Me-Made May 2016

May 31, 2016

I finished Me Made May 2016–a month of wearing garments made by myself, either sewn, crocheted, or refashioned somehow. It was fun, and not a particular stretch to wear 30 different handmade garments. I might could have gone another week, though it would have involved wearing some fancy dresses and older things.
Click here for a closer look: MeMadeMay2016


Towel Day Memory

May 26, 2016

When I was sixteen (the same age my daughter is now), I wrote a letter to Douglas Adams. And he wrote back. Happy Towel Day! (This is a scan of a copy of the letter; I can’t find the original. I also can’t find the original postcard I got from Isaac Asimov the same year. I’m sure they’re together somewhere, very safe.)

Transcript: Dear Penny Richards: Thank you very much for your letter about The Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I’m very glad that you enjoyed it so much. I just make up names like Zaphod Beebblebrox from out of my heads. You may be interested to know that there is a third and last book of the Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy coming out in September, published by Crown Books called Life, The Universe, and Everything. I hope you enjoy that too. I don’t know of any Hitch-hiker fan clubs in the US, but a science fiction bookshop, such as Forbidden Planet in New York, or a Change of Hobbit in L.A., should be able to tell you. There is a six episode TV version of Hitch Hiker which was made here in England a couple of years ago, and I believe that this is starting to sell in a few areas in the States now, for showing on the PBS channel. best wishes, Douglas Adams

Yarnbombing at Descanso Gardens

May 9, 2016

For my Mother’s Day this year, I yarnbombed a pillar at Descanso Gardens–by permission, part of a bigger installation by Yarn Bombing Los Angeles–we were doing pillars, benches, overhead structures, etc. at the entrance of the gardens. It was fun to hear reactions from the folks leaving today.

I worked on this a lot on spring break, when we took a road trip…


…to the Grand Canyon.

What I read in 2015

January 2, 2016

Sometimes my meal matches my book. (“Esperanza’s Box of Saints,” which is set mostly in Mexico, next to a plate of tacos)

Past editions of this list: 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! Forty books finished, including 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.  Just because I read a book doesn’t mean I liked it or would recommend it. But any year that includes TWO David Mitchell books and TWO Margaret Atwood books is a good one for me. Female author/male author ratio: 28/12; Fiction/nonfiction ratio: 34:6.

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

1. Emily St. John Mandel, Station Eleven

2. Joan Silber, Ideas of Heaven

3. Naomi Hirahara, Summer of the Big Bachi

4.Tracy Guzeman, The Gravity of Birds BG

5. Michael Chabon, Telegraph Avenue BG

6. Edan Lepucki, California

7. Susannah Cahalan, Brain on Fire BG

8. Jennifer Marie Brissett, Elysium

9. Charles Bock, Beautiful Children

10. Helen Oyeyemi, The Icarus Girl

11. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah BG

12. Kazuo Ishiguro, Buried Giant

13. Esi Edugyan, Half-Blood Blues

14. Kenzaburo Oe, Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids

15. Martin Pistorius, Ghost Boy BG

16. Alice Hoffman, The Museum of Extraordinary Things BG

17. Elizabeth Gaffney, Metropolis

18. Kate Atkinson, Life after Life BG

19. Jessie Burton, The Miniaturist

20. Noelle Stevenson, Nimona

21. Kevin Wilson, The Family Fang

22. Emily Rapp, The Still Point of the Turning World BG

23. Maria Amparo Escandón, Esperanza’s Box of Saints

24. Grey and Gullett, eds., Contingent Maps: Rethinking Western Women’s History REV

25. David Mitchell, The Bone Clocks

26. Eleanor Catton, The Luminaries BG

27. Ben Mattlin, Miracle Boy BG

28. Margaret Atwood, Stone Mattress: Nine Tales

29. Kenneth J. Harvey, The Town that Forgot How to Breathe

30. Steve Silberman, Neurotribes BG

31. Lucy Foley, The Book of Lost and Found BG

32. Monica Byrne, The Girl in the Road

33. Eowyn Ivey, Snow Child BG

34. China Miéville, Kraken

35. Mary Doria Russell, The Sparrow

36. Meg Wolitzer, The Interestings BG

37. Tana French, Broken Harbor

38. David Mitchell, Slade House

39. Margaret Atwood, The Heart Goes Last

40. Hillary Jordan, When She Woke


Three-way Shawl

December 20, 2015

I found a big hank of hand-dyed navy-blue wool-silk fibre from Little Wool Co. of New Zealand, in a bag of yarns at a thriftshop. Of course I grabbed it. I knew it could make something quite large, so I started making a big rectangle, not completely sure what it would be….and this is what it became.


The gold edge detail is mohair from another thriftshop goody bag–it’s a little heavier weight yarn, but it helps with holding the shape. The buttons belonged to my great-aunt. And it turns out it can be worn three ways–I like the shoulder-button way best, because it means I can carry a shoulder bag without it getting bunchy.

You’re invited!

December 2, 2015

I’m one of the artists, but the whole show is going to be fun. If you’re in the LA area, I’d love to see you at the opening! It’s also a great place to shop, if you’re still buying holiday goodies.
Cardboard Art Flyer_vdarker

Wikipedia milestone 100

November 23, 2015

Earlier this month (November 2015), English-language Wikipedia reached its 5 millionth article — which turned out to be about an Australian shrub.

This weekend, I reached my own personal Wikipedia milestone:  I started my 100th article, during the New York Academy of Sciences Women in Science edit-athon.  It was about Nellie M. Payne (1900-1990), an entomologist who held a couple patents on insecticides. She did some pioneering research in the 1920s, on the effect of low temperatures on insects.  I just chose her off the work list for the edit-athon, probably because her name is Nellie (I’ve also done entries for chemist Nellie May Naylor and music hall performer Nell Emerald).  It’s not my most interesting entry, nor my best entry, but it’s my 100th entry.  Onward!  (My user page at Wikipedia has the complete list, if you’re curious.)

“Tron” sweater vest/layering piece

November 12, 2015

Because my friend Kim said this reminded her of Tron. Made from a bunch of nice rayon/cotton blend (three colors of Tahki Stacy Charles “Victoria”), and some Bernat “Souffle” (nylon, the black parts), all thrifted. Looking forward to seeing how it wants to be worn.
Crocheted sweater vest

Halloween 2015: Crafty round-up

November 10, 2015

It was another fun season of crafting for Halloween this year.   For daughter, another Pokemon hat (Espeon, this time):

Crocheted Espeon Hat

Crocheted Espeon Hat on daughter

Also crocheted some Sylveon ears for her friend to add to a headband:

Crocheted Pokemon hats

Crocheted Pokemon headwear

For a friend’s preschooler sons, I crocheted Darth Vader and Batman hats/masks:
IMG_4010 IMG_4046

For myself? A giant crocheted bird costume.
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For son, I built another cardboard/duct tape/spray paint wheelchair costume, this time “Rocketship to Jupiter”:

We photographed it at Trash for Teaching, because we got some of the materials for making it there. He won best costume at his teen dance, and we also won $100 in Crafted Cash at Crafted in San Pedro, so it was a popular costume.
For the yard: my Little Free Library got a monster costume:

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.