Wednesday, December 24

family matters.

Well, it's day two here up in Whitefish. Our plane landed with a sharp thud in 9 degree weather, and Nat got to see fluffy, puffy, powdery glittery snow for the first time. It was lovely. The rental car is like a spaceship, but whatever. Have already had some good times and some very tense moments with The Fam. It has warmed up today quite a bit; a balmy 21 degrees. The snow is falling off the trees in cascades, glittering the air.

Happy christmas eve to you all. Good luck to all others out there in the same situation i'm in. Trying to deal with a big family vacation is quite a balancing act. Not all of my presents have been shipped here yet, so not everybody will have something from me under the tree. But you know what? It's really not about that. It's the little things. Don't sweat 'em, and make sure to appreciate 'em. Life is definitely not rough, not by a long shot. And i even got to put tinsel on the tree, even though my sister (and Nat, i'm fairly sure) can't stand it. Woohoo!

Happy holidays to you all.

Saturday, December 20

Carrot cupcakes: Success!

So, i got a great bicep workout grating another cup and a half of carrots, and this time everything went swimmingly. Didn't over-walnut the batter or overbake the cakes themselves. Had a little less maple syrup than i wanted for the frosting, so i added some vanilla extract and grated nutmeg on top. Not as maple-y as i would have liked, but still delish!

But seriously, enough about baked goods already, heather. Here's the really interesting thing i have to tell you all:

It snowed here in Las Vegas.

No, seriously.

If we had flown out here just two days earlier, our flight would have been canceled because McCarran International Airport was clooooosed. Four inches in the city itself! Six in Henderson, nearby! And it stuck to the ground! When our plane began its descent, the mountains surrounding Vegas (on three sides) were completely covered in white. It was a brisk 44 degrees when we got to my mom's house, and the backyard had a nice thick layer of snow on it! I'm sure her cactus garden was like, wtf? But they'll survive. And their little cactus memories will always have the frosty winter of '08 to remember.

So of course, Nat and i made snowmen, and i found out something very wonderful indeed: he had never made one before! His first snowman, and it happened in Las Vegas! Unbelievable... you know, last time he was here it was 120 degrees out, and windy, and we felt like we were in a convection oven every time we stepped outside. Truly bizarre.

Anyway, since my mom has a digital camera, i might be able to put some of the photos up here.... yeah! There's your proof positive. Mine is the small, silly-looking one, and Nat's is twice as big and strangely buxom. It was much fun. They lasted the night, and we decided that if they were still standing in the morning that my brother could kick them down. (we all really wanted him to.) So today, their demise came. Leaves flew, rock "buttons" fell to the ground, only rocks once more. i think this was a prelude to our trip up North. i know that all of us were feeling a little unprepared, but now we have been ushered in to the time of snow. Some of you out there are already living it, i'm sure. It's just been awhile for us :) Can't wait to see it falling, though. There is nothing quite like it.

Happy December to all.

p.s.) sorry about the weird formatting- we had some issues getting the pictures on.

Tuesday, December 16

failed: carrot cake cupcakes.

What a bummer, because i could tell these would have been mighty tasty. Plus, it's harder than you might think to grate 1 1/2 cups of carrots on the small side of the grater... well, you win some, you lose some. Maybe i'll wake up tomorrow and make them again? And this time i won't put in too much oil... grr! It's the maple-cream cheese icing that's really driving me, anyway; maybe i should just make that and call it a day (and grab a spoon).

So San Diego had a rainy day on Sunday. And everyone fairly panicked about it; tonight and tomorrow more rain is expected, and boy are the emergency crews preparing... for the rain. Seriously, rain! Sprinkles, even. Yeah, this is definitely gonna be the "fierce winter storm" they love harping about. ::cough:: not. These people should maybe cover the ice storms in the Northeast, maybe then they'd calm down a little.

Found an H and an x tonight. The first was a fall(en) twig, the second was a perfectly symmetrical shadow. Swear i'm gonna get a digital camera soon, then all of this will be a tad more interesting.

Must be inwardly freaking out about The Holiday Trip To See the Family- i've got horrible blemishes on my face, as if i were attacked by bees, or mosquitoes. WTF? This is like the time that Nat and i took our trip to Europe (in 2004). When we took off from Pittsburgh, i was a-okay, dermatologically speaking. 7 hours later, when we landed in London? Yeah, not so nice. i had the ol' pizza face, and all it took was a trans-Atlantic flight! Good times. (and probably bad genes- no offense, mom and dad.) It's a good thing i'm already extraordinarily un-photogenic, because these are sure to be doozies.

Anywho, enough with the vanity. Have you all heard about the hole in Earth's magnetic field? Pretty interesting. Always nice to be humbled by the awesome forces of the universe...

And, we finally watched The Happening last night. Been looking forward to it since it was first released. Ay, chihuahua- what a disappointment. I'm not ashamed to say that i've enjoyed each M. Night Shyamalayan film i've seen (although strangely, not Unbreakable, so much), and that my favorite so far was The Village. Go ahead, judge me. But The Happening was just too much, or rather, too little. The acting was atrocious (who knew that Zooey Deschanel was The World's Worst Actress?), the directing was obviously off, and the script was actually laughable.
Sample scene (vague minor spoilers, but really, who cares?):
Marky Mark: "Ask [your daughter] if anything has happened in Princeton."
Woman talking to daughter on cell phone: "Has Princeton been affected?"
Unseen daughter on other end: [unintelligible answer]
Woman: "She says everyone outside is dead! (sob)"
Daughter: [something else we aren't allowed to hear]
Woman: "honey, just stay in that room..."
Daughter: [blah blah blah]
Woman: "...don't open that door for no one..."
Daughter: [blah blah]
Woman: "..just stay near the window..."
Marky Mark: (what seems like five minutes later) "Wait, are you telling me that everyone is dead?!"

...And that was quite possibly the biggest delayed-reaction line delivery that i've ever seen. Awful, awful stuff. I'm not sure if this can really be conveyed through type. The cockeyed nursery guy was the best character, and the crazy old lady absolutely should have been the twist ending that we all wanted to badly. Instead, we get a weak affirmation of the silly hypothesis that's been floating around the whole movie, like a dandelion puff trying to catch soil and take seed. Boooooo.

Um, time to go! i think our last Netflix rental will be the Puppet Film of Jiri Trinka, just because i don't think i'm going to be able to find that anywhere else. Know what i'm sayin'?

Sunday, December 14

The winds of change.

This has been one heck of a blustery day. Gusty, gusty... wind chimes i didn't even know existed are ringing out excitedly on balconies everywhere. The wind blowing through the screens on our windows makes a high-pitched howling sound, eerie to be sure. The curtains billow, the trees rustle and shake and molt their old leaves out into the air, gone forever. It's definitely starting to feel like winter, as much as it can down here in Southern California, anyway.

And we do what we can to bring it on home: i've gotta say, there's nothing like the smell of evergreens to bring you to a much happier place. When you live in an apartment in San Diego, surrounded by not much besides palm trees, succulents, and birds of paradise, a little indoor "outdoor" smell is one of the best things there is.

We did the same thing last year: went and bought (at Von's, ::cringe::) a few boughs of the fine-smelling stuff; fir, pine, cedar, spruce. Nat was remembering christmases growing up at his house in Gardena, when his mother would have candles lit and fresh greens strewn about the house. i thought it sounded like a fine and dandy idea, and it was. Our apartment smelled like a piquant wood somewhere far, far away. it was heavenly, and by that i mean, um, earthly.

The irony this year is that in about one week we will actually be traveling to a great source of never-ending woodliness: Montana.

Yep, i'm finally taking Nat up to the North. A little town named Whitefish, which is where i was born. Sadly, the hospital has been torn down by now, as well as the adorable trailer park that was right next door to it. We used to love looking for it as we approached town on Highway 93. ::sniff!:: Ah, memories of times gone by.

Anyway! So, yeeeaaahhh. (in Eddie Izzard voice.) Where was i? Oh yes- the forest. Yes, it will be all around us. My sister is cutting down a tree for us to decorate, and it should be, well, interesting to have the whole family in one place. Especially considering the mire of baggage and bad blood and dysfunction that threatens to suck us down into it if we're not careful. Let's just say that more than one of us (not me) has a rather short fuse. Poor Nat; if he makes it out alive he'll have quite a story to tell, of Christmas '08. Snowed in and snowed under.

But at least there are trees up there, damnit, and i mean great big, sweet-smelling baddies. i can't really wait, i guess. Does that mean i'm excited? To see my over-worked and over-stressed big sister? My ailing father, whose (doubtful) progress of recovering from his (bad) stroke two years ago will surely be measured when i walk through the door? The fur that will fly when my brother and sister start to go at it, opening up old wounds?

Yes, it will be just like old times... but one has to be positive, right? So i will look forward to the good things i remember: making coffee in the morning in the kitchen upstairs, watching the tiny ice particles fall from the snowy tree branches, like a shower of glitter in the morning sunlight. Seeing deer nibble away at the sparse bushes in the backyard. Grabbing the binoculars and watching the intrepid skiers schuss their way down Big Mountain, only 3 miles away. Taking a walk up our little road and seeing wild flocks of pheasant, grouse. The way the milk just tastes better up there.

Yeah, here's hopin' for the best.

In other news: saw a "T" today, in the tiny, tattered remnant of a plastic shopping bag in the hallway downstairs. Also, i think i finally succeeded in getting a cold to go away simply through the force of sheer will, which is very exciting. ::knock on wood:: And, well, listen to Chopin. i dare you.

Thursday, December 11

The girl with the parking lot eyes...

Sometimes a line just stays with you, you know? i love Neko Case's voice, and i love her song "Hold On, Hold On", but aside from that i can't really get into much else by her. i want to, but my ears aren't having it for some reason. But in "Margaret Vs. Pauline", when she sings that line (above), it just... hits me somewhere. i guess i see truck stops, and people who are sad and/or down on their luck. There's a poignancy there.

And while we're talking about songs that i like that i don't actually like, how about "Such Great Heights"? The first time i heard it, it was a hollow, jaunty little number they were playing on the radio in the afternoon. "Ehhhhhhhh... no." i thought, and immediately switched the station. The next time i heard it it was different: it was around midnight or midnight-thirty, on the program Big Sonic Chill, which we listen to constantly to aid Nat's studying habits. The song had been stripped down and slowed down considerably. Somehow it became an entirely different song, and one that was so melancholy and heavy to listen to. Apparently the original is by the Postal Service (bleh), and the sweet sweet cover is by Iron and Wine, a name that pops up from time to time in my musical ramblings, although i know very little about them.

How did i turn into someone who listens to so much freak folk singer-songwritery business? Not that i'm complaining, believe me. It's nice to venture down different avenues. And listening to "Carcass" by Siouxsie and the Banshees or "No. 13 Baby" by the Pixies or "I Wanna Sleep in Your Arms" by Jonathan Richman still gives me a thrill. But these days i'm leaning more and more towards the quieter stuff. Perhaps this correlates with my new-found (and depressing) low tolerance for scary horror movies? People, it just hurts the psyche too much!

i just need to be soothed, it seems. Works for me.

Also, have we talked about Wings of Desire yet? My current favorite film? Nat had seen it years ago and decided we should Netflick it. So um, yeah. i love it. i can see people hating it; it's extremely slow-paced, grainy-ish black and white, full of ponderous situations and quizzical dialogue/thought-processes. Wow, could that sentence have been any more complicated? But anyway, enough with the cons, let's talk about the pros:
1) Peter Falk playing himself.
2) a beautiful soundtrack, including otherworldly angel sounds and Nick Cave songs (he's even in it!),
3) fabulous plot regarding an angel who wants to be mortal,
4) stunning cinematography/set design,
5) flawless acting from all players,
6) a common thread weaving us all together.

See it! And if you can, for sure watch the extras at the end of the film, where they talk with Wim Wenders (director) and you find out all sorts of amazing stuff re: storybooking, filming, lighting, costume, plot, etc. A great companion to the film.

oh, and p.s.) Wim Wenders made the Buena Vista Social Club. Surprised? i certainly was. But also not, considering that i love that movie too.

Bye y'all!

Monday, December 8

Tilt-shift Photography.

Here is a singular video for you. It uses Tilt-shift photography, which is definitely my new favorite thing. Everything looks like a tiny model! But they are actually normal size! Fabulous.

Wish i had more time to post; nothing interesting to say anyway. Lost something special last night, hope it turns up. Gettin' along on scanning in photos, even though it is immensely time-consuming. Cropping, straightening, adjusting the size, etc. etc.


Tuesday, December 2

Ok, ok:

how about:

"Joe Misery, RN"?


"Mr. Joyensire"?

Two totally different sides of the coin, there. Righteous! Anyway, those are the best i could come up with. Do i have too much time on my hands? Naaaahhhh.

Monday, December 1

"Jeremy's.... iron."

..Does anyone remember that Simpsons episode? Where Lisa is given the (supposedly simple) task of anagrammatizing "Jeremy Irons" into a description of the man himself, and that is all she can come up with? Ever since, i have had that scene randomly pop into my head every once in awhile, and then i spend the next five minutes or so trying to figure it out in my head. Honestly, i don't even know if one exists! But it is the challenge, the challenge.

In other news: it's quite possible that i'm over my fear of flying. Which is good considering i've got a 4-leg trip ahead of me this x-mas. Flying with Virgin (the airline, you perv!) doesn't hurt, either. Does anyone know about this? How you get on the plane and there is weirdly soothing techno music playing, and purple and pink track lighting running down the entire length of the cabin? Also, you can play games or listen to music (and a fairly decent selection, actually!) or even watch TV for free? i found it to be very helpful, as it is basically a huge distraction mechanism on the seat in front of you. Although i suppose the double vodka-ginger ale i had before boarding probably did its share. I'll try and tackle the next flight sober and see how that goes.

Also: if you don't know what to get that hard-to-shop-for person this holiday season, how about something special? Also, Heifer International will set up a family in need (in a third world country) with a flock of chicks, a goat, a sheep or cow, rabbits, etc. so that they will have something to sustain themselves with, and to possibly sell as well. Nat's mom did this for me one x-mas and honestly, the feeling never left. i thought it was such a great thing to do. Enough with this buying tons of crap for people that probably don't need/won't use what you get them anyway. Here are a couple of other links as well.

Well! Now that all that's over with: how do you all feel about "tony" as an adjective? i kind of forgot how much i enjoy it. What else? Oh, here is a link to a Nina Hagen video that you should probably watch. No, seriously. You have never seen anything like it. Her voice is amazing. And her personal style is... well, it's even more amazing.

Okay, time to go check some student papers for plagiarism... the things we do for love!

Until next time, folks. Oh- and try and remind me that i'm quitting smoking this New Year's. Because i am.