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Wednesday reading

Just finished: Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata, translated by Ginny Takemori. This was right up my alley! The pleasures of commodification, a simple life, how performative and imitative social life can feel. I like the cover, too.

cover of Convenience Store Woman, aqua and pink with a rice ball made to look like a woman's head

Currently reading: rereading E.L. Konigsburg’s The View From Saturday.

Next up: going on vacation with some books written under pseudonyms by authors I love! The first two Crooked Rock Urban Indian Center romances by Pamela Sanderson (aka Pam Rentz)– the third one just came out in ebook and paperback’s coming soon. And Rain Mitchell’s, aka Stephen McCauley’s, Tales From the Yoga Studio.

silver idyll

On our anniversary last Monday, I worked in the daytime and Sang taught in the evening. It was Thursday that we finally got around to walking down the street to the Delta Cafe to celebrate.

I love the Delta’s cocktail menu. This time the lavender-and-vanilla Pink Lady called to me. I ordered it without considering whether it went well with deep-fried catfish bites and okra. It did not. I didn’t care.

The music was 100% Aretha Franklin.

We had a tipsy, romantic walk back to the house. The air was clearing out after several days of wildfire smoke. At home a new episode of Elementary was waiting for us.

Reading Wednesday: Seesaw Girl

illustration by Kelly Murphy of a girl on a Korean seesaw and standing behind a wall

Illustration by Kelly Murphy

Recently read: Linda Sue Park’s first novel, Seesaw Girl (1999), about a girl named Jade in a wealthy family in 17th-century Seoul. The book does such a beautiful job balancing Jade’s very constrained societal role (girls don’t read or write, they never go outside the walls of the family compound until they marry and move to their husband’s home, and then never come back except maybe for a parent’s funeral. And even wealthy women spend a lot of time on laundry) and giving her enough autonomy to make her story at least somewhat satisfying to a contemporary reader accustomed to spunky girl protagonists. She didn’t bust out but she didn’t buckle under either. Delicate work!

The seesaw comes on the scene quite late in the book, and was my introduction to Korean-style seesaws. I think I read in an interview somewhere that Linda Sue Park had one in the backyard for her own kids!

Fan Service

battered old-style metal fan with Portland State College ID tag

Not sure why this fan showed up in my office this morning, but PSU hasn’t been Portland State College since 1969.

Monday Magpie: kidlit edition

Mary Anne, Dawn, Kristy, Stacy, and Claudia in front of a wooden fence, with text "Stoneybrook Revisited: A Baby-Sitters Club Fan Film"

A Baby-Sitters Club web mini-series (six parts of about five minutes each– oh wait, the last one is a “Super Special” and is 10 minutes, hee!) set ten years after the books ended. My fondness for it is mostly sentimental, but the last 15 seconds did make me laugh out loud.

Book cover and movie poster for The Hate U Give

Interview with Debra Cartwright on her cover illustration for The Hate U Give and the colorism evident in the movie poster version.

Friday Five: Not Off the Wall

I didn’t have access to Friday Five prompts when I felt like answering them today, so I started my own set: What (if anything) have you had on your walls, as a kid and now? But then I wrote until I had five parts of an answer to this one question, so I’m doing it wrong, oh well!

  1. My mom likes French Impressionist painting, so my sister and I had Renoir prints on the wall of our room. Mine was Girl With a Hoop and my sister’s was A Girl With a Watering Can.
    Girl With a Hoop, oil painting by Renoir

    me

    Girl With a Watering Can, oil painting by Renoir

    my sister

    In my head, Girl With a Hoop’s name was Louisa and she wasn’t that nice– a bit stuck-up when we talked. I never spoke to Girl With a Watering Can.

  2. I chose light blue when I moved into my own bedroom (formerly my mom’s sewing room) and got to pick the color. Later I wished I’d picked a glossier cream color, to go with the dark brown furniture. But I was five, five-year-olds don’t think about cream as a color or know about semi-gloss paint.
  3. Kidspirational posters (Hang In There!) that teachers gave away at the end of the year, calendar pictures, maps from National Geographic (Space and The Crusades were my favorites), magazine collages. I think I chose the magazine portraits for size and look as much as subject, which is why Philip Glass’ face is weirdly prominent in my mental landscape. (There was also Cher and… Steve Jobs?!)
  4. When I first arrived in Portland, my college orientation group rode the bus downtown (look for the brown beaver icon to find your way back!) and went to a cheap-imports store to get stuff for our dorm rooms. I knew I wanted a poster, but what would I not regret or tire of? Thus I spent my college years looking at a big photo of vegetables in a basket.
  5. Now the art on our walls is mostly pieces by Sanguinity and me and our friends and family. Sang’s yarn sheepdog over the bed (soft in case an earthquake dumps it on our heads), my portrait of her and Louie the dog as Athena and owl, Sang’s college drawings of a downtown church, a painting by her grandmother, a signed Dr. Eldritch comic, 3D pieces by Bookherd and Nicole hanging inside the IKEA bookshelves. I feel very rich in art. The living room also has a world map (but you have to stand on the sofa arm to read it closely) and a laminated periodic table. I think if our house has a decor, it’s “Classroom,” down to the clock.

Friday Five: Condiments

Oh wait, they’re not all about condiments. Still,

What is your favorite condiment?

Are pickles a condiment? I like pickles. I like pickle relish. On a hot dog I like yellow mustard, ketchup, and pickle relish.

Sour cream is also a great condiment.

What is your favorite spice?

Perhaps cumin, it’s so versatile. Although life without cinnamon is hard to imagine. But “favorite” is different from “hard to imagine life without it.”

I like the incursions smoked paprika has been making.

If herbs count, I’m excited about dill lately and have a dill plant out back in a flowerpot. I don’t know if it will get enough sun though.

What is your favorite cooking oil? (Canola oil, sesame oil, butter, etc)

I like butter. I also appreciate dishes with bacon where the bacon fat is used to cook other stuff in the dish.

What is your favorite starchy food? (Bread, rice, potatoes, noodles, etc)

Noodles! And crackers if those count. Noodles and crackers will get me through a lot.

What is your favorite flavor for candy?

Chocolate and mint together, maybe? I’m thinking Junior Mints. I also like licorice (including salted), pseudo-licorice like Red Vines, and candies involving peanut butter.

Friend

Cool new sculpture outside the art building on the college campus. Have not found info on title or artist.

sculpture of monster reaching through a metal square frame

Next is iced coffee and strawberries on the porch. This is the sweet season in Portland.

Five Things Meme

Five things you’ll find in my bag backpack:

  1. my fleece winter hat that I use as a cushioned pouch for lunch food
  2. ziploc “possibles bag” (i.e. things I might possibly need), currently has teabags, binder clip, quarter, bandaids, ibuprofen, antihistamine, dental floss
  3. eyeglass case containing tampons, ibuprofen, and spare pair of contacts in case I break my glasses and still need to drive somewhere
  4. drawing supplies: blue non-photo pencils, extra-fine sharpie, blank 4×6 index cards in a ziploc bag
  5. spare deodorant: Old Spice Deodorant for Nocturnal Creatures: Wolfthorn, which oddly smells exactly like lemon-lime soda

Five things you’ll find in my room:

  1. my alarm clock, a small battery-powered cheapie
  2. photo of sang and me in our opera duds in 1993, a stand-in for a wedding photo since we don’t have one. She’s in white tie (head shaved), I’m in her former prom dress.
  3. the small cedar box I made in woodshop in eighth grade, with a rose wood-burned on top: currently holds jewelry, much of it broken
  4. “rice socks” that are actually nicely sewn bags with slipcovers even, but we still call them that from when we used tube socks. Filled with rice for microwaving, essential for cold bedtimes.
  5. the Box of All Tapes (scotch tape, masking tape, painter’s tape, packing tape, doublestick tape) that got moved onto the bureau when the windows were being refurbished and never found another home.

Five of my favorite things:

  1. dogs
  2. trees
  3. chocolate milk
  4. library books
  5. mac and cheese

Five things I’m currently into:

  1. learning Japanese kanji and vocab at http://wanikani.com
  2. Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen’s Thief series. I’ve reread the first four and have now gotten to the one I haven’t read yet!
  3. berry season
  4. the front porch
  5. using https://checkvist.com for weekend and evening to-do lists

Five things on my to-do list:

  1. clean the gutters, figure out what the deal is with that one, and trim back encroaching tree limbs. Save bay leaves for shellynoir.
  2. email my parents. (a frequently listed item)
  3. finish that 1940s children’s book that’s overdue at the university library
  4. dishes (frequently listed item)
  5. try that barre workout DVD I checked out from the library

 

new bike 100 miles

Today I reached 100 miles of bike commuting (plus a few short errands) in May. I wouldn’t ordinarily keep track, but May is the bike commute challenge at work.

I am a lazy bike commuter– there’s secure parking in my building, so I ride in, leave the bike overnight and use my bus pass to get home, and ride the bike home the next day. It’s about 50 minutes to work and an hour home (homeward is uphill), and the one-way time commitment is all I really want.

I am loving my new bike, which I sprang for in celebration of completing 100 straight days writing on 750words.com.

stock photo of Priority Continuum Onyx bike

Things I love about my bike:

  • it has a kickstand
  • the lights are pedal-powered and integrated so I never have to decide whether to turn them on
  • the gearing is continuous so I don’t have to decide whether it’s worth changing gears or have a gear-shifting strategy
  • the belt drive is very quiet and grease-free
  • I can wear my normal clothes (hiking pants and running shoes, we have a very lax dress code) to commute

The gearing range is pretty small; I top out and bottom out on my commute. I’m slow, but I’m slow at lots of things so I don’t mind. In general, everything just works.

I like how absorbing riding a bike in the city is. I am busy and don’t have time to mull over something from work or whether I did the right thing six intersections ago. And my commute is on Clinton Street, which I love because the car diverters make it feel like Portland of 20 years ago except bike-centric, and then on the car-free bridge.