Sunday, June 29, 2008

Rain, Eydie Gorme, y los Panchos

It's been a gorgeous weekend, spent mainly inside, staring out the windows, watching lightning, hearing thunder, and enjoying the sound of pouring rain. I love thunderstorms - I always have, and I had a new CD to keep me company while listening to the rain...

I have a thing for graphic design of the late 50's and 60's... especially old record designs... the photography (isn't that photo of her adorable?), the typography, their color choices. I also love when CD versions of LP's use the old cover art... it's like having "mini albums" in your collection...

In any case, this is Eydie Gorme, who I listened to for the first time a few weeks ago. You know already I'm a huge Trio Los Panchos fan, and she made a few amazing records with them in the 60's, of which this is one... I love her clear, breezy voice, and how it seems to float aloft over the guitars, and how it is serious but never sad... I totally recommend this CD if you're looking for an introduction to Los Panchos... and it was so inexpensive - only 6 dollars!


The first mixtape I made of Los Panchos songs doesn't work anymore (maybe after a certain time some songs "expire" from Mixwit)? Anyway, last weekend my boyfriend and I took a walk down by the water and I heard the very same Los Panchos songs, blaring from an ancient boom box on a bench next to four ancient-looking Latin men. I smiled and smiled, as I'm sure they would never guess how huge a fan I was, and how much that made my day... :)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

red, yellow, and orange

I love looking over thumbnails of my pictures and seeing patterns emerge... it's like color synchronicity... :)

and, speaking of red

Dorothy Dandridge is amazing in this scene from Carmen Jones, wearing a simple red skirt:

Monday, June 23, 2008

the color red


I love red. From time to time I look around and see that I've surrounded myself with certain colors - and red is always a prominent color in my life. I love to wear red, but am very picky about my favorite shade, so I actually have very few red items, because they have to be that perfect shade... like the one above...

Rummaging through old pics tonight the color red jumped out at me... and by the way, "With or Without You" is just as amazing on the small screen... :)


I even found a tiny red scarf I knit for le Carotte last winter:

And finally, the embroidery I started on Saturday:

I've been dying to start using my Sublime Stitching Craft Pad patterns, and I finally brought them out... I have an idea that revolves around the Luz Casal song I showed you recently...

Hope this finds you all well! :)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Provincetown and Cape Cod

Onward with my tale - after peeping into every corner, drawer, and cabinet (a nasty habit I have in hotels) we took a series of long walks around Provincetown, which, for being a small town, has an overwhelming number of good restaurants, bars, and fun shops. And, if at this point you're wondering if we knew this was a gay town, we did - and there were plenty of boringly hetero people like ourselves around, too, bringing down the fashion quotient with our (translation: my) out-of-style plaid shorts. :) It was really the most gorgeous spot I've seen in New England - every cottage was beautifully painted, shuttered, and maintained, there were flowers and impeccable landscaping everywhere, and I can't think of a friendlier spot I've visited on the Eastern coast.

On our walks to and from the main town area I saw flowers I never even knew existed - I had to touch this one to make sure it was real:

the strangest flower

The wedding was farther inland, near a huge pond surrounded by tall green, piney smelling trees. The ceremony and reception were outside at the water's edge, so I got to do plenty of wildlife watching which included spotting this noisy fellow, very early on:

I think it was foodtime for this little guy because he chirped loudly the entire afternoon... and I captured his progression from being a little peeved:
noisy fellow

To downright huffy:
in a huff

To all kinds of mad:
did I stutter when I said "Beat it?"

We had perfect weather the entire time, but I also enjoyed our one rainy day - there's something about the color palette of harbor towns that lends itself to looking gorgeous on gray days - the muted blue-gray shutters, weathered shingles, and deep green trees.

We took advantage of the downpour to visit the Provincetown Memorial museum, where I admired the old portraits, and these whadda-ya-callits that decorate the fronts of ships:

I'm not a big doll person, but there was something about these china dolls with their gorgeous blue eyes that called out to me:
beautiful doll

This one was tiny - so small she sat in another small doll's lap:
tiny doll

It was hard to say goodbye to the little cottage in Provincetown, but we did and drove up the coast to Chatham, where we stayed our final night. This area was much quieter, with less to do, and nothing to do after 10 PM. But that was the most magical night - I took a walk by myself as the sun was setting and just drank in the amazing-ness that is walking by the sea at sunset, listening to water lap, and distant boats gently slosh:

I don't ever want to forget the wonderful blues and pinks of that evening, and how quiet the deserted beach was. My only companions were a few huge fishing gulls who plucked crabs the size of dinner plates out of the water and ate them in front of me on the beach. I waded in a few feet to see if I could find one in the fading light and saw... to my surprise... a seal poke its head out of the water, swim around me, dip its head down, and swim on. Of course, for that there was no photograph because I was too busy staring with my mouth open. And just when I thought that there were no surprises left, when I walked back to our room I saw, pretty near to me, across a green field, two coyotes who turned to look at me, ran farther off, turned again, and ran deep into the woods. What a wonderful place that I hope I'll remember when I go to sleep at night, and a magical place I hope you can visit someday, too.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A few projects and the beginning of a story...

up close so you can see her dress well

So now I can formally introduce you to my latest monkey, Sanchita, which I made for a close friend of mine. Her tiny dress was handmade, using this Mexican dress pattern as inspiration. I'd been thinking about the embroidery forever, then did the top in tiny stitches. It was really slow going for awhile - I was stumped on what to do with the little dress, as you can see she looks different than the earlier version I showed you before:


The very day it was finished and I was right about to tell her I got the surprise of my life when she told me she was pregnant! So now I'll need to make even more cute stuff for her December baby! I can't wait!

Here's another small project I worked on last week:
as you see I like dangly earrings
If you know me well, you know I can be a colossal mess. And you'd also know I love dangly earrings. So last week, as I was trying to sort out a messy bureau, I decided to put a hoop and felt to use... it's perfect! The best part is I actually keep putting them back in place because I love to look at them altogether... :)

reading nook for le Carotte

And now for the beginning of a story... where I was last weekend. I was in Cape Cod for a wedding, and was totally taken aback by its beauty - the colors, the cottages, the trees, the birds, the animals, the sea... it was all incredible. We stayed in a little cottage just a block from the very edge of the Cape in Provincetown - and it was perfect in every way.

As a little girl I'd dream up images from books and picture myself living there - for the longest time I had a very romantic idea of what New England was like, but never really saw anything that matched my dreams.... until this cottage in Cape Cod. We were surround by gardens, trees, and birds, there was a picket fence with a creaky iron gate, all the walls were full of secret cupboards, there were little porthole windows, and from the upper floor windows you could see weathered shacks by the water and small boats. My favorite of all was this little reading nook, where I immediately curled up with a book.

It also seemed to be a favorite of le Carotte...
reading the travel guides

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

To Watermark! (and how to watermark your pics)

rose outside a lobster shack

So I decided to watermark my pics. First of all, let me stress what I am not saying by watermarking my pics - I am not saying I'm a masterful, professional photographer. I am also not saying I don't want anyone to blog my pics (I actually love it when people blog my pics!) I am not saying I have an inflated ego and need to put a corporate-like stamp on everything I create. :) I am also totally cool with sharing ideas, and if you're inspired by the crafts I make and photograph, that's cool - don't feel like my watermark implies that I "own" every idea you see here.

I just feel like I've crossed a bridge in terms of my photos - I'm finally recognizing some are good, and I merely want to identify them as they float along in this big, internet sea. Also, I'm less keen on obsessively checking my popularity on Flickr Explore - because a visible watermark or text on your photos will keep them out of Explore rankings (beware of that, if it's important to you - it's no longer important to me). Some picky Flickr groups also delete photos with watermarks - so you might want to check your favorite group's rules beforehand.

Putting a watermark on a photo does not deter people who are determined to steal your photo - small watermarks can easily be cropped or cloned out like they were in this case. Again, I know rapscallion "photo thieves" are out there, and there's nothing I can do to change that. :) A watermark is simply my way of "signing" my work, and acknowledging that a great deal of time, care, and editing went into each photo you see on my blog. It also shows that I have an interest in protecting the copyright on my images, and will (hopefully) make people hesitate before using my images without asking.

So now that I've explained why I'm watermarking - here's the how-to! Many thanks to this tutorial which got me started!

How to Watermark - Photoshop

  1. Open your image.

  2. Use the text tool to add a copyright symbol (Windows shortcut: Alt+0169 ; Mac shortcut: Option+G) and text, the best color to use is gray.

  3. Double click the text layer in the layer palette to bring up the Layer Style window.

  4. Select "Drop Shadow" and "Inner Glow" and adjust the opacity to about 50% or until it is as transparent or opaque as you desire:

    rose outside a lobster shack

How to Watermark - Flickr (Picnik)
Did you know you can edit your photos directly from Flickr (using Picnik)? The results are almost identical, and it's free!

  1. Log in to Flickr and select a photo you want to edit.

  2. Click "Edit photo" above your photo. (You may need to give a one-time permission for Picnik to access your Flickr pics)

  3. Click the "Create" tab.

  4. Click "Text" and add a copyright symbol (Windows shortcut: Alt+0169 ; Mac shortcut: Option+G) and text.

  5. Adjust the "Fade" setting to make your text transparent.

  6. Click "Save" to save your image to Flickr (you can either save as a new image or replace the old one):

    sparrow chirping

Presto! All that's missing in Picnik is Drop Shadow, but it still looks good. I hope these were good explanations because I can't answer a lot of detailed questions on Photoshop or Picnik, but there is tons of help on both those topics online. And thank you to everyone who commented and helped me decide to watermark my pics!

Monday, June 16, 2008

El Mundo Magico: this magical world

Elsita's paper doll

A long time ago, just after college, was the loneliest time in my life for me. I had lost touch with many of the people I'd been friends with and as this was before the real age of Google and Facebook-stalking had begun, I had no way to find them... I've always been a very reserved person, tough to befriend, so losing touch with the few people I'd opened up to was hard.

I was very bashful with my drawings, my interests, my very thoughts. I felt at times I had to pretend to be a "normal" (although boring) person so I could talk more successfully to the people around me. I rarely, if ever, showed anyone my drawings, the things I wrote, or chatted about the books I was reading, the films I was watching and the thoughts I was thinking.

Never, back then, would I have imagined a world in which I could show the world my thoughts and little doodles and snapshots and feel at rest with myself, even accepted. Never would I have imagined trading comments or messages with talented people who also think in pictures, colors, lines and photographs, in addition to words and sentences. For me, the internet is a truly magical world I've taken part in, a place that has allowed me to overcome my huge shyness in an unusual way: by showing myself to the world, but still having the ability to remain anonymous.

These are the thoughts I was thinking while I looked in wonder at the paper doll (above) Elsita recently created and read her story of the magical world she created for her niece. I realized that this is my magical world, right here, the secret book I open both to reveal glimpses of myself and visit you in all your travels. Thank you to everyone, for making this such a wonderful read... :)

doe in progress yesterday

Thank you for your comments on the watermark question! I'm still thinking hard about it... I'll make a decision soon. It sounds like you all feel like I do, a watermark is a good thing, and it can blend in rather than clash with the photograph. I also understand those not in favor of the watermark (or who are too lazy, like me, to add another step!) I promise a few magical stories soon, about the place I spent my weekend...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

To watermark, or not to watermark?


Actually, I've already answered that question by watermarking a few of my photos... but I do feel ambivalent about it. When I first started posting pics on Flickr years ago I reveled in the endless oceans of pics uploaded by amateurs like myself. But little by little I began noticing tense "someone stole my photo" discussions in big groups like Flickr Central and also noticed that people started watermarking their photos. I've never been a fan of putting a big copyright symbol on my stuff, so I've held off for a long time. On most photos it's unattractive and pulls attention from the most important part: the photograph.

But lately I've started to see my pics blogged on other blogs and sites and I think it's cool! However, I do experience a one-second feeling of shock when I see my pics up there, on someone else's site. I've been lucky and people have always done the right thing and linked back to my Flickr stream or my blog... but it still feels odd. I wonder if I should go an extra step to identify my pics as "my own"... I love doe-c-doe's watermarks - they're not overpowering and are actually a design element that I enjoy. But it's hard to find a font face I'm happy with... I like this font a bit...

pink doe

As you can see, I'm still on the fence - I'm beyond anal when tweaking my photos and this will only add an extra step! So I thought I'd ask all of you - what do you think about watermarks and copyright symbols on photographs? Does it make you like them less? Do you think it detracts? Go ahead, you can be honest! :)

Oh, and by the way, I was blogged here... the only problem is... I can't read Turkish! (I think it's Turkish). Does anyone read Turkish? I'd love a translation! :)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Viva Pedro!

I love Pedro Almodovar. There is no other director I can think of whose films I have loved as consistently as Almodovar. And aside from his (unreleased?) 70's stuff I have seen every movie he's ever made. His films are absolutely fearless - they're about desire, love, betrayal, obsession and the realistic comedy that attends tragedy in life. He will touch any and every theme, nothing is safe or taboo (so it's safe to say his films are not for the faint of heart). But I think, even for the faint of heart, there's something you might see in them... the color and passion of a director that seems to fully understand life.

I wait to watch his films until I have time to enjoy them fully - like a delicious meal, they can't be rushed. So, I waited to see Volver a long time, past all the Oscar hype and I'm glad I did... last night I saw it for the second time and I had to share with you my favorite part...

Music is so strong in Almodovar's films, and he knows how to use music in a way I've only seen in a few films... maybe Pulp Fiction and The Royal Tenenbaums. The music itself is also a character and moves the film forward, but never by being trite or representational. And so, here are a few more songs I love from Almodovar's films (and you knew a Los Panchos song had to be in there). :)


What about you? Do you have a favorite director who consistently makes movies you love?

Monday, June 9, 2008

Sag Harbor

little and white

I find it very difficult to speak immediately about things that just happened. Having always kept a journal, I love to have time to construct a story, or at least a series of observations on events, however small. When I lived alone for a few years and was at times a little lonely, I realized I drew comfort from weaving humorous stories from the wacky, crazy threads of my life. In any case, this is all to say that I no longer feel guilty about not blogging about a trip or event the second after it happens. From now on you will get slightly-delayed observations, as is this one on Sag Harbor, a train trip we took 2 weekends ago for Memorial Day... :)

I always romanticize train trips. There's something about their rocking movement, the steady forward pace, the occasional lurch sideways as if you might derail, and the hidden things peeping out of the brush on the way. Sag Harbor is a quiet place, or rather there are quiet corners where you may not notice that every car that passes you is either a Jaguar, Ferrari, Rolls or glossy, souped-up extra rare vintage auto. But yes, it is popular with the people who don't have to check their bank accounts every day. (a club I am not a part of :) What I noticed first was the absolute quiet, then the bird songs.

Later, I noticed the waterfowl in the harbor:
little duck

We happened on a cute mallard couple with a record 9 baby ducklings swimming behind them. And when their alone time was rudely intruded upon by many amorous males, it became increasingly clear why there were 9 baby ducks. Poor mama.
picturesque moment with ducklings and trash

What I love best about these quiet harbor spots are definitely the old houses and buildings. I love to think that a structure can survive so many successive generations of human lives, and that the things we make with our hands can outlive us by ages and speak to other people in other times...
a house
There was, by the way, a cottontail running through this field when we arrived, nibbling on dandelions by the brick path...

I have a bad habit of sniffing almost every flower I pass which has resulted (numerous times) in a pollen-covered nose, nearly-inhaled spiders and near-misses with bees and wasps. I never learn my lesson, but I am frequently rewarded with sweetness:

On a long, lazy walk on our last day we happened on this building, a shared Jewish and Methodist(?) temple:

I like the idea of people comfortable enough to share the space in which they worship. There was an old cemetery in the adjoining field and we climbed the hill to look at fallen slate stones, with American flags marking the graves of Revolutionary War soldiers. We joked that a grave that had magically sprouted agave must be the final resting place of someone who really loved tequila. :)

And then there was the beach - we only visited one, early one morning. The water was full of soft orangey-red clumps of seaweed and the air was full of tiny cries of sea birds and distant dog barks:
the beach at Sag Harbor

The sun was bright, the air almost too hot, but just cool enough to feel right on your skin. We watched a small parade, enjoyed the last of the breeze, some shade, and the flowers, and went home.

Mixtape Monday

If I had to describe this mix I would say it was layers of gushy electro-synth pop with an increasingly moody, maudlin crust. And that it corresponds perfectly (and slightly disturbingly) with all the songs floating in my head at the turn of this century, circa 2000-2002... :)

By the way, if you've never heard the Cocteau Twins before, don't ever give up until 1:40 seconds into any of their songs. They have a way of subtly building and building until they're incandescent. And they can really name a song (Frou Frou Foxes in Midsummer Fires, etc.) :)

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Warning: images of unbearable cuteness

pink doe

There are all kinds of cuteness out there. But sometimes, cuteness hurts. Pangs in the stomach hurts. So cute you might get ill hurts. And I think this one qualifies. Stitched by me, finished today, and I'm so happy with it it gives me a stomachache. :)

doe in progress yesterday

I had a beautiful weekend, happy with the smallest things at times, like yesterday, when I heard three peals of thunder as the clouds grew heavy and hazy with rain. Being inside while the rain poured outside, the AC filtering in a delicious chill, mixed with the smell of rain. I watched goofy movies, embroidered, and today we fed sparrows in the park, careful to only throw tiny crumbs so as not to attract pigeons. I read a little, laughing and smiling like a child... and the next simple pleasure comes in a few minutes - folding (yes! I love folding clothes!) and watching whatever I want on TV, while it is deliciously quiet. Wishing you much deliciousness tonight, and the variety of cuteness that is so cute it hurts... ;)

P.S. I finally got the Feeling Stitchy Banner Contest together! Go take a peek and let me see what you've got!!! :)