Things Consumed

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Sunday, July 31, 2005

 

Apples

When we moved into our house here in SF, our garden was overgrown by ivy. There was so much ivy, that when I bought the house I hadnít even realized that we had a red-painted shed. The eight by ten foot shed was completely obscured, because the holly and apple trees around it were draped in thick, nearly impenetrable vines.

It took a few months to domesticate our inherited jungle, and free the once-domestic plants that had been covered in vines. The two apple trees were some of the least happy plants we uncovered. In our damp climate, right on the edge of the fog/sun line that divides the lower half of the City, the trees struggled to get enough light to live through the vines that had engulfed them. They had grown spindly in their attempts to reach upward faster than the vines could - a race the slow-growing trees were bound to lose. They grew moss. They grew lichen. They grew mold. Many branches were dead and growing fungus.

When S sawed off the nearly tree-sized vines from the bottom of the larger apple, climbed as high as he could and pulled down the drying vines, and cut off the overtly dead branches, we werenít sure there was enough living tree left over for it to survive. Even though the tree was as tall as our house, it had few leaves, more lichen, and in spring, just a handful of blossoms. Its short friend, grown nearby to encourage cross-pollination and fruit, didnít look any better.

But still, it worked up the energy to toss us a few apples. ĎJust to show us that it could. The first ones were small and bland. But by midsummer those were followed by small, sweet, delicious apples, with pale green skin shot through with bright red stripes.

We appreciated the gesture. We decided to give it a year or two to revive.

Now weíve been there three years, and while the tree doesnít look quite right , it seems to be making a gradual comeback. S has pruned it a bit more rigorously, and cut back an adjacent tree to give the tallest apple more light. It has been growing more leaves (though still not enough to develop a convincing canopy), and displaying more spring blossoms.

This week, it gave us some fabulous, sweet-tart, red-striped apples, the first of the year. Itís nice to receive such positive feedback from our efforts to revive the tree. I hope we succeed.
posted by Arlene (Beth)10:00 PM


Saturday, July 30, 2005

 

Sabbatical ends: film at 11.

In the middle of July, my self-awarded sabbatical came to a subtle end. I didnít make much of a fuss about it at the time, because it happened gradually enough to escape my notice.

This has been a foggy, wet summer in the Ingleside neighborhood where I live. My home, which I had considered to be on the very edge of the fog line in past years, has remained steadily immersed in fog nearly every day. For a photographer intent on contact printing in steady, reliable sunlight, this has been a discouragingly unproductive time period.

Conveniently, I received a pleasant contract assignment as the fog thickened. As a result, I have escaped my fog-bound neighborhood every weekday. Iím working Ďin-houseí in the legal department at a biotech company along the beautiful San Francisco Bay Trail (baytrail.abag.ca.gov).

The office is about fifteen steps from the trail itself, and has views of two marinas and a large expanse of sparkling water. I work indoors, performing educational and interesting factual research about the biopharmaceutical industry, periodically peeking out of the expansive glass walls to look for sailboats off on the horizon. I spend my lunches smothered in sunscreen, seated on a bench along the Bay Trail, watching long-legged, long-necked birds wading in shallow water.

I have seen an actual SEAL exploring the inlet here, from my favorite bench.

*

I knew this section of the Bay Trail before working here. When I lived in San Bruno and biked to downtown San Francisco once a week or so (rather than enjoying my usual multimodal, bike-train-bike commute), I discovered this section of the trail as a safe, quiet, attractive alternative to the portions of Bayshore Boulevard that exit the northeast end of South San Francisco.

I biked right past the building where I am currently working.

The Bay Trail is a fabulous thing. Itís intended to eventually circle the entire bay along the waterfront as a paved, well-maintained pedestrian and bicycle trail. The completed portions are great! There are interpretive signs explaining that a nearby inlet was part of a shipyard that manufactured Liberty Ships. There are explanations about what kinds of fish and birds live here, and discussions of what animals visit during their migrations. Plus, there are fresh bay breezes and views across the water.

*

Now I bike from my Ingleside home to the bay shore. My ride is shorter than my old route downtown, yet I manage to cross through four cities during my short, 7.1 mile ride. It isnít my route that is quirky: itís the arrangement of city boundaries.

Iíve been commuting downtown to work for years, so itís quite novel to be working anywhere else. There is even an odd bonus: the office development sponsors a free shuttle from the BART station nearest my house, to encourage us to come by shared transit, rather than private car. So on my lazy days, I also get hauled to work for free!

The only catch is that there arenít many places to eat, unlike downtown. But I am adjusting.
posted by Arlene (Beth)10:00 PM


Friday, July 29, 2005

 
Happy bike saftey trivia, at least for English cyclists: BBC NEWS | Magazine | Chain reaction: "...on average you would have to cycle non-stop for 96 years before you were killed. And the extra risk is offset by the health benefits."
posted by Arlene (Beth)10:46 PM

 
Grammar vandals: along the waterfront, there is a historic pier building which is being renovated. On a wooden construction barrier there is information about the project, and in enormous letters, the phrase, "An historic renovation."

Someone came along with a big, fat marker, and crossed through the "n" in "An." As they should (jimloy.com).

I love this town!
posted by Arlene (Beth)9:55 PM

 

Actual monologue about... well, things consumed

[scene: building restroom]
Woman1: So, do you know what a high colonic is? I was listening to this program on the radio, and they said that it cleans out all of these things you can't get out [of your system], like those Barbie shoes you swallowed when you were little. So I was thinking, I should get one. And I told [friend] about it, and she holds out this Barbie Shoe!!! And I say, WHERE did you get THAT?

posted by Arlene (Beth)9:52 PM


Thursday, July 28, 2005

 

A peculiar month of food

July has been an unusual month for my relationship with food. Not as one big, epic, food-saga with a clear plot: just lots of little, unrelated oddities.

*

I've been experimenting with my abundant supply of fresh Greek oregano, but have found it to be milder than I like.

My related experiment with lasagna, which included oregano & parsley pesto, imported Greek feta, black olives, spinach, onions, and tofu-ricotta, all covered in a mildly garlicky red sauce was... fine. But not great. And I was hoping for GREAT. So I'm holding that recipe back, until I can produce a better version.

*

My food volume consumption has changed rather dramatically. Now that my sabbatical is officially over (have I mentioned this?), and I am working outside of home, I am biking to work a few days a week. It's just 7.1 mostly downhill miles to work, and 7.1 mostly uphill miles back, but it's a BIG change from shuffling over to the 'home office' next to my bedroom in socks. ('More to come on these topics.)

Regular biking makes me RAVENOUS. It is exotic for me to stop thinking about, or consuming, food during the course of the day. My increased sense of food consumption "need" is amazing.

The office where I'm working stocks a variety of 25 cent snacks, and I am beginning to spend all of my change on snacking. Packaged food snacking. This is a kind of snacking I am unaccustomed to, since I'm usually the '3 apples plus oatmeal' or 'bgh-free cottage cheese and a banana' kind of snack person.

For example, this week I have sampled Nutter Butter Bites (tiny peanut butter cookies with peanut butter-ish filling) on the same day I sampled Junior Mints (which are not vegetarian, thanks to gelatin, but which I have a childhood memory of that I was attempting to revisit). This combination in the same afternoon made me ill. I've also shed change for honey roasted peanuts, Cheez-Its (my father's favorite), and Fritos (whose ingredients, corn, salt, and oil are much more reasonable than most processed foods... but still). This is leading in a bad direction, and despite my ravenous hunger, I know this isn't a direction I want to go in. I'll have to do a lot of advance planning, timely grocery shopping, and better bike bag packing to improve my snacking habits in my current work environment. [At the moment, I think my small bike bag could easily serve solely as a lunch bag, which is a sad thing.]

Also, I am mind-bogglingly thirsty, and now consume about 3 liters of herb tea daily, plus a few cups of electrolyte beverage. (This is up from about a liter of herb tea and a liter of water daily at the home office.) I could easily consume even more fluids, if I wasn't obligated to actually get work done.

I started to take up regular coffee drinking after taste testing the THREE available, full-caffeine blends in the office, but swore if off for lack of soy milk. But if I bring my own little containers of soy milk... All bets are off. I've been an irregular (2-3 times per week) coffee snob for years, but am currently out of practice.

*

I have learned that electrolyte beverage, which I purchase in powdered form from my favorite health food store, can prevent me from 'bonking' even in non-exercise situations. (Bonking is a low-blood-sugar induced exhaustion, often associated with not consuming enough calories during rigorous exercise.) So-called sports drinks have always contained lots of calories, but I'm beginning to realize that this stuff prevents the hunger headaches and shakiness that come with skipping meals. It is not a food substitute, but it can effectively tide me over when I need a little more time to get real food into myself.

*

My relationship with fried food has changed. In spring, I had noticed that eating deep fried foods, such as French fries, made me sick pretty routinely. I like the smell and taste of hot, crisp fries, but just couldn't eat them anymore. I was sure I'd have to give them up entirely.

Until... about two weeks ago. I started eating at a little cafeteria in Sierra Point that has a grill, and my veggie burger came with a side of fries. Which I ate, and which caused no harm.

Now I have even eaten CURLY FRIES without ill effect. I'm not sure what that means. I've been having fried foods about once a week, which is probably too often. But it's still NOVEL. (Curly fries!?!?!?)

*

My favorite pizza place has changed their sauce. This might not be a big deal to YOU, but it matters to me. This place had changed little since P was a child, and I liked it just the way it was.

This week, when I ordered a pizza while desperately hungry, my black olive, artichoke heart, and garlic pizza came with... anchovies instead of artichoke hearts. Even though I had repeated my order, with emphasis, on the phone, since the person taking the order didn't seem attentive. When the wrong pizza arrived and I asked S to check it, he stepped into a dark hallway, opened the box... and didn't actually look at it. Then he acted surprised when discovering, a moment later, that the suspicious smell was, in fact, coming from the wrong pizza. Despite this delay, we returned the pizza to the driver, and immediately called to request the correct pizza... and waited more than an hour, getting even hungrier, only to call and find out that the replacement pizza had been prepared... but not sent to me.

I'd initially ordered the pizza at 6:30; the correct pizza arrived shortly before 9.

That's a bad sign. I honestly hope they were just having a bad night. (As opposed to a bad year or future.)

*

My favorite local coffee house has either changed owners, or the owner who was always there suddenly found an entire family to hang out behind the counter to give him a break. I don't know what this means yet. I do know that the cookies are arranged more decoratively in the display case, and that the large mocha I had there was quite good.

*

I'll stop for now - it's past my bedtime. I'll write more about the glories of my four-city commute and my increased consumption of chipotle chilies when my eyes aren't so tired.
posted by Arlene (Beth)10:56 PM


Wednesday, July 27, 2005

 
Mars Talks Up Cocoa's Medicinal Potential (washingtonpost.com, 07/26/05). Yes, the chocolate company Mars has been paying scientists for years to research chocolate, hoping that there is SOMETHING in there which they can hype as "healthy."

It's not working yet, but darn it, they're spending lots of money!

*

Marion Nestle (the nutritionist, not the chocolate company) is quoted. Her book, Food Politics, discussed how trends toward healthy eating are immediately co-opted by industry, which attempts to relabel existing foods by pointing out some perceived healthy (or less unhealthy) aspect.

"Processed foods: now, with less uranium!"
posted by Arlene (Beth)11:14 PM


Wednesday, July 20, 2005

 
One of the best things about Google Moon - Lunar Landing Sites (moon.google.com), a page of satellite images of the moon posted in honor of the Apollo missions, is that if you zoom in closely enough... the moon turns into cheese.
posted by Arlene (Beth)10:13 PM


Tuesday, July 19, 2005

 
My colleague Monique, who is currently touring Asia, won't tell me what she's eating in detail (yak burger with what?), but she does report on what her pals are eating. Monique's travels :: China - Part 1 is a long entry which includes intriguing references to foods such as "Strange Tasting Horse Beans."
posted by Arlene (Beth)10:00 PM


Sunday, July 17, 2005

 
Oregano!! S wanted to be able to see the two paths that wind through our garden, and so asked if he could cut back my oregano plantings a bit. Both varieties were overgrowing their areas, and so I took an opportunity to cut them both back.

Suddenly, I have about three handfuls of two foot high, leafy oregano stalks.

Oh my. They smell SO GOOD.

I've spent the afternoon washing and separating the leaves from the stalks. I've made two batches of oregano pesto (parsley, garlic, olive oil, oregano; I will leave the Parmesan and pine nuts out, to add them decoratively later), and a dinner of buccatini (hollow spaghetti) pasta tossed in a sauce of hot olive oil, fresh minced oregano leaves, garlic, and fresh Greek feta.

Mmmmmmm.

I bought enough tomatoes to make a tomato-oregano pasta sauce, which might go into a lasagna with spinach, black olives, mozzarella, and oregano pesto-ricotta.

I also called a girlfriend over who lives nearby. She took a handful, and will marinate some meaty roast for a few days with it and a lot of garlic. Her description of the dish was abstract to me (I don't recall what pork tastes like, and even when I ate meat my family avoided it), but I understand the magic that garlic and oregano add to any dish.
posted by Arlene (Beth)9:22 PM

 
How can Iceland be Europe's biggest banana producer? Oh. Steam. Yes. Right. Everyone's favorite geothermal island is apparently affordable to get to, if not to visit. S sent me a link to Cool, hot Iceland / Packing puffins, geysers and the Blue Lagoon into a 72-hour stopover, by John Flinn (sfgate.com, 07/17/05), which reports the following:
Considering that Iceland is home to 60 percent of the world's puffins during the summer breeding season, seeing one wasn't as easy as I'd expected. At least not a live one: All over town I spotted the most adorable of all God's creatures on menus, where they're called lundi.
S' comment: "Puffin in the wild. Lundi on the plate." He had been making sad noises while reading. (He sounded much happier when he learned that puffins can fly and are auks.)

Puffins now go on the list of 'things it never, ever, ever would occur to me to eat.'

Though I must note that I have eaten a puffed wheat cereal of the same name. Which does NOT taste like anything other than puffed wheat. Which is a relief.
posted by Arlene (Beth)9:13 PM


Saturday, July 16, 2005

 
Memory lane: I finally had a chance to sit down and read some of the old school journals that my mother gave me recently. They go back to 1976 (earlier than I'd thought), and include some of my first school writing exercises.

I had found an old stash of my journals a few years ago, and had been disappointed that some of my earliest writing exercises from kindergarten, including drawings of ghosts for Halloween, weren't in that set. But they're here!!

In one of the later 1970s volumes, there are ACTUAL RECIPES.

I have no recollection of writing those. But I know their source: they are real recipes for simple dishes, like pancakes, or spaghetti with parsley sauce, from a class at San Francisco (First) Community School, which I attended from kindergarten through 5th grade. Spaghetti with parsley sauce (butter, olive oil, parsley, salt...) was probably the first dish I ever participated in making. I actually remember how exciting it was, what the classroom was like, how the food smelled... It was a revelation that I could COOK. I didn't get to act on that impulse on my own for many more years, but it was still incredible to understand what was required for food to be ready to eat.

Once I air these volumes out, I'll have to study them a bit more. Though I'm pretty sure those few recipes are the extent of my food writing for the '70s...
posted by Arlene (Beth)10:00 PM


Tuesday, July 12, 2005

 
The sun came out. I barely recognize it. It's not in the habit of hanging out around here...

I've been stuffing my face regularly, and cooking regularly, but haven't invented any new or ingenious dishes lately. And my partner has dropped all of his kitchen duties, which doesn't inspire me to cook, since it means my reward is having to do all the cleaning alone.

The batteries in the little, toy-like ice cream maker have died. You can't use rechargeables in this machine (they insist the rechargeables have trouble supplying power while in the freezer, where the machine operates), and it seems so wasteful to buy and toss poisonous batteries to make ice cream. I really DO think this little machine is part of a conspiracy by the makers of real ice cream machines to lure me in...

*

pale brown image of a church towerI have used little breaks in the clouds to experiment with kallitype printing, and managed to finish off the first batch of paper I'd prepared today. Kallitype is yet another sort of antique, "alternative" process that was once used to make photographic prints. Kallitypes aren't commonly found in museums labeled as such: they were often toned in platinum, and then passed off as platinum prints, which were more popular and valued. The ability to tone the prints in platinum and the look of samples I've seen made the process appeal to me for some of my architectural photography, especially those involving brick buildings.

My three printing experiments haven't gone very well so far, and I'm already low on developer. The first batch suffered some accidents (wind versus paper), and looked split-toned and murky in the sepia developer. The second batch used a black tone developer and turned out well, though my borax solution had settled out too much borax to make a convincing black.eave detail from an elaborate Victorian style home A few of the images are blotchy or streaked, as if the sensitizer absorbed unevenly into the paper. The third batch employed transparency negatives, instead of vellum, to see if I could increase the contrast that way. I could not. Heating the borax solution helped to redissolve it, and I used the solution generously, but the prints are still brown. Those prints hanging to dry now.

I'm posting a few sample prints up at aegraves.com | Kallitypes, but won't post a link to the main page until I have a larger set of successful prints. Preferably, some with REAL contrast. I will experiment with both dichromate and paper sizing to see what effects I can achieve. I have also purchased some gold toner, to see what any real 'keepers' look like toned in gold, which will change their appearance and make the prints archivally stable.

While I like the look of these prints, I really like to achieve DARK black tones. I know there is quite a range of results possible from looking at alternativephotography.com's kallitype galleries -- almost each sample of an artist's work differs wildly from the others, even though they're all using the same basic process. [Postscript: well, actually, they're NOT all using the same process. There is another way to make "brown prints" that uses a different chemistry. That one is called Van Dyke, and it's quite different in contrast and color. The names for the brown-print processes have often been used interchangeably, however. Some of the "kallitypes" in this gallery are made with the other process.]

I would really like to produce some that look as rich and coffee-colored as Phillipe Moroux's Nine Kallitypes (www.xs4all.nl/~moroux), which I have admired again and again since finding his page.

The more I experiment, the more I want to know, which leads to more experiments...
posted by Arlene (Beth)3:07 PM


Monday, July 11, 2005

 
I've updated my "portfolio" website, www.aegraves.com | Elizabeth Graves Photography, yet again. I've revised the gum bichromate images, now that I have a wider range of experiments to post. I've also added two new galleries: "night" and "photograms." So now there are eight galleries up.

*

It looks like my kallitype gallery won't be possible for a long time. Here on the edge of the fog belt, the summer fog has only relented for a few hours on 3 days, and I only had a chance to make kallitype exposure test strips during one of those days. So it will be a while before I have a chance to try all of my developing formula options and get some substantive printing done.

*

a masked man marching among a myriad of balloon covered figures at PRIDE 2005Here at teahousehome.com, I'm not posting a gallery of images from PRIDE 2005, because my images are a bit too typical, with two exceptions. One is too abstract to be associated with anything in particular. I'll post the other here.

My cousin has some great images of PRIDE revelers and parade participants up here (www.olliegraves.com).
posted by Arlene (Beth)12:18 PM

 
All-American Freedom Food: see Jen Sorenson's Slowpoke - "PC Food" (www.people.virginia.edu/~jls6c).
posted by Arlene (Beth)8:26 AM


Saturday, July 09, 2005

 
I am happy to announce that I am a finalist in the TCB Cafe Press/Cafe Andre Photography Competition 2005 : JURIED PHOTO CONTEST (cafeandre.com). I have winning entries in the category "Orchid Chic: Passion, Fashion & Orchids." (Yes, I entered under my middle name.) My work will appear in the book that results, and may appear in promotional materials associated with the book.

I'll send additional links later in the year, as the process advances.
posted by Arlene (Beth)8:11 AM


Friday, July 08, 2005

 
I interpret this article to be praise for my sabbatical specifically: Why Do You Work So Hard? / Is it maybe time to quit your safe job and follow your path and infuriate the establishment? By Mark Morford (sfgate.com, 07/08/05). Not that infuriating the establishment is necessary, mind you. Doing something good for yourself, regardless of what 'the establishment' thinks, is the essential part.
posted by Arlene (Beth)10:07 AM

 
Farmers demand a ban on the term 'couch potato' (timesonline.com, 06/20/05):
The British Potato Council wants the expression stripped from the Oxford English Dictionary and replaced in everyday speech with the term 'couch slouch'. It says the phrase makes the vegetable seem unhealthy and is bad for its image.
This article notes that this is merely a publicity stunt for the Potato Council, since the OED doesn't remove words. It's a pretty silly publicity stunt. But charming, in a silly way.
posted by Arlene (Beth)8:51 AM


Thursday, July 07, 2005

 
Summer in a Jar (washingtonpost.com) provides recipes for jams with relatively low or no sugar content, thanks to improved pectins.

I've never made my own jam, though I have been lucky enough to always have friends who do so. :-) Which is a nice arrangement. Just the same, with berries and summer fruits of all kinds being so wonderful right now, and with S finally getting into the weekend habit of making me pancakes, I'm keeping this link handy.
posted by Arlene (Beth)9:49 PM

 
Finland Diary: the Washington Post sent reporters to Finland to figure out why the small nation has such darned good schools, and to report generally on how the Finns live. This article was bound to include references to food, so I read it.

At times, Finland comes across as nearly utopian. There is a truly level playing field for education, in which everyone gets a free education based on their abilities, rather than merely their ability to pay. The state is pro-family not just in rhetoric, but in providing opportunities for families to spend time together through generous, paid parental leave policies, subsidized baby clothes, excellent free prenatal care, excellent schools, excellent day care... Things which the "family values" crowd in the US never support. Well-to-do people explain that they more than get their money's worth out of the high taxes they pay. Someone observes that the U.S. pays more per person for health care, but gets so much less than the universal care Finns enjoy. At one point, the reporter asks about how they achieved gender equity in education and play for children, and had a hard time getting an answer, because the people being asked couldn't understand how it was possible to NOT have gender equity.

Finland does have its problems. There are issues of nationalism, of a large aged population which will be supported by a much smaller working population, a lack of opportunities for some times of innovation, high rates of alcoholism. But Finland certainly has reached consensus on a variety of issues, figured out how to make priority elements of a healthy society work, and got the work needed done. So there are 'best practices' that the U.S. could certainly learn from.

The article doesn't talk enough about food, however. :-)
posted by Arlene (Beth)4:20 PM

 
Evil followed by barbarity: I woke up this morning to the terrible news of the bomb blasts in London on the BBC website. As I read the articles and scanned the splash page, I noticed an item which was entirely too prominent to be tasteful. It was BBC NEWS | Business | Blasts 'won't shake UK economy', which contained comments like:
The economic impact and disruption of the explosions in London is likely to be minimal and brief, analysts said. Despite a slump in share prices, oil costs and the pound, financial markets should recover once the threat has passed and extent of damage is clear....

Traders in the financial markets said that they reacted quickly to the news of the blast, selling shares in firms likely to be affected such as insurance companies and travel agents.
I think I wasn't the only one who was disgusted, because a short time later, when I refreshed the page, the 'we only care about business' article had been replaced with the far superior BBC NEWS | Africa | G8 summit diary, an account from Kenyan journalist John Kemau's point of view of the gathering of the world's wealthiest nations/state-heads, who make decisions about Africa without involving actual Africans.

My heart goes out to all the people traumatized by this event. And to the victims of ALL the terrible events going on around the world which never make the front page of the BBC, due to politics.

*

A friend's statements just yesterday about a threatened local transit labor strike being the end of the world, and the ridiculousness of safety-related demands/implications, have been given a completely new context.
posted by Arlene (Beth)10:34 AM


Monday, July 04, 2005

 
green fireworks lighting San Francisco's Fort Mason CenterHappy Independence Day! I've posted a gallery of firework(s) images here.

The 4th of July was a long day, spent painting a friend's apartment and eating.

I liked the eating part best.

And the soy latté. That was also wonderful.

Places we dined: Lucca Delicatessen (delicious sandwiches; they also sell pasta shapes that I haven't yet used to make cyanotypes); Andalé (tasty, very moist burritos); and Peet's Coffee, all on Chesnut Street, just a short walk from my friend's place.

As an added bonus, this has been the ONLY morning with sunshine at my home since June 15th, so I got a few cyanotype prints in before heading over to the painting party. Tufts of fog passed over several times, sabotaging several of my efforts, but one I've been very eager to print came out BEAUTIFULLY. So that made me a happy camper all day, and THEN came all the food!
posted by Arlene (Beth)10:00 PM


Sunday, July 03, 2005

 
You are what you read: This fascinates me: Fraenkel Gallery: Publications: Diane Arbus: Libraries. At the Revelations show of Arbus' work, her library was displayed in a series of rooms with her cameras and a timeline of events and notebooks. I thought it was terribly cool to show the books of a photographer who was so interested in words.

I'm not the only one who liked this idea, because now there is a small BOOK about her collection of books. Which seems appropriate.

*

The idea of having a personal archive of letters, books, notebooks, photographs, and the other inputs and outputs of a creative life, is very interesting to me. I am a prolific writer (feign surprise), and have been for many years. I fill so many notebooks, I've had to take up bookbinding just to keep myself supplied.

My mother recently wanted an old trunk of mine, and so I had to empty it and bring the contents home. It contains all of the letters I received from 1984 to about 1990, plus notebooks and diaries dating back to about 1977.

My partner, S, was not thrilled that I received these things. S believes that I have too many books and papers. As someone who always dreamed of developing a vast, highly selective, and very personal library, I can't even begin to comprehend what he's trying to say. I suspect that if I package all of these materials creatively and attractively, he will object less than he does to the current piles of small boxes, shelves filled with handwriting-filled notebooks, boxes of magazines, and envelopes overflowing with clippings.

I'll consider doing something about that in my spare time, while I'm resting. (Ha.)
posted by Arlene (Beth)4:38 PM

 
Lovely sea and skyscapes: photo-eye | Gaylen Morgan (photoeye.com).
posted by Arlene (Beth)9:53 AM


Friday, July 01, 2005

 
Larry posted Meme: Banned Books on his website, with the following instructions:
Here's a list of the top 110 banned books. Bold the ones you've read. Italicize the ones you've read part of. Put an exclamation point by the ones you've never heard of before. Read more. Convince others to read some. (Meme via Journeywoman.)
First thought: Look! No cookbooks were banned!

Second thought: This list makes me feel like I haven't done a whole lot of reading. My reading tastes and patterns have led me to a lot of contemporary work, which perhaps came out too late to ban, or was too "light" and future-oriented to elicit any attention. I'm the sort of person who devotes hours every week to reading REVIEWS of books, especially books on topics I'm not especially interested in. Sometimes, the review MAKES me interested. (This is especially true for book reviews in the Nation.) But again, the reviews are all of NEW works, unlikely to have had a rough time with censors of the past.

I always have such a long 'to read' list, and long ago realized it's unlikely I'll ever be satisfied that I've read 'enough.'

Anyway, back to the list:

#1 The Bible. I was going to bold it, but even though I felt like I read it forever, I didn't read it cover to cover. I tried to, but school got in the way. Which was for the best, really.
#2 Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
#3 Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
#4 The Koran
#5 Arabian Nights
#6 Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
#7 Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
#8 Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer (I didn't understand the language, however.)
#9 Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
#10 Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
#11 The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
#12 Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
#13 Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
#14 Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
#15 Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
#16 Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
#17 Dracula by Bram Stoker
#18 Autobiography by Benjamin Franklin
#19 Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
#20 Essays by Michel de Montaigne - !
#21 Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
#22 History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
#23 Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
#24 Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
#25 Ulysses by James Joyce
#26 Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio - !
#27 Animal Farm by George Orwell
#28 Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
#29 Candide by Voltaire
#30 To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
#31 Analects by Confucius
#32 Dubliners by James Joyce
#33 Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
#34 Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
#35 Red and the Black by Stendhal
#36 Das Kapital by Karl Marx
#37 Les Fleurs du Mal by Charles Baudelaire - !
#38 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
#39 Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H. Lawrence
#40 Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
#41 Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser
#42 Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
#43 Jungle by Upton Sinclair
#44 All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
#45 Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx
#46 Lord of the Flies by William Golding
#47 Diary by Samuel Pepys - !
#48 Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
#49 Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy - !
#50 Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury - !
#51 Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
#52 Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant
#53 One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
#54 Praise of Folly by Desiderius Erasmus - !
#55 Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
#56 Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X
#57 Color Purple by Alice Walker
#58 Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
#59 Essay Concerning Human Understanding by John Locke - !
#60 Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
#61 Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe
#62 One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn - !
#63 East of Eden by John Steinbeck
#64 Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
#65 I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
#66 Confessions by Jean Jacques Rousseau - !
#67 Gargantua and Pantagruel by Francois Rabelais - !
#68 Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes - !
#69 The Talmud
#70 Social Contract by Jean Jacques Rousseau - !
#71 Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson - !
#72 Women in Love by D. H. Lawrence
#73 American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser - !
#74 Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler
#75 Separate Peace by John Knowles - !
#76 Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
#77 Red Pony by John Steinbeck - !
#78 Popol Vuh
#79 Affluent Society by John Kenneth Galbraith - !
#80 Satyricon by Petronius - !
#81 James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
#82 Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
#83 Black Boy by Richard Wright
#84 Spirit of the Laws by Charles de Second et Baron de Montesquieu - !
#85 Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
#86 Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George - !
#87 Metaphysics by Aristotle - !
#88 Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
#89 Institutes of the Christian Religion by Jean Calvin - !
#90 Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse
#91 Power and the Glory by Graham Greene
#92 Sanctuary by William Faulkner
#93 As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
#94 Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin
#95 Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
#96 Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe - !
#97 General Introduction to Psychoanalysis by Sigmund Freud
#98 Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
#99 Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Alexander Brown (my teacher for Native American history advised me that this account differs from the accounts of other Native Americans at the scene substantively, and is thus unreliable, though surely sincere)
#100 Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
#101 Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest J. Gaines - !
#102 Emile Jean by Jacques Rousseau - !
#103 Nana by Emile Zola - !
#104 Chocolate War by Robert Cormier - !
#105 Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin
#106 Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn - !
#107 Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
#108 Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Peck
#109 Ox-Bow Incident by Walter Van Tilburg Clark - !
#110 Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

I've surely read excerpts of more of these than I'm giving myself credit for, but figure that if they didn't make an impression on me (because I was reading right before school exams, or in the delirium of exams), that doesn't count.

*

This list might be more fun if we knew WHY the books were banned. I read a book banned in the Soviet Union because it was unflattering to the state, and... it wasn't all that good. It's threat to the establishment wasn't enough to make it engaging to me. I had to force myself to finish it.

So I'm uncertain that, without that information, this should be appended to my reading list. I'll think about it. My reading tends to follow themes and leads, much as web reading does. Reading raises questions about some topic I'd like to study in more depth, which leads to more questions, and more reading...
posted by Arlene (Beth)9:00 AM


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