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Archive for the category “Celebration”

celebrating the world of typography

fonts1Are you old enough to remember manual typewriters? If you wanted to produce decent-looking print material back then, you actually had to have it professionally typeset and printed. Selectric typewriters made proportional fonts possible, but they were no threat to printing professionals. During the selectric-typewriter age, I worked for a book publisher in San Francisco where I spent a fair amount of time editing proofs. And for quite a few years after that, I continued interacting with printing companies.

The introduction of word processors and then personal computers didn’t initially have any effect on the traditional print process. But enter Apple computers, and all of that changed in a very short time. Adobe started making fonts—and font families—available for Apple computers, and in short order, I was totally on their hook. I drooled over the Adobe font catalog trying to decide which fonts to buy. (I mean these fonts could actually be mine!) After making my decision, I went to the Apple store to purchase them, after which I had to manually install them on my computer.

Somewhere I came across a bumper sticker that read, “He who dies with the most fonts wins.” I put it up in my office. Because I intended to win.

I work on a PC now, and the graphic interface just isn’t as good as a Mac’s. I’ve learned to live with it, but I don’t like it. Yes, I have access to far more fonts now than I did 25 years ago when I had to go to the Apple store to pick them out one or two at a time. But printing from a PC leaves a lot to be desired when compared to either printing from a Mac or professional typesetting.

fonts2Occasionally I indulge myself by “leafing through” some of the online font catalogs reacquainting myself with some old favorite: Antique Olive, ITC Berkeley Oldstyle, Friz Quadrata, ITC Novarese, Nueva (used in the photo on the right), Ocean Sans, and Optima. There’s something about the shape and proportion of letters that I think I’ve always paid attention to—sometimes more than to the actual words or even the meaning. It’s not unusual for me to check out what font was used in a book I’m reading.

Typography is something most of us ordinarily take for granted. So I’m celebrating typography today, along with the artists who design typefaces, because beautiful typography has added a dimension of pleasure to my life for many decades. Maybe it has done the same for you without your being aware of it.

This post is part of April’s 30 Days of Celebration. To read more, click on the Celebration category link.

celebrating a few beloved books

BD1234-001There’s something wonderful, both comfortable and exciting, about rereading a favorite novel. I know people who claim never to read a book (or watch a movie) more than once. I believe them, but I don’t understand them at all. It’s impossible to get all there is to get from a really good book after a single reading. You might as well say you’ve heard that piece of music before so you’re never going to listen to it again. That makes no sense.

I’ve read all of these books more than once. In the case of One Hundred Years of Solitude, I’ve lost count of the number of rereadings. (But I can remember some of the physical locations I was in when I read it.) The writing still entrances. The characters still live. The story still captures my attention.

But first…

Early November. It’s nine o’clock. The titmice are banging against the window. Sometimes they fly dizzily off after the impact, other times they fall and lie struggling in the new snow until they can take off again. I don’t know what they want that I have. I look out the window at the forest. There is a reddish light over the trees by the lake. It is starting to blow. I can see the shape of the wind on the water.

—Per Petterson, Out Stealing Horses

Birdsong strikes up and musters in the first soft press of dawn. Starlings, sparrows, magpies, meadowlarks, blackbirds. There is the flush and shuffle of feathers. Throat tunings. The hollowing chitter of beaks. Bursts of flight. Wrens, flycatchers, cowbirds, crows. Complaint. Exultation. They work the meadow grass, the cottonwoods along the creek, the open barnloft, alive in tilting sweeps of hand-size shadows. The raptors float silently a thousand feet above, turning, spiraling atop the early-morning thermals, hunting the edge of the ebbing night.

—Mark Spragg, The Fruit of Stone

The accused man, Kabuo Miyamoto, sat proudly upright with a rigid grace, his palms placed softly on the defendant’s table—the posture of a man who has detached himself insofar as this is possible at his own trial. Some in the gallery would later say that his stillness suggested a disdain for the proceedings; others felt certain it veiled a fear of the verdict that was to come. Whichever it was, Kabuo showed nothing—not even a flicker of the eyes. He was dressed in a white shirt worn buttoned to the throat and gray, neatly pressed trousers. His figure, especially the neck and shoulders, communicated the impression of irrefutable physical strength and of precise, even imperial bearing. Kabuo’s features were smooth and angular; his hair had been cropped close to his skull in a manner that made its musculature prominent. In the face of the charge that had been leveled against him he sat with his dark eyes trained straight ahead and did not appear moved at all.

—David Guterson, Snow Falling on Cedars

Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice. At that time Macondo was a village of twenty adobe houses, built on the bank of a river of clear water that ran along a bed of polished stones, which were white and enormous, like prehistoric eggs. The world was so recent that many things lacked names, and in order to indicate them it was necessary to point. Every year during the month of March a family of ragged gypsies would set up their tents near the village, and with a great uproar of pipes and kettledrums they would display new inventions.

—Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

May in Ayemenem is a hot, brooding month. The days are long and humid. The river shrinks and black crows gorge on bright mangoes in still, dustgreen trees. Red bananas ripen. Jackfruits burst. Dissolute bluebottles hum vacuously in the fruity air. Then they stun themselves against clear windowpanes and die, fatly baffled in the sun.

The nights are clear, but suffused with sloth and sullen expectation.

—Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things

In order to pay off an old debt that someone else had contracted, Austin King had said yes when he knew that he ought to have said no, and now at five o’clock of a July afternoon he saw the grinning face of trouble everywhere he turned. The house was full of strangers from Mississippi; within an hour the friends and neighbours he had invited to an evening party would begin ringing the doorbell; and his wife (whom he loved) was not speaking to him.

—William Maxwell, Time Will Darken It

Glorious! Now I just have to decide which one of these stories to delve into again next.

How do you feel about rereading books? Do you have favorites that you’ve reread more than once?

This post is part of April’s 30 Days of Celebration. To read more, click on the Celebration category link.

celebrating bright things redux

sparkleThe world is full of poetry.
The air is living with its spirit;
and the waves dance
to the music of its melodies,
and sparkle in its brightness.

–James Gates Percival

One cold, dark winter afternoon when the temperature never rose above freezing all day and I felt trapped inside my office in front of my computer, I looked around the room at all the bright things I’ve put here.

I won’t go so far as to say say my world is full of poetry right now, but there’s a hint of its brightness here and there.











Vase (underwater upside down)

Vase (underwater upside down)

Reality (ala Brian Andreas)

Reality (ala Brian Andreas)

Good Advice!

Good Advice!

A bit of brightness landed on that one. Happy Saturday!

Note: This was originally published in January 2013. If anything, my office (a/k/a my playroom, at least on a good day) is filled with even more bright things.

This post is part of April’s 30 Days of Celebration. To read more, click on the Celebration category link.

celebrating Naima

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is my cat, Naima—the cat I definitely was not going to get. First of all, I wasn’t going to get another cat, period, after Tashi (my previous cat) died. Secondly, I certainly wasn’t going to get a kitten. But three months without a cat wore down my cat-free insistence. After some deliberation, I decided a 1-1/2 to 2-year old cat would be a good idea.

So off I went to Animal Humane in search of a young adult female. Unfortunately, the gal who was assisting me had to go in search of keys to unlock the doors of the individual rooms in La Casa de Los Gatos, and she left me standing in front of a room full of kittens. When she returned a long five minutes later, she went right to that door and opened it. Of course, I followed her inside.

Naima4And there was my cat—a 3-1/2 month old kitten—curled up next to a look-alike sibling. The difference between the two was that my cat got up, stretched, and went off in search of a bite to eat, checking first one food bowl and then another (a cat with a mind of her own) till she found one to her liking. When I picked her up, she immediately started licking my arm. Sold! I said and adopted her on the spot.

There are so many things to celebrate about Naima, also known as Naima-the-Wonderful and Best-Cat-Ever! She’s ridiculously smart, extremely well-trained, and sleeps through the night (usually curled against my legs). She is more amusing than any other cat I’ve had. She’s quite affectionate and interactive and greets me whenever I come home. And she’s damn cute, not to mention cross-eyed. Here she is in action:

Every morning after breakfast, I take my coffee into my bedroom and sit in the comfy wicker chair by the window. Naima jumps into my lap and hangs out with me, sometimes getting brushed, sometimes watching birds in the yard or keeping an eye on the neighborhood activity. It’s the perfect way to start a day, every day.

Naima will be five years old this summer. I will celebrate by getting her another catnip filled fluorescent green plush mouse. She will love it.

Do you have a furry or feathered friend to celebrate?

This post is part of April’s 30 Days of Celebration. To read more, click on the Celebration category link.

celebrating the senses: smell

roasting chilesSmell is different from our other senses. It has a direct connection to the brain, and its signals are in a hurry (per John Medina, author of Brain Rules). Smell immediately stimulates our emotions. But we don’t all like or dislike the same odors or feel the same emotions when we experience them.

One of my favorite smells is green chiles (yes, that’s the correct spelling) roasting outdoors in the fall. Come August or September in Albuquerque, chile roasters spring up all over the place. You can sometimes get a whiff as you drive past one. The local Whole Foods operates a couple of roasters right outside the front door. I’ve been known to stand in front of them with my eyes closed breathing in the intoxicating aroma. It’s too bad the internet isn’t scratch-and-sniff capable. I’ve yet to encounter anyone who actively dislikes the smell of roasting green chiles—or at least who’s willing to admit it.

coffeeOther smells I love are coffee, pine trees, rain on hot pavement, strawberries, jasmine and gardenia (both in moderation), wood smoke, popcorn, rosemary, citrus, ginger, and libraries.

cilantroBut my second favorite thing to smell, after roasting green chiles, is cilantro—which also makes the list of my favorite tastes. Every time I rinse a bunch of cilantro leaves I have to stop and inhale the scent before using them. Cilantro used to come in at number one but got bumped down a notch after I moved to New Mexico and got my first sniff of roasting green chiles. If either of those scents could be bottled, that’s probably what I’d be wearing, so maybe it’s good they aren’t available.

In thinking about celebrating the sense of smell, I’ve realized that although I go out of my way to create a visually appealing environment for myself, I don’t put much thought into the way things smell. I’ve fallen out of the habit of using essential oils on a regular basis, maybe as a result of getting a curious kitten. But the kitten is going on five years old, so I think it’s time to bring out the tea lights and the oil burner and reintroduce some celebratory scents to my space.

What are your favorite things to smell?

This post is part of April’s 30 Days of Celebration. To read more, click on the Celebration category link.

celebrating jazz appreciation month

jazz appreciation monthJazz Appreciation Month was created 13 years ago at the Smithsonian, which considerately provides this list of 112 ways to celebrate jazz. My own appreciation for jazz developed late in life. Although my partner of 30 years was a professional jazz musician, I’m just a little bit resistant and considered jazz to be his music. I didn’t listen to much of it at all.

But a character in a story I was writing turned out to be a big jazz fan. I knew enough to make the guy’s interest in jazz believable, but somewhere along the re-write route—a few years after my partner died—I started along my own path to becoming an actual jazz fan.

If my partner were around to compare notes (sorry!) now, we would probably discover some shared interests, although he might be a bit surprised to learn that I named the cat I have now Naima, after the John Coltrane tune of the same name.

I’m sure we would also find that our preferences don’t completely overlap. For example, I’m a huge Sonny Rollins fan, and I can’t recall ever seeing a Sonny Rollins LP or CD among my partner’s music collection.

Jazz has all kinds of moods, high and low, fast and slow, sunny and blue. But this post is about celebration, so I give you the most celebratory Sonny Rollins tune of all, Don’t Stop the Carnival, performed live at the International Jazz Festival in Montreal in 1982. Simply joyous! So please enjoy it.

This post is part of April’s 30 Days of Celebration. To read more, click on the Celebration category link.

celebrating with Fiesta ware!

fiestawareThis isn’t the inside of one of my kitchen cupboards, but it’s close enough. Fiesta ware—known affectionately by those of us who collect it as “kitchen crack”—makes everything that involves dishes a celebration. That includes emptying the dishwasher because, of course, it’s full of Fiesta ware goodness.

fiestaware2Exchanging all of my more practical and mundane dishes for Fiesta ware has definitely added the element of celebration to my life on a daily basis. No matter how preoccupied I am or how low my mood may be, when I open a cupboard to get out a bowl or plate I always stop for at least a few seconds to gaze upon all the beautiful dishes.

The only thing I don’t understand about Fiesta ware is why anyone would intentionally choose black, white, or ivory. Doesn’t that defeat the festive purpose?

fiestaware3Choosing a color or putting different colors together never gets old. The enjoyment, like the colors, never fades.

Everyone should have at least some Fiesta ware in their lives. But beware. This stuff really is addicting. I’m fortunate to have a relatively small kitchen; otherwise, I don’t think I would have been able to stop when I did.

Is there something in your home that gives you a feeling of celebration every day? (And if you don’t have any Fiesta ware, don’t you want some now…maybe a small fruit bowl or a little bread and butter plate?)

This post is part of April’s 30 Days of Celebration. To read more, click on the Celebration category link.

celebrating special occasions

lensicLast week a friend treated me to what turned out to be an outstanding performance by Mary Chapin Carpenter at the Lensic Performing Arts Center in Santa Fe. I haven’t heard any live music since last summer and I’d never been to the Lensic before, even though it’s directly across the street from one of my favorite places to eat in Santa Fe, The San Francisco Street Bar and Grill.

The concert was a benefit for the Espanola Valley Humane Society, so we were treated to a revolving selection of adorable cat and dog photos on the screen at the back of the stage before the show started. It was great to learn afterward that the money raised far exceeded the evening’s goal. I’m always up for celebrating cats—and dogs are OK, too.

mary chapin carpenterIt’s been more than two decades since I owned a Mary Chapin Carpenter CD. And my musical tastes have taken a lot of twists and turns since then. I’ve gotten quite a bit older and so has she. But in comparing her live performance with some of the studio recordings from her younger days, I’ve decided I much prefer her more mature voice.

She and the two musicians in her band are extremely talented musicians and performers who had the audience from the first number and kept it all the way through the show. I stayed out past my bedtime (it was the middle of the week, and I had work-related appointments the next morning), but it was well worth it. After all, I had another opportunity to sleep the very next night but not to hear this great music again.

Thank you, John!

This post is part of April’s 30 Days of Celebration. To read more, click on the Celebration category link.

celebrating red shoes (the angels wanna wear my)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI have to buy shoes online (narrow feet), so to avoid the hassle of returning the ones that don’t fit, I’ve settled on a couple tried-and-true brands. Back in the day, I had a pair of Enzo Angiolini Liberty flats in two-toned purple that I loved, as much as one can love a shoe, and finally wore out.

This style still comes in an amazing variety of colors—and in my size—but, alas, no more purple.

However, they do have this fantastic chili pepper red. As soon as I saw them, I had to admit that I really, really wanted a pair of red shoes. But red shoes seemed like an indulgence. They were definitely something I could do without, so I kept doing without them.

This spring, when I found them at half price, I went for it and indulged my desire for red shoes. They have turned out to be a celebration not only when I wear them but whenever I see them in my closet.

I used to be disgusted, and now I try to be amused.

The red shoes definitely help!

Is there something, shoe or other-wise, that you’re happy you indulged in—or that you want to?

This post is part of April’s 30 Days of Celebration. To read more, click on the Celebration category link.

to celebrate the waking, wake

Muriel RukeyserIt’s National Poetry Month!

To celebrate, here is a poem by Muriel Rukeyser.

She’s the author of my all-time favorite quote: The world is made of stories, not of atoms.


Make and be eaten, the poet says,
Lie in the arms of nightlong fire,
To celebrate the waking, wake.
Burn in the daylong light; and praise
Even the mother unappeased,
Even the fathers of desire.

Blind go the days, but joy will see
Agreements of music; they will wind
The shaking of your dance; no more
Will the ambiguous arm-waves spell
Confusion of the blessing given.

Only and finally declare
Among the purest shapes of grace
The waking of the face of fire,
The body of waking and the skill
To make your body such a shape
That all the eyes of hope shall stare.

That all the cries of fear shall know,
Staring in their bird-pierced song;
Lines of such penetration make
That shall bind our loves at last.
Then from the mountains of the lost,
All the fantasies shall wake,
Strong and real and speaking turn
Wherever flickers your unreal.

And my strong ghosts shall fade and pass
My love start fiery as grass
Wherever burn my fantasies,
Wherever burn my fantasies.

I’ve written (very little) and written about poetry fairly often on this blog, which is named after some lines in an e.e. cummings poem. You can check the posts by clicking the Poetry category link.

This post is part of April’s 30 Days of Celebration. To read more, click on the Celebration category link.

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