Sunday, August 31, 2008

Edna and The Boys, 1941

"Esther, Mom, Alga" (May 1942, La Crosse, Wisconsin) and "Untitled"

As a writer, you appropriate other people's lives like skins. You live in them for a while and suppose what they'll do next. That's why I was so excited to come across a vintage suitcase full of "Instant Relative" photos at SMUT (So Many Unique Things) on SE Burnside. Digging through a trough of pictures that - at one time - truly meant something to someone is a bit creepy and voyeuristic, but thrilling. But, like I said before, we're writers. It's what we do.

More instant relative choices:

"Untitled" and "Dad, January 26, 1954"

"Untitled" (top) and "Untitled (Jan '59)" and "Christmas 1966"

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Spotted: Soup Sense

let them eat soup

Rock'n'roll is dream soup. What's your brand?
- Patti Smith

I'd been hearing a rumble that a fledgling soup enterprise CSA (community supported, soup, natch) was soon to roll into town (on bike wheels, of course.) Excited to see that both my home and my office were on the soup route (identified as Souplandistan on the map), I looked forward to the grand voyage. At the Hawthorne Street Fair, I came face-to-face with the Soup Cycle mastermind, and wouldn't you know it, it was my old next-door-neighbor, Jed. He's a really nice guy and quite a cook. And what's better than fresh, warm soup during Portland's grey season?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Fat Purple Figs.

fig! mama's on fire!

After several days of 100-plus degree heat in Portland, I awoke this morning to heavy thunder and - yes! - a chilled rain. If you live in Portland (and enjoy it), you share my sick love affair with rain. And it's been so long. So tonight after work, I celebrated being able to cook in the kitchen again, without feeling sweaty and faint. I tore up the kitchen, kids. Both Zucchini Stuffed with Marco's Pistou and Tomatoes Stuffed With Pasta Salad (giant 1.5 pound babies I procured at the Hollywood Farmer's Market on Saturday). Tomorrow, since the 70ish temperatures are sticking around, I'm tackling the Grilled Rainbow Chard with Fava Beans and Oregano, and this *swoon* recipe for Fig and Port Ice Cream (did I mention I got my hands on an almost-new Cuisinart ice-cream maker this weekend at a neighbor's yard sale for seven bucks, which means I can rationalize buying port for a recipe?)

Oh man, Martha. Be jealous. Very, very jealous.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sunday's Cultural Report

Did St. Francis really preach to the birds? Whatever for?
If he really liked birds he would have done better to preach to the cats.
- Rebecca West

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Sure, It's Less Obvious Than Solitaire...

Work can be fun again!

Ha. Blog of a Bookslut posted yesterday on this literary-heavy office procrastination feature, compliments of the New Zealand Book Council. Says Bookslut:

As my homeboy Julian Novitz puts it, "Basically it takes you to a fake windows desktop containing folders of short stories and poems that have been formatted into powerpoint slide-shows (complete with bullet-points, pie-charts, graphs, incongruous media images, etc), the idea being that you can then read them safely in the workplace, while still appearing to be vaguely industrious for the bosses." There's Tolstoy and Wilde and Dickinson and Novitz and lots more reading bound to be more interesting than that budget projection from Frank in accounts.

I'm already a fan of the New Zealand Book Council. They're partnering with Wordstock (my lovely day job) to bring New Zealand author Rachael King a million miles to Portland for Wordstock. Yip. But that they would offer up deceptive ways to read Oscar Wilde at work, that's really something special...

{...somewhat unrelated, but the picture above was taken by manyfires, of a soapbox cubicle at the 2006 Mt. Tabor Adult Soap Box Derby in SE Portland. This year's races are happening Saturday August 16th, from 10-4 pm, 60th and Salmon. Be there or be square.}

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Political Poultry or Cheeky Chickens?

In anticipation of Obama announcing his VP running mate before the DNC Convention later this month in Denver, a little pro-Obama scenery from a chicken coop in NoPo.

...and I hope the comic doesn't ruffle feathers with any of y'all.

Monday, August 11, 2008

My Name Is E-, and I'm a Wallflower.

Dear Only-other-person-at-the-dog-park last Tuesday evening:

Your friendly smile when I reluctantly came within 20 feet of you (which was still quite a sacrifice for me, so the dog I was watching could play with your noble black lab) was in vain. You wondered what was up when I kept my distance, staring at the clouds, the grass, our dogs who were becoming increasingly intimate as my stubborn silence became more and more awkward. My God, Why wouldn't I just speak?

Yes sir, I'm shy. Small talk with strangers is my personal Chinese water torture. But although my shyness may be chronic, I'm determined. A survivor! So, like any good introvert, when I finally fled home I hit the books to address my problem (actually it was Book's moved-to-Vegas-to-become-a-stripper cousin, Women's Beauty Magazine). It suggested that small talk is easy if you take a few tips from Improv actors (who, for the record, scare the bejesus out of me. Who willingly gets on stage to make a fool of themselves?)

Last night I went to a volunteer meeting for this lovely group, and put the Improv tips to use, with mixed results.

TIP: Use the "yes...and" technique to move the story along. Example: While at the dog park, instead of a painful smile followed by silence, I could've responded to stranger's comment,"It's nice this evening, hmm?" with "YES, it is nice this evening AND I have no problem letting you know that."
WHAT I SAID AT THE MEETING: "Yes, I too used to live in Washington, DC...and there were a lot of Ethiopians in my neighborhood."
RESULTS: Mixed curiosity. She had actually just moved from Baltimore, not exactly D.C., and she had been referring to the insane number of vintage furniture shops in her new NoPo neighborhood. She didn't move to a different chair, so I'd like to think the exchange was successful.

TIP: Go with your gut. Don't over think what you're going to say.
WHAT I SAID: "She has little toes."
RESULTS: I mean, it was a strange baby in my face, what was I supposed to say? The baby didn't seem so thrilled with my comment, or my follow-up foot tickle, and began to cry. The mother informed me that his name was Matthew.

TIP: Make everyone in your group look good, play a useful supporting role (this is an advanced version of the "yes...and" technique).
WHAT I SAID: "Are you done with that pen?" When she replied in the affirmative, I smiled and passed the pen along to another woman with a chipper, "Yes, a lot of people want to use this pen to sign up; this room is so full of talented women, I'm impressed. What are your best skills, do you think?" These three simple sentences were my evening's Everest.
RESULTS: This was a sweaty mess, but I ended up feeling pretty sophisticated after I said it, like I had revealed myself to be the volunteer meeting's Holly Golightly. Nobody else seemed to notice, but that's exactly what this move requires - flawless, under-the-radar execution. Like I said, I'm a survivor.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Look! It's a Fashionable Beanpole.

When I abandoned the left coast for college in New England, being of modest means and a rural, farming town background, I relied on J. Crew catalogs to instruct me on how I should dress in my new Ivy League life. I remember visiting a friend at Tufts, rolling my eyes at the J. Crew lady models ripped from the catalog adorning his dorm wall. I remember another friend who had just come out as a lesbian, paging through the magazine, jabbing at the photos, suggesting that there was an obvious lesbian subtext (I'm amazed at how on this, as well as in many other advertising campaigns, she was right on). The point is this: I've spent a disgusting amount of time being loyal to J.Crew. Unfortunately, it's a small but not insignificant part of how I identify my fashion self, how I know what I'll be comfortable wearing. But in the last few years, the models have shrunk. To the point that I am turned off, disgusted. They're no longer the rosy cheeked hotties taped to my friend's dorm wall. They're beanpoles, with kneecaps larger than their thighs. They look like they were attacked with an overly ambitious graduate of Air Brush Me Away Academy.

Admitting this is hard, because fashion is like this. It's obvious. I should disown J.Crew and move on. But I, and I suspect, many other women, are stuck with this conundrum. By disowning J.Crew, we're disowning ourselves a little bit. But then you flip a few more pages in the catalog and see the junior J.Crew models, all of six and seven years old. And you know it's only a matter of years before they identify themselves with J. Crew, Senior. And there's no way they'll manage to live up to the incredible shrinking J.Crew model. And fashion, which used to be fun, will make them feel like crap.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Press On!

Today I trolled north Portland for Ivy Street's Liberty Hall, to attend the MARC (Music Art Resource Collective) letterpress fair. Lots of cute stuff; I wishwishwish I had a letter press so I could've sorted through all those little letter hardware pieces for a Big Find. For now I'm just a letterpress opportunist, an admirer, a wannabe.