April 10, 2020

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Remember Nutsy, in Disney’s Robin Hood? He’s a vulture (?) keeping the night guard, walking around the courtyard with an axe and shouting the time on the hour: “1 o’clock and allllllllll’s well,” to the Sheriff of Nottingham’s sleepy irritation. The past few weeks, writing these intro paragraphs has felt like that. It’s Friday, I’m here with my axe, and all is as well as it can be. Also can we talk about how good the Disney Robin Hood is?

  1. Museum Asks People To Recreate Paintings With Stuff They Can Find at Home, Here Are The Results, Sad and Useless. These are real cute! It’s cool seeing people be creative and how everyone is working to imitate the light in their chosen painting. I like the Mondrian open face sandwich the best (or the dog one at the end!).
  2. How Craft is Good for Our Health, The Conversation. “One of the strengths of craft practice, especially as a contributor to well-being, is precisely that it can be both solitary and collective, and it’s up to the individual to decide. For the shy, the ill, or those suffering from various forms of social anxiety, this control, as well as the capacity to draw away any uncomfortable focus upon themselves and instead channel this into the process of making, is a much valued quality of their craft practice.” I like this a lot. I sewed a lot of face masks in the past week, which made me feel both empowered and exhausted, and now I’m taking a breather to decide if I want to keep working on sewing projects. If not, there’s always coloring books, a welcome break for my brain.
  3. Wild Geese, Mary Oliver. “let the soft animal of your body / love what it loves.” A comforting classic.
  4. A Few 19th-Century Parlor Games to Amuse You While You’re Stuck at Home, LitHub. I’ve been thinking a lot about Jane Austen books lately — the parallels for social distancing and many, many evenings at home with the same few people are easy to draw — and mildly amusing parlor games seem like something the Bennetts might have done to pass the time. These games are really weird and clearly designed by people who don’t get out much. But hey, better than reading from Fordyce’s sermons, right?
  5. This Flapper’s Dollhouse Cost More than Most People’s Homes, Messy Nessy. I. Love. Miniature. THINGS. What a thing (“including the smallest Bible ever written”) to pour millions of dollars into. We visited the Biltmore last year with David’s parents, and as we walked through the house, each room more elaborately furnished than the last, David’s dad kept saying, “This is STUPID money!” Which is how I feel about this dollhouse. I can’t relate to the priorities, although she did use it to raise charitable funds, but it’s definitely a work of art.

Bonus features:

April 3, 2020

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me, i drew it this time!

I’m writing my Friday5 much later in the week than I usually do, and I don’t even have the excuse of being so busy I just haven’t gotten to it yet! Closer to the truth is that I haven’t been a very good reader this week (although I have been an excellent completer of coloring pages!), but here 5 things I found interesting or delightful this time around:

  1. “Ah, Love, you smell of petroleum”, Judy Grahn. “Meantime here is your cracked plate / with spaghetti. Wash your hands & / touch me, praise / my cooking. I shall praise your calluses. / We shall dance in the kitchen / of our imagination.” I love poems of contentment.
  2. Board Game Remix Kit – Can’t vouch for this yet, but it’s a PDF of different ways to remix the old board games you probably have lying around (examples: “listen to the answer from a Trivial Pursuit card, and compete to come up with the most plausible question,” or “auction off individual Scrabble tiles with your Monopoly money,” or “solve a murder mystery with Scrabble tile anagrams.”). Sounds fun! We’re going to try it out this weekend.
  3. Gibson Girl Evelyn Nesbit and the History of the Half-up Hairdo, Jezebel. (CW: Assault mentioned in a historical person’s biography early in the article.) “During this time [after World War 2], Gibson and others were trying to convince women to turn back the clock by presenting images of women performing femininity in a particular way. But once a definition expands, it is hard to make it contract again. Once we begin to truly see the beauty in other forms, it’s hard to remember why we resisted.” Ok so the half-ponytail (which I’ve often thought of as The Legolas) was my MOVE for every special occasion hairdo. Honestly, as someone with hair that won’t curl, who never learned to French braid, the half-up is still kind of my go-to.
  4. Rescued Baby Cow Follows Her Mom Like a Puppy, Dodo Kids. I obviously love animal videos but I have no tolerance for sad animal videos of any kind (even the “heartwarming” ones, don’t do it to me!). And guess what? Dodo Kids is just the cute stuff. This video has a kid telling the story of this lady and her cow and I love every part of it.
  5. Twitter thread of unusual acknowledgements, @AcademiaObscura. “We do not gratefully thank T. Appourchaux for his useless and very mean comments.” Love the pettiness and the sweet specifics of some of these thank-yous. Here’s another: “…If this book is not a success, I dedicate it to the burglars in Boulder, Colorado, who broke into our house and stole a television, two typewriters, my wife Helen’s engagement ring and several pieces of cheese, somewhere about a third of the way through Chapter 8.”

Bonus features:

March 27, 2020

With more downtime, I haven’t found more productivity. And maybe that shouldn’t surprise me, since stress is a creativity blocker and high levels of stress can keep us from thinking clearly. But if, like me, you are absorbing the message that with all this extra time, you should be catching up on cleaning or creative projects or that backlog of books, I invite you to be gentle with yourself. As my friend Abi said the other day, “I’m saying to myself, ‘I don’t actually have a list of everything I have to get done. There’s not actually stuff I have to get done. Whatever I do is what I do. That’s it, that’s how this goes.’”

Whatever we do is what we do, friends. Take care of yourself and whomever is in your house with you, and anything else that gets done is a happy surprise.

  1. Plus Size Wedding Gowns on Real Plus Size People, Mechanic Shop Femme. Not even planning a wedding, just feeling the photos in this lookbook. That pink fur dress!
  2. Yoga for Uncertain Times, Yoga with Adriene. Adriene’s Youtube channel is an old favorite, and I’ll be breathing my way through these videos on my back porch whenever things get overwhelming. There are a few videos in there as short as 6 or 7 minutes, and I think they’re pretty accessible even if you’re new to moving your body in this way.
  3. Free Colouring in sheets, print and post!, Jacqueline Colley. Planning to color these sweet lil graphics over the weekend. Also these quirky and chunky ones from an illustrator named Geo Law. And this little activity book for kids is pretty cute too, by Daniel Chimal called Stay Home Creative Club!
  4. Small Kindnesses,” Danusha Laméris. “Mostly, we don’t want to harm each other. / We want to be handed our cup of coffee hot, / and to say thank you to the person handing it. To smile / at them and for them to smile back.”
  5. A Study in Scarlet Women, Sherry Thomas. I have consumed MANY Sherlock retellings, some good, some not so good. I’d say this has been my favorite — it’s not the only gender-flipped retelling, but the atmosphere of this series has really drawn me in. The Sherlock in this series, Charlotte Holmes, reads as autistic to me, and I also enjoy the jumps from narrator to narrator, so we don’t only get Mrs. Watson’s perspective on her detecting partner, but also from Charlotte’s sister, and a (sexy) friend of the family named Lord Ingram Ashburton. The mystery itself is pretty good; at least, I didn’t solve it before the characters do. Is that a sign of a good or a bad mystery plot? I just learned recently that some people like to try to solve the mystery while they read and I don’t think I’ve ever tried that. I think I’m just a gentle sheep ready to be led around by the author, wherever she’ll take me. Anyway, read this book! (If you have a Frederick library card, they have the audiobook in their Libby app. And if you don’t and you’re an MD resident/employee, you can request a temporary digital library card here!)

Bonus features (aka wholesome content):

 

 

 

 

March 20, 2020

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Have you said to yourself in the past few days, “Damn, I ran out of internet?” Because that’s where I’m at. I’ve read the scary things and I’ve read the funny things and now I’m tired. So this post is gonna be a little different; I still wanna share 5 things I read this week (not a single pandemic read in the list), and maybe some other silly stuff at the bottom.

  1. The rise of impossibly cute and wholesome games, The Verge. “The gradual popularity of uwu games in recent years is changing the conversation around video games and its players. While the genre is still niche, there is a sizable community invested in their smaller, compact stories, which offer more laid-back and introspective experiences. Perhaps there’s a growing sense of fatigue around the heady, visual bombast of more mainstream games and the hypermasculine heroes that dominate them.” I’ve been playing a lot of relaxed-pace video games the past few weeks! My favorites have been A Short Hike and Shape of the World, so far. And of course my first PC game love, Stardew Valley (which has a bunch of awesome updates to add more stuff to do. You can SEW STUFF NOW).
  2. “I Call This to Mind,” Tim Hampton. My dad’s daily thoughts on a short Bible verse have been on POINT lately. “And [his compassions] are new every day. No day old faithfulness here. I can let go of all that came and went yesterday and even more, I don’t need to worry about tomorrow. I don’t need to hoard his faithfulness today in case he doesn’t show up tomorrow. Our God is outside of time. Tomorrow for him is the same as today. He knows what is coming and is completely prepared and sufficient to meet my every need both today and tomorrow.” Comforting words for me.
  3. “my official opinions”, Tumblr user littledeludeddupes. Bear with the terrible font/background contrast here to read this person’s divine, absurd prose poetry about the best kinds of dogs. Explaining it is taking the fun out of it, so here are some of my favorite excerpts: “dogs are weird men who cant read and crawl on the ground. dirty boys who can be troublesome. they are utilitarian animals who like to help and be good though and are very admirable in nature.” This sounds like something my friend Charlotte would say about dogs and I’m here for it. “some good points of small dogs is that theyre very portable and, in general, small. theyre very dumb and rowdy like all dogs but with a smallness twist […] they are naughty men but they certainly have a purpose”
  4. “Aaron earned an iron urn” (Baltimore Accent Test), Dooley. I LOVE this video. I love when he starts over-enunciating it in indignation, I love when he says, “We really talk like that?” I love these wholesome boys and I love dialects.
  5. Can you tell if these women are in a catalog in 1970, 1980 or 1990?, MeTV. Sick quiz, sourced from the excellent Go Fug Yourself blog. Also, I did SO bad on this quiz hahaha. But there’s a lot of things from the 1980s, especially in the “sweet, romantic” genre, that I would like to see again!

Postscript: Okay, so I sent this to my friend Kaitlyn and she asked me to add it to the blog. Hopefully you won’t find this too over-indulgent, and it is technically quarantine-related so feel free to skip. Over the weekend I pulled my Polly Pocket collection out of my parents’ basement and have been living my doll-loving best life ever since. (I know some people think dolls are creepy, but I’ve never resonated with that take, not sorry bout it!) Here is one of the many doll plots I’ve been exploring:

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OKAY so. Everyone is quarantining together in Jules’ apartment. Jules, the one with the permanent bandana, was my absolute fave Polly because she had brown hair and there was a serious overrepresentation of blondes in my collection. This memory underlines to me why representation matters so much to black girls, fat girls, anyone who doesn’t see themselves in their toys and media! Anyway back to the Pollys.

Tiff is a teacher (I mean, just look at her literacy-themed skirt) and Jules’ best friend. Liz has just the one leg, as well as some chronic health stuff, and since she has a twin sister who works at a hospital, she’s staying over til things calm down. Leah is kind of the mom friend, and she’s also a chef whose hours just got cut, so she’s going to be making everyone gourmet mac and cheese and fancy taquitos this week.

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This is Louis, Jules’ gay roommate. He’s also a gym rat, so he’s upstairs working on his push-up form in the mirror. Note: the cat’s name is Scissors.

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This is Liz’s twin sister Abby, chilling in their studio apartment (Abby wears roller skates to get around the hospital quickly, don’t @ me if that’s a bad idea). Cal is her coworker and recently started dating Louis, but they’re keeping away from each other for now. Will their blossoming relationship survival social isolation?

Anyway, Jules is about to turn 30 and they’re planning the massive rager they’re gonna throw when quarantine is lifted. The gals are currently discussing menu and whether or not it should be black tie (obviously it will be, I have so much rubber formalwear for them to put on!).

That’s it, folks. Tell me about your doll plots or whatever the heck you’re doing for fun!

March 13, 2020

Working in higher ed, like working in many places during this health crisis, has been stressful this week. I am not going to ask much of you reading-wise this Friday because frankly I am not willing to ask much of myself, reading-wise. Enjoy some infographics!

  1. 17 Desk Stretches to Try at Work, Muse. Good tips and cute names for the stretches!
  2. Selfies Are Gonna Save The World, Autostraddle. “I actually think the fact that a selfie is not necessarily an entirely “true” representation of yourself makes it… more true! When you take a selfie you’re in charge of the narrative. What are you highlighting? What are you obscuring? What are you celebrating? Taking a picture where you can see your perfect makeup but you can’t see the pimple forming on your left cheekbone isn’t a lie, it’s a celebration to the part of yourself you enjoy looking at right now.” I also liked this line: “You can really, genuinely train yourself to love parts of yourself that you thought you hated if you look at yourself lovingly for long enough.”
  3. Everybody Hates Boob Lamps, But Boob Lights Are Actually Good Lamps, Apartment Therapy. As a renter in a house with aLmOsT nO oVeRhEaD LiGhTiNg, I would appreciate more boob lamps in my life. “One flick of a light switch and a whole room is illuminated with a single boob.” Also, boob lamp: new band name.
  4. Coping with stress during the 2019-nCoV outbreak, WHO. “Limit worry and agitation by lessening the time you and your family spend watching or listening to media coverage that you perceive as upsetting.” I know this is VERY difficult to resist, but I have found my sense of wellbeing is better if I let myself check no more than 2 sources (CDC and the Maryland Department of Health) no more than 2 times a day (beginning of the work day and around dinnertime — not right before bed).
  5. Algonquin Park Trail Cam Footage 2019, Youtube. This has been a major way I’ve been dealing with the (major) stress this week: animal webcams, especially the ones set up in the wild (zoo cams are pretty cool, too!). Soothing, and you don’t need audio for them, so you can choose any soundtrack you’d like to watch mooses to.