Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Can you waggle your ears?

I'm posting this new muse (part of next year's Laini's Ladies collection, which I completed this weekend) in honor of NaNoWriMo, which begins tomorrow. So good fortune to all novel writers -- may story fly from your fingertips for 30 glorious days!

And here's another quote I came across, to keep things in perspective: "It is all very well to be able to write books, but can you waggle your ears?" (JM Barrie) No. I can't! Can you?

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Cupcakes, sushi, bathsalts, books, and all good things

Yesterday I really needed a day of cupcakes and books and seeing Laini's Ladies hanging in shops, and that is exactly what I had, with Xegbp, who is in town to visit Alexandra. They met in Peace Corps in Bulgaria 8 years ago, and Jim and I met her when we visited. "Xegbp," by the way, is what the rough transliteration of her name looks like in cyrillic characters, so if you read Russian or Bulgarian, you might be able to figure it out. We had a lovely afternoon!

This is just a quickie post; Jim and I are having an all-hermit all-work weekend, starting as soon as I post this, so I'd better hurry. So much work to do! It's been a mildly bad week with little pieces of irritating news trickling in, but there was good stuff too, like news back from the Frankfurt book fair that there was a lot of [potential] interest in foreign rights for Blackbringer! And getting several new Laini's Ladies in the Signals catalog. And going out for Brazilian food for my father's birthday and eating lots of meat served skewered on swords!

The photos above are of my favorite furniture store, Cargo, in the Pearl District, where Xegbp and I went and roamed and giggled at the hot pink velvet bust of Chairman Mao. This store always makes me want to live in a loft with exposed brick walls and 20-foot ceilings, filled with Indonesian antiques and huge paintings, with sculptures and puppets and little seating areas around laquered tables, with potted bamboo plants, lutes hanging on the walls, mermaids painted on the bathroom ceiling. . . and maybe with free-roaming tortoises?

And below is a photo of the divine mini-cupcakes from Saint Cupcake, which I discovered thanks to one of my very favorite blogs; it's a blog that creates a window into a tranquil little world of crafts and food and color, that makes me want to MAKE THINGS like cakes and wool flowers and little plush puppies. By the way, could there be a more welcome revival than the revival of the cupcake?

Happy weekend to everyone! Eat a cupcake!

Friday, October 27, 2006

"Jesus" gets political

Um, does anyone know what smug-looking Jim Caviezel is saying at the beginning of this political ad? And could he be speaking. . . Aramaic? Could there be any more blatant way to appeal to religious voters than getting "Jesus" to say something in Aramaic that no one can understand, and then tell them how to vote on an issue? Well, if Jesus says. . . wait, what did Jesus just say? Anyone speak Aramaic? The ad by the way is about the same amendment in Missouri as this one by Michael J Fox that is so poignant and heartbreaking, the very same one Rush Limbaugh was mocking, actually making himself shake like a Parkinson's sufferer and saying Michael J Fox was faking it. How soulless are these guys? And the worst part is, this is by no means the nastiest or most underhanded of the Republican campaign ads. I only wish Americans didn't fall for them, but they do. That's the real tragedy.

(update: thanks anonymous for the link -- here's the story about that Aramaic quote.)

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Fork-feeding the dog

Jim took Shiloh to the oncologist the other day so I could go to the library downtown and do some research for new design projects. I love the downtown Portland library:

It was overcast and puddly out, with drifting leaves, a perfect autumn day. After a few hours looking at books and old photos, I walked over to Flying Elephant's for a lovely lunch of their famous tomato-orange soup.
I got carried away by the fabulous exotic chocolates they were selling there and bought a handful of bars from Theo, the "first roaster of certified fair-trade organic cocoa beans in the US." And look how cute the labels are! I tried the coconut-curry bar, and let me tell you: Yum! And it's really curry-y and spicy!

After that, a few of my other favorite errands: Powell's, and Utrecht art store, with a brief pass through Anthropologie and Whole Foods, where I picked up some roasted vegetables and stuff for dinner. Here's a picture of that neighborhood:

And lastly, here's a picture of Shiloh in the car on the way to the oncologist.

She has one week of treatments left and she seems to be doing great! However, she has decided that she wants to be hand-fed now. OR. . . fork-fed. That's right. Jim figured that one out. Shiloh likes to eat off a fork! I put food in her bowl this evening and held the bowl right out to her, and she would not eat from it, but stared at the fork in my hand and would only eat when I fed her bite by bite with the FORK. How silly is that?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Bohemian Ladies!

The new Laini's Ladies "Bohemian Collection" is out in stores! I showed off the "holiday" Bohemian ladies here a few months ago; these are the "everyday" Bohemians. I chose that name to distinguish the line from the other Laini's Ladies because I was shooting for a more pattern-oriented look and I was using antique textiles I'd purchased in Turkey and Bulgaria to create some of the patterning. I love the new look, and the use of a single word rather than a long quote, though quotes will be back, I have no doubt!

I'm currently creating another new line, and I'm playing with more ideas to keep the designs fresh and interesting for myself. All I'll say for now is that the "Muse of Chocolate" might soon find her way into the world!

Here are the rest of the new designs:

And here are some of the greeting cards:

(All Laini's Ladies items can be found here.)

Sunday, October 15, 2006

If I could stop time . . .

This has long been a fantasy of mine, my dream super power, my fairy-granted wish. There have been times I have wished for it so fervently I almost forgot it couldn't possibly come true. I mean, I really HOPED! I have wasted time imagining the details of my super power. THAT is not the best way to maximize one's time, surely! But seriously, looking over some of the other Sunday Scribblings this week, I saw a few people who didn't really want to play my game, who suggested that there's plenty of time, time is not the problem -- essentially, I am the problem, that I'm not "maximizing" my time or something. But that's not it! I maximize plenty, but there just IS. NOT. ENOUGH. TIME. I want to do so many things, to create so many things, to both LIVE and CREATE, to write and paint and also hang out at a wine bar and gossip, and also go kayaking, and also watch Battlestar Galactica and The Wire, and also find the time to have some babies. And with my new super power, I don't plan to follow the conventional Spiderman wisdom of "with great power comes great responsibility." I am not going to fight crime. I am just going to write more and paint more!

Let me show you two of my four desks:

On my writing room desk sits the "unbound galleys" of my novel Blackbringer, which I am proofreading for the first time. That is, I am reading it for the 6,037th time. It is VERY exciting to see it typset, and to see the chapter heading designs, and to see how many pages it turned out to be (430! Holy cow!) But DANG -- I just want to write the next one! That one is currently put away in the desk drawer. Meanwhile, on the studio desk is a series of patterns I am painting for multiple uses, in Laini's Ladies designs and beyond. At another desk, not shown, a group of 6 new Laini's Ladies is underway. The fourth and final desk is currently buried under a blizzard of papers, desperately needing to be excavated.

And then there's this to consider:

Just a little bedtime reading!

If I could stop time, I would bring Jim with me into my cozy little gap in the space-time continuum, and we would just stay home and dream stuff up. That's about all I would use my super power for. I would unfreeze the world for the daily drives to the dog oncologist that have really been warping my weeks, the get-togethers with friends, the trips to the gym, etc. Life would stay the same, except there would UNLIMITED time to write and paint, and to make puppets and fix up my old dollhouse my dad made me when I was 11, to read books and blogs and write short stories and craft bat wings out of copper wire. I'm getting all dreamy just thinking about it!

What prompted this slide into daydreaming has been. . . commuting. Ack! Not to work, but to the dog oncologist where Shiloh is getting her daily doses of radiation. She's had 8 so far, 10 more to go, and she's holding up well. I've been in a human oncologists office before and felt on the verge of panic, felt oppressed by the weight of cancer in the world, and terrified by the knowledge that it will probably get us all, eventually -- this isn't as bad as that, being dogs and not people, but it's still very sad and somber. All these beloved dogs, tired and woozy, being helped up into the car by their worried humans, being handfed whatever delicious food will stimulate their appetite (Shiloh had rotisserie chicken and rice krispy treats yesterday). And then, there are the dogs that don't come back. I had become familiar with a very sweet Bernese Mountain Dog the first week of treatment, Shiva, and then this past Monday I saw his owner arrive without him, but instead with flats of canned dog food to donate to the clinic. I didn't speak to him, didn't need to, to know that Shiva had died.

But along with the tragedy and the hope and the rotisserie chicken, there is the driving. Oh. My. God. I have been very very lucky to be self-employed and not have to commute -- the other day I got stuck in rush hour for an hour and a half, and I think the experience shaved a little slice off my soul. It will grow back, if given the time and peace, but what happens to all those people out there doing it every day, never getting a long enough break to grow their souls back full and healthy again? I ask you, is this any way to live? Who constructed this world? In context, I know I should be grateful for how much time I do have in the day to dream and draw and write, but I still want more. More, more, more!

P.S. the wonderful painting on my green desk above is by Kelly.

Monday, October 09, 2006

good art & good food & good people

It's been a busy weekend of art & food & friends -- YaY! Kelly was back in Portland for Art & Soul, and she was mostly off art-making herself to exhaustion, but Jim & Alexandra & I got to see her for some lovely meals, and we got to meet some other fabulous artists whose work and blogs we know, and we went to the Art & Soul vendor night and were blown away by the creativity and FUN of the art there! We didn't bring enough money!! The two dolls above were purchased there -- the one on the left is by Katie Kendrick, the one on the right by Leighanna Light (who doesn't have a website, for shame). I have to say again, the ART, the ART -- it was fantastic!! I didn't take any of the workshops this weekend, but Jim & I are going to Artfest next March, and I'm looking forward to it now more than ever.

Kelly, Alexandra, Jim & I had dinner one night with the amazingly talented Nina Bagley, Misty Mawn, and Katie Kendrick, followed by ice cream and strolling and giddiness.

And here I am with Alexandra & Kelly after a late lunch, getting up our strength to go buy art.

And as if art & Kelly weren't enough fun for one weekend, Abigail & Brian also made their way up to Portland with their chihuahua Perkins (who was swathed in a big fleece sweater). Abigail is an editor whose enthusiasm for my faerie characters helped nudge me toward turning them into a book, and whose CONTINUED enthusiasm over several years kept me focused on it. THANK YOU for that, Abi! After lunch at a vegan cafe, we spent way too much money on books at Powell's, had coffee, dropped Perkins off for his slumber party at Alexandra's house, and had dinner at Kennedy School with Kelly, then went back to our house for some vino.

It was a delightful weekend, and now that everyone is gone, we are sad all over again that Kelly & John moved away, and wishing that Abi & Brian lived closer!

(Meanwhile, in the midst of all this, awesome carpenter Dave was building us a little secret patio off my writing room. It is so adorable -- pics soon!)

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The cookies & I have not been formally introduced

The other day I was cruising along with my day, writing in a silly house-outfit that included lavender legwarmers, when I suddenly hit a big patch of blah. BLAH. I had made the mistake of checking my email, and there, all unexpected, was ANOTHER list of editorial comments on my book, the book that is in GALLEYS. (that is, proof pages, as they will look in the actual book.) I REALLY thought we were past the editorial stage! But no. No. Apparently, we will never be past that. Ever. Anyway, I couldn’t bring myself to read them yet. I just immediately lost my will to spend the rest of the evening writing the NEW book, and I went to the store and bought a bottle of wine and ingredients for the pumpkin-gingerbread recipe in the little Martha Stewart cooking magazine, and that is how I spent the evening instead of writing. With wine and pumpkin bread, and TV. Sigh.

I don’t really hit a BLAH all that often, but I wish that when I DID, there would be better television on. Is that so much to ask?

Today I sort of bounced out of it and managed to get in a writing groove and write TEN pages in a sitting, and now I am at the doggy oncologist, alone in a waiting room with a plate of chocolate cookies that keep calling out to me. Luckily, they don’t know my name because I am new here, and I am able to ignore them without seeming rude. I hope cookies don’t read paperwork in the night, so that when I come back tomorrow they’re crooking their little cookie fingers at me and beckoning and saying, “Laini, welcome. We’re going to become very good friends over the next 3 weeks...”

And just for fun, here are some new words I have recently discovered: haruspex (a priest in ancient Rome who practiced divination of animal entrails); futhark (a runic alphabet); niblick (a kind of golf club!); apotropaic (intended to ward off evil); and whipper-in (a person who assists a hunstman in handling the hounds). I. Love. Words.