from the jazz age to the space age

Monthly Archives: October 2011

when he was just a little boy, my husband’s family hosted an exchange student from japan. she became close friends with them, especially his older sister and they’ve visited over the years.

recently, i had the good fortune to meet her for the first time. she was very lovely and kind.

she brought karl a pair of pajamas! she says the pattern is called “daruma” and means good fortune or victory.

{karl also received a xylophone from nicaragua, but i’ll tell you about that soon!}

my printer is dead. well, as good as dead. i’ve been cleaning and realigning it but it persists in printing noticeable horizontal lines. 
needless to say, i’m extremely disappointed. i’ve been working on this project for 6 months. i’ve sulked, been depressed and what-have-you for the last few days, but i can’t fix it. 
hopefully we’ll be able to buy a new printer with our tax return in the early spring, provided we have no emergencies. 
i feel embarrassed for being upset. in the great scheme of things i have a life of some ease. my family and i exist in genteel poverty until my husband finishes school and can hopefully find a job here in the u.s. or abroad. i’ve stopped reading the posts of the 99% on my tumblr bc i couldn’t sleep at night. i vote for people to change things for the benefit of the working class, but money controls everything and floods many people with fear- fear of anyone not like “themselves.” it’s very depressing.

in the meantime, i have a few commissions to work on and lots of drawings awaiting paint. i have a pile of fabric to sew into clothes so i’d better pull myself together and get on with it. patience is my hardest won virtue. 

and on a lighter note~ my husband and i carved a pumpkin with our son. not enough money for gas to show support at an occupy event, but enough money to buy a pumpkin from “trader joe’s.” and that’s what i mean by “genteel poverty.” first world problems- both funny and pathetic. at least i haven’t lost my sense of humor. 

Monsieur Bibot is a terrible man. a petty, cruel tyrant who relishes his work as a dentist and abuses his lovely little dog, Marcel.

sweet marcel is too small to walk down the stairs but his master drags him down anyway.

bibot is given two figs as payment by a poor woman. She tells him they are magic figs and will make all your dreams come true. not believing her in the least, he sends her away and eats one that night. in the morning his dream from the night before indeed has come true. {nice Eiffel Tower! paging dr. freud!} determined not to waste the last fig he attempts to program himself to dream that he is a rich man with expensive possessions.

but that night, marcel eats the last fig from off the kitchen table. bibot chases marcel under the bed and promises grave reprocussions in the morning.
indeed, there are grave reprocussions come daylight, but not for marcel. bibot finds himself under the bed. marcel has dreamt that they have changed places and now marcel is the master…

Up until i read this book i’d never had a fig. They seemed far too exotic for me and i had no idea how to cook them.

i found an amazing recipe here


4 large fresh Black Mission or Calimyrna figs 
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 
2 to 3 teaspoons dark brown sugar 
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil 
2 to 3 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice 
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard 
Sea salt, to taste 
Ground pepper, to taste 
8 cups mixed salad greens
*small container feta cheese
* handful of chopped walnuts


Snip the tiny stem end off each fig and cut in half lengthwise. Mix vinegar, brown sugar and cinnamon together in a medium bowl. Add figs and gently toss to coat. Let marinate.

Place figs face down in a hot pan with olive oil. cook face down on medium heat for 4 min, reserving all of the marinade in the bowl. Do not overcook as the figs will become too mushy. Remove figs to a plate. 

To the reserved marinade, add olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper, whisking well to completely incorporate. 

Place greens in a large salad bowl. Toss with dressing, then divide among 4 individual serving plates. Place 2 fig halves on each plate of greens and serve.
i diced the figs and added feta and walnuts. it was one of the most delicious things i’ve ever eaten!

published in 1968, “more tales to tremble by,” illustrated by gordan laite, is full of surprising creeps. although a children’s book, the selection of stories are anything but childike. 

boasting stories such as, “the red lodge,” by h. russell wakefield and “the extra passenger,” by weird luminary august derluth, the stories are sure to frighten children and most likely frighten adults even more.

“sredni vashtar,” by saki is my favorite in the collection. 10 year old conradin lives with his oppressive cousine and guardian, “mrs. de ropp.” a sickly boy, his every possible joy and excitement is suppressed by his guardian, whom he feels is hastening him to his death. secretly he obtains a large polecat-ferret. as the embodiment of life, he imagines it a vengeful god and he its faithful supplicant. eventually mrs. de ropp discovers the animal and enters the shed where it’s hidden to dispose of it. conradin, from the window above, watches helplessly.
“and in the sting and misery of his defeat he began to chant loudly and defiantly the hymn of his threatened idol: ‘srendi vashtar went forth; his thoughts were red and his teeth were white. his enemies called for peace, but he brought them death. sredni vashtar the beautiful.’
“… and presently his eyes were rewarded: out through that doorway came a long, low yellow and brown beast, with eyes a-blink at the waning daylight and dark wet stains around the fur of his jaws and throat.”
contentedly, conradin proceeds to eat toast and drink his afternoon tea with enjoyment.

gordon laite’s art is beautiful. all of his art i’ve seen prior to this has been full color so it was a delight to see his linework. sadly, due to the wonderful painted cover, this book is often “reused” to make journals so pick one up while you can.  

i love mysteries~ human, eleusian, and literary. agatha christie’s miss marple was my introduction to the genre. at 12ish years old somehow, someone one left a volume of her short stories at our house. desperate for reading matierial i picked it and fell under their spell. however, dame agatha was soon replaced in my heart by conan doyle. what can i say, i was a victorian nut at the time.
flash forward 25 years! following our move to so-cal so my husband mikael could begin working on his masters, i picked up christie’s “tuesday club murders”.
The.. Tuesday Night Club, a random gathering of people at the house of Miss Marple. Each week the group tell thrilling tales of mystery, which are always solved by Miss Marple, from the comfort of her armchair.”
{thanks wikipedia!}

soon after this i started collecting any agatha christie books i could find at our local used book shops. the older the edition, the better, for the older editions boast delightful painted covers. in addition to miss marple i discovered christie’s stand alone mysteries such as, “murder with mirrors” and “towards zero.”. while i’ve read most of poirot’s cases many times, these we’re new to me. i was instantly charmed. 

in my characteristic over-enthusiasm i decided to make my own set of dolls inspired by the common stock characters in english country manor mysteries from the 1920s to the early 1960s. after making a two page list i whittled it down to five character types:
the spinsterly sleuth, the clever vicar, the dark horse, the it girl, and the good sport.
each is a jointed doll, held together by brads. there are changes of clothes, accessories, clues, red herrings, and possible bloody murder weapons. their clothes are drawn from the general styles of the 1920s to early 1980s, with much mix and match between the decades. 

*covers are from my personal collection of pocket sized paperbacks.

now i can fulfill my desire to daydream grisly murders and their solutions by my paper creations!

“english country murder” coming soon!

“you could search forever for the whole truth about gabrielle chanel, and never find the last of the missing pieces; for when she cut up her history, she scattered it all around, losing some details, hiding others, covering her trail.”
-coco chanel: the legend and the life
justine picardie

justine picardie’s excellent biography is heavily illustrated, as any biography about a visual person should be. we see chanel as a sweet young milliner, as a middle aged beauty cavorting foolishly on her lover’s yacht, and as an old women burning with creative energy.

what drew me to read about chanel? i abhor black clothing: it makes me look gaunt and feel old. ditto suntans, and though i do like thin, not at the price of health. but chanel’s legacy is more than the famously ugly trends she cultivated. she also introduced comfortable clothing designed to unburden women from corsets. clothing intended to create a look of girlish freedom in its wearer. “to be free to drive a car, to ride a bicycle, to walk to work, you had to be able to forget about what you were wearing. forgetting is part of freedom- and so she was able to forget about her past.” (ibid.)

chanel was a self invented person. by the time she was 20 she was already lying about her age, trimming the years as she would trim her hair, her clothes, even her famous maxims were constructed with a determination that would do occam proud.

chanel’s first “little black dress.” it was christened “the ford” because it could go anywhere. 1926.

frolicking on her lover, the duke of westminster’s yacht. she’s wearing tweed she borrowed from him and which she would later redesign and make into chic women’s wear.
he’s in plus fours. i find these particularly charming because they’re such a goofy couple. where is the fearsome chanel?

chanel pioneering the sailor look. ringstripe jersey top and soft wide legged pants.

chanel and friends goofing around in the garden of her mediterranean estate, la pausa.

chanel designs for american vogue, illustrated by christian berard 1937. the writing reads, “chanel dines in printed pyjamas (sic), sweater, barbaric jewels. (two small chanels) striped linen, flannel jacket. checked tussur, chiffon cape-veil. 

chanel, by cocteau. a woman without a face, without a past…

all photos and quotes from “coco chanel: the legend and the life” by justine picardie. if you’re interested in chanel, fashion, or the lost generation i highly recommend you pick it up.

i contributed a print of “imps” to help raise money for hollie stevens who just had breast cancer surgery. it’s part of a raffle. each ticket is $5 & there are lot’s of prizes!

the details are here: