Friday, August 31, 2007

Freaky Hijiki

Yeah, that's right, Gramma Peggy loves the Beastie Boys. Gotta problem with that? And yeah, I know the chances are that when some 59 year old librarian/gray haired granny makes that pronouncement it's probably the death knell heralding the end of the Beastie Boys' careers, but what the hell. It's true, I'm a fan. Even if the thought gives you a painful headache. At any rate, I highly recommend their album, "The Mix-Up." I got it as a loaner from my son, the king of eclectic music collecting (more on that in another post). Pretty soon I was dancing around the kitchen to this really great music! (Okay, scary visual.)

Wikipedia calls this album "post-punk instrumental." I'd call it a really creative mix of jazz, blues and electronica. The B. Boys themselves just say, "It spits hot fire." And maybe I've got a lot of gray hair, but I'm not dead yet and I get spittin' hot fire. I do! Really! Oh, just go listen. It's a treat, dearies, you have my word. Now I'm gonna go crochet antimacassers while rockin' my porch swing in time to Suco de Tangerina.

Anyhow, if you haven't been blinded by the headache or the visual of me dancing and you can actually see the picture, I chose it 'cause it reminded me of the music on "The Mix-Up." It's a photo of one of the rides at the Tanana Valley Fair, Photoshopped to within an inch of its life with motion blur and distortion filters.

Now, go dance!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Driveway Zen

I just spent two and a half hours weeding my driveway. I estimate that it might take another six hours to get the whole thing done. Sometimes when I'm weeding the driveway, I think about what my reaction would have been if, at sixteen, I had been told that my future held hours of driveway weeding in Alaska. I'm pretty sure I would have smiled politely and then backed slowly away from the crazy person, who, it would have been clear to me, was about as out of touch with reality as if they'd chosen to announce that Abraham Lincoln was living in their garage. I'm not sure a weed ever dared poke a head above concrete level in a single one of the driveways of the ultra-tidy, landscaped, manicured and sidewalked neighborhood where I spent my teenage years, but you can be sure if it had it would have been quickly fried to a mutated crisp by a brief but intense skirmish in the chemical warfare that passed as gardening at that particular time and place. "Driveway" and "weed" were mutually exclusive terms. And, of course, my disbelief would also have had to do with the fact that Alaska wasn't even on my particular map of the world (which featured Santa Cruz, the closest surfing to my house and, later, San Francisco and flower power, and not much else).

But now, here I am, weeding my driveway in Alaska. Actually, I'm pretty casual about weeding the driveway, only getting serious about the whole thing when the house starts looking like an abandoned building - since I'm not anxious to come home and find squatters setting up housekeeping on my porch. Well, and even that isn't too probable in Alaska. Up here we cultivate an air of gentle dishevelment in our living spaces, and the sophisticated squatter would know that, barring a fallen in roof and 24 inch gaps in the flooring, the most crumbling and humble of homes is still likely occupied.

I've gotten particular about what I pull up from the driveway. Every year I'm visited by the progeny of a group of pansies I planted the first year I lived in my house. I planted them in an actual flower garden, and how they migrated to the driveway remains a mystery. But I love them and so every year, at randomly spaced intervals scattered across the drive, their colorful heads wave happily at me when I come and go from my house.

Anyway, the picture is an actual close up of a bit of my driveway. The moss is nice, don't you think?

Friday, August 24, 2007

Snapshot of my sister

This is a picture of my sister, ca. 1967. Today is her birthday. Happy birthday, Sister! She's still cute, plus she's generous, caring, and really, really funny. In our family photographs, she's the one making goofy faces. The very best thing I remember from my childhood is the sound of her laughter. She was a wild child and I was a mild child. While I was reading stories, she was making them up, creating adventures for her Barbie dolls. When we were teenagers, we covered for each other, and we knew enough about one another to get each other grounded for life. Once she slugged one of my ex-boyfriends for saying something mean about me. Sisters just don't get any better than that!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

I heart libraries

My first library came on wheels. It was a van full of treasures and visiting it was the highlight of my week. My friend Debbie's mom would gently herd Deb and me, and our two little sisters, through the streets and across traffic to the corner where the bookmobile parked. We would each pick the maximum number of books we were allowed to check out, enough to make our arms ache long before we got back to Deb's house, and we'd be off for another week of literary adventure.

We were binge readers. We read until our brains were bloated, until our eyes swam, until focusing on distant objects was no longer an option. We read until the stories became more real than the world we inhabited. We were bookworms. I'm not sure either of us ever really recovered. We're still friends and we still love libraries.

Since then I've made myself at home in quite a few libraries. I moved away from my hometown in 1970, to an exotic and very small town in southwestern Oklahoma. (Believe me, when you're from central California, small towns in southwestern Oklahoma are exotic.) Shortly after arriving I decided I'd better get a library card. I'm not sure who suffered the most from culture shock during that transaction, myself or the two little old, gray-haired librarians. (Ironically, now I'm a little old, gray-haired librarian -- but I digress.) These two honestly were the very archetype of librarian. Buns in their hair, orthopedic shoes on their feet. And the books - the books! The books were at least as old as the librarians and considerably more dusty. The librarians, of course, were delighted to see me. I was probably the first person to walk in the door in the last twenty years. They would have been delighted if Genghis Khan had walked through that door, providing he confessed to a desire for a library card.

In any case, the librarians, having had only one another to talk to for decades, were understandably curious about me. When they discovered I was from California they exclaimed, "Well, aren't you glad you're in Oklahoma now!" I admitted that I was finding Oklahoma interesting, but I wondered why they thought a California girl, in particular, would be glad to be in Oklahoma. "Why," they announced in unison, "because California is going to have an earthquake and fall into the ocean!" I wasn't sure how to reply to that because I really, really didn't want to admit that, while earthquakes didn't worry me too much, I was pretty scared about the fact that I'd moved to a place where I could be picked up by a tornado and deposited in a tree three counties over. Anyway, the first book I dusted off and checked out was on severe weather. I'm proud to say that there were a fair number of un-dusty books by the time I moved away. And not all of them were on weather.

One of my favorite libraries was the base library on Langley Air Force Base. There was a housing shortage at Langley when we arrived, and we were forced to take up residence in one of a group of quaint little tourist cottages which, for the sake of anonymity, I will call "The Aegean Stables." Our cottage came with a really rich and amazing bouquet of smells and roaches big enough kick serious tourist butt. So the library was my refuge. It was clean, quiet, roachless and it had enough books to keep me busy until we got our very own quarters on base. Which, by the way, came with a really rich and amazing bouquet of smells and roaches big enough to kick serious Air Force butt.

Anyway, I guess it's not really a mystery why I became a librarian.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Rollerblade bottle tune guy

Huh, the Hallalujah Nuns has been removed from YouTube by the creator (no, that's not some obscure religious pun; the person who made the video took it off of YouTube - at least I think that's what they meant by creator!). Anyway, here, instead, is the Rollerblace bottle tune guy.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Hug your friends

This blog has strayed quite a ways from my original intention to critique my photos -- and that's just fine, because I was actually clueless about blogs and, apparently, clueless about what was lurking in the stranger recesses of my head. But I'm totally uncomfortable writing sad stuff. So this is all I have to say on the subject of the death of friends: Hug your friends and tell them you love them. Better yet, tell them why you love them. Because life is short and it helps to know the people you love left knowing how much they were cherished. Of course, we all know this, but a reminder never hurts.

Okay, (blows nose), now I'm gonna go see if I can find the Hallalujah Nuns to make me laugh. I'll share.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Holy crap, it's a puffin!

Sometimes it amazes me how articulate I am. For example, I was at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. in 1982 and I stumbled across my most favorite self portrait by Rembrandt. I'd never seen it outside the pages of an art history book before. When I saw the real deal in all its amazing beautifulness, I burst into tears and said, "Oh, wow!" in my best 1960's California girl lexicon. How's that for profound commentary?

So anyway, I got to go to the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward last month with my grandkids. What a great place! My absolute favorite thing was the seabird exhibit. I stepped in, took one look and said, "Holy crap, it's a puffin!" It was downhill from there. Once the birds started diving for fish, I was reduced to repeating "Omigod, omigod!" while hopping up and down and pointing. Maybe that's better than a pedantic lecture on seabirds, aimed at the grandkids, but I'm supposed to be a role model! How am I going to feel when they respond to life's best experiences with their grandmother's native language, proto-Valley Girl? I mean, like, they'll be all, "Omigod, bitchin'!" Well, okay, the truth is I'll be all, like, "Totally!" while I beam at them. Passing it on is the least I can do.

Anyhow, my secret desire is to retire to Seward and get a job throwing fish to the seabirds. Omigod! Omigod! It'd be awesome.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Sad movie hangover

I have a sad movie hangover. Sometimes you've just got to watch them, especially when they're movies as beautiful as Brokeback Mountain, but you can count on walking around in a little cloud of leftover sadness for a while after.

Bud from a wild rose, Fairbanks, early summer, 2007.