Gallery people

I hadn’t been out much because of the weather.   I saw a listing in the newspaper (yes I still read a physical newspaper, digital is just not the same) for a gallery opening, and most importantly, it said “free”.   So off I went and miraculously found a place to park as well.

The most interesting part to me was that it was full of hipsters.  One doesn’t see  these walking around very much, at least not at the sort of place I frequent.

This is the tarot card reader telling the fortune of this young man (you will graduate from college someday, and get a job)  She was wearing this stylish black jumpsuit and some wicked looking high heels, not the sort of thing you see everyday.

The reason that there was a tarot card reader was because that was what the exhibit was about.   Someone got the idea to make  “black power” tarot cards.  I’m not sure how this is different from any other tarot, but the artists did get to show their work and probably got paid as well.

There was an experimental (plot-less) film showing on one wall and I heard the term “white privilege” bandied about.  I could tell who the filmmaker was, he was the man wearing a scarf  casually wound around his neck (not pictured unfortunately).

One of the artists.

There was the usual sort of swill to drink, by which I mean delicious Bulgarian wine.   They had a sign to indicate that one needed to show proof of age to be able to imbibe, but they forgot to ask me for some reason. 😉  And of course there must be some sort of nibbles to go along with event.   There were roasted beet appetizers and this lovely cake, the shadow is me, just drifting through this event.

Books

We’ve had a run of bad weather, first it was ice and snow, then it was gale force winds.  And what does one need to get through a stretch of bad weather?   Some people rush to the stores to get bread, milk and eggs, but I need to to have a lovely pile of books to set by my bed.  So this is what I have been reading.

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I haven’t gotten too far in Ancient Worlds, but The Invention of Murder is quite interesting.  One of the many points she makes is about the number of murders that take place in the novels of Charles Dickens.  She cites the original source material Dickens used, and it makes me wonder why Dickens is still popular (sort of, it’s considered literature, and good for one) while his other contemporaries have fallen out of favor.

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Rain Dogs is a mystery (my favorite genre) set in Ireland (which is almost as good as an English mystery).   Of course I love Terry Pratchett, this is one of his witches novels.   I did see a list recently in The Guardian where people talked about their favorite laugh out loud novels and I was surprised that his work was not included.   Go figure.

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There was not too much to read in this book, but it had some great inspiration to it.

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The quilting book also had some inspiring art, perhaps I will give this a go again sometime (I do have a rather large pile of unfinished quilts).  And the last book pictured is about French culture, it could be handy if I ever go back to France (in real life, not just in my imagination).   These were enough to get me through some rough weather, and now there is more possibly on the way.   I’m ready for that too.

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Old year

It’s a snowy and miserable day to be outside today, so I thought that I would share some pictures taken last year, on Dec 30th.  My friends asked me if I wanted to take a stroll through our most famous city park and I immediately said “Yes!”.   As it was sunny and warmish I didn’t even need to wear a jacket and it was ever so pleasant a day to be walking about.

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There are beautiful views of the mountain from the park; what I am not showing is that we were hardly alone in enjoying this gorgeous day.

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The park has these lovely vertical cliffs that were caused by the mountain pushing it’s way to the surface.  Again what I am not showing is the crowds of tourists swarming over the rocks, quite near the signs saying that this is dangerous.

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The cliffs have lots of handholds and toe holds so that they are possible to climb up without any special equipment, but, it is quite a different matter to get down.  So the fire department has to come and rescue people from time to time.

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They are lovely and mysterious, looming overhead.  And one could spend endless time photographing them (I personally have jillions of photos).    One photographer was fined for cutting down a tree so that no one else could take the same photo as he.   But I am a casual observer, so after a few shots (okay, the batteries ran out in my camera), it was off to lunch.

New Year

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New Year’s Eve comes with it’s own set of traditions, and some of my dinosaurs posed last year for this shot to illustrate them.   One tradition is the wearing of crowns, tiaras and silly hats.   Top hats have not been worn by regular people in my lifetime, but they persist as festive wear, a symbol of the holiday.  Such is the power of tradition.  People also have plenty of superstitions about what to eat on New Year’s Day to bring health and wealth (but mainly wealth).

And of course the other tradition is to drink champagne (or other alcohol) in copious quantities at midnight.   Also to make resolutions for the year, some sort of self improvement; like to resolve not to stay up until midnight drinking champagne.

Here in town we have another tradition.   A bunch of old guys hike up the mountain and set off fireworks at midnight.   As this is a social event too, they have staff and support people, but they still have to climb to the top of the mountain on a snowy trail.   As the top of the mountain is far away from town, it’s not quite as impressive a display as sitting underneath the fireworks on the 4th of July.  But I applaud their efforts, and as it is a tradition I stayed up until midnight to watch this.  [Sorry there are no pictures, it was dark out 😉 ]

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The dinosaurs were not feeling quite as festive this year, but they and I do want to wish everyone a Happy New Year.

Batteries not included

When I dragged out my Christmas stuff after all these years, I came across Bowser Holly, a delightful part of the Christmas decorations.

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Of course I originally bought him (I can tell it’s a boy by the voice) because he reminded me of Miss P and I would tease her with him.   And after I found a small Phillips head screwdriver, replaced the batteries and removed the corrosion, he started to sing again.   He sings and barks his way through “Deck the Halls” in a very engaging version.

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This is my other singing battery operated Christmas decoration/toy that I got two years ago.  I include him in Christmas just because he is a reindeer wearing a scarf.  He sings “If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands”, not a very seasonal tune.   But he is cute and he claps his hands and raises his ears, and is generally adorable.

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The Three Stooges are not part of Christmas, but they do have batteries so I’m including them in this post.   These were sold as “dog toys”, although they are quickly demolished by any competent dog.   (I sent a set to my fellow Stooge fan and brother.   His dog took an instant dislike to Larry and killed him at the first opportunity).   They don’t have any moving parts, but when squeezed they feature voices of the actors.

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Dear Rex is the senior among these battery operated marvels.   I probably bought him in 1985, and he has gotten a little arthritic over the years.  But his eyes still glow and his jaws still move.   He is the king of the collection.   He is somewhat modeled on Godzilla, and as I recently argued on Facebook, Godzilla is part of Christmas too (at least if you live in Japan, where he is part of every holiday).

 

O Christmas Tree

After four years of not having a tree, a faraway friend inspired me to put one up again (you know, that tradition thing).   Back when we had a rambunctious dog. I had decided on getting a small artificial tree (yes I decided on artificial because I don’t like to kill things) that I put on a table.   It can’t be knocked over by a careless tail, and I use all my favorite ornaments, with no plain glass balls allowed.   This collection started small and has been added to over the years.   When we used to travel to scientific conventions, L’s wife and I would always end up at a Christmas store, and some of these ornaments were purchased then.   Many of the others were bought at the after-Christmas sales because I hate to pay full retail price for anything.

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These African beaded ornaments were purchased in San Antonio, near the Alamo.

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The lion came from San Francisco, I don’t remember about the dog.

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Every tree needs some birds flying around it, and what says “Christmas” as much as a parrot.   (You could really teach a parrot to say this).

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The lizard was made in Africa and I can’t remember if M bought it there or if I got it from somewhere in the US.  I think the poison dart frog was purchased in Denver and the rest I got in town somewhere.

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What is it about me and frogs?   This isn’t even all of my frog ornaments.   I guess I like frogs because they are funny and cheerful.

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I don’t know about the mouse jester, but the humahumanukunukuapua’a was definitely bought in Hawai’i.

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St. Nicholas belongs to the season, but I’m not so sure about the gargoyle, giraffe or Northern Pike. (Yes, they are part of Christmas too!)

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But of all my ornaments, these are perhaps my very favorites.  Small plastic dinosaurs with adorable faces, and just the right touch of holiday spirit.   I have had these for about 30 years, and I purchased them right here in town.

 

Christmas food

Since it is almost Christmas I decided to go ahead and start my cooking.   It’s tradition and you can’t mess with tradition.   This recipe was printed in the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, a newspaper that was published from 1852 to 1986.   I’m guessing that this recipe is from 1976 or 77.   Mom saw it, clipped it out of the paper, and made it for Christmas one of those years.   I thought it was delicious, and as it is a tiny recipe I promptly lost it.   But the food editor of the paper kindly looked it up and sent me this copy, and I have taken more care with this copy.

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I have made this every year since then, and it’s one of the things that I only make  at Christmas time.  I would make this for me and make German hazelnut cookies for M.   His recipe was translated from German and started out “make a mountain of flour and mine a pit in the center” [those Germans do have a way with words ;-).]

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Anyway, it doesn’t look like much, I supposed I could fancy it up but I am quite lazy.   It tastes delicious and carries the taste of Christmas in my mind.  The recipe claims to make 12 servings, but I have never found this to be the case (it’s between 4 and 8).

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And it is the perfect thing to enjoy on a gloomy winter’s day.

Christmas pins

Another somewhat weird tradition is the buying and wearing of Christmas pins.  My paternal grandmother loved to wear these, and so she would get one for Mom and sometimes me as well.  (I looked in my jewelry box, but I don’t still have any of these, I was too hip to wear these as a young woman).

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This is a horrible picture I took with my new from this century phone that I don’t know how to use.  My friend said that it was her mother’s, so it is probably 40 years old or so.  They used to cost about a dollar, and there would be big displays of these in the shops.  They were sold in a little box, sitting on cotton wool so one could give them as gifts.

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I always liked the more unusual sort of pin, and these were purchased at Christmas time.  I have another one of the lobster pins (somewhere), and I have the frog as a plastic toy as well as in this metal pin.  I have had these for years and still occasionally wear them.

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This one is new and not really gaudy enough to be a Christmas pin.

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Another frog pin, are we sensing a theme here?

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This is my current favorite and I have been wearing it a lot lately.   It’s so cheerful and not a bit Christmassy.

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But this is the best holiday thing to wear (not a pin).   It’s actually intended as a Christmas ornament, but I put it on a bit of cord and wear it as a necklace.  The dog in the picture is my previous dog (Chow and Golden Retriever), so this necklace is probably at least 15 years old.   Whenever I wear this, people will stop me and ask where they can get one just like it (all one needs a time machine to purchase this).

Socks

When I was just a kid, I always seemed to get socks and underwear for a Christmas present.  As these are rather utilitarian and mundane objects, it did not seem like it was much of a present to receive.  And then there was the pressure of getting days-of-the week underwear, what if you were wearing the wrong day?  But now that I am old, these things don’t have the same meanings.   Socks and gloves are what one buys when it snows or the weather turns cold, undies whenever the old ones get ratty.   I have been learning to knit socks, a complicated process and somewhat useless skill.

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These were the first socks I knitted, and since they are not perfect, I made them for myself.

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Once I knew a bit of what I was doing, I made these for my brother, as a present, but not a Christmas present.   Then his wife told me that he loves socks, so she is wrapping them up and putting them under the tree.

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I made these ones for her, and she told me that she had gotten socks and underwear for Christmas as a child too.  But she actually liked getting them, so I suspect she may wrap them up for herself.

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So here’s a pair in process, they are knit on five knitting needles and it is a bit like wrestling an octopus.   But eventually the beast is tamed and a sock emerges.   As you can see in the photos, the yarn one uses makes a big difference, these are all self-striping yarns.   It would be incredibly boring to knit with a single color: not to say that it is not boring to use these 😉 .

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And these are the competition, ready-made socks.   These are knit in an incredibly complicated pattern and cost $7 at the store.  The yarn I use  in hand knit socks costs more than that.   But, hand knit socks are a labor of love, and perhaps that counts for something!

And then again there is the dissenting opinion.

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New Art

Well it’s not anything I’m making, I remain quite short on inspiration, but I do buy the occasional bit of art to put on my walls.  And as it is that time of year with craft shows there has been the opportunity to add a few things to my walls (although I admit that none of these has been framed or put up yet).

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This came from the same Japanese festival as the obi in the living room.   It is a 3 dimensional fabric piece made using old kimono fabric.  I don’t really have a need for it, but I loved how darn cute it was.  And you know how I love textiles.

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I saw this photo at a craft fair at the college this past weekend.   I was in a crabby mood and did not want to buy anything, I just walked around for a while, feeling crabby.    But I kept thinking about this fox, so I had to go back the next day and buy it.  I have bought art from the photographer before.   She is an older woman (that means she is older than me 😉 which makes her ancient) and she takes amazing wildlife pictures.

http://annettephotos.com/Annette_Photos/Welcome.html

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Here’s another look at little boy, her backyard fox.   He has quite soulful eyes, he was much more interesting than the other fox she photographed.   (I used to have a little fox that lived up the hill, but he disappeared one day 🙁 so now we are over-run with rabbits).

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I liked this photo of two Sandhill cranes.They are perfectly lined up so it looks like a three winged bird at first glance.

www.stephen-weaver.com

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This tiny piece of art is a refrigerator magnet.   A friend gave them out at a party and I like the sentiment.  And unlike the other bits of art, this one is hanging ;-).