Five Years, Same Panels, Redondo Seawall

April 19, 2015

Nell and I have been doing chalk art at the Redondo Seawall for five years now–always on the same panels, more or less, at the beginning of the walk.   A retrospective:

2015 (yesterday; see better images of the individual panels at ipernity):

Four panels of chalk art on a wall near the ocean.

Nell did the one with wings, I did the other three.

2014 (we were in a hurry, only stayed a couple hours, had to go to a bar mitzvah that night in Temecula; so I didn’t get one photo with all three panels, but you can see 2-3-4 in these):

panel of chalk art, woman with voluminous skirts reading.

Chalk art at seawall, 2014.

teen girl doing chalk art on a wall

Nell doing chalk art at seawall, 2014.

Human figure with bubble background, drawn in chalk on a wall.

Chalk Gollum-ish character 2014.

(there were two events in 2013, we chalked the same squares at both of them):

Three panels of chalk art on a wall near a pier

Nell did the one with wings, I did the other two.

teen girl working on chalk art on a wall near the ocean

Nell did the one with wings, I did the other two.


Chalk art in three panels, on a wall near a pier.

Nell did the one with flippers, I did the other two.

There’s a time-lapsed video of me working on panel 4 that year.

2011 (our panels weren’t all in a row that first year, so there’s no one photo for them; Nell did the NintendoDS, I did the other three):

chalk image of a fish drawn on a wall

Chalk Blackside Hawkfish 2011

Surreal Seascape chalk image on a wall.

Surreal Seascape, 2011.

Chalk copy of Edouard Manet, "On the Beach," drawn on a wall.

After Edouard Manet, 2011.

Child's chalk image of a Nintendo DS, drawn on a wall.

Nintendo DS with accessories, 2011.


What I read in 2014

January 3, 2015

Past editions of this list: 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008. This list is also available in pictorial format at Pinterest.

It was a good year for reading here! Thirty-eight books finished. Some illustrated books, some YA novels, one academic book read for review. BG=Book Group selection. I’m in two book groups, so a lot of my reading is driven by that.

This year in books (for me) was shaped by the closing of Mysterious Galaxy Redondo Beach in the late spring, the first of several local business closures this year that upset my routines–RIP Cork’er, Neighborhood Grinds, Soup Bar, and soon, Harmony Works.

These are numbered in chronological order, from January to December.

1. Jo Walton, Farthing

2. Robin Sloan, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

3. Kirsten Miller, Kiki Strike: The Darkness Dwellers

4. Meg Wollitzer, The Ten-Year Nap BG

5. Hanya Yanagihara, The People in the Trees

6. Naoki Higashida, The Reason I Jump

7. David Handler, Runaway Man

8. Margaret Atwood, MaddAddam

9. Mark Dunn, Ella Minnow Pea BG

10. Helen Dunmore, The Greatcoat

11. Colum McCann, Transatlantic

12. Jessica Ellen Sewell, Woman and the Everyday City

13. Andy Weir, The Martian

14. Jeff Vandermeer, Authority

15. Lauren Groff, Arcadia BG

16. Karen Joy Fowler, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves BG

17. Gerbrand Bakker, Ten White Geese

18. Rupert Thomson, Divided Kingdom

19. Jane Jeong Trenka, The Language of Blood

20. Octavia Butler, Fledgling

21. Paul Auster, Book of Illusions

22. Donna Tartt, The Goldfinch BG

23. Haruki Murakami, The Wind-up Bird Chronicle

24. Tana French, Faithful Place

25. Natalie Danford, Inheritance

26. Ruth Ozeki, A Tale for the Time Being BG

27. Jeff Vandermeer, Acceptance

28. Cory Doctorow, Little Brother BG

29. David Gerrold, The Martian Child

30. Hari Kunzru, Transmission

31. Jhumpa Lahiri, The Lowland BG

32. Oliver Sacks, Hallucinations BG

33. Jo Walton, My Real Children

34. Tom Perrotta, The Leftovers

35. Jonathan Auxier, The Night Gardener

36. Kenny Fries, The History of My Shoes and the Evolution of Darwin’s Theory BG

37. M. L. Stedman, The Light Between Oceans BG

38. John Scalzi, Lock In

Halloween 2014: Crafty wrap-up

November 8, 2014

We had a good Halloween this year, even with a football game and some (welcome) rain.  I did a lot of crocheting, and some other crafty stuff, and even made a raggedy stop-motion video.


I got a call from a friend–can you make hats for Halloween? (She asked in September, so I said yes.  Don’t ask in October.)  How about four hats, all looking like the Count from Sesame Street?  Sure, I can do that… right?  It took three tries to get a workable design, but then it went pretty quickly.  I only have three “heads” for simultaneous modeling, but trust me there were four total.
Three crocheted Count von Count hats
After the paid job was done and delivered to happy preschoolers (who apparently slept in their “Count Hats” the first night they had them), I turned to hats for my daughter and her friend, who wanted to be Thor and Loki.  These were pretty fun to make; metallic yarns can be annoying to work with, but helmets like these really need some metal.
Crocheted Thor and Loki hats
The third crochet Halloween thing was already done in time to start appearing on October 1:  our yard had an “infestation” of thirteen large colorful crocheted creatures who changed position each day.  They started appearing on October 1; this photo was taken on October 7, when there were seven creatures in place.
Infestation, Day 7

Other crafting:

This is son’s second year using a regular boxy wheelchair with big wheels (before that he used a Convaid stroller–smaller wheels, more triangular in profile).  The Kogi truck last year was easy and fun to make, and I decided to try something a little more complicated this year.  He loves big clear bowls–tupperware, salad bowls, that sort of thing.  So we built a cardboard costume around a big plastic salad bowl (cheap at Party City, but sturdy enough, and I didn’t have to damage it to make the costume–it’s still perfectly usable for its original purpose).  It’s kind of a “steampunk submarine,” but leaning more to the whimsical than the mechanical.  Lots of duct tape and spray paint, and some random bottle caps, also some plastic bits from Trash for Teaching.  And there’s an Altoids tin, and bamboo skewers, and old wallpaper samples, and a WHOLE lotta brads.
Fantasy Steampunk Submarine Costume

Stop-motion Video:

I made a stop-motion video of the yard “infestation”–it’s pretty raggedy, but I’m happy with the results, and I learned how to use iMovie a little.  Music is by Psapp, “This Way,” mostly because I liked the sort of munching found-sound effect.

My appalling birthplace (eleventh in an infinite series)

July 25, 2014

No particular need to comment on this one, it speaks for itself.

My Wikipedia Garden (to date)

June 24, 2014

I’ve been enjoying various crowdsourcing projects for many years, most noticeably Flickr Commons until Flickr’s user interface became unwieldy for my purposes, about a year ago.  I still use Commons images for collage projects sometimes, but only from my “Flickr Favorites” board at Pinterest.  (Can you still use Flickr? Good for you. I can’t. Yes, I know changes are afoot.  Changes are always afoot at Flickr; that’s not always something I like in a website.)

So I needed a new crowdsourcing home, and Wikipedia was the obvious next choice.  I’d already started to do little tasks there, and I was already comfortable writing Encyclopedia-ese from two print encyclopedia projects I worked on.  Now, a year on, I do still miss my Friday mornings with the Bain Collection, but I have a new playground, and so far I’ve liked that a lot too.

As of this morning, I’ve created 27 new entries on Wikipedia (26 on my own, one to help a friend whose work was stuck in an editorial queue).  Mostly women, but there are two men (both of them involved with oceans, though that’s a coincidence); a lot of people involved in museum work, which I don’t do, but I guess I gravitate towards those who do.  Some of these names I knew before starting their entries, but some were new to me on that day.  I like edit-athons, and I like picking names from a list and seeing where they take me.  Not surprisingly, I prefer writing about dead people, because their obituaries and tombstones are fair game, and their images are more likely to be available for use.  Six of my posts have been linked on the front page of Wikipedia as “Did You Know” (DYK) facts so far–not for more than a few hours, but it’s still a hoot, and the process of getting there is an impressive part of the backstage rigging of the site.

And yeah, six of them involved Flickr Commons images I wanted to know more about.  So it’s maybe not such a big shift after all.

Here are my 27 entries as of June 23, 2014:
(*=written as part of an editathon)

Crochet for Problem-solving

June 4, 2014

Our kitchen table needed covering–we don’t eat at it much, it mostly holds groceries and boxes and backpacks and such.  But we can’t use tablecloths, because a member of our household pulls them down, every time.  So, I was thinking, “fitted tablecloth”? Do they make such a thing?  And then… can I make such a thing?  I might have been able to sew a cover, but decided that it’s easier for me to crochet.  I used various fabric strips from Trash for Teaching (of course), so it worked up quickly, and the results are stretchy enough to hug the tabletop, and cushion it from any sharp corners. 

Yes, it does look like I yarnbombed my own kitchen, but that’s a bonus for me.  Speaking of which, there’s still time to go see Surroundings, the current installation by Yarn Bombing Los Angeles, at the Manhattan Beach Creative Arts Center

Serendipity Paint

April 17, 2014

Serendipity Paint

Are you an art teacher? Does it pain you to throw away the paper plates of expensive paint after a lesson? Make serendipity paints. The three above came from one large classroom’s leftovers! Three spice jars, one each for reds/blues/golds, scoop and scrape your paints into the jars to filled, cap tightly. These are great prizes for young artists, or gifts for fellow art educators–practically free, and they’re keeping some paint out of the trash.

Crochet in Code

February 17, 2014

I’m making a ring for the Yarn Bombing Los Angeles project “Put a Ring on It.”  While an engagement ring seems to be the reference intended — as in “if you like it, why don’t you marry it?” and bringing in the idea of “engagement” in community — I thought of a secret decoder ring, and about crocheting in Morse code.


According to this Morse code translator, “put a ring on it” is .–. ..- – / .- / .-. .. -. –. / — -. / .. –

I made the dots red, the dashes aqua, and the spaces (slashes) dark green:

.. ..– – / . / .. .. . . / — –. / ..

Each row is a symbol; so three dashes in a row are three aqua rows.
I made a swatch with thrifted acrylic DK yarn, 32 rows, 16 stitches per row; that’s enough for a ring that’s a little bigger than a bagel, and looks like a chunky bracelet.
I stuffed it with a plastic bag (which doesn’t add weight, and doesn’t mind a little rain).

Here’s the finished ring (and another ring made from the same code):IMG_4482

When I’ve made a few, I’ll place them in the community, and I’ll contribute photos to the Put a Ring on It Project.  Stay tuned.

What I read in 2013

December 31, 2013

Past editions of this list:  2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008.  This list is also available in pictorial format at Pinterest.

It was a good year for reading here!  Thirty-nine books finished.  Some illustrated books, some YA novels–and I counted 1Q84 as THREE books, because it is. ;) BG=Book Group selection.  I’m in two book groups, so a lot of my reading is driven by that. Also, I’ve been getting a lot of advanced reader copies from Mysterious Galaxy Redondo Beach, so some of these were read in that format (one of the books listed, Annihilation, won’t be published until February 2014, for example).  Finally, this was the first year I read any books on a Kindle (starting with The Age of Miracles).

These are numbered in chronological order, from January to December.

1.  Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus (BG)
2. Jo Walton, Among Others (BG)
3. Rhoda Janzen, Mennonite in a Little Black Dress
4. Cory Doctorow, Eastern Standard Tribe
5. Lisa Genova, Left Neglected
6. Jess Walter, Beautiful Ruins (BG)
7. Cory Doctorow, Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town
8. Melanie Gideon, Wife 22 (BG)
9. Katy Gardner, Losing Gemma
10.-12. Haruki Murakami, 1Q84 (three volumes)
13. Cheryl Strayed, Wild (BG)
14. Kirsten Miller, Kiki Strike:  Inside the Shadow City
15. Erik Larson, Thunderstruck (BG)
16. Marisha Pessl, Night Film
17. Doris Lessing, The Fifth Child
18. Jim Knipfel, Slackjaw (BG)
19. Kirsten Miller, Kiki Strike:  The Empress’s Tomb
20. Jim Knipfel, Quitting the Nairobi Trio
21.  Karen Thompson Walker, The Age of Miracles
22. Peter Heller, The Dog Stars
23.  Molly Peacock, The Paper Garden
24. Susan Nussbaum, Good Kings Bad Kings (BG)
25.  Kirsten Menger-Anderson, Doctor Olaf van Schuler’s Brain
26.  Kate Atkinson, Behind the Scenes at the Museum (BG)
27.  Nick Bantock, The Forgetting Room
28.  Heidi W. Durrow, The Girl Who Fell from the Sky
29.  Amy Gail Hansen, The Butterfly Sister
30. Jeff Vandermeer, Annihilation
31. Nick Bantock, The Venetian’s Wife
32. Lisa Brackmann, Hour of the Rat
33. Thrity Umrigar, The Space Between Us (BG)
34.  Tana French, In the Woods
35.  Julian Barnes, England, England
36.  Connie Willis, To Say Nothing of the Dog (BG)
37.  John Scalzi, Redshirts
38.  Tana French, The Likeness
39. Ann Patchett, The Patron Saint of Liars (BG)

New Page: All Our Costumes

October 22, 2013

I’ve been wanting to do this for a while, and this is a good time of year to do it:  here’s a page of all our costumes.  Do you remember me or daughter wearing something fun for Halloween or another event?  You can probably find it on the new “All our costumes” page.  I’ll be adding the 2013 costumes soon, probably this weekend, when we start wearing the final versions in public…


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.