Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The New Bohemians by Justina Blakeney

The first time I read this I thought that it was much too wild for my taste. After spending the next year flipping through it every time it came through the library it was obvious that I was in love with this crazy book so I reread it and now we're besties. It’s comprised of different takes on the bohemian style – everything from modern to nomadic to earthy. You may even discover that you’re one or more of these styles and go about changing things up in your home. A lot of the finds in this book came from craigslist and thrift shops, which is excellent news for those of us who are treasure hunters. I've never given tasseled light fixtures my attention before, but will definitely be looking at them with a lot more respect after reading The New Bohemians. There are also fun do-it-yourself activities scattered throughout- Denim patchwork pouf! Mosaic rack/tiny planter thingie!

I love all the slouchy lived-in vibrancy mixed with the abundance of plants and wood elements. This book is bursting with patterns - suzani, Native American and patchwork. Thrown together they create rich textures that marry well with the abundance of linens and soft animal fur throws. Plus there is so much fun going on here; we’re talking tassels galore, wacky planters and one very blissful paper-mâché skull. Like me, you may not love everything in this book. As much as I love the penny-tile-with-dark-grout look I’m never going to put forth the effort to clean my bathroom with a toothbrush. And I probably won't embrace a leather couch that looks like it's been shredded by an ambush of tigers. But this book is such a cornucopia of aesthetic wonder you will find something that makes your nomadic/earthy/romantic heart sing, even if it takes your eyes a year to sort through all the splendor.

Monday, August 29, 2016


My brother, Jason, drove up for a visit over the weekend!  

It is ridiculous how much we look alike, but it's a good kind of ridiculous.  

We drove down to see dad and our Aunt Lil.   

And we did a bit of urban exploring as well.  

I even talked Jason into a bit of jumping!

It was really a wonderful and special and silly and super fun visit.  

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Love is Love

I have a new completed embroidery piece that's for sale on Etsy!    

Just like a real heart, this one, made entirely of french knots, was a little mean to me at times, and sometimes an asshole.  But it also won me over and taught me a little bit of patience or at least how to politely and emphatically whisper-yell in public places when it hoodwinked me ten french knots in and I had to painstakingly behead each little poof. I also learned that rayon doesn't work for french knots. Ever.  

And if there's ever a contest for sleep french knotting I'm totally going to win.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

knotty splendor

Folks, we have floors!  And gorgeous ones at that! They haven't been finished yet, but they're darn near perfect even without the pop and shine.  I counted about 50 favorite planks that stood out in their grain variations and knotty splendor, and am thrilled that a handful of these will not be covered by all our built-ins (definitely a first world problem).  I can definitely see myself naming my favorite planks and wearing them to creakiness with my adoration.

Here they are being laid out:

And presto:

This is our master bedroom:

And my office, which is my favorite room of course:

Friday, August 19, 2016

constantly it will thank you

Found in a book at the library:

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes is equal parts morbid, hilarious, inspiring and ruthlessly genuine. Caitlin Doughty’s memoir is much more than her riveting experience as a crematory operator and her journey to becoming a licensed mortician. It’s her fight against the fear of death, a fight that almost destroys her, but instead she gives this fight and its beauty to the world. And much like the orange rot that can sometimes trail our faces during death, we may never be ready to see it. But as Caitlin stresses throughout Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, witnessing death is how we ready ourselves for it, and yes, even embrace its terrible beauty.

When I wasn't cringing I was laughing and gasping in wonder as I savored every page of this book. Caitlin may be a mortician, but first and foremost she is an observer and writer, using her descriptions and self-deprecation as weapons in her fight to bring death back to life. It took only a few pages to fall in love with Caitlin’s peculiar poetic outlook. On the way to her first day of working at Westwind Cremation & Burial she spots a “homeless man wearing a tutu [and dragging] an old car tire down the alley, presumably to repurpose it as a makeshift toilet.” And later that day, even though I felt mortified on her behalf I still couldn't keep myself from laughing uncontrollably when she freaked out about her first shave ever on a dead man and "kept expecting to hear cries from the viewing room of “Dear God, who shaved him like this!”

As she learns more about the mortuary business Caitlin makes startling observations. While using a combination of the cremation machine, a bone blender (it's called a cremulator) and her own hands to turn humans into ash she thinks about her own skull and how “[it] might be crushed too, fragmented by the gloved hand of some hapless twentysomething like [her].” And later, in a particularly poignant moment, while discussing the pros and cons of donating bodies to science, Caitlin remembers her grandfather’s bout with Alzheimer’s and emphatically states, “If the donated heads of Alzheimer's patients… could make a difference to other families, off with their heads, I say.” Caitlin’s curiosity of death reaches beyond American practices. She explores not only the history of our death practices but also compares us to other cultures, including the cannibalistic beliefs of the Wari’ and the “Tibetan's belief that a body can sustain other beings after the soul has left it.”

Caitlin’s morbidity is just shy of appalling. But this is balanced by her ample enthusiasm and passion for her job. One of the things that happens to us when we die is that our bodies go into a refrigerator. Each body has its own very ordinary cardboard box. When Caitlin retrieves a body from the ‘reefer’ she compares her excitement to “the early ‘90s stuffed toy for young girls, Puppy Surprise.” When a child bought one of the doggies it was always a surprise how many babies the dog would have. “Such was the case with dead bodies. Every time you opened the box you could get anything from a ninety-five-year-old woman who died peacefully at home hospice care to a thirty-year-old man they found in a dumpster behind a Home Depot after eight days of putrefaction.” For anyone who’s ever seen a puppy surprise in action this is a brilliant analogy, albeit a touch appalling.

Maybe you are fascinated by death or completely clueless about what happens to our bodies when we die. Or perhaps, like most of us, you’re struggling with the loss of a loved one and are looking for a death pick-me-up. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes will inspire you, exercise your soul and laughter muscles and maybe like Puppy Surprise, give you exactly what, or a little more, than you were hoping for. Maybe, like me, you will hope your body ends up in a space suit made entirely of mushroom spores. Or you will want to push the button on the cremation machine after your loved one’s body is pushed inside, and later, dig around in their ashes for the precious cremation tag so you can save it to be added to your own ashes someday. Thanks to Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, I feel a little bit more at peace with death’s terrible beauty. I think, no matter what, every person who reads this will glean some of that same peace. And together we’ll wholeheartedly applaud Caitlin Doughty for constructing a living bridge between death and the conversation we all so desperately need to have with each other.

If you're curious what Caitlin Doughty is up to these days check out this excellent article about her in The New Yorker!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

the room that all the other rooms are afraid of

My craft room is painted!

Actually, the painting is just about done for the whole house.  

Including Rachel's room, which is just a teensy bit scary-as-hell bright : ).  But super happy, right?

Floors are going in this week!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

dear poem bouquet, I'm sorry

I'm still making an effort to keep posting on Poem Bouquet.  I am simply buried in great poems, so I really should be trying harder.  All of my great excuses are not enough.  So here I go again!

Every once in awhile I'm going to post a poem of mine that I've had published.  Today is one of those days.  This is technically the second poem I published.  The first one, which won second place at one of the colleges I attended, is very rough and quite emotional (thus the reason it placed) and not something I feel comfortable sharing anymore.  So I've decided to skip that one and start with the second poem I published, Treasure, which came to fruition during one of my many memorable bike rides to work.  I-70 Review is the journal it's published in (an excellent journal).  

And though I have been terrible at keeping up with my beloved collection of poems, I am going to make an effort to post once a week on Poem Bouquet.  

Monday, August 15, 2016

first day!

Today is Rachel's first day at her new high school!  

(Here she is displaying about 30 hours of shopping effort. Well worth it!)

Good luck Rachel!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

lots to celebrate

Rachel worked her butt off and scored a 'B' in her first ever college course that she took over the summer!

(this was taken during one of their marathon study sessions)

She celebrated with some taco shoes:

And in the meantime nearly all the rooms in the remodel have been painted.  

(this is the master bath looking into the master bedroom)

Saturday, August 6, 2016


Yesterday an elderly patron came in and made a beeline in my direction.  

"You!" She said loudly.  "You!"

"Er... Yes?" I said, shrinking away.

And then I remembered.  Two days ago grandma and granddaughter came into the library, asked for Matlida, and when I told them it was elsewhere and would place a hold for them they looked at me so sadly.  That's when grandma said that her granddaughter would be going home on Sunday. Because the library that had Matilda happened to be in Timbuku grandma and granddaughter didn't want to make the drive out there.  The best bet was to call the library and get Matlida in the tub in the hopes that the courier would deliver it the next day.

So I called the library that had the dvd, which happened to be a library with a sorter.  Any time an item goes through the sorter it immediately shows as available at the branch.  Unfortunately this usually means that the item is really just buried in a tub waiting to be processed.  Because the record showed that the item had been turned in that day I knew it was in a tub waiting to be processed.  I explained the predicament to the librarian I spoke with and because they had five tubs waiting to be processed they could not make any guarantees. They did agree to call me back if they found it. 

Sadly, I relayed the news to grandma and granddaughter.  Crestfallen, they thanked me and left.  Twenty minutes later the librarian from the faraway branch called.  She had found it.  Matilda was officially 'in transit' status, ready to make her journey here.

Perhaps it was the combination of the perservering librarians at Timbuktu and Matilda's magical powers.  But here was grandma in near tears.

"Thank you thank you for making it possible for me to watch Matlida with my granddaughter before she goes home tomorrow.  When she wakes up and comes down for breakfast I'm going to have Matilda sitting right next to her pancakes."

My heart instantly turned into melted chocolate and red wagons loaded with books and sunshine-filled libraries.  

Monday, August 1, 2016

sleepovers, poems galore and dead bodies

I scored with poetry last month and read several exciting poems.  I also read an astounding memoir and devoured the latest Fancy Nancy book and maybe danced around with it a bit.  

Here are the best books I read in July:

Fancy Nancy Saturday Night Sleepover by Jane O'Connor and illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser

- I love Fancy Nancy and her colossal vocabulary (that's fancy for knowing lotsa words). Nancy and her little sister, JoJo, are having a sleepover at Mrs. Devine's and Nancy is worried that JoJo is going to miss mom and day too much to enjoy the  sleepover​. But maybe they'll have so much fun they won't have time to miss mom and dad? Or maybe mom and dad are going to be missed no matter what? So much suspense!

Knock at a Star: A Child's Introduction to Poetry

- Any book of children's poetry that has a poem by Richard Brautigan has my respect (having said that, not all Brautigan poems are meant for little ears) - these poems are super accessible for any age, but there are a few that are like onions and have multiple layers of meaning - the book is nicely divided into sections of different themes in poetry followed by a tidy desription and poems that illustrate the theme

Good Poems

lots of familiar and well-loved poems like 'Otherwise' by Jane Kenyon and 'Bats' by Randall Jarrell - also a few delightful poems I hadn't seen before like 'Elvis Kissed Me' by T.S. Kerrigan and 'Routine' by Arthur Guiterman, which ends with the fantastic line, "even kings have underthings"

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty

- morbid, hilarious, inspiring and ruthlessly genuine - Caitlin Doughty has a knack for finding the beauty in peculiar and horrifying moments and writing about them with poetry, wisdom and humor - there's a strong argument here for how we deal with the dead, but also hope, that together, we can fix it

Longer review coming for this book!