Friday, August 31, 2007

From the Plains to Mexico

The Residents performing on "Night Music"

and taking on Elvis... with puppets (here).

Thursday, August 30, 2007


I just watched two boys ride down the street on unicycles!


A huge raven is sitting on the roof of the building across from my studio. It is almost the size of a cat. Through my spyglass it looks fat and scrappy, like an old gentleman surveying his domain.. the Brando of Corvids.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

hands up

...if you love National Geographic!

I've said it before and I'll say it again.. my collection of 100 years of National Geographic on disc is one of the best things. Ever.


Nothing to do but work,
Nothing to eat but food,
Nothing to wear but clothes
To keep one from going nude.

Nothing to breathe but air,
Quick as a flash 't is gone;
Nowhere to fall but off,
Nowhere to stand but on.

Nothing to comb but hair,
Nowhere to sleep but bed,
Nothing to weep but tears,
Nothing to bury but dead.

Nothing to sing but songs,
Ah, well, alas! alack!
Nowhere to go but out,
Nowhere to come but back.

Nothing to see but sights,
Nothing to quench but thirst,
Nothing to have but what we've got;
Thus thro' life we are cursed.

Nothing to strike but a gait;
Everything moves that goes.
Nothing at all but common sense
Can ever withstand these woes.

"The Pessimist" - Benjamin Franklin King (1857-1894)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Now close the windows

My hair smells like woodsmoke, and I think I am almost (almost) all right with the idea of autumn coming again.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Moon, worn thin to the width of a quill

I am missing a total lunar eclipse, which will be visible in Arizona in the small hours of the morning. One of my early memories is of being wakened and carried outside to see a lunar eclipse in New Mexico. It was strange magic.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Her majesty's a pretty nice girl

but she doesn't have a lot to say.

Friday, August 24, 2007


Edward Gorey in Provincetown, Massachusetts, 1992

...and there's a very bright wasp in the studio.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Summer of the Beautiful Warm Socks

It's cold here! Why is it so cold? Much woolen sock wearing in the house at the moment, but some good work happening too I think.

I found this in my research.. she looks rather unhappy for someone on the back of an elephant. Cheer up, madam!
(Mildred Hart Shaw, journalist & Junior Great Books mentor, 1965)

...and my apologies to William Saroyan. I suddenly had a Junior Great Books moment, which made me think of "The Scarlet Ibis". Thanks to James Hurst I can't look at ibises in the zoo without picturing Doodle's little broken body. There was another story, about a boy who wishes his father dead and eats his cold cigar ash while sitting in his leather armchair. I wonder what it was called..?

Monday, August 20, 2007

fiddles, banjos, whiskey & cupcakes

A small celebration today in honor of Joel finishing the first draft of his second Stanley Wells book (the first of which you should rush right out and buy, because it is very good). I baked some experimental cupcakes, and the fiddling, banjos and whiskey followed.

the cupcakes au naturel

and with their tops on, to protect their modesty

oh.. and as a catch-up from last week, both Joel and Rowan have pictures of Rowan's birthday/going away party. It was incredibly beautiful, and much fun, and Rowan's fantastic family made me miss mine very much. We'll miss her in the house as well. If it weren't so blustery outside it would be quite quiet here..

Sunday, August 19, 2007

happy Sunday

In the spirit of soldiering on, here are some tips from a handy 1961 Civil Defence pamphlet on Nuclear Attack.

Perfectly sensible not to carry oily rags, curtains and lampshades about your person, but I'm not so sure about the suggestion of packing human waste in your fallout shelter..

Friday, August 17, 2007

tabletop letterpress

oh, I think I've fallen in love with the idea of making my own letterpress!

(full instructions here)

Monday, August 13, 2007

what I learned today

Sunday, August 12, 2007


it's a ukulele playing robot.

The Heart of the World

I think I'd like to have Guy Maddin round for tea.

Guy Maddin's The Heart of the World  (and The Eye Like A Strange Balloon)

Saturday, August 11, 2007

blue like a planet to a spaceman

some people express these things better than I...

but the sun was out today, and the National Gallery smelled like lilies.

muddled head

I went out to buy a paper this morning and counted out change as though I was using dimes instead of 5p coins. In seven years I haven't done that. I don't even think in dollars and cents when I'm in the US anymore. hmm...

Friday, August 10, 2007

his nibs

A bellyfull of fresh ginger tea and huge progress with my current project. Found some beautiful ink I mixed aeons ago.. it makes everything look a bit burnt with lovely blue undertones. Frustratingly, all of my nibs are shot save three mapping nibs which are at least forty years old and a bamboo pen which is not at all suitable.

nib testing:

The Pearce Sisters

The Pearce Sisters, a lovely animated short by Luis Cook

More about the film here!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Muppet newsflash.. this just in

I somehow managed to arrive at this ripe old age without seeing the Muppets parodying Bergman in Silent Strawberries, an oversight I plan to rectify as soon as humanly possible.

(thanks to Ben for the tipoff)

for those about to rock, I salute you

excellent gem sweater!

some of my most favorite people.. and, yeah, they dress like this all the time.

nostalgia Wednesday

Mom and her cousin Janet in Indiana.. doghouse and arm cast not included

My great grandparents' (Jake and Esta) farm in Michigan

Jake and Esta's Shady Nook Farm

John Hummon's farm in Leipsig

My grandma Geraldine's childhood home in Fayette

Grandma (right) and her sister at the Fayette house

(thanks, Dad, for the farm pics)

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

life is full of soap

Today to combat a boatload of sad, I spent an hour singing in the bathtub and then replaced my ukulele strings with some of my grandpa's 70-year-old catgut ones. I am now feeling, if not quite as happy as these ladies, at least a bit better.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

see how eagerly the lobsters and the turtles all advance

What a weekend.. sweaty buses, lost taxis, a beautiful wedding, sun, rivers of Pimm's, wedding guest wardrobe malfunctions, three kinds of cake and a tipsy bride who rifled through my handbag thinking it was a backgammon set. whew! I need to lie down just thinking about it.

Friday, August 3, 2007

some people say I done all right for a girl

My first, moderately disastrous, attempt at 1940's style reverse rolls...

no words

My friend Vickie's obituary was published in the Washington Post yesterday.

As one of her colleagues said, she was "warm, inviting, caring, unpretentious, approachable, friendly, vulnerable, open, sometimes spicy, down to earth, sparkling, hope-filled, spiritual."

I don't really have any other words.. she was part of our family, and she was wonderful.