Tuesday, July 29, 2008

two poems

Today slate.com has an article on Kay Ryan, the new poet laureate. Here's a poem of hers I like:

"Repulsive Theory"

Little has been made
of the soft skirting action
of magnets reversed,
while much has been
made of attraction.
But is it not this pillowy
principle of repulsion
that produces the
doily edges of oceans
or the arabesques of thought?
And do these cutout coasts
and in-curved rhetorical beaches
not baffle the onslaught
of the sea or objectionable people
and give private life
what small protection it's got?
Praise then the oiled motions
of avoidance, the pearly
convolutions of all that
slides off or takes a
wide berth …

Which somehow reminds me of a Gerard Manley Hopkins poem I love:

"Pied Beauty"

GLORY be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.

Things I love: Television without Pity recaps of Gossip Girl

Greg surprised me this weekend by shelling out for Season 1 of Gossip Girl on itunes, so we’ve spent the last couple evenings in the grips of new-show infatuation. Only taking short breaks to getadrinkandsomethingtoeatputlaundryintaketrashoutgotothegymdothedishesusethebathroom and then hurry back for more scandals.

For me, before there were Gossip Girl episodes on itunes, there were Gossip Girl recaps on televisionwithoutpity. I started reading these a few weeks ago at work when I undertook a massive email archiving project that froze up most of my computer for long stretches of time but left the internet window working. Before then I hadn’t used tv w/o p very much, because apart from spoilers, I don’t like to read about tv shows, but I was aware of it after one of my favorite tv guide podcasters, Angel, moved there when she quit tv guide.

I won’t explain what televisionwithoutpity is, because this is a blog so you’re one click away from seeing for yourself and you probably already know about it, anyway. The show recaps are long, sometimes taking as long or longer to read than watching an episode would, but they pack a big punch. They are simultaneously a recap of what happened in the episode (S and B have a catfight, or brunch at the waldorfs or something), a celebration of fandom for the show (who is hot, who is a great actor, who has smaller boobs than her character in the books), a critique of the production and writing on the show (whether the timeline makes sense, the song is the right one for a scene etc), and a celebration of modern culture in general. Reading the recaps is like watching the show with your best friend, who’s not afraid to drop allusions to Hamlet, BSG, or the OC because he trusts you’ll catch them all. You get a sense that he takes the show seriously, and cares what happens to it. And, the analysis goes deep into the relationships between the characters, the structure of the season’s story arc, the overarching themes and speculations about how the characters got to be the way they are now and what might happen to them in the future, but all in a snarky off the cuff way that always hits the mark.

I don’t know that I’ll be going back to televisionwithoutpity to read recaps of other shows now that I’ve finished gossip girl. They do take quite a while to get through and there isn’t another show I’m as interested in reading up on, but I wholeheartedly recommend the Gossip Girl recaps to anyone who’s interested in the show but hasn’t seen it yet.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Weekend Reading - Holmes on the Range

I like when bloggers cover a specific topic on a set day every week (see Boston Gal's Friday Sale posts or Melissa Morris' Monty Mondays) so I'm going to try that for a while on this blog and see how it goes. Each week I'll suggest a good weekend read that's season/weather/mood appropriate.

If you're so inclined, you can do as I do and sign up for Border's Rewards, to get a 25-30% off coupon every week by email and on every receipt. (in case you're wondering, I'm not making any money for this plug, I just love Borders). For mystery books also check out Kate's Mystery Books near Porter Square. That's where I got this week's book.

This week I'm reading "Holmes on the Range" by Steve Hockensmith. I just checked it on amazon and it's apparently a series, but it works as a stand-alone book too. The main characters are a pair of cowboy brothers -- a wannabe Sherlock Holmes, and his defacto Watson. The book is full of rough and tumble cowhands and bigger than the Montana sky characters. It's an easy book to get back into if you've set it aside for a while or gotten distracted, so I'd recommend it for a plane ride, weekend trip, beach outing, or morning commute.

Scrapbook Talk

Last night I got to spend a little time updating my scrapbook with photos and mementos of our July escapades. It's taken me a good week and a half of searching to find the right expander-pages to fit in my book. I'm really surprised by how hard they were to find.

It seems like every company that makes book has a different style of page. I have a couple of different scrapbooks, but my favorite is my 12x12 K & Company book. The book opens almost flat, so I can flip the pages easily, and it uses plastic page protectors (like this: http://www.kandcompany.com/shop/pc/viewPrd.asp?idcategory=423&idproduct=5311) so I don't have to worry about items on facing pages rubbing against eachother and getting pulled off. The book is held together with screws and rods, which can be expanded or swapped out for larger pieces as you add more pages to the book. I think this style is a lot sturdier than the clamped style some other companies use, and it's more versatile than the books where the pages are permanently fastened in. The only downside is that you need to find the add-ons specifically made for or by K & Company or the holes in the page protectors won't be in the right place. Michaels carries them, and the little art store in my town center does sometimes, but they're nowhere near as easy to find as the Kolo stuff.

It's taken me a while to find a book that works well for me. When I first decided to take up scrapbooking, I went to the Papersource store in Brookline, which is a great place to get arts & crafts ideas, but a very expensive place to shop. Kolo is the only brand of scrapbook they sell there (this is also the case at Pearl in Central Square, as I learned after a walk in the rain yesterday) so I didn't realize other places would have cheaper alternatives. I forked over more money than I'm proud of for a book I never use. Kolo's books are beautiful, but 2-3 times as expensive as their competitors and don't ever seem to go on sale. They do use the post system I like so much, but page protectors, new posts, and everything else you could want costs extra. A lot extra. I think the Kolo album I have is similar to this one. So far I haven't put anything in my Kolo album even though it was the first one I bought. It's so nice it freaks me out. I feel like I should wait until I get married to landed gentry, have a baby, or win a Nobel prize. Those archival pages would look silly behind my pizza-eating phots. The book just doesn't go with my life. Plus, I've never gotten around to buying the page protectors because Kolo uses this ridiculous system where before you can buy any accessories you have to know your book's corresponding letter of the alphabet and girl's/city's name. Oh yeah, I guess I should've known what I was getting into when they all had names like Ann Taylor jeans or Coach bags.

The second album I bought was this pretty valentines-y K and Company one: http://www.kandcompany.com/shop/pc/viewPrd.asp?idcategory=67&idproduct=536. I have a few Valentines Day pictures in it, but haven't filled more than one or two pages because the pages are relatively small, and most of the stuff goes into my Travel Scrapbook. Plus, I love love love over-the-top bright colored florals and girly curlicues, but again most of my photos are me at a pizza place with cheese dribbling out of my mouth, or Greg and me with our heads coming out the headholes of a particle-board standup image of silly sheep, pumpkins, or pirates or something. The book is too pretty for my reality.

So I was lucky to discover my Travel album on the sale rack at Walmart in one of my random shopping trips in Michigan. It is K & Company (the posts have the telltale K engraved) but it was really cheap and has a real matter-of-fact look to it (I tried to find an image to post, but it's not listed on K&Co's site, Walmart, Michaels or Amazon and... I'm lazy). The big pages give me plenty of room to experiment with layout, and the generalized travel theme fits with most of the subject matter I have scraps for. So even though it's a pain in the butt to find the add-on pages to go in it, for now I'm going to keep on using this one. At least until I can find a 12x12 pizza/pirate themed book.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Lost and Found in the Woods

On Saturday, Greg and I decided to walk to Wilson's for some fresh fruits and vegetables. We're lucky to live so close to the bike path that instead of walking along the road side we could take a leisurely stroll through the woods. Here's a cute pic of Greg manning the granny cart:

New England woods have a special place in my heart, especially in our neighborhood, where I can imagine Paul Revere or William Dawes might have ridden their horses through the very spot I'm walking, warning their countrymen "the British are coming!" Or I can pretend I'm walking along Robert Frost's Road Less Travelled. Realistically, I know our bike path isn't that old, but it's certainly possible the trees and rocks are. And it's possible our squirrels' ancestors used to peek in on John Adams' household.

Anyway, my favorite thing to do in the woods is look for things. I'm a champion looker. For those who don't know me personally -- I have a gift for finding four leaf clovers and -- bizarrely -- a paperclip every day. But I'm not picky, so I also like to check out squirrels, birds, rabbits, and whatever else is around. There's something about observing nature that just resets all the clocks in my head and improves my mood, my energy and my sense of humor.

Early this spring, after reading The Omnivore's Dillemma (which I highly recommend), I decided that I wanted to take up mycology. It's very easy to find people who are interested in mushroom hunting, and easy to find books on it, but nearly everyone who knows anything about mycology agrees that the best way to learn it is by accompanying another mycologist out on a hunt. So far, I haven't been able to track down anyone to show me how, so a few months ago I set out on my own down the bike path to see what I could find. What did I find?

Four leaf clovers. Oh well. I guess when all you've got's a hammer, all you see is nails.

Not a single mushroom! It's possible I wasn't looking in the right places, or that I was looking at the wrong time of year. But whatever the reason, I pretty much gave up on it and figured I was destined for lesser discoveries.

Well, whyever I didn't find them then, we did find them this time out! Tons!

I didn't eat any, of course. But it was fun to find them, and when I wasn't even expecting them. I'm excited now to see how many more there will be this summer and fall. Last week was pretty rainy, so I'm guessing muggy hot days after it rains are a good time to go hunting.

I wanted to stay and look longer, and maybe take a few home to look up on the internet. But, we weren't even to Wilson's yet. And we had miles to go...