When I moved to Maine, I decided that I wanted to walk more and Mr. Cleaver agreed. We both love to stroll together, in Chicago, we'd jaunt up to Andersonville. Here in Portland, we've ended up in a neighborhood tailor-made for the leisurely stroll. Then houses are lovely to walk along and the other evening we saw some little brown bats in action at the far end of street, there's also Baxter Woods which is a 6/10 mile loop through deciduous and evergreen trees, and then there's Evergreen Cemetery.


Now before you start thinking that I've gone all morbid and spend all my time hanging out in cemeteries, I say fear not. It's just that cemeteries are some the best keep green-spaces ina lot of urban environments, if you don't mind weaving between headstones. I always loved the idea that in the early 1900s people used to have picnics in graveyards. I don't know why the shift occured, but there are plenty of people wandering the trails at Evergreen, so I'm not alone.


I also love the history of graveyards. Who were these people, why did this one deserve a monument, while this person hardly a stone at all?  What happened to the wife on the headstone listed below her husband with a birth, but no death date; and how horrible to lose someone at sea.

Duck Pond

As an added bonus, Evergreen has a trio of duck ponds, filled with Mallards that will eagarly take your stale bread. We also saw what might have been a cormorant. I'd really loved to get a book on the local flora and fauna so I could identify it all.



And my favorite season is knocking at the door!

In a quick round-up of other news. I had my second interview on Monday, but alas, no job there, though the interview went (I felt) very well.

We found a great dresser for $10 at a garage sale this weekend, so I am no longer living out of a suitcase, which is fnatastic for one's pysche. I've also made what seems like an endless series of trips to Target and Walmart to get all the little things, like a toaster or a vacuum.

The book club is reading Watership Down, and I raced through it. I forgot how wonderfully thrilling that book is. Next up on my reading list is Richard Russo's Empire Falls, then I plan to do a survey of New England Poets - feel free to send along any suggestions.

I'm about a third of the way done with the first sleeve on my Forecast sweater and I picked up some lovely leather buttons for it on sale at JoAnn's yesterday. I'm also about halfway through sewing a Kasia skirt out of thick navy blue linen. I'm feeling very confident about my sewing on this piece, though if anyone has a trick for making sure you iron the interfacing on the right side of the fabric I'd love to hear it! I also managed to pick up a great vintage navy blue linen dress/jacket combo at Material Objects, it's an almost exact match in color to the skirt, so I can mix it up with the jacket. I'll post pictures when I get a chance.

I'm assisting my friend Peter on a reading of the play The History Boys for Mad Horse Theatre, I'm not sure the exact date of the reading yet, but I'm excited to be involved!

Our internet is supposed to get hooked up on the 23rd, which I can't wait for, and will hopefully increase the regularity of my posting. Until then - I'm off to enjoy the fall weather!

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Quick Catch Up

I try to be a good blogger and post at least once a week, twice on a good week - but last week that just didn't happen. 

So here's a quick catch up on what I've been up to since last we met:

  • I've watched two more documentaries on Everest (for a total of three) and am starting my fifth book on the subject.
  • I went to a REM concert at the United Center.

(photo via marcusglimer)

  • I went to the Printer's Row Book Fair and saw a recent library science grad win the Define-A-Thon

(photo via pantagrapher)

  • I went to the sale at Vogue Fabrics and am stashed up for at least five projects. 
  • I went to my knitting circle and continued working on the pattern I'm devising. 
  • Smocked Tank in Progres

  • My  knitting circle decided (jokingly?) that it would be a great idea to make a calendar of knitted bikini's that we each designed. I started a Ravelry group for it - and started sketching some designs, because I think it's fun - even if no one else intends to do it.
  • I cut out one sewing project...
  • Pattern all taped together

  • and started putting it together. 
  • Preview Shot

  • I worked a rental with nearly 800 patrons on three floors with three front of house staff (not fun).
  • I watched Chicago do really well at the Tonys
  • I helped strike a set.
  • I spent 7 hours in meetings.

And that's about it - I mean, I ate and slept and went to work in the midst of all that, which was a crazy, yet really fun week and half. So I hope you'll forgive me for not posting!

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I Have a Problem


You know how they say that married couples start to look like each other? Well at eight months of marriage, it's a little soon for that, but there are definitely things I've picked up from my husband, like an appreciation for REM and baseball, and now, he's penchant for obsessions.

Summiting Everest

By obsessions I mean that he will get really interested in a particular subject and read and watch everything there is about that subject for about two months. A few months ago it was the Mafia: several seasons of The Sopranos and three or so books on the mob. He's currently into the World Series of Poker and has been reading about poker players, watching WSofP on YouTube, and playing online poker on Facebook.

Summiting Everest

I admit to having often kidded him about this, and of course, now I am doing the same thing about Everest. A few months ago we picked up a second hand copy of Into Thin Air, and last week, being in between books, I decided it would be a quick read - and indeed it was, as I couldn't put it down. Then Mr. Cleaver informed me that the Frontline episode "Storm Over Everest" was available for viewing on their website (until 6/13 at least), so I watched that and read every interview excerpt on the site, and then I went to Wikipedia, which led me to other sites, which lead to me other sites, and you get the picture. And then I went to the library today and ending up with the stack to see here.

The thing that intrigues me about Everest is the 1996 season in particular, because there are so many gaps in each version of the story I've looked at so far. Jon Krakauer admits in his book that things that he was 100% sure about were later proven to be untrue, and the Frontline film makes a very clearly goes out of its way to not mentioning several people on the mountain, to the extent that it makes it seem as though they were'nt even there and from what I've read so far, Anatolli Boukreev's version is clearly written only to bite his thumb at Krakauer and make himself look good. The activities of the numerous sherpas on the mountain and their views on the whole thing are also surprising absent from all accounts.

All of this, coupled with the obvious lapses of memory/coherence from lack of oxygen/hypothermia and possible deliberate omission of events, leave a very swiss-cheese tale. And to me, makes it into an intriguing mystery, I'm not likely to solve, but it's a fun trip, so I'm going to let this obsession run itself out for a while.

Mail from Bitter Betty

In other news, I received a lovely little package from Bitter Betty in the mail today, containing an awesome wood-handled tracing wheel I won in a give-away on her blog. Thanks Betty!

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Cabin Fever? Jungle Fever!

So about 3 three weeks ago after about 3 weeks of not bothering to decide. Ms. Kasey and I decided on our next two-person book club selection.

A few months ago I picked up Worlds to Explore: Classic Tales of Travel and Adventure from National Geographic on a whim while browsing at The Book Cellar on Lincoln Ave. When it comes down to finding a specific book, I often find that independent bookstores don't always carry what I need and Amazon is often best.

But when I want to find something I didn't know that I wanted (some of which have become my favorite books - like Outta My Way: An Odd Life Lived Loudly and  The Essays of E.B. White, both picked up at Books Etc. in Portland, ME), I love the independent bookstore, especially when the staff post their handwritten reviews on the shelves.

But back to topic: I was reading the National Geographic book and somewhere at the head of one of the chapters they quoted a poem by Kipling, and then I read the section of India stories (oddly enough, not the section that quoted Kipling), and then a friend of mine sent Mr. Cleaver and I a beautiful yellow bedspread from her recent travels in India, and then I rented the Darling Limited.  All told -I had India on the brain, so of course, our next book had to be The Jungle Books by Kipling.

And as I was going through the stacks in the children's library I spotted The Wind in the Willows, which neither Kasey or I had read, so we made it a double read book club.

Book Club Take 3

Both books, but particularly The Jungle Book(s), are those books, like Peter Pan, that are such a part of our cultural consciousness (largely thanks to Disney) that I sometimes forget whether I actually had ever read the book. (For the record: I've never read the orginal Peter Pan, either.) I finished The Jungle Books on the train this morning, one stop before mine (whew!), and as much as I love  "I wanna be like you" and the "Bear/Bare Necessities" Disney doesn't touch the original with a ten-foot pole.

I'm not going to say anything more, because we haven't met about the books yet, but I'm definitely looking forward to The Wind in the Willows and the Indian food we're going to eat when we do meet.

Did I mention that Kasey? We totally need to eat Indian food to discuss The Jungle Book. Does it go with The Wind in the Willows? Not so much. But I live so close to Devon Ave. and have never gone, so we need to get some Indian food.

PS - If you're thinking about picking up some Kipling a note: The Jungle Book is the Mowgli story only, The Jungle Books (with an 's', and the original printed form) is the Mowgli story interpersed with other Human/Animal interaction tales, like Rikki Tikki Tavi (not to be confused with Riki Tiki Timbo- a wonderfully fun, if terribly inaccurate folktale). Mowgli alone is good, but if you can find the other version, I would recommend it.

And speaking of folktales, since i don't have enough going on in my life right now, I picked up Just So Stories too.

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Doughnuts, Croissants, and Diamonds

Or my Breakfast at Tiffany's.

Breakfast at Tiffany's

Nothing says class like a pair of giants lips. 

Saturday morning was the second official meeting of my two-person book club, and as regular readers might recall, the book choice for this session was Truman Capote's "Breakfast at Tiffany's."

Since Chicago just happens to have a Tiffany's, Kasey and I had no choice but to meet there for breakfast. Between the doughnuts here and the East of Eden sandwich at our first meeting, we're creating a trend here.

We haven't chosen our next book yet, but if we keep to trend it'll probably be something along the lines of Like Water for Chocolate or Inge's Picnic, anything we can build around food, really. What can I say? I like to read and I like to eat.

Breakfast at Tffany's

Particularly giants lips in feathered nests. 

"Breakfast at Tiffany's" is one of the few book-to-film adaptations that have eclipsed the original. This is not to say the the movie is better than the book, but I think I can definitely say that it is the more famous of the two. Another example could be Brokeback Mountain. While most film adaptations feel disappointing, largely because they lack the richness of the source material, I think these two examples work well because they are adapted from short stories or novellas.

With the novel, something almost always has to get cut. With the short story/novella there is room to do the entire story justice and even to expand. 

 Kasey at Tiffany's

Still, Tiffany's is a classy place. 

This is not to say all we did was compare the film and book, while we sat in the nearby Pottery Barn and discussed, but I'll admit, it was a good chunk of it. After breakfast and discussion, we did a little Holly Golightly inspired shopping, where I got an awesome White House/Black Market dress for about 15 bucks, after which we went back to my apartment and watched , yep, Breakfast at Tiffany's.

So classy

And I am a classy gal. 

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Waffling and Breakfast

When I was a kid, the number-one thing I remember most about cereal commericals isn't the cartoon characters or copious amount of sugar, but the phrase and image of "part of a complete breakfast."

As I recall, a complete breakfast included: a bowl of the advertised cereal, a glass of milk, a glass of orange juice, a grapefruit, two eggs sunny side up, some sausage or bacon, toast, waffles, hashbrowns and the soles of old shoes. In all seriousness though, there was an awful lot of food in those shots and I don't know anybody outside of a Sunday brunch line who eats that much for breakfast.

Like most people, when I eat cereal, all I eat is cereal, maybe -maybe- with some juice. Unlike most people, I never put milk on my cereal unless it's grape nuts (because you have to) or rice krispies (because they snap, crackle, pop!). I hate soggy cereal, so I just drink my milk on the side. How very When Harry Met Sally of me.

Breakfast with Tiffany's

All of this is so say, after much waffling (or not bothering) Kasey and I decided on the next selection for our two-person book club: Truman Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's. I know I said I wanted to do something wintery , but with all the Holiday hubbub something short and frothier seemed more appropo, so Mark Halprin's 768 page Winter's Tale will have to wait until January.We might finish before Christmas, we might not (we mightn't have bothered to picked a date yet), but you can bet when we finish we'll be meeting outside the local Tiffany's, Duncan Donuts in hand.

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Steinbeck: Makes a Good Book and a Good Sandwich

As promised, my two-person book club met up at the Bourgeois Pig last week for some serious Steinbeck dissection.

East of Eden Book and Sandwich


Ms. Kasey and I knew we had truly chosen the right locale for our meeting when we found an "East of Eden" sandwich on the menu board. We of course had to order one (as seen above) and I nabbed a chicken sandwich to satiate any meat-eating needs for the evening. Though the "Eden" sandwich was quite the veggi delight with avocados, mushroom that tasted like chicken and lots of leafy greens.

We actually discussed the book for at least a half and hour to 45 minutes, not bad for book-club beginners, before we descended into letting the brunette with the laptop at the next table learn much too much about our personal lives.

As for the book?

I love - love - Steinbeck. In high school and college I had a tiny Mitsubishi pickup truck I named Rocinante in honor of Steinbeck's truck from Travels with Charley, a truck that my parents took a special trip to Salinas to so I could see the real thing. My Rocinante is currently living his third incarnation with some family friends on Mt. Veeder, having survived several trips to Oregon and a run-in with some overnight hit-and-runners in Santa Cruz.

I grew up in the Bay Area, so the worlds of Steinbeck's novels are something familiar and dear to me. His writing is honest and he is fair man who gives the bum and rich man equal dignity, with perhaps more dignity to the bum.

My two favorite Steinbeck works are the aforementioned Travels with Charley and East of Eden. Charley is a love letter to America - a kind-hearted real-life roadtrip filled with the beauty of the America landscape and the kindness of strangers. 

Eden dances on the boundary of fiction and non-fiction: the Trasks and the Hamiltons are real people, with a very young Steinbeck even making an appearance. But beyond these family trees, what is really true?

Invented or not, the epic of these families is both touching and painful.  Most of our discussion on Thursday focused on the familial relationships: sibling rivalries, the love of between parent and child - how our own lives intersect and different from the Hamiltons and the Trasks. Intersections, I'm sure, even the brunette with the laptop would understand.

PS: We're currently looking for our next book selection: preferably something classic, wintery and shorter than Eden. If I hadn't just read Call of the Wild it would have been perfect. I'm thinking maybe Ethan Frome? I'd love to hear any suggestions!


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Bus Book, Bed Book, Book Club

Sometime back in the spring I decided that I no longer read enough. I also decided that I was wasting my time on public transit with the Red Eye and gave it up for Lent to be replaced by real books. Resolved, I made my way over to the wonderful Harold Washington Library, picked up the Interpreter of Maladies and started a book reading frenzy. Since then, I've rarely been without at least two books checked out - a bed book and a bus book. One for home and one for my hour and a half of daily commute.

About the same time, a friend urned me to the website Goodreads, where I've been keeping track of and reviewing everything I read. Being one of those people who takes joy in lists, it's right up my alley. I'm a little behind on my reviews right now, but I highly recommend the site.

East of Eden

The bus book (currently East of Eden) is largely determined by weight. If it's too heavy it stays home. Books in fragile condition also miss the cut, but mostly, whichever book I want to get through first is the bus book - since it gets solid dedicated time 5 days a week.

Enormous Changes at the Last Minute

The bed book (currently Grace Paley's Enormous Changes at the Last Minute) usually takes me twice as long to get through as the bus book. Except for the Harry Potters I've been stealing from my now husband, which take two days. I also try to to mix it up so I'm reading one fiction and one non-fiction, or at least two different styles. I'm becoming increasingly interesting in pursuing a graduate degree in creative writing, so I'm self-educating in way.

Lastly, one of the books is now a book club. A few weeks before I left for the wedding, my friend Kasey and I met up at an ridiculously cute and francophiliac cafe, The Bourgeois Pig , prior to catching a comped performance of "An Intimate Evening with Lynda Carter." Just as we were about to leave, a small group of twenty-somethings started gathering for a book club. Kasey and I both looked at them wistfully and decided that we too should have a book club and meet in this charming locale to discuss.

Well, she was reading East of Eden and I had just brought my copy back from California, so it seemed a logical first choice - any Oprah book club connections aside. (Speaking of which, half the time her "selections" just seem like things I was required to read in high school -- Night, East of Eden, Anna Karenina, Sound and the Fury -- really? I'm so glad you discovered these for me Oprah, I never would have heard of them without you. )

Anyway, Kasey and I are both about halfway through the book now, so if anyone is a speedy reader, they're welcome to join in. I'm guessing we'll meet up mid-to-late November. After which, I hope this gets to be a reoccurring thing.

Speaking of Kasey, tonight was the second annual "William Shatner" apple pie baking fest -- this time with furniture! Photos and tasty pie recipe to come soon.

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