Posts filed in: April 2007

The Best Day

comments: 67

Garden9

It happens without me knowing it, the best day. I only realize it when I'm traipsing, reluctantly, back into the house, at dusk, chilly and happy. "It" is the first real day of the "summer," the one where we clean up the yard for real-ish, get new cushions, plant geraniums, smooth out the gravel, start caring what the weather report says for the week.

Garden12

I found these little vases from Mexico at Goodwill on Friday morning. I think I'm going to do something sort of, I don't know, what is this look — Mediterranean, I guess. Kind of earthy and 70s-ish — less roses, more sage and oregano.

Garden8

The new Anthropologie catalogs are gorgeous, but my stuff for outdoors generally comes from K-mart, I must say. I usually get a little tablecloth and some new napkins to get started on my theme — $22 for these four naps and cloth. The dishes are the ones I got from cb2 last winter. We've broken most of our glasses in the dishwasher lately. They were too fragile for us, alas.

Garden10

Oh, the climbing hydrangea. One of my favorite plants. It clings without support. We have it in front and back. It's insanely green. Will probably pull the house down eventually, but, phooey. I like it.

Garden5

I do like me a little patch o' green grass, too.

Garden6

An area rug, made of sod.

Garden4And the lawn boy is a smokin' hottie. Damn. I like to just sit and observe him working.

Garden16

FOXY.

Garden3

Love this day. Love summer. Let it begin.

Apple-Cake Bust-Up

comments: 45

Applecake2

I made the Norwegian Apple Cake from Food for Friends yesterday, but I did lots of things wrong, and it was a disaster. Firstly, I beat an extra 1/4 c. sugar in with the eggs because I didn't realize that that 1/4 cup was supposed to go on top of the cake, not in with the eggs. I think I overbeat everything, too. I should've noticed that it looked kind of meringuey when I took it out. . . .

Applecake3

Whoopsie, it wouldn't cook. This is after an extra half hour. Apple-egg-sugar soup. Maybe I overheated the milk and butter when I was trying to melt the butter. So many problems. Oh well.The recipe called for me to sprinkle nutmeg (I don't like nutmeg so I used cinnamon) on top of the thing, but I think next time I'd mix up the sugar and cinnamon before putting it on.

Applecake4

The edges that did cook were way too sweet. It was all too sweet. But it smelled good, at least. Need to get more apples and try this again. It looked great in the book, I swear!

Post-Nasal Catch-up

comments: 31

Measure2

Feeling better, still not great. But I'm going to try and answer email, write thank yous, return phonecalls, pay bills, generally get caught up. Or maybe not. I have totally been letting those things go lately and I really don't like that. But sometimes I just cannot keep up, can you? I can't. Sometimes I long for the days of smoke signals, or tin cans and string.

Bags1

I'll most likely be getting more bookbags together next week, so please watch the blog for an announcement of when they'll go into the web shop, probably the second week of May? All of these first fabrics are gone now, but there are new ones in the laundry right now. Oooo, I can't wait. They just make me happy. All that mellow popsicle-colored softness.

I think it's supposed to be nice around here this weekend. I'm totally jonesin for my hammock, with its ginormous feather bed, some sunshine, and time to read all the books piling up. No less than five separate people have written to tell me to read Astrid & Veronika, which, surprisingly, I had already bought but hadn't read yet. Isn't that weird? I thought it was weird but maybe it's not, maybe this book is going around. I'm so out of it I wouldn't know. But anyway, that's my plan — catching up.

Me and Marie, and Tony

comments: 30

House6Wow, who knew the scientific community read this blog. They "coincidentally" announced the discovery of a "new" planet today called Gliese 581c. I personally think the Planet of Small Cute Chairs and Cakes is a much prettier name, but, you know, they probably don't want us getting too excited, etc., as we naturally would. Water schwater. Let us eat small cakes!

Well, I'm hallucinating, what can I say. Actually, isn't there a planet called Zicam? That sounds much more like a planet. That's the one I need to get on.

I didn't get to the Sopranos yesterday. I think I might prefer to watch the edited version on A&E where they take out all the really horrid stuff I don't even want to see anyway, but it looks like I've already missed . . . uh oh, the first twenty-eight episodes. Whoopsie. Though sometimes I catch on to shows really late and have a marathon, like I did with Alias, and I must say, that was awesome, one after another like that. More of a wintertime thing to do when the weather's bad and you don't have to feel guilty about tucking into the sofa and watching episode after episode. I don't know, I'm just in the mood to get into a long story, and I watched James Gandolfini's interview on Inside the Actor's Studio the other night, and you know what happens when I do that. . . .

More From the Planet of Small Chairs and Cakes

comments: 48

Littlecakes

Well, I've got Andy's cold now. He's so generous with his germs, really. Thank you to anyone who has nominated this blog for the thinking blog award — that is so nice of you, thank you. I regret to say, however, that there will be no thinking around here for the next several days at least. There will, however, be lots of finger-pointing ("You, you did this to me!"), photographese ("My head feels like it's f/22 and 1/8 sec at ISO 1600"), and possibly season one of The Sopranos.

Yes, on the Planet of Small Chairs and Cakes, things are rather self-indulgent at the moment, but when aren't they, really. And now that Andy's back at work there is no one here to bring me things and make me Airborne cocktails or listen to me complain. Not fair. There was a small moment of payback-humor last night when Andy came home and I was on the phone. He immediately went into the kitchen and . . . drank some butternut squash pasta sauce out of the blender on the kitchen counter, thinking it was banana milkshake. It did look exactly like banana milkshake, a blender-full of which I'd made on Sunday afternoon — creamy pale yellow, with little flecks of black. Apparently, because his nose was still a little stuffed up, he couldn't smell that the stuff (the butternut squash sauce) was reeking of garlic and onion and flecked with dried sage, because he came out of the kitchen making the most hilarious face I've ever seen and said, "That's not banana milkshake!" So that was funny and provided me with a small moment of humor. There are only "small" moments of humor here on the PoSCCaC.

Littlecakes2 Small like the smallest paper chain in the world. The known world, anyway.

Flowers and Hearts

comments: 36

Apron6

I read photography manuals all weekend, returned the ones that were not appropriate, got more, etc. I haven't decided which are my favorites yet, but I'll let you know after it's sunk in a bit. Did you know that you can see what f-stop and shutter speed and even ISO you used on your (original) photos when you go to File/File Info/Section; EXIF in Photoshop? I never knew that.

Apron2

This is an old apron, hanging next to the closet door on which I painted a stencil right after we moved here. It was my first stencil, and I remember I just did it with regular acrylic paint. Maybe I traced it and then painted it freehand, because it seems like acrylic would seep into the spaces between the door and the stencil. I actually can't remember — it was seven years ago. Normally I don't go in for stencils, but as with anything else, I guess it's not the medium, but what you do with it. Some mediums get such bad reputations, don't they? That just keeps things interesting.

This was f/3.7, 1/65 sec, ISO 80. I plan to start using these terms in casual conversation. Conditioning, etc.

Apron7

Dinner with Friends

comments: 72

We had dinner at our friends' house last night. It was just wonderful, but it's always wonderful there.

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Garlic roast chicken with tarragon butter, bacon mashed potatoes, sauteed snap peas, and caramel pots de creme with chocolate cookies. I about went mental over every single thing, so, Sarah, get ready for me to beg you to write a guest post explaining all. It was . . . I just can't even tell you guys how good this was. I just cannot. It was that good.

Quiet Comfort

comments: 25

Studio4Everyone around here is pretty tired. Andy's getting over a cold, I've been cutting, pressing, pleating, and stitching bookbags every waking moment (expecting them all to go out early next week, if you're waiting for one — and it looks like there will be more coming after all — I've even gotten some great new [old] fabrics). It's been a long, hard week for our country, making me sort of stop and look around, appreciate the luxury of averageness, of regular un-special afternoons, of repetitive pleasant work, good people everywhere you turn, and a nice soft bed at the end of the day.

Be well, friends. Let's take it easy out there. xo

Second Try

comments: 55

Secondphotos1I really do appreciate your comments yesterday — good advice, reassurance, commiseration, encouragement. I liked what Hannah said, that she often thinks she has to know everything about something before she can do anything. Taryn said to learn one thing at a time, which of course didn't actually occur to me. And so I set out to learn maybe one thing every day.

I took a bunch more pictures yesterday, just setting up a bunch of different stuff. Cassi, what would I do without your pincushion. I really think it's the most photogenic thing on the property. If you want to practice focusing on stuff, flower-topped pins work pretty well. I'm starting to love the big black already, people, though it really prefers the tripod. And yes, I think the color on the Fuji seems more realistic, more sophisticated, really — it has a more soulful quality. I really do think that. But I also think that when I understand the white balance among other things, I can control that a bit more. The depth of field is just deeper, more thorough. Here's one with the focus on the glass vase (thanks Steph, and thank you for the bowls Natalea!).

Secondphotos2 It occurred to me that learning about the camera feels a bit like Latin, like learning Latin felt. I only studied it for one year and have, of course, retained nothing. But I remember our teacher talking about what a "clean" language it was — there were so few irregulars, you just had to know what to do, what ending to put on, to say what you were trying to say. It was so beautiful that way, he said, the most beautiful language, no gray areas, no kinda-sorta right. Obviously, if you didn't know a thing, you couldn't make it work. But if you knew what it was that you had to know, you could do it — it wasn't personal, it was technical. You didn't have to cajole it, you just had to turn the knobs.

Secondphotos8 It reminded me of something I hadn't thought of in so long. It was this one autumn afternoon when I was sitting in the McDonald's drive-thru, waiting for my hamburger, small fries, and orange drink with my mom. I was about ten or eleven and had just finished my horseback-riding lesson. Riding was never easy for me — if it was a good day, I loved it. If it was a bad day, I hated it. And I really felt like I had no idea whether it was going to be a good day or a bad day, and didn't really understand my own role in either of those kinds of days. I thought sometimes the horse "listened" to me, sometimes he dumped me on the ground. I was convinced he was dumping me, as if I had nothing to do with it. I see now, when I look back on those years, that riding well or riding poorly had everything to do with me, and my own confidence in myself. Occasionally, other environmental factors applied, or the horse felt her own emotions, such as they were, but still, as the rider it was my job to consider and respond to all of that, and still get us over the fence. It was too complicated! It was too much! As I sat in the passenger's seat of my mom's car in the drive-thru, I started thinking about this, and got progressively twitchier, and more upset and irritated. "Agh!" I said. "Agggghhh!" My mother passed me my Happy Meal, pulled the car back onto the road, and said, "My god, what is the matter?" And I bleated, "YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW HOW LUCKY YOU ARE! YOU JUST HAVE TO TURN THE WHEEL AND PUSH THE PEDALS AND IT DOES EXACTLY WHAT YOU WANT IT TO DO!!!" And then I probably started with the sobbing, or at least the gulping, blotchy earnestness, all still in my riding clothes. To that end, I offer Exhibit A:

Rider

Mmm-kay. Yep, that would be me, circa 1980ish. How my mother did not fall over laughing while taking this picture, which I made her do the day I got this outfit, in front of the garage which I felt looked most "barnlike," I don't know. Sigh. But anyway. About the camera.

Secondphotos5 What I'm trying to say is that the camera is nothing like this. It is nothing like a horse. It is like Latin, obviously, or the car. There are things about it that you need to know, and when you know those things, you can set the dials how they need to be in order to go where you want, say what you want. You might have flair, or something say, or an urge to drive fast, but, you know, you gotta know how to use the clutch. I, of course, approach the camera as if it were the horse. I look at it suspiciously, and believe it will feel my insecurity through my fingertips, and dump me.

But I think I'm feeling better about it. I just have to practice some more. And of course get a book.

It Looks Different

comments: 81

Newcamera9

I got a new camera yesterday, a Fuji S9100. Don't ask me why I got that one. I went to the camera store and said, "Hi, I'd like to take a photo that I can print out at 8 x 10, and I don't have a lot of money." And the guy said, "This can do that, you'll like it." Done. This is how I make major purchases. I like to get them over with as quickly as possible. I research afterward — buyer's remorse seems more comfortable, somehow, than making the decision, but I seldom have remorse. I don't feel like I deserve to, since I put so little effort into the choosing. Nevertheless, what I do do is, you know, ask the right people. But don't you ask me, because I am not one of those people. Okay.

Newcamera7So, I got the camera home and circled it warily. Then I sat down and read the manual. No seriously, I really did. I didn't understand the manual, but I read the manual. I was completely afraid of the camera, which is big and black and looks very professional, and has a million buttons and dials on it. To me, there are two kinds of cameras — small and silver, big and black. Now, you know how much I love my small and silver one. I really really love it. It's a Canon PowerShot A80. I set it on "portrait" mode, grab my focus point, and shoot, many times a day, with happy, rosy results. Whatever's happening inside that little beast when it's on "portrait" mode is good for me. I don't know exactly what it is, of course (nor do I really want to), but I know I like it.

Newcamera12

These photos were all taken yesterday afternoon — a very rainy, hail-y, gloomy afternoon — as I just went around and snapped things with the new big black. I kept turning all the dials this way and that, quite nervously, like some kind of cartoon character using a cartoon camera. I just wanted to get one good shot, even accidentally, just so I would know it was possible. I figured that if I had the one good shot, I could determine how to get it again later, but at least I would know if was possible.

Newcamera10It's kind of amazing how much a part of my vocabulary the language spoken by that camera, the Canon, has become. I feel really comfortable with it, or rather, with what I do with it. It is able to do much more than what I do with it. But nevertheless, I don't feel it's melodramatic to say that that camera actually changed my life. When I got the Canon in 2005, I really felt like I had been given a whole new medium of expression. It was just a nicer, easier camera than any I'd had. And it was amazing to suddenly have a whole new . . . vehicle, I guess. And it just didn't feel hard to take a good photo with that thing. But it must have been hard, the first day. It must have been.

Newcamera13Of course, I've always been much more interested in the thing I am taking a photo of than I am the technical part of how it comes to be. So when I found something that worked, I just did it over and over and over again, allowing the subject to change, not the method. I liked the idea of little, clear things rising to the surface, like bubbles. Just for a second, they're clear, then bloop.

Newcamera8I shot all these without a tripod or anything, just walking around. You may not be able to tell, but to me, these photos look really different than what I am used to taking with small silver. It became obvious pretty quickly that I was uncomfortable with this new thing. It can do so much more than I'm used to. Or rather, there are more choices for me to make; to make them, I need to know a lot more than I do. I resolve again to be a person who can happily change and expand, though I am so often inclined to stay curled up, like the fiddlehead fern, or a pill bug. It's very immature, and something I really don't like about myself. It's fear, I guess.

Newcamera1Yeah, all this, and I just want to get the fracking Fuji to focus. I want to take a picture, but apparently what I need is actually therapy. Grrreat. Welcome to my life.

About Alicia Paulson

About

My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at aliciapaulson.com

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Photography

Since August of 2011 I've been using a Canon EOS 60D with an EF 18-200mm kit lens and an EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens.