Friday, November 30, 2007

the unmade bed

the unmade bed
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
Few things sweeter in this life than an unmade bed (and friends, don't you pretend you don't know what I'm talking about).

And a little bit of that doorframe tilt is my doing; but most of it is this great old building.

Posting by cameraphone from SF -- shot from the hallway that unites the bedroom, sitting room & bath of the suite that I scored on this trip -- for the rate of a regular room. sweet.

san francisco skyline

san francisco skyline
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
Posting by cameraphone
from Taylor Street.

Sanfrancisco, CA

article 23

They have the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.

Without any discrimination, they have the right to equal pay for equal work.

They have the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for themselves and their families an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.

They have the right to form and to join trade unions for their protection of interests.

So do you.

Article 21, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

December 10th is International Human Rights Day. What are you going to work out?

silent meditation

My Nini, my mother's mother, aka She Who Shows Up, is mother to a huge brood of seven kids, each of them with kids of their own, and many of those with kids as well. She is much loved, because she loves so much, and often visited and spends much effort balancing the distribution of attention to each and all.

Since my Bumpa passed away earlier this year she's been nursing a sore back; in the last few weeks she's been experiencing strange persistent chest pain. The pain was so bad that she was admitted to the hospital so that they could figure out what was going on, and they discovered that a morphine drip wasn't enough to quench the angry ache. So they gave her something stronger.

One of my aunts was down there visiting when this all reached a head; another flew down as things started to heat up.

The doctors are still testing, they haven't pinned it down exactly, and yesterday the doctor told her that they hoped to have a diagnosis for her today.

My Nini being the practical Oakie that she is figured they knew enough by now and said to the doc: "Tell me straight: what do you think I have?"

And he said: "We think you have an aggressive form of cancer."

And this is what Nini did: She asked her kids not to call. She asked her kids to ask their kids not to call. For 24 hours. So that she could sit and think in peace and make some decisions about the rest of her life.

Call on Saturday, she said. Give me a chance to think. Give me room for my thoughts.

And so I will. I'll wait awhile to show up. And while I wait I'll hold her in my heart. No thoughts. Just hold her there, surround her with love. Surround her with life; the life she gave me.

p.s. Last year Nini self-published her memoirs -- here's a snippet »

And, while we're still in the holiday season, you really oughta try Nini's cherry jello recipe »

(cameraphone shot from this summer's Rocky Mountain road trip; shot in Silverton, CO, 9k+ feet in the air)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

les nuits de paris

I stay in the classiest neighborhoods.

Sign out front (the door is in the alley) next to the red velvet curtain says: "Please ring the bell."

One block up from my hotel on the edge of San Francisco's Tenderloin District.

(It's surprisingly nice, actually. And this trip I scored a suite.)

Posting by cameraphone from San Francisco, CA

article 22

Old Lady
Originally uploaded by Suyog Gaidhani.
As a member of society, she has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for her dignity and the free development of her personality.

So do you.

Article 22, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

December 10th is International Human Rights Day. What are you going to realize?

@ 30,000 ft

as if they wished to
(fully clothed in this tangle)
induce osmosis

Couple to my left on this flight to San Francisco has the whole row to themselves and they're getting quite, shall we say (while applying unnecessary quotation marks): "Frisky".

but to this day imperishable

a found poem

by this time
it was February
and although
still shaky
I knew
I had emerged

into light

I felt myself
no longer a husk

but a body

with some
of the body's
sweet juices
stirring again

I had my first dream
in many months

but to this day

with a flute in it
and a wild goose
and a dancing girl

Found in William Styron's Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness in which Styron writes of the passing storm of his crippling depression.

Posting by cameraphone outbound from ORD to SFO

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

article 21

Originally uploaded by eastlincolnstreet.
He has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives. He has the right to equal access to public service in his country.

His will, and the will of his fellow citizens, shall be the basis of the authority of government; this shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

Same for you. And your country. Same for the U.S. of A.

Article 21, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

December 10th is International Human Rights Day. Get out the vote.

speaking of effigies

speaking of effigies
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
Divorce is most of all lonely.

Mine was compounded by the fact that my family adored my ex- and, for whatever reason -- maybe because the realization that the happy shining life that I loved so much was, in part, a sham -- I didn’t share a lot of details with them about why we were getting divorced. Protecting him and myself, I guess. But the event largely proceeded in silence. My silence. They didn’t ask much, and I didn’t tell them much.

Which made for a very lonely time in which I settled into the understanding that everything I wished for was gone.

It all exploded (many years ago, now) around Thanksgiving and had settled some by Christmas, but I was feeling so raw that I declined invitations from family and friends and opted to spend my Christmas at home alone by myself.

I don’t recommend it. But it gave me plenty of room to cry. And feel lost and alone and as if my world had ended.

Right. Like I said. Don’t recommend it.

A few days after Christmas I received a package from my little brother. I felt I had disappointed my brothers most of all. I gave them the news indirectly, cc’ing them on an email that I sent to my father as a last minute impulse. They had a great relationship with my ex- -- he was like a brother, he fit my family so well -- and it was the wrong wrong wrong way to do it. But hurt skews your best rational impulses, and regret doesn’t mean you can take it back.

So I received a late Christmas package from my little brother. The late part made sense: as a clan we seem to share a collective phobia of post offices and things always get mailed later than they should. What’s unusual is receiving a gift on time from my family. Late is expected.

I received a slip to pick up the package at the P.O. and so I did, taking it with me next door to the sublime Espresso Vivace to have a shot of coffee before I headed back up the hill for home. My empty home.

I decided to open his package right there at Vivace, and this little porcelain figurine -- the very first and the very last porcelain figurine that I have ever received from any member of my family -- was in the package. (We are not, as a habit, givers of porcelain figurines. Plastic, maybe. Under certain circumstances.) Along with a note from my brother.

I saw the figure, read the note and immediately started to cry. Carefully, silently, my chest heaving and my trying to hide it as I sat in that cafe.

I’ve misplaced the note, so I’ll have to paraphrase it here, but first: a backstory.

The whole tribe of us are hams, and as kids we excelled at mounting theatrical productions. My older sister was the ring leader, and I can still mime for you her choreography to Fantasia -- with roles for all four of us -- that grew and took shape over several years of working it. The story line had nothing to do with the real Fantasia -- Fantasia was convenient because we had the LP and a record player -- it was our score.

I’ll spare you the ELO Electric Bump story. But put it on and I’ll bump it for you, without missing a beat.

So. To the fairy godmother.

One of our most spectacular productions took shape over a weekend at my grandparent’s home in Seattle. I think I’ve mentioned before the levels and layers of that home -- it was made for theater. We had just moved back to the Northwest from Denver, and were staying there with my grandparents who were also putting up some family friends who had a daughter about the same age as my sister and me. We seized the moment to mount a full-scale production of Cinderella, using my grandmother’s spectacular ball gown collection for costuming (my grandfather was grand potentate of the Nile Temple in the 1960s -- which meant she had an amazing ball gown collection).

We dressed Cinderella in blue taffeta -- A, the family friend, played the princess-to-be. My sister reprised her role of wicked witch (which she played to perfection almost every single Halloween of our childhood) in the role of wicked stepmother. I think my youngest brother A was the prince, and G played miscellaneous roles, including the priest who would ultimately marry the prince and his princess (the bride’s train, btw, was an extended roll of toilet paper that unspooled as she walked down the aisle).

I was the fairy godmother and I chose for my costume a killer sunshine yellow fringed flapper gown. Sleeveless with straight lines and long satiny fringe running in tiers over the whole of that dress. I asked my grandmother about it not too long ago and unfortunately it’s long gone. Although I’m sure it wouldn’t fit me now (we were unusually tall kids and she was diminutive, so we got away with it then), but if I could score it today I’d find myself a ball to go to. That was a gorgeous gown.

If I may say, I played the part of fairy godmother to perfection. It was my best role ever, wholly improvised, and played to uproarious laughter to a house of completely sloshed adults. They loved it. They particularly loved my crowning moment when, having dressed the ragged Cinderella in a flurry of magical accoutrements (G rushed the goods in when I waved my wand -- it was all very well done) the princess asked: “But I have no shoes. What will I wear for shoes?”

I pondered the problem, studied it, and then resolved it in a flourish -- by pulling a pair of stilettos -- our stand-in glass slippers -- out of the top of my dress where I had propped them in anticipation, heels pointing out, like a stuffed bullet bra, against my then quite flat chest. (This was the summer of what would be my 5th grade year.)

The crowd fell apart.

It was my greatest triumph.

It took some time to mop up the mess, but we finally got the audience to settle down and we took the show to its logical conclusion. Flawlessly executed by all. And of course, after it was done, we talked and talked and talked about it. Told the story over and over.

Because that’s what you do when you put on a show with the best players you’ll ever perform with; when you’re perfectly in synch in a way that only folks who love each other unthinkingly can be.

And that’s why I cried when I read my brother’s note; my brother who felt so far from me just then, who I thought I had lost by making a hugely difficult decision. My brother said in effect: “Merry Christmas to my sister, the best fairy godmother ever.” And some more stuff about being the best sister ever.

Reminding me all at once that I was loved.

And reminding me of something every girl needs to know: that I was my own fairy godmother. That I held the power to make all my wishes come true.

Update: I asked my brothers to verify whether I got their roles right in our world famous production of Cinderella. A couldn't remember for sure (he was so young) but G had no doubt that I mistakenly swapped them -- he was the prince for sure, because he got to dance with the princess. So please consider this amendment.

A also reminded me that he was on the phone with my brother when my infamous cc' came across the wires, and G said: "Oh: I just got an email from D." To which A said: "Hey: me too." Thinking it was Thanksgiving greetings they opened it together and both went: "ohhhhhhhhh noooo." The best part is that they laugh about the timing of it today -- these are the kinds of things we laugh about in our family. 'Cause baby, if you lose your lose your laugh you lose your footing. (Ken Kesey said that first.)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

hang on st. christopher

hang on st. christopher
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
St. Christopher, Patron Saint of Travelers

A recent gift from my aunt, who's also my godmother, and a good recovering Catholic Unitarian.

The tag reads: "Dayna: St. Christopher, to guarantee a safe journey back to yourself."

Godmoms always seem to know just what you need. Just when you need it.

title courtesy of Mr. Tom Waits

article 20

travelling bass player
Originally uploaded by Mr. Mark.
They have the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.

And may not be compelled to belong to an association.

Same for you.

Article 20, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

December 10th is International Human Rights Day. Who you gonna associate with? (Or not.)

outlook not good

outlook not good
outlook not good
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
Regrettably, I did *not* follow the fine advice of my Flickr friends to put the man who revealed himself to me in the cheese [1] up on E-bay; instead I wrapped him in cellophane and put him back in the dairy drawer.

Until tonight. When I withdrew him from the drawer and asked him to part with a few more slices, to top off a buffalo burger.

Which he did, at some cost.

His expression, which before was a bit passive and stoic, has morphed into one of great concern and alarm.

I'm afraid, my friends, that this portent does not bode well at all.

Not well at all.

[1] apologies: posting by cameraphone. I'll circle back soon to link up the original man who revealed himself to me in the cheese -- until then you should be able to find him by browsing back in the stream by a few weeks.

Update: linked.

he revealed himself to me in the cheese

Monday, November 26, 2007

so busted.

Video: Dove Onslaught Exposed

article 19

lined up for the sun...
Originally uploaded by Maggie's World.
They have the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

So do you.

Article 19, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

December 10th is International Human Rights Day. How will you express yourself? What information will you seek, receive & impart?

speaking of geometries

At the end of Capel Street
Originally uploaded by Slipping Away.
Flickrite slipping away, aka Karim of Dublin, has flattered me by citing a shot that I took in his fair city not too long ago as an influence on this beauty that he posted over the weekend.

One of the best things about receiving a sweet compliment like that is that it gave me a chance to get reacquainted with Karim's Flickr photostream, which is chock full of symmetries, geometries and surprising compositions -- and architecture. Lots and lots of architecture.

Here's a brief selection of images that he shot in Estonia -- they're lovely »

pink house at the end of the row

Sunday, November 25, 2007

persimmons, piano hinges & parallelograms

Kraus Haus

Decided to go ahead and reactivate a post that I created back in July (as part of the Mighty Mo Road Show) and then quickly relegated to draft form. At the time I thought it was a cop out, and too shallow a treatment of the Frank Lloyd Wright house that we visited outside of St. Louis. Maybe it is. It's simply a letter that I wrote to my grandmother around that time, knowing how much she loves Wright's lines, and knowing how much it reminds her of my Bompa and his love of Wright's architecture.

I never did get around to doing it right, but something about persimmon season made me think about that place again and regret that I didn't at least mention it here. The Kraus House is available by appointment only and I suspect it deserves more attention than it gets. It's a gem, nestled in a persimmon grove, strung together with piano hinges and framed out in a series parallelograms.

The true marvels reside inside. The interior retains all of Wright's original furnishings -- down even to the bedspreads -- much like the Dana Thomas house but on a smaller scale. (And DON'T get me started about the gal from Southern California who compulsively flipped over and started fingering the bedspread, to our collective horror, as if she were in a J.C. Penney's showroom and deliberating whether she might buy it. The docent showed remarkable restraint in telling her "PLEASE. you mustn't. do. that.")

But of course they won't allow photographs of the interior. So here's a brief Flickr slideshow of the exterior of the home »

And here's a link to the original post: Kraus Haus »

The Frank Lloyd Wright House in Ebsworth Park
120 North Ballas Road
Kirkwood, Missouri 63122
To schedule a tour call 314-822-8359

jodi green's mfa thesis

dress #7 state 5 (back)
Originally uploaded by jodigreen.

I'm so digging this dress.

Posted by Flickrite Jodi Green -- an installment in her MFA Thesis project in which she's:
wearing exclusively dresses that I have made and printed on, wearing each only once before printing on it again, and documenting the printing, the wearing and the building up of ink/breaking down of fabric that occurs.

She's documenting the project on her blog »

article 18

hafauxtel 02
Originally uploaded by jewschool.
He has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

So do you.

Article 18, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

December 10th is International Human Rights Day.

fig. 2

Figs are the new pomegranates.

The Editor of the Colorado Review, speaking with tongue planted firmly in cheek, as we swapped emails after she informed me that the journal would like to use my (fig.) image (which she spotted in my Flickrstream) for the cover of their Fall/Winter Issue and would I mind a few dollars and several copies in exchange?

To which I said: I wouldn't mind at all. And: Thank you.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

article 17

Tiny People
Originally uploaded by Tal Bright.
He has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others. He shall not be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

Ditto for you.

Article 17, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

December 10th is International Human Rights Day

Friday, November 23, 2007

on june 24th

Il tesoro del bosco ...
Originally uploaded by *chiara*.

ask Giuseppina

who appears to be
in her late 70’s

how to make nocino,
the walnut liqueur,
and the recipe begins:

On June 24th
pick the walnuts

From The Journey Home: Making a New Life in the Old Country, a sweet piece in yesterday’s New York Times about a Los Angeleno who returned to her grandmother’s Italy and found herself home.

of what is past, or passing, or to come

Saw the Coen Brothers’ No Country for Old Men. Need to see it again, because on the first pass I only half understood it. But I’m pretty sure it’s brilliant.

I know for certain it’s haunting, and I suspect that was by design.

(If you haven’t seen the movie and plan to, you may want to skip this post, because I’m going to spill all kinds of information as I try to make sense out of it. But please come back after you’ve seen it and tell me how you parsed it, because this is the kind of movie you want to spend long hours dissecting with friends before you dive in to see again. And again.)

Anton Chigurh, the psychopath with the pneumatic cattle gun played by Javier Bardem who drives so much of the action in the film, has a curious trait that I wouldn’t have thought to name if Mr. Hoo hadn’t raised the question on the way home, namely: “Why did he kill off the two corporate guys early in the film? I didn’t get that.” The two corporate fellows who, it appears, brought in Chigurh to track down poor old Llewelyn Moss, Josh Brolin’s character, the welder who, while hunting, stumbles by chance upon a drug deal gone bad, and traces, through careful inference, two million dollars -- under a tree, on a far ridge -- that was no longer needed by the dead man holding it.


Yeah. Doesn’t immediately make sense. But as the movie unfolds it appears there’s an logic baked in: Chigurh obliterates anyone who sees him in his official capacity. The corporate guys were dispatched to get him started on the trail, therefore... Too simplistic a syllogism maybe, but hear me out. Tommy Lee Jone’s character, Bell, who holds down the moral center of the film, refers to him as a “ghost”, and we hear passing reference to his immateriality as the story spools out.

“You saw him and you’re still alive?” Woody Harrelson’s Carson Wells asks Llewelyn. And while Llewelyn claims so, it’s not entirely true: he heard Chigurh’s approach, saw the shadows of his feet under the door, his ghostly reflection in the glass. Never do they face each other square on the way gunslingers oughta. Not even at the end do we see the moment of their confrontation: we only see the remains. (Although Wells himself reports having seen Chigurh the previous November, by the movie’s end Wells too is dead.)

“Are you going to kill me?” asks the Accountant, after Chigurh has obliterated the corporate guy who was the boss of the other corporate guys, and Chigurh asks him, while full on facing him: “I don’t know: did you see me?”

near grand mesa

And finally: “You didn’t see me,” states Chigurh, as he pays off the boys on bikes who assist him after he’s been sideswiped in a violent car accident at the movie’s end. These are his last words in the film, and it’s a bit startling to see that he leaves the boys standing -- he is, after all, fleeing the scene of a murder, where he obliterated a poor woman who did nothing more than wind up on the wrong side of a deal that Chigurh offered to her husband (a deal to which the husband never nearly agreed), and then fulfilled on “principle”. We learn about his principles earlier in the film -- and one’s left to wonder if we’re to assume that Chigurh is supposed to be the film’s moral center -- in an upended wild west kind of way.

Because this is a Western, after all, and even though it’s set in 1980 and drug runners have replaced cattle rustlers, the men pack shotguns, ride horseback (when they’re not driving Fords), and the overriding impulse of the film is to reign in lawlessness that has overrun its rim.

Which is why I keep coming back to this image of the shadowy Chigurh. The hero who impacts his environment profoundly and then disappears into the horizon at film’s end to destinations unknown is a prevailing theme in Westerns. Alan Ladd in Shane. Lee Van Cleef in For a Few Dollars More. Even Cleavon Little in Blazing Saddles. (Okay, okay: Cleavon Little and Gene Wilder. But buddies are allowed. And besides: Blazing Saddles was a parody in which they ride off on their horses before they pile into a waiting limousine. Fact that they parodied the ride to the horizon only strengthens my point. ;)

Our last shot of Chigurh in No Country for Old Men is from the back as he limps off into the horizon. Only in this film he’s surrounded by a Texas suburb rather than the wide open plain.

don't fence me in

So what? Why does it matter? Is it a statement on the American West or the Hollywood Western that Chigurh uses a huge shotgun[1] outfitted with a silencer to enforce his disappearing act? Or is it just a really cool character device -- this violent impulse to be seen and yet remain unseen -- that Cormac McCarthy worked into the story for entirely different reasons?

The romantic notion of the tortured individual who’s seeking his soul's respite out on the broad Western horizon doesn’t hold up here. Maybe because the horizon’s run out -- there is no untamed West left -- and instead of wandering off into the far reaches where there is no one and none can find him and he can pursue his friendless solitary way -- in order to have the thing that Western heros seek, he must raze the horizon of all living things.


Or maybe it’s a statement on the American West: The human cost of that horizon; a horizon that, as wilderness evaporates under the forward movement of development, is increasingly illusory.

Hell I don’t know. Like I said: I only half understood it. Just haunted by a few of the possibilities. Haunted too by the theme of chance that circles strongly through the film.

But I need another viewing before I throw any more dust into this wind.

p.s. On a lark: it'll be interesting to see, given the film's dark & fleshy poster (among other things), whether the film's box office performance conforms to the law of dark movie posters »


[1] yeah. not a boy. can’t tell you what gauge the shotgun was. sorry.

article 16

Love Jump!
Originally uploaded by NinaMyers.
As women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, they are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.

So are you.

Article 16, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

December 10th is International Human Rights Day

Thursday, November 22, 2007

asbestos gelos

asbestos gelos: A term used by Homer actually. It literally means “Fireproof laughter.”

Unquenchable laughter. Invincible laughter.

And the Cretans say that he who laughs, lasts.

And they have been around a long, long time.

Robert Fulghum in Sketches of Crete, an online excerpt of his new book What on Earth Have I Done? in which he tells a great story about jogging nearly naked and unwittingly making an ass of himself in a small town on Crete.

I understand Mr. Fulghum wrote a book about Kindergarten or something a while back. Heard it sold pretty well. I don’t know much about that, but I do know I’m a fan now that I know he feels for Crete the way I do -- that there’s something about the folks who populate that island in the Mediterranean that makes it unlike many other places in the world.

I’ve only visited Crete once, and then too briefly, but every day of the journey I was met with unexpected acts of generousity -- pitchers of rosé sent to my table by smiling waving strangers in tavernas, candy bars handed to me in a firm handshake and a “welcome to Crete” from the owner behind the shop counter; good company and conversation long into the night with new friends. A little while back I was swapping stories via email with a friend of mine, and I sent him this one, about just one example of the way people operate on Crete:

so about that car on crete -- we went to crete to research a tv pilot project (never did get sold [project dried up during the divorce], but I still think it was a good idea: all about how the myths and stories of a culture are tied to the landscape. we were thinking about spinning it with a food angle too -- food of the place where the stories were told; how food guest stars in many of the stories); anyway, we were traveling with another gal, a producer, who shared my interest in Arthur Evans and the dig at Knossos -- unfortunately B had an interest in the gal -- and I was stupid enough not to figure it out until much later. (idiot.)

we rented a car in Chania with the idea that we'd cross the island -- we had the Lassithi plains in our sights because of the Diktian cave (zeus, baby-popping chronos, the whole nine yards). on one of these mornings we stopped for an early lunch at a little slip of a town, and parked the car in what, we later found out, was a no parking zone. but really: the signs were in some kind of funky greek iconography -- and if I remember it right the sign in question was orange or blue, not red like you might expect. I suppose if any of us had read up on greek road signs we would have been in a little bit better shape -- but none of us had.

landscape with church

when we got back to the car after having our "toast" (the ubiquitous croque monsieur of greece -- a grilled cheese and ham sandwich) there was a ticket on the windshield, from which we figured out we were probably parked somewhere we shouldn't be.

no biggie: we figured we would just mail the fee in (or maybe just forget it ever happened <sheAdmitsSheepishly/>), and we started to get into the car to go. a couple of guys hanging out at a sidewalk café waved us down at that point, and managed to explain to us -- through gestures and exclamations -- that our license plates were missing.

hellas blue #4

clearly the police were used to dealing with tourists with rental cars, and they had figured out a way to make sure the ticket was paid sooner than later. something else was becoming clear at this point: the odds of finding someone who spoke english in this little town were pretty slim.

later I would learn a little greek, but at that time all I knew was how to say "thank you", "cheese pie", and "come here, come here!" -- which I had learned just the day before from a sweet old guy who invited us into his home and showed us the scrap book of all the folks whom he had led up to this little local acropolis -- which was our destination when he called out to us: "ella, ella!" from the doorway of his home. he couldn't lead us up there because he was too old, and too lame, and it was clear that it was breaking his heart. but that's another story.

the thing about crete is that the folks are a little bit different than they are everywhere else that I've been to in greece. they think of themselves as a people apart -- they're not entirely greek; the whole Minoan ancestry influences this way of thinking, and there are also a cool ancient ties to the Balkans, and an occupation by the Venetians and then the Turks -- all of which ties together to make them a fierce little band who are ready to fight at the drop of a hat -- but it also seems to contribute to the fact that they are hugely compassionate, kind and generous. (I could back this point up with hours worth of stories; I'll save you the digression.)

all of these characteristics would soon become very important in the incident with the license plates. before long we were surrounded by a press of people who were concerned with our predicament. there was one among them who spoke some english. a young guy, without a whole lot of get up and go of his own, but who became an important liason between us and the key player -- a wirey old grandfather who pushed his way to the center of the circle and demanded to know what was going on.

the guy who spoke english explained that we were in a bit of a bind -- we certainly needed to go the police station, but he expected that no one would be there to help us out. the town was small, with only a few officers, and he expected they would be out patrolling. besides: it was nearly lunch time.

my heart sank. I had seen greek men do lunch. they start around 10, at one of the tavernas, and they wrap up around 2.30, 3 o'clock. often in groups of 5 or 6, never fewer than groups of 3. The dishes are served tapas style -- so they'll munch on a plate of little fried fish for awhile, then some calamari, then some spanokopita, maybe a little moussaka; ouzo or a rosé is an important accompaniment. in athens, for several days running, I saw a group of older guys spend the whole day at the same taverna, downing plate after plate and glass after glass. nice work if you can get it.

(just remembered I have an illustration handy -- these aren't the same guys, but they'll do:)

The Life.

well, the wirey old guy figured out that we weren't about to wait -- neither did he think we should have to. he exchanged some animated words with the young guy who tried to argue with him before he finally gave up, turned to me resignedly, and said: "he'll take you".

so we loaded the guy into the car -- he got into the back seat and I can still see him leaning forward animatedly, gesturing to me where to go, where to turn, leaning out the window and shouting with exasperation to other drivers "ella, ella!" -- which I now realized had the double meaning of "get off the road, asshole!"

we parked at the police station and he took me into the station, where we found out that we were lucky -- the policeman who had our plates were there -- but they were not about to do a thing about it. they had a schedule in mind -- and they'd get back to us tomorrow. well the wirey old guy wasn't going to allow that, and he ripped them a new one, all in greek of course. I just stood there smiling, batting my eyes, and trying to look like the kind of silly american girl who they might take pity on. we were at it for a good 45 minutes. there were discussions behind closed doors. and this old guy just kept swinging for us.

generous stranger

finally, he prevailed. I paid a fee and the officer handed over the plates. he managed to scare up enough english to explain to me that this was highly unusual. the old guy was really pleased with himself, but also thanked the officers with a dignity and courtesy that ensured no one lost face. down on the street, after the whole thing wrapped up, I showered him with thanks and tried to offer him some money -- which he waved off -- he wouldn't even take a ride back to spot where we picked him up. he shook my hand, bowed graciously and waved goodbye. he was such a gentleman; so regal; so kind.

passing time, crete

article 15

Originally uploaded by Jorn Tomter.
She has the right to a nationality.

She should not be arbitrarily deprived of her nationality nor denied the right to change her nationality.

Neither should you.

Article 15, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

December 10th is International Human Rights Day.

grateful for...

Friends. Like sweet anniemcq, at whose sun-soaked table I took this shot way back in May when she put me up for a night and something about being in that laughter-filled, music-filled, love-filled house made me spill out all my troubles in a big blubbering mass (and yes I mean mass) which she oh so decorously mopped up while administering good solid advice to steer by that's held me all this good long while.

I'm grateful for *so* many friends who have provided moorings while I've been passing through some rough waters. Offering so much wisdom. So much compassion. So many brilliant insights. Thank you, dear friends. How did you all get to be so *smart*?

Family. Whom I never get to see enough and when I do see I want to see more. (A friend asked me about my trip in late August and I said: "Oh you know how it is when you see family -- it's always the best." And she laughed, saying: "No, D. It's not. Most people wouldn't say that.") My family are my favorite people in the world. They're my core. They keep me honest. I want to be like them when I grow up.

Work. I'm lucky to do what I love and in this last year it's taken me thousands of miles and placed me in close proximity to so many of the people I adore. It doesn't get much better than that.

The Margins. Which mean so much. Blogging. Flickring. Twittering. The people that you meet when you're walking down those streets. It's the Internet, I guess, that I'm expressing gratitude for, but it's more than that: it's people reaching out to people. Telling stories. Sharing their lives. Offering wisdom, encouragement, *recipes*, for the love of god. And creating -- making something new -- "See? I made a hat. Where there never was a hat before." [1] -- and throwing it out here to see what sticks.

I've made some dear friends online in this last couple of years, and I never would have guessed something like that would have been possible. It's like the story debaird told me, when he recounted to friends how he met up with p2wy and me for dinner when he passed through Chicago some time back: "Was it weird?" they wanted to know (debaird had only ever met us online); "Only in that it wasn't weird," he told them (although I'm paraphrasing, so db you set me right if I got that wrong).

Sure there are some odd birds online, but I haven't met them yet. Instead I've met you guys, for which this world is a richer and more miraculous place.

So thanks, y'all. I'm grateful for you.
And Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

[1] And thank you Kari, for placing that Sondheim quote (which I'm sure I've mangled) so prominently when you were blogging over at litwit, and reminding me to Make Something New every time I checked in.

(links to follow soon -- posting by cameraphone -- late -- good lord why am I not *asleep*?!)

Update: Linked.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


I'd pimp this piece even if it hadn't been designed by one of my favorite artists. But it was, so even better.

Aidan Olive is the stage name for the fabulously talented collective of Aric Mayer and Marni Saling -- two recent emigrants from Brooklyn who have returned to their early home in the Pacific NW.

Now settled into Bellingham, WA, outside of Seattle, they've introduced the Zen Bench as the first item in a line of promised pieces.

Modern lines. Designed to survive the ages. (So want this one.)

via aidan olive

people get ready

You know who you are. You know why this matters.

Game on!

p.s. Audio must be up, people. UP!

(Fondly dedicated to my Dad and my siblings in their sleepered feet.)

Update: Just realized I used this title once before, for an entirely different kind of post »

give it up for the kids

the $100 laptop

Okay: So Negroponte's $100 laptop has morphed into a $399 2fer deal.

Still as cheap as the iPhone. Still as durable as Negroponte's original. Still the best way to connect a child in faraway reaches to the rest of the world.

Six more days to give it up for the kids »

You're gonna love yourself all over when you do.

(And so's that special kid in your life -- because when you give it up for others, they're gonna get one too.)

via Mommy's In a Timeout

article 14

Butare, Rwanda
Originally uploaded by camera_rwanda.
They have the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.

So do you.

Article 14, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

December 10th is International Human Rights Day


Bodegeschmack: Which is what the French call goût de terroir, the taste of the land. It is robust, boldly flavored, down-to-earth cooking.

R.W. Apple citing William Woys Weaver from his book Pennsylvania Dutch Country Cooking (Abbeville Press, 1993) in a piece that Saveur is re-running online regarding the Apple's Pennsylvania Dutch Thanksgiving.

Interestingly, Saveur neglects to mention that the esteemed R.W. Apple passed away last year.

btw: I'm adding a chair to my fantasy dinner table for Apple. Man knows good food and conversation like nobody's business. And did I mention? We'll be waiving the elbows on the table rule.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

attributed to derrida

what interests me
about the eyes
is they are the part
of the body
that doesn't age

if one looks for one's childhood
across all the signs of aging

the deterioration
of musculature

the whitening
of the hair

the changes
in height    weight

one can find
one's childhood

in the eyes

I found this ages ago online, cobbled it together and left it in a notepad file called "Derrida" sitting on my desktop. Found it a couple days ago, decided to post it, and don't have the ambition required to track down the original citation by Jacques Derrida.

So let's just assume.

article 13

Originally uploaded by Maggie's World.
He has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State.

He has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

So do you.

Article 13, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

December 10th is International Human Rights Day.

Monday, November 19, 2007

inbound on the Ike

Have we talked about this? About how many of Chicago's expressways and tollways have names, most of them taken from politicians during the early glory days of superhighway construction (shall we assume that money changed hands?) -- like the Stevenson and the Kennedy -- and it's never entirely clear which name corresponds to which number because they're rarely coupled together on signs, and they're often abbreviated by locals -- so that the Eisenhower, which is I-290, becomes the Ike.

Which is what this is.

Update: I've edited this post *four* times with four different Interstate numbers, which goes to show that I have no idea which interstate the Eisenhower really is. I'm so not local.

digital comics unlimited

Dude: Marvel Comics just came online »

Monthly subscription required. Bummer.

Although you can sample 250 select titles for free.


make snow, not war

But people are fed up with war. They just want to live in peace, and to ski.

Skier Shkelzen Domi, commenting on the tension surrounding the possibility that Kosovo will declare independence from Serbia, in this morning's New York Times.

article 12

Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
She should not be subjected to arbitrary interference with her privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon her honour and reputation.

Neither should you.

Article 12, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

December 10th is International Human Rights Day.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

blue window

Naperville, IL
Not too long ago.

article 11

They have the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which they have had all the guarantees necessary for their defense.

So do you.

Article 11, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

December 10th is International Human Rights Day

[photo credit: National Archives]

Saturday, November 17, 2007

half nelson

I’m learning there are movies I love that I shouldn’t bother mentioning. At least not with zeal. Like I did not too long ago recommending Kitchen Stories to a Norwegian-American, sure that he would love the subtlety of the way that story’s told; certain that the sacrifice that’s made at movie’s end would devastate him as it did me.

It didn’t.

The Story of the Weeping Camel is another one that I regret ever mentioning to anyone, because of course no one will ever watch it. Would you be caught dead renting a movie called “The Story of the Weeping Camel”? Of course you wouldn’t. I wouldn’t have been caught buying a ticket myself -- I only saw it because I got free passes. (But it’s so good! But forget I mentioned it.)

Then there was Kung Fu Hustle. Popped it in for movie night with friends and laughed uproariously -- until I realized too late that I was the only one. Everyone else was horrified. (Mostly. They warmed up about midway through.) [1]

Half Nelson may be another one. Watched it last night after I tucked in Mr. Hoo and his IV drip at the hospital and returned home late to a quick dinner of scrambled eggs and the very last dregs of my sister’s homemade chutney (sweet mercy so good) (‘specially with a little dollop of Greek yogurt on there as well) and popped in the movie for company.

So subtle. So well-played. Brilliant performances by all the principles. Unnerving story line -- a high school history teacher / girl’s basketball coach / frustrated writer who dopes up in the margins of his life, is discovered by one his students -- a young girl surrounded by her own tough challenges as a kid in the inner city. A young girl who had anchored in him. Which makes her discovery of her teacher in a stall in the girls’ locker room with a crack pipe that much more complicated. She’s black, he’s white. She’s 13, he’s not.

Somehow, by the end, their friendship gets them where they need to go. Still: it’s messy, and ambiguous, and unresolved. But solid.

Made my heart ache in ways it hasn’t since I was 13 and looking for a hero.

Definitely one of those movies I’m glad I watched alone, because if I’d seen it with someone else I’d be wondering about their reaction -- did it effect them in the same way? And if it didn't there would be that post-movie conversation that would drain away the rich broth of emotion that the movie left me steeping in.

So let’s pretend I never mentioned it.

[1] If you happen to be one of those who really dug Kung Fu Hustle, and have a thing for the Iron Chef, check out The God of Cookery (if you can find it) -- produced by some of the same folks who were involved in Hustle, and definitely of the same flavor. You won’t be disappointed. I don’t think. But what the hell do I know.

Friday, November 16, 2007

No. 9

No. 9
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
Snapped this earlier this week in Detroit.

Posting by cameraphone from
Edwards Hospital.

Random FYI: In Mayan Cosmology 9 is the number of the underworld. (Per George Stuart at the Field Museum earlier in the week.)

looks like we'll be here awhile

looks we'll be here awhile
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo.
Wrapped up a very nice sushi lunch with p2wy (to celebrate his new job -- w00t!) and found a text message from my darlin' companion as I was heading back to the office which read: "staying at Edwards awhile".

Edwards is our local hospital.

He went to the doc this morning to check in on an infection that he didn't think was behaving as it should in response to oral antibiotics. The doc agreed and shipped him off to the hospital to mainline antibiotics.

I joined him in short order, and here we sit until this b*tch is licked. Wish us luck.

article 10

They are entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of their rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against them.

So are you.

Article 10, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

December 10th is International Human Rights Day.

what writing does not involve

Writing a book, at least the kind of book that I write, on complete world knowledge, does not involve going outside.

John Hodgman on writing his book (this one on Molemen), as interviewed on Boing Boing TV by Xeni, and featuring the brilliant illustrations of Ape Lad.

linzie love

inspirational spam
Originally uploaded by Linzie Hunter.
Flickrite Linzie Hunter makes lovely hand-lettered works of art from spam subject lines.

Check it out here »

Many thanks to Vasta at Squandrous for the link!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

article 9

freight hopper .ii
Originally uploaded by stoneth.
He should not be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Neither should you.

Article 9, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

December 10th is International Human Rights Day.
Related Posts with Thumbnails