early fall and a staycation

pink cyclamen blooming in a bed of vinca

Coming from somewhere where cyclamen are only in pots, during the Christmas season, I continue to be pleased each fall at the ones naturalizing in the yard. They’re spreading along a desire path in the vinca, so maybe I should make more room for them…

7 Eleven sign as photographed from inside a city bus

I took a couple of days off work last week, mostly because I had promised myself I could in the hectic busy weeks of July, and we had arrived at the time I’d blocked off. On Thursday I continued my very long-term project of riding all the bus lines. Somewhere there’s a one-page zine about line #1, Vermont, and I later rode #4 Division but didn’t write it up. And then the project lay fallow long enough that the routes changed, so now #4 is Fessenden.

  • N. Mississippi is a gentrified strip; I drank hot bubble tea and stocked up on greeting cards. Curiously, further down the line I discovered that N. Lombard in St. Johns has now gentrified almost identically. There is always a shop of cute little houseplants (especially succulents), and of course coffee and tea, and chocolate and something magicky. Woodstock and Sellwood are pretty much the same, which makes it so odd that these shops are always listed in travel articles about the neighborhoods as though they are distinctive.
  • I went by so many places I’d been repeatedly in years past but not for a long time. PCC Cascade, where I took counseling classes, and Peninsula Park Rose Garden and New Columbia Apartments where I’d done bike rides, and Super Burrito where we used to stop on our way home back when Mexican food was scarcer in Southeast. That was a long time ago. These sites kept popping up in a different orientation than I remembered (I took the 72 when I rode the bus to class) and bringing limited, partial slices of memory with them.
  • Spotted the St. Johns Cinema where Charlie hangs out to kill time in Lean on Pete. I reread that book a few months ago and it was still so good. Though I’m more aware now of how artificial Charlie’s character is– he has to be just under the age where he can legally have a job, and his innocence is the heart of the book but wouldn’t be likely in real life–really, for no particular reason he doesn’t drink beer? And the ending, whew, wish fulfillment. But I wouldn’t change any of it, because of the feelings it gives me.

Next, though tbd with no immediate plans, is #6 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd. Also a Frequent Service line (every 15 minutes or so), which makes all the difference in a bus line.

Tonight’s plans: make a bean soup with rosemary and lots of the CSA celery, garlic and carrots for next week’s lunches; continue watching season 1 of Orphan Black. Brace for going back to work tomorrow.

good things

unreasonably fond of this photo I took during a friend’s recent move:

gray sidewalk and asphalt street; U-Haul van and ramp parked curbside. A wooden chest sits in the street at the end of the ramp. The chest's drawers are on a metal shelving unit. The van has an aquatic monster painted on the side and promotional copy about Vermont. Across the street, a small RV is parked in a driveway, with "Refuge" lettered on it.

I found a list of good things, written in purple ink in an old notebook in 2021.

chocolate milk, the way things get still and luminous after sitting in silence somewhere for awhile, freshwater pearls, my iPhone, dirt paths and the way dirt lies at the base of tree roots, the internet, babies laughing uncontrollably, the sound of sprinklers, mohair sweaters, hot tubs, hot springs, dogs, dog smell, wet dog smell, the happy way Stephen said skunk smells like coffee, traffic signals, gladiolas, oxalis and all edible things in the woods, creeks, rivers, my sleeping bag, overalls and pigtails, Animorphs and Baby-Sitters Club, the smell of hose water and mown grass and petrichor, flicker feathers, washing plates and sweeping steps, roller skating, tennis, cross country skiing, audiobooks, chocolate pudding, poppies, puppies, composition books, cushy socks, soft t-shirts, gel pens, bike paths along water with Canada geese, desert mornings, early mornings on vacation, coffee, coffee shops, friends, Ken’s parties, writing numerals, writing algebra, Sanguinity, leg hair, glass jars, glass beads, honey.

April A to Z

The blog of storyteller and folklorist Dr. Zalka Csenge Virág introduced me to the concept of A to Z blogging– in a 30-day month, you can take one day off per week and still cover the alphabet at one letter per day.

Blog posts are work! But I made some drawings for April, in the medium I find easiest and least intimidating, which is blue non-repro pencil followed by fine-tip Sharpie marker, on 3×5 cards. My favorite was back at letter C, on a day I was busy and tired and dashed it off as quickly as possible:

Sketch of a glaring cat, in black marker on a white index card

Here’s the whole batch. I may do another round in June… maybe writing three-sentence stories?
layout 26 index cards with marker drawings (the subjects are a-z, starting with anenomes and ending with zinnias)


Wednesday reading

Yesterday I realized I’m in the middle of six books, and listing them feels less daunting than talking about books I’ve finished– no pressure to pronounce judgment or present a finished analysis. Just a snapshot:

cover of Animorphs #20 The Discovery - Marco morphing a bird.

Animorphs #20, The Discovery, by Katherine Applegate (1998). I keep the Animorphs on my phone for comfort…? reading and reading-while-waiting. Apparently this one’s the start of a several-book arc about David, and sanguinity passed on a long tumblr post about this that’s waiting in my email. I’m loving how Animorphs discussion is still low-key humming along while I’m making my way slowly through the series.

worn cover of Elizabeth Enright's Borrowed Summer: butterfly and leaf motif

Borrowed Summer, by Elizabeth Enright (1946). Short stories with the same avid descriptions of nature and well-tuned dialogue as the Melendy novels and her other children’s books. I mostly got this one because I was trying out our public library’s interlibrary loan services (because someday I won’t have university library privileges!) and Enright was the first author who came to mind who I knew had hard-to-find stuff I’d want to read. Something about the scope and rhythm of the stories reminds me of reading fiction in my mom’s magazines when I was a kid– Ladies Home Journal and Redbook— but maybe with a few more odd corners and less romance.

cover of Les Miserables with Cosette and a mop and bucket

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, translated by Isabel Hapgood (1862/1887). Reading this via Les Mis Letters with one installment every day of 2023. I am loving this! The installments are usually long enough to get into something but not so long as to be burdensome. Sometimes I get one or two days behind. Victor Hugo is working his way into my heart.

cover of Victory, Stand! with Tommie Smith raising his fist on the Olympic podium

Victory. Stand! by Tommie SmithDawud Anyabwile,  and Derrick Barnes (2022). Graphic novel by one of the Black runners who protested on the Olympic podium in 1968 in Mexico City. For some reason I skipped ahead to read the Olympics part, then went back to the beginning. Unadorned prose and grayscale art, a fast and compelling read.

cover of The Summer Place, paper-collage-style illustration of a white woman in a big hat floating in an inflateable on water.

The Summer Place, by Jennifer Weiner, read by Sutton Foster (2022). My current audiobook, soapy and good for extended housework sessions. Tons of secrets all building to a climactic wedding day, so we’ll see how that goes.

cover of Seventeen Syllables, with a photo of two young Japanese-American women facing each other

Seventeen Syllables and Other Stories, by Hisaye Yamamoto (expanded edition, 2001). The stories are dated from 1948 to 1995. Most are about Nisei families in the U.S. My favorite so far is a short memoir called “Life Among the Oil Fields”– my dad might find it reminiscient of his childhood in a tenant-farming family, and it also calls out to the Valley of Ashes in Gatsby.

monday magpie, kidlit edition

The sunrise walks are off-and-on, but overall enhancing my life. Today’s was one of the first with a discernable ~Sunrise~, with lemony clouds and rays, instead of an overcast ~Lightening of the Gloom~. Sunrise is currently around 7:40 a.m.

Two kidlit links have been rattling around my head for a bit:

  1. The Politics of Louise Fitzhugh, Leslie Brody, 2020 in The Paris Review. Fitzhugh stopped the presses on Nobody’s Family Is Going To Change so that she could include the names of two Black boys, Clifford Glover and Claude Reese, who were killed by NYPD. I haven’t yet read Brody’s book about Fitzhugh, Sometimes You Have to Lie, but I know I will. But maybe first I’ll reread Nobody’s Family Is Going To Change. A white author’s novel about a Black family, and so very 1970s in its picture of sexism. But I think Emma and her anger will have grown on me.
  2. Let That Dream Die, by Veronica Roth (author of the Divergent series) on tennis, writing, and how to keep going after early success, when you’re back in the day-to-day muck. I’m always interested in alternatives to having goals. I have a hunch that goal-setting is not where it’s at for me, but other paths are harder to understand.

sunrise walk

a black plastic lid? on snow under a thin layer of ice forms a flower shape

I’m auditioning a new year’s resolution called “be outdoors at sunrise.” Today’s sunrise was 7:47 a.m. Cloudy, and overnight a thin layer of ice was added on top of the inch or two of sleet/snow already on the ground. This little plastic thing was on top of the snow but under the ice, making an intriguing flower shape.


Car windshield coated in pebbly ice, with wipers covered by snow. Beyond is a snowy street and a house behind bare trees.


Today’s travel plans are suspended due to sleet and forecasted freezing rain; not sure if they’ll resume this weekend or next. For now sanguinity and I are cozy at home, still with electricity (yay), and with a rare feeling of leisure. We started a jigsaw puzzle last night.

bike commute notes:

  • maple trees continue to be too good for this world. The red!
  • the bike counter on the Tilikum Bridge that’s been offline for months was back on! I was bike/scooter #257 westbound this morning.
  • a longtime camp I pass was bare, caution taped, and big scorch marks up the side of the nearby building (a storage facility). Yikes. I hope everybody’s okay.
  • had the lower-level parking garage all to myself for leisurely hair-combing in the bike cage.

Anyway, pretty view from my office today.

view of buildings, autumn trees, river from 9th floor


I came here to post and saw that my last post was complaining about smoke. Well. The smoke left, returned, and has lingered, eating up the last warm sunny days before chilly weather and rains set in, probably this weekend.

A couple of weeks of the best weather, stolen. I ride the bus instead of biking, curtail my walks, and feel like I’m waiting.

Favorite picture I took since last post: behold a mole of sugar versus a mole of salt! A friend took Sang and me to the science museum; it’s child-oriented so it was cool being there with the kids.

two labeled clear plastic bottles: one contains a mole of white sugar, the other contains a mole (much less volume) of table salt.

Still listening to Bjork’s albums and Sonic Symbolism podcast, and liked Biophilia a lot. The instrumentation, the concepts, the rhythms.

Sang and I had a little Gatsby festival last year when it went into public domain– we both reread the original and read Nghi Vo’s The Chosen and the Beautiful, and we watched the Robert Redford and Leonardo DiCaprio movies. A few weeks ago I found what may be my favorite adaptation so far, Anna-Marie McLemore’s YA novel Self-Made Boys. The main characters are aged down, and Daisy and Tom are together but not yet engaged. Nicolás Caraveo is a young trans man newly arrived in West Egg; his cousin Daisy helped him get there, but it’s complicated because she’s passing for white. The plot is just different enough from Fitzgerald’s that I don’t know what will happen. The writing and characterizations are beautiful, fresh yet recognizable: Everyone is partial to their own reasons for despising other people, thinks Nicolás. I’m at about the 80% mark and hoping I love it this much when I’ve finished!

cover of Self-Made Boys: a young Latino man with hand on the chest of a young blond man in a suit. Wisteria and hydrangea blossoms frame the figures.