Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's/Other Parent's Day

Sending love out to both my father and my partner.

Me and my dad:

Liss and Ian:

Friday, June 18, 2010

Karen Elson Review

This is my rather brief review of not only the show, but the whole evening (including attendees).

Firstly, I only had one club soda and no urge to smoke.  So yay for that.  In fact, I didn't feel quite as self-conscious as I'd anticipated.  Being in a dark space helps.

Karen Elson has a surprisingly good voice, and she was very gracious.  She kept commenting on how "sweet" everyone was.  She wore a peach 30's bias cut satin dress, which was beautiful.  The bassist, also a woman, wore a vintage dress and had her black hair pulled over one shoulder.  The men and the keyboardist/accordian player/backup singer (a woman) wore fedoras and suits.   Even the person I took for the roadie had a suit and fedora on as well as a ZZ Top-esque beard.  Speaking of which, if I were a man, I'd totally have mutton chops or another kind of distinctive sideburn like the guitarist did.

The music was good, and I'll definitely buy the CD.  The concert didn't change my life, but I'd say it enriched it.  She played mostly tunes from her new CD but also threw in some covers like "Season of the Witch" and a tune she used to do with The Citizens Band.  The music had a nice darkness to it.  Nothing like a couple of murder ballads and references to the ground opening up to make it interesting.

The opening band was from Hamilton, which I found amusing.  Maybe I should've carpooled with them.  Please note - I am not a fan of the deep v-neck on men.  I know it's the look (American Apparel's hawking them like no tomorrow), but to me, it's just a little sleazy.  Eech.

The crowd was mixed - age and disposition (fashion or music) - with a few drunks thrown in for authenticity.  A young woman, who I knew to be fashion-affiliated (because someone said "Oh, I knew the fashion crowd would show up"), was wearing a 1980's nightmare: stretch white lace top (long sleeves), a denim sleeveless vest, some kind of tiered below-the-knee skirt, and, although I could only make out the fact that she was wearing boots, I wouldn't be surprised if they were cowboy boots.  Let the 80s go.  They are the least interesting decade for fashion.  Trust me.  I have photos.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Big girl out on the city alone

 That's the way it's looking tonight.

I have two tickets to go see Karen Elson, the stunningly beautiful model turned singer/songwriter, tonight and no one to go with.  This is one of those things I hate - going to something that will definitely be conversation-worthy and having no one to really share it with.  Oh sure, I can and will review it here, there, and everywhere, but it's different if the person with whom you're talking experienced it too and can add their perspective.  Maybe I'll make some new friends there.  Most likely I'll sit at the bar and nurse a club soda (driving).  Too bad you can't smoke inside anymore (says the girl who ran six miles yesterday).

You can check out her music yourself.   She's got some videos up on YouTube.  The title track from her album is The Ghost Who Walks.  Right now it's making me think a little of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds with a southern Gothic twist a la a supermodel from England.

I'll bring my camera in case I can snap a few photos.  I may be too stunned to lift my camera however...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The rewards of teaching

Got my evaluations from this past academic year today.  Here are my two favourite comments (so far).  They demonstrate the range of experiences.

"Thank you for helping to kill the joy I used to experience while reading and writing."  Really?  It was only a composition class!  My power is greater than I know.

"You are a unicorn maiden."  Finally someone recognizes me for what I am.

I swear both of these were actual comments made by students I taught.

Monday, June 14, 2010


I know I didn't post yesterday, which broke my current writing streak, but I refrained from doing so for two reasons:  healthy paranoia (saw a creepy Criminal Minds episode where the killer stalked his victims via on-line activity and a segment on 60 Minutes about the vulnerability of life-as-we-know-it on account of foreign hackers) and the fact that I wasn't really sure what I wanted to say.  Sometimes it's better to let the moment come to you than to force it just because you said you'd write.
   But more importantly,  we didn't buy the Batavus bike we looked at yesterday.  The day before we'd had a discussion about finances, and we're both aware that we're living beyond our means.  It's kind of crazy when you realize that because everything just feels like it's okay.  But when you look at what comes in and what goes out, you quickly realize that there's a discrepancy there.  It's very much a growing up moment, at least for me.
   However, that wasn't why we didn't buy the bike (Batavus Entrada pictured below).  We ended up passing on it because neither of us was in love with it.  I liked the ride and had it been a few hundred dollars cheaper, I might've jumped on the opportunity then and there - I can fake a little love until it actually develops.  But Liss was lukewarm, and if we were really going to share this bike, then we should both feel strongly about it.  So for now, no new bike.
    Quite honestly, I really like the styling of the more traditional (although made for the US market) Breukelen.   And yes, that's Brooklyn.
(It generally has a skirt guard too, but it's not pictured here).
    Both bikes are seven speeds, which will make commuting a bit easier than it is on the one-speed Raleigh folding bike pictured in an earlier post.   However, summer session is over soon, and then we're off for a bit.  We'll be taking our road bikes on that trip.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Less verbiage and more visuals

It's been a word-heavy week so I'm just posting a few pictures to break it up.

Here's me and my father after the 10K in Virginia last week:

 Here's our handiwork on our front yard:

Here's the first finished sock of a pair I started last Friday on the flight to DC:
(I like how the lighting in this photo makes it look kind of mysterious.)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Quick tired note

I never realized how much time my father spends on the computer until he spent it on mine.  I'm too tired to post much tonight but will hopefully have something more interesting to say tomorrow.   While my father may have spent the last hour or so on my computer, I'm glad to have him around.  He leaves tomorrow and then on Tuesday goes back to Haiti for a month for the Red Cross.  While I worry (it's genetic, ask my mom), I know that it's important that he goes.  Such is life.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Cycle chic could be close

I'm having hopeful visions of a new (to us) bike in our stable.  We'd get rid of three (!) but still have plenty of wheels.  Keep your fingers crossed.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A deep sense of satisfaction

Thanks for all the comments on my last post.  I usually try to avoid voicing these kinds of disappointments but sometimes it just hits a nerve.  What can I say?  I was really hopeful (they'd had that story since October!).  By the way, I enjoy both gin and vodka, but more often stick to vodka because once I had too many gin martinis and had the worst and weirdest dreams (plus a wicked hangover).
   The May/June issue of Selvedge arrived today - finally!  I'd seen it at the workroom a few weeks ago, but now I have it in my hot little hands.  I plan on savouring it over the next few days or weeks.  There are just so many beautiful things to consider within it.
   The day was a bit rainy, but my father and I decided to tackle my front yard - putting in some more plants, moving a couple of others, and giving a good layer of mulch.  The front yard has truly been a work in progress.   We've taken it from grass, which we mowed irregularly, to a more sustainable lawn based on my interpretation of xeriscaping.  I like the way it's turning out because it's totally unexpected, and after our three-hour plus gardening extravaganza I now await a call from House & Garden.  The hard, dirty work was very satisfying, and it was great to see results like that.  Hopefully I'll have some good light to take a photo tomorrow.
   Another area of satisfaction was dinner - my father brought up potatoes from his garden, and we made a potato salad with a kind of chimichuri dressing.  Somehow I cooked the potatoes perfectly - just tender enough and no mush!  We had steak (from our meat CSA) plus corn on the cob (first of the season for us) and an awesome veggie salad Liss made.  I know, it doesn't sound like a lot, but it satisfied on so many levels.
   Finally, the Chicago Blackhawks won the Cup tonight.  They were our favourites since the Rangers were nowhere in sight (having missed the playoffs altogether).  Maybe next year we'll be cheering the Blue Shirts!
   Really today was about finding deep satisfaction in some simple pleasures.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Working through the setbacks...

I'm really hoping the disappointment of yet another rejection (literary) dissipates before I start teaching in, oh, five minutes.  I don't know why I get my hopes up, but I still do.  I guess that's why I'm still in the game.
    Maybe tomorrow's gardening with my dad will give me a sense of accomplishment and completion.
    It all just makes me tired.  Anyone?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Dateline DC

I mentioned picking peas from one of my father's community garden plots (he has two) in my post of a few days ago.  Well, that same garden is being considered for a Marine Corps expansion, and the story was in the Washington Post today.  My dad has become quite active in this cause and told me that a lot of the problems have been caused by a private developer whose original plans for his land fell through.  Now he's trying to cut a deal that puts the garden at risk.  I'm glad that my father is engaged in this cause, and the garden is lucky to have him on their side.  Go activist dad, go!
     One of the bonuses of driving back to Canada (besides control over transportation and smaller carbon footprint than a plane) is being able to bring a case of beer back.  And the bonus of having my dad with me, besides the fact that he's with me, is that we get to bring TWO cases of beer back.  My joy is hardly containable.  I'll be bringing home some Sierra Nevada, Flying Dog, Dogfish Head, Red Hook, Magic Hat, and Honkers (a new one to me), and I'll probably be hoarding it.  I feel most secure when I have a case of microbrew sitting in the cellar.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

DC Details

Although I slept poorly last night (one of those nights where I was sure I was up the entire time but then had crazy dreams that assured me I was not), my father and I had a decent run today.  It was good in a number of ways: 1) we were both totally unconcerned with time; neither of us was set on setting a personal record, so we walked when we needed to; 2)  we finally ran it together (this being our third attempt); and 3) my dad won the bronze medal in his age category (it still counts if he was three out of three).
     Tomorrow we drive back together to Hamilton.  I will be happy to be home again.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

DC Directive

Have I mentioned how hot and humid DC can be and happens to be at this moment?  I have to admit that there is something I like about that kind of weather - in small doses and with access to air conditioning, of course.  I think it's the enveloping effect of it.
     Bought an ice cream maker at a thrift shop today - $4 with box & instructions.  It's a  hand crank, but I figure you should work for your treats.  My dad and I hit a few yard sales, a couple of thrift stores, and stopped by his garden, which always makes me jealous, to pick some peas to bring back north with us.
     Early rise and shine tomorrow - I think we're leaving the house at 7am (gasp!) because the run is about an hour away, and we have to park and take a shuttle bus (15 min) to the start, and we haven't picked up our bibs or anything like that.  Despite the early time, I'm looking forward to this.  I like running with my dad.  It's something that we share.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Dispatch from DC

Here I am in "our nation's capital."  I can say that because a) I'm a US citizen and b) well, I'm here.  I lived here for five years in the late 80s/early 90s, and I have to say - everytime I come back, I remember things I liked about it.  In my heart, Brooklyn is my constant, but DC has its charms.
     For example, today my dad and I went to the National Gallery of Art (East Wing) and saw "Beat Memories," photographs taken and commented upon by Allen Ginsberg.  Firstly, the museum is free.  No suggested donation, just flat-out free, and there are a lot more museums like it in the city.  Secondly, the exhibit was great.  My dad and I enjoyed it both together and separately.  My father was interested because it was an era he lived and participated in.  I was really interested because it gave me a picture of this incredible creative community that actually seemed to function as a community.  Writers shared work, collaborated with each other and other artists, and shared lives.  While Liss and I share a life that's both intimate and creative, I'm really jealous of this idea of a larger community.
     I'm a lapsed member of a writing group, but it's hardly a substitute for people who are involved with each other's daily and creative lives, lives that are intertwined.  I definitely don't have that.  I write alone.  I'm reluctant to share work with well-meaning friends who say, "Oh, I'd love to read something you've written;" maybe it's because I think they're just being polite (and hell, most of them don't even read my blog).  There's very little of that cross-hybridization that seemed to be depicted in the Ginsberg photographs, and maybe that makes me a little sad.  I know it wasn't all milk and honey, but it seemed passionate and fecund.
     Afterwards we headed to the Sculpture Garden to hear a little jazz.  Yes, it was free.  There were a lot of people there, having picnics, meeting with friends, listening to music, and I was a little jealous, not because I wasn't with my own friends but because it's something I wish I could just do on a given Friday afternoon in the summer.  I know that this can be a bonus of living in a bigger city, and maybe I haven't tapped into similar happenings in Hamilton, but I'm not harbouring any illusions.
     Again, it's about making a life and accepting responsibility for it.  Sometimes I'd like some more options.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Fox in Socks

Not claiming I'm a fox, but I like that book a lot and welcome the opportunity to use it as a post title.  But check out my Noro socks; don't you think they'd make the wearer foxy?  In a lederhosen kind of way maybe?
Note the extra special toe on the left - just didn't have quite enough yarn to squeak it out.
   I made an impulse purchase of some sock yarn last weekend, Lorna's Laces, and am hoping to start on an overdue pair for a friend of mine this weekend.  Thankfully I impulsively bought two skeins so I can make a pair in the same colourway for myself.  Now that's crafty.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Two-Year Plan

On my birthday, or thereabouts, I came up with the goal of being at the weight and in the shape I ultimately wanted to be.  All my older friends talk about how difficult it is to maintain those things.  I figured, at a certain point there's a limit to the changes you can make to your body.  A deadline was a good way to motivate me to get it done before it was a moot point.
     I'm just about five months away from that deadline.  That's one of the reasons why getting into the Nike Women's Marathon was so exciting - I should be in great shape by then and it's only weeks before my birthday.  I'm trying to practice common sense in my training (not generally my MO) - increasing slowly, listening to my body, etc., and feeling pretty good.  In fact, I'm going down to DC to run a 10K with my dad (who has the most amazing legs from cycling - no lie!).
     I'm a little sheepish to admit that I think about my weight.  It feels a little politically and socially incorrect.  My community is into big women.  I'll never be mistaken for a waif, and quite honestly, I'm not interested in that.  However, I know that I perform better (work & play) at a lower "fighting weight," and perhaps more importantly, I have a lot of money invested in my wardrobe, and I'd just assume lose the weight to fit back into it.  That would be an economic choice.
     So there it is.  Only five months to go.  I'm having visions of Amazons dancing in my head.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I'm trying to reimagine or reconfigure items of clothing so I can wear them again.  That's what I did with  the J. Morgan Puett dress below.  It used to just hang straight down.  I laid it on the ground, rumpled the skirt in various ways, and then stitched the folds in place.  This is the first time I've worn it, and I like it, but I do have to admit I look crazy in the photo.  I'm not sure how I feel about that...
    Behind me is my little Raleigh folding bike.  It's from the late 60's/early /70's.  It has one speed and small wheels (15"?), so when I "get up to speed," my feet just spin with the crank.  I like the eccentricity of riding it around although I long for a 3-speed Batavus.
   I used to ride all the time, especially when I lived in Brooklyn.  (In fact, I have four bikes in total right now.)  I don't know why I haven't been riding in recent years, but the fact hasn't escaped my notice.   I feel like this relatively small step - riding to work - will get me back into it all.