A Sampler for the New Year

February 3, 2021

I’ve participated in four previous Fun-a-Day LA events, and I’m participating in Art.Happens, this year’s virtual Fun-a-Day LA. I’ve done two crochet projects, one garment-making project, one Wikipedia-and-collage project, and now, chalk art. For January 2021, I made a chalk alphabet on my front walk.

A is for Avocado, Arrow, and Ant… and so on.

This was actually done in two segments; I finished A through N before we got a big rainstorm, then it all washed away. I redid M and N, and continued to Z, finishing on January 31. Nell helped me with stitching the two segments together to make one seamless photograph.
Here’s what the walk looked like during the rainstorms:

Rain delay! But also pretty.

What I read in 2020

January 1, 2021

Past editions of this list: 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008. This list is also available in pictorial format at Pinterest.

Books for the new year (except I already read one of them in 2020, whoops).

It was a very good year for reading here! Forty books finished. I’m a slow reader who likes long books. Also, I stop reading books without guilt, especially in this year when the mood didn’t always allow for hard reads; so assume I also didn’t finish a dozen or so titles, and it probably wasn’t any fault of theirs. I have continued to enjoy audio books through Libby and Cloud Library. Reading (by ear and by eye) has improved my daily early morning walk, and given me some mental space to roam beyond my house’s four walls.

BG=Book Group selection. (One of my book groups tried to keep meeting by zoom, but… I hate zoom meetings, so I wasn’t too engaged with selections this year.) Just because I read a book and listed it here doesn’t mean I liked it or would recommend it.  By my count (corrections welcome), 35/40 books listed are by female or non-binary authors this year. 35 are novels (including science fiction, fantasy, historical), 3 are short story collections, 2 are memoirs. Some might be classed as YA, but that’s not something I always notice.

These are numbered in more-or-less chronological order (sometimes I read more than one book at a time), from January to December.

1. Leni Zumas, Red Clocks
2. Sarah Gailey, Magic for Liars BG
3. Hannah Kent, The Good People
4. Celeste Ng, Little Fires Everywhere
5. Yoko Ogawa, The Professor and the Housekeeper BG
6. Lauren Groff, Florida (short stories)
7. Liane Moriarty, What Alice Forgot BG
8. Rivers Solomon, The Deep
9. Laila Lalami, The Other Americans
10. Steph Cha, Your House Will Pay
11. Rebecca Makkai, The Hundred-Year House
12. Kat Howard, Roses and Rot
13. Edan Lepucki, Woman No. 17
14. Emma Donoghue, Astray (short stories)
15. Elizabeth McCracken, Bowlaway
16. Helene Wecker, The Golem and the Jinni
17. Amy Meyerson, The Bookshop of Yesterdays
18. Judy Heumann, Being Heumann BG (memoir)
19. Alexis M. Smith, Marrow Island
20. Tara Conklin, The House Girl
21. Carmen Maria Machado, Her Body and Other Parties (short stories)
22. Alix E. Harrow, The Ten Thousand Doors of January
23. Lorrie Moore, A Gate at the Stairs
24. Ayana Mathis, The Twelve Tribes of Hattie
25. Rebecca Makkai, The Great Believers
26. C. A. Fletcher, A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World
27. Mira Jacob, The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing
28. Connie Willis, Doomsday Book
29. Ruth Hogan, The Keeper of Lost Things
30. Nicola Griffith, So Lucky
31. Alyssa Cole, When No One Is Watching
32. Mary Robinette Kowal, The Calculating Stars
33. Hilary Jordan, Mudbound
34. Taylor Jenkins Reid, Daisy Jones and the Six
35. Alena Graedon, The World Exchange
36. John Marrs, The One
37. Kevin Brockmeier, The Brief History of the Dead
38. Peter Heller, The River
39. Aarti Namdev Shahani, Here We Are (memoir)
40. Matt Haig, The Midnight Library

2020 Clothing Projects

December 31, 2020

In 2020, I made a lot of clothes for myself (and some for my kids, mostly PJ pants). Late in 2019, at Sewing Rebellion meetings at the North Redondo library, I started learning to use really basic, flexible patterns from 100 Acts of Sewing (#dressno1, #pantsno1, and #dressno3, if you’re curious). This was fortunate preparation for a year of minimal shopping and sewing as entertainment. I made three outfits (fifteen wearable items, sewn, crocheted, etc.) for the Fun-A-Day-LA show in Long Beach last January; that was also a useful push into making and wearing whatever entertained me with whatever was lurking around my house. So there are clothes here made from old yardage, felted sweaters, curtains, and bedsheets. And the scraps from most of these became masks, because… 2020. I’ve been really grateful to have some of these comfortable clothes (especially the pajama pants) in this year of enforced couch time.

Top row, left to right: a crocheted lacy scarf, bloomers made from bedsheets, flannel pajama pants; middle row, left, three outfits for Fun-A-Day LA show; middle right, four outfits made for #100actsofsewingjuly20 on Instagram; Bottom row, left to right: a yellow cotton tunic set with matching hat and mask; two pairs of pajama pants for son; a crocheted “backpack sweatervest” (turns round to fit over a backpack).

More Lockdown Chalkdown

December 31, 2020

Three more chalk art projects on our front walk, from September, October, and November/December. There was rain right after Christmas, so we’ll be starting something new for the new year.

Lockdown Chalkdown

September 3, 2020

We’ve spent a lot of this past six months doing chalk art in front of our house, because there aren’t any chalk events this summer, and because it entertains the neighbors, and because it’s surprisingly therapeutic. Here are some of the chalk drawings we’ve done so far, since mid-March.

Face Covering Tutorial PDF

April 4, 2020


Click the link above for my instagram tutorial in PDF form. It’s a quick-and-hacky no-sew, breathable, washable face covering. If you can crochet a rectangle, cut some fabric, and tie a knot, you can make this. It’s not pretty, but it’s wearable.

What I read in 2019

January 1, 2020

Screen Shot 2019-12-27 at 4.03.53 PM

All the books I finished in 2019, plus foods. (In order, from the bottom right.)

Past editions of this list: 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008. This list is also available in pictorial format at Pinterest.

It was a very good year for reading here! Forty-eight books finished. I’m a slow reader who likes long books. Also, I stop reading books without guilt; so assume I also didn’t finish a dozen or so titles. BUT! This is the year I finally started taking advantage of audio books through Libby. It’s been great to listen to books during walks, on errands, doing chores, etc.

BG=Book Group selection. I’m in two book groups, so a lot of my reading is driven by that. Just because I read a book and listed it here doesn’t mean I liked it or would recommend it.  33/48 books are by female or non-binary authors this year.

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

1. M. R. Carey, Fellside

2. Paul Kalanithi, When Breath Becomes Air BG

3. Theodora Goss, The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter

4. Jennifer Egan, Manhattan Beach BG

5. Mo Daviau, Every Anxious Wave BG

6. Rachel Khong, Goodbye Vitamin

7. Andrea Avery, Sonata BG

8. Elan Mastai, All Our Wrong Todays

9. Idra Novey, Those Who Knew

10.Dervla McTiernan, The Ruin BG

11.Lidia Yuknavitch, The Book of Joan

12. Chloe Benjamin, The Immortalists BG

13. Sylvain Neuvel, Only Human

14. Claire O’Dell, A Study in Honor

15. Cory Doctorow, Homeland

16. Alex Wagner, Futureface

17. Yann Martel, The High Mountains of Portugal

18. Sam J. Miller, Blackfish City

19. Ling Ma, Severance

20. Sophie Mackintosh, The Water Cure

21. Peng Shepherd, The Book of M

22. Alexander Chee, The Queen of the Night

23. Esmé Weijun Wang, The Collected Schizophrenias BG

24. Lisa Grunwald, Time After Time BG

25. Emma Newman, Planetfall

26. Maja Lunde, The History of Bees

27. Jenny Offill, Dept. of Speculation

28. Patrick Flanery, I Am No One

29. Justin Go, The Steady Running of the Hour

30. Rachel Joyce, The Music Shop

31. Sarai Walker, Dietland

32. Stephen Kuusisto, Have Dog Will Travel: A Poet’s Journey BG

33. Toni Morrison, A Mercy BG

34. Diane McKinney-Whetstone, Lazaretto

35. Paul Tremblay, The Cabin at the End of the World

36. Hilary Liftin and Kate Montgomery, Dear Exile

37. Charlotte Rogan, The Lifeboat

38. Mishell Baker, Borderline BG

39. Kate Atkinson, Big Sky BG

40. Tayari Jones, An American Marriage

41. M. R. Carey, The Boy on the Bridge

42. Jessie Burton, The Muse

43. Erika Swyler The Book of Speculation

44. Annalee Newitz, Autonomous

45. Lisa See, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

46. Christian White, The Nowhere Child

47. Abby Geni, The Lightkeepers

48. Robin Sloan, Sourdough

31 Flavors of Summer 2019

September 28, 2019

This month Jake and I completed another self-imposed challenge: let’s eat ice cream in 31 different places during the summer (roughly, Memorial Day to Labor Day). And take pictures, of course. We did it! Full list with links below. To see all his pictures, you can check my instagram, or I made an album at ipernity.
Summer of Ice Cream 30.  Mashti Malone's

Our 31 Flavors of Summer, in chronological order:
1. Craigers at Manhattan Beach Farmers’ Market
2. Paciugo in Hermosa Beach
3. Creamistry in Redondo Beach
4. Menchie’s in Redondo Beach
5. Big Wok in Manhattan Beach (we were having dinner, Jake was having ice cream)
6. The Baked Bear in Hermosa Beach
7. Cafe Meli Mellow in Redondo Beach
8. Handel’s in Redondo Beach
9.   -8C in Gardena
10. Desserts by Patrick in Redondo Beach
11. Oko Cafe in Gardena
12. Dahlicious (aka, Carrissa’s Delicious Bakery) in Torrance
13. La Michoacana Superior in Inglewood
14. Pinkberry in El Segundo
15. Rori’s Artisanal Creamery in Long Beach
16. Silog in Torrance (a Filipino restaurant that sells halo-halo, a frozen dessert)
17. Rolling Zone Creamery in Lawndale
18. Kansha Creamery in Torrance
19. Swirl Soft Serve in Hawthorne
20. Gelato & Angels in Manhattan Beach
21. Cauldron in Torrance
22. Churro Buzz in Torrance (Our picture from this trip won us a free churro on Instagram)
23. Pitfire Pizza in Manhattan Beach (Nell and I won a sundae at trivia night; Jake came to help us eat it)
24. Afters in Long Beach
25. Bubble Waffle in Redondo Beach
26. Sweet Rice in Gardena
27. Roman Aroma in Redondo Beach
28. Somi-Somi in Torrance
29. Scoops in Torrance
30. Mashti Malone’s in Hollywood (Persian ice cream, amazing flavors)
31. Baskin-Robbins in Lawndale (of course we ended on 31 at Baskin-Robbins!)


April 15, 2019

From January to April this spring, Jake and I did a #30MuseumsIn90Days challenge. (It’s not a pre-existing challenge that I know of; it just seemed like a good number for a fun series.) We live in the South Bay and I don’t love driving, so most of our outings were nearby, but some were farther away, when we could recruit Peter to drive. We also got three museums in during a spring break trip to Santa Barbara. We skipped LACMA, the Huntington, the main Getty, the Tar Pits, etc., because we wanted to focus on lesser-known (and usually free) places whenever possible.
Here’s the list:
1.  Torrance Art Museum (Torrance)
2. Western Museum of Flight (Torrance)
3. Redondo Beach Historical Museum (Redondo Beach)
4. Flight Path Museum (LAX)
5. Torrance Historical Society Museum (Torrance)
6. El Camino College Art Gallery (Torrance)
7. California Science Center (Los Angeles)
8. California African American Museum (Los Angeles)
9. Museum of Latin American Art (Long Beach)
10. Pasadena Museum of History (Pasadena)
11.Hawthorne Historical Museum (Hawthorne)
12. Manhattan Beach Art Center (Manhattan Beach)
13. El Segundo Museum of Art (El Segundo)
14. Palos Verdes Art Center (Rancho Palos Verdes)
15. Getty Villa (Malibu)
16. Drum Barracks Civil War Museum (Wilmington)
17. Banning House Visitors Center (Wilmington)*
18. Ben Maltz Gallery at Otis (Westchester)
19. Museum of Ventura County (Ventura)
20. Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History (Santa Barbara)
21. Santa Barbara Museum of Art (Santa Barbara)
22. Laband Art Gallery at LMU (Westchester)
23. Automobile Driving Museum (El Segundo)
24. Madrona Marsh Nature Center (Torrance)
25. Fort MacArthur (San Pedro)
26. Korean Bell of Friendship (San Pedro)
27. Manhattan Beach Cottage Museum (Manhattan Beach)
28. Wende Museum (Culver City)
29. Petersen Automotive Museum (Los Angeles)
30. Craft Contemporary (Los Angeles)

*The Banning House itself is not wheelchair accessible. So we only visited the Visitors’ Center, which had a small exhibit on antique fans.

We took pictures everywhere, of course, and they’re all on instagram if you’re curious. Here’s one of my favorites, though, at the gorgeous Getty Villa:

What I read in 2018

January 1, 2019


Reading with ramen in 2018.

Past editions of this list: 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008. This list is also available in pictorial format at Pinterest.

It was a good year for reading here! Twenty-eight books finished. I’m a slow reader who likes long books; and this year my time for leisure reading continued to be limited by  carework responsibilities. Also, I stop reading books without guilt; so assume I also didn’t finish a dozen or so titles.

BG=Book Group selection. I’m in two book groups, so a lot of my reading is driven by that. Just because I read a book and listed it here doesn’t mean I liked it or would recommend it.  20/28 authors are female or non-binary this year; there was a long stretch over the summer when I didn’t want to read any more books by white guys, and I’m still not that interested, to be honest. The only even vaguely non-fiction books here are Lawson’s memoir and Satrapi’s graphic novel. I probably started a lot of others; just strongly preferring fiction right now.

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

1. Michel Faber, The Book of Strange New Things
2. Naomi Alderman, The Power
3. Jenny Lawson, Furiously Happy
4. Jac Jemc, The Grip of It
5. Haruki Murakami, Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage
6. Richard Kadrey, The Everything Box
7. Sarah Perry, The Essex Serpent BG
8. Patricia Park, Re Jane
9. Emily Fridlund, The History of Wolves BG
10. John Scalzi, Head On
11. Sylvain Neuvel, Waking Gods
12. Jennifer McMahan, Winter People
13. Marjane Satrapi, Embroideries
14. Meg Rosoff, How I Live Now
15. Zinzi Clemmons, What We Lose BG
16. Yxta Maya Murray, The Conquest
17. Charlie Jane Anders, All The Birds in the Sky
18.Idra Novey, Ways to Disappear
19. Rivers Solomon, An Unkindness of Ghosts
20. Ben H. Winters, The Last Policeman
21. Andrew Sean Greer, Less BG
22. Warren Ellis, Normal
23. Emma Healey, Elizabeth is Missing BG
24. Connie Willis, Belwether
25. Lauren Beukes, Zoo City
26. Margaret Atwood, The Penelopiad
27. Chloe Benjamin, The Anatomy of Dreams
28. Ruta Sepetys, Salt to the Sea BG