Rejiquar Works rejiquar.com::atom 2015-03-01T15:03:01-05:00 copyright 2015 Sylvus Tarn Sylvus Tarn 2015-02-27T00:00:00-05:00 More musing on the racism of the Wide Green World. 27feb2015

So last night I went to a presentation of our local history from, say C.E. 1000 to the present, with a focus from the mid 1600s to the mid 1800s. A lot of this stuff might only be of interest to locals, but I learned a couple of things of more general interest. One is that ‘sippy’ or ‘seppy’ means river (as in, Mississippy) in, if my notes can be trusted, (one of) the Huron language. (A note: I do know that tribe name is to be preferred, but when referring to assorted groups, for this post, I will defer to Mr Siegfried's preferred usage, ‘Indian’, which he sees as value-neutral.)

Two, they traded all over the continent—shells from the Gulf of Mexico made it all the way back to the St Lawrence basin, via the network of rivers the people used to travel via canoe. Detroit's founding—in its particular place and time—was very much driven by Indian politics. Our local highway follows an old Indian trail that goes all the way to Chicago.

And three, one of the disputes between the British Crown and the revolutionaries was evidently there was a line, reserving lands to the west of it for the Indian peoples, which the colonists wished to cross (not least because from their point of view the land was being “wasted”). This aspect of the dispute, is, shall we say not so emphasized as the tax thing. (Frex, I can't find the name of it in Wikipedia or other online sources, but finding the list of taxes with which the colonies took issue was easy.)

That last really resonated with me, because I recognized something strikingly similar in Bujold's Wide Green World books, the dispute between the Lakewalkers and Farmers, of ‘the old cleared line’. These books, which are set in an alternate 18–19ca version of the same general area of the Midwest as where I live (and the historian was discussing) revolve around the efforts of a slightly magical group of people, the Lakewalkers, to rid the world of randomly appearing devouring monsters called malices, which feed upon life energy in general and people, especially children and pregnant women, in particular. The ‘old cleared line’ is the region the Lakewalkers deem it safe for farmers to settle; but of course, the farmers can't resist the virgin land to the north.

This angers the Lakewalkers, because if a malice attacks a farmer town, it grows and destroys everyone lakewalker and farmer alike.

In a sense, the malices give the Lakewalkers an advantage the natives they're plainly based upon that the real Indians did not have: an enemy the farmers (colonialists) can not defeat. It was always somewhat obvious that the Lakewalkers, who besides living in a semi-nomadic, longhouse-dwelling, gift culture (and who braid their hair into the bargain) had a lot in common with the so-called ‘Late Woodlands’ the historian discussed. (His problem was that he was trying to cram a semester long course into a 2-1/2 hour talk. Whew.)

But that discussion of that line really drew into sharp, ineradicable focus the origins of this fantasy culture. After I came home I was too tired to research hotels in Miami, and ended up on Yo, is this racist? —for hours. There are only white people in the ‘Wide Green World’, and it pains me deeply. Especially when it could have so easily been otherwise.

Sigh.

That is on top of the various atrocities perpetuated on our region's first peoples, and the ongoing injustices. It brings to mind a boingboing interview with M.T. Anderson, the author of Feed:

People ask me whether I think we’ll ever live in a “dystopian world.”

We already do. It’s just that we happen to live in the shining Capital, so we export the suffering elsewhere.

Yeah, ...like Metropolis. And I'm part of it, and not iconclastic enough to do an Emma Goldman—about the only person I can think of offhand who was really, truly ahead of her time, social-justice wise. Well, I guess one can console oneself with warm muffins.

2015-02-27T11:53:31-05:00 tag:www.rejiquar.com,2015-02-27:/Food/2015frozen_onion_muffins
2015-02-15T00:00:00-05:00 Happy belated Valentine's Day! Yeah, I know a lot of people don't like Valentine's Day; and that's just fine. Also that this is dreadfully late, because I didn't start writing the post till the 15th, and it took me till the 18th to get it done (& will take till the 19th to get pushed over. But I'...

Happy belated Valentine's Day!

Yeah, I know a lot of people don't like Valentine's Day; and that's just fine. Also that this is dreadfully late, because I didn't start writing the post till the 15th, and it took me till the 18th to get it done (& will take till the 19th to get pushed over. But I've had this thing in the queue, nagging me for the last year & I'm determined to post this ancient object this year.

And I have a nice non-romantic valentine: a book recce!

My fiction reading has dropped off hugely in the past several years, because there just didn't seem to be all that many really good stories to my taste I'm too lazy/busy to find stuff I like, probably because if one has literary pretensions (even at my sub-basement level) then one is assumed to read well-written books with realistic and often not-very-nice people.

Well, I've to look on the inside of my own head to get a heaping plateful of that. Blerghhhhh. I'd rather read about kind, generous souls who do the right thing, or, at least, repent of doing the wrong thing and then get better. And as it happens, I stumbled across just such a book.

Well, actually, I saw it on a bunch of ‘best of’ lists for 2014, much the same way Ann Leckey's Ancillary Sword dominated 2013. —Btw, the second book in the series, Ancillary Justice, is just as good:) But if you're looking for fantasy, rather than sf, then allow me to reccommend Katherine Addison's (Sarah Monette) Goblin Emperor. The author, after being dropped (for dropping sales) for her 4 books Labyrinth series featuring the half brothers Mildmay the Fox, a thief, and Felix Harrowgate, a wizard, moved to a new one with this standalone, which is considerably lighter in tone, despite the fact it starts out with a neglected and abused orphan who is precipitously shot to the throne of his kingdom.

Maia, the goblin son of the emperor's despised fourth wife, has nevertheless absorbed her generosity of spirit and kindness; and despite the harsh conditions he's lived under since his mother's death at eight, has a steady head on his shoulders; which he's going to need if he's to keep it there, after the turmoil the kingdom has been thrown into after the death of the Emperor and his three heirs.

One recommendation: take a moment to read the bit explaining the various titles (which explain relationships) at the back of the book. It will also help to keep track of the many minor characters, as their familial relationships helps to slot them into the story. —Like the Leckie, the author plays with pronouns to give her world a more immersive feel: in this case, formal versus informal is indicated by whether the characters use singular or plural to refer to themselves. It gives the book a nice old-fashioned feel, which, as a big fan of Jane Austen, I appreciated. (Another reviewer notes that if you're the type of reader who wants action! battles! and fast-pacing! this book is not for you. However, I found the political manoeuvering plenty engaging. —Of course, one of my favorite fantasy novels, The Curse of Chalion is nothing but. In fact, I'd say if you liked that one, you probably will enjoy this, for much the same reason: a likeable protagonist, given to self-doubts, bright but rather inexperienced with the more byzantine aspects of court, attempting to do the right thing. (The other book it kind of reminds me of is Georgette Heyer's Civil Contract, though this is not at all a romance in the modern sense, though the term could certainly apply in the traditional way—after all, the recce is for valentine's day haters, though those who like it could certainly also enjoy the book;)

Having been so impressed with this book, I immediately ordered the 4 books of her earlier series from the library. These are also well-written, but the protagonists, Felix in particular, are deeply damaged by their upbringings and they are not very pleasant people. I understood why they weren't, but their environment was so ‘grimdark’ that very few people seemed to be able to be genuinely kind or caring. I liked the labyrinth imagery that is particularly important to the 2nd book (the first one was, to my eye, mostly setup, with —spoilers! one of the characters effectively insane for nearly the whole book).

I'm planning on giving the latter two a chance, but I liked much better the short stories, many of which are available on the web. The author (under her own name, Sarah Monette) has a number of them; most are horror, her favourite genre. Some feature a pair of paranormal detectives, which are great fun. Her short story collection The Bone Key features Kyle Murchison Booth, an introverted, awkward museum curator who is the most frequently recurring character. His stories in particular are typically a brooding, atmospheric horror very like H.P. Lovecraft, but without so much of the racism and misogyny. Monette is also fascinated by true crime, particularly historical true crime from the 1800s, and has many reviews of the genre (which I've always avoided, as it seems rather...sensationalistic) on her lj.

Alas, the heart I'm featuring is neither realistic, nor dripping, nor frightening...but if you're more in the mood for awwww than ewwww, well, there you go.

2015-02-18T21:18:14-05:00 tag:www.rejiquar.com,2015-02-15:/Beadweave/key2myheart
2015-02-01T00:00:00-05:00 Happy February, everyone! Here in the midwest we're having our first major snowstorm of the season, and I'm rather enjoying the 10 plus inches we're expected to receive. Of course, I don't have to drive anywhere in it, so there's that. What I *ought* to be doing is working up samples for actua...

Happy February, everyone! Here in the midwest we're having our first major snowstorm of the season, and I'm rather enjoying the 10 plus inches we're expected to receive. Of course, I don't have to drive anywhere in it, so there's that.

What I ought to be doing is working up samples for actual commissions (hi customers!) or at the very least, making art of some kind—guild challenges, painting with acrylics, etc—but since I'm not, I figured I could at least come up with a blog post. Not to mention some etsy listings! So here's a couple of sweet little heart-themed wall hangings. I'm featuring them now because Valentine's is coming up, but if you're not into rotating your house furnishings, they could certainly hang around (heh) year around. Both pieces are small, about 8x10.5 inches, with a warm tan and rich pink color scheme, for the very reasonable price of $25 each.

For those of you for whom this blog is all beads all the time, well, I have a post featuring some heart-shaped beads as well:)

2015-02-01T20:40:18-05:00 tag:www.rejiquar.com,2015-02-01:/PageProjects/2006valentine_hearts
2015-01-31T00:00:00-05:00 Our local libraries annually pick books for the patrons to read, and then in February bring in the author (or somebody related) to talk about the book; along with reading groups in the like. This year's choice is a novel, which is kind of unusual, but it appealed to me because two of the protagoni...

Our local libraries annually pick books for the patrons to read, and then in February bring in the author (or somebody related) to talk about the book; along with reading groups in the like. This year's choice is a novel, which is kind of unusual, but it appealed to me because two of the protagonists were Japanese; plus, I like the idea of participating in a community reading program.

Most of the reviews focus on the 16 year old narrator, a Japanese girl who lived in the US long enough to feel very alienated when her folks move back to Japan after the dot-com crash; or her marvellous and delightful 104 year old great grandmother, Juku, a buddhist nun in Ruth Ozeki's For the Time Being. Compelling as their voices are I actually ended identifying with Ruth, who is more of a framing character, and her husband (who are indeed the author and her husband.)

The whole book plays with these blurring boundaries, as you are pretty much informed on the first page, when the narrator, via her diary (cleverly disguised as an old copy of Proust's In Search of Lost Time, which should give you a clue) explains this buddhist concept of a ‘time being’. She herself is such, via the diary she's put in a hello kitty lunchbox; whales are; her great grandmother is...you the reader (and the author who finds this diary) are. The stories—the girl's, and the author's—move in tandem.

The book is chock full of delightful constructions (like the diary); stuff about Buddhism (the author is Buddhist), the great gyres (SN just this month had an article about these giant oceans of trash) the isolated island to which the author has retreated with her ill spouse, who recovers his health amongst nature, even as she comes to feel more isolated, cut off from New York City, and its creative vitality.

The protag, meanwhile, details the joys of being bullied and shunned in Japanese high school, losing her US friends, watching her formerly successful dad try (and fail) to get a job, try (and fail) to commit suicide via train, while referencing the akihibara and harajuku districts of Tokyo (which we visited last summer) not to mention f2tY's high school, in which it was very clear her classmates were thrilled to see their American classmate again. Also, we rode trains all over the country, and yes, one was delayed (probably) because of ‘human intervention’ —the euphemism for suicide or attempted suicide by jumping off the platform. So these synchronicities or not-quite-shared-experiences were kind of disorienting in that sense, because I knew just enough for this to intersect with my reality.

But for all that, it was the middle-aged protagonist with whom I most identified, the author|character who feels herself something of a failure, whose not written any novels for over a decade, and whose memoir of that time, taking care of her dying mother, is a mess. She's spinning her wheels, in effect. Meanwhile, as I was reading this, our comics librarian, who is awesome, had a new book by Inio Asano, Solanin. I was deeply impressed by Nijigahara Holograph (which btw is also about bullying in Japanese schools and possibly the most intricately plotted thing I've ever read) so I was happy to read this straightforward earlier work, about a bunch of rather aimless, artsy 20 somethings, particularly Meiko Inoue, who takes up the guitar to master the eponymous song of the title, as well.

Oddly enough, both the middle-aged Ruth, and 24 year old Meiko, come to much the same conclusion by the end of their books, if not at their stories: that life may not be perfect, but that it is, for the time being, good enough. That, for all its petty frustrations, they—we—I—have it pretty good. I've always understood that some books, some stories, resonate with particular readers; but the cultural milieu—modern Japan—meant that the stories, in a sense, interacted with each other: that whole ‘genre is a series of conversations’ thing Bujold likes to talk about. More: this is what culture is (and why densely packed people, and their X^2 interactions, are so important to it:)

And, oddly enough today's item goes with that pretty well: this gift is nothing special, but it was the best I was able to find.

2015-01-31T15:37:28-05:00 tag:www.rejiquar.com,2015-01-31:/Giftwrap/2015blue_giftwrap_poinsetta
2015-01-26T00:00:00-05:00 Frederick Wiseman's _National Gallery_ documentary. 26jan2015

Went and saw Frederick Wiseman's National Gallery (at a theatre inside an art museum, how appropriate) but at three hours, this thing is way too long. I was able to sit through it, but my companion had to get up and physically stretch her legs; the patron in front of us left, perhaps half or two-thirds of the way through. Part of the problem is that it's really two films: one, the one I (as an artist) was interested in watching about the restoration, installation and other behind-the-scenes technical aspects of running the museum.

The other strand documented people's —curators, docents, assorted museum-goers, including lovers, students, the nearly blind and a lot of middle to elderly aged men—reactions to, and interactions with, the art. Acting as sort of a transition between these two components were the discussions and planning by upper echelon museum staff, with regard to it politics, planning, and finances.

The film starts out with an earnest mid-level board member attempting to convince the director that the museum needs to be more accessible, more relatable to the average citizan, who, she says, doesn't really get why the museum or its contents are so special. The director sits politely, unconvinced, as she goes on and on and on and on. I sympathized with her because an awful lot of people do in fact, regard art museums as something ‘for rich people.’ I also wasn't terribly surprised to note that (so far as I could tell) the top two positions were filled by men; most of the mid-level employees (and all the docents except one) were women. All of the laborers were, of course, men. There were three people of color who could be said to be working; two were menials, the other (a pianist) obviously hired part-time.

At the same time, no, I don't really think art museums need to have banners advertising this or that charity, or corporation (or corp sponsoring a charity, though coming up with cute, potentially viral vids that encourage people to check out their local museum sounds great). Director Penny clearly sees as his job to conserve the museum and its traditions, and preserve the art within. Which I suppose brings me to the heart of the underlying problem: the art shown in this film is a tiny, but famous and recognizable, portion of the collections: paintings, mostly oil paintings, dating from (I wanna say) roughly 1400–1900, with an emphasis on French, Italian and British ‘big names’.

Museums, so I was informed in another quite interesting documentary, are having a difficult time competing with modern collectors with lots of money to spend, and a desire to validate their taste (and wealth) with high-status art—that is, the same big names Wiseman focuses his camera on. This annoys for two reasons: one, of course, is that it's pretty hard for the average person to see art in private collections. But the other is the reinforcing of what is “proper” art: white, western, European. One docent mentions to a group of black youths that it ‘needs to be acknowledged’ that museum was founded with money extracted from the backs of slaves. That's all very well, but the black kids already likely have a sense of that, if not the exact history; it's all the well-to-do whites that really need to be reminded of this.

To be sure, it's encouraging that some major institutions are combatting this; but the fact of the matter is, all those paintings were, for the most part, commercial art made for patrons who could pay for it; just as today, the bulk of art is commercial, one way or another (little as the so-called ‘fine art’ world cares to admit this.) One of the things I love about the internet is that fans of odd little niches can find each other (and also that what I suspect is Impression-equivalent: graffiti and other street art, or comics, are starting to get some recognition.)

The National Gallery deserves plenty of kudos for trying to make art accessible to wider audiences (such as the visually impaired) as well as the making of art (we're shown a number of non-professionals learning to draw from the nude model, which is generally not something encouraged for non-artists). There's no question that looking at really top flight stuff in museums has sharpened my critical faculties. At the same time, there's an awful lot of art made by artists who can't support themselves; and if our culture placed more value on art-making, particularly more kinds of art-making, from the get-go, then I think the need to educate people on the importance of museums would naturally disappear.

The theatre always presents us, the audience, with a review of the film, and I enjoy comparing my reactions to that of the professional reviewer. In this case, we both clearly found the parts of the documentary about restoration (and to a lesser extent interpretation in a historical context) of the paintings to be most riveting. Rembrandt, for example, decided he didn't like/couldn't sell a large canvas, so he rotated it 90 degrees, and started painting anew, without even bothering to put another ground, (probably) incorporating material from the prior piece into the new one. That's the sort of thing I'd do, and that fact, derived from careful scientific analysis, is of far greater interest to me than what a painting means, nor even the silent communion with paintings the film-maker so lovingly depicts, over and over and over.

At first, I resented that most of these admirers seemed to be middle-aged or older white men; women, youths, PoC being more likely to be shown in line, or in groups, or the like; but I finally concluded that these men were standing in for, and representing the creator himself. —Which, to be honest, was the part that really needed to be cut. Wiseman, consciously or not, attempted to direct our sympathies away from the mid-level employee and her argument about accessibility to the average person by opening the documentary with a too-long cut to open the film. But a good portion of his film, to my mind, illustrated the strength of her arguments: art needs to be accessible to everyone, not just rich white guys. And that means, we need to know museums show more than just da Vinci, Rembrandt and Vermeer.

(So, is giftwrapping ‘art’? Most people would say no, or, hell no. Internally, I'm using the same software to create it as stuff that does get labelled art. So, who knows? But that's why I find these distinctions rather baffling.)

2015-01-26T21:21:37-05:00 tag:www.rejiquar.com,2015-01-26:/Giftwrap/2015tan_brown_red_deer
2015-01-11T00:00:00-05:00 My favorite online/youtube mathematician, Vi Hart, has a cool new interactive program that shows how even slight preferences cause people to segregate themselves pretty readily. (via skepchick, I think...) The accompanying article explains, moreover, how strongly these patterns persist--- *...

My favorite online/youtube mathematician, Vi Hart, has a cool new interactive program that shows how even slight preferences cause people to segregate themselves pretty readily. (via skepchick, I think...) The accompanying article explains, moreover, how strongly these patterns persist— unless you add a rule that participants actively desire to live with others unlike them.

The town I live in readily demonstrates this: it has five districts, and during the era after the Civil War & before WWI, its black population, then the highest percentage of any city in the state & originally pretty evenly distributed, was forced into one district by covenants, which I'm very sorry to say were enforced (at least informally) well into the 50s (and probably beyond, since an adjacent neighborhood still has members who call the cops on black guys silly enough to go door to door looking for odd jobs). A century later this pattern still persists, though I didn't learn the history until a year ago, despite having resided here well over a decade, and belonging to various historical groups for much of that time. The fact that our city is mixed overall was a plus for us, but owing to ignorance about this history, we inadvertently reinforced the old, bad, pattern.

This of course is the point of the game, and what SJWs mean when they talk about “structural injustice”. What this game does is to allow ordinary folk to understand why active programs (e.g. affirmative actions) are necessary to reverse bad trends, with nice mathematical rigor. And cute shapes:)

Speaking of shapes I have another bead curtain strand, this time in ambers and greens. Enjoy.

2015-01-11T12:54:29-05:00 tag:www.rejiquar.com,2015-01-11:/BeadCurtain/2015amber_green_beadcurtain
2015-01-07T00:00:00-05:00 So, bouncing back to the crochet (two posts ago) here's some linkies I liked for learning scrumbles specifically (part II) of a cute blue scrumble a green scrumble by the same folks, prudence mapstone (originator of the technique, I believe), plus instructables sand/shore/sea bag . And of...

So, bouncing back to the crochet (two posts ago) here's some linkies I liked for learning scrumbles specifically (part II) of a cute blue scrumble a green scrumble by the same folks, prudence mapstone (originator of the technique, I believe), plus instructables sand/shore/sea bag.

And of course, no roundup would be complete without the project that originally inspired me, LisaViolinViola's gorgeous green freeform mitts. In fact the blog has a ton of wonderful freeform examples.

Or you can look at another orange beadcurtain strand, which I suppose is also technically freeform.

2015-01-11T12:06:47-05:00 tag:www.rejiquar.com,2015-01-07:/BeadCurtain/2015orange_beadcurtain
2015-01-06T00:00:00-05:00 Happy New Year/Epiphany/12th Day of Christmas/Tuesday, everyone:) Found the most luscious pair of socks (you may need a ravelry login to see the link), so making those---or at least a simple every-other-stitch stranded two color pair is one New Year resolution. I love the way the pattern disapp...

Happy New Year/Epiphany/12th Day of Christmas/Tuesday, everyone:)

Found the most luscious pair of socks (you may need a ravelry login to see the link), so making those—or at least a simple every-other-stitch stranded two color pair is one New Year resolution. I love the way the pattern disappears into plain white, as if the toes were dug into snow.

For those of you not yet tired of winter, here are some gorgeous macrophotos of snow crystals, and along the lines of another dpreview feature is a new photographer who did a year of pix every day to learn. I'd like to start ploughing through strobist's photography 102 flash course (though if I manage one lesson a week, I'd be thrilled...). First thing—got the recommended flash, but now I need the light stand to stick it on!

Of course, I'm always still recovering from last year, this early on—just turned the heels on a pair of socks I started, um, last March, and today's feature was supposed to be delivered to the customer...in October.

Ah well, I do usually get this stuff done. Eventually.

2015-01-06T21:46:12-05:00 tag:www.rejiquar.com,2015-01-06:/BeadCurtain/2015orange-green-yellow_beadcurtain
2014-12-18T00:00:00-05:00 This is a typical way I waste time on the internet: Threads magazine, in a vain effort to get me to renew (because the mag has become ``Fine (Couture) Sewing'' instead of ``Fabulous Textile Techniques of All Kinds'') and I'm =not much into clothes= rank comfort, versatility and durability over app...

This is a typical way I waste time on the internet: Threads magazine, in a vain effort to get me to renew (because the mag has become “Fine (Couture) Sewing” instead of “Fabulous Textile Techniques of All Kinds”) and I'm not much into clothes rank comfort, versatility and durability over appearance, I don't put much effort into stuff that's just gonna get dirt, molten glass, acid, etc on it anyway...sent me a link called 21 sewing myths debunked which was more a well, that's-not-quite-a-myth-but-here's-the-exception-to-that-rule; then I wandered over to a vintage blouse because they do sometimes discuss embellishment (in the context of couture sewing, sigh) and mention was made of a specialized embroidery machine called a cornely, of which antiques are still used in Africa, India and the Middle East where labor is still cheap enough for hand-guided machine embroidery is feasible, where it's become part of the local style, and where, I'm guessing, there's a knowledge base for operating these machines—the guy in the video makes it look easy, but I'm guessing there's a fairly deep well of expertise there. Note, frex, how much more comfortable the Middle Easterner is operating the machine than the person demoing for the museum, in the first link. This is not to say this type of technology hasn't advanced, but the modern machines are neither suitable nor accessible to the artisan; on the other hand, just making this post allowed me to circle back to another favorite video of a woman using an old treadle machine to make lace. N.b., she's Hungarian: that same basic region as the Irish Crochet that inspired this post.)

From thence I discovered this artisan's interpretation of Irish Crochet (a form of three dimensional lace making) —she's evidently at the forefront of a Ukrainian/Russian movement that has incorporated color into this traditionally white (and pre-industrial) medium in an absolutely fantastic way. So after hunting a bit on the web and not really finding any go-to sources for learning this stuff (Ravelry no doubt has a bunch, but you need a [free] login)–this page seems to be the best for info on that, but somewhere along the way (i.e. Ravelry) I discovered that crochet has now got an array of symbols and thus can be charted, like knitting. It also, obviously, lends itself to freeform motif making, which can then stitched together with grounds, in much the way tape (bobbin) lace and needle lace can be used together to make fabric. —Mebbe these symbols existed 40 years ago when I was first exposed to crochet, but I certainly don't recall seeing them, and according to the Crochet Guild of America the technique itself is relatively new, possibly derived from tambour (chain) embroidery some 200 years ago (the same kind as done by those cornely machines, above;) so it wouldn't surprise me to discover that charted patterns only became common in the last decade or so, after the internet took off and artisans from many different countries needed a way to exchange patterns.

Which of course is a help to those of us whose brains stall out with the ch st dc type abbreviations—it's as bad as mathematics (I wish I'd learned that visually, too.)

Hmmmm....

I have a lot of string, more than I can ever use for kumi. Also, recently scored some tiny old (possibly antique) crochet hooks —one actually had 25c molded into the metal handle. Ravelry has instructions for modifying hooks as well, which, since I have a lot of steel rod (aka bent mandrels) and metalworking tools lying around, is not gonna be a problem. And I like this bolder look with the heavier cottons—the days when I could see 80 weight thread easily are gone, gone, gone.

So that is what I've been doing, instead of getting ready for the holidays. Hope your prep is going better, or less peripatetically (or mebbe not...)

2014-12-18T18:40:29-05:00 tag:www.rejiquar.com,2014-12-18:/Misc/2014xmas_bike
2014-12-03T00:00:00-05:00 etsy shop announcement; Scalzi's _Lockin_, a (very) brief review. 03dec2014

John Scalzi generously does this thing where he opens up his blog for the rest of the world to flog our wares for the holiday season. So I got off my ass, reopened my etsy shop, and will be trying to fill out the collections over the next few days (in between a number of truly tedious mundane tasks).

Shown is the Bee Princess. I was originally trained in life drawing, and in college hoped to be a sf&f book cover artist. I never figured out how to do that, and getting hired by a bead shop rekindled my interest in beads, which, obviously has persisted.

Anyway. As Mr Scalzi has been so kind to allow me to promote myself, I thought I'd return the favor—he recently published a new novel, LockIn which he admits was

[t]otally a NaNoWriMo novel.

Ha!

The story is about a person who is physically ‘locked in’ hir own head by a disease and communicates telepathically by robot body. It's a charming story, and an sfnal mystery (a genre generally considered challenging to do). I enjoyed it thoroughly, and recommend the book, though there were some dangling bits —such as the Agora, the mental space where the locked in people congregated, which I felt needed more development. (I first encountered this concept in Vernor Vinge's wonderful True Names ...which Lockin owing to that failure of the development of the online space, doesn't quite match for Name's prescient cyberspace.)

However, the protag is appealing, the politics non-annoying, (that is, the characters come in other flavors besides the traditional vanilla white male) and yes, the author managed a gotcha. On me, who suspected something of that nature might be happening when I heard there two versions of the audiobook, and then promptly forgot about my suspicions when I dropped into the story. Great fun, recommended.

You can see Bee Princess on rejiquar or purchase it (and other fine creations by yours truly) on etsy —who knows, perhaps some day I'll actually get this marketing stuff down.

2014-12-04T09:34:48-05:00 tag:www.rejiquar.com,2014-12-03:/Graphic/bee_princess
2014-12-01T00:00:00-05:00 Happy December, everyone. (Eek, definitely not ready.) Aaaand the parade of links continues. I just loved the art in Nonplayer and I also admired the artist for seemingly getting his promotional chops in a row; but after that first volume...nothing. Turns out there's a happy ending (or middle...

Happy December, everyone. (Eek, definitely not ready.)

Aaaand the parade of links continues. I just loved the art in Nonplayer and I also admired the artist for seemingly getting his promotional chops in a row; but after that first volume...nothing. Turns out there's a happy ending (or middle?) to this story: the creator had a kid, and has been busy.

Oh, ok.

Also chugging along with fantastic art and story, Brian K Vaughn and Fiona Staples’ fantastic Saga. I'm ashamed to admit I totally missed the subtleties that Vaughn uses to make the thing more accessible:

  • no more than six panels per page
  • no more than 12 balloons per page
  • no more than two lines of (typewritten) text per balloon

I doubt I'd ever be that disciplined, but not having to plow through mountains of text is certainly a plus. Which leads me to the next link, Death by Powerpoint which hardly surprises me at all, having been a fan (via my father, who really admired) Edward Tufte. Plus, I know people who work for the military|contractors, and this sort of thing is a real problem.

And finally, the way they sometimes do, interesting links just... appear on my machine. Here's a heartwarming one. Or, yanno, you can look at these art noveau styled earrings.

2014-11-29T19:09:42-05:00 tag:www.rejiquar.com,2014-12-01:/OA/page_dragonfly_ear
2014-11-28T00:00:00-05:00 links to documentaries---2nd wave feminism, Mona Lisa recreated photographically, fabulous mushroom photos 28nov2014

Hideho, another post cuzza I gotta bunch a links I want to close in the browser window...an interesting looking documentary on 2nd wave feminism (which got good reviews from some folks who'd actually seen it; via strobist, (which I'm perusing for the 2nd or 3rd time—mebbe this time the lessons on using flash will stick) another documentary about recreating the Mona Lisa photographically (which frankly was more interesting to me as a form of the photographer's obsession); also via strobist, some fabulous photography of mushrooms (which have fascinated me with their form and color for a long time).

Or you can check out a pair of earrings I wanna say I made roughly at this time of year in either ’12 or ’13, courtesy of the wonderful Cyndy G., who brought a bunch of autumn-themed bits and pieces for us guild members to play with at a meeting.

2014-11-27T21:16:43-05:00 tag:www.rejiquar.com,2014-11-28:/String/copper_autumn_earrings
2014-11-24T00:00:00-05:00 This is another one of those tedious me, me, me posts I've made as a reminder to myself next time I have to photograph stuff for my friend, Kristin. If you are an amateur photographer getting into using a manual flash, you may find it slightly useful. Otherwise, yawn. However, I've accumulated a...

This is another one of those tedious me, me, me posts I've made as a reminder to myself next time I have to photograph stuff for my friend, Kristin. If you are an amateur photographer getting into using a manual flash, you may find it slightly useful. Otherwise, yawn.

However, I've accumulated a buncha other links—how a Deutsch town ju-jitsued (I prefer this to the ‘prank’ characterization boingboing used) a neo-nazi group; how music engages the brain (though I wonder what would happen if they MRI'ed someone doing a difficult arty task like, say, making a bead, which also has something of a real time performance aspect to it...?

Racism has long, deep roots. The distribution of blacks in my home-town was determined shortly after the Civil War, when covenants were created that restricted where blacks could live; and those distributions remain largely the same, over a century later. F2tY is applying for colleges, and finding the process frustrating and tedious—not least because of the racist roots of the admissions process.

On a slightly more upbeat note, I'm proud to be part of the creative commons. Even if today's aspect of it ain't that exciting.

UPDATE (27nov14): Whoopsie, forgot to finish the page! Well, I made the second checklist visible, and added another photo while I was at it. Sorry about that!

2014-11-27T21:29:02-05:00 tag:www.rejiquar.com,2014-11-24:/HowtoPhoto/using_flash
2014-11-19T00:00:00-05:00 flames are round in space:) 19nov2014

Sorry about the no-posting—first, I caught something at our guild show in the beginning of November; not to mention I had all these bulbs. I managed by Monday to finish planting them, however haphazardly, racing snow and cold before the ground froze hard. On the plus side, perhaps this means the various little rodents won't be able to dig them up and eat them!

Today's piece is a blast from the past.

And seeing as it's wood, a material I'm more likely to compost or burn than string, this rather cool link about flame shape seems apropos...I do wonder what it would be like to try making beads in space—for one thing you wouldn't have to constantly spin the mandrel to keep the glass from drooping!

2014-11-20T08:36:59-05:00 tag:www.rejiquar.com,2014-11-19:/String/african_wooden_bead_necklace
2014-11-06T00:00:00-05:00 Today is Japan Day:) First up, via boingboing, a couple of interesting links---one of a short video of a traditional wooden dollmaker ; the other about one of those organizer/tidy-types . I have battled clutter all my life, and have slowly gotten better at it (though frankly I think having more...

Today is Japan Day:)

First up, via boingboing, a couple of interesting links—one of a short video of a traditional wooden dollmaker; the other about one of those organizer/tidy-types. I have battled clutter all my life, and have slowly gotten better at it (though frankly I think having more resources has helped a good deal—i.e., I either can spend more money for storage solutions, or am more willing to get rid of crap because I know I have the wherewithal to replace it).

Thus far, the most useful (recent) decluttering advice I got was fly lady's shine your sink. I didn't really think it would help that much, but it did. (Again, I was helped by the fact that we recently [almost finished the ] redo of our kitchen, so it's a lot more functional—and pleasant—than it was.) The Japanese woman Marie Kondo's advice is interesting: focus not on what you discard, but what you wish to keep, and keep only those things you love.

Right now I have to pull financial records from 2008–2013. I do not love them, but having them has certainly made coping with bureaucracies much easier. —There was (not altogether to my surprise, having just visited Japan, and stayed in/visited several Japanese homes) a very minimalist aesthetic shown in the author interview. It's lovely, but obviously these folks have someone else to deal with all the paperwork necessary to run a household (another thing that's slowly making super-tidyness more available: computers, which make the necessity of storing a lot of boring crap much more compact.)

But even leaving aside the issues of ugly-but-necessary stuff, or things I would happily get rid of (because they belong to other members of the household who would like to keep their possessions, thank-you-very-much), there's another issue, which is that, because I am an artist who works in so many media, I have an awful lot of stuff with highly variable desirableness. For example: I have some reproductions of old coins that have been sitting around for years. Decades, literally. Currently I mostly use them in my fukaro (the counterweight bag for kumihimo) but I just have started a new hobby for which they will come most extremely handy. Because I cycle in and out of media, and have a difficult time predicting when I'll need something (not to mention the fact that I often make my best art out of my most despised supplies, because I don't care so much about the outcome, and can let go) this philosophy, while most extremely appealing, is difficult.

I guess the bottom line is that, even more than being tidy (much as I love that) I derive satisfaction from ‘perfect use’ —finding the most efficient way to use, store or deal with a given item.

Finally, to round out my discussion of things Japanese, I thought I'd mention a brilliant manga I recently read: Nijigahara Holograph. This horror comic came out, I wanna say, in 2006, but was just released in English in 2014. It's an absolutely brilliant story, with multiple points of view (and some very unreliable narrators to boot) that took about 5 readings to nail down the plot. Briefly, the story is about a young man, a 5th grader who transfers to a school in which another girl was killed—drowned—by her classmates.

The art is very nice, and the character design is top-notch (absolutely necessary; otherwise figuring out the plot would be impossible), and the transitions—oh, man, the transitions in this book are amazing —as, for example when the two teachers are discussing the protagonist's history, and that he possibly jumped from his prior school's roof; then we cut to him, listening to the other children tell their victim to jump—there are lots of other examples, in which the text and images work in concert to switch from one timeline or character viewpoint to another's.

Despite the intricately plotted storyline and the richness of the characters—with the possible exception of the murdered girl(s), everyone is culpable, cruel, damaged and damaging—the story is, at bottom, the tale of a paedophilic rape; and the failure of everyone, but everyone to protect the victim. The book is so brilliantly done that, for the moment, I'm inclined to let this pass; but I can't help wondering why, if the other main plot thread is the protagonist's existentialist despair, we need a harrowing rape (with a side of incest) to balance his angst.

Despite this reservation, this has been the most engaging thing I've read in a very long time, and if you're looking for something with layers and layers of symbolism, then I recommend this book.

Or, you can check out the propane shed mouse.

2014-11-05T22:09:41-05:00 tag:www.rejiquar.com,2014-11-06:/String/propane_shed_mouse