Quote of the day

"To be truly radical is to make hope possible rather than despair convincing."  Raymond Williams
(from Van Jones via twitter)

 (image here)


I would love to attend the whole series called The Practitioner's Parlour, but this class in particular.


"There's only one way out..."

Embrace the failure. Milton Glaser.

Milton Glaser – on the fear of failure. from Berghs' Exhibition '11 on Vimeo.
(via Wit + Delight)

And then, of course, there's Samuel Beckett:

"Ever tried? Ever failed? No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better."

(via Pinterest)


Versatile Blogger Award

My lovely internet pal Zuzu from  Everyday Beauty Blog has tagged me with this award. If you have any interest in gorgeous makeup and quality skin care, you need to check her out. Her reviews and photos are tops. Plus she is smart and funny (who wouldn't love someone who subtitles their blog "carpe cosmeticum"?). Thanks, Z!

The rules for this tag are:
  • Kiss the ring of the person who nominated you and link back to her (or his) blog in your post.
  • Share 7 facts about yourself that probably no one but your cat cares about.
  • Pass the award on to 15 other bloggers.
  • Contact your nominees and let them know you've tagged them. 
Like Zuzu, I'm going to disobey the last rule-- see note below.
Ring is kissed (see first paragraph).

7 Facts No One Cares About:
1. I have 2 small, delightful tortoises. They are laid-back, quite sociable, and have a mildly cynical attitude.
2. I won the "Straightest Arrow Award" at Girl Scout Camp when I was ten years old.
3. I have been to Paris 3 times and have still never climbed the Eiffel Tower.
4. An incident that really happened to me and my husband appeared in a stranger's short story/memoir several years later. (I know it's us, because it happened in the same Italian town in the same apartment.)
5.  My great-great grandfather, a Union soldier, escaped from the infamous southern prison Andersonville with a Native American friend (they were recaptured). This was a few years after he deserted from the British Navy by jumping ship in an American harbor.
6.  I adore accordion music (polkas, not so much). Too bad Bach didn't write anything for the accordion.
7.  I always break chain letters. It's just the way I am.

I actually know very few bloggers personally, online or otherwise (can I help it if my friends don't blog? I ask you). So what I'm going to do is simply pass on 15 blogs I really enjoy (along with Zuzu's, of course).

Self-Styled Siren: She blogs about old movies. I don't always agree with The Siren's opinions about said old movies, but I always enjoy reading what she has to say.

TYWKIWBI ("Tai-Wiki-Widbee"):  Find out about things you didn't know you wanted to find out about.

Hello, Neëst:  Lovely blog from French housewares store Neëst.

Smitten Kitchen: Best. Recipes. Ever.

The School of Life: If you look through some of my past posts, you will see I often refer to this blog. A regular read.

Morbid Anatomy: A veritable panoply of morbidity! Go see for yourself!

emma's design blog: When I've had enough morbidity and want me some cool Scandinavian design goodness, I go here.

say la vee:   I found this blog through my latest addiction, Pinterest. Blackbirdintuvalu is one of my very, very favorite pinners-- I swear it's spooky, the stuff she pins! Is she in my head? Plus, she also has a 17 year-old-son! Anyway, this is her blog. Enjoy.

even*cleveland:  A daily read.

ancient industries: Very fun visual blog about, well, ancient industries, both living and extinct.

Margaret and Helen: Sharp, smart, and funny political notes from an 82-year-old Texan that frequently make me laugh out loud. Here's an example, just in case you were wondering: ..."I find it odd because I know that Rick Perry, the Governor of my state, is really upset about how big government has gotten.  Evidently it’s not big enough, however, because ‘ole Ricky seems to think its small enough to crawl up my vagina with a sonogram machine and a recorder so that Ricky can tell me how to think based on what God whispers in his ear when no one else is around."

Accidental Mysteries: Terrific online arts magazine.

Jonah Lehrer's Wired Science: Helps satisfy my inner science geek.

grijs: Visual inspiration.

an ambitious project collapsing:  Even more visual inspiration.


Quote of the day

‘Imaginary evil is romantic and varied; real evil is gloomy, monotonous, barren, boring. Imaginary good is boring; real good is always new, marvelous, intoxicating.’  Simone Weil  (found via Gretchen Rubin at The School of Life)

(photo via Pinterest)


On letting go of things

I've been in a black hole of clearing out the garage this past month. I am not finished; in fact, I have a long way to go. A lot of the stuff belonged to, or was accumulated by, my late husband. I'm having to think about a lot of these things. Is there anything I should keep? If not, how do I get rid of it? Some of it I wonder, what is this, anyway?

I'm not much of an accumulator, and I'm not sentimental about objects-- most souvenirs seem pointless to me. I have one small box of stuff from my childhood, and another small box of cards and drawings that my kids made over the years. Very little evidence from my first marriage has survived (a couple of photos, a couple of books, that's it).  I have a scrapbook/journal I kept when I lived for a year in Italy when I was in my 20s. But the journal gives me the shivers and it's going to go. I don't want my kids reading all my youthful whining when I'm gone. I can't even assume they'd want to read it.

My late husband (who was husband #2), however, kept everything. I found an entire box of letters from his first wife. I found papers and grade reports from when he was in high school. I found stacks of photos taken in every classroom he ever taught in. And many boxes of his teaching materials, LPs, shirts from the 1980s, scraps of things that were taken apart, marginally useful tools. (I'm trying not to be pissed off that once again, he left the housekeeping to me.)

I recalled this essay/"sermon" written a few years back by Bruce Sterling:
The hours you waste stumbling over your piled debris, picking, washing, storing, re-storing, those are hours and spaces that you will never get back in a mortal lifetime. Basically, you have to curate these goods: heat them, cool them, protect them from humidity and vermin. Every moment you devote to them is lost to your children, your friends, your society, yourself.
The flip side of this is: what do you keep? He goes on to describe a more forward-thinking, practical approach to material things:
The items that you use incessantly, the items you employ every day, the normal, boring goods that don't seem luxurious or romantic: these are the critical ones. They are truly central. The everyday object is the monarch of all objects. It's in your time most, it's in your space most... the things that you use every day should be the best-designed things you can get... Anything placed next to your skin for long periods is of high priority.
I'm trying to keep all this in mind as I re-imagine how I want to live-- in another year or so, my son will follow his sister off to college, and my life will be radically different. Which is ok; things change, whether we want them to or not. I just want to give a lot of thought as to what I take with me and why.

You can read the entire Bruce Sterling essay here. Photo of Novy Dvur Monastery via Minimalissimo.