Thursday, December 4, 2008


Hello my name is Sarah and I can never find boots that fit.

Thanks to a magical combination of genetics and lifelong activity I have enormous, muscley calves and a healthy cankle situation.

I've tried them all... J.Crew, Fitzwell, Naturalizer - you name the special boot and I've at least ordered it once (if not twice) and returned it.

I had one magical pair from Payless c. 1999 - but they look straight outta the wardrobe of Friends when Monica was making mousse out of Mocolate.

I have another pair that could use a stretch and another that's too stretchy and falls down when I walk 10 feet at a good clip.

This summer I discovered Duo Boots - a company out of the UK that offers boots that have various size and shaft combinations (tee hee - I could use that same phrase in such a different context, but it's just too easy).

Anyhoo - I'm happy to report that my calf size is somewhere in the middle (I blame my Brit ancestry for the situation now) and I have my choice of all available options.

At the time, the pound to dollar was somewhere around 1.83 and I wasn't about to pay $300 for boots that are worth 120 pounds... so I waited and watched.
And watched.
And waited.

Today it was 1.46 and I went for it - it may go lower (and if it does go to 1.25 I will be getting another pair).

Behold, the magical boot... being whisked my way across the ocean blue to be worn with skirts and dresses all winter long.


Next up... the Metz.. or maybe the Potenza... or the Samara...?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

10 Dimensional Hypermaze of Doom

So I got my wallet stolen 2 weeks ago.

From my office.

It appeared to be missing at 4:35 pm on a Friday - before I was due for a weekend that included a date, an out-of-town funeral and general unable-to-take-care-of-business Sunday-ness.
Of course the phone number to report a lost or stolen card is on the back of the card so I ran through the snow to the bank across the street - that closed at 4:30.
I banged on the window like some lame modern rendition of "The Graduate" until the teller came to the door and told me that the number I needed was ON THE BACK OF THE CARD.

*Blank stare*

She had her own card on her and gave me the number with a concerned looking manager watching from the lobby.

Card cancelled - requested a new one.

Done and done.

Weekend happens, followed by shortened holiday week and deadlines and Thanksgiving.

I got to the BMV on Black Friday - a good week after losing my wallet.
No line and smug that I was going to be able to accomplish this before meeting friends, I stepped up with my passport, birth certificate and social security card.


"We're sorry, but there's a hold on your license in Arizona."

"Wait... What?"

"You don't need to fill that out - here's the number, you need to clear this up before you can replace you license. NEXT!"

So I called the number and learned that there was an allegedly unpaid speeding ticket outstanding.

Now, I lived in Arizona TEN YEARS AGO.
Ten years is three years longer than you are required to keep records and last year at Christmas, I systematically shredded everything left from my life in the desert.

So they gave me my "complaint number" and the phone number for Mesa's courts - closed, by the way, on Black Friday.

There was both an automated phone and online service, but they didn't give me the date, and you need the date to get information - so I called back... again. (September 27, 1998, if you're interested).

I called the courts yesterday evening and sat on hold listening to the worst possible holiday muzak interspersed with static - and I began to wonder if this was some preliminary psychological torture meant to cause anxiety and lower resistance levels.

So I hung up and made a call...

To my mother - I directed her to files in my old room with what was left of my shredder-happy holidays.

This turned up an envelope with slightly illegible chicken scratch suggesting I sent a money order on October 11, 1998 for $97 to the City of Mesa (TA-DA!) - but chicken scratch is not evidence... so she also gave me the name of my insurance agent when I was out there.

She got a call.

She was going to contact their home office and go through micro-film archives - because, in Arizona, if you don't pay your ticket, you get your license suspended and they flag your insurance.

I sent an email to a cop friend about what to do.
I called a lawyer friend about next steps.

My ducks in a goddamned row.

So today I called Mesa - turns out I it went to a judge in 2006 and they dismissed it.
I owe nothing and they will be sending me an "abstract" that I need to take to the Ohio BMV.

So I called the Ohio BMV to see what's what.
Questions like - Is my license suspended? Will I have to retake the driving test? How much money will this cost me? all needed to be answered.

The woman I spoke with told me (in brusque BMV manner) that Arizona has not cleared me from the PDPS (Problem Driver Pointer System - heh) and that she had no idea what an "abstract" is and how it was going to help me.


I'm so happy I don't owe any money, I'm really glad my license is not suspended, and I'm beyond thrilled this came up now instead of later but I can't figure out exactly what it is I'm supposed to be clearing up. Nothing needs to be paid - or signed - so I'm still not entirely sure what the problem is.

Listen, I've lived at the same address for the past 9 years - and the address on my license 10 years ago was my parents' - which hasn't changed in over 30 years. AND my last name is so freaking weird and singular that one half-hearted Google search finds me in less time than it takes to sneeze.

Was anyone going to tell me about this mess?


So tomorrow I'll call Mesa AGAIN and listen to the torture music for 20 minutes and then ask them to please, please, please remove me from the PDPS and let me get on with my little life far far away from the soulless expanses of Mesa, Arizona.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Curse of the magpie

I steal things.

A turn of phrase, a scarf knot, a haircut, a color combination for a knitted project.

I put them together in my own way, but I'm simply a thieving, stealing, collecting magpie.

I used to feel bad about it and then a designer I worked for told me this...

"Good artists borrow, but great artists steal."

I learned the strength of visual cues and came to love the stories they could tell.

Switch gears to art-making. When it comes to art, I have very little profundity to share. I have ideas and concepts - I like to find elaborate metaphors for situations - but as for earth-shattering artistic concepts...

So when I make something, it's often variation on theme - or an outright copy.
And this troubles me.
And it troubles me that it troubles me.

In music, the variation on a theme is it's own legitimate work:
Vaughn William's Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis; or
Brahm's Variation on a Theme by Paganini.

Even in art, there are variations on canonical images.
The Spinario, The Annunciation or the Three Graces (second link is NSFW).

But for some reason, I have difficulty gracefully accepting compliments when I make something that is based on something else. There's this deeply seeded feeling that a copy can be made by anyone and it's only the original that has any worth.

Of course, in the process of creating this post, I see how silly that is - new ideas come from revisiting old ones. One artist posed the Graces based on something he read in a story, and that pose became the anchor of all other works that reference them.
What if a different pose was chosen?

You stand on the shoulders of those who went before - keep the strengths and find opportunities to change the elements where you can: color, medium, size.

It's a struggle for me to accept that even unoriginal is original - but in the meantime, this magpie will keep gathering beautiful, meaningful bits that together create a totally original nest.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Fine. Merry Christmas.

I didn't think I'd want to decorate for Christmas this year. I skipped halloween due to overwhelming busy and figured Christmas would be the same.

Just a wee bit of cheer for me... (and the tippling elf)

I wanted to display my vintage ornaments and my shakers seemed just the thing...

My feather tree in the living room...

A deco Christmas...

Hurrah for Christmas cheer!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Ignorance goes a long way

There was a recent blurb online that ranked Cleveland as one of the worst places to relocate.

The top negative attributes, according to the survey, were environment—climate, park space, natural resources (58%); health and safety (45%); and image (42%).

Excuse me, fool?

Park space?
Honey, please...
And might I add, suck it.

Natural resources???

Have seen our lake?

When your oceans and streams have all run dry, you'll come weeping your dry tears to us - but we're smart enough to protect that resource from being abused by the kind of people who rank image as a reason not to move to city that has pretty much everything you could want from the urban experience for 1/3 of the cost of other cities.

You have no idea what you're missing - but I guess that just means more parks, water, medical research, world-class arts and culture and cuisine for me!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Early Winter Knitting

Winter is here and I can't seem to stop knitting.

I'm finally getting pretty good at trickier, nitzier things and projects are fitting closer to size (instead of 2x bigger - gah!)


My Nerdy-nerd Sweater Vest - in which I learn that I have a love/hate relationship with color work.

Me wearing the Nerdy-nerd Sweater Vest - in which I learn that I need to clean my mirror.

Monster pants for a baby butt - in which I learn that I love making things for the wee charming man named Lance.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Fall knitting

I've been knitting up a storm since I finished the Apple-picking cardie.

The "Gonna Turn My Swing State Blue" sweater vest - finished on Nov. 4 and worn to celebrate Nov. 5. I believe that good juju goes into things that are made by hand, so this was my small effort towards change.

I want to get started on this Snapping Turtle skirt - so I swatched it out - love the handspun and hope it will look half as good as the one in the link...

Loving the blue vest (and loving snugglie vests in general), I frogged the way-too-big grey vest from last Christmas and decided to stripe it up at the bustline...

It's further along now - mostly done actually, but I'm avoiding weaving in the ends by posting. Too lazy to photograph it, even.
I need hot chocolate now.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The world is barren enough

The most heart-rending comment on Prop 8 via MSNBC.

I could not get the video to embed, but do try to watch it - text is provided in link.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


I spent the day at my grandmother's and came home with a box of whimsical, charming early twentieth century fabric love.

I always knew there was a seamstress and a quilter in the family, but I never who, when or where.

During the depression, my grandmother and her mother lived with the previous generation - the seamstress and the quilter. My great great grandmother, Ella Armstrong Coon made quilts from the fabric scraps left over from Clara's (her sister) work making clothes.

Clara started this quilt in the 20s, my great grandmother worked on it in the late 40s, my grandmother has worked on it on and off and I'm bound to finish it...

When she gave me the remainder of the fabric, it came from a box filled with other piecework...

Most were done by Clara, but we think these two were done by Ella, who would see something in a magazine and do it, just to see if she could.

Each piece is hand-stitched and many were done in the evening by kerosene lamp - grandma told she remembered sitting by the radio in the evening with them and working on quilt tops.

Other pieces weren't as well stitched, but the color play is amazing and the fabric itself is beautiful.

In the box were pieces that were almost complete...

and pieces waiting to be put together.

We have about 20 of the above pattern - and I think I'm going to hand-wash each one and mount it on padded muslin that can be framed - with the story about where these pieces came from for each of the descendants of these women.

We number about 20 - so I think there is more than enough of these brilliant pieces to shared.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Fall knitting

I just started a new project last week after finishing one project that took forever.

The never ending cardi (actually showing off my new halloween hat... cowgirl btw.)

A Back-to-school sweater vest to make my blue eye bluer.

I spent hours Lee Phoenix Stitch & Bitch on Sat'y and got pretty far.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Funniest 7 minutes I've seen in a looooong time.

Best take-aways...
"I broke my ankle when I tripped and fell on Milton Berle's cock."
"Your mouth is ruining all the hard work your ass is doing."
"Someone punch me in the face so I can see some stars."


Great article in the Times today about clothing classics.

In between my lust for feathered shoes and shiny things, I have a passion for practical gear: my wellies, my Bean barn jacket and my duck boots.

In times of trouble, solid and hardy wins the the day.

(There may be hope for me, yet!)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Start a revolution!

Ok kids, we're going to turn this city around.

It won't be easy.

There's alot of baggage, dead weight and pessimists who tell you it can't be done.
But it can be done and it's up to us to do it.

Yoke up my friends, we have work to do.

A week ago I sent out an invitation to specific group in a specific sector to come see a rehearsal - free.

We reached out because we all want the same thing for the city. Life, vibrancy, things to do, people to see and the energy that's created from shared experiences.

I got, like, 2 replies.


So I reached out to the person who gave me the list and said "Help!"

First, a blog post...
Then, a Twitter...
Then, an email to a far larger group.

Today... today my brothers and sisters, I waded through over 100 emails, I fielded 20+ calls.

All because of personal contact from 1 (ONE) well-connected person.

It's time for each of us to look at our rolodexes, reconnect and advocate for the good that's happening all around us.

Are you a fan of modern art? Make your friends go to SPACES next weekend.
Like traditional theater? Organize an outing to the Playhouse.
Opera? Come see Hansel & Gretel at the State Theater.

If we don't start sharing what we love with our personal networks those things are going to GO AWAY.

Thanks to one person opening their rolodex, I now have 110 people coming to an event I thought would yield 25... if I was lucky.

And of those 110, I guess 75 will show, 25 will love it, and 10 will become supporters.

Those other 100... well, they got a personal email, or time on the phone, and they now know of one more fun and fabulous thing happening in Cleveland... and that's enough for me.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Chocolate Caramel Apples and Pears

Title sort of speaks for itself.

Free Hugs on Coventry

Today we went to the Inn on Coventry after UU services.

Outside the restaurant were two people with "Free Hugs" signs.

A while back, someone directed me to a video that showed Juan Mann in 2006.

There wasn't quite the crowd, but as in the video, once one or two people did it, more people took part.

I don't know if they're still out there, but go ahead and get a free hug from whomever is closest right now.

I mean, come one, they're FREE.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Retail therapy, an observation and a shopping mitzvah

Retail Therapy
After spending the morning helping my dad winterize their front porch and an afternoon with my friend and her baby, I thought I would do a little shopping.

I've had little time to myself lately, and I didn't realize how much miss being solitary in a crowd. Of course it's fun to shop with friends, but sometimes I like being out there alone - no one to tell me I'm moving too fast or too slow. I'm enough of an extrovert that I can (and do) ask those around me for a second opinion re: fit or color... people love to share their opinions, all you have to do is ask.

An afternoon like to today is less about acquiring goods and more about getting reacquainted with myself - my changing body, my changing style, my changing outlook on life and how my external appearance signals those things to the world.

So therapy in a sense that I got the spend the day with me - and that's good.

Another change I've noticed since being on the Adderall is that I'm less likely to buy just to buy. In general, it's curbed my need to consume for consumption's sake - I'm less compulsive and more thoughtful about what I let come into contact with my person.

An Observation
As a professional, I'm trying to curate a style for myself: quirky, classic, flattering... Can I say, I'm not entirely sure if I love or hate the last 5 years of ruffles. I find them endearing and charming in concept, but 50% of the time, they come off as cloying and precious.

I tried on about 30 things at Banana Republic and - my god - the puffed sleeves and the pleats and ruffles were EVERYWHERE. I tried them, just to see. I even think a few worked. But for the most part, I felt as though I had stumbled into a 1930s maternity clothing shop. I remember being in Anthropologie 4 years ago and making a half-hearted joke about the great ruffle war of aught four. Come on - seriously?

But I get it. I see ruffles and I think "oooo - charming..." *sigh*

J. Crew - same damn thing - are they infantilizing women with this?
Is smocking next?

A shopping mitzvah
Ok, so "mitzvah" might be too strong a word for what happened, but I love it when people reach out for no good reason other than to be nice.

BR has a partnership with Goodwill where you bring in a used sweater in good condition and get 30% off a full priced items.

Tangent: LOVE these kinds of partnerships. Love them. They're helpful- they're real - they're creative. There's no "What percentage of your profits are actually going to the nonprofit?" question. You give away the sweater you were going to give away anyway, you get an immediate and measurable result and you suddenly feel that psychic glow around your experience with the corporation that you will remember - meaning you will probably come back.

Anyway, I had no idea this was going on, the trip was unplanned and on my way home. So I got in line and was chatting with the sales guy and he's telling me to come back before the 26th... and the woman behind me taps me on the shoulder and says "You forgot your sweater? Here, I brought an extra..." And then WE start chatting about the whole nonprofit/corporate partnership thing which is exciting and energetic AND I walked away having saved $75.

I'm doing alot for family and work these days, and sometimes I wonder if my efforts are being noticed by the universe-at-large. I don't do it to get something back, but it's nice to feel rewarded.

Today, I got exactly what I needed.

Sure, it was just 30% off some clothes, but it was an unnecessary kindness that put me in a good mood for the rest of the day.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Low-key night

I stayed in tonight and it was glorious.
No bags to pack, no road to hit, no reservation to meet.

I wandered over to Pinky's Day Planner and left there thinking I may commission her make a jacket I coveted so many years ago.

I saw that Asterisk Gallery was open and stopped in to see 103 and Counting. Great work as always - I walked away wanting one of Sally Matia's pieces and loving that we have so much talent here.

I finished up with a sundae from Scoops to reward myself for all the gym workouts, and sat on my backporch enjoying the fallness of fall.

Later, I scanned and organized pictures, each one reminding me how much life I've led and how much more I've yet to do.

Flying in planes...

Playing on beaches... (On season and off)

Being cute... (Hello - can you believe I hated how I looked when I was 22?)

Racing with the motliest of motley crews...

Attending historic tree-plantings... (Newton's Apple Tree @ Case)

Conserving mosaics and paintings 60' up on scaffolding... (Despite a debilitating fear of heights)


I'm pretty awesome.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Autumnal weekend II

There's not much to say about the secluded beach down the road from my great-grandmother's house.

It's simply... divine.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Autumnal weekend

I spent the wonderfully warm weekend in Berlin Heights and Huron, where my family's from.

On Saturday, we went to my great-uncle's, built on the land adjacent to my great grandmother's house and surrounded by a wonderful collection of fruit trees: plum, peach and apples. She always had a little of everything growing and spent summer and fall canning for winter.

At one point, I wanted to buy the house and rent a pied de terre in Cleveland so I could spend summers there gardening and swimming, with a city place to hang my hat as well.

Here are a few highlights from the weekend spent with family.

A laden Jonagold

Nana and I try a self-portrait

A peck of Grimes Golden apples and Golden Delicious

Seckel pears

Sorry about the focus...

We had an early Thanksgiving on Sunday - My Grandmother the Snowbird flies south for the winter and my cousin leaves for Quantico in 2 weeks.

We were short a centerpiece so I grabbed the berry basket my father made years earlier and filled it with things from her garden: watermelons, apples, grapes, peppers, tomatoes and chestnuts.

It was a traditional, if not short, Thanksgiving - with all the trimmings.
And missing the threat of snow.

A poem

I saw this poem referenced in an essay - I found it and I thought it was wonderful.
Because sometimes, all that is needed is for someone to chop the wood and carry the water.

To Be of Use
The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.

I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.

Marge Piercy

Friday, October 10, 2008

Nerd sex rocks

Courtesy of XKCD

(Wed'y's was pretty awesome, too)

Friday, October 3, 2008

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Quirky college kids attend a wedding - Denison 1996

Among the photos I found, these are a favorite.

(l-r) Me, Angie, Cathy, Julie, Mark and Derek is in the cape.

I remember buying my dress to be in the wedding, leaving the tags on and returning it the next day.

I cannot express the ways with which I love this picture.

Facebook frenzy

So a friend finally got me on Facebook - pictures, comments and all.

I've been on less than a week and found people who represent most every chapter of my life.
From youth theater to each of the different states I Iived in to current friends from the UU, I am amazed to see how many people reached out to find me.

I thought it wasn't going to be something I would care to spend time on, but catching up with people you experienced things with is always interesting.

Tonight, I'm digging out pictures from college and summer stock to scan and post and thinking of all the people who meant so much to me, if only for a short time, so long ago.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Sculpture Garden

One of my favorite things on Kelleys Island is Charles Herndon's sculpture garden.  It's located on the east side of the island, south of the airport - hidden waaaay back there.  

I became acquainted with his work when I was doing a project for the Natural History Museum that featured works created from glacial erratics.

He had a number of female nudes that appeared to be cast in concrete, and the human form is often abstracted in some of his other pieces as well.

A number of other works are large red or black abstract shapes, but I'm particularly fond of this one. I have a weakness for the quattrofoil shape.

This bell is spectacular. I can't imagine what it must weigh... The sound (when you wack the wooden ram against it) is clear and resonant and beautiful.

I like to think that someday, when I have a garden that's my own, I'll fill it with art as well.