Wednesday, December 28, 2005

~:B I G G E R * T H A N * A * B R E A D * B O X:~

This Christmas my Aunt Jacki got us a vintage bread box. Cool, huh? Use the above photo as a reference. I have conveniently labeled each image so you know who is who and what's what. I know, I know - I manage to think of everything. ANYhow...

My stylish Aunt Jacki is tuned in to the environment set in our house (and everyone elses), which in itself is a real gift. It's a skill like conversational listening - which most people don't know how to do. One can walk through my house and see all the cool things she's given us. After a tour, it's clear that her presence is there and that I have an aunt that loves me and knows me. Her generosity is wayyyyyy bigger than a bread box.

Monday, December 26, 2005

~:C L A Y T O N * C R E E S M U S:~

We spent our Chrsitmas up in Clayton, Georgia. Mom and Dad have a new vacation hizouse up there. They are slowly furnishing and decorating it, etc. It's got Frank Lloyd Wright references in the architecture all over the place. Makes it fun to decorate with a base like that. We get to be minimal, which is hard for our family, who puts great value on THINGS, great and small. Mom and Dad got bikes for each other for Chreesmus. Peter even bought her a Harpo horn to go with it.

SO! Remember those boots I was so hot over? My seestor-in-law Gloria bought them for me! Here they are in one of my other coziest spots in the world. And my luvin' husband got me a beautiful rang and a cool chunky pair of silver earrings from James Avery. Little BjornMouse got to watch the whole affair. We had a great time opening gifts......

We took many more photos if you'd like to see them. Please excuse this hasty blog... I'm a little drunk and we're just about to go out and get more drunker.

Murry Chreesmus everyone,


Thursday, December 22, 2005

~:Heeeeeeeeere Knitty Kitty!!:~
I found the pattern for this fabulous knitted kitty toy on the website. The designer, Jess Hutchinson has my eternal gratitude for her witty inspiration. This will be a Christmas gift for my niece Mia Dusenberry. I took more photos of this pretty kitty if you wish to see them.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

~:D R I V E W A Y * L O V E:~
Doug borrowed Dad's pressure washer. And look wat he did!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

~:B R A I N * P A T T E R N S:~
Anne has a dreamy mind, full of fancy and fantasy. She has the ability to stay forever entertained with her thoughts. People may say she is hard to read, but that's because she is so internally focused. But when she does share what she's thinking, people are impressed with her imagination. What Pattern Is Your Brain?

~:S U R V I V A L * V S * L O V E:~

We saw Peter Jackson's KING KONG Thursday night. I still can't stop thinking about it. For me, the moral center of the film was about love versus survival. Which is more important? Kong is the last of his kind on Skull Island. He becomes enchanted with Ann (sadly she doesn't have an "e" at the end of her name) simply because she decides to stop acting like a victim about to be eaten. Kinda neat when you think of how empowering that is for us. Once she runs from him, confronts him, performs for him (she at one point juggles and dances and falls and really makes him laugh) he respects her. She's different. After a while, she gets tired of performing and gives him a firm "NO" when she doesn't want to play the game anymore. Kong goes into a rage and has a tantrum right in front of her. The he's off to pout and leaves her on her own. Her flight to safety in the perilous jungle, away from Kong's captive clutch becomes way less appealing once she runs into giant raptors and t-rexes. Oooftah. When she screams out, Kong's there to defend her and the love story begins. I get it. These 2 creatures take care of each other for the rest of the film, against all odds and better judgement. "I will take care of you even if it means I die". That kind of higher-brain thinking, feeling and logic doesn't quite make sense in our dog-eat-dog world. Emotions to me always get in the way of logic and I frequently question the usefulness of their purpose UNTIL I saw the documentary (recently rented from Netflix) called Why Dogs Smile and Chimpanzees Cry. This 2-hour film explored the emotions of animals, which happen to be just like ours. Truly amazing. I had had another epiphany. At the core of our brain is the oldest, most primitive and communally aware part of our brains. Our reptilian brain. The part that says, "Oh shit, I better run faster from this lion unless I want to be eaten." We share this with most other creatures on this planet. It's what ties us to each other.

So, if emotions like fear help save my life, well then I'd say they're pretty useful. What about love? Well that's where the tie between mother and child comes in. Without love, we wouldn't get so much pleasure out of taking care of our babies, would we? Let alone each other. Or ourselves. So if babies aren't loved, they aren't taken care of, nurtured, and then they eventually die. We all die. It would then be up to some other species to adapt and do a better job of thriving than we did. We are still here because our emotions DRIVE us forward TO survival. Having watched this documentary, the meaning of Kong fell right into place for me. I walked out of that theatre feeling pretty OK about my wild emotions, their purpose and my purpose. We are here together for a reason: to be together. And why would I want to be with you if it didn't make me feel good? I guess love's selfish that way.

Back to the movie. There are quite a few other things I enjoyed about Kong besides its moral center:

1.The obvious parallel evolution of the two main cultures: ours and that of the inhabitants of Skull Island. Both are in peril. We're in the midst of the Great Depression and things are a mess, everyone just trying to survive, to eat, etc.. The natives on the island are doing the same. It's such a hostile place to live - nature's against you in every way possible. Yet they survive, killing each other all the while (that's where the human sacrifices to Kong fall into play). The oversized creatures are fighting a similar battle - more against each other than the environment itself. It's eat or be eaten. Just like our us. Interesting.

2. The depth of character of all creatures.

Jackson and his crew did a lot of animal behavior research and it really shows. The manner in which Kong and the other creatures of Skull Island interact puts even the creatures of Jurassic Park to shame. Previous depictions of Kong look more like a man in a gorilla suit (sometimes that was the real case) than a true gorilla. The t-rexes behavior looked like that of wolves. The ritual dance Kong did before he ate his prey felt very authentic. At times when the animals are fighting, there were funny moments. When Ann catches a t-rex off guard in the middle of his lunch, he gives her an almost innocent "hey, what's up?" look until he realizes she'd be a tasty dessert. At one point, 2 t-rexes, Kong and Ann are all trapped swinging from giant vines. Ann is swinging back and forth and can't seem to stop herself. A t-rex realizes if he just hangs still, he can open his mouth and she'll swing right into it. It just struck me as funny. There is also a sweet scene where Kong and Ann are skating on a lake of ice in NYC. They're slipping, sliding, gliding - playing and laughing with each other. It was beautiful.

3. Excellent craftsmanship. The scene where part of the crew is being attacked by giant insects. This was the scariest part of the film for me. The worst of these creatures looked like giant uncircumcised penises. They are called Carnictus, a 7-13 foot long "Vile Meat Weasel". A slow-moving slug with no face or features, other than a hole with layers of teeth surrounded by a phallic carnivorous muscle. I had the pleasure of witnessing this creature and its kind slowly swallow a seaman's arm, the other arm, and lastly his head, all the while listening to him moan and scream, until his head was slowly swallowed and his scream muffled under layers of the creature's smothering muscles. It was awful. Horrible. Wonderful.

At the official Kong website, you can read in more detail the variety, purpose and manner of survival of the many inhabitants of Skull Island. Fun to read all that stuff and even more wonderful that the creators of the film went into such depth to create this fantastic environment. Each creature created had its own evolution and purpose. Technically, they were all programmed with a range of movement that dictated how each would interact in every situation. I am amazed the layers of thoughtfulness and depth.

Peter Jackson did the same thing for Lord of The Rings. Layers and layers of research, character and creature development.
There is a reason for everything you see on screen. So its animation is solid and believable. George Lucas should have his technology taken from him. He has no idea why the first three Star Wars films were vastly superior than the most recent three. Technology doesn't stand a chance without meaning. It should be icing on meaningful conceptual layers of cake, otherwise it's all foam and no beer. A charade of fluff and money, not an expression of a real idea.

4. Kong's humanity.

He's so damn human, it's scary. Odd that he looked more like a gorilla than all past depictions of Kong. Yet we believe him more this time. I get that he's noble, lonely and capable of love and empathy. He's lost. His life ends in defense of Ann. One could argue that he's simply defending what he believes to be HIS, which is pretty selfish. And if that's true, then take a good look in the mirror to understand why it's so. The physical presence of Kong was quite powerful. His grunts, moans and breathing were so real and emotive. Darth Vadar unplugged, I'd say. Beautiful.

5. Adrien Brody and Thomas Kretschmann team up again in this film.

Kretschmann as the ship's captain Englehorn and Brody as writer Jack Driscoll. The first time I saw them together was in Roman Polanski's film, The Pianist. I was moved. Kretschmann played the Nazi soldier who secretly fed the starving polish hideaway Wladylaw Szpilman, played by Brody, saving his life while risking his own.

If you haven't, read the book about the real polish pianist, Wladylaw Szpilman and his story of survival. At the end of the book, you can read diary entries of the Nazi soldier, Captain Wilm Hosenfeld, who secretly assisted many survivor's of the Holocaust. And the film itself - oh my god is it good. If you like historical, tragic movies, stuff-of-life themes, the human will to survive and Chopin, you're in for a heavy treat. It was masterfully performed and directed.

There were a couple of things I did not like about the film. The beginning of the film was set in NYC. I get it that we're witnessing what the depression did to make us hungry and needy human beings... and that this is the force that ultimately drives the director and crew out to Skull Island in the first place. Greed and hunger. OK. Curiosity, too. The music felt very heavy-handed and forced to me. Instead of emotionally motivating me, it annoyed me. I felt like I was being pushed to feel and manipulated. I felt a little of this in LOTR, but was and am generally willing to overlook this klunkiness. I get the big picture.

The second thing I did not like about the film was the jump from the island back to our turf. When we're first on the gritty ship set to sea, I'm anticipating the trip back with that giant gorilla below. HOW are they going to do this? And won't it be cool!!?!?? Well they skip over that part. Not only did I miss out on the fun here, but the literal jump from one place to the next felt really abrupt. My guess is that it was supposed to feel refreshing. Ah well. I'm sure once the DVD is out, the special features might touch on what's missing.

I'd like to say two words to all the critics who said that the film was too long. FUCK YOU. A movie is only too long when it's boring. There wasn't one boring moment in this 3-hour film. And who wants a good movie to end? It could have been 5 hours long and I still wouldn't have wanted it to end.

Bravo to Peter Jackson for doing something well done. With heart, discipline and vision.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

~:M A R Y ' S * T R U F F L E * R E C I P E:~
Mary Kraft has e-mailed me this yummy-sounding recipe for truffles. Wanna try it out? I told her I felt as if I'm not quite fat and puffy enough yet to appear in all the christmas pictures we'll be taking this holiday season. Seriously - I wanna make them! Her notes read: I'd imagine any sort of nut/nut liqueur substitution would be great with these. We actually HAD hazelnut liqueur, but no hazelnuts, so I used the liqueur, but used toasted pecans/walnuts on the outside.

Hazelnut Truffles

1 cup hazelnuts
3 1/2 ounces good bittersweet chocolate
3 1/2 ounces good semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tablespoons hazelnut liqueur (recommended: Frangelico)
1 tablespoon prepared coffee
1/2 teaspoon good vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Chop the hazelnuts and place them on a sheet pan. Roast them in the oven for 10 minutes. (If the hazelnuts have skin on them, roast them for 25 minutes.) Set aside to cool.

Chop the chocolates finely and place in a bowl.

Heat the cream in a small saucepan until it boils. Immediately pour the hot cream through a fine-meshed sieve into the bowl with the chocolates. With a wire whisk, slowly stir the cream and chocolates together until the chocolate is completely melted. (If the chocolate doesn't melt completely, place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir for a few minutes just until it melts.) Whisk in the hazelnut liqueur, coffee, and vanilla. Cover and chill for 45 minutes to 1 hour until pliable but firm enough to scoop.

With 2 teaspoons or a 1 1/4-inch ice cream scoop, make dollops of the chocolate mixture and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes, until firm enough to roll into rough spheres. Roll the chocolate in the chopped hazelnuts and chill again. Truffles are best when they're allowed to set overnight in the refrigerator.

~:W H Y * W E * L I K E * D O G S:~
Doug found this article clipping from Scientific American, dated 1895, in an old collection of magazines and newspapers. Though old fashioned, I find its writing style is reverent, solid and quite spritiual. Thought I'd share some of why I think I go nutso over my Bjorn-Mouse.

~:W H A T * I * W A N T * F O R * C H R I S T M A S:~
Aren't they kewell??? Frye boots.
This color was made for me!!!

Monday, December 12, 2005

~:C H R I S T M A S * P R E P A R A T I O N S:~

This year, in preparation for Christmas, I decorated the house with hand-made paper stars, ornaments and tags. We did not do a tree, which I miss a little. But not the headaches and allergies that come with a real tree. We'll buy an artificial tree AFTER the holidays when they all go on sale. The stars I made about 3 years ago for the Partnership where I used to work. We hung them at the front entrance. The following year, I made these tags that read Merry Christmas on both sides. They were a big hit. I brought them home with me last year right before I left. The little paper ornaments I also made. A sprig of greenery adds to the final touch.

Yesterday, my grandmother Nonie, and my mother Nancy, came over to help bake Christmas cookies. The year I got married, Deb Challoner faxed me a list all of the family's traditional christmas cookie recipes. That year I made these same cookies you'll read about here. But Doug and I ate pretty much all of them before Christmas Day, which meant we needed to make them all over again. I think we both gained 10 pounds that xmas. Now that we're both at a more reasonable weight, we'll hide these cookies in the guest bedroom so there will still be plenty to share with the whole family.

Below are recipes for four of my favorite cookies on the list. Nonie says that she and Mimi (my great-grandmother, Dagny Davnes) would come to visit and make christmas cookies for days. Every year when I do, I think of both of them. Carrying on a family tradition feels so good. Connects me with the past and somehow solidifies the future. I hope to someday stand in my own grandchild's kitchen cooking these delicious memories.


The first cookies we made, which happen to be my favorite AND which are the easiest to make, are called Glace Lace. Nonie says that Laura discovered them. They are very crisp and delicate - fun to eat. They are also the perfect compliment to ice cream, their textures being so different.

::GLACE LACE:: (pronounced "glah-say lah-say")
From the "Yellow Pages" Woman's Day December 1966

1/2 cup softened butter
2 cups packed dark brown sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoons salt

Cream butter with sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt. Spread tin foil onto cookie sheets, butter lightly. Drop dough onto foil by half teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart. Bake at 400 degrees for 4-5 minutes or until cookies are caramel-brown. (To test cookies for doneness, try to lift one with a spatula. If the cookie sticks to the foil, return to oven.) Place cookies in refrigerator and chill completely; then peel off foil. Keep two pans going at once, putting one in the oven as soon as the other is removed. Makes about 18 dozen.

Glace Lace cookies topped the list in 1979.


The second cookies we made are called Sandies. They are a very buttery cookie, flavored with pecans and dusted with powdered sugar. I made the batter, formed the cookies and Nonie dipped each in powdered sugar to coat them while still warm. These are fun to eat - but can be messy, too! I've also seen a recipe called Mexican Tea Cookies that are very similar, only shaped differently into little crescent moons. They are just as yummy.

From Nonie's recipe box.

1 cup butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups sifted flour
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup sugar

Cream butter and sugar. Add vanilla and water. Add flour; mix well and fold in pecans. Form small rolls about 1 1/2 inches long. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet at 325 degrees for 20 minutes or until delicately browned. While hot, roll in powdered sugar. Cool thoroughly before storing in airtight container or they will be soggy! Makes three dozen. Nonie made Sandies for us whenever we came to visit for Christmas. They were on our first list in 1979.


Next we made Chinese Birds Nests. These cookies have a great texture and could not be easier to make. Here is a lovely picture of Nonie cupping a delicate cookie in her hands. ;-) Yes that was my idea. Aren't I clever?

From the St. Louis University Auxiliary Cookbook

1 6-ounce bag each of chocolate and butterscotch chips.
6 ounces of chinese noodles. (these come in cans or bags)
1 6 1/2 can of cocktail peanuts.

Melt chips in top of double boiler. Stir until smooth and immediately fold in noodles and peanuts. Drop onto waxed paper in bite-sized pieces and refrigerate until firm. Store in air-tight container. Yields about 4 dozen pieces. We lost this recipe for many years. It reappeared on the lists in 1980.


This next recipe is our most treasured and unique cookie - Mimi's Krumkaker. A Norwegian favorite. Krumkakers are made with a very wet batter and flavored with cardamom. Sort of like pancakes or crepes, the batter is placed on a krumkaker iron which gets turned once on each side. They are pressed very thin and rolled into a tight pretty roll.

The krumkaker iron has a delicate decorative design on each side. It's a crumbly, sweet cookie. Also looks fabulous with ice cream. Mom made them for me 2 years ago. This year I tried them myself. Once you get the swing of it, they're easy to make. With Nonie and Mom's supervision, I did a pretty OK job for a beginner. Ya think? Anyway -- here's the recipe.

(pronounced: krum - kahh - kurr)
As told by David Harvey Challoner.

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 cup flour
2 eggs
scant 1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon cardamom

Mix together sugar, butter, and flour. Separate eggs, mix yolks into batter. Add milk. beat egg whites until peaks form and fold into batter with cardamom and vanilla.

Pour batter into krumkaker iron (on gas burner set to med-high); cook 30 seconds. Turn over and cook on second side for about 20 seconds. Check for color, this may need adjustment, depending upon your preference for a lighter or darker cookie. Remove krumkaker from iron and promptly roll around handle of a wooden spoon. Cool thoroughly in an airtight container. Krumkakers first appeared on the 1980 list, but we enjoyed them long before then!

And that's about it. I'm pretty done. Full. In search of protein. And a toothbrush. Merry Christmas!!


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

~:B I K E R * B J O R N:~
So I get this call last week, early Thursday morning, from a dear student of mine, Amy (also a big fan of Bjorn) who is interning at Studio Burns. Turns out they needed a cute small dog for a photoshoot that afternoon. Little Bjorn immediately got a bath. We were soon off, Bjorn with 2 new toys and me with a pocketful of doggie treats. We had a great time! The studio was super cool and the guy shooting, Guy, was even cooler. He liked Bjorn and made both of us feel comfortable. They bought him a little doggie bomber jacket (which they let us keep) that made him look quite rugged. When this shot is produced, expect to see the full layout here. This will be part of a paper promotion, so all of my industry will see it! What fun.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

~:D A D:~
I'm a little worried about my Dad. Okay - A LOT worried about my Dad. My father has always been a funny man. Capable of deep spirituality and yet loves a party, too. When he was a kid, his siblings called him the Jerry Lewis of the family. I can only imagine. Maybe that's where Tommy and Peter got it from? Then again, my mother's very funny, too.

We always said Dad looked just like Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau, especially when he had a mustache, which he did for most of my childhood. (When he shaved it off, I almost died.) Ah shit. I just love my family. We now live 2 miles away from each other. And they're still in the same houe we all grew up in. It's a nice life. When I am with my Dad, I feel special. Kissing him hello and goodbye is meaningful. I know he's proud of me. I can't describe in words how wonderful that feels. I love being the only girl. I could ask my Dad to do anything and he'd do it. Okay - nuff of the mushy stuff. Onto this ridiculous story.

This Xmas our family has decided to draw names out of a hat so that each person receives one great gift from someone else. This way, we're not all frantically scrambling around trying to find something fabulous for everyone. We get to concentrate on one someone special.

In preparation for this manner of gift giving, we sent out e-mails with wish lists of things we'd love to get as gifts. My father's e-mail was meant to be a joke (i think??)It was particularly disturbing. In an effort to be silly, he freaked me out. Though I know he's totally kidding, I'm going to try my best to embarrass him here. Below is his e-mail describing his wish list. And below that is my response. And below that is a lovely picture which is what I imagined when reading his horrific wish list.

I love you, Dad. Thanks for letting me tease you.



On Nov 5, 2005, at 5:58 PM, Thomas L Dusenberry wrote:

O.K. den Anne-D...............Here's what I need for the Christmas thingy event. I want to peddle a bycicle around the Wolffork Road in Rabun Gap. I just bought the snappy little tight bike pants that tightens your tushey and makes you look fruity. Now I would very much like to "accessorize" with some swell, I'm certain, matching outerwear. I'll wear the outfit(s) when I do the after Xmas bike sales in January for my birthday so that everyting is color cordinated with the bike (it'll be a three-wheeler I think so that I won't like tip over and rip my tight little pants and stuff). Is this the shits or what? If it's appropriate, I may even wear the outfit(s) to church or the Harris Teeter or bank. Thanks for the great idea,
Love, your excited Dad


From: Anne
Subject: Re: xmas gift ideas
Date: November 5, 2005
To: Dad

You're a freak.


Wednesday, November 23, 2005

~:P O R T F O L I O * C E N T E R:~
Since I have already e-mailed the entire planet the link to the article Portfolio Center has posted about Bjorn and myself, this story will not be news to you. Just in case, I'll talk more about it here.

I have been teaching at PC for a little under 10 years. Hard to believe how fast time goes. It wasn't until this year that I was able to teach on a more full-time basis. I spend the first part of my week there at the school (Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays), and balance that with freelance at my home office for the next 4 days of the week. It is a perfect balance of work and play. I can hardly believe I get paid to do this - basically to be myself. My 2 lives at home and at school are seamless now - and I feel no one or thing pulling me too tightly. I am free to be myself 100% in both places. It is a very nourishing place, indeed.

When working for someone else, I hated the feeling that that place HAD me for most of the week, leaving the rest of my weekends and week nights as recovery time from the damage done at work. Not a great place to be. One should not have to "recover" from their manner of making a living. Working like that felt more like enslavement after a while. I was just a person who needed to have more control and freedom. Basically, I needed something to call my own.

The decision to go out on my own was not an easy one. It took me a long time to muster up the courage to do so. Not only courage, but a belief that I deserved to be happy in the first place. Or that I would even succeed. It's amazing how fear can keep you from happiness. I am so incredibly grateful for the souls along the way who guided me through this shift. Everything that has happened, happened for a reason and it's all for good. This soulful alignment of logic and passion has brought me to this new place. I am still asking people to pinch me.

Pinch me?

Monday, November 21, 2005

~:G R A D I T U D E:~ The holiday season is upon us. Gloria, Peter and Mia are in town. We're all going up to Clayton this year to celebrate. I am always reminded of the past, of the people I love, the traditions I find comforting during the holidays. It is a feeling of being home, described in the actions of those around me - their gestures, our history, stories to tell and memories to make. It is the best of sentimentality. The kind that makes you just plain grateful for what you have. Something I wish I felt more of.

This poem by Mark Strand sums up the season for me. Our comfort associated with food. This poem is peacful, wise, calm, open to change, while cherishing the past and being in the present. Memory is fascinating. I think, food, second only to music, triggers the most memory in me. I read this poem for the first time while in undergrad. I was in Cleveland, far away from home. I read it each year during this time. Enjoy it. And peace be with all of you.


Pot Roast

I gaze upon the roast,
that is sliced and laid out
on my plate
and over it
I spoon the juices
of carrot and onion.
And for once I do not regret
the passage of time.

I sit by a window
that looks
on the soot-stained brick of buildings
and do not care that I see
no living thing — not a bird,
not a branch in bloom,
not a soul moving
in the rooms
behind the dark panes.
These days when there is little
to love or praise
one could do worse
than yield
to the power of food.
So I bend

to inhale
the steam that rises
from my plate, and I think
of the first time
I tasted a roast
like this.
It was years ago
in Seabright,
Nova Scotia;
my mother leaned
over my dish and filled it
and when I finished
filled it again.
I remember the gravy,
its odor of garlic and celery,
and sopping it up
with pieces of bread.

And now
I taste it again.
The meat of memory.
The meat of no change.
I raise my fork
and I eat.

~Mark Strand

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

~:YoWhasSupper Anyone?:~

Before you take a look at the pictures of Doug's birthday party, read his e-mail to our good friends Sharon and Paul. Sharon brought her boyfriend, Paul, for us to meet for the first time to Doug's party. He was lovely. And I suggested to Doug that we set a date for the 4 of us to get together and chat in a more intimate atmosphere. This is what he wrote:

From: doug
Subject: YoWhasSupper anyone?
Date: November 16, 2005 10:56:43 AM EST
To: Sharon, annedavnes, paul

It's the new urban-based theme dinner, taking America's milky-white suburbs by storm, the "YoWhasSupper"! Based on the scientifically-proven fact that white guilt is easily assuaged by the jocular use of ethnic colloquialisms, coupled with a healthy serving of literal and metaphorical soul food, the "YoWhasSupper" can help you, too, reinforce sweeping racial stereotypes....all while "gettin' yo' proper eat on!"

Or, we could all just get together for dinner instead. You know, whatever.

Paul, if you haven't guessed yet, Anne and I think you are just swell. Matter of fact, we've both already decided that group sex is the next logical step. Just let us know what group you want to do that with and we'll be there with a video camera, applause-meter, and metric ruler.

All seriousness aside, let's try to set a date and place. We will be out of town next weekend for Thanksgiving, other than that I will defer to Anne. I have nothing on the books at night for the next few weeks, except sleeping, which I usually reserve for later on in the evening and early morning. So why don't ya'll put something out there and we'll see?

We'd be glad to host you'n's at our place (I'll cook and clean, honey) if you want. Then we could follow dinner with any number of games, such as the ever-popular "hey, is the grill cooled off enough for me to sit on it with my bare ass?" or "let's trade punches on the nose and the first one that requires hospitalization loses" or the more tame "let's all take valium one-at-a-time until someone starts weeping about their childhood."

Well, be in touch!! Thanks so much for coming to my birthday!



Isn't he obnoxiously brilliant?!?!

I love him.
Yesss, yes. Sick of hearing about Bjorn? This one's too cute to pass up. I knit my first dog sweater for Bjorn and decided to put the Portfolio Center "P" on thte back. Sort of create a school dog sweater for him. He LOVES it. The students can't keep their hands off him. And Hank fell in love the minute he saw him in it. He wants to be the school mascot now. Want to see more photos of him?

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

~:D E C O * E L E G A N T:~
I recently designed invitations for a client who wanted the work to be heavily influenced by the Art Deco movement. I instantly had flashbacks of Hank's History of Design Class at Portfolio Center - oh, about 9 years ago. (Sheese!) This image of a book cover blows me away. It could have been done today. It's busy, but understated. Complex, but with a think selection of elements that all speak to each other. This hidden and graceful language of shapes and rhythm.

So back to the creative process.... I needed to do some research to refresh my brain. As I began to work, I had just acquired (OK stole) a bunch of music by the Starseeds. I surfed for about a day, filling my head with familiar and not so familiar art deco images, all the while, listening to music that's kinda spacey, techy, funky, and modern. And then it dawned on me that the images I saw could be described with the same words. I mean, we're talking about the 20's and 30's, right? Amazing. This pattern I would like to plaster all over my house. It's even beautiful in black and white. You have structure and grace dancing. Maybe that's just what dancing is.

If you'd like to see all the images I collected (OK stole) and what I was listening to at the time, go to my dot mac site to check out the little movie I made. It will give you an idea of the inner space I was shot into while working. Sometimes I wonder if I should be in textiles. I could sit for hours and sink into patterns. And I can really sink when type and image work together to create pattern, like the image you see here. When space is designed and I find myself resting on a page, I am so relieved to find someone has worked it all out for me - all the chaos and endless of varieties of choices have all been made for me. You've done all the hard work and I follow. Design is structured passion. Man, what a combination.

Monday, November 07, 2005

~:X M A S * C A R D S:~
Every year, for the past 10 years or so, I have made Christmas cards for friends and family. It's something I love doing, and each year the task of creating something new is always fun. How many different ways can one say Merry Christmas? Plenty. Coming up with a concept and figuring out how to mass produce them each year gets me in the spirit.

I spent last weekend making our 2005 Christmas Cards. I originally wanted to silk screen them, but couldn't wait - and I think when I am ready to try that, I'll need a lot of hand-holding. Anyway, I decided to try block printing the cards. What fun! Had a great time. I have made two versions of this card, one is naughty and one is nice. The image you see here is of the nice cards. But the naughty ones will remain a secret unless you specifically ask for one. Which one would you like smiling up and out at you from within the shadow of your mailbox?

If you are not on my Christmas card list (meaning, I don't have your address and therefore, have never sent you a card in the past) and you would like to receive a card, please e-mail me your mailing address and I'll send one to you. Kisses or sarcasm and all.


Sunday, November 06, 2005

~:D O U G 'S
D I N N E R:~
We celebrated Doug's 35th birthday early with Mom and Dad this year. They took us out to Garcia's, Doug's favorite restaurant. Had a great time with a pitcher of margaritas, nachos and each other. Doug wore a silly hat and I slurred my words shamelessly. Want to see more photos?

Thursday, November 03, 2005

~:B J O R N M O U S E:~

Here's Bjorn's latest glamour shot taken during the last Papillon Play Day. Our handsome boy. Little muffin cake. BjornMouse. Muffin Mouse. Monkey Mouse. Little Muffin Boy. My Little Flask of Gin. My Little Pile of Fabric Scraps. Little Juice Harp. Muffin Tin. Muffin Mix. Punkin Pie. Monkie Pie. Pumpkin Pie Mix. Little Bird. Little Man. Pumpkin Pie Spice. Little Monkey. My Little Tuft of Pubic Hair. My Little CD Burner. My Little Toasted Sandwich. My Little Toasted Sandwich on Rye. Cheese and Crackers. My Little Basal Body Thermometer. My Little Cube of Sugar. My Little Hit of Acid. My Little Thrombosed Hemmorhoid. My Little Tin of Turkey. Turkey Baster. Turd Cutter. Sliver of Cheese. My Little Timing Belt. My Honey Mouse. My Little Man. Monkey Mouse. Sweet Little Bird. Puppy Mouse. Puppy Bird. Monkey. Mouse. Mine.

~:U U U U M M M M:~
Reference to this interesting product was found on Mary's blog and I stole it without asking her.
Check it out, girls.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

~ : C H U T E M E : ~
Tommy, forever playing jokes on me when we were kids, continued to do so well into adulthood. As we matured, his jokes grew more sophisticated. He performed these pranks on a whim of brilliance and without fear or hesitation. It was marvelous to watch and even more to be the victim of one. He'd do it all without cracking a smile. A masterful performer. It's the thing I miss most about him.

The prank that still gets the most laughs involves a scary movie, a circuit breaker, a very late night, a laundry chute, and lastly, a variety of strange-looking kitchen utensils. It happened one summer night when I was home from college. Tommy was also home and we spent that summer watching rented movies late into the night. They were fun memories. Tommy usually lasted through all the movies, while I ended up dozing off and retiring earlier than he. We'd do marathon movie sessions - rent an armful of VCR tapes and watch them back to back. Ever done that?

One night we were watching a horror movie (his favorite genre) that he had chosen. It was called Dead Ringers and came out in 1988. An incredibly creepy and well-made movie where Jeremy Irons played two brothers: identical twin gynecologist surgeons, Doctors Mantel, who shared the same life without anyone knowing. Obviously, they're screwy in the head, which makes the whole movie interesting.

These doctors specialize in female infertility. And at one point, one of them has a sculptor create a set of gynecological tools made for mutant women, like who have two vaginas or whatever. Ish! It's creepy as hell. And it was soooo well done. The beginning credits feature a red background with drawings of these tools. You don't know what they are - only that they are different and obviously custom made, had unidentifiable shapes with menacing moving parts, handles and latches. They are featured laying side by side on a red surface. It isn't until later in the film that you discover what they are and what they're for.

SO. Back to my story. We finish Dead Ringers. I'm creeped out. It must have been something like 2AM and I'm tired and say goodnight to Tommy. I sleepily drag myself upstairs, while in the back of my mind, I'm mulling over the contents of the disturbing movie I just saw. I get my PJs on, brush my teeth, wash my face, and then sit on the toilet for a few minutes or so, trying not to dose off. Our house was calm and peaceful. Mom and Dad are fast asleep. All I could hear was the whirr of cool air coming from the air vent, maybe the sound of crickets, and the muffled voices coming from the TV Tommy was still watching.

Just as I begin to dose off, I hear a loud "CLICK" and poof - the lights GO OUT in that windowless bathroom. There I am in the dark, pants around my ankles, legs tingling from numbness because I've been sitting there for too long. I'm thinking, "this is weird..." as I blink in the dark. And I sit. And I wait. As it turns out - Tommy was underneath me all that time, in the laundry room, where the circuit breaker (which he had just shut off) is conveniently located. His innocent seeeestor (as he used to call me) was sitting alone. Naked from the waist down. On the toilet. In the dark.

The next sound I hear is something I can't really describe in words. Remember the shriek the monster made just before attacking Sigorne Weaver in the movie Alien? Remember the throaty deep vibrations of Darth Vadar's voice? Or the famous "GET OUT" you heard coming from a haunted house in (was it Amityville Horror)? Well, imagine all those horrible noises combined into one shrieking roar that ended with a Vincent Price-ish cackle. Imagine all those sounds coming from Tommy's deep chest as he hoisted himself up into the hidden hole of the laundry chute in the floor of the bathroom cupboard. The very cupboard in the very bathroom where I was resting. The very cupboard that was close enough for him to growl and punch open the doors of, while reaching over to his left to claw AT MY FUCKING LEGS. For demonstration purposes, my lovely assistant, Doug, has kindly posed to better illustrate the prank.

Now try to imagine the sounds that came out of MY mouth. I was so genuinely terrified to find that monsters really DID live in hidden spaces in your house, under beds, behind curtains and within cupboards. That a monster really COULD reach out of nowhere to claw at your legs while you sit on the toilet. I screamed louder than he growled. I woke up both my parents, who were not happy to be so alarmed, only to find the whole thing was a joke. Of course, this made ME look bad. All Tommy had to do was push my buttons to get me to REACT, which got me, not him, in trouble. Always. And here we are, "adults" still playing this childish game of cat and mouse. I can tell you that if there was any shit left inside of me, he literally scared it OUT of me. Good thing I was on the toilet, no?

SO! He had a great laugh at my expense. Needless to say I had a difficult time falling asleep that night after such a rush of adrenaline. Who COULD fall asleep after being attacked like that? Well, the joke was not over. Oh, no. The cake needed one last layer of icing: The next morning, I got up really late. Stiffly shuffling out of bed and over to my bedroom door to face the very bathroom that had terrified me so mercilessly the night before, I put my hand on the door knob and look down. This is what I see at my feet on the floor - an arrangement of any odd looking kitchen utensil he could find, neatly laying side by side, with a note written by Tommy, "Doctors Mantel are watching you."