Monday, March 2, 2015

Word of the Week - 52

The first year milestone for WotW on the blog, so I'm giving myself the nod for consistency.  Hey.  Now, on to important matters.
Beloved felted creatures from Celestine and the Hare.
Word of the Week:  NARRATIVE

noun, 1. a story or account of events, experiences, or the like, whether true or fictitious.
In the land of narrative, I have a new hero.  Her name is Karin, artist/proprietor at Celestine and the Hare.  She not only creates the most heartful, soulful felted creatures in her shed in Wales, she narrates (and shows in photos and videos) the goings-on in her world.  It is a place of humor, magic and fantasy which, given a choice, I would prefer to inhabit.  We have the option of residence in both worlds, for reality does at times demand our presence, by keeping up with daily reports from the shed and environs via Karin's Facebook page.

Even though it was a scant few months ago that I first discovered the wonders of those who "Live Norty" and "Swear Like a Panda," I don't remember exactly how I first encountered this delightful realm.  It was not long before Christmas, that much I know.  My sister and I laughed often over the carryings-on of, in particular, the norty (translate: naughty) weasels who are choklit-obsessed and exceedingly norty where choklit is concerned, and others such as Mary and Emily bear.  Here is a  sample post:

Original text from Celestine and the Hare, Feb. 26, 2015:

"Ooops I posted the wrong photo in my relief! Trying again
"Oh Little Panda we were SO worried about you. Why didn't you tell someone where you were going? We didn't dare tell anyone that we didn't know where you were as they would have all been so worried too"
"I told Baby Weasus to tell you..."
"But she's only a baby and such a scatter brain and she forgot and we were so worried and we had posters made and Jackie looking there and us looking here and we were so worried. You were gone such a long time! Where were you?"
"Well, you see I got a story out of Emily's library called the Elves and the Shoemaker and I did love it and I saw that Jackie was really really busy trying to do lots of colouring in for her book and write a new book too and she works ever so ever so hard and well I thought I was getting quite good at colouring in as I've been practising lots and lots and she said you need 10000 hours to get ok at something and I"ve not done it that long yet but I thought I could help a little bit here and there with the bits in the corners and sorting the paints out and changing the water and I make nice hot choklit so I thought I'd stay a little bit longer and help her just a little bit with the bits that no one would notice like the elves did with the shoes. So I told baby weasus to tell you I was staying a bit longer and would come home soon. But then I didn't realise how far it was from her house to here cos I was having a nap in the car so I got on my spacehopper and bounced home on it but it was night time by the time I got here and the shed was locked and everyone was asleep so I went into the car instead and snuggled down under the blanket on the floor of the car for the night but then in the morning she got up and drove me to the car doctors before I could get up and say and then they kept the car for aaaages cos of a light that what going on but it was ok cos the nice mechanic gave me some of his sandwiches and they have this machine where you can make hot choklit so I did that and there are loads of biscuits there in funny little packets of two which is odd cos why would anyone want only 2 biscuits so I ate all of them and then snuggled down for the night and in the morning the nice man put me in the cup holder after he had cleaned up the car and all the biscuit crumbs so she would see me when she came to get the car and here I am. And there's my space hopper too eh baby weasus?"
"oh oh Emily I remember!! Panda said he was staying a bit long er and it was a sekrit and not to worry!""
If Facebook will cooperate, follow the Celestine posts back to the beginning of December to become familiar with all the references, for example Baby Weasus is a small weasel from a highly innovative re-enactment of the Nativity story.  Each post charms me, as do the videos and photos, and I hope you will have a similar response.
The telling and inhabiting of our stories can influence the direction of our lives.  We can bring the magic of which we are made to ordinary matters, transforming our thoughts, our circumstances, our futures.  Because Karin so clearly exemplifies how we are enriched, entertained, softened, ensorcelled and brightened by the telling of extraordinary events, "true or fiction," I wanted to introduce her to any not yet familiar with her wide definition of art.
"What art offers is space — a certain breathing room for the spirit." ~John Updike
My own Norty Weasel, Gareth, greeted with choklit when he arrived as a birthday gift from my sister and brother-in-law.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Alphabet stamps for the un-shy

Borrowed logo.
Wee little fonts have their place.  I have a set of uppercase serif alphabet stamps no larger than typewriter type and, as they are no longer to be found, I treasure it.  At the same time, I am a fan of more outspoken letter forms, especially when they can be embellished.
Geeky font folks, we know what he means.
As I was thinking this week of planners, notebooks and all the design elements we like to add thereto, I was, as you may imagine, thinking of alphabet stamps.  The ones that lept to mind, however, were not the tiny, take-up-no-room-on-the-page appropriately sized ones, but a joyful jumbo unmounted set from my homegirls at RubberMoon.
Ta-da!  The chunky kids alphabet & numbers unmounted full sheet, designed by Debra Valoff.

This is an alphabet (with numbers) we can doodle upon, in great detail.  Stamp fun, pen fun, all in one place.  They are so loveable we may want to use them on our planner pages in all their bold bigness, we'll just write the other stuff smaller.  The sheet size is 8" x 10 1/2", which give you an idea of the letter size.

An alphabet for our outdoor voices, our most brilliant ideas, our emphatic praise (or complaints), these are the letters we want once we've committed to being, truly, vast and brilliant.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Titus Welliver and the city of Los Angeles, a fan's ramblings

From Titus Welliver, DEADWOOD, seen at left: "But misguided chivalry aside, Adams is a man of his times, smart, crafty and tough, forward-thinking and bloody-minded. He's uniquely equipped to serve his own interests and Swearengen's. And as Swearengen's destiny entwines with that of the town, Adams becomes a key player in a much bigger picture, whether he realizes it or not."
We just finished watching the first season of BOSCH, an Amazon original series starring Titus Welliver and the mean but sunlit streets of Los Angeles.  Welliver, see his filmography at the link above, may be familiar from many series and theatricals.  I am happy watching my nearest big city, contemporary or vintage, especially when the story involves private detectives, public detectives, lawyers, grifters, liars, mystery and people in power whose motives are suspect, integrity absent:  CHINATOWN, THE BIG SLEEP, the short-lived series BOOMTOWN, Michael Mann's HEAT and COLLATERAL, LA LAW, MURDER ONE, any Joseph Wambaugh-inspired project,  Shane Black's written and directed feature KISS, KISS, BANG, BANG, THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE, DOUBLE INDEMNITY and such.

Apropos of Los Angeles in the movies, it is reported that there will be a sequel to BLADE RUNNER.  There is nothing that can be said about that.  *rolls eyes, keeps on typing*

I once interned at a cable tv station, calling it by a name that exaggerates its place in the universe, learning all I could - studio camera, makeup, editing, spot news and on-air reviewing movies.  As much as I enjoyed the screenings and preparing my script, I didn't consider myself a good reviewer.  In those days I don't think I had a wide enough world view and was likely a bit provincial.  I may still be, knowing what I like, able to tell you why, and that's about it.  I can tell you that BOSCH is based on the novels of Michael Connolly, which I haven't read, that its fugitive psychopath did not creep me out the way characters do on CRIMINAL MINDS, which I can't watch, and that Welliver plays a thorough, appealing character who is not too formulaic or predictable.  And, to me, the photography is spectacular.  I feel pride of place when LA gets to shine.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

IF I got serious about a notebook/planner...

Inspiring sample pages from one of many planner sites.
It is vast, borderline Byzantine, the world of planners and notebooks.  I feed one of my favorite dawdling inclinations by etsy window shopping for washi tape, nearly microscopic stickers and the irresistible sticky notes which call to my inner 12-year-old like the sirens.

Yesterday I actually presented myself with a compelling reason to keep some sort of record of goings-on, that of being able to know (rather than try and remember) when certain medical appointments and procedures had taken place.  I could find a way to tab pages containing that information for easy retrieval.  This is beginning to look like a plan.  The headline in my imagination shouts, "Senior Citizen Gets Organized."  At least by my definition.
The Hobonichi Techno 2015.
Hobonichi with stickers, from Pinterest, no working link.
Mike Rohde's icon library for bullet journaling.
As you can see, the possibilities are infinite.
Before leaving the meat-and-potatoes part of planners, I want to mention a Pinterest page called Just.the.Filofax by Jodi B. Loves Books.  We're having some fun now.  On to the, ahem, accessories.

Twelve sticky note designs, 15 sheets each.  Many others available here.
Narrow washi tapes, shipped withing the US.
Circle stickers for color coding in your planner.
I thought these "Hello Eva" cartoon stickers were especially charming.
For real shopping or browsing, Google is your new best friend, in case you didn't know that already.  For my searches I added the word etsy to each entry, such as: narrow MT washi tape etsy or cat sticky notes etsy.  I enjoy playing on-line detective shopper, even when I'm not planning to buy.  The looking and finding are what I consider harmless fun, unless you have more important things to do with your time, which I do but still, on occasion, choose to throw all responsible behavior to the wind.  And we haven't even begun to discuss pens or color pencils.

I thank my friend Lisa for luring me down this path, just as she did with the mention of "The Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries."  Lisa does the heavy lifting and I just follow along, to my delight.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Word of the Week - 51

Wonderful photo by JR Woodward of a rainy day in LA.
Word of the Week:  SEASONAL

My childhood memory of February skies displays them as cloudy.  After two weeks of sunshine and some record temperatures, Saturday morning arrived with a more expectedly seasonal overcast and Sunday the same.  Rain in the afternoon, rain heavy enough to hear which is not always the case.

Within the past few weeks two friends mentioned keeping notebooks of how they spend their days.  One has maintained this activity since 1984.  I find such consistency admirable, enviable and so far outside my experience that considering it leaves me bewildered.  I think if I kept such a record, assuming I noted the weather for each day, which would be a simple task, a few words, I would know just what the sky was doing on a specific February day.  I even ordered a notebook similar to one a friend described, attracted to her vertical format for listing bullet points.  The book arrived a week ago.  Getting in the habit of using it challenges me and using it with flair and color and creativity, as she does, feels like trying to teach myself Mandarin.
A shared Facebook post from Brain Pickings offered Mary Oliver talking about habit.  It is an article I need to read more than once, allowing time for a good soaking-in.

"What some might call the restrictions of the daily office they find to be an opportunity to foster the inner life. The hours are appointed and named… Life’s fretfulness is transcended. The different and the novel are sweet, but regularity and repetition are also teachers… And if you have no ceremony, no habits, which may be opulent or may be simple but are exact and rigorous and familiar, how can you reach toward the actuality of faith, or even a moral life, except vaguely? The patterns of our lives reveal us. Our habits measure us. Our battles with our habits speak of dreams yet to become real."

What is habit if not a practice of consistency or a dedication to it, intentional or not.  I think about being consistent, which I equate with being reliable, as one of the hurdles that confronts me.  It has a lot of company.  A daily jotting of words or phrases to preserve time seems an especially worthy habit.  I trust it is one I can learn.

Saturday, February 21, 2015


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

To teach imagination is to teach everything

(for my brother Mike on his birthday)

From the blog of Carolina Georgatou.
Even Einstein told us that imagination is more important than knowledge. How do we know where one begins, leaving the other to follow? I know as well as I know anything that without imagination we might still be cave-dwellers or fishermen terrified of the Earth's flatness. In a not very original comparison, imagination feels like flinging open the school doors and letting everyone run free, trusting they will find their place, acquire the information they need to reach their destination, realize there are no walls and no limits.

To dream BIG is an adventure. If the lands we seek are only in our minds, what of it? The realms of Tolkien or Baum or Bradbury may not exist on any maps, still they are as real to us as the corner drugstore in our hometown, much more real than what we may have had presented to us as the system's version of history - pick an era. If our brains were skyscrapers, imagination would be housed on the top floor. Not difficult to reach - there are express elevators - but easily missed because gravity or the status quo or someone's expectations or fears kept us from venturing that far from what we thought we knew. Mary Chapin Carpenter has a song called "Heroes and Heroines," in which she tells of risk-takers, people who are unfamiliar with the word impossible, and speaks of our American pioneers, choosing "...a life that's never safe and dry..." and I found those words resonated for me as epitomizing reasons why we may wish to stay uninformed, unenlightened. Imagination carries the possibility of risk and reward. Yet staying put has never been a guarantee of that safe, dry life, for I don't believe it exists. Fiction has given us examples that appear in everyday language, like falling down the rabbit hole, finding the entrance to Narnia or the road to Oz. Rod Serling's introduction to "Twilight Zone" episodes mentions imagination, in almost the same breath as he speaks of worlds " vast as space and as timeless as infinity."

Two of the three children in our family had imaginary friends and the third sibling lived a vicarious life through a sizable stuffed bear who had a flourishing literary career. I spent years writing dialogue in my head and wondering why, when the people around me spoke, they never used the words I'd prepared for them. Our parents followed creative paths, yet were not wildly outside any norms for their time. I no longer believe in ordinary as an inevitable state; I believe we each possess the capacity for the exceptional. One may choose ordinary but I don't think anyone who wishes to escape can really be stopped. In our minds we discover there are no limits, no walls too high, no thorn hedges too impenetrable, no world which could not exist if we gave it breath and light.

Dream huge. Stare out the window and let your thoughts run everywhere. Let the dam burst, the gargoyles take flight and twin suns rise in the morning. We are so much more than we know, unfettered, unhampered by time. We are the stories and the tellers, we are enormous, we are endless, heart-breakingly beautiful, fierce and wise. We will never be small again.

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Fellows, flash fiction inspired by "House On A River" - Egon Schiele

House On A River, painting by Egon Schiele.
Oakley and DuBon tossed a coin to see if today might be laundry day.  Heads for yes.  If the answer was yes, they flipped it again to see who had to gather and sort, who had to pin washing to the line.  Since it came up tails, no other answers were needed, once they figured out how to get by for another 24-hours without socks or underwear, or certainly without clean choices.

In their circle where everyone was known and addressed by last names only, Oakley and DuBon were far from the least hygienic members.  That laundry was an issue in their lives marked them as fussy.  They believed it spoke of some higher evolutionary state.  Oakley's room in The Manse was watched over by a poster of Charles Darwin.  All the resident life forms accorded it the status of a sacred object.

Despite what would be called, with some generosity, indifferent habits, all who lived at or hung out around The Manse had collective and individual sartorial conceits.  The hand-worked Sgt. Pepper coat which wondrously appeared atop a neighborhood garbage can one misty morning became community property.  A chart, maintained by Pribble, indicated whose turn it was to wear the coat.  Requests for out-of-sequence special occasion use had to be filed in writing, or what might pass for it, and were pondered with much brow wrinkling.  Pribble put out the word among his associates that a discarded judge's wig would lend appropriate gravitas to his responsible position, but so far none had turned up.

They insisted they were not a gang, this disparate band, collectively known among themselves and around the streets as The Fellows.  Their ways were generally peaceful, little was done in haste, resentments did not fester but flared with a quick yowl and a paw swat.  The group's muttered slogan was, "It's a dogs world, or so they think."  Life was good.  No one expected it to be trouble-free.