Friday, September 28, 2007

I read banned books

(click for larger images)

Books That Have Been Banned in the United States - posters for the ACLU by artist Chuck Close

“First Amendment freedoms are most in danger when the government seeks to control thought or to justify its laws for that impermissible end. The right to think is the beginning of freedom, and speech must be protected from the government because speech is the beginning of thought.”—Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, Ashcroft V. Free Speech Coalition

Tomorrow marks the start of the 27th annual Banned Books Week. Support intellectual freedom and read, buy, borrow or give a banned book. For recommendations, check out the American Library Association's lists of banned or challenged books and authors, or The Forbidden Library.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

impossible things after breakfast

Philippe Halsman Dalí with Rhinoceros
elephant tricycle

It is properly autumnal outside now, and nice and cozy in my studio. One of my best friends has been staying, and has miraculously healed several ailing electrical items. I also learned from the radio this morning that the same man who created Wonder Woman invented the lie detector. Hmmm...

...and a very happy birthday to my most favorite pirate!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Marcel Marceau has left the building

What a strange day. Eleven tornadoes hit England and Marcel Marceau has died as well...

Sunday, September 23, 2007

An Acceptable Time

With all the busyness and coming and going of visitors I didn't know that Madeleine L'Engle passed away earlier this month. Her Time Quintet books were very important to me as a child, and were part of the reason I became interested in philosophy and physics (which have been very important to me as well). This Newsweek interview with her from 2006 makes me smile.. and an NPR interview from 1998. She was a fiercely intelligent and talented woman, and it's a shame her books aren't more widely read now. She and Zilpha Keatley Snyder and E.L.Konigsburg should be on every school's reading list.

Madeleine L'Engle
Tasha Tudor

I've been asked a lot recently if I mind getting older (I have a milestone birthday approaching), but when I look at women like L'Engle and Tasha Tudor, who is 92 and lives her life in a strikingly original way, I can't really feel trepidation at aging. There are, and have been, so many amazing women in my family as well. I think it is an honor to live enough for your life to show on your face, and to be able to keep learning things and doing what you love.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

what do people do all day?

For a long time I've had a running list of jobs I'd like to try out for a day. I added a couple more this week, and remembered some old ones...

- Using a flame gun to lay down warning strips at the edge of train platforms (I saw a man doing this once, and the flame gun was truly amazing)

- Running the big water cannons on a fire-fighting ship (a new addition)

- Church bell ringing (but only the ones that are so big they pull you up into the air)

- Operating one of those massive crane winches

When I was little I used to want to work in a paper factory as well, but then I realized that industrial machinery is not all anthropomorphic and smiley-faced as it is in Richard Scarry books.

green and pleasant lands

From my parents' visit and our trip to Ireland:

Friday, September 21, 2007

How Siegfired Slayed the Dragon

Much too sleepy to sort through pictures from my parents' visit, so you'll have to make do with some footage from Fritz Lang's 1924 film version of Die Nibelungen

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


It's getting a bit too cold to sleep with all my windows open!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


I'm back! So nice to get out of London for a bit and see green things and walk by the sea and breathe fresh air. I saw a man riding a bicycle in a sou'wester, thousands of blooming fuchsias, a homemade museum of "prehistory," and learned the etymological history of the garderobe. Pictures soon! Bed now...

Friday, September 14, 2007

let's get together

I went to see Complicite's A Disappearing Number this evening, and Hayley Mills smiled at me.

Oh, and I'll be in Ireland for a few days... life is pretty good.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

is this a squirrel I see before me?

This arrived in the post yesterday. Yes, that is a bomb, and yes, he is wearing a little black cape.. dastardly! Max made him for me as a belated moving in present, and he is making himself at home in my studio alongside Captain Bundle (also made by Max) who can be seen relaxing below.

Now I have to decide what to name him...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Very very sleepy after a couple of lovely sunny days wandering with my parents on a damaged foot. I'm limpy, but also happy and extremely excited about something which arrived in the post today, and which I won't talk about until I can do it justice with pictures in the morning. Suffice to say it is one of the most amazing things I have ever received through the mail. Now I need to go put my tired bones and sorry left foot to bed. Buonas noches... and Max, if you read this, you are a prince among men.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

right foot forward...

...because the left one's not working. I walked around all day in beautiful weather with my parents and developed a limp by dinnertime. I am choosing to believe it will be healed by morning. Lunchtime at the absolute latest.

Also, I am trying to lure my sister to come over for a visit with promises of attending the aforementioned blacksmithing class.

Monday, September 10, 2007

long weekend...

Such a nice weekend.. I got to spend time with people I love and escape the sometimes quagmire of weirdness I currently call home. Much dancing, which has left me bruised but happy despite the loss of a beloved shoe. Swishy skirts and pink champagne. Very nice. I also got to watch Quentin Tarantino discuss car chases, ladies' legs and why CG is rubbish, made a trip to the airport to collect my tired but lovely parents, and took an almost visit back in time.. and I found out I am descended from French Huguenots. Oh, and I am considering taking a blacksmithing course. Gosh, I'm sleepy...

Saturday, September 8, 2007

coffee and... coffee

I love the feeling of waking up early enough that the world belongs to you. I've been slowly caffeinating myself for the last hour and a half, but as all I have to do today is catch a train, see people I'm hugely fond of and do a lot of dancing in silly shoes I think I'll be alright. We got to have Rowan in the house for a night and a morning before she left for pastures new. I hope she has an amazing time fiddling for bears and skating on ponds and having other adventures.

and if at any point this becomes a possibility, I'll be on the next plane:

Thursday, September 6, 2007

predatory insects

I was bitten several times a week or so ago in Hampstead Heath by what I think was some kind of assassin bug.

The bites still haven't healed, and I've probably contracted a wasting disease like Charles Darwin and will die horribly quite soon. Crumbs.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

wee sleekit cow’rin’ tim’rous beastie

There have been a few mouse sightings in the house. I've consulted my dictionary of superstitions, which recommends using the body of a mouse to cure bedwetting in young children by feeding it to them boiled with food or "roast, fur and all, on toast." Additionally, "sodden mice are exceeding good to restraine and hold in the vrine of infants or children being too abundant, if they be giuen in some pleasant or delightsome drinke." Also good for fever, chilblains, stammering and toothache. Indeed.

Monday, September 3, 2007

diving in the millpond

I've been researching the history of diving apparatus and found this, which made me laugh:

I worry about poor Lester Klemme with that kitchen funnel soldered to the top of his helmet. It seems he only used it to wander around in his millpond, so I suppose it could have been made out of a bucket and he'd still have been fine.

My sister will be starting her first half marathon in a little more than an hour. I wish I could be there to cheer her on, and not just because it is being held here. I'm so proud!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Do you know your Anson from your Albacore?

Spent a couple of hours in the park today watching lazy clouds and the occasional airplane.

In case you are planning to time-travel to 1942 to do the same, here is a handy clip-and-save guide:

My grandparents had a similar chart on the back of their basement door which used to fascinate me.