24.5.07

IKEA -- Swedish for I Have a Headache

We ordered an IKEA kitchen. We received a completely different IKEA kitchen.

Some pieces are missing - just never arrived. Some we apparently forgot to order. Other pieces are included that belong to someone else's kitchen, and judging from the size of the pieces, this person is much shorter than we are.

And some pieces are completely mysterious.

Ugh...

23.5.07

Caterpillar Rash

Looks like I have to retract my skepticism about the caterpillar rash J mentioned yesterday. Turns out that caterpillar rash is real. I now also have confirmation of a prejudice of my own: "eating caterpillars may cause an upset stomach." Fortunately, even if one does contract a caterpillar rash, the prognosis is "generally very good, and death is exceedingly rare."

Gardenia Experiment

More yellow leaves this morning. Time to take action:

1. Added rocks to the bottom of the pot to improve drainage
2. Won't water for a while - it seems to do better with less water
3. Checked for bugs - nothing visible
4. Removed yellow leaves and remaining dead or dead-ish branches (though it pained me - I was hoping to get those back)
5. Scratched a tablespoon of coffee grounds into the soil

Suicidal Gardenia

Well, here's the thing: Last winter, knowing nothing about gardenias except that they smell nice, I bought my mother a gorgeous blooming gardenia from Whole Foods. Sadly, she did not have the window bed in the nursing home, so the gardenia turned brown after several weeks. Her roommate put the plant in the window to revive it, but someone knocked it over and whatever wasn't already dead fell out of the pot. I took it home and nursed it through the spring. It was just starting to look respectable when some of the leaves turned yellow.

What is wrong with my gardenia? I asked the Internets.

Then I laughed myself sick over this thread at Garden Web, "The Suicidal Gardenia." Most of it is hilarious. Here are some choice snippets:

"i cannot tell you the number of gardenias i have coddled and cossetted and pampered and prayed over. every year i tell myself that i will NOT buy another gardenia - but every year i walk into White Rose and there they are - heavily budded, the odd bloom wafting a fragrance sent from heaven. and, of course, i am seduced once again. one year i succeeded in getting a gardenia to produce about a dozen blooms - the ladies of the horticultural club who were touring my garden were simply ga ga over it. it was the centre of attention and i was unabashedly proud. i thought i had discovered all the tricks and techniques. ha! t'was a fluke. the plant kakked within weeks. i did it again this year - bought another gardenia - misted and threw acid at it - even coffee grains. the fourteen beautiful buds that came with it never did open and every morning it looked a little less perky, a little more yellow. finally, yesterday, i had a talk with myself. "self", said i, "you have enough trouble with the husband and kid and mutt without taking all this grief from a plant" i tossed it on the compost heap."

[...]

"I'm fifteen, and my great grandmother who lived next to us for years grew a gardenia. She never did any thing for it and it bloomed every year like crazy. Even after she moved out and it doesn't even get watered anymore, it still blooms. "

[...]

"DEAR JOAN, ONLY AN IDIOT WOULD SPEND THAT MUCH TIME AND EFFORT FOR A SIMPLE PLANT! MY FRIENDS RECOMMENDED THAT I TAKE UP GARDENING TO RELAX AND ENJOY NATURE. OVER THE PAST SIX YEARS I BOUGHT EIGHT BEAUTIFUL AND FRAGANT GARDENIAS, MYSTERY, FIRST LOVE AND ETC AND AFTER SIX YEARS THESE SIMPLE PLANTS HAVE TAUGHT ME HOW TO RELAX. AFTER SIX YEARS I TAKE FOUR VALIUM AND A HALF A GALLON OF SCOTCH AND STAGGER OUT FOR MY NEXT TRY [...] AFTER 3000 HRS ON THE INTERNET, GARDENING BOOKS AND HELP FROM THREE HUNDRED PROFESSIONAL GROWERS AND FOUR GARDENING CDS, HERE WHAT I HAVE LEARNED. THEY LIKE WATER BUT YOU HAVE TO KEEP THE SEMI DRY.THEY LOVE SUN BUT YOU HAVE TO KEEP IN THE SHADE. YOU FEED THEM OFTEN, DESCRIBED AS SOMEWHERE BETWEEN TWO DAYS AND TWO YEARS ONLY ON SUNDAYS WITH A BLUE MOON RISING. THEY LOVE NORTHERN EXPOSURE IF YOU HAVE THEM ON THE SOUTHERN. THEY LOVE ACID AND IRON UNLESS YOU GIVE IT TO THEM. THEY LOVE TO GROW SPIDER MITES,WHICH YOU CANT SEE, AND APHIDS. I HAVE FOUND IF YOU BUY OLDER PLANTS THEY TAKE LONGER TO DIE.MY FRIEND SUGGESTED THAT WHEN ONE OF THE PLANTS WASNT DOING WELL TO MOVE TO THE NORTHERN SUN WHICH HELPED A LOT. IT DIED QUICKER. WELL I HAVE TO GO NOW MY FRIENDS IN THE WHITE JACKETS ARE COMING TO PULL ME AWAY FROM MY BELOVED GARDENIA. IT'S OKAY I HEAR THEY HAVE A SALE ON GARDENIA IN THE NOVELTY SHOP."

22.5.07

the difference

i'm tired of capitalization today. still hanging onto punctuation, though. barely

the difference between here and every other place where I've lived: nothing is referential, nothing reminds me of anywhere else.

but this existential flatness is merely a surface effect (what else could it be?) - like being in a raymond carver world, where it is surpassingly tempting to scrape away at the clear lacquered surface of things, not to get at what's underneath (there is nothing underneath) but only to rough things up, create a texture.

(fifteen minutes of staring into space, and it comes to me that this is a critique of realism)

18.5.07

Entry


entry
Originally uploaded by quiet.eye.
Starts to look like a house!

Tree Sconces


fauxbois
Originally uploaded by quiet.eye.
Faux bois sconces in the little alcove off the entryway. No shades yet. Paint is Benjamin Moore, "November Rain" (I think the color's pretty true in this shot but as ever, YMMV.)

Registers


registers
Originally uploaded by quiet.eye.
Need paint.

Bookshelves


bookshelves
Originally uploaded by quiet.eye.

Bookshelves - Long View


bookshelves2
Originally uploaded by quiet.eye.
Another view.

Stairway


stairway
Originally uploaded by quiet.eye.
With the antique window installed & prepped for paint.

Sconces


sconces
Originally uploaded by quiet.eye.

17.5.07

Yet Another List of Totally Incomprehensible Desiderata

Would like to capture, in a series of signs that come one after another in time, e.g., writing, the following:

1. Morning light outside Smithfield Market, London, the slightly foggy way the light reflects off the plastic awnings, on a cloudy day in June. How cool that light is, how thoroughly unsaturated. Later, the sky turns clear blue. Perhaps call this: British Summer Time.

2. The few days I spent with my mother after she was diagnosed with Pick's disease. The evenings I sat outside, on the back step, after she fell asleep. The blackness of the trees in full leaf against the night sky, not quite so black, in the backyard of the house I grew up in. The leaves rustling. A different June.

3. A certain quality of my relationship with Jane. Things pass between us so fast, without words. How wonderful this is, how occasionally it is also useful, how it is also scary, to be so close. How she is not scared.

4. Falling into a painting. Finding oneself alive in it. Waking up in it. Smell of turpentine, linseed oil. Suspicion that this is a dream belonging to my mother. Explore relationship of this idea to painting as problem solving (Lee Krasner). Louise Bourgeois' journals.

5. The experience of being in thrall to an idea. The moral ambiguity of this. Compared to being in thrall to a person, perhaps. (Even more morally ambiguous.) Thomas Mann wrote a short story about this - "Mario und der Zauberer," I think. Also Iris Murdoch -- all her books are about this, in one way or another.

Tweet

When we work outside, the birds repeat the sound of the saw.

Note to self: Next time you design a built-in bookshelf extending the length of a room, remember that in an old house, there are no straight lines.

Hypertext at the NewYorker.com

It's very late-90s, but still, how interesting: Larry Doyle's Share Our Joy at the New Yorker.

2.5.07

American Grrl

Was blissfully ignorant of entire American Girl product line (and marketing message until their horrible catalogue arrived in my mailbox today.

"American Girl is a premiere lifestyle brand that offers a variety of age-appropriate, high-quality dolls, books, clothing, and accessories." Ughhhh... I don't even know where to begin... Premier? Compared to what? Whose life? Whose style?

This season you can get American Girl dolls "styled" to look "just like you," so long as you don't have, say, green eyes, "medium" skin, and brown "textured" hair, or you can order "historical" dolls from the 1780s to the 1940s, along with books about them in which don't do much except pose in their cute skirts and have little fights with their girlfriends, who are also available for ordering.

Where is the Rosa Parks American Girl doll? The Rachel Carson American Girl doll? Jackie Mitchell? Barbara McClintock? Betty Friedan? Margaret Sanger? Gayle Rubin? Or... Oh! I know: the Valerie Solanas American Girl doll...

What kills me is, all the signals in the brochure are telling me that I'm supposed to believe this saccharine American Girl stuff is somehow good for my daughter. How dumb do these people think I am?