Category Archives: every day life

A Saturday dog walk

It’s the kind of day when you take your thin cardigan off halfway through your walk. Beautiful, in other words.

I swear dogs are so much smarter than we think. Case in point: passed a beagle who howled in just the right register and with just enough volume to penetrate Beyoncé on ear phones. Oh, hello over there!

I never wear earbuds the whole way because they create a barrier to the world. Before Beyoncé, I briefly sampled a recent Sisters-in-law podcast and whew, switched that off fast. I wouldn’t mind a day of not thinking about Judge Cannon and classified documents.

Do you see the chipmunk?
I love all the directions here
Another arrow in the form of a shadow

A friend who is also an intellectual property lawyer gave me a free and informative rundown on copyright law yesterday. It was excellent timing because of that notice I got on Instagram last week.

I had no idea, for instance, that posting too many words from a book could be problematic (and here I thought I was promoting the author!) I will be more judicious in future, maybe limiting quotes to a short paragraph.

Also “fair use” (a defense against a copyright violation allegation) is broader than I thought. For instance, an image doesn’t necessarily have to be transformed if the artist is using it to make a commentary that differs from the original.

Not making money is a factor, BTW, but not an exemption. I thought it was.

There are also privacy interests apart from copyright issues. Public figures have no privacy interests to protect. So that means, for example, that the recurring Jeremy Irons face in one of my collage series would not run afoul of the actor’s right to privacy. Only the photographer in that case might have a grievance.

Home. Garden having a final flourish
Paper only — border is a photo of a quilt I made. Buildings from a magazine. Barn eave from PCC

The upshot of all this is I want to use more exclusively my own images. The interior magazine image above was originally whole. Yesterday while thinking about all of this, I ripped it in half and oriented one half upside down.

Paper collage discussed above is here doubled exposed and filtered with another quilt I made (below).

Or is it the one below? Sometimes it’s hard to tell. I don’t mind that.

Oh stop now! You’d never know I meant to be very brief here. I have an AWA workshop in a few.

But no discussion of copyright is complete without noting the value of proper attributions: please find some of Deb Lacativa’s extraordinary fabric in quilt above (if you hurry, she has a new batch of vintage, hand-dyed fabrics available). Also, both the nine-patch and woven cloth strips arise out of a long association and class-taking with Jude over at spiritcloth. A real mensch and a maven, she is.

Sitting on the stoop

You know you live in an affluent suburban neighborhood when sitting on the stoop (like now), you hear only tree frogs, cars occasionally passing, and one or two jets going overhead and you declare it HEAVEN.

You know you live in 2022 America, when your battered psyche swings between icy panic, disbelief, and both lazy and full-throttled escapism. Oh, and rage. Did I mention rage? Who knew how important wordle, the spelling bee, crossword and jigsaw puzzles would become to one’s mental health?

This week escapism overlapped with current events in the form of a gripping novel full of political intrigue. Such a page-turner, I devoured 500 pages in two and a half days (see escapism, above).

The very week the Washington Post disclosed that among the stolen papers at Mar-a-Lago was a document revealing the nuclear capabilities of another government, I read the thriller that Hillary Clinton co-authored with Louise Penny.

It’s pretty much ripped from the headlines.

Among the things to love is how the protagonist, a female Secretary of State, makes sweeping critical commentary about the former guy. He was called Eric Dunn, or moron, or corrupt bad actor — you get the idea.

And if you’re a fan of the Three Pines mysteries by Louise Penny (I’m looking at you, Jen), the detour to that Quebec town and the appearance of Chief Inspector Gamache are just added kicks.

I won’t spoil anything here by saying the plot turns on the infiltration of the US government at the highest levels by domestic terrorists, features nuclear bombs, and showcases the sharp wits of a few American politicians.

In other news, yesterday I mailed off two quilts to C. in California. Of my two boys, he’s the bigger gamer, hence the wall-hanging based on a first-person shooter game, Lost Planet. I sent him a vertical landscape as well. For some reason, it’s one of my favorites.

In closing, I’ll share a secret. K is soon making his first international trip in more than two years (he used to be gone about a week a month), and I can’t wait to make pancakes for dinner AT FOUR O’CLOCK!

PS I shouldn’t have said anything! A backyard neighbor is having their house power-washed. All our back windows now closed (and it’s still loud).

PPS Below’s the figure quilt is based on. It’s not the exact magazine ad, couldn’t find that. But you can see outline, weapon, garb, etc.

Dusty west and dry east

On other trips to Los Angeles, it seemed I could not take a bad picture. On this recent trip, however, the landscapes look dusty, uninspired, and ill-composed. I think it was me.

Here on the east coast, it continues to be dry and hot. We missed the scorching heat while visiting my brother, but our plants did not. Through the use of timers and soaker hoses, we were able to preserve a lot, but some astilbe dried to a crisp and several newer shrubs gave up the ghost. I just dug up two of them. I don’t plan to replace them.

I cooked for us all at my brother’s and that was nice but the real contribution of the week was to blow up the solar-powered beach-ball lights that had been sitting in their boxes since Christmas.

It was strange while away to check the daily temps at home and find the Boston area hotter, by five, six, seven degrees sometimes.

It took longer than usual to “arrive” home but here we are. The AC blowing. The dog sighing. Greenery bouncing in a light, hot wind.

Before I sign off, look what Nancy sent me. How nice it was to come home to!

Check out the button! I feel so seen.

Thank you, Ms. Erisman!

Overheard and telling

Scene I: Hemlock Gorge.

Players: Older man with his grey-whiskered pug. As is often the case, man and dog look alike. They have parked themselves at the side of the path to let us pass. You’d be surprised how many people do not do this. Courtesy made visible. Man is on his phone.

Important detail? Man speaks with an accent. I can’t identify it. Eastern European, maybe, but not Russian or Ukrainian. In my imagination, he is speaking to someone in another country and he is trying to explain the inexplicable, that is, life in America today.

“It’s amazing,” he starts. “There was an insurrection. It was filmed up and down and still people support him.”

It was filmed up and down and still people support him.

Scene II: checkout at Wegman’s supermarket.

Actors: Two young women working adjacent registers.

Important detail: they are both attractive with the blush and confidence of youth.

Unimportant details: one is Black and the other Latina.

Black woman: “He followed me around the store. I kept turning and asking him, Can I help you? And he kept coming. Can I help you? I kept asking. He was old, like 40 or something. Really old. He asked me for my name. I’m good, I told him. He kept coming. I looked at him and said, You’re old! He asked for my Instagram account and I told him my boyfriend has a temper.”

Latina woman about some other man: “I was wearing a blanket, I mean I was completely covered. And still he came at me. A blanket!”

Black woman, to me, perhaps by way of acknowledging that employees aren’t supposed to indulge in quite so much talk across a customer’s basket: “I’m sorry.”

She apologized to me!

It wasn’t one of those situations where I could have feigned not listening. So I said something, not just to let her know that no apology was needed but to emphatically support their indignation.

I told the Black woman she could have accused the man not just of being old but also of being a fucking creep. To the other I said it never mattered what she wore. Ever.

The Black woman awarded me the “customer of the day” award.

These two exchanges were telling, not just because of how my ongoing, general isolation makes these casual interactions more important than they might otherwise be, but because of what they say about where we find ourselves as Americans — as Americans on a precipitous decline that shows no sign of slowing.

Walking after dinner

The torrential rain woke me repeatedly last night and each time in my half-awake state I thought, The world is ending, isn’t it?

I can’t take the gummies as a sleep-aid anymore because of what they do to my stomach. Maybe this second purchase is contaminated because the first order didn’t bother me at all. I don’t know. Last night I was awake past two. The same two nights before, except maybe it was three o’clock. And one night recently I didn’t sleep at all.

My phone always has a book on it. Library-kindle is a boon. It means I can stay in bed and read.

Yesterday I finished Oh, William!: A Novel by Elizabeth Strout and started a Maggie O’Farrell. Some of you have read O’Farrell’s extraordinary Hamnet, I know. This one, I Am, I Am, I Am, is a memoir told through a series of near-death experiences.

The Strout book was told by Lucy Barton. She is looking back on her first marriage and spending time with her ex in NYC where they both live. They make a road trip to Maine. Her second husband has recently died and her ex’s third wife leaves him early in the narrative, so it isn’t that odd that they might seek each other out. The novel has this distinctive voice, with frequent insertions of phrases like, is what I mean to say or I’m not going to write another word about that. And even though not much happens really, it was hard to put down.

I read acknowledgments now. Lo and behold! One of the agents Strout gushed over at the back of the novel supplied my most recent rejection. That soured me on the book a little. Aren’t I mature?

Finished Ann Patchett’s gem of an essay collection this week too and it left a slightly bitter side note as well. She describes winning this and that prize like I talk about running to Home Goods to pick up a cake platter.

I’ll get over myself. Honest. The essays are very much worth reading.

In other news, the lake afforded a cool reprieve yesterday. I made a delicious potato salad and so-so brownies (old chocolate?). We finished watching The Outlaws.

We’ve been taking Finn around the “figure eight” after dinner lately. I’ve hit over 10,000 steps quite a few times recently because of it.

In case you can’t tell, that’s a brag!