Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Prayers Answered

A quick post to let you know, dear reader, that Harli is doing beautifully according to her vet. Thank you for your prayers and well wishes! Harli I am sure would agree that it made all the difference in the world.

Personality Distilled in Ink

What do you think about handwriting? Yours? Others? Do you ever see patterns in how someone writes? What can be discovered? Another one of life's mysteries to ponder.

Above is something I wrote up today. The body of most of this post is in the image. Have fun deciphering. Hint: Click on image.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Montage Monday

I am rather scatterbrained today. I want to do a thousand different things so as a result I am not able to do much of anything. I feel like inside me is a gleaming ball of light moving so quickly it only leaves glowing remnants. Perhaps that will explain how disjointed this blog will be.

This past weekend I have been trying to wade through my old studio. I can only go for about an hour before I want to pound my head against a wall. I am not exaggerating when I say I would prefer giving blood or visiting the dentist than go through the things I have amassed. I am half-convinced that I have some disease that makes collecting a compulsion and throwing away a torturous and painful occurrence. Somehow I imprint way too much significance, emotional meaning and memory onto objects. Much like some cultures believe a soul can be captured in a photograph, I think I may place a little of myself in the objects which I live with day in and day out. I do know I displace how I feel about a person into something they have to given me. I am not properly able to express how I feel to them, so I hold on and treasure something that represents them to me. I am getting better at letting go, but the process is no less agonizing to me. I realize others don’t understand how overwhelmed and lost I feel at these times. They perhaps are not swallowed up by the mundane and I envy them. I have no talent for all the details involved in living.

One of the positive aspects of organizing and sorting accumulated junk is the discovery of misplaced beloved trinkets. In one box that probably dates from 2001, I found high quality color copies of old photographs not used in a scrapbook project. I am going to share some of those photos as for once I did not get that sick, leaden feeling upon seeing my own face. I wasn’t the prettiest or cutest kid out there, but I think I show some spunk in my pictures. Here are a couple of pictures for your viewing pleasure. I believe I was around 4 years old on a trip in Colorado. I was much more stylish in those days than I am now.

Lastly, in my new quest for openness I am going to share something I would usually keep to myself. Harli goes in for her yearly teeth cleaning tomorrow which means she will be put under and there is always the possibility she won’t regain consciousness. Every year I go through facing Harli’s mortality and my anxiety is intensifying with each passing year. Harli is old and my time with her is waning. To tell you the truth, dear reader, I am not sure how I will be able to handle her death. Harli may be the only living being to love me wholeheartedly. Tonight, at least, I will be sticking by my little pup and she, I imagine, will love all the treats I give her although not by being smothered with hugs and kisses.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Film, Part Deux

Do I continue down my path of movie viewing today? I imagine I will as I did not entirely encapsulate all I wanted to about The Passion of Joan of Arc as I became sidetracked with mentioning facial expressions and the body's motion when conveying information and yet I have a feeling that will always be the case: often there is much more to be said (Me long-winded? Perish the thought!) and I usually go off on tangents. The music written for or inspired by the film is breathtaking and gorgeously evokes the somber, intense tone, religious fervor and medieval period. Silent films are pared down so much that you really notice details (as long as you don't have too much to read and certainly in The Passion of Joan of Arc there is only the sparest of dialogue). As I mentioned earlier I was impressed with the commitment of both subject and star of this film which then led me to wonder about what it meant to be so passionate about something you would endure torture (the director to squeeze a more wrenching and convincing performance from the actress made her kneel for hours on end. I have to wonder if perhaps how voracious this part was led the actress to decide to look elsewhere for a profession), isolation, death and even eternal damnation. I think it high time I read more about Joan of Arc as all I know is gleaned from very distant, indirect sources. Anyone with reading suggestions?

Late Friday night on TCM Underground they had a Roger Corman double feature. Now I am not going to tell you, dear reader, to go out and find these films as only someone who appreciates classic horror (which is often absurd and melodramatic) will enjoy them. Since I happen to be such a person, I did find them amusing. First was A Bucket of Blood starring Dick Miller (also known as Richard Miller) as a very pathetic beatnik-wannabe desperate to fit in at any cost. I believe desperation to be one of the least attractive traits known to man as in the state of desperation a person's very soul and essence is compromised. Desperation has its own smell and sticky, sick sense about it. Miller's character stumbles upon his entrée by accidentally killing a cat and encasing it in clay. I think you may figure out the natural progression when he receives so much praise for the realism of his sculpture. The best things about this film is the satire of the beatnik culture and perhaps artistic elitism in general.

The second film, The Terror, starred an older Boris Karloff and a young Jack Nicholson. I even noticed in the credits a likewise young Francis Coppola as an associate producer. The film contains a count, his trusted servant (played by Dick Miller), creepy castle, vengeful witch and beautiful ghost of a murdered young woman all set during the Napoleonic Wars (dear reader, you may also find it delightful that Nicholson plays a French soldier in Napoleon's army sporting a modern day handgun, if I am not mistaken). One thing struck me was how much more handsome Dick Miller appeared in this second movie than the first. I believe it had everything to do with his character being much more menacing and not in the least bit desperate, but this is only my opinion. Overall, this is not an inspired film, but since I am interested in all things even remotely tied with the Napoleonic era and it seems like a natural predecessor of some of my favorite guilty pleasures (Vincent Price horror movies), I was not displeased with the time spent.

Tonight, is Silent Sunday Night on TCM followed by TCM Imports. I plan on recording these films and enjoying them during the coming week. I hope, dear reader, you are as happily (and easily) entertained!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Commenting on Commenting & Film, Part I of Many

First, about the blog: Do I read the comments? Someone asked me this question and the answer is YES! I savor the comments by those kind enough to leave them. I haven't yet replied to the comments as I am not sure how I wish to handle them. For me nothing is simple. Do I answer each comment like I would an email or message (for anyone familiar with how I write when I am focused you may realize why I hesitate to do just this--I tend to be the equivalent of an avalanche)? For those people I correspond with (at this point only friends are commenting), do I reply to them personally off the blog? Or do I read the comment, ponder them and perhaps use them as inspiration or the like for future posts? For instance, I am not sure he is aware of it, but Eric was the impetus of the Public vs. Private post. An "anonymous" commenter posted some suggestions that I may follow in the future. At this point, I am going to mix it up and use my discretion. I did wish to let those who have commented on and off the blog know that I appreciate every word you have written!

Now on to something else: movies. I watch a lot of movies and not all of them are good by even the most liberal of definitions. My philosophy on movies (and books too) is that even by watching lousy movies I am learning to more fully appreciate the better films. At the moment I am trying to catch up on cult films, silent films and foreign films all with the help of one of the best channels on cable: Turner Classic Movies (TCM). I could write an ode here to TCM, but I think the sheer repetition to which I mention it in glowing terms will undoubtedly make apparent the extent to which I am an ardent fan.

Last night I watched a French silent film I had recorded: The Passion of Joan of Arc (or in its original title La Pasion de Jeanne d'Arc). It is a visually beautiful film first of all--stark, haunting, harrowing and naked with music written for the film at a later date, I believe. What most impressed me when watching this film was the commitment and devotion of both Joan of Arc and that depicted by the actual actress. This was the first and last film made by the actress, as I was informed by the ever informed Robert Osborne when he introduced the film, and her performance is considered by many as the best ever captured on film. High praise, but if you ever watch the movie I wonder if you aren't likewise riveted by the raw power of her eyes alone. I contemplated if I had seen another actor invest so much in how their eyes welled up with tears or widened in horror or terror? Something often lost in films since gaining audio is the subtly of movement in as simple as a blinking of the eye, the hardening of a lip or slight slump of the shoulder. We humans betray what we think and feel in those actions...in our individual ticks. The motions and expressions in silent films are often larger and more grand than in life, but you begin to realize how important the body is when understanding emotion and a character. I am sure this is not lost on the stage, but I believe in movies (mayhap mostly those from the States) too many other things detract and distract from such simple facts.

The Passion of Joan of Arc is actually the second French silent I have seen in as many months. Both have been surprisingly enjoyable and I must admit to feeling a bit self-congratulatory about how cultured I consider myself after watching such movies. Now, dear reader, do not worry that I will suddenly become a film snob. Keep in mind that I still watch such gems and masterpieces of cinematic art as Waxworks II: Lost in Time and Joe Dirt with glee. My mind may strive for intellectual depth and emotional resonance and it may also be able to determine the level of quality, yet my little heart is an equalitarian. I am a lover of both brilliance and pure crap.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Public vs. Private

For those would-be stalkers out there I have been considering what should and shouldn't be included in a blog and more particularly my blog. For instance, I am not going to post any pictures of people without their permission (I asked all my dogs if they were okay with me posting their pictures and they said "whatever", of course I also gave them some treats for their complicity). Some people who read this blog will fully understand how strongly I feel about seeking permission about publishing photos and perhaps at one point I may go into the real reason behind this, but I am not at that point yet. I also feel I might need to ask permission to include mention of people by name, so I will probably give people aliases or refer to them in vague terms. If you are personally connected to me and have a nickname you want to be addressed as let me know. Privacy is important and I respect others' privacy. I realize as this is my blog what I only have control over is the extent of disclosure about myself and my life.

It is a constant juggle as to what is private and what is public. I am in a generation which is torn between the trend for being extremely open and those much more reserved. I myself deal with a need to be real and present to others and conversely, a need to be secretive and mysterious or in other words the "Look at Me, But You Will Never Truly Know Me as I Am Too Deep" dilemma. I am also considering whether someone I don't know can identify me in real life and where I live. What are the potential dangers and the possible benefits? At this point I doubt many people are actually reading this post, so I am relatively safe--the benefits outweigh the dangers.

I am going to disclose in this post is a picture of my new bedroom. I think some of my friends and family are interested in what the addition looks like and I am proud of my room although it is not at all complete and rather spare (for me that is). I have nothing on the walls and I am still using my old duvet with rips in it thoughtfully added by Bella when she was a puppy and I remain worried about the state of my new linens with the three doxies and Harli. Did I also mention that Shelby has snuck up on more than one occasion to use MY BED as her personal bathroom?! She's jealous of the other dogs sleeping on my bed, but I simply don't trust her in these matters and if she does that again she will find out what it is like to have her sleeping quarters contaminated!

This is as clean as it gets, dear reader. See the books and magazines? That is only an itty bitty part of the collection (you don't want to see under the bed!). Do you see the bench at the foot of my bed? I love that piece of furniture which is actually a coffee table. My parents refinished it and have had it for decades. On the underside of it is art (crayon scribbles) from me when I was a toddler. I just wish I had a better grasp for color back then.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

What My Dogs Go Through for MY Blog

My blogging is now becoming torture for my dogs. You will see just how harassed they are by the expression on Dexter's face above. He hated the flash on the digital camera and other dogs ran away. Most notable was Bella's reaction: she barked, terrified, at the cyborg creature following her around (see the picture to the right to get an indication of just what I mean).

As I, crazy person that I am, chased down my dogs, I created a little camera-happy boy. Every time Dexter would allow me to take his picture the more praise I heaped upon him (more importantly to him was the fact I was also bribing him with leftover rice that was going to be thrown away--look at his physique and you will note how motivated Dexter by food) until he was following me around hoping for a picture and therefore a treat. Isn't he handsome?

Dogs make tough subjects for an inept photographer and my dogs in particular. They scatter, become defensive or move during the pause between hitting the button and the capturing of the image. I have a lot of ridiculous butt shots or only a tip of the tail. When I did capture a dog there was usually glare in the dogs eyes (see Dexter's picture) that I have not yet found how to correct (any suggestions?). Still, I am going to post many of the pictures for your amusement and also because even with such woeful photography my dogs are still adorable. Let me introduce you to the rest of the crew.

The picture above is Bella again after she had adjusted a bit to the camera, although she was still very wary. Due to her being a double dapple she has malformed eyes or devil eyes as we call it. To make up for her poor eyesight she is doubly as loud.

At left is Shelby. She's a pretty, gray stray and is a favorite with anyone who visits (unlike the doxies who aren't fond of strangers or even people they have met a dozen times). She has impulse control issues and has run out of our house, jumped fences and the like.

Below right is Princess Leia. Princess is a title and not actually part of her name. This tiny Yorkie has BIG attitude. Her fur looks a little worse for wear right now, but she's really very cute.

Below left is Sophie our head dog. She's the beauty of the doxie bunch with deep, shiny ebony fur. Her parents were both wirehair so although she is considered to have a smooth coat she has all the curiosity of a wirehair. If a cabinet door is open she jumps right in. As a puppy she crawled behind furniture like the tv and washer and dryer. There was nothing funnier than to see her stand on her hind legs and pivot in order to change directions behind said furniture. This girl is smart and creative and found a way up onto the couch the second day we had her (she used the end table).

At right is Harli, the last of the bunch, and our oldest. Can you tell she is a poodle? Maybe you can see that she is sadly in need of fur transplants. For some reason she lost nearly all her hair several years ago. As a puppy she looked just like a chia pet. Oh, Harli, where has your fur gone?

This takes much longer than I would have imagined to take the picture, transfer it from my digital camera, crop the pictures and then upload all these images, while still having it all turn out in some way that is less than a jumbled mess.

My hats are off to bloggers everywhere for having the patience to do this often and well. I really have no idea how you do it, but I aim to find out. With more time and practice I think I could make the images much more pleasing (and dare I say it artistic).

Watch out dear reader for a bumpy ride!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Needed: Umbrella Stand

I don't recall any year when we have been subjected to so much rain. This morning as I got ready for work the house shook with the power and strength of the thunder and knocked out the power. My poor puppy (I mean this only as a term of endearment as she reached the venerable age of 15 years last month) Harli ran up to me shuddering and compressed into herself the minute she heard me come downstairs. Of course I rescued her and placed her in the safe haven found under the covers of a big fluffy bed. I myself had to combat the rain in my little white Honda. I only work 7 minutes from my house and yet going no more than 45 miles per hour even on the highway makes 7 minutes stretch.

I have been driving through pouring rain the last few days. The backyard looks like a bog. In these times I am reminded of two important things: 1) nature still is far, far more powerful than anything created by man and 2) without electricity we are in sorry shape.

I love rain, but too much of it like anything else is dangerous.

Blogging about blogs

The two or so people who came on here yesterday may notice a change in the appearance of this brand new blog. I am personalizing it a bit and using my rusty and out-of-date Photoshop skills gleaned at college some ten years ago to add a dash of color and interest. I imagine I will be playing with the look of my blog a lot because:
  1. I am fussy. I have perfectionist tendencies that cause all sort of havoc in my life.
  2. I love the appearance of things. As much as I wish I were much deeper than I am my eyes sway me something fierce. Put a length of bright satin ribbon in front of me and I will follow the saturation of light as if mesmerized. Forget it when what I am viewing is food, I am lost in sensory admiration.
  3. There is a lot to live up to out there in the world of blogs.
I must admit to being swept away with blogs and more specifically the gorgeous food blogs out there. If you want to be impressed with creativity and artistry not to mention tempted by culinary delights go trolling on the web through food blogs. You will be amazed, delighted, flabbergasted and astonished by the vast array, talent, effort and beauty. I have favorites some due to their content, some due to a whimsical and thoughtful voice, others because they are just downright lovely and tickle my aesthetic sensibilities, others have scrumptious recipes and then others surpass many magazines in their ability to photograph and style food. Then there are a few that meet all these criteria. I imagine I will revisit this remark in more detail.

The first food blog I am going to mention is Cupcake Bakeshop. I have always adored cupcakes as they are dainty, pretty and have such a strong connection to childhood. The cupcakes featured in Cupcake Bakeshop are not those remembered from childhood these are the adult, chic, gourmet versions with startling flair and incredibly exotic combinations such as Chocolate Cupcake Stuffed with Ginger Caramel, Frosted with Mango Ganache, and Topped with a Mango-Ginger Won Ton. Cupcakes are afterall a hot trend.

My second favorite blog is the art blog. My art scene is not "fine art", but the more colorful, fanciful, fun and usually feminine found in magazines like Somerset Studio, Cloth Paper Scissors and Mary Engelbreit's Home Companion. I am talking about altered art, collage, artist trading cards, multi-media, art collaboration and assemblage art. The art is personal, intentionally imperfect and a complete cornucopia of different elements, time periods, inspiration, color, tools and techniques. The publishers of Somerset Studio are going to soon be releasing a book about blogging: Artful Blogging.

One of my favorites also featured in the book is by Michelle Ward and I especially appreciate her Street Team. She issues challenges and people using her unmounted stamp line Green Pepper Press step up to the challenge. I am in love with her images, especially her WayWard Collection which are gothic, lush and decadent as is Michelle Ward's work at the moment.

Yes, I have a lot to learn, especially how to take a decent photograph.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Eat. Eat. Don't You Love Me?

I am a food enabler. To me these statements are the truth:

Food is life. Food is passion. Food is expression. Food is universal. Food builds bridges. Food is love.

Food is my way back into living. Food is my invitation into socializing.

I believe food is more than simple nourishment--it is a common thread linking all living things. When I have no idea what to talk about I will talk food. Everyone has to eat and more times than not there is an emotional connection between the person eating the food being consumed.

For my immediate family food is a non-verbal conveyance of caring, pride and sharing of love which may be too difficult to manifest into words or physical affection. Making something delicious says "I Love You" and eating the food placed in front of you with obvious pleasure and gusto conveys "I Love You Too." I know this is not always the case in each family, but in ours you can taste the love along with the spices.

Long Time Coming

I have had this blog setup for ages and have done nothing with it because I was not sure whether I should jump onto the blog bandwagon. Do I have anything to contribute? Am I worthy of a blog dedicated to me and my life? Is it vain to write a blog? These questions spun around in my mind for more than two years and basically blogging for me is not about proving I have an interesting life or that I am a decent writer. Blogging for me is a way to express and chronicle who I am, the journey it will take to become me and a way to connect all the myriad of in my life. Will this blog be personal? Yes, writing still proves to be the outlet for my thoughts, emotions and the easiest way I can relate with others. Will is be erratic? Undoubtedly as I am erratic. At times I will post several times a day and other times there will probably be weeks between posts. Will it be boring at times or more than sometimes? Yes, and I am learning to accept that.

Once I seriously considered doing a blog I wondered if I should do a topic-specific blog. I have many interests, hobbies and passions and they are as mercurial as the weather. One moment I will be obsessed with art and the next cooking and food in general only to then become obsessed with Greek mythology or the history of a noble family in Scotland or cult films. I will never claim to be an expert at anything for my inconstant attention span makes such a possibility remote. As my blog title states I am a dabbler first and foremost. I like to remain open to possibilities.

There is a long way for me to go and this is a witness as I make my meandering way.

The Dabbler.

P.S. Please feel free to comment, question, suggest, advise and even correct.