Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Saturday, August 11, 2007
I'm reading Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell. It is very engaging and surprisingly humourous but I've read to a point where I'm reluctant to go on. I sense tragedy ahead. And I saw an upcoming chapter heading which makes me dread what is coming up. Ordinarily I would have finished this book in a day or two. It is a surprisingly simple read. Much of it is written in dialect (Manchester working class) but not so as to be distracting. There is just enough to get a sense of time and place. The author lived in Manchester and had great sympathy for the plight of the textile factory workers and this is what informs the plot and theme of her book which was originally meant to be titled John Barton after Mary's father.
Just prior to picking up Mary Barton I re-read The Grapes of Wrath. It was only my second reading of this novel since I first read in 11th grade for my class The American Novel/Expository Writing. It was mere coincidence that lead me to follow this up with another novel that uses the common man and his struggle with poverty as its theme. Mary Barton takes place about 10-15 years before the Second Industrial Revolution in England.
This person contacted me through flickr regarding one of my daughter Ivy's driveway chalk drawings. You can send him (?) your monster drawings and he will post them by category (eyes, wings, etc). Pretty cool.
This is the drawing he inquired about.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Which is why I haven't posted anything new in awhile. I haven't really felt like recording much of it into the written word. There have been some good times, particularly the trip with the girls to Chicago. I had such a great time with Jane. We re-bonded as friends in a way we were never able to manage on her brief visits back to Rhode Island. Not that those visits weren't enjoyable. It's just that there was never really enough time to do much more than catch up on each other's lives a little. Her time is usually spread pretty thin when she is visiting her family here in Rhode Island.
Chicago was beautiful; a really easy city to get to know. I'm pretty insecure when it comes to finding my own way around an unfamiliar place, especially by public transportation, but the trains are so easy to figure out I felt comfortable enough after two days of traveling
The girls on the Green Line train on the way to Garfield Conservatory.
A little girl waiting with her parents on the El platform.
this way to suggest the girls venture out on their own in order to spend more time in Wicker Park, a neighborhood we really enjoyed but that I was too exhausted to really spend much time exploring.
Our first view of Wicker Park from the El platform.
Meg drawing at Half & Half Cafe in Wicker Park while waiting for her order.
Their independent excursion gave me time to just chill out at 'home' in Jane's apartment, while she spent the day at work. It was nice to enjoy a day of quiet to myself after having spent five days in the constant company of my daughters. I love their company, of course but I also like my alone time. Jane's apartment is beautiful and very homey. Her landlord has a wonderful, quirky garden, just the kind I fantasize cultivating. It was very inspirational. One of the things I did that afternoon was bake a cherry pie for Jane using tapioca as the thickening agent. She had never heard of that method.
The humble pie I baked for Jane. The crust was nowhere near as good as her's which is phenomenal.
Fergus relaxing on the sideboard.
Jane watering the garden on Saturday.
On the following Saturday, the girls spent the afternoon with an old art mentor from New Urban Arts, who is a native to Chicago and had moved back after a brief sojourn in NYC. Meanwhile, Jane and I had a nice afternoon of catching up while she worked on her pies. I helped by dicing the rhubarb.
Jane slicing strawberries for her pies.
Later, we rented a video, bought some beer, and returned to the house for a nice dinner with the girls, some mojitos (virgin for Ivy), some silliness on the trampoline...
...and some more silliness documented Jane's pies on camera so she would have some photos to email her boyfriend who had just left for a month-long visit to Iceland with his brother.
Jane showing off her cherry-rhubarb pies.
Here are some more views of the wonderful garden...
This is the carriage house behind the main house. The landlord, Dennis, lives here.
This is the main house. Jane lives on the first floor.
We left on Sunday, Fathers' Day, as well as Stuart's birthday, and returned on Monday after dropping Meg off in Manhattan to meet up with her friend Taylor.
A few weeks later I was talking to Jane on the phone and she confessed that she missed us for a few days after we left. She hurt her back shortly afterward and had some time off from her job (which she subsequently quit) and she missed having her place filled with guests. That was very gratifying to hear since it means were were good houseguests.
I'm sad because when we return to Chicago to take Meg to school, Jane will be here in Rhode Island visiting her folks. I'm hoping she will be here before we leave so I get a chance to at least have a cup of coffee or maybe a beer or two.
Before I close this, I need to update my health status regarding the colposcopy I underwent. The results were good and I don't have to have another one for awhile. I have to have a pap test every three months for awhile and eventually I'll probably have to have another colposcopy but otherwise things look good. I got that news just before leaving for Chicago so I was able to travel without the burden of that worry at least.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
I wound up having a mild panic attack. I didn't realize that when they tell you to take a couple of Tylenol beforehand because of the possibility of cramps, they meant that specifically. They don't want you to take ibuprofen. Because of the bleeding potentials. Basically, that is what happened without going into the details. The doctor, an very lovely looking grey-haired gentleman, and his assistant didn't seem overly concerned but as soon as I realized what was happening, I started getting that horribly clammy cold feeling all up and down my arms. Fortunately, I'm pretty savvy to the symptoms of a panic attack having researched them pretty extensively after suffering from a severe one. Now, I refuse to succumb.
Anyway, I left the doctor's office feeling unsettled and worried. That feeling hasn't left me. The doctor predicted a 1-in-4 or 5 possibility of my having to have a cone biopsy. This is a procedure in which they take a cone shaped segment from the cervix under general or spinal anesthesia. A 1:4 possibility. I don't like the sound of those odds. Blah.
It is my own fault for neglecting to get regular pap cultures, I guess. I won't know the outcome of today's procedure until a week from now at the earliest, or as late as 10 days.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Yesterday my husband brought me home a surprise gift of the new Rufus Wainwright cd. I am listening to it for the first time as I write this. I'm only into the first song, Do I Disappoint You? but so far so good. It's his first self-produced album, executively produced by Neil Tennant of Pet Shop Boys fame.
Rufus' signature is definitely all over this song. It starts out fairly simply with a plaintive vocal and fairly straightforward instrumentation and builds up to a finale in full orchestration mode. One thing I noticed was that he multi-tracked his voice which is something that I haven't heard on his albums before.
I'm on the 2nd track now, <i>Going To Town</i>, which on first listen strikes me as a black Valentine to America, a theme he has visited before. His perspective is interesting, as someone who was born here but raised in Canada. This is where his father lived for most of the time he was growing up and he spent his summers here. As a gay man whose past lifestyle hasn't exactly fit into the Will and Grace mold that I suspect the average American expects, he has reasons to be ambivalent about the US. Though he's sobered up, miraculously avoided HIV exposure, and has had a steady relationship for the past two years with a German theater producer, he remains the flamboyant dandy that is never likely to blend in in a crowd. Lastly, but not least significantly, he is an independent artist who, if not for the benevolence of David Geffin*, would be struggling to hang onto a career and a fan base in a business that has become less and less nurturing of its artists. This has certainly impacted what at least seems to be the dumbing down of our culture.
The cover art and liner notes, in what has become typical for his records, reflect both an over-the-top sense of drama, and a touching sense of domesticity. The back cover features a photo inset of him hanging out on the floor with his mom, knees drawn up fetchingly, gazing at her with pure affection. But of course he's wearing lederhosen embroidered with his initials. Underneath this photo is the dedication:
This album is dedicated to my mother who still whispers in my ear that I'M GREAT
Well, in writing this, I've failed to pay as much attention to the rest of the album. I'm terrible that way. The best way for me to really listen to music is while driving in my car. Certainly not the best listening environment in terms of sound quality but it is where I can really pay attention without any other distractions. Driving is enough of an automatic function for me at this point that it isn't a distraction in the way that listening at home can be. I have a difficult time simply sitting and listening with headphones. It is too much of just sitting still for me. Push play on the mini-player below to hear Nobody's Off The Hook, Track 4 of Release the Stars.
The Guardian recently published an insightful in-depth piece about Rufus.
Here is a screenshot and link to his recently overhauled official site.
*This is what I surmise, anyway.