gurdymonkey: (Default)
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This is a detail from a 16th century screen in the Tokyo National Museum collection, titled "Genre Scenes of the Twelve Months." It shows a bustling shop that sells kosode (kimono) and fabric as well as the street outside.

More scenes can be found at the museum's website: http://www.tnm.jp/modules/r_collection/index.php?controller=other&colid=A11090&t=type_s&id=11

gurdymonkey: (Default)
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As warped as a cheap furring strip. (Hey, it describes most of my friends....)
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Ah, I see. It's time to trash our parents and blame them for how we turned out.

I blame my father for my love of learning, my addiction to books, my trivia-brain memory and the shape of my nose.

I blame my mother for my ability to be cool in a crisis, for the belief that something worth having is worth earning, for valuing intelligence over looks, for knowing the difference between religion and faith, for my musical ear and my ability to make stuff out of other stuff.

I blame them for teaching me religious, racial, ethnic and gender tolerance. For taking me to museums. For knowing the difference between needing and wanting. For forcing me to do my much hated math homework.

I blame them for saddling me with two little sisters who turned out to be pretty awesome human beings in their own right.

I blame them for my smart-ass sense of humor. For my self reliance. For my sense of self.

Poor me.

gurdymonkey: (Default)
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Every time I've had a flat tire but once, a stranger has stopped to render assistance.

Twice someone in the lane ahead of me has paid my toll just for kicks.

A great many people have indicated that they value my friendship - and I theirs.

That said, without darkness, there is no light. The opposite side of the coin exists. I've been nearly run off the road, socially snubbed, physically assaulted, talked about behind my back, had my property stolen, been sexually harrassed.

Let's just say I have faith in the fundamental human-ness of humankind.
gurdymonkey: (Default)
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Dear LiveJournal,

Thank you so much for reminding me he's not here to take me out for breakfast.

Thank you for reminding me he can't laugh at my jokes.

Thank you for reminding me he won't leave random surprises on my desk chair because he saw them and thought I had to have them.

Thank you for reminding me about beard hair in the sink and leaving my drill out in the rain.

Thank you for reminding me how he looked at me like I was the best thing he'd ever seen.

Thank you for reminding me that the only way I can stay in touch is to glare at the ceiling and say, "You're missing all the good stuff, Rich."


gurdymonkey: (Default)
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 That would have to be the night I woke up to find Rich standing over me trying to apologize for having to wake me as he alternately coughed and wheezed his way through a serious respiratory attack brought on by bronchitis. We were living at the top of Ygnacio Valley Road where it runs into Clayton Road. I had to get him to the Kaiser in downtown Walnut Creek. "Keep coughing." I told him and stuffed him into the front seat of my Tacoma. He kept trying to apologize, I kept ordering him to shut up and cough. Fortunately it was after midnight, so I cautiously blew through several red lights, figuring a police escort to the ER was better than having him suffocate. The time it took for me to get dressed and hit the swinging doors of the ER was the twelve longest minutes of my life.

They took him in the back, got him on oxygen and an IV drip. Several hours later they sent him home with me, armed with an inhaler and a refill prescription.

The crying jag and attendant shakes happened AFTER we got home.
gurdymonkey: (Default)
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I used to do this a lot when I was a kid. Mary Stewart's "The Crystal Cave" was just one of many favorites I could pick up and enjoy again and again. A few years ago, however, I realized that there were more books out there than I can ever read in a lifetime and I decided it was better to read things I hadn't read before, 'cause life is too short. I took a crack at some Jane Austen novels, explored the worlds of Salman Rushdie, had a look at some wrist-slittingly elegaic Yukio Mishima. Currently I try to mix things up. If I've just finished a novel - and novel can be a bestselling paperback or a literary classic - I try to read a nonfiction book next: usually biography, history or something. I'm about midway through Neil Stephenson & Frederick George's The Cobweb, with the Diary of Samuel Pepys on deck in the bullpen, because if Helene Hanff ranted about being sold an abridged Pepys in "84 Charing Cross Road," I figure I should check it out.

I do go back and look at art and history titles related to my SCA interests and I do frequently find things I hadn't noticed previously.
gurdymonkey: (Default)
[Error: unknown template qotd]"What is the most beautiful view you've ever seen?"

What, you mean I can only pick ONE?  

Well, how about this? (Somewhere on the Northern California Coast between Mendocino and Point Reyes.)


Nor this: (Buena Vista Aquatic Recreation Area, near Taft, CA)
 

Not even this. (Port of Oakland seen from Alameda Point): 

Such limiting questions! Such myopic scope! There are beautiful vistas everywhere. You just have to open your eyes.



gurdymonkey: (Default)
[Error: unknown template qotd]Ooh, look. Someone used the word "crepuscular!"

To all those people who are batty for vampires I wanna know one thing: have you ever been bitten? I don't mean being used as a chew toy by your lover, I mean bitten. Skin broken blood drawn reach for the antiseptic bitten.

I have. Dog, horses, little sister in a fight, even a ferret.

It HURTS. It's not cool. It's not sexy. It may teach you to develop lightning reflexes and good aim with the butt end of a lead rope or a 6' lunge whip*, but there's nothing nice about it.

I've experienced enough pain over the course of my lifetime. It's my body warning me that something is wrong. I've bled enough from real injuries. I've Not Liked It.

I'm also an independent sort of cuss, in case anyone hadn't noticed. Artful seduction is one thing, mind control is entirely another.

This is probably why I don't automatically fall all over myself to read or watch vampire stuff. When people insisted I must read "Interview With The Vampire," I couldn't finish it. When Rich got into Laurel K. Hamilton's series, I read a couple and got bored after two because it was the same thing over and over again.

That said, there are some books, films, series that managed to engage me:

Shadow of the Vampire. Clever and funny. Rent the 1922 Nosferatu and watch 'em as a double bill.

The Hunger. Elegant and elegaic, the twist in the premise being that the vampire's "children" don't become fully immortal as she is.

Blood Sucking Fiends and You Suck, both by Christopher Moore. While not as truly inspired as Lamb or A Dirty Job, they're both entertaining.

True Blood, on HBO. Suthun stereotypes abound, every cast principal except for the local sheriff, detective and Sookie's grandmother is requisite cable-series hot, the sex scenes are many and gratuitous (though they mostly feature the feckless, bed hopping Jason (Ryan Kwanten) whose girlfriends keep ending up dead), and I had Sam's "secret" pegged many episodes before it was revealed. It also does not shrink from the fact that bloodshed is messy and horrific, whether it's perpetrated by a vampire or a human. There is ome good writing and acting as well, particularly the tortured relationship between Tara (Rutina Wesley) and her mother (Adina Porter). Most of the vampires are simply nasty 'cause it says so on the label. Frankly, the most frightening one in the cast was the aptly named Longshadow (Raul Trujillo). Bill (Stephen Moyer) retains the courtly manners of a man born in the 19th century and can certainly turn on the old fashioned charm, but, being vampire, has his creepy moments.

*I had express permission from the owner/trainer to administer corrective/defensive action with the hooved menace in question. He ultimately had to be humanely destroyed because he was so dangerous.
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Oxygen.
Nutrients.
Books.

It's that important. It has been that important ever since Dad would climb onto the bed with a copy of English Lyric Poetry or The Nonsense Anthology or D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths. It's why I could recite Keats' "La Belle Dame Sans Merci" before I could read it. It's why I climb onto the bed with my nephews and read to them when I go visit - I've been pronounced almost as good as Pop Pop, which is high praise indeed.

I'm currently in the middle of Peter Carey's 2001 Booker Prize winner, The True History of the Kelly Gang, which I picked up used because it looked interesting and passed my "random paragraph test."  I try to alternate fiction and non-fiction. I just finished Arthur Herman's To Rule The Waves: How The British Navy Shaped The Modern World.  Next on the To Read Pile is A Chronicle of Gods and Sovereigns, Kitabatake Chikafusa's 14th century chronicle, the Jinno Shotoki, translated by H. Paul Varley.

So many books. So many, many, wonderful books!

gurdymonkey: (Default)
[Error: unknown template qotd]The only reason I'm answering this was because I Viewed Other Answers and couldn't believe my eyes.

Does NO ONE know the difference between a habit and a tradition? Judging from the first page of other answers that popped up, you'd think not. What part of "carrying the cultural torch" are these people not getting?

Brushing your teeth is not a tradition.

Tradition is something handed down. It's something you do because your family or your community did it and now you're the generation to do it and pass it on to the next.

My Irish Catholic grandmother always kept a votive candle lit in front of a statue of the Virgin Mary on the tall dresser in her bedroom. Always.

My mother has her own votive candle and statue.

As the child of a Catholic and a Jew I had to reconcile myself pretty early on to the idea that there is no One True Way and that spiritual fulfillment is where one finds it.  Not long after I moved into this place, I picked up a package of Japanese incense, hoping to drive away the fresh paint smells coming from the apartment my landlord was re-doing on the second floor. Long after the paint odors had faded, I continued to light incense, because I found that I liked it.

I also found myself lighting it for other reasons. Those on my F-list have seen me write "Incense is lit" in response to requests for prayers, positive thoughts or crossed fingers. The lighting of incense is a symbol of prayer or intention or whatever you want to call it. It's an offering, whether it be made in a Buddhist temple or the Vatican. The same is true of the lighting of votive candles. (Tangential thought: modern fire codes have resulted in these horrible electric "candles" in most churches nowadays. Drop a coin and press a button. It just isn't the same.)

My nose tells me that if I have a stick of Nippon Kodo going in a bowl on the second floor, the smoke rises at least as far as my garret. I cannot say if it rises high enough to be noticed and appreciated by a deity. It is one of those things we humans do to mark our hopes for ourselves and those around us, to bring us comfort in "interesting times", as the proverb describes it.


gurdymonkey: (Default)
[Error: unknown template qotd]"Allow me to be frank at the commencement. You will not like me. The gentlemen will be envious and the ladies will be repelled. You will not like me now and you will like me a good deal less as we go on." John Wilmot, second Earl of Rochester (Johnny Depp), "The Libertine." (Go here for the rest of the riveting, appalling opening speech.) No, you will not like him, but you will find it very hard to look away.

"I believe in the Church of Baseball." Annie Savoy (Susan Sarandon), "Bull Durham." Opens another brilliant speech, setting the scene.
gurdymonkey: (yeahright)
[Error: unknown template qotd]Do you seriously think I'd reveal that confidence?

HERE?  
gurdymonkey: (Default)
[Error: unknown template qotd]Thou shalt not be a pack rat. I learned this lesson after four moves in four years.

 "Spring cleaning" includes:

1. Going through the closet and getting rid of things I don't wear. (Goodwill, freecycle or a yard sale is a good way to make these go away.)
2. Weeding the bookcases of paperbacks I'm not ever going to read again.
3. Shredding bills or other records that I no longer need to hold onto: Click here for a handy link on how long you should keep things.
4. Filing current and recent paid bills, tax return paperwork in the Bill Box.
5. Checking contents of medicine cabinet for expiration dates and properly disposing of things as needed.
6. Ditto kitchen cabinets and the depths of the freezer.

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