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Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Note to self: Even when very excited by a book, staying up until 3am to read it, is not a good idea.  Note to others: I am very grumpy today as a result and no, I will not test you on your Latin vocabulary.

Posted by misswhistle at 12:18 PDT
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Tuesday, June 5, 2007
If you want to win the lottery, you must buy a ticket.

Posted by misswhistle at 17:37 PDT
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American Robins
I know that this isn't my imagination, unless I am one of those feeble persons, so open to suggestions that my entire body changes with the mere whiff of one (and I'm not ruling that out entirely) but my whole outlook has changed since I've been reading Elizabeth Gilbert's book.  Even my dogs seem to relate better to me.  Yesterday it was sunny and I could hardly contain my melancholy.  Today, it is gray everywhere and yet everything is vibrant green.  This, I know, will sound, very very strange, but it was for a moment as if I'd forgotten that there was anything beyond the here and now, or to quote from this book "Just as there exists in writing a literal truth and a poetic truth, there also exists in a human being a literal anatomy and a poetic anatomy.   One you can see, one you cannot.  One is made of bones and teeth and flesh; the other is made of energy and memory and faith.  But they are both equally true."

There is an account on page 142 of 'eat, pray, love' of Gilbert's first 'succesful' experience with meditation and it quite literally leaves you breathless.

Two American robins (black head, yellow beak, orange breast) are bathing in the pool and drying themselves on the branches of the eucalyptus.  I do not think this a coincidence.  (ha ha, that was a joke).

Posted by misswhistle at 16:35 PDT
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From Elizabeth Gilbert

"Here’s another thing to consider. If you always wanted to write, and now you are A Certain Age, and you never got around to it, and you think it’s too late…do please think again. I watched Julia Glass win the National Book Award for her first novel, “The Three Junes”, which she began writing in her late 30’s. I listened to her give her moving acceptance speech, in which she told how she used to lie awake at night, tormented as she worked on her book, asking herself, “Who do you think you are, trying to write a first novel at your age?” But she wrote it. And as she held up her National Book Award, she said, “This is for all the late-bloomers in the world.” Writing is not like dancing or modeling; it’s not something where – if you missed it by age 19 – you’re finished. It’s never too late. Your writing will only get better as you get older and wiser. If you write something beautiful and important, and the right person somehow discovers it, they will clear room for you on the bookshelves of the world – at any age. At least try."

-- Elizabeth Gilbert, On Writing 

Posted by misswhistle at 14:35 PDT
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Just to make things really complicated

I hate Tripod.  I hate that they make things so difficult.  So, because it's a new day, I'm moving over to blogger.  From now on I will double post. Check out the new site here:


love & kisses, dear ones


-- MissW 

Posted by misswhistle at 10:25 PDT
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apricots & cream

I've just gotten publicists tummy.  It's that nervous I-think-I-might-throw-up sensation in the pit of your stomach.  It's not actually unpleasant, probably because I'm so used to it.  But I haven't had it for years.  Today, this morning, I wrote a press release for a friend, and there it is!  How strange.  How truly strange. 

Two sleeping sick children.  Not too sick to eat apricot pie with cream though, while watching HOUSE I might add.

Mr H, how is tv guide?  And how come you no check in wid me no mo?  Has my domestic tedium gotten the better of you?  Did Jerry Garcia visit you in a dream? 

Posted by misswhistle at 07:33 PDT
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KPCC 89.3 FM
KPCC is doing their fund drive this week.  I urge everyone to contribute.  It's the best radio station in LA (I am a convert from KCRW). 

Posted by misswhistle at 07:25 PDT
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Monday, June 4, 2007
If it wasn't clear that I was boringly, self-indulgently miserable in my last post, I've now cheered up considerably for three reasons:
1)    A very cheery email from CD which immediately put a smile on my face.
2)    I've bought four books I wanted: (sorry Jumby, I know I told you three, but I do have my Borders discount card and I saved $9.89)
•    One Hundred Year of Solitude - it's my fifth or sixth copy; I keep giving copies away to "friends" who never return them as you do with only your favorite books.  I'm sure if I'd scanned my bookshelves for a little longer I may have found a couple, but there you go.  I don't really feel myself without a copy of this book.  Plus, this is the OPRAH version complete with "Insights, Interviews, & MORE" -- woo-hoo!
•    Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky which received the best rating of all time on Metacritic.  And plus it's so boring to not have read a book your friends keep talking about ad nauseum.
•    Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert -- Lucy loves this book so I know I will too.
•    Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje.  Nuff said.  LOVE him.  Even the first page read on Laurel Canyon before it closed today at about 6pm was pure brilliance.

3)    I've made a Shepherd's Pie with lashings of worcestershire sauce (Americans, friends,  countrymen: It's Wooster.  That's how you pronounce it) and an Apricot tart.
4)    I know I said three, but this is a PS, I'd really really love and embrace Amy Winehouse  wholeheartedly if whiney old nerds like Nic (no K - doesn't that just say it all) Harcourt didn't love her so much.  Did you see her on the MTV awards?  She's absolutely sublime with her beehive and that Elizabeth Taylor eye make-up.  LOVE her.

Posted by misswhistle at 20:13 PDT
Updated: Monday, June 4, 2007 20:14 PDT
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Kevorkian, pointlessness & red spiders
True believers seem to think that if you're an atheist, your life is pointless. In fact, if you google "my life is pointless" it will bring you to many religious sites.  I wonder whether there is any thought for the agnostic or borderline agnostic.  I'd like to put myself in that category.  I'm one of those people who is just too idle to go looking for God and would rather have a thunderbolt hit me as I sit in my chair, poring over my computer screen, wondering why the Drudge Report has no new headlines, and zapowbangwhizz change my life.  I am always searching for little miracles it seems.  Today I found an orange spider, and it stayed for a while on the table next to me, while I searched the web, determined to discover that it was a new species, thus far undiscovered.  It had six beady little eyes that watched me as I tried to get my computer close enough to photograph it and its terracotta orange body twitched when I got too near.  I suppose if you have six eyes your vision is pretty acute.  The children are in my bed, watching a movie.  I think it's Harold and Maude or the Inside Man.  I am so exhausted by their being sick.  The moment I get my head down to do any serious work, one of them needs me, needs something, some medicine, some water, a book, some food, a hand with homework, to show me a game on Millsberry.   I've discovered that the excitement of the first draft has dissipated and second and third drafts are just f-ing boring and dull.  It's sweet that they want to be together in their sick state, very sweet. If I lean forward from my chair under the awning I can just see them through the window, propped up on white pillows, with laptops and chocolate with hazlenuts which I'm sure is by now smeared all over my sheets.  It's so nice and smug to be a true believer, to be so sure that everyone else's life is pointless but your own.  Certainty is a great comfort to be sure.  I like the magic of not really knowing though.  I like the little magical things that are revealed in everyday life, the coincidences and surprise meetings, and the poetry in the trees, the sounds of the birds and the barking dog and the children at Wonderland School, whose voices echo through the canyon, and behind those sounds, the distant hum of traffic on Laurel, the gentle snoring of my old black dog, whose each breath sounds like yoga breathing.  The thump thumpety thump of the other dog's tail against the chair I'm sitting in.  The flax is growing enormous on the hillside and producing monster purple asparagus.  The sage green licorice has been cut back so it no longer resembles kudzu, and now the roses are popping through, with their healthy apple-red new leaves.  The neighbor at the top of the road has taken down his barbed wire I noticed.  I wonder if that means Nina is gone.  I hope she has gone somewhere safe.  Giles always talked about things being pointless.  I don't know why I associate that expression with him. Perhaps now that he is a ritzy gallery owner his vocabulary stretches further into optimistic salesman territory and he can pick more carefully how his adjectives color his life. ("Mamma, I'm kinda hungry, do you mind if I have a little bit of rice puding?" "No, please do").  If there isn't a point, then what is there?  The actor fretting and strutting?  It's a sad way to look at it.  I heard on the radio that Dr Kevorkian said to his first patient, Janet Atkins, as she ended her life, "Have a good trip."  The interviewer, Don Gonyea, asked him if he felt like Dr Frankenstein.  Kevorkian asked the interviewer in turn whether he had read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein lately.  He nodded that he had, and Kevorkian leaned in towards him and said in a low voice "Then you know that Frankenstein wasn't the monster, society was the monster."  The interview confessed to feeling a bit of a chill up his spine.

Posted by misswhistle at 15:08 PDT
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Tunick does Amerstdam

Nothing like a parking lot full of naked bottoms.  Spencer Tunick calls his work "flesh architecture."

Posted by misswhistle at 14:34 PDT
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Norway in the News

Norway, somewhat irritatingly, seems to be in the zeitgeist.  This week Oslo features in The Week as one of the five European cities worth a visit, and Conde Nast Traveller has an article about the country as if written by a born-again Scandinaviologist.  Here is what he writes about Tjome.  Ours is one of the "cute cottages" in the hills he refers to here:

On June 23—Midsummer's eve—Laura and I decided to make like the locals and see some of the countryside. We rented a car, headed for the highway, joined a long line of Volvo and Opel station wagons with mountain bikes strapped to their roofs, and drove through no fewer than nine tunnels. We were headed south, to a farm called Engø Gård, near Queen Sonja's cottage on the island of Tjøme, where she used to frolic in the hay as a child.

These days it's not a farm anymore. It was converted into a luxurious resort in the mid-1980s. The barn is still standing, only it's a restaurant now. We ate dinner in the hayloft, under notched ash beams set in place in 1905. The chef, Per Hallundbæk, is Danish. Fifteen years ago, it would have been unthinkable for a chef to seek his fortune in Norway. But if you go to any decent Norwegian restaurant today, there's a good chance your waiter will be from Sweden or even France.

After dinner, Per took us for a cruise around the archipelago so we could see the bonfires burning on the pink granite shoreline, and we admired the cute cottages perched in the hills above. They weren't quite huts, but neither were they McMansions. We made our way farther out toward the open water of the fjord and at one point passed a barren stretch fittingly called "the end of the world." But then the boat began to bounce over big, mean waves, and Per turned back for the friendlier waters of the archipelago.

(c) Mark Schatzker, Conde Nast Traveller, June 2007 

Sunset over Tjome, June.

Posted by misswhistle at 10:04 PDT
Updated: Monday, June 4, 2007 10:07 PDT
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New work by Tom Hallifax

Now showing at Thomas Williams Fine Art, London, a series of paintings by the Anglo-Irish figurative artist, featuring a range of subjects from tractors to chickens...

Posted by misswhistle at 09:54 PDT
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Lettuce attack (from the BBC)

An 82-year-old man wielding a bag of shopping has driven an armed robber from a village post office.
George Smith hit the man twice with a bag containing an iceberg lettuce and bottles of bleach and washing liquid.
The masked raider, who had a shotgun, fled from the shop in Speldhurst, near Tunbridge Wells, Kent, leaving the takings untouched.
Police praised Mr Smith for his bravery, but did not recommend other people followed his actions.
Det Insp John Claydon said a man aged in his 20s walked in, armed with a shotgun and with his face covered by a hood and a dust mask.
"Before he had a chance to say anything at all, this elderly gentleman whacked him with a carrier bag which had a lettuce amongst other things in it," Det Insp Claydon said.
"Bearing in mind his age, I can do nothing but congratulate him for what he did.
"But obviously from a police perspective we wouldn't be looking to encourage people to act as George did."
Mr Smith himself said his actions were "entirely automatic".
"The best method of defence is attack - so I did. I whacked him in the face and then I clobbered him again.
"He ran off down to the corner still with the gun pointing my way.
"I took a couple of paces towards him and told him to clear off. And he did."
Police said the armed man fled along Barden Road.

Posted by misswhistle at 09:47 PDT
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Advice from the Peace Corps
When Ernest Hemminway started as a young reporter for the Kansas City Star, he was given a style sheet with four basic rules:

  Use short sentences.

  Use short first paragraphs.

  Use vigorous English.

  Be positive, never negative
Asked about these rules years later, he said, “Those were the best rules I ever learned in the business of writing. I’ve never forgotten them. No one with any talent, who feels and writes truly about the things he is trying to say, can fail to write well if he abides by them.”

Posted by misswhistle at 09:26 PDT
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Peonies (again)

News from Jumbo in Annapolis - rain, heavenly rain, a boat and a dock and some time on the Chesapeake.  Crabs for dinner, and lobster risotto, which of course he made for his surprised hosts.  His rainy sojourn through Maryland includes visiting his two best friends, and so he is happy.  He calls and tells me of the houses with the pastures, the horses, the boats, the relaxed life.  There is sun in his voice and California seems such a strange place for him.  He blooms in the rain, swells like a plum, becomes a kid again. 

Yesterday was spent in between two streppy, sniffy, coughy kids in our big white bed.  We watched The Parent Trap (oh the tragedy of that freckle-faced little angel) and Annie Hall, and had Greek Salad and hot bread and salami for lunch, cups of tea and big mugs of steaming ribena at tea time with lemon biscuits.   Supper was gemelli with garlic, brocolli, white beans and tomato with a little red pepper accompanied by the MTV Awards.  We like Sarah Silverman, didn't like the Paris Hilton joke, thought Will Ferrell and Sacha Baron Cohen were funny, generally agreed on all of these things.  Dogs piled in and out, as they do, some reading happened, some fights, much laying on of hands on fevered brow, hugging, giggling, croaking.  N managed to hold of his strep long enough to take two SAT 2s on Saturday, and apparently was not unhappy with how they went.  

Trader Joe's has peonies again for $6.99, but now they include the white ones flecked in dark red.  I bought three bunches and replaced the pale yellow petals, once puce, that are falling all over the dining room table and onto the floor.  I wonder who but me even notices these flowers as I cut their stems and remove the lower leaves and whistle with my breath like my mother does when she's concentrating.  These are my very favorite flowers in the world and if we do end up moving to Maryland or Massachusetts or Maine, I'm going to plant huge hedgefuls of them.

Little is up.  Still sick.  But well enough to want french toast.

Posted by misswhistle at 08:07 PDT
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From the New York Times

Many reviewers of Mr. McEwan’s book have noted that to put sex back in its old perch among literature’s most momentous plot elements (alongside truth, money, family, honor and God) the author set his story in 1962. Of course this is the year just before the one that the poet Philip Larkin established sarcastically (but with some reason) in his often-quoted “Annus Mirabilis” as the all-important dividing line:

Sexual intercourse began
In nineteen sixty-three
(Which was rather late for me)
Between the end of the Chatterley ban
And the Beatles’ first LP.

In Edward and Florence’s world, Mr. McEwan writes: “The Pill was a rumor in the newspapers, a ridiculous promise, another of those tall tales about America.” They move awkwardly and painfully toward consummation in an “era — it would end later in that famous decade — when to be young was a social encumbrance,” one “for which marriage was the beginning of a cure.”

-- From Sex With Consequences, by Randy Kennedy, NY Times, June 3, 2007

Posted by misswhistle at 07:40 PDT
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Saturday, June 2, 2007
Kathy Griffin Must Die

This is how it goes early on a Saturday morning with a sick child in the house: she's propped up in my bed on about four white pillows, big mug of tea in her hands, a plate of white toast with strawberry jam, yogurt, apricots (untouched).  She's wearing a t-shirt with the Union Jack on it and the dog has her chin propped up on the edge of the bed gazing mournfully at both of us.  GMA on Saturday morning is the kind of show you hope the space aliens aren't watching in order to get an insight into human behaviour.  A seering piece of hard journalism -- $50,000 birthday parties for five year olds (given by caring, doting, facelifted parents in bad, expensive clothes); a Michigan farmer who got a dui on his tractor/mower; and the  international incident sparked by Miss USA's fall on stage at the  Miss Universe pageant in Mexico.  Heady stuff.  We were all in bed by 9:15pm last night.  Noons is off to take his SAT 2s today. I hear him rise at 6:30pm.  He showers, drinks a cup of honeyed tea I take him, is in an incredibly pleasant mood while sharpening his five pencils...and I wonder whether an earlier bedtime may do all of us some good.  Daughter has been suffering with strep for nearly two weeks and now her lymph nodes are swollen so that she can hardly move her legs and she has a cold to boot.  What is it about long drawn-out childhood illnesses that can make you temporarily panic?  Especially the leg thing.  My mind rushes through all the possibilities: muscle strain from riding, growing pains, flu=aching joints, yellow fever, paralysis.... (mounting panic ensues...)

J is away.  If it's Saturday it has to be Baltimore.  I get brief text messages prior to boarding planes.  It's funny how your whole life flashes before your eyes just before you take off on planes.  

This house is full of books.  Every room apart from the dining room & kitchen, has a book shelf.  I look wistfully at the shelves dreaming of the time when I might get to revisit some of my favorites.  Yesterday Gabriel Garcia Marquez went back to Macondo (Aracataca) and so that book is staring at me, ready for another dip-in I think.  And yet, and daughter would rather watch Kathy Griffin's D-List? "I will turn off the television if you watch this," I say, as sternly as I can muster, "this is mind-numbing, low-end b-s.  This has no redeeming features."  She rolls her eyes at me and very deliberately and very slowly changes the channel. 


Posted by misswhistle at 08:19 PDT
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Thursday, May 31, 2007
Love & Nourishment

It's the last day of May.   I can feel the panic rising in my chest.  It's the LAST DAY of May. Summer is here already, despite the clement weather on the west coast and the drizzly rain in England, summer is here with its suitcase.  There's an appreciation of Michael Ondaatje in the New Yorker that is enormously uplifting and somewhat assuages the panic. Here's something I liked:

"I don't really begin a novel, or any kind of book, with any sense of what's happening or even what's going to happen." -- Ondaatje.

This of course flies in the face of all the conventional wisdom on novel writing.

And then this quote from Paul McCartney: "You knocked off at five-thirty, so now you had time for an evening.  Very civilized.  I was living in London, so I'd go to the National to see Colin Blakely in 'Juno and the Paycock,' go to the movie, 'Far from the Madding Crowd,' go to an exhibition, a reception.  All these great things.  So the next morning, when you're having your cup of tea before recording, you'd be talking about that, and you'd be informed by it."

This is something like what the Artist's Way prescribes when she suggests that you go on an "artist's date" with yourself once a week.  We do really beg to be inspired, provoked, thrilled and also just prodded out of our stupor.

USA Today has asked for my opinion on the Lindsay Lohan/Paris Hilton/Nicole Ritchie situation. "It's a cover looking at young Hollywood gone wild -- how Paris, Lindsay, Nicole Richie etc are basically total train wrecks. What's going on with them and how did this happen? Or has this always been the case with young actors who have too much too soon and no one telling them to stop?"  I suggested that we start a charity called Much Love Starlet rescue to give them a little love and nourishment.

I vow to work extra hard for the next six weeks so that I can really enjoy my holiday and not just feel like a dilletante (how could I possibly be that when I can hardly spell the word?) 

Posted by misswhistle at 15:49 PDT
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Posted by misswhistle at 12:41 PDT
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by Eliza Griswold
I woke to a voice within the room. perhaps.
The room itself: "You're wasting this life
expecting disappointment."
I packed my bag in the night
and peered in its leather belly
to count the essentials.
Nothing is essential.
To the east, the flood has begun.
Men call to each other on the water
for the comfort of voices.
Love surprises us.
It ends.

Posted by misswhistle at 12:32 PDT
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