew I must, because I have one more Christmas (!!) present to finish up before seeing my sisters-in-law next weekend.

Deep breath. Fingers crossed. Off to sew I go!

Monday, January 22, 2007

I was going to call this post "tagged," but since it's about weirdness, I'll call it "leafy greens"

There I was, minding my own business, perfectly content in my pretty little meme-free bubble, a meme virgin, you might even say. And then Sarah went and tagged me.

The weirdness meme, of all things! Here are the Official Box-Top Rules:

People who get tagged need to write a blog post of 6 weird things about them as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names. Don't forget to leave a comment that says "you are tagged" in their comments and tell them to read your blog.

OK, I'm a good sport. I'm willing to play. But I'm not weird! Not in the least!

So I had my husband help me with this. Funny, he was quite happy to. Here's what we came up with.

1. Unruly eyebrows really bug me. Unibrows, bushy brows, OK, fine – just please have the all hairs going in the same direction! The sensation of having my eyebrows rubbed against the grain – or even watching someone else rub their own eyebrows the wrong way – gives me the screaming heebie-jeebies.

2. I do not like hobbits, leprechauns, or any other fantastical, hairy-footed, underground-dwelling little people. Mushrooms somehow fall into the same category. I do not like them either.

3. I also hate space, but I love yogurt. (J's translation: "She's a yogurt fanatic.") Therefore, when I am Queen of the World, I will replace NASA with a federal yogurt program. Go ahead and laugh, but I know that it will change the world! You'll see! Better digestion for all!

4. I've inherited a family talent for improvising new lyrics to almost any song and to suit almost any situation. See this post. But my all-time masterpiece may be a song about manatees in estuaries to the tune of Madonna's "Get Into the Groove." I made it up to distract myself from impending death by exhaustion on a sea-kayaking trip where the tide was perpetually flowing against me and my puny paddles. I believe it began something like this:

   Slow, minumum wake
   Boy you don't want to take
   The life of a manatee-e-e-ee!

What can I say? It's a gift.

Oh, and J and I got engaged on that trip despite the fact that the death-by-exhaustion was his idea.

5. When I am stressed, I have dreams about my teeth getting broken and/or falling out. I also develop a scaly patch on my left elbow. I call it my "stress elbow." Nice, huh?

6. Since living in Japan, I habitually flip through catalogs, magazines, etc. back to front. It's all I can do to force myself not to do this with books.

So, there you have it. Weird women of the web, I am one of you. I'm not going to tag 6 others, but I'll be happy to read about your own 6-pronged weirdness if you leave a comment telling me where to go.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

the squirrel has got my back

Oh, hello! It's been a little over a week since I've posted anything here, but I realize that's an eternity in internet time. Where have I been? In Transitionville, my friend. We came back from the forest, where we were more in danger of drowning (from the constant rain) than freezing (we stayed in a cozy cabin with a fireplace), and the next day I started my new job on the 30th floor of the office building of milk and honey.

It's like my new employers wanted – are you ready for this? - to create an office space where people would feel comfortable and happy and provided for so they would like being at work! And it's working! I like it!

As a foundation that supports, among other things, arts and culture, my new workplace has an art collection, curated by my boss. She said I could pick a piece from the collection for my office. Well, I went to look at what was left and it was clearly the dregs: a few old newspaper engravings of Ye Olde Steel Workers and Ye Olde Blast Furnances – you might think that I, as a historic preservationist by training, would jump at these, but actually, not so much – and one great big oversized photograph of a squirrel.*

So I said, "I'll take the squirrel!" and such a commotion broke out! Everyone, it seemed, had an opinion about the squirrel, from "I knew I was going to like her! She picked the squirrel!" to "It's so creepy! I couldn't have that in my office!" If it was a litmus test, I guess everyone now knows where I stand on pictures of suburban rodents. Bring 'em on!

If you want to know what it's like to spend three days in a cabin in the forest with two toddlers while it rains relentlessly outside, there are more pictures on Flickr. None of squirrels, however.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: my plans for the rest of the afternoon. A hot mug of tea, leftover Christmas emmy-ems, as Iris calls them, and the East Village Inky. Bliss.

* For some reason I couldn't link directly to the picture in question, so if you want to experience the squirrely goodness, you'll have to do a little navigating here: first to "color," then to "chipmunk," which is on the second page. You say chipmunk, I say squirrel, but let's not call the whole thing off because I love having this larger-than-life little guy in my office.
Thanks Sarah for the direct link!

Friday, January 12, 2007

turquoise this and turquoise that

My most recent thrift finds make me want to host a brunch! My favorite meal. I can just taste the coffee in this percolator – okay, I'm a bit of a snob so I'd actually use it as a carafe, after brewing in my trusty Krups – and see the scones piled on that square turquoise platter. Raspberry ginger scones. (Does anyone have a good scone recipe that I could adapt in an attempt to reproduce these? I've never made them myself, just remember them dreamily from my favorite bakery in Cambridge, MA, which I hear has now closed, ending access to those scones forever unless I figure something out.)

I'm really warming to this brunch idea. Ooooh, I could use my other turquoise dishes, too!

I realize my little raku vase is not a dish, but a brunch table needs a flower or two. And see those glasses in the handy-dandy caddy? It's not a brunch without bloody Marys. Though bloody Marys and scones... I don't know... I may have to rethink this menu. Savory scones, maybe. Anyway, the glasses were a wedding present. Don't the best wedding presents come from thrift stores? So you can't register, but the surprise is half the fun.

I'm so fond of this color, I painted a whole room with it. It came out a little brighter than I intended. It's like being inside a Tiffany box – are those also turquoise on the inside? I wouldn't know – so we call it the Tiffany room.

This ceramic pot is a handpainted Czech piece from the 1930s or maybe the 40s marked "Ditmar Urbach." It was my grandmother's, but I don't know how or where she got it. My mom just gave it to me. I adore it.

And now, I am going to be quiet for a few days. All is quiet on the western Pennsylvania front. Unplugged, even. We are going camping with friends in a cabin in the woods. What else would you do in the middle of January? The weather forecast says rainy and cold, so I can tell you this: we're packing heavy.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

corners of my home: prime real estate

I used to love the Flickr group corners of my home, then not so much, but lately I'm coming back around. Here are a couple corners of my home I'm posting today.

Both used to be part of a hideous full bathroom the previous owner of our house installed off of the former butler's pantry behind the kitchen (now tragically stripped of all its built-ins, but a bright and happy room; we call it the sunroom or, when we're feeling extra-fancy, the breakfast room). I don't have pictures of the old bathroom because it was so dark and cramped, it was impossible to photograph. Every inch of it, except for the insides of the tub and sink and toilet, was covered in disgusting plastic tile. It was so awful, we didn't even use it. We preferred to make the trip upstairs.

Then last year we (meaning J) made one of our home renovation dreams come true by ripping out that awful bathroom and enclosing the back half of it as a powder room.

Now that's better! We have a blond bamboo counter and stained bamboo floor and chair rail (in this context, would it be called a throne rail?), and a bowl sink made by our potter friend Gary Pletsch, who has really got to get a website so I can link to him. If you're local, visit him at Penn Avenue Pottery in the Strip! We used an old piece of driftwood as a towel rod and even framed one of the ghastly old tiles in remembrance of what the room used to be. That's what that square on the back wall is. The medicine cabinet is a relic from our basement which we painted red. The inside of the door is red, too.

This left an alcove in the sunroom where the front half of the bathroom used to be. This summer, when we busted through the back kitchen wall, the alcove became a little hallway.

Now that I'm going to be working more from home, I'm setting up a little workspace in this unfinished hall between our kitchen and bathroom – so glamorous! – downstairs.

I have an office/studio upstairs, or I will again soon – J and I are in the messy midst of switching rooms – don't ask why, long story. But I like to work amid the hubbub of my family. Even as a kid, I shunned the perfectly good worktable in my bedroom for homework purposes, preferring to spread out on the kitchen table or in a family room chair, books and papers all around me, using my lap for a desk.

In back of my computer table you can still see the grid of scored mastic where the old bathroom tile was adhered to the wall. Ultimately, we want to remove this and expose the brick underneath. But until then, I'd like to do something to make it more attactive. Yesterday I was all gung ho to hang a piece of fabric there, then realized there's no way to hang it short of drilling into the masonry. Maybe I could put up a big piece of homasote?

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

before dawn when I am writing this. Although the stomach-churning stress subsided with the new job offer, I am still insanely insomniac. My adrenalin levels must be worthy of a marathon starter. There were moments last week when I did not see how it would all get done: the loose ends tied up, the office packed, the instructions left, the goodbyes said. But it did get done – who am I kidding, I worked like mad to get it all done – and by 5:00 on Friday, I was in a booth at Kaya, ordering a celebratory drink. Big exhale! (Then stay up all night.)

I'm taking this week sort-of off before plunging into my new job at the foundation. I do have a meeting there on Thursday, and yesterday, I taught my first class of the new semester. It was marvelous: I spent all day at the university, a.m. meeting + few hours of prep + lunch + afternoon class, without feeling the whole time like I should have been doing something else. I am not good at multi-tasking. I am good at focusing. Hopefully this new world order will allow me to do much more of that.

Now, I know everyone is totally over Christmas, but there is just one more thing I have to show off.

Yes, yes it is! the Tord Boontje Before Dawn curtain! Didn't I tell you my family – in this case my father-in-law – has a knack for gifting?

Music hound that he is, I hope he is half as pleased with my gift to him: framed photographs of letters from local vintage signs.

Okay, that was two things, forgive me. I have a bit more show-and-tell (non-holiday-related, never fear) which I think I'll spread out over the week.

Ah, the sun is up! Time to make a pot of coffee.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

the end

Of an era. Is in sight. Is the beginning. Pick your ending.

Tomorrow is my last day at City Planning (I’m not giving anything away here that I haven’t already said before, am I? I’m too lazy to go back and check old posts to see if I rashly identified my workplace. But I’m sure I did, probably hoping not-so-subconsciously to be discovered and fired.) Eight years I’ve been there! That’s longer than I’ve been anywhere, including childhood homes. Longer than I’ve lived in my house or known my husband. Damn.

I’m not going to reiterate all the reasons I’ve loved this work and hate to leave it, or why I have to go. Wow, that sounds a lot like talking about a break-up. I’m just going to say that this work has been so tied up with Who I Am for so long, it is really strange to feel that tie dissolving.

Cleaning out my desk drawer at work, here are some old fortunes I found:

     Change is the watchword of progress.

     Don’t be afraid to take that big step.

     You are on the verge of something big.

     If you feel you are right, stand firmly by your

     In the near future, you will discover how fortunate you

Actually, I think the future is here.