Weather forecasts you don’t want to see first thing in the morning

November 22, 2007 at 9:13 am | Posted in places | 5 Comments

Minus two degrees Celsius; light ice pellets.

Dr. Seuss-ian

November 15, 2007 at 11:30 am | Posted in ceramics | 2 Comments
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Because I need new crafts like I need more shoes (i.e., not at all), I took up ceramics a couple of months ago. I’m taking a class at Clay Design and it has to be the most fun thing EVER.
This little guy is one of the things I made at the beginning of the class when we were working on handbuilding, before we started the wheel.  I rolled out a slab of clay with a rolling pin, and then used a stamp to make the repeating design on the surface.

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On the underside, I attached little feet and signed my name:

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I enjoy handbuilding.  More than the wheel.  Although, let’s be honest, the wheel is super frustrating and I can never throw anything even halfway decent, so I’ve sort of taken myself off of it for the past few weeks.

Unknown photographer

November 3, 2007 at 10:33 am | Posted in photography | Leave a comment

I happened upon this post to Photo.net’s forum, called “A Minor Treasure: Slides from Vietnam, 1967-1968.”   The poster came across a bunch of slides in the estate of a recently deceased man, scanned them, and set up a slideshow on Flickr.  Most of the images are of the Vietnamese people, but there are a couple shots of American GIs.

It’s always eerie to look at an unknown photographer’s historical photographs,  particularly when they are of a time and place so emotionally charged as Vietnam in the late 1960s.

“I just wish I could do the important things…”

October 28, 2007 at 3:51 pm | Posted in things that annoy | 1 Comment
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“…like make a souffle, or pick out a necktie, or choose paint for the bedroom.” — Audrey Hepburn in Wait Until Dark (aka, Worst Movie Ever).

So, you know how there are film classics that seem to transcend time? Or plays that, because they examine universal themes, can be read and performed 400 years later without missing a beat? Or songs you listened to as a kid that you find yourself relating to as an adult?

Yeah, this movie has nothing in common with those films, plays, and songs.

Audrey Hepburn plays Susy, a blind NYC housewife who is home alone for the weekend when three men attempt to enter her apartment — separately — to find a doll that has drugs stashed in it. My friends and I first heard about this movie when we were at the cottage with her family this summer. Her parents and her aunt and uncle highly, highly recommended it, saying that it was one of the scariest movies they’d ever seen. And the way they described it, it did sound pretty scary. Then I mentioned it to a couple of my co-workers and they said it was terrifying, too. My mom said it was good. So, we were psyched to watch it last night.

And we found that it was just one of the most ridiculous movies we’d ever seen.

The acting was atrocious, staccatto and overwrought, and the “heroine” was so helpless and dependent on her husband, Sam, that it was actually pretty painful to watch. She had no life of her own. All she wanted to do was join Sam at his photography studio, and she wanted him to stay home from his business trip, and she was pretty upset about not being able to make a souffle or pick out a necktie or choose paint. It actually kind of nauseates me that women were reduced to that. And it would be one thing if she wanted to make a souffle cause it was something she actually WANTED to do, but she only wanted to do it because it was expected of her as a wife. I mean, are you fucking kidding me?

Rhinebeck!

October 22, 2007 at 11:34 pm | Posted in knitting, places | 3 Comments
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Ah, Rhinebeck. AKA the New York Sheep and Wool Festival, it’s a fantastic annual weekend event in October, in Rhinebeck, NY. Rhinebeck is in the Hudson Valley region of New York state, and the festival organizers could not have chosen a better time to attract visitors. Although there was a torrential downpour on the drive down, and the combination of the rain and bad traffic in the GTA made for a 9-hour drive, and our motel was a leeeeetle bit sketchy (and cheap, and actually, for two days, not the worst experience in the world), and we had to wake up early in the morning, it was fantastic. The weather was gorgeous — warm weather on Saturday, and blue skies and crisp air on Sunday — and the location is picturesque beyond belief. Unfortunately, the best views were from the car so I didn’t get any pictures, so just picture the quintessential small town autumn, and there you have it. Rhinebeck itself must get a lot of tourist traffic from NYC, because pilates studios and day spas don’t necessarily scream small town to me (unless we’re talking about Stars Hollow), but it’s pretty freakin’ adorable.

The squashes at the Rhinebeck farmers market are huge:
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I got fresh, homemade mozzarella at the market and petted TWO puppies (!).

So, the festival. It’s amazing. I don’t even know how to describe it. There are tons of vendors, obviously, but it’s so much more than that. For starters, it’s not JUST about making money. I mean, yes, the vendors are the reason most people are there, but it’s also a celebration of the craft and the art of fiber work. There’s livestock, and sheep-shearing, and sheepdog trials. There’s a sheep-to-shawl competition. There’s an alpaca parade:
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There are workshops and meetups and book signings. There are angora rabbits (angora) and angora goats (mohair), sheep of all different breeds, and alpacas and llamas. There were Corgi puppies:
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The leaves are beautiful:
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(and so are the girls — me, Lorien, and Stephanie. Stephanie took the midnight bus from DC to meet us there…that’s how good it is.)

I was pretty good this year — I only bought 5 skeins of yarn — and Stephanie was even better, but Lorien went nuts. She was a virgin Rhinebecker, though, so it’s to be expected. It was such a wonderful weekend, and I am so happy that I got to go two years in a row.

Quilt top pieces

October 18, 2007 at 4:55 pm | Posted in sewing | Leave a comment
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Ok, the quality of the picture is kinda shitty, but I am so proud of these little guys. These are the six I have pressed, out of the 13 completed squares. 7 more to go! As usual, I am handsewing them.

I am super into this quilting business. Quilting allows so much color freedom — all those colors you couldn’t put together if you were making clothing can be used in quilts. I am a color junkie. I hate white. Hate it. Makes me feel cold and sterile. I love nothing more than to be surrounded by riots of color. My house, if I ever have one, will be a schizophrenic’s nightmare. Schizophrenic? Hmm. Maybe I mean modern hipster. I don’t know. Someone who can’t stand chaos in their surroundings, even in the decor.

I have already purchased a couple more charm packs, and when I was in San Francisco I bought the Quilter’s Ultimate Visual Guide and some fat quarters from this amazing, adorable shop. Because I need more fabric. Sigh. My hobbies are taking over my room and my life. Double sigh.

My favorite things

October 13, 2007 at 11:13 am | Posted in sloppy drunk | 2 Comments
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A portrait of heaven: Black Butte Porter, by the Deschutes Brewing Company.

This is the beer love of my life. When I started undergrad in Portland, OR, I was the polar opposite of a beer snob, thanks to my parents’ unspeakably horrible penchant for Natural Ice and Old Milwaukee. I was raised on piss beer. Awful. I began my college drinking career by carrying on the family tradition of filthy-brew loyalty — Natty Ice, Old Milwaukee, Olde English 800 — and then I was exposed to the wonderful world of microbrews (THANK GOD).

Somewhere along the way, I discovered that I genuinely like beer. Aside from its ability to get me drunk, I like the taste. Fortunately for me, I went to college in a beer-lover’s paradise. There are a bunch of breweries in the city, brew festivals, brew festivals, and brew festivals, several versions of the movie-theater-slash-brew-pub (See a movie. Drink a beer. LOVE IT), and the beer store.

Anyway, Black Butte Porter was my perennial favorite. It isn’t available here, and that American microbrews are missing from the shelves of the Beer Store and the LCBO is probably my single greatest complaint about Canada. Say what you want about the US — and there’s a lot of bad stuff you can say — our microbrews kick ass. So, when I went to San Francisco last week, I made sure that Aundra got me a sixer of my favorite beer. (Similarly, when my friend Paula visited me in Miami (again, the lack of BBR was depressing), I made her bring me a six-pack, too.) Mmmm….delicious.

Apron apron apron

October 12, 2007 at 8:56 pm | Posted in sewing | 4 Comments
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Fabric: from the Aviary Collection by Joel Dewberry, Sparrows in almond and Woodgrain in chocolate
Pattern: from Bend-the-Rules Sewing by Amy Karol

I think that the pockets are probably the cutest part:
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Here’s a close-up of the binding on the pocket (I made the bias tape myself!):
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I put little orange flower buttons on the pockets as decorative detail, but unfortunately I forgot to take pictures of the completely finished item before I gave it to Heather.

Here she is:
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I’m pretty damn proud of this thing. I made it in a week, which is unheard of for me, and I put a lot of effort into it. Bend-the-Rules Sewing is a great book, by the way. This is the first item that I’ve made without the use of paper pattern pieces, and I feel like, though it maybe wasn’t the most complex item I’ve made, I learned the most from it. I think that the open-endedness of this pattern, at least, speaks to the author’s creative make-it-your-own approach to sewing. Here are all of the things I learned while making the apron:

  • How to cut the appropriate amount of fabric for a project by using measurements instead of paper pattern pieces
  • How to make my own binding using a bias tape maker
  • How to properly attach a binding by slip stitching it down so that the stitches don’t show on the front of the fabric

But I feel like these are sort of the “actions” that I learned how to do. What I really learned was a better understanding of how fabric works, of grain and the importance of proper measuring, of what “bias” really means and why you have to cut bias tape on the, duh, bias, in order for it to curve nicely around corners and curves.

I really have outdone myself this time.

October 1, 2007 at 12:13 am | Posted in sewing | 2 Comments
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I finished my friend Heather’s apron* in exactly 7 days.
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I started cutting the fabric last Sunday and I snipped the last loose threads tonight. I honestly don’t even know how that’s possible.

Let’s consider the things I did in the past seven days: four days of work, ceramics class, information architecture class, went out all day yesterday and last night (it was a busy weekend in Toronto: The Clothing Show, Nuit Blanche, and Word On The Street were all going on). And the apron was kind of time consuming, too. There was a lot of measuring (twice) and cutting (once), lots of ironing and pinning. I made pockets. I added a nice trim at the bottom. I made my own bias tape for the binding of the apron pockets and then hand-sewed the binding. I pinned and repinned and stitched and ripped out stitches and…how in the hell did I finish this thing?

I guess this can either be chalked up to the power of procrastination to light a fire under one’s ass (I will be seeing Heather on Friday in San Francisco, and I have approximately zero free hours until then), or it can serve to remind me that having 24 hours in one day is actually quite a bit of time if it’s used wisely.

(* — More pictures to come, including close-ups of the pockets and trim and stuff, but even though Heather knows all about the apron, I don’t want to give away too much before she sees it in person, hence the one ambiguous pic.)

An ode to Toronto

September 22, 2007 at 10:53 am | Posted in places | 3 Comments
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We all know that Toronto is hugely diverse (most multicultural city in the world) and reminiscent of NYC (“New York run by the Swiss,” “Canada’s version of New York”). But what is it like to live here? I don’t think I’ve written a whole lot about Toronto on this blog. I know that I’ve written about doing various things here, and you can probably get the sense that I like the city, but I’ve never dedicated an entire post to it. So, Toronto baby, it’s your time to shine!

(Ok, for those not in the know, the picture up there is of the CN Tower. It’s like the Space Needle in Seattle. I’ve never been up it and I probably never will, but it is a landmark, so I snapped a shot of it while Aundra was visiting, mainly because she kept calling it the Space Needle. They do look remarkably similar.   This picture is one of the few that I have of Toronto, and I swear, it’s a LOT prettier than it looks.)

Anyway, I’ve lived here for two years now, following a 9-month stint in Miami and before that, 5 years in Portland, Oregon. While Portland remains the city love of my life, and Miami is both home and the stinking cesspool of my unhappy adolescence, Toronto is a pretty freakin’ awesome place to spend one’s mid-twenties. This is by far the biggest city I’ve ever lived in, and I have the added bonus of living in a residential neighborhood downtown (or in midtown, if you want to be particular), and I just love it.

For starters, the food here is hard to beat. There’s the whole multicultural/diversity thing, which leads to an insane variety of ethnic restaurants and cuisines (basically everything is represented here, although anyone from the West Coast of the States will complain about the quality of the Mexican food. Dudes. It costs like a buck fiddy for a meal in Mexico. Yes, I know that it’s delicious, but I just don’t see how a Canadian burrito really tastes that different from a Californian burrito, when it’s just rice and beans and maybe some meat and some veggies, and either way you’re out, like, 5 bucks. So suck it up. Go eat roti or something).

Toronto is a big city, but it’s composed of lots of smaller neighborhoods.  Again, the diversity — there’s Chinatown and Greektown, Little Italy and Little India.  My neighborhood is called the Annex and it’s full of big, old rambling houses.  And approximately 3 million sushi restaurants.  I walk out onto my deck and it’s like being in the treetops of a park, but if I walk down the street I have a billion bars and restaurants at my disposal.  It’s not the most ethnically diverse neighborhood in the world, but I don’t really care.  There are bars and shops and it’s close to work and it’s pretty, and those are the things I care about.

If you can’t find something to do in Toronto, you might as well be dead.  There are a bunch of pro sports teams.  There’s theater(re) and film and lots of museums, including a shoe museum (love).  There’s classical music and world music and rock ‘n’ roll.  There are dance clubs and dive bars and lounges and hoity-toity rooftop bars.  There’s shopping, from Prada to indie designers.  There are farmers markets.  Summer in TO is synonymous with festivals, celebrating damn near everything and anything.  Most of the neighborhoods have their own little street festivals.  Every art and craft under the sun is available for viewing and participation.  There are islands and parks and patios.  There’s outdoor skating in the winter.  Seriously, if you can’t find something to do, you might as well just give up.

The people… let’s see…Toronto and Torontonians, loathed and reviled by the rest of Canada.  I guess there is the sense that if you live here you don’t really need to go anywhere else, but I also get the impression that Toronto and its denizens know that it’ll never be New York.  And it’s not as if other Canadian cities don’t have their perks.  I’ve only been to Montreal and Ottawa, but those are fine places, too, and if I lived there I’m sure I’d be writing about their charms.  I don’t know — to me, it doesn’t seem like people here are any better or any worse than people in other large North American cities.

Of course, there are drawbacks.  It’s full of hipsters and it can be hard to meet cool people if you’re not in school.  Summer can be humid and smoggy, but oh my God, it pales in comparison to anything the southern US has to offer.  It is expensive.  But certainly it’s cheaper than New York or San Francisco, and I don’t mind spending more on rent than I would in other places if it gets me the extras that it does here.

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