Saturday, April 29, 2017

Bookstore Day in Photos

In no particular order because it's late and I'm tired:
Self-evident: bikes outside of Phinney Books, our 5th bookstore of the day (about 17.5 miles). It was here that we ran into Bill Thorness who demonstrated his fancy new bike helmet; it has turn signals!
And outside of Queen Anne Book Company (store #3). I bought the new Lyanda Lynn Haupt, but it was Scott's purchase of John Berger's Portraits that impressed the bookseller.
A display of books I found particularly charming at Elliott Bay Book Company (final stop=#8)
And also at Elliott Bay: another display at which I pointed saying, "mine, mine, mine, mine, mine . . ."
Book Larder in Fremont (#6/19.5 miles) where I picked up a copy of "Imbibe" magazine along with a Julia Child book. The clerk told us, "The editor of the magazine is going to be giving a talk here in May" to which Scott replied, "We were just out drinking with him last night!"
It's not all about books and bikes: there were bakery stops (this one at 14.33 miles) as well. Oh Besalu, how I miss you!
Bookshop #4 was Secret Garden where I had to look a good long time to find a book to buy; I finally found the latest (and sadly last) Stuart McLean Vinyl Cafe collection.
First stop of the day was actually a coffee shop: Caffe Umbria on Occidental Square in Pioneer Square. Tres charmant, too. (This was at just over the 6-mile mark, what with the initial attempt at the water taxi; who knew it ran so seldom at this time of year?)
We didn't win any drawings at University Book Store (#7 @ 22.5 miles) but we found some travel books.
First bookshop of  the day; a handful of classic mysteries and "grab bag" containing a couple of ARCs from Seattle Mystery Bookshop
Our rogue not-on-the-official-list bookstore of the day:we stopped at Metsker Maps to get a map so we could find our way down the backside of Queen Anne.
I covet this poster (from the door of Phinney Books).
The fruits of  the day. I am, indeed, firightend to look at the pile of receipts.
Total bike mileage for the day was just about 25 miles; we cheated and took a bus from Mercer to the top of Queen Anne hill and we rode the light rail from the U District to Capitol Hill and then downtown. And yes, a C brought us back to West Seattle. By then it was raining, we had several pounds of books, and Scott's rear light had gone AWOL.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Honey bees make honey; mason bees make food


Plum blossoms, just waiting for apron-wearing bees
It's been a while and, to be honest, my heart isn't so much into writing a scintillating post tonight. It's a waving, perhaps drowning update, mostly to record that we installed twenty mason bee cocoons (some of which had already hatched, meaning some lively bees were coming out of the box I was too impatient to refrigerate for 15 to 30 minutes) in the newly relocated mason bee house this evening. The new spot should get a bit more sun, seeing as it won't be entirely engulfed in grape leaves in the next two months (knock on wood). A couple of the already-lively bees obligingly crawled into a couple of the holes in the bee trays, which we take to be a promising sign as well. Fingers crossed and all; goodness knows we've got plenty of blooms on the plum tree that should offer plenty of work for the newcomers. And not only the plum; if I can shift my mind from focusing on wanting to enjoy the fruits of the bees' labor, I have to admit there are other food sources in the yard as well:
This is why it's my favorite time of year chez Aurora. When the sun shines.
In other hasty news, I've updated the Books list to the left to include White Tears and The Bean Trees.* Having just sped-read my way through the NPR review of White Tears, I find that they thought a little more highly of it than I did. It was gripping and a fast, compulsive read, but I felt that I'd read a lot of the book before, and I may have found it less subtle than the NPR reviewer seems to have done.  I bought the copy I read of The Bean Trees on Independent Bookstore Day two years ago. (PSA: This year's Bookstore Day in the US is Saturday, April 29th; go out and support your local bookstores that day--and every day!) I picked it up off a stack of books in Tish's room as I was looking for something relatively short to read last weekend, and it seemed promising. And it was good; just less escape from present-day life than I'd hoped or expected.

"Look at those guys out in the park with no place to go," I said. "And women, too. I've seen whole families out there. While we're in here trying to keep the dry-cleaner bags out of the kids' reach, those mothers are using dry-cleaner bags for their kids' clothes, for God's sake. For raincoats. And feeding them out of the McDonald's dumpster. You'd think that life alone would be punishment enough for those people, but then the cops come around waking them up mornings, knocking them around with their sticks. You've seen it. And everybody else saying hooray, way to go, I got mine, power to the toughest. Clean up the neighborhood and devil take the riffraff. .  . . What I'm saying is nobody feels sorry for anybody anymore, nobody even pretends they do. Not even the President. It's like it's become unpatriotic." 
 -from page 119 of the Olive edition of The Bean Trees, by Barbara Kingsolver

Magnolia blossoms against a blue sky
Finally, because it's been a while since I've unloaded photos from my camera, and this at least started with fruit trees, I share that I was surprised to get a package sort of shaped like an aluminum foil box in the mail a few weeks ago. When I was opened it, I was quite pleased to find that it contained swag from The Seagull Project, a local theatre group that specializes in Chekhov to which we gave a chunk of change late last year. Their performance of The Cherry Orchard was quite fine (though I think I preferred their Three Sisters); don't miss a chance to see whatever they do next. Me, I'd love for them to perform Olivier Salad (A Comedy in One Act).
The vodka is an after-market addition for the photo shoot

(This post inspired, at least in part, by Mason Bee Revolution)

* This list should also include the Booker-prize-winning novel, The Sea. A book that clearly made very little impression.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

I bet there's rich folks eating in a fancy dining car

Sadly, I can't possibly capture how exquisitely fine F. Tennyson Jesse's A Pin to See The Peepshow  is, though I'll put an excerpt from a late chapter here (spoiler warning!). I wept continuously for the final thirty pages or so of this book; what higher praise can I offer?

 But the thing is, I love that a book can do this--especially a book I'd never heard of before, that I picked up some months ago because it was in the Virago Modern Classics series, and then put aside in a stack of other unread books, largely forgotten until I was looking for something new to read. That such an accidental book, originally published in 1934, can be so surprising and moving: that is the magic of literature. Of words. Of stories.

 Always a pair of these women were with her, always the light burned in the cell, though she was allowed to tie a dark handkerchief over her eyes when she slept; for light had always waked Julia even more easily than noise. Always there was the offer of books, of milk, of bovril, of a walk--now she walked in a different garden from the first one, and alone, save for the officers; a garden from which she could see still more clearly the roofs of free and ordinary houses. She felt it would be something if she could just go back and  walk as she had done before, with the other remand women, in the garden with the circular path and glass-houses; but now, in an irregularly shaped garden with a railing, she wandered aimlessly about and about, on a fine day.
     There were beautiful pigeons that flew about and came down to strut over the earth beside her. They were free, fat and tame. They preened themselves and looked sharply this way and that, so that the light reflected from their beautiful iridescent necks. Julia would watch them walking about, pecking at the grass, eating the bread that she was encouraged to save up for them. She soon gave up this occupation because of the anguish that was hers when the pigeons, with a whirring of wings, rose into the air and were gone. The pigeons might go, but there was something that could not; and that was the view always before her eyes when she exercised--the roofs of houses quite close to her just beyond the prison wall. The  roofs of real houses . . . the devilish cruelty of that glimpse of roofs. It oughtn't to be possible to see smoke coming up from the chimneys of homes. There were people in those houses, people who ate and slept and took baths and clothed themselves after their fancy, who went in and out as they chose, who were so used to seeing the prison as they looked out of their back windows that they thought nothing of it. They might have an increased interest now, as they looked at those grim walls and thought: Julia Starling is in there. She hasn't got much longer. 
    There were people there whose children went to school, whose husbands came home from work; people who made their laundry lists, who did their shopping, who went to the pictures. Oh, Christ! if only she could be one of them, she wouldn't want a lover, she wouldn't want anything but to go in and out of an ordinary house and do ordinary things.
    Every day, when she waked, the roofs of the houses, and the thin spirals from their hearths, hurt her as nothing else hurt her. From the first moment in the morning when she was wakened at half-past six till the last moment at night when she tied the dark handkerchief over her eyes and tried to sleep, after the salty dose of bromide that helped her so little. The night would go in a succession of dozes and nightmares; of patches of bare, bald watchfulness. There would be the change of officers, the pint of tea, the porridge and bread and margarine. Did she want anything extra? Would she like jam, would she like marmalade, or an egg? Anything she wanted, that was the cry. She was allowed whisky and soda with her meals, as many cigarettes as she liked, and a sleeping-draught at night. She could have anything she wanted to nourish and soothe the body they were going to destroy. It was too absurd. Prayers in the chapel . . . nobody had to go to unless they wanted to, and Julia didn't want to.

--from pages 372 - 373 of A Pin to See The Peepshow

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Most evil of days but a cushiony life


It is, of course, the most evil day of the year, the day on which an hour has been cruelly stolen from us as we slept. My plan, I have told anyone who will listen, is to pretend it hasn’t happened and skip the hour between 4:00 and 5:00 on Monday afternoon instead. I’m pretty sure that the majority of my fellow Americans would be much happier to see that hour go, than to lose an hour of precious sleep. I just need to put the initiative paperwork together, once I’m a little better rested.

(With apologies to those who object to pictures of meals in the internet)
Yesterday, however, I was more ambitious and while sitting at the new bistro table for breakfast (crepes filled with Glendale Shepherd cheese and Mme Gradka's apricot jam) I gave some thought to cushions for the chairs. This led to my pulling out the pile of fabric that I tend to buy on impulse, cutting a pattern out of newspaper, and just being all sorts of March girl. I was particularly pleased about using some of the upholstery cloth purchased on last year’s West Seattle Yard Sale Day. It was also nice to have some justification for not throwing out old pillows as I was able to repurpose the filling of one of those for cushioning. Possibly most pleasing of all was finding  a spool of color-match minty-green thread in my mother's collection of thread. I’m not saying that the resulting cushions are perfectly round, nor do I claim that they’re exactly identical in size, but Mr Bear pronounces the effect both easy and fine. 

Today I’ve planted potatoes and started some peas. It’s like I pretend that some day winter will end.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

O'er-hasty posting (but pretty!)

Oh blahdeblahblah you old neglected thing, what can I say? There's no excuse for my treatment of you and yet, I hope to buy you off with a lovely bouquet with a hint of backstory.



The backstory is that Scott and I had a car today so we could pick up the chairs I'd purchased at the flower and garden show and also buy and shift a wheelbarrow home from True Value. (We may not own a sawsall yet, at least we now have a wheelbarrow. Okay, it needs to be assembled yet but still. And all.) Naturally since we had a car we went to the grocery store and there I somewhat pointedly, and very rudely since he had just purchased twenty tulips for me at the farmers market, called Scott's attention to some elegant flower arrangements they had in the case. "For future reference," I may have said.

Then we finished our errands and returned the car and eventually made our way back home for what remained of the afternoon. I remembered I'd left some blackberry vine in the alley during yesterday's fence project (oh! the exciting tales I could share if only I had more time and ambition) so I shifted the yard waste container to the back and one thing led to another as I spent some time ripping out buttercup and admiring thumbprints at the suet all the while my clever little brain working in its own mysterious ways. After moving the now quite heavy yard waste container to the front, I fetched the clippers and a basket and wandered about snipping what caught my eye and then I came inside, filled a vase with marbles and rock and set to work.

 The result, I must say, is easily as elegant and fine as those $42 items at Metropolitan Market. And, of course is all organic and locally sourced.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Good times are coming


Incoming wigeon!
It's always possible I'll never really write a blog post again; that I'll just rely on too many photos to maintain some sort of existence online. "Rely a bit too heavily, on alcohol and irony" comes into my head, probably because I'm a bit ill and because Scott and I saw not one but two John K Samson shows last week, both with identical set lists, meaning I heard Aside twice, not that I'm complaining, mind you. He played the original Virtute song and Utilities and that one about hating Winnipeg, as well as some fine pieces off the newer albums, my favorite one there being Vampire Alberta Blues which, truly, I cannot recommend enough. Go ahead and click that link; I'll wait.

Reifel landscape
 Rather than uploading some bird photos immediately I may go ahead and say something about the religious experience that is a JKS show. The Tractor, in Ballard, is where he (and his bassist, keyboardist, and drummer) played in Seattle. It's an intimate little spot so it's not entirely surprising that it was pretty damned packed. An amusing thing I noticed there, and in Canada as well, is that no one in the audience notices that The Man Himself is on stage, fussing with mikes and cables and the like until he actually officially comes on stage and starts to sing. And then it's what I imagine a church service might be like. Seriously, I was getting a beer at the Tractor bar before the first song started and working my way through the crowd to get back to Scott during the first song was like crashing through the pews. It was during the second song, however, that the call and refrain started:

JKS: Now that the last month's rent is scheming with the damage deposit,
Take this moment to decide 

JKS and the women behind us: Sun in an empty room
JKS:If we meant it, if we tried 
JKS, the women behind us, and a few others: Sun in an empty room
JKS: Or felt around for far too much
JKS, the women behind us and everyone else in the place: Sun in an empty room
JKS: From things that accidentally touched
Etc.

The oddest thing wasn't that this happened both in the small Tractor and the 900-capacity Commodore Ballroom in BC but rather that it didn't bother me in the least. I may not have been joining in but it felt entirely appropriate.

Shy saw-whet owl
 But maybe the above just illustrates why I should concentrate on photos for a bit. The day after the Commodore show we got up, far too early, to find more than a few millimeters of snow on the streets. That did not stop us, however, from getting into a Canadian Zipcar (really pretty indistinguishable from a US Zipcar) and setting out in search of the Riefel Migratory Bird Sanctuary.Which took far longer than it should have done but we persevered and succeeded in the end. (Useful tip: Highway 99a is not the same as Highway 99.)
 Reifel, I've got say, is weird. I don't question that it's great for the migratory birds,  but the residents are far too tame for my taste; we all but had to chase them away from us--in fact, the ducks do come chasing after you if you stand still for too long. Oh, I have two new birds for my life list, including the long longed-for saw-whet owl, but they don't feel entirely honorable. Not that the saw-whet was easy to see; it's only thanks to a stranger who pointed the two of them out that we saw them at all, but still. And all. Photos then.
The other new bird: sandhill crane in the snowy landscape
Ms Mallard in the snow
Wet but not unhappy spotted towhee
Male wood duck looking as bright as male wood ducks always do
You'd be cranky if your feet were all icy too: fox sparrow
PS. My landscapes are always crooked. I should work on that.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Seattle Womxn's March in Photos

It was a pretty nice day in Seattle today so 130,000 friends and I went for a little walk. I took photos of some of the signs that caught my eye.