Monday, November 23, 2009

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Other Peoples Places

Though I've always been a huge fan of people's apartments, it's the way they decorate or don't, that's really fascinating to me.
My own apartments, over the years, have always been a consistently revolving show that keep me, and now RK, fully entertained.  We re-design a piece, a wall, or a room on a weekly basis.  I can't help it!  Even as a kid, I used to change my room around regularly.  Yes, probably to the point of  'weird'.  So, when I walk into someone else's apartment, my mind is racing with one of two thoughts:




Both seem to be totally captivating moments for me and I then want to see every single nook & cranny of the place.  I've never thought of it as nosy, though I've come across some that do.  I've always sort of felt, if you invite me into your home, isn't it better if I show sincere interest in where you live?  It's a genuine curiosity for how people live in general.  If I've got my camera, I usually feel compelled to take a few shots.  If I don't, it just lives on in memory.

When people come to our house, I usually throw open the doors and say 'take a look around!' because, let's face it, I know they want to.  And for us, especially of late, it's a work-in-progress.  But, I love where we live and so much of what our apartment is made up of is such a reflection of us, it's futile to hide it away.

With that in mind, I started this other little blog. None of these photos come from inside our apartment, but the apartments of friends that I've had the pleasure of spending time in.  Apartments that make me feel at home, somewhere I wouldn't mind hanging my hat, if only for a revolving moment...

Saturday, November 21, 2009


"Every time I would show them to people, some would say they're paintings, others called them sculptures. And then I heard this story about Calder," he said, referring to the artist Alexander Calder, "that nobody would look at his work because they didn't know what to call it. As soon as he began calling them mobiles, all of a sudden people would say 'Oh, so that's what they are.' So I invented the term 'Combine' to break out of that dead end of something not being a sculpture or a painting. And it seemed to work."

-Robert Rauschenberg

I'm working on this new piece that I haven't yet titled. After a ridiculous amount of back and forth on tiny little details that no one will ever notice, it's really coming together.

The premise: It's Bernice's nest collection. Collected 1934-37, from different towns in Wisconsin.  Bernice was an avid bird watcher and travelled around Wisconsin with her family.  Everywhere they went, she searched the ground for fallen bird nests.  She always looked around to make sure she wasn't disturbing an active family home and then would wrap the nest carefully and bring it back with her.  Proud of her collection, with the help of her father, she mounted each nest and framed her collection.

I used old playing cards from a collection my mom kept as a kid.  The nests I've collected over the years and made one of them, as well.  The vintage blue velvet in the background is one of my favorite pieces of fabric my sister gave me a hundred years ago and I've eked it out for so long 'cuz I hate to see it go.  This is the last of it.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

"missmollymissmollymissmolly" is not actually a word

Originally uploaded by mollshot

Lately, I've been feeling just the slightest bit overwhelmed at work. A constantly running litany of children calling out my name and, along with it, their current issue at hand.

MissMolly, MissMolly, I've got a hang nail. MissMolly, my tooth hurts. MissMolly, MissMolly, can you check off my contract? MissMolly, do you like what I drew? MissMolly, MissMolly, look at this thing on my finger, its bothering me. MissMolly, MissMolly, know what I watched last night? MissMolly, can you please read this to me? MissMolly, MissMolly, MISSMOLLY, my stomach hurts. MissMolly, can I go to the bathroom, it's an emergency?! MissMolly, wanna see my new shirt? MissMolly, MissMolly, I can't find my sweatshirt, lunch, homework, contract, money, snack, tooth, toy, book, bookmark, share, shoes, lunch, gomo, boat, plane, thing that I made. MissMolly, MissMolly, I'm finished. MissMolly, I'm done. MissMolly, I'm hot. MissMolly, I'm cold. MissMolly, MissMolly, I called you first, I'm finshed! MissMolly, I've been waiting this whole time. MissMolly, can you check me off? MissMolly, MissMolly, can I free draw? MissMolly, MissMolly, MissMolly, I bit my cheek! MissMolly, he stepped on my foot! MissMolly, she pushed me! MISSMOLLY, She won't be my friend! He's not being nice! MissMolly, MissMolly, I miss my mom!

Oh my, it's exhausting. Talking about it with friends the other night, I actually cried with exhaustion. I don't know what it is this year, why it seems so much more work. I dream of past jobs and the ease and comfort with which I've infused them: bookstore manager, professional organizer, owning a shop, barista, telemarketer...then I realize I've gone too far. What I'd really love to do, I'm not sure. Maybe I haven't hit upon it yet (after all these years of can that be?!)? Maybe I'm idealizing the past (most likely)? Maybe I just wasn't meant to have a "career"? Maybe what I'm really supposed to be doing is yet to come....?

Plauged by the thoughts of 'what next?', 'what next?', 'what next?': I'm sitting on the rug at the end of the day, finishing a story just before dismissal, and I feel this little breath on the back of my neck. I've finished the story now and the kids are getting up to leave one by one, when I hear this little voice say, "MissMolly, I love you." I turn and see little L. smiling at me. He throws his tiny little arms around me and I tell him I love him, too.

I guess that's why I stay.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Simple in Sight

I had this really simple thought, remembering the Highlights or Ranger Rick magazines of my youth: from micro detail to macro overview is really interesting. To me.

I'm just trying it out.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Work, the way it should be

(i had to take down the video/song because it would play every time you arrived here)

Created by four postal employees who were recorded as they canceled stamps at the University of Ghana post office in 1975. Their whistle-and-stamp song was recorded by James Koetting.

"These men are working, not putting on a musical show; people pass by the work place paying little attention to the "music." (I used to go often to watch and listen to them and they gave the impression that they thought I was somewhat odd for doing so.) The four men making the sounds you hear are workers canceling letters at the University of Ghana post office. Each letter must be canceled by hand, a boring task that these men make more palatable by setting the work to music. Twice a day the letters that must be canceled are laid out in two files, one on either side of a divided table. Two men sit across from one another at the table, and each has a hand-canceling machine (like the price markers you may have seen in supermarkets), an ink pad, and a stack of letters. The work part of the process is simple; a letter is slipped from the stack with the left hand, and the right hand inks the marker and stamps the letter - a repetitive task by anyone's standard but one made for setting to music since it is rhythmic (or can be made so) and it produces audible sound.
This is what you are hearing; the two men seated at the table slap a letter rhythmically several times to bring it from the file to the position on the table where it is to be canceled (this act makes a light-sounding thud). The marker is inked one or more times (the lowest, most resonant sound you hear) and then stamped on the letter (the high-pitched mechanized sound you hear). As you can hear, the rhythm produced is not a simple one-two-three (bring forward the letter - ink the marker - stamp the letter). Rather, musical sensitivities take over. Several slaps on the letter to bring it down, repeated thuds of the marker in the ink pad and multiple cancelations of single letters are done for rhythmic interest. Such repetition slows down the work, but also makes it much more interesting for the workers.
The other sounds you hear have nothing to do with the work itself. A third man has a pair of scissors that he clicks - not cutting anything, but adding to the rhythm. The scissors go "click, click, click, rest" [...] a basic rhythm used in popular dance music. The fourth worker simply whistles along. He and any of the other three workers who care to join him whistle popular tunes or church music that first the rhythm.
These post office workers provide us with a modern example of work music in Africa, but there are many raditional forms of it. Drummers may be sent to the fields to provide rhythm for workers harvesting or weeding crops; men pulling a fishing net might sing to coordinate their efforts; women using poles to beat down the dirt floor of a house might sing and stomp in rhythm. Sometimes the music is intended to help the workers work together, make the task go faster, or keep the work steady; it always makes the work more fun."

And it makes people like me start bawling like a baby.

via RK,
via this via that
via this

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

well, that depends

I was playing battleship with one of the kids before school the other day when A., who has a slight lisp of an R to a W, came up to me and asked,

Miss Molly, was yesterday the future?

Woah. Granted, I was slightly distracted by trying to win battleship, but I was pretty sure I heard her right. These kids, unknowingly, ask some seriously deep questions and I thought this one was a doozy. Was yesterday the future? Sometimes I completely believe my dreams are real life. I gave a rote answer, but wondered what she meant exactly. How she saw it.

Me: Um, no. Yesterday was the past, today is the present and tomorrow is the future.

A: no, um, what?! she looked at me like i was crazy, then asked me again, no, Miss Molly, was yesterday the field trip?

Oh. Right. The Field Trip. When you're six, time holds no real meaning. If you can't tell time by looking at a clock, why do you need to even remember what day it is? I guess I went a little deep there. But these kids do keep me on my toes!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

reception chilly

Every day at school, we do Calender.
Every day at school, we record the weather.
And every day since school started, we've dropped a little yellow bead into the cup marked "sunny".
And with each yellow bead that's dropped, and each 'yea!' i silently call out, I dread the coming cold.

I can see it each evening, as I walk home from work, the thick marine layer: F-O-G coming over the hills. Nobody does fog like San Francisco does fog. Where once was a clear and warm day, it's suddenly thick and instantly cold.

And I HATE being cold.

And, yet, I have varying degrees of what cold is.

1. top down, heat on
2. down comforter, windows open
3. fuzzy wool hat, big thick sweater, jeans and flip flops

My mom would argue that it's why I should never move back to NYC. She can't understand how I could possibly want to live through another real winter.
NYC winters never bothered me. NYC has winter/cold, but it's so vibrantly hot otherwise that it melts the snow from the ground up.

Maybe if it actually snowed here and became a true winter, I could handle it a bit more. I'm not a big one for rain, rain, rain...and that's a-coming any day now, any day. Cold rain.
Oh, san francisco winter, be kind, be short.

it kills me that i don't remember from where i got this picture. i wrote myself a note that says 'the kate you know', but i've googled that and it ain't from any of those things. dangit!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Friends of Friends

There's a group called Friends of the SF Library and they host a huge-mongous book sale once a year. It's one of the juicier events for me. Tables and tables and tables stacked high with books. Old, new, unopened, throughly used, you name it, it's there. Since one of my greatest loves is walking the aisles in a public library, looking at the spine of each and every book, deciding on it's beauty and picking it out...
....this breakdown from the shelves is like looking in the vault, or the dumpster (depending on your kind of diving) of your favorite old library.
I've gone to a few years now and I'm still super impressed. It's basically run by these fabulous, old-school volunteers. The women and men that were probably your Health Ed or History teacher 20 years ago. They're so into it and it all feels so neighborhood-ly. Everyone seems to know someone there, we're all having a civilized glass of wine and browsing books. We're also filling our carts higher than our heads with these gorgeous paper pages...
I get lost in the romance of being in a warehouse of real, live books. It smells like books. For as far as the eye can see, it's books. People are communing with books. Slowly turning the pages of each book they pick up. Watching people get deep into a book, a few minutes later snap to and look around: How long have I been standing here reading? I better get this book.

I picked up books mostly in the reference section this year. And then, of course, that Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening now resides in my home library, as well.
It's awesome.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sanskrit has ninety-six words for love; ancient Persian has eighty, Greek three, and English only one

Lately, all the kids have been talking about relationships. I'm not sure where they get their information from though...some of it is right, like when I heard this conversation:

L: I'm gonna be in love and get married!
D: Me too!
J: Me too! I'm gonna marry my MOM!
D., very solemnly, leaned across the table, and whispered in a low voice: You can't marry someone you're related to.

Well, that was a shock for J! She had to search her brain for someone else to think about now...

And some of it is downright strange. This morning, O. came over to Miss P. crying his little heart out saying that H. said she and another little boy couldn't be his friend anymore. When we finally got down to brass tacks, she and this other little boy came over "to tell the truth", and it turned out they'd said something a little bit different.

O., crying, crying, crying...: H. and D. said they won't be my friends!

H: That's not what I said!

D: Let me be honest here, we were all arguing who H. has a crush on and then we said she should really decide for herself and she decided it was me.

H: But I said O. is still my best friend! It's just that I have a crush on D.

O:, still crying, crying, crying: But I want her to have a crush on ME, too!

So, Miss P. implored H. couldn't she have a crush on both of them?
Miss P.: You love both your parents, don't you?

By this time, the entire class was listening in and either snickering at the word "crush" and that H. was actually admitting one, or they were in awe that O. was crying so hard over the lack of one.

H: Yes, but it's really hard to love four people all at the same time!

Eventually H. felt forced to tell the boys she had crushes on both of them (which, we all know, she doesn't) and I was left reflecting on the possible difficulties of loving more than one person at a time. I wondered if, as a kid, I had thought that was impossible? I know it's taken me years to get over the idea that if someone I loved loved someone else, as well as me, that not enough was left over for me! And we had a student last year who felt the same way (he told us that his mom loved his little brother, so she couldn't possibly love him enough, too!) and he took it out on everyone else. That was rough to watch. Worse still, I never felt we had the right words to sooth him.... you just can't convince someone of how much they're loved if they don't believe it themselves.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

An Extra Hour of Halloween This Year

The other day at school, a mom told me that a "Halloween Fairy" comes to their house. On October 31st, after all the trick-or-treating has come to a close, with a bag full of candy sitting in front of her, the kid painstakingly chooses 3 pieces of candy to keep. After that, the fairy comes and takes the rest of it away.


Growing up, Halloween was a time to get as much candy as possible in as short amount of time as possible and make it last as long as possible. I so clearly remember, after a long night of committed hill climbing and achy "doorbell-finger", my siblings and I would sit down on the living room floor, dump out the loot from our pillowcases and start sorting.
We couldn't get enough candy. We sorted by types, by styles, by labels, groupings that piled higher and higher. Then, we counted how much we each had. Bragging about the higher numbers and wondering where we could hide it this year so no one could steal it. And then, the trading started: Brachs for Whoppers. Snickers for Almond Joys. Baby Ruth for Whatchamacallits.

If anyone had even hinted at the idea that someone might come in the night and take all but a few pieces of this hard-earned cache in front of our hungry eyes and turning stomachs, well, we probably would have thrown ourselves on the top of the pile and cried.
Halloween is a strange thing as an adult. Unless you work at a place that encourages it, dressing up is not usually an option & gathering candy, door to door, is mostly unheard of. Luckily, I do work in a place that encourages it & I have a niece that trick-or-treats, so going door to door falls on my list of things to do!The fact that no one knew what I was this year didn't dampen my spirit one bit. At school, the kids knew & Miss P. and I knew what we were after... even if people did think she was a telescope and they told me I shoulda had an "E. Coli" sign around my neck.
We laughed ourselves silly.

And I finished off my Halloween with helping myself to my nieces pillowcase of candy.