Tuesday, December 20, 2011

possible pitch for a japanese sci fi flick...

Setting: A serene, sleepy little snow covered village somewhere on a shelf in my dining room in the NorthWest.

Picture a schoolhouse, a  country church, and teeny tiny villagers making their way to Midnight mass through fleecy white snowdrifts...

All is calm, all is bright.

 The magical white snow glows as if lit from below by tiny Christmas lights...

Suddenly, the villagers look up, pointing toward the mountains on the outskirts of town.
They run, screaming for their lives...

Santa-zilla is coming! 

You'd better watch out.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

do you believe?

Kris Kringle: You think I'm a fraud, don't you?
Dorey Walker: Fraud is a bit too strong of a word.
Kris Kringle: But you don't believe in me.
Dorey Walker: I believe that Christmas is for children.
Kris Kringle: Well your daughter doesn't believe in me, either.
Dorey Walker: I don't think that there's any harm in not believing in a figure that many do acknowledge to be a fiction.
Kris Kringle: Oh, but there is. I'm not just a whimsical figure who wears a charming suit and affects a jolly demeanor. You know, I... I... I'm a symbol. I'm a symbol of the human ability to be able to suppress the selfish and hateful tendencies that rule the major part of our lives. If... you can't believe, if you can't accept anything on faith, then you're doomed for a life dominated by doubt. 

Well, I think we all know how this ends, don't we?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

you'd better watch out...

This has definitely got to be
one of the weirdest things I've seen in a long time.
What ever happened to the good old days,
 when all a boy wanted for Christmas was a Red Ryder BB gun?
You'll shoot your eye out, kid.
Naughty or nice? You decide.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

i'm not buying it

It's  a crazy, crazy time we're living in...a time where people all over the world are rising up and protesting corporate greed and manipulation in large numbers - risking arrest and personal injury to send a message that it is MOST. DEFINITELY. NOT. okay for corporations to make huge profits at the expense of  the very people who buy their products.

On the other hand - many, many Americans will be abandoning their family tables tomorrow evening to shop until they drop, instead of spending time enjoying a holiday in which we are supposed to be giving thanks for all that we have.

Many retailers will be open for business on Thanksgiving this year. This is not new. For years, most supermarket and drugstore chains have had at least limited hours on Thanksgiving, but this has historically been more about getting last minute items like whipping cream or pepto bismol  than deep discounts on flat screen TVs or the latest must-have video games.

A Macy's spokeswoman said There are many associates who would prefer to work this time as they appreciate the flexibility it affords their schedules for the holiday weekend.And a spokesman for Target said, "...we've heard from our guests that they are excited." 
Target evidently didn't bother to ask their employees how they felt about working on Thanksgiving. One of them started this petition.
At least Brian Dunn, the CEO of Best Buy said, "I feel terrible", about having to open on Thanksgiving.
I for one, am not buying it.

I'll be hanging out, enjoying the holiday with my good friends and family, for whom I am incredibly thankful. And I won't even be anywhere near a Walmart or Target or Best Buy or Macy's.

Here's wishing you all a happy, healthy and all around wonderful Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Friday, November 11, 2011


11/11/11. An auspicious day, according to my sources. A day positively chockablock full of holidays. Firstly, it's Veteran's Day, a national day to appreciate and celebrate those brave souls who have fought wars both just and unjust.

photo borrowed from this site

This date also marks Corduroy Appreciation Day,  earnestly celebrated by The Corduroy Appreciation Club, on the date that most resembles corduroy's very linear characteristics... Corduroy aficionados around the globe will be hosting gala events on 11/11/2011, perhaps the most important date for these devotees of the wale since, well, since  11/11/1911.

According to this article in the Daily News,  the club has also found a child born on November 11, 2000, who turned 11 on this most propitious day, and who may very well be the "Messiah of Corduroy".

photo by Jeff Bachner/News

(this is NOT the Messiah, but he could possibly be her father...)

But perhaps the most interesting holiday that falls on 11/11/11 is World Hoop Day:

The goal is to raise consciousness on the benefits of "hooping", and the organization's ambassadors have distributed thousands of hula hoops to needy children around the world. 

My friend Ann brought several of her hula hoops to work today and dazzled us with her moves...

and her enthusiasm was contagious!

For more 11/11 holiday facts, click here to check out Aunt Snow's post on Doves Today.

Happy holidays!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


(photo borrowed from this site)
All Saints Day is a holy day in many Christian religions, commemorating all saints, both known and unknown.
I was raised a Catholic, though as an adult I've adopted a veritable potpourri of spiritual and philosophical beliefs gathered from the tenets of Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Islam and Science Fiction. I guess you could consider me a kind of "spiritual freethinker."

I still like the saints, though. My favorite is probably St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of both animals and nature. He took a vow of extreme poverty after being raised in relative affluence and tried for the rest of his life to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, promoting peace and love in his every encounter. Francis loved all creatures of the earth and took it upon himself to take care of those less fortunate than himself.  He was known to have preached to hundreds of birds to be thankful to God for their wonderful clothes, for their independence, and for God's care.
He was also a pacifist. During the Fifth Crusade, Francis decided to go to Syria to try and convert the Moslems himself. In the middle of a battle, he decided the simplest thing to do would be to go directly to the sultan to make peace and argue his case. After an apparently persuasive conversation, the sultan told him, "I would convert to your religion--which is a beautiful one--but we would both be murdered." 

I think St. Francis was the original hippie. Maybe that's why I feel so drawn to him.

The Catholic church recognizes many other patron saints-- individuals who are assigned as special protectors or advocates for occupations, situations, or places.  I kind of like the idea that there's a special saint you can ask for help with specific problems...I remember reciting this prayer to St. Anthony of Padua (Patron of Lost Items) when I'd misplaced something as a kid:
"Tony, Tony, please look around; {something} is lost and must be found!"
Invariably, after repeating this prayer over and over, the item would miraculously turn up.

So in the spirit of All Saints Day, and the Catholic tradition, here is a short list of Patron Saints for your edification:
Saint Anxieté  Patron of Impossible Deadlines & Foamy Coffee
Saint Bernardine     Patron of Advertising
Saint Concepta     Patron of Brainstorming and Procrastination
Saint Jude     Patron of Lost Causes and Desperate Situations
Saint Martin de Porres Patron of Hairdressers & Social Justice
Saint Clare of Assisi      Patron of Television
Saint Rita        Patron of the Impossible
Saint Honoré  Patron of Bakers, Florists & Pastry Chefs

Click here for more fascinating information on cool patron saints.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Some incidents stick in your mind and heart, even when they don't directly affect you personally. For some, certain dates bring up anxieties and emotions buried just beneath the surface of daily life. For others, it could be a major earthquake or tsunami or hurricane or tornado. You never really know when or why or which events will stir up something deep within you, they just happen to strike a chord, and that chord resonates throughout your very being.

When a large truck rumbles by and rattles the windows, or I'm stuck in traffic under a freeway overpass, it sparks a flashback to October 1989 and a collapsed double-decker freeway in Oakland, while at home in San Francisco my husband and children and I huddled in a doorway riding out the 7.2 earthquake that caused it.

Watching coverage of Barack Obama wading into crowds of people during the last presidential campaign, my heart leapt into my throat more than once at the dangers he faced. It launched an emotional  return to 1968 and the tragedies of the deaths of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King. 

I can no longer hear a plane flying low overhead without it triggering a memory of that warm September morning ten years ago, of the sight of airplanes cutting through clear blue New York skies to shatter so many lives. How, for the next week, the skies all across the country were eerily quiet while all air traffic was suspended.

Flashbacks are painful, yes, but they serve as reminders to savor and appreciate the good in the world, and the importance of working to change the bad stuff, however we can in our daily lives.

We wish that we could go back and prevent those tragedies, but we can't. The only hope is to move forward with renewed purpose and optimism, and to never forget those who gave up everything for those principals.

Monday, September 5, 2011

nature turns the page

I woke up the other day and summer was over. It was September first, and the quality of the daylight and scent of the season had suddenly changed. There was a slight nip in the air, and the soft, sweet, dense bouquet of summer had been replaced with the crisp aroma of cooling earth.

The atmosphere is crystal clear, the amber light comes slanting through the walnut tree out front. Squirrels have amped up the harvest, running around with two or three walnuts in bulging cheeks. They're burying the loot everywhere: in the garden, flower pots, under chair cushions, in unattended shoes.

The message from squirrel HQ?  Winter's coming...stock up!

We've had a short, cool summer up until now. Only one 90˚ day so far, but the forecast for next week looks promising.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

a back to school tutorial: how not to do laundry

This post was originally published in 2008, and still gets the most number of reads per week of all my posts (followed closely by "Photo styling 101: How to roll towels like a pro"). The traffic around this post always increases exponentially in mid September (coincidentally, around the time newly-minted college students start running out of clean laundry and begin frantically searching the internet for instructions) so I'm rerunning it as a sort of public service message, or maybe a cautionary tale. So let this be a lesson to you!

How not to do laundry

   We have a system for doing laundry at Camp Cactus...the evolution of which seemed to happen rather organically, and naturally (meaning: nobody actually designed the system, it just sort of occurred; and said system's evolution has happened at an agonizingly slow pace, like the melting of the glaciers before global warming). Here's how it works:
Step 1: There are 3 baskets, beautifully handmade by child laborers highly skilled workers in China. One for WHITES, one for LIGHTS, and one for DARKS. Are you with me so far? Ok, so these three beautifully handmade baskets usually reside in our ridiculously huge bathroom, waiting patiently to be filled with the correct shade of dirty laundry. (This seems very simple and logical and easy to me...so why do so many people insist upon doing their laundry in one giant, washing machine- killing load? But, I digress...)

Alternate Step 1: See steps three and four for explanation.

Step 2: The now-full basket of dirty laundry is moved into the hallway outside the bathroom, waiting for someone (anyone?) to carry it down 2 flights of stairs, over 2 baby gates (a story for another time) to the basement laundry room/hovel to be washed until sparkling clean, or at least smelling like spring rain.

Step 3: The sparkling clean, smelling-like-spring-rain laundry is plopped warm and fresh out of the dryer into its beautiful and functional Chinese basket, carted back up two flights of now exceedingly steep stairs, over two baby gates (destined to someday cause one of us in our increasingly aged condition to break a hip), to the bedroom, where it is deposited in the middle of the floor. This location was chosen (again in some organic, evolutionary way) for its position relative to moving about the bedroom, meaning of course that anyone wishing to move about must step around it. Evolutionary timeline of this era: millions of years (okay...maybe a day or two or five) Which brings us back to Alternate Step 1: (see above) where dirty laundry waits not for an empty basket.

Step 4:
After a few days sitting in the middle of the bedroom floor, the piles of dirty laundry have grown too big for the bathroom, and something must be done. So, the basket is emptied onto the largest flat surface available for folding.

At which time, it has started to resemble a giant sand castle molded in the shape of a hideous malformed lump, startling the lounging cat, and causing whoever faces the task of sorting (and sometimes even folding) this pile to sigh loudly and complain about the whole system.

There. All done. Now isn't that better? Stay tuned for my next tutorial: How not to fold sheets. Coming soon.

Monday, July 25, 2011

a little light summer reading, anyone?

It's always easy to spot an Oregonian on vacation outside of the Northwest. They're the ones sitting in the shade with the ethereal complexions, wearing sunglasses and wide brimmed hats, nose deep in a book. 
 Portland is a town full of readers, and I'm not sure, but I think it might possibly have something to do with our rainy climate. 
There is never a time when Powell's City of Books isn't packed, and our library has a ridiculously high circulation rate. This makes for some stiff competition when a new or interesting book is reviewed on NPR or in the NY Times or the Oregonian. Fortunately, the Multnomah County Library has a great website which enables you to search for and place holds on books online. Unfortunately, Portland is also a very web-savvy town, and when a book is mentioned on NPR, within a few seconds there are 350 holds placed on two copies, and you really have to have good reflexes to be one of the first in line to get it. This is exactly what happened when I read this review of "The Instructions" in the Oregonian early one morning in the beginning of January. I jumped up immediately, walked the thirty-six inches to my computer and placed a hold on the book at the library. I was something like number 245. I promptly forgot about it until last Friday, when I got an email from the library stating the book was waiting for me. 

When I went to the holds shelf, I thought I must have ordered an audio book. It looked like a big box sitting on the shelf. Then I remembered that the title of the review was "The best 1,000 page novel you'll ever read", and I realized what I was in for. 
(Wine cork added to show scale)
I just hope three weeks is long enough to finish it. 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

weekend wine report

I sure do love a good label, and having designed a few myself, I appreciate good art and snappy copy writing when I see it. Occasionally, I'm even suckered into tempted to buy something just because I like the label. Usually, the actual quality of the product doesn't have anything to do with the quality of the packaging, but every now and then the product almost lives up to the promise of the label.


Here are three bottles of wine that caught my eye a while ago at that bastion of good taste, Trader Joe's. I simply had to buy them, even though each of them exceeded my everyday wine budget of $4.99. I thought the artwork alone was worth the expense.

Lazy Bones is a Cabernet Franc from the Paso Robles area of the central California coast. (A region made famous in part by a starring role in the film Sideways). The label is a beautifully drawn and lettered    woodblock by Swiss artist Felix Vallotton circa 1896, so nice in fact, that I'd love to have a framed print of it. 
While I don't claim to be a wine connoisseur by any means, (see my everyday wine budget above) I do know what I like, and I liked this one. It has a lovely rich flavor like ripe (but not sweet) berries, and an earthy quality that reminded me of being in the forest. 
 The back-of-the-label story is almost as good
 as the artwork on the front:

Okay, so maybe the copy is a little over the top, but it's amusing, to say the least. All in all, not bad for $6.99.

Lost Sonnet is a Meritage, which indicates the wine is made from a blend of certain red grapes. This one is 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc.  The label described it as having "warm Christmas spice and earth on the nose," leading "into a verse of plush vanilla and chocolate covered cranberries." Personally, my impression was not quite as lyrical. 
I thought it tasted of burnt coffee beans, cherry pie baked in a smoky, oak-fired oven, and had a finish that scoured my tongue like hot steel wool. 
I got it way back in May, and at $9.99, it totally blew my budget. Critics say it should improve with age, but I don't think they meant only 2 months...I give the label a 10, though.

Cocoban was perhaps my favorite of the three.  It's light bodied, but full of fresh but not sweet cherry flavor. I have no idea what the blend is, but it definitely lived up to the description on the label, and although I didn't have a dark chocolate walnut cake with a cherry coulis to pair it with, it went quite nicely with Trader Joe's dark chocolate covered pretzels. 
I am, however, still waiting for it to take me to Nirvana.
At $6.99, that would be a heckuva bargain.
That's it for the wine report...

Monday, July 4, 2011

and it seems like only yesterday his art was on my fridge...

Last week, Matt hung his work
 in a group photography show at
 Portland State University's Autzen Gallery.  
Instead of an opening, they had a closing reception.
Even though I had already seen all the works in progress,
 I was still impressed with how good they looked on those clean white walls.

Father and son shared a touching moment
(pay no attention to the body language - apparently, it's hereditary)
Here's a group portrait of all three talented artists.
We trooped upstairs to see an older installation 
of Matt's graffiti series in the stairwell gallery

Seeing his work hanging in public made
 us so proud and impressed
...and it's so much cooler than hanging on our refrigerator!