Wednesday, October 31, 2007

This is not a review

Walked through a cloud of pot smoke in Grieg garden and the awkward ranting of sign-raising protesters to north campus today, to see the art faculty show at the Jacob Lawrence Gallery. It's a pretty little gallery, so a pretty little show, but a good variety of interesting work. Pretentious Title: This Is Not an Art Show, a reference to a seminal surrealist painting from 1928-29. Fortunately, if there was any surrealist work at the show, I didn't get the joke. I'm perfectly content with reality.

I went mostly to see something from Philip Govedare, who taught my favorite Art course and whose work I'd really love to emulate if I ever actually painted (and if I didn't feel overcome with guilt at the thought of mimicking an artist). The above work (pirated here from the interweb) is similar to the one on show.

Most of his work I've seen is a incredible amount of color used in a very controlled way, a fantastic balance between abstraction and representation; landscapes of sites that are "charged with the implications of use, development and ownership" strike me as socially, and maybe emotionally, relevant without any sense of self-righteousness or -indulgence. (Few artistic features turn me off more abruptly than overt emotion. I once saw some young capitol hill painter's painting of a distressed teenager in a bathtub with cutting marks on her arms. Give me a break. Painting something base is little more more evolved than doing it yourself. I respect your right to have issues, but I don't respect them as valid artistic subject.)

Other interesting paintings were a large abstract by Helen O'Toole and a small, very engaging portrait by Ann Gale. I never took their classes, and now I wish I'd both seen their work and had some female influence over my art degree. I don't exactly know if gender played any significant role in my experience as an art student, but in all those classes I only had 2 female instructors -- a really accessible, under-critical grad student, and one professor who I didn't care for. Fine with me that she was not represented at the show.

The "Jake" is free, open maybe 1-4 Tuesday-Friday.
Yesterday morning at the gym, the young woman next to me in the hair-drying/make-upping room opened her phone and started playing music, loudly. I didn't mind so much until -- through the cell-phone-is-not-a-stereo distortion -- I heard Janie's Got a Gun. "She had to take him down easy and put a bullet in his brain / She said 'cause nobody believes me. The man was such a sleeze." Not the lyrics I need to hear when I'm getting ready for my day.

I contemplated putting an understanding hand on her shoulder and asking if everything was OK, the kind of gesture people talk about post-school shooting, etc -- but I'm not really that kind of gym neighbor. The next song was something like R&B or smooth jazz -- it's impossible to tell genre through those little speakers -- so I'm sure she's perfectly sane, just has bad taste.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Redheaded brunette.

And just like that (two hours later), I'm a redhead.
I thought of something darker, more black, and my excellent Gary Manuel-bound stylist Dan thought of lighter browns, some caramel (which I like because it sounds like sugar). But when the initial lighteneing goo was rinsed, I looked at my fantastic red hair and decided this color was my destiny. Fortunately Dan had the same idea, because he kind of does whatever he wants -- hence the blonde splotch I'd been wearing for a month.

Much, much later, after a tray full of creams and formulas, including a disarmingly bright
orange (see the splotch next to the orange hair dryer), he removed the foils, rinsed and dried, and I was lighter and more red than ever. And I love it.

Strangely though, despite having red in my hair for the last 6 months or so, my identity still lingers under the four-year reign of bottle black. It's not so much that I picture myself with black hair anymore; when I look at old photos, the color seems flat, bland, not striking like I'd thought it then. But I feel like a black-haired girl with red hair temporarily.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Things about which I am very excited

As Editor in Chief of my high school newspaper, I wrote a column called Yay for Things. Welcome to the resurrection.

1: Betsey Johnson and her sparkly, spangly jewels and bags. Exhibit a: fantastic glittering heart-and-arrow earrings, dangling not quite so close to tasteless as some of her accessories -- but hinting as excess in her very Betsey way.

2: The exceptional music of Josh Ritter. I haven't really been excited by music in a long while. Maybe I was giddy from my above purchase, or wooed by the super sound quality of the earphones Brian bought me. Probably, though, the music is just really perfect.

If I was half as hip as I ever thought I was, I'd probably have heard of him many moons ago. But I'm fine having discovered him tonight, via my NPR podcast, like a semi-cool grandpa. He's got 5 albums, and played Seattle a few days ago. But! He's playing in the lower east side the night before we leave NY. So, yay for me.

He has this song called "The Temptation of Adam," lyrics about a couple in a nuclear missle silo. It's as beautiful and sweet and convincing as it sounds ridiculous. Another song has these lyrics: "it is not love / that makes the stars shine / but the spontaneous combuston of super heated super condensed gasses / in a process known as fusion / that creates new elements when the time is right / but since you're gone / the stars dont shine so bright."

3: I threw a dog biscuit across the room and Buster spent a frantic fifteen minutes desperately searching the apartment. What a crazy muppet.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

For lazy bakers, no knead

Apparently I missed the revolution a year ago, when the NY Times published a NY bakery's top-secret recipe for no-knead bread. Raised as a bread lover on mom's home-made loaves, I've been dissapointed by my own few efforts: the heavy, soggy pain of an amature. So while the manual labor of kneading appeals to me, the idea of not kneading was even better -- one less variable for me to screw up.

You can find variations of Jim Lahey's original recipe all over: YouTube, blogs, and the May issue of Vogue (where I first found the bread in the ironically-exceptional food column of the fashion magazine -- I doubt carbs have much place in the preceeding pages).

As I type, my bread rests in its second-to-last state (before consumption, pray it turns out edible): swaddled in a bran-dusted dishtowel atop the stove, napping for two hours before entering a 500-degree oven in a shiny red le Cruset-esque enamel-clad iron casserole. Expect a full report if everything goes well. Expect a second attempt if not.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Darrington today. Left around 11:30, arrived around 1:30, with a slight delay for Starbucks.

The weather was nice and the visit was short. Caitie arrived just after Brian, Buster, and me.
Said hello to everyone, spent a little time inside talking to mom, looking at a box of cookbooks she was sending home with me, and the quilt she finished for us -- pinks and purples and blacks and creams, with lots of hearts and words quilted in. Across the bottom, she wrote, "Small quilts help keep you close."

My mom and stepdad have 10 acres, a log house built by a logger who was a pretty big name in the early days of the town. Flower and herb and vegetable gardens, a river a few minutes through the woods, wild bunnies and birds and porcipines, occasional bear. The driveway overlooks Whitehorse mountain.

Buster's rarely off-leash -- I like to hope apartment puppies don't know what they're missing. He didn't go outside until I led him to the back, to introduce him to the chickens. We found them retreating behind a tree, but Buster drove them out in a flurry of flapping wings and squalking -- I've never seen him run so fast. Like the crafty hyena on Planet Earth, he seperated one from the pack chased it across the lawn, where it brilliantly cornered itself behind a potted plant an a shovel. They had a bit of a stand off, until Buster was distracted and the chicken ran home.

Dinner, acorn squash from mom's garden, pie from Caitie's restaurant, then the drive back. With one more stop at Starbucks.

Pumpkin Cookies

Very soft and cakey, a good level of sweet and with some spiceyness from the nutmeg, cinnamon. I might add a bit more of the spices next time. Recipe asked for basic icing, but I sprinkled the tops with cinnamon sugar to give a little sparkle and texture.

36 cookies


  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
  • 1 cup canneb pumpkin
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
PREHEAT oven to 350° F. Grease baking sheets.

COMBINE flour, baking soda, baking power, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in medium bowl. beat sugar and butter in large mixer bowl until well blended. Beat in pumpkin, egg and vanilla extract until smooth. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto prepared baking sheets.

BAKE for 15 to 18 minutes or until edges are firm. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Friday, October 12, 2007

I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the looks, or the words that laid the foundation. I was in the middle before I knew I had begun."

I've been watching the BBC Pride & Prejudice for the last two days. Oh! It is so great. So. Great. So perfectly acted, every little eyebrow twitch and squint and sign from Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle ... the poufy dresses and bonnets and estates and carriges. Watching it makes me want to read it (my cheap German paperback version, pages held with a photocopy of my passport), and reading it makes me want to watch it.

A few quotes I hope to work into conversation soon:
"You have no compassion for my poor nerves!"
"Tolerable I suppose, but ... not handsome enough to tempt me. I am in no humor at present to give consequence to young [ladies, puppies, students] who are slighted by other men."
"Shelves in the closet. Happy thought indeed."
"I remember running from Pemberly to Lampton as a boy almost every day in the Horse Chestnut season."

Not sure how I'll fit that last one in, but maybe in Darrington Sunday. They might celebrate Horse Chestnut season.

Also, what are they wearing under those empire-waisted nightgownish dresses that make their boobs looks so fantastic?

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Yoga this morning. It's been a while, so I wanted to reacquaint myself with the basic idea before my autumn quarter IMA class starts next week.

I like these group classes that cater to women, because I always feel nicely in the middle of the demographic -- not the oldest or youngest, largest or smallest, most or least competent. We're all a little lumpy in spandex and ponytails, barefoot, disheveled. In a sea of black exercise pants, everyone is equal.

Except, of course, the instructors. I reserve a special jealous antipathy for these ladies of peak fitness, lean and friendly with perfect posture, impeccable balance, a wardrobe of suspiciously attractive gym clothes. I don't trust them -- and yet, I kind of want to be their best friend.

My last yoga experience was before I reached legal drinking age. The instructors were perfectionists, physically adjusting our limbs to correct angles, calling us out when we bent the wrong direction or our foreheads failed to reach the floor. There was no world music during class. The studio was cold and the lighting harsh. Yoga if the Soviets had reached India. I left each session limber but stressed -- not the meditative experience that I wanted, not really a workout either.

But today we sweat. The chill of the room burned off quickly with 40 bodies struggling through animal and warrior poses. We breathed heavily. Some seemed to give up, sour looks reflected in the mirrored walls. Some struggled along. Some, I'm sure though I didn't see, enjoyed their ability to master every posture immediately. I dropped to the mat for a pose with a title involving locusts, feeling more like a slug. A girl next to me smiled when I laughed at an overly-optimistic instruction that, "If you want to make this one a little more challenging, just [draw both feet up to your shoulder blades, pressing your spine firmly to your forehead, keep all weight on your fingertips, and exhale deeply.]"

Then we got to the napping part where we lie on the floor with our eyes closed, palms up, and focus on releasing all tension. I was not at all bothered when the instructor wandered by to move my head some few degrees that miraculously made breathing easier and the whole of life more pleasent and serene. I inhale deeply, and my toes relax. Hurricanes slow to gentle breezes, traffic glides smoothly through Everett and Tacoma, the divorce rate drops 3%, and the middle east takes a moment of silence. I exhale deeply.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Went to Phinney's Oliver Twist tonight with Sarah, Erin, and Sarah's friend Sarah.

Everything was fabulous -- creative mixed drinks, nice ambiance, a nice cowded mumble loud enough to feel social but not overwhelming, flatteringly dim lights, a Seattle-typical waitress who's minimal enthuisiasm was more conversation piece than annoyance, flavor combinations very Top Chef, predictable prices -- except the menu's awkward liminal state: not quite bar food, nor appetizers, nor dinner. Absolutely tasty. I wasn't hungry when I left. Was I satisfied? I'm not sure. How do four excellent dates stuffed with cheese and bacon in tomatey sauce really compage to a hefty burrito or bowl of green curry?

In conclusion: Americans don't do tapas. We want a steak and four pounds of mashed potatoes, so we can leave half our meal on the table. Wasteful indeed, but at least we leave stuffed instead of confused.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

I finished my first scarf! Three months, three skeins of wool yarn, and one dropped stitch.