A Story of . . .
Portland, record albums, comic books, handbags, dancing, dining, and diets
City sidewalks, where anonymity meets adventure. Where walking alone is accepted and walking into open doors not only expected but encouraged. Last Saturday I walked the length of Congress Street (well, really a portion of Congress, from State Street to Elm Street), and was intrigued by all the sandwich boards along the way. After treating myself to a slice of pizza at Otto's I did a bit of window shopping, visited a few galleries and made my way to the library. Here's some of what I saw . . . some bargains, some love, and a tasty invitation.
This morning we woke to a blustery snowstorm that left nearly six inches of snow on the ground. Good sticky snow, perfect for creating one of our winter beauties.
Once the storm passed, the sun came out, temperatures hit the lower 40s, and Clara came to be. Because today was the first full day of spring, I was able to use greenery that's available only this time of year, making Clara a spring beauty. She makes her debut in December.
Like building a cairn on a trail, fairy houses can be irksome if you're looking for a nature walk that shows no sign of those who came before you.
When I was a wee one myself, my mother, eager to get my brother, sister, and me out from underfoot, sent us outside to be with nature. Equipped with a square of cardboard, a jug of craft glue, and instructions to find sticks and leaves and build something, we had our marching orders.
What a great idea, it was all consuming. Foraging was fun and for a good chunk of time the three of us sat quietly gluing and constructing. We were in the zone, together and apart, as each of us worked with our found materials and shared glue.
Though fond memories leave me partial to these tiny abodes, consideration must be given to the leave-no-trace movement. Communities are finding solutions: designated areas for building, natural materials only. Materials already on the ground—no cutting, snapping branches or adding man-made objects (coins, figurines, etc.).
A neighborly way to keep the peace.
It wasn't until the third round of the Maine State Spelling Bee this afternoon that one of the students missed a word: holster . . . the student hesitated, asked for a definition, alternate pronunciations, and to have it used in a sentence. Then, after a deep breath, finally spelling it h-o-l-s-t-r . . . oh, how disappointing.
It's not easy trying to spell a word without the aid of pencil to paper to figure it out. I stumbled with hundreth, uncertain whether it should be h-u-n-d-r-e-d-t-h, with the "d" . . . didn't seem right, and it wasn't, the correct spelling is h-u-n-d-r-e-t-h.
Here are some of the words the students had to spell: mohair, sloth, slav, poi, cockatoo, boodle, sultan, transect, and tithe (the word that would make the second student stumble with t-y-t-h-e).
We'll check later to see who won today's Bee, and post the results.
Update: Eighth grader, Syra Gutow, was the winner. Syra said she practiced four hours a day with the spelling bee's 1,200-word study guide. In order to win, Syra had to spell two words correctly: cynosure and menhaden. She aced both. Well done.
A Story of . . .
typewriters, books, collecting, writing, and author David McCullough
There's something about a typewriter (or a book about typewriters), that gets me every time. Today it was The Typewriter Revolution by Richard Polt. The book covers a good bit about the mechanics of a typewriter and a lot about the renewed popularity of the machine including the people and events that support it — have you heard of a type-in?
The Typewriter Revolution was new to me. I have two other books about typewriters that are worth a look. The Typewriter by Janine Vangool, is a beautiful volume loaded with vintage advertisements and photographs.
The other is Typewriter, by Tony Allan that features Richard Polt as consultant. This is a condensed volume chock full of interesting bits about the history of the machine, the typewriter in advertising, solving crimes, its impact on journalism, and today's type-in.
In addition to the books, I have a collection of typewriters (that's one of them underneath the books), and a few vintage ribbon tins. The typewriters are great fun for writing letters and addressing envelopes.
It's no coincidence that these books have all been published in the last year. Typewriters are enjoying renewed popularity. Maybe it's a reaction to so much screen time, maybe the wonder of a simple machine. Hipsters and people of all ages are in.
Author David McCullough has used the same typewriter for over 50 years to write all of his books, despite offers from friends and family to switch to a more modern writing device, the computer. He talks about his typewriter in this interview with The Paris Review.
Last spring our local library held a makers fare that featured a typewriter repair session hosted by Tom Furrier of Cambridge Typewriter. I'm hoping it will be part of this year's fair as well . . . I'm having trouble loading the ribbon on one of my machines. If you need repairs, contact Tom. He's friendly and generous in sharing his knowledge about typewriters.
Actor Tom Hanks collects typewriters and has developed an app that recreates the sound and look of typing on a typewriter (link below). Fun, but nothing beats the real thing.
Here are some links:
The Classic Typewriter Page - Richard Polt's site
The Typewriter - Janine Vangool's site about the typewriter
Typosphere all things typewriters
Hanx Writer - an app that recreates the sound and look of typing on a typewriter
The Anitkey Chop - a gallery of typewriters and people using typewriters
Cambridge Typewriter - Tom Furrier's shop and blog
Below is a page design I created that includes four of my typewriters along with two word puzzles. Post a comment with your answers . . . if you're stumped, let me know, and I'll post the answers.
SprinG, just FoUr DAys AWAy
AnD, The croCus are UP
. . . CaUgHt mE by sURprise
WhEn thEY caUgHt my eYe
Walk About is a collage and poem series about what I see when I walk, and is part of our Always a Project series.
What to Do When It’s Your Turn (and it’s always your turn) by Seth Godin is an interesting book. It’s really a challenge. He’s asking us all to put aside our fears and the need for approval, and start something.
To begin that project, to create something, to do something. He challenges us to begin—despite the fact that there are no guarantees, despite the fact that you may or may not be in the mood.
None of this matters. To begin is what matters.
I think he’s right. This website has been around for a while now, but in January I decided that I would commit to posting something every day. Up until then my posting schedule was a mash-up of starts and stops, dependent upon a rush of enthusiasm or inspiration. Posting every day hasn’t been easy. But it hasn’t been all that difficult either. Some days I struggle with what to write about, finding new people to interview, and making the time, but I’m doing it.
I’m not sure why it’s different this time, but I think it has something to do with what Mr. Godin writes in his book: “Standing still is the riskiest plan of all.” I believe that. I've found standing still creates more anxiety and angst than writing every day ever does.
So if the question is “What to do when it’s your turn?” I say take it.
It’s more exciting, more interesting, and far more rewarding than sitting it out.
Digging through some older files last weekend I came upon these stationery folders. They are designed to hold a few pieces of stationery, stamps, and a tip sheet. I liked them when I created them, but wondered if they were right. I still needed to create the stationery and tip sheet, so I put the project aside . . . not ready for whatever reason, for lots of reasons, for no reason.
Putting them aside and finding them nearly two years later gives me a fresh perspective. The concept needs a tweak or two, but it's a good start. I want to incorporate these folders into a new project I've got going.
The title of this post is "Sometimes I Surprise Myself." Why? Because I like what I created and the concept, the reason I made the folders, is still with me. So why did I stop working on it?
Timing? Other priorities? Distraction? Uncertainty?
No matter, it's time to move forward, and I'm taking them with me.