Saturday, March 31, 2007

on march

Early Monday evening I left the Musée du Louvre and made my way to the Metro to meet Michelle for dinner. I was certain of the direction back to the station and decided I could therefore vary the route a bit. As I walked along, I saw people sitting on a bank below the walkway, and a paved ramp leading down to where they were. The lure of the river, the Seine, was impossible to resist and I took the ramp, found a spot on a platform above the walkway, and sat a while watching the Parisians, the tour boats on the river, the ducks, and the age-old buildings surrounding it all.

Whenever I find myself in a distant and unanticipated place I think of my mother. She never left the United States, spent most of her adult life trying to wrangle Toledo into something more kind to her. I think of her and feel sad because she died a month after her 49th birthday and there was so much she never got a chance to see. When I mentioned this to Michelle as I stood underneath the Arc de Triomphe the day before, she told me (and I have heard many times) that I take my mother with me and, in that way, she gets to see what I see. I believe this and I don't. Perhaps something I need to reconcile.

Though I wrestle with what my mother's life was, I deeply appreciate how my life's fortune points my feet in directions I don't expect to walk. Sitting beside the Seine on a beautiful day in March filled me with a sense of excitement, a friendly expectancy about the days to come. And maybe a little, just a little, I felt my mother smiling for us both.

Friday, March 30, 2007

eye candy friday -- two from a parisian cafe

I'm back from my wondrous Paris journey. I loved every minute of it and have lots of photos (some of them crafty) to share. I'll post as soon as I shake off this jet lag.

In the meantime, bonne nuit a tous! (Goodnight, everyone.)

Friday, March 23, 2007

eye candy friday -- string section

I am seriously running low on eye candy but don't want to miss posting because it's nice to build some consistency somewhere.

This week has been crazy busy, 12+ hour work days, a doctor's visit that reminded me why I'm so grateful to have a full-time gig in the first place (health insurance, anyone?), an appointment with my aesthetician that required a harrowing 11th hour drive from work to The Valley to get my face de-furred. No way was I going to France with my father's eyebrows.

Here I am, oh, say, 7 hours from taking off for another continent and I haven't packed a thing. I kid you not. My suitcases are still stored in the trunk of my car. This morning I got myself hopped up on coffee so I could proctor a 7:30am exam and now I'm so damn exhausted that the very concept of coffee is a slap in the face. I want only sleep.

Okay. Somebody help me. I'm watching this "October Road" show on TV and the main character, a famous novelist who looks like if he does type, he does it with his toes, wants a job at his alma mater so now he's serenading the dean. Naturally, it's the way to go. She hires him. These TV shows are so steeply based in life on this planet.

Anyhow. I've got to get busy pulling some strength out of my ass. I'll be back next Friday with new *French!* eye candy and a fun tale or two.

(Kellz, I'm good for that tote bag as soon as I return.)


Friday, March 16, 2007

eye candy friday -- ode to caffe mocha

you have found me here
at 40
drag-assed and frantic
wanting to do every single thing
i've never done
and all at once
because time
is not what it used to be

i need you
though i have shunned your kind
my entire life

you do not take this personally

i come for you and you lift me up
to ride the sky
like a baby

because i am an infant
in this game we play
i walk away from you
with the jitters
and feeling, shall we say,
a little loose?

never mind that

all that matters
is that you are legal
and the only one
strong enough
to keep me from
drooling on my desk
in the middle of
the day

Monday, March 12, 2007

it ain't the lotto, but it's got a big winner!

The winner of the sweater tote is Kellz!

I felt the need to do it 'til I was satisfied, so I drew a 2nd place winner too!

My assistant, Pig, will say it again

Kellz, lover of Lizz Wright's Salt, and Grace, lover of Astor Piazzolla, please e-mail me your mailing addresses. I'm at Kellz, a fabulous sweater tote will soon be coming your way. Grace, your prize is a surprise.

Thanks so so much to everyone who entered. Good times, yes?

Viva la musica! :)

Sunday, March 11, 2007

ah, the best laid plans

Y'all know. Sometimes the knitting and the blogging they find themselves at loggerheads, your two poor little hands caught in the middle.

That happened to me today.

I wanted to take photos for the drawing and to announce the winner, instead I wound up knitting and listening to Children Running Through most of the day. And so I'll do the drawing tomorrow, after I arrive home from working for The Man.

In the meantime, I'd like to offer something, so I'll leave you with a passage that has to do with the project I worked on today, the same project for which the tiny buttons are intended.

I slipped off into the most delightful post-prandial nap. My special technique for car-cat-naps is to sit bolt upright, and let the chin drop down as far as it can on the chest, relaxing all neck-muscles. My reflexes are now so conditioned that this pose sends me to sleep almost immediately; the head doesn't loll, the mouth doesn't open degradingly and I like to think that there is no snoring, although the family is in a conspiracy to tell me that I always snore, which is plain nonsense.

This is not the non-sequitur it might seem (as anyone who has knitted this project can attest). You'll see.

Friday, March 09, 2007

eye candy friday -- tiny buttons

These are for a project I'm currently working on. I think they're very sweet.

The contest has been wonderful. A big thank you to everyone who played along. You all have been the highlight of my week. Today I went to Amoeba and bought Patty Griffin's Children Running Through. I was planning to listen to her, per Mel's suggestion, then I saw her singing "Heavenly Day" on Letterman. I figured it was a sign. Mel, I'll be moving on to 1000 Kisses next. Then on to others of you guys' favorites.

Sunday -- THE BIG DRAWING. Someone's getting a new totebag. :)

Monday, March 05, 2007

and the colored girls sing do do-do do-do...

[If any newcomers would still like to enter the contest, see "Play Here and Win, " the post below.]

I swear to goodness that this here little music contest is more fun than a barrel of drunken monkeys. And oh my god, touching, too. When I read this, I cried:

Hands down no questions asked it's Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks. I can pop it in, close my eyes, and in an instant I'm transported back to summer road trips through the white mountains of NH with my dad. I can see the headliner of our dilapidated ford draping down towards my face as I lounge up against my brother and sister in the back seat. On that trip without my mother I first fell in love with the woods, the open road, and with Mr. Dylan, and I've been reeling ever since.

Blimey. Isn't that beautiful? Tangledbleus, I want to make you a tote right now. And I want to get Bob Dylan to hand it to you.

Most of you, like me, don't have Tangledbleus' s certainty. You want to make mixed-CDs and to bring your iPods to the desert island.

Often for good reason, like Sade said:

I really can't chose an album for a desert island, 'cause, each album brings me memories of one day, one week, one month or even one year in my life.

I feel this way all the time. And when an album is really good, I'll squeeze myself into it even if it has nothing in particular to do with what I'm going through in my life. That was the case with Erykah Badu's Mama's Gun. That record's got her breakup with Andre 3000 sung all over it -- or, I should say it's got "Andre 3000 jilted me and I really hate him but since we've got a baby I'm trying really hard to work through it" sung all over it. It came out at a time when my characteristically tumultuous love life had smoothed itself out. I had a boyfriend I was happy with, a relationship I couldn't complain much about. But, boy, oh boy, when that "Green Eyes" would come on and Erykah would sing "I can't leave it's too-oo late, I can't leave it's too-oo late" I would just DIE. I'd start believing my man was doing me wrong, wishing to god that he had been, so I could reaallly get into the drama. I wanted to feel like somebody was sitting on my chest, because I knew that's how she felt when she made the song. I have that experience every single time I play that disc.

Sometimes no matter how good an album is, I'll never get thoroughly into it. Hari said:

I can't BELIEVE Tori Amos hasn't graced your list! Tori Amos's Scarlet's Walk is such a great album...

Touche. Yes. It is. It's a great, great album. I think Tori's best. But no matter. Because, you see, Tori Amos belongs -- lock, stock, barrel and soul -- to Mr. Stevens. Call it sibling rivalry. We've been friends since we were 14 and we lived most of our adult lives under the same roof. And Mr. Stevens is a very emphatic type of person. When he likes something, the whole world will know. He got to Tori long before I did and he would play her and talk about her and sing along with her to the point where I'd want to kill them both. I let him have Tori, then and forever. I play Scarlet's Walk from time to time and I really enjoy it (I know all the lyrics to "A Sorta Fairytale" and I love "Your Cloud") , but on principle, I can't put it on my desert island list.

Plus, Hari, do you know all the albums that man stole from me? I'd bring home something good and he'd get his hands on it and start playing it to death, forcing me to relinquish all rights to future listening. (His side of the story, I'm sure, is different. But this is my blog.)

I'm pleasantly surprised by how many of you guys know and love Eva Cassidy's music (Audrey, did you see her live?). And there's one Nina Simone fan, Angela. I'm a fan, too. The only problem is that all my favorite songs of hers are scattered among different CDs. I'd have to burn my own mix for the desert island. The little known "Baltimore" would have to be included. Like Prairiedaun, I also like Cheryl Crow. I think The Globe Sessions is around here somewhere. These days I mostly listen to her best of. Chemgrrl chose Graceland, which I think is an inspired pick. That's one of those records that every few years goes into heavy rotation with me. My friend Summer chose Miles Davis's Kind of Blue, because "sometimes I just need the music man, and not the chatter." Summer, you almost got me on that bandwagon, but mama's gotta SING. If you tied a tune to my back I couldn't carry it across the street, but I gotta sing.

Then there are the artists I know but haven't really gotten into, like steph_knits's choice, Janis Joplin. I used to be too sad for her, but now that I'm closer to understanding the brevity of life, I could listen. I'll check out Box of Pearls. And Shobhana, I've heard of Jeff Buckley. I don't know Grace, but I will. Bensmumma listed Works by Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, a group I know of but can't name any of their songs. But with a statement like, "I could die feeling complete, listening to Greg Lake singing 'Lend Your Love to Me Tonight,'" well, who am I not to give them a spin?

And then there are the artists I've never heard of at all, which is why this contest is such a kick. Adrienne mentioned The Eye, a new band to me. And, Jacqueline, I'd be into some "Australian rock with meaning." I'll look for Paul Kelly's Songs of the South. Mel, Rachael Yamagata? Never heard of her. I'll give her a listen. You say these Duhks do a good cover of "Mountains o' Things?" I find that, ahem, hard to believe, so I must find out.

Right now I'm listening to Fleetwood Mac's Very Best of and thinking, How the hell do I figure I could survive on a desert island with no Fleetwood Mac? Or at least a little Stevie solo? An hour ago, while listening to David Gray's Life in Slow Motion, it was If I had to go to a desert island without this, I'd throw myself to the sharks.

Ah, music. It is good, yes?

Thank you all for talking music with me! It's an absolute pleasure.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

play here and win

Partly because I'm out of control and want to make these sweater totes every moment until my hour of death and partly because y'all have been so kind, supportive and generous with your comments on my projects (and my myriad other ramblings), I'd like to offer a little contest here at Purly Victorious. Before I get into the particulars, let me see if I can rouse some interest by showing my latest tote project, which I have been sporting about town for a few weeks.


When I posted my Terry Tote, some of you indicated that you wouldn't mind being next in line for some bonding (hi, Nik; hi, Summer). My first thought was, Yes! I will make totes for all comers! Before long I woke up and realized the impossibility of that dream, seeing as I've barely put a dent in my much whined about mile-long project list (and The Bubba has declared a modeling strike if I don't come up with at least one of the zillion things I've promised to knit for him). I had to get real and acknowledge that I can't adorn the shoulders of every gal I meet with sweater totes. But I am good for one. To determine the lucky (lucky? have you seen my sewing skills up close?) recipient, I'll hold a drawing. How's that?

Backstory and what ya gotta do to enter:

When I gave Terry her tote, I couldn't think of anything better to stuff inside it than music, the gift that really does keep on giving. In turn for Ray and Aretha, Terry burned me Damien Rice, a great artist I might not have discovered on my own. Anybody know "Eskimo"? It ends with opera sang in Finnish. I mean, hot damn.

All this music exchange goodness started me to thinking about desert island albums. I'm one of those people who doesn't think it's corny to refer to life as having a soundtrack. There are certain records that I return to again and again, and every time I hear them, they wring me just a little bit. Rickie Lee Jones's Pirates and Flying Cowboys or Rickie Lee Jones, Erykah Badu's Mama's Gun, Elizabeth Cotten's Freight Train, David Gray's White Ladder, Joan Osborne's Relish, Van Morrison's Astral Weeks, Stevie Wonder's Hotter Than July, any one of the Aretha compilations that I own, Eva Cassidy's Songbird and Time After Time, Tracy Chapman's eponymous debut, Annie Lenox's Diva, Luther Vandross's Never Too Much, Prince's eponymous debut, Lila Downs's La Linea, Linda Ronstadt's Heart Like A Wheel, Sam Cooke's The Man and His Music. The list indeed goes on.

To choose one record to have if stranded on a desert island is difficult, but I've given this some thought and listening time, and today I'd have to pick Aretha's Queen of Soul: The Atlantic Recordings. Aretha dukes it out with Rickie, because Pirates is so good it's insane, recorded at a time when an artist could take time with a record, and still peerless. Every song is a journey, leaving itself and coming back again, compelling a level of presence not asked of us often enough.

Also in the running is the late, great Eva Cassidy. If you haven't heard her, you must. Truly one of the purest singers I've ever listened to. This woman, who died virtually undiscovered at 33, could sing absolutely anything (one would think this would be an asset, but not in an industry that operates on categorization and packaging). The first time I heard her voice, it was coming from a neighbor's house. I dropped what I was doing and went outside where I could hear better and jot down lyrics so I could google them and find out who the singer was. With the exception of Live at Blues Alley, all her albums were assembled posthumously. Her recognition came after she was gone, when DJs in the UK started playing her version of "Over the Rainbow." Many of her songs cast a spell on me, but her beautifully haunting remake of Sting's "Fields of Gold" just knocks me out. I also love, love, love her "Tall Trees in Georgia," "Wade in the Water," "People Get Ready," and "Penny to My Name." I'm not too proud to beg, after entering my drawing, please click on the links, read about Eva, and listen to her music. Please?

Thinking of being on that desert Island without Eva or Rickie has made me teary, but Aretha. Oh, Aretha. "Save Me," "All the King's Horses," "Going Down Slow." On Queen of Soul, a four disc set, Aretha interprets enough musical genres to make me think I'm listening to different singers (a handy mind trick for a desert island), but the beauty of it is that the songs are always done her way, and is there anything better than that? Her "Respect" is iconic, and rightfully so, but it's astounding to consider what a talented songwriter, musician, and composer she is, outside of her big, soulful voice and stand-up lyrics. And so Queen of Soul it is, because I wouldn't want to be stranded anywhere without Aretha.

At last! How to enter:

I would like to hear from whomever would care to share, what would be your desert island album? Leave me a comment with the artist, title, and, optionally, a bit of why you love it. If you're like me and have a hard time choosing just one record, you can cheat and leave two or three, but it'll be one entry per person in the drawing for the sweater tote.

Are you excited? I hope so, because I am. Maybe I'll discover some new favorites.

I'll run this contest for a week or so. By then I'll have time to sit down and sew up the prize. I'll do the drawing Serendipity style.

As I'm all about the Muse, I have no idea what the tote will look like (solid? striped? 1 pocket? two? another tryst with embroidery? a little pouch as an accessory?) but I promise it will be fun and functional. A tote bag for a song. I think it's a sweet exchange.

Friday, March 02, 2007