Thursday, June 28, 2012

TiLT: Top Five Edition

Do you remember those top five lists John Cusack’s character made in the movie High Fidelity? Top five songs about death, top five breakups, top five things you’d do if time and history and salary were no object. Well, this Thursday I’d like to make a top five list. A “Top Five Things of Almost Summer”. Almost summer, because it’s not quite summer here in Missoula. Well, it is technically summer, the weather is in the 80’s (I think it’s been in the 90’s one day so far), but I’ve not been in the water and, as a girl reared in Eastern North Carolina, being in the water is a big part of summer. I won’t be able to get in the water here (read: float in a tube down the river) until July-ish, maybe August. So, until then it’s almost summer. Here are my Top Five Things of Almost Summer. What would you pick?

Make a blazer then take a road trip! Two birds.
1. Dresses: I love being able to wear dresses and skirts. I love that I can wear them now without tights or stockings or wool underwear. I think they are pretty, bright, colorful, and fun. Also, they are easy to make. Have you ever wanted to make summer clothes? Skirts might just be one of the things that get you sewing this summer. Try looking through the patterns at Some of their skirt patterns are free, some are not. Burdastyle also ranks their patters by technical skills needed to make something from beginner to master. 

2. Lemonade: Tart, sweet, cool, and with a little bit of mint leaves muddled in the mix, there’s nothing quite like it. Except maybe a mojito. Lemonade has to be my summer drink of choice. Well, OK, it’s right up there with homemade sweet iced tea (pro tip: mix sugar or sweetener into warm tea before adding ice). Have you tried adding raspberries or strawberries to homemade lemonade? Spatulans, this drink is shiny.

3. Picnics: Grabbing a blanket, a basket of lunch or breakfast or dinner supplies, and someone you like hanging out with (including yourself), picnics are the best.  When I was a young’n my mom would make tuna salad sandwiches and sweet tea for me, my brother, and my sister. We’d eat lunch in the back yard under the live oak tree-its branches twining like tentacles over the brown Newport River. The dappled light and background music of cicadas and seagulls made for a perfect day. Picnics don’t have to be expensive and they don’t have to be fancy. Have breakfast with a friend in the nearest park. Try out a new recipe like the carrot salad over at My New Roots. What are your favorite things to take on a picnic? Where are your favorite picnic spots?

Lemonade Love by Sarah Hamm.
4. Being Warm: I love warm weather. Almost summer is not too hot during the day and cool at night and, I think I’ve mentioned this before, I’m not a fan of being cold. I’m not going so far as saying almost summer is my top favorite season but I am saying I like the weather. I love watching the summer thunderstorms and being comfortable during outdoor events. What do you like to do outside during the summer?

5. Day Trips: When was the last time you said to yourself or a friend, “Hey, let’s go here!” and get in the car and go? This is the perfect time to do that. Pick a weekend where you have no obligations, pick a destination, and go. If you like driving, pick a direction and go. Drive down the roads you pass on the way to work but have never been down. If you like seeing new places, find a museum or gallery near you, see if it costs money, and go. Be sure to pack a picnic (see #3), a friend, a camera, and some cash. If you could go anywhere for a weekend if time and history and salary were no object where would you go?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Whimsy Wednesday: Make Something

Make breakfast and art with someone.
This Wednesday make something for someone (or for a few someones). Or, if you can't make something today for someone, sit down and plan on making something this weekend for someone - write out a list of friends and things that they like and supplies you'd need to make that thing for that person. You can also write a letter to someone you miss. Put it in an envelope, stamp it, and send it on it's way today. You could also plan an "art date" to make something this weekend with someone so you get to see the person and get to make something with them. Plan out a simple breakfast (or lunch) and a project to work on together. 

Some project ideas: Make something scrumptious and take it to your friend (like this spiced strawberry sauce), make some homemade magnets, make some friendship bracelets, make a necklace out of old buttons, make someone a home cooked meal, make a bird feeder out of a pine cone, peanut butter and bird seed.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Meter Monday: Rainer Maria Rilke

Here is an old copy of the book.
This isn't a poem, but it's a letter written by a poet. So it counts for Meter Monday. My parents gave me Rainer Maria Rilke's "Letters To A Young Poet" in high school when I declared I was going to be a writer. When I first opened the book this particular excerpt stood out to me. Today, when I opened the book years later, the same paragraph caught my attention. I'm going to share it with you. I'd also like to know:
are there are any poets, writers, artists, musicians, potters, mathematicians, or scientists whose words or works stand out to you? Is there a specific piece or book that made you think, "Yes. This is how I feel and I know I must continue."?

"Go within. Search for the cause, find the impetus that bids you write. Put it to this test: Does it stretch out its roots in the deepest place of your heart? Can you avow that you would die if you were forbidden to write? Above all, in the most silent hour of your night, ask yourself this: "Must I write?" Dig deep into yourself for a true answer. And if it should ring its assent, if you can confidently meet this serious question with a simple, "I must," then build your life upon it. It has become your necessity. Your life, in even the most mundane and least significant hour, must become a sign,  testimony to this urge."
- Rainer Maria Rilke, "Letter To A Young Poet," from The First Letter.

Do you agree or disagree with this sentiment?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Things I Love Thursday: Little Boxes!

I have a box of... random things specifically so you can play "I spy".

I love little boxes. I love little things and putting little things in little boxes. This week I've been cleaning out some boxes and making things with little things I found in little boxes and laughing at how ridiculous it all sounds (but, just little laughs... HAHA just kidding... I'm a big laugher...). I found boxes of buttons and tins of pins, boxes of beads and containers of things I collected, found, and made (I made hot glue animals once). I have a milk crate box full of boxes. It's all organized and everything in the boxes has a use and a place. I just love little boxes full of little things.

What are some things that you love? What little things have made you happy this week?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Whimsy Wednesday: Childhood Daydreams

Short-but-sweet post. Just a simple question. Did you ever have a dream of being someone (or something) imaginary, mythical, or wondrous when you were young? Do you still have whimsical daydreams like you did back then? When I was a little sprout of a girl, I wanted to be a woodland nymph, or a water nymph, or a traveling elf warrior... or somehow all of them combined in some awesome way in which I could communicate with the plants and animals in the forrest that surrounded my house. I still have daydreams, but now I'm able to indulge and dress up as an elf (or as one of my favorite characters from my favorite anime). This makes me happy and makes me laugh.

Left to Right: Haruhara Haruko, S.Kemp pretending to be Haruhara Haruko

Who do (or did) you daydream about being?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Meter Monday: Tim Burton

Happy Monday, Spatulans. I hope your weekends were all Magical. Let's start this week with a poem from Tim Burton's slightly macabre "The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy & Other Stories". While each character is bizarre and each tale a bit melancholy, which is the fun of a Tim Burton poetry collection, every poem is also illustrated, which makes this poetry collection even more fun. I'd encourage you to find this book and devour it, if you haven't already.

Staring Girl

I once knew a girl 
who would just stand there and stare.
At anything, 
she seemed not to care.

She'd stare at the ground,

She'd stare at the sky.

She'd stare at you for hours,
and you'd never know why.

But after winning the local staring contest,
she finally gave her eyes
a well-deserved rest.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Fiction Friday: Forgotten Photographs

Left to Right: Frank and Bill

Frank didn’t have any children. He was also a widower. He married his high school sweet heart Regma and they tried to have children. Regma wanted to be a mother. She wanted to sew lace onto the hems of small dresses and mend holes in baby jodhpurs. Frank wanted to be a father. He wanted to teach counting numbers and read stories aloud. They never knew why they couldn’t have children. Then Frank didn't know why he had no wife and no children. 

Frank used the money he had saved to raise a family to travel by train. To anywhere. He went to Mississippi, Montanta, Chicago, Seatle, Texas. He took photos of everything during these trips. During one train ride he met a young man named Bill. The two talked the whole time. Frank never remembered where he was going or from whence he came when he met Bill, but when they got to their desitnation Frank got another passenger to take a photograph of the them together. 

The men exchanged addresses and for years wrote letters – letters of missing family, of regret, of love and longing, of money. They wrote letters about the weather, planting seasons, new authors and music, about God and heaven and hell and politicians running for office. Frank read about Bill’s new wife and then the new baby. Frank sent photographs he took during his train travels and became a grandfather of sorts, sending wooden toys and books on birthdays. 

Years went by and Frank became a very old man. He died in April on a spring morning when the sun was just shining pink through the new apple blossoms outside his bedroom window. The coroner came two days after he died and found Frank’s last will and testament among a huge stack of letters from “Bill, North Bonner Mill Road, Bonner MT”. During the coroner’s lifetime he was never able to find the man that Frank left everything to.  

Thursday, June 7, 2012

"TiLT S.Kemp Book Edition" or "BiLT"

Hooray Books!

Instead of TiLT (Things I Love Thursday) this should be called BiLT (Books I Love Thursday). I've been reading a few new books and a few not-so-new books and I'd like to share.

The Best American Short Stories 2011, Geraldine Brooks, editor. I had to read one of these collections  for an English class in college. I remember neither the stories I was supposed to have read nor the year in which I was supposed to have read them (I was sometimes... oblivious back then... I even chose to teach, with a fellow friend, an Edgar Allen Poe fiction story to my creative nonfiction class... yeah...). Now, I'm enjoying being a slightly more "aware" "adult" and re-reading some of the books I only halfheartedly read during college. The Best American Short Stories collections are some of those books. The 2011 collection has been wonderful. So many genres are packed into this collection (there's a science fiction short in here!), so many emotions, so may vivid descriptions of life and places I've never been.

About Writing, by Samuel R. Delany. I've read a lot of books about writing and how to write and how to free my inner artist. I love all of them. They seem to calm and encourage parts of my inner artist/writer/worrier. However, there are only a few books I take as serious, no nonsense, no fluff advice for writers. About Writing is one such book. I read this quote from the book on Neil Gaiman's journal a while ago...

Writers are people who write. By and large, they are not happy people. They're not good at relationships. Often they're drunks. And writing -- good writing -- does not get easier and easier with practice. It gets harder and harder -- so eventually the writer must stall out into silence.The silence that waits for every writer and that, inevitably, if only with death (if we're lucky the two may happen at the same time: but they are still two, and their coincidence is rare), the writer must fall into is angst-ridden and terrifying - and often drives us mad. (In a letter to Allen Tate, the poet Hart Crane once described writing as "dancing on dynamite.") So if you're not a writer, consider yourself fortunate. 

I found it interesting. So, I bought the book. Seven essays, four letters, and five interviews later I have not been disappointed.

Essex County Collected, by Jeff Lemire. This is a comic book. A series of three comics collected in one place. You can always use more comics. Especially these comics. Canadian author Jeff Lemire tells the story of a farm family through the game of hockey, the telling of ghost stories, and the eyes of the county nurse who tries to help one dying family member. The stories are well crafted and the images make your heart burn with regret and loss. It's heart breaking to watch two brothers who trust each other completely win fame and fortune playing hockey then sever all ties completely. It's gut wrenching to watch a young boy struggle with the world that just crumbled beneath him. But there is hope, isn't there, at the end of everything there is still family. A friend who borrowed this book just returned it to me. I'm reading it again.

The People Look Like Flowers At Last, by Charles Bukowski. I've read Bukowski's older works and I really enjoy Tales of Ordinary Madness. It's like trudging in muck and booze through a dark tunnel. You're heading toward this strange light at the end that grows sharper and more beautiful the closer you get. You know you're crazy for going into that tunnel in the first place but you just can't help your self. The People Look Like Flowers At Last is a collection of new poems. These poems are not quiet as mad - they are sitting and noticing poems. They're poems of remembering and regretting and, well, I'm not finished reading this yet, I only got my hands on it Monday, but I've been taking it everywhere.

dogs and angels are not very far apart. I often go to this little place about 2:30 in the afternoon because all the people there are completely sane, glad to be simply alive and eating their food near a plate glass window which welcomes the sun but doesn't let the cars and the sidewalks come inside.
-from "near a plate glass window" by Charles Bukowski

I Lock My Door Upon Myself, by Joyce Carol Oates. Oh, man. Oh, buddy. This book. The way you feel about the character's actions - their why and how and what. You are grossed out and intrigued, you empathize and scorn. The way this woman writes is stunning. It's captivating. I mean, two characters can just row a boat right over a waterfall, straight to their doom, knowingly, and you. just. can't. look. away. You have to know what happens. You have to keep reading. 

In the Company of Crows and Ravens, by John M. Marzluff and Tony Angell. One of the characters I'm writing about is a raven. He's pretty great. His name is Rook. I wanted to learn more about my character so I picked up this book from the library and it's really interesting. I'm learning all sorts of cool stuff about the Common Raven (corvus corax... corax from the Greek "korax" which means croaker... and ravens "croak" while crows "kaw") and the 46 different species known as "crows". The book includes histories and myths, research showing how ecological changes affect crows, descriptions of eating and nesting habits, and pictures of physical differences. This book is awesome if you want to learn how crows and ravens really are different.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

"Tag! You're It!" or "Time Out Tuesday with S.Kemp"

Remember running around with your friends during a summer day playing tag or red rover or kick the can? Have you ever had to watch (or baby sit) someone's child and the first thing out of the whippersnapper's mouth is "Lets play" and play involves running around saving imaginary people or fighting imaginary monsters?

These Italian children showed me that "let's play" can also
mean "run around and chase pigeons".
 A couple of weeks ago I went to a friends house for a cook out. Their granddaughter came over a little later and the first thing she said after she met me was, "You be the sparkle ninja and I'm the rainbow unicorn pegasus. We can change into any animal but we gotta save the people but first we gotta fight each other". I kid you not. I knew it was going to be the start of a beautiful friendship.

It turns out, I'm not as fit as a seven year old. I don't just run around the yard for fun any more. (OK, look. I don't have a yard to run around in anymore.) I was out of breath after 15 minutes of changing into dragons, tigers, sea monsters, rainbow sparkle unicorns and the like. I called a time out. It's a magical phrase.

A time out can be called when you need to catch your breath, when you've been running around with someone 21 years younger than you and you need some water, or when you're about to be tagged "It" but you don't really want to be tagged so you pretend you're out of breath just before the "It" person tags you, so when the "It" person stops running you call "Time in!" and run away. (Apparently, this tactic is only allowed if you are between the ages of three and seven and the "It" person is, like, 28 years old.)

I know it's only Tuesday and Friday seems like a distant star in the glimmering weekend universe, but call a time out, catch your breath, and check out these links before you go running off to something important... like fighting off rainbow sparkle unicorns.

Cutie egg tarts! Yummy source here.
I just love cupcakes. If you do too check out this photo series called "cupcake wars". Cute "edible" things made out of yarn.

I really want to read "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" by Ransom Riggs. Children with extraordinary abilities, old photographs, and a mystery... yeah. Check out this teaser video for the book.

Fan of BBC comedy? Me too. Watch this trailer for the movie "In The Loop". If you think this is funny I'm told you'll also laugh hysterically at the BBC series called "The Thick Of It".

Love writing and you've always wanted to submit something to a contest but don't know where to start? Check out Poets&Writers Magazine's list of contests. It's tidy and sorted by application fee and application deadline.

This link is for Lucy. Fast cars and motorcycles. The Selvedge Yard has some pretty fun photos and links. (The film "Shutter Speed" has a lady motorcycle rider, Lucy! But watching parts of it made me sea sick...)

I love taking photographs of my daily activities as boring or pretty as they come. I also really enjoy looking through photos taken by others to see what their life is like. Aan de dijk is a collection of bright photos taken during everyday Dutch life. (Check out the list of photography links in the "some info" section.)

The art work of Johan Potma. Whimsical cartoonish pantings and sketches. Check them out.

Also. If you haven't seen this yet it's a video of Neil Gaiman when he addresses the University of the Arts Class of 2012. It's an inspiring piece for anyone who wants to write or make good art.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Meter Monday: David E. Thomas

When I first moved to Missoula, MT there were a few places I liked because they felt familiar. One place was The Oxford Cafe. You walked in and poker was played by men in driver caps and cowboy hats to your left. The long bar to your right went back past the pool players and the 2 a.m. drunks siting at the tables in the dining area. Another bar stretched in front of the grill where greasy wonderful food was cooked in front of you. This was where I went to eat cheese fries after drinking too much with new found friends. It reminded me of The Royal James bar in Beaufort, NC where I'd eat cheese fries after drinking too much with the news paper crew. There, I'd sit at the bar after putting money in the juke box and watch the pool players in drivers caps and cowboy hats.

Missoula had a lot of free events I liked going to when I first moved. My favorite was the poetry and prose readings at Shakespeare & Co. Book Store, a book store on the ground floor of my apartment building. One day I ran into a neighbor who told me another neighbor, Dave Thomas, was reading from his newest book of poetry, "Waterworks Hill", that night. Since I'd moved into the apartment building I'd seen Mr. Thomas, Dave, walking to the library during the day and sitting in a bar called Charlie B's, sipping a beer at night. I'd also seen him cleaning the four community bathrooms in the apartment building. He reminded me of my uncles Drake and Butch who lived in Easton, Maryland. They all had huge beards.

I went to the reading that night. The poems felt honest and dirty like I'd been working in the mountains all day and bathed in the river running through town that night. The people he wrote about felt familiar like I'd had a drink with them back home. He wrote about a Missoula I'd come too late to know but could picture through his words. Today I bought a book of his poetry called "Buck's Last Wreck". I found a poem about The Oxford Cafe.

Historical Eggs In The Oxford Cafe

There was a time
     when women
would enter
on a dare
     a sorority gal's
meat and potatoes
     a greasy grill
bleary faces move
well lit smoke
wooden counter chairs
with decades of hungry