December 31, 2009

New Year 2010

wake up, foxy!


1. Get into grad school

2. don't eat pizza for 6 months

3. Ride bike/walk to work

4. Keep dream kitchen nice and dreamy

5. Work on some artistic projects before starting grad school so I have some things to be proud of in that arena before I start, so I don't feel torn while I'm in school. I am learning to let the 2 sides of my brain take turns instead of trying to hold both hands at the same time.

December 24, 2009

Mira Betz's strangest performance

Oh dear. Woke up early this morning, checked my account, saw that there was a new podcast with an interview with Mira Betz on YIP. Let me preface the rest of this story by saying: Mira is one of my dearest friends, and also one of my major dance influences. On a professional level, I admire her maturity, her depth of focus, her perfectionism. On a personal level, I love her spontaneity, her creativity, and how we feel like sisters picking at one another, supporting one another, and laughing (or crying) together at our foibles.
So, I gave the podcast a listen, to hear her voice that I miss, and to support her from afar. She gives a very straightforward interview on the types of things you would expect to hear from a famous bellydancer: her influences, what she finds important to teach, music she loves, and so on. Then, the interviewer asks her if her jellyfish piece was the strangest performance she's ever done. Immediately, my heart does a little flip flop because I'm pretty sure I know the answer. I'm kind of dreading her mentioning the piece we did back in August. To my relief, she says Buto theatre pieces are stranger than the Jellyfish Piece (which starts @ 1:09 in that link, and is a lovely homage to that gelatinous creature).
....And then, she starts telling the story about our piece back in August. I'm nervous and kind of embarrassed because it was definitely an impromptu strange thing that just sorta happened, and not something I really envisioned anyone (ha, everyone) knowing about in regards to my professional performance history. So, before I go farther, give it a listen. (Her interview starts at 27 minutes, and the story begins at 42:43).

Okay, so now that she's spilt the beans for people who weren't at Mecca that night, here's my version. The costume was the result of me just trying to get Mira out of the house, trying to get her to laugh and forget about playing the part of a proper famous bellydancer for a little bit. It worked! We even got my boyfriend in on the put-everything-on costume (what a sport).
So we arrived at Mecca, and to my bewildered amusement/disbelief, people (instead of laughing at our ridiculous costumes as I'd imagined they would) started exclaiming how amazing the costumes were, and how they couldn't wait to see what we were going to perform. WTF? The more people that said this, the less time/fewer options we had for just making a quick clothing change. And the rest, they say, is history. Here are some pictures, in sequential order, taken by Silvio Wolf Busch of the performance. Ay yai yai.

And later, Mira did a beautiful improvisation to our live drummers, holding the audience and the drummers in the palm of her hand, incredible as always.

December 19, 2009

crates and crochet

I really like the aesthetic that these apple crates on the wall as shelving give. Especially with that one blank spot where the wall shines through instead of seeing the back of another crate.

I am also surprised to like this aesthetic. I imagine a non-stop crocheter who puts garlands of crocheted squares everywhere, even into the greenhouse. But somehow, this unexpected bit of indoor warmth and domesticity brings extra love to the (quasi)-outdoors. Assuming that I didn't have crocheted squares all over my house inside, I think I would actually love to have this sort of decoration in my greenhouse. (If I had a greenhouse and a house, that is).

December 17, 2009

MIIS Musings

My first choice in graduate programs is Monterey Institute of International Studies (MIIS). I have applied and am waiting to hear if I get in. One of the school's requirements is that you're fluent in at least 2 languages by the time you graduate, so you have to be at a fairly high standard of language ability upon entrance. I took the competency exam today, and my grammar is really really horrible. Like first year Spanish student horrible. I am not surprised considering that my last Spanish class was in 2000, and the last time I used my (already very rusty) Spanish was in Nicaragua more than five years ago. But realizing how terrible my Spanish was got me a little bit panicked. It totally put me back in the "doing poorly on exams" headspace that I lived in back in vet school. More than that, though, I DO NOT want to screw this one up. I feel like I HAVE to get in to MIIS, that this is my opportunity to do EXACTLY what I want to do, in my ideal setting. The stakes are so much higher for me now than they were when I applied to vet school because I don't have any room to squirm in, financially or emotionally. I HAVE to make this work, and I really WANT to make it work!

Luckily, my reading comprehension is at a very high level, which is encouraging. I won Kentucky's Spanish Reading Comprehension Award in 7th grade, so I guess some things never change (o:

I went to MIIS's website to read more about what I have to do to get up to par before matriculation, and remembered that they offer a Summer Language Intensive, so that is a possibility (phew *wiping brow*, I can do this).

While I was on the website, I looked through the course descriptions of everything they offer. I am so freaking excited about this program. I want to take classes in everything: Sociolinguistics, Business and Human Rights in China, Trade and Sustainability, and at least 40 other classes.
This description had me literally quickening my breath, and muttering, "ohmygodohmygodohmygod" because it's exactly what I hope to be learning.

I remember in undergrad at UK when I was taking classes with really boring names (and subject matter) called "CHEM 202," while my sister was taking classes at Naropa University with names like "Kitchen Sink Science," and "Kindergarten Magic". I remember thinking how lucky she was to be taking classes that seemed like things I was doing extracurricularly, and to be getting credit for it. If I get in to MIIS, I will get to take classes like Environmental Conflict Management, and will be immersed in a learning environment that, I imagine, will feel like it was geared just for me. I am so excited. And nervous!

Also, look at the other things they focus on at MIIS besides International Environmental Policy. I will be surrounded by amazing people who will be changing our world!

December 16, 2009

CSA=Community Supported ART

I LOVE this idea!

The following message was just sent to me from a very good friend of mine. He's a fabulous artist here in Lexington, Alex Brooks. I think this idea is brilliant, and I hope supporting a local artist and reaping the benefits of getting monthly handmade (professional, beautiful) art in the mail is interesting to you.

(BTW, I am asking for this for christmas, both the share and the box. So, if you decide to spring on this for me, just ask Alex if someone has already sprung for me or not...if so, you can share the delight with another loved one instead!)

Date: December 15, 2009 11:57:02 PM EST
Subject: 2010 CSA: Community Supported Art

Dear friends & family:

I’m writing to tell you about a new project I’m planning for 2010; I’m calling it a CSA, or Community Supported Art project. I’ll be offering 100 shares of a year of my artwork. Each month, beginning January 2010, shareholders will receive an envelope in the mail with a 8x10” print, hand-signed and hand-numbered, along with various other writings and musing I’ve composed for that month. This is a unique way to participate in my year of art making, support a local artist, and get some great prints for a great price. In fact, each print will only cost $4. The total cost of one share will be $48 + $12 shipping ($60 total), and you can expect multiple color reduction woodcut prints, multiple block woodcut prints, and single color woodcut prints. You might also expect some use of wooden & metal type, linoleum cuts, wood engravings, and all sorts of other printmaking experimentation. A CSA share also makes a great gift and I can provide a hand printed card to present the gift to its lucky shareholder (please contact me immediately if you’d like a gift card).

I’ll also be offering custom, hand made conservation boxes to hold the year’s worth of prints. The cloth covered archival box will have paper spine & front labels and will be perfect for storing all your prints on a bookshelf or coffee table. The hand-made boxes will be $50 additional.

Throughout the year shareholders will also have opportunities to order greeting cards, journals, or other materials printed from the CSA woodcuts.

How to sign up: If you want to become a shareholder, support my printmaking endeavors, and reap the benefits of an original print every month you can:

1) Come by my studio and see my restored antique presses, paper cutters, and bookbinding tools. Give a call to let me know you’re coming (859 608 5860) and bring a check or cash for $60 per share and $50 per box.

2) Reply to this email with your name and address and pay by paypal. You can pay to, or I can send you a paypal invoice.

3) Send me a check in the mail, along with your name and address.

There will only be 100 shares available, so become a shareholder now!

thanks, Alex Brooks
press eight seventeen
437 N Martin Luther King Blvd.
Lexington, Kentucky 40508

if you're interested in more of my work, or pictures of machinery or my studio, go here.

Also, please forward this to anyone you think might be interested.

p.s. For years I’ve enjoyed the Kentucky growing season through a CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture program from Three Springs Farm in Carlisle. It’s a special community based endeavor where a group of people buy shares of a farm and each shareholder profits from the farm’s produce. It’s been a blessing in my life and I’ve purloined the acronym and business model in hopes that my CSA can create some small similar community spirit & happiness.

December 9, 2009

Wish List

Here are some neat things I wouldn't mind having @ our house. But these are just as much ideas to pass on for YOUR special someone. Maybe they could use them too.

The Herb Savor Pod.
Put the herbs in, add a bit of water in the bottom, keep your herbs fresh for up to a month. For instance, I love fresh cilantro, but a little goes a long way, and the bunches they sell them in are always too big for me to use before the rest rots in the fridge.

I have been on the search for the perfect boots. These are not exactly what I had in mind, but they're definitely waterproof (made from recycled plastic bags!!), and they are definitely cute. Dacca Boots, are named after Dakha Bangladesh (the first city to ban plastic bags), are made in Brazil, and are where it's at! ( I wear size 10 wide in US, or 44 in UK--heh)

CableYoyo seems to be just one one commenter said: "a simple and elegant solution to a somewhat complicated and 'tangly' problem".

Always trying to consolidate and keep my "closet" (currently a rolling rack out in the open of my bedroom) nice and tidy, I definitely think this would help with my small collection of fashionable (as opposed to warm) scarves.

A good sleep mask is worth its weight in gold. I never have replaced mine since my house burned down, and keep wishing I had replaced it...but it's all about finding the right one. I think this my choice because it blocks the light out from the bottom and is aromatherapeutic too (lavender mmmm,.....zzzzzzzz).

Okay, this next one, I don't actually want or need, but I can't help posting it for novelty reasons. This small company prints different faces on the sides of hoodie hoods, leading to excellent/funny results. Maybe you know someone who needs one. You need to go look through their site right now. They have animated gifs of each design, ha ha ha...

Mishare is what we all wish were easily available. Sharing music ipod to ipod, sans computer, sans cables, sans pirated versions of senuti. Gah! It's like a wish come true just to know it DOES exist. It costs ~ $100, which is why I don't have one.

A much more affordable gadget that we've all wished existed (well...) is the ThumbThing. At $5 how can you go wrong?

The cats need presents too. This is a really fancy version, but I'm sure a home-made version would be perfect too. In fact, I made one for my kitties several years ago with pine milled from my dad's land (also lost in the fire). But anyway, I'm just not all that into carpet-covered cat climbing things because you can never get them clean, and they always look like ugly carpet covered cat climbing things. These at least look interestingly sculpural, or shelf-like at the very least.

Looking for a gift for your favorite bellydancer? How 'bout a nath? These don't even require the special lady (or man) even have a pierced nose.

Alrighty, then. There's plenty of ideas for you. I am a habitual saver of ideas, so I have a (LOONNNNNGG) list of items I find interesting or useful or pretty under one of my bookmarks. If you need more ideas, let me know. Happy holidays!

December 4, 2009

How to be PRETTY

Some images to whet your appetite for what is to come. Tuesday Dec 15th (7:30pm) at the Niles Art Gallery on UK's campus (the old library) I will be performing in "How to be PRETTY," directed by Lauren Argo. It is one of the Little Gaines Series.

Lauren seems to travel with laundry baskets full of bizarre items at all times. Styrofoam heads, wigs, and masks. Boxes of dirt. Amazing dresses and costumes from days of yore. A full spread of snacks, because she was raised right, and does Southern hospitality justice. Books about mountain top removal, and Japanese candy. Pink plastic kleenex boxes and gold spray painted cicadas. Her installation pieces are elaborate, cohesive, and broad. She throws a bunch of stuff in the air, and it lands looking like a perfect set from the movies. She knows how to leave big streaks of generalization in order to get your mind around an idea, and then reel you into feeling the situation personally with minute detail. Her creativity is immensely inspiring to me, as is her slapdash way of doing things. And I say that because what she does always works. I don't think I always have the time, energy, or talent to perfect things the way I see them in my head, but it's inspiring to see that sometimes, just DOING it, whether "perfect" or not, can actually become the perfection itself. I had the wonderful opportunity to perform last spring in her piece Farmer Daughter Cycle,
am looking forward to performing in her newest piece, how to be PRETTY.

Here's the description of the performance:

how to be PRETTY is a multi-media performance and installation examining female coming-of-age beauty rituals and society’s changing beauty standards. “What is (y)our idea of beauty?” and “How do young girls--through rituals--understand and react to beauty standards?”

From learning how to apply lipstick and mascara, to starting your period and getting your first bra, these beauty rituals are inform the rest of a woman's life. Often passed down like and old hankercheif from grandmothers, mothers, sisters, girlfriends and others, these rituals are formed by some of our earliest experiences.

how to be PRETTY comments on contemporary beauty standards in all parts of society, and the special role played by the Media. With hair dyes, teeth whitening, liposuction, and plastic surgery to name a few methods of body transformation, young girls focus on end results and how achieve them quickly, rather than working toward perfecting the ritual. We will always want to know how to be PRETTY.

November 26, 2009

Wear your love like heaven

I never knew what alizarian crimson was (from Donovan's song "Wear your love like heaven".) Now I do.

Color in sky Prussian blue
Scarlet fleece changes hue
Crimson ball sinks from view

Wear your love like heaven
Wear your love like
Wear your love like heaven
Wear your love like
Wear your love like heaven
Wear your love
Lord, kiss me once more, fill me with song
Allah, kiss me once more that I may, that I may
Wear my love like heaven
Wear my love like
Wear my love like heaven
Wear my love
La la, la la la, la la la, la la la

Color sky Havana lake
Color sky rose carmethene
Alizarian crimson


Can I believe what I see
All I have wished for will be
All our race proud and free


November 24, 2009

Zebra? Donkey w/ stripes

Gaza city's zoo lost 2 zebras recently. To save on costs, they decided to paint 2 white donkeys with stripes rather than spending money on buying more zebras. The kids don't seem to mind. No joke!
Video here.

November 21, 2009

Ugh, what a day.

So, it was Ben's 30th birthday yesterday, as well as our 10 yr anniversary, and to top it all off with wonderfulness, he and his 2 business partners (and good friends) had an interview with Y-Combinator (a preeminent start-up funding company). He woke up, was delighted by the Birthday Blog that his friends and myself made, had a lovely morning and even saw a rainbow.

Then, they entered their interview (10 minutes only! Not long to get your business idea across...), and were immediately reamed by one of the people who was interviewing them. Apparantly, no one could get a word in edgewise, he wasn't even making sense, and some of the interviewers apologized as they were all shaking hands on their way out. "Fail" is how Ben described the immediate sense of how it went. That evening their 'failure' was confirmed by an email explaining why they were not chosen (however, the points made in the email didn't even really have much to do with their idea. Which shouldn't be too surprising based on how little they were able to explain their idea in the interview). Oh well. Their REAL idea was supported over and over at all the networking meetings/parties they were going to that evening. So hopes and dreams weren't dashed, just weirdly thwarted for a few hours.

But as if that wasn't enough to dampen the birthday spirit, as they left one of the techie meetings, they found their rental car had been broken into. Three windows smashed! AND ALL THEIR STUFF STOLEN. Including their computers (hello! they do all their work from their computers. They're fucked!)

And, finally, they spent the night hugging the toiletbowl from some food poisoning. Sigh.

November 16, 2009


Great meal with friends followed by a walk, orange spice tea and sweet potato pie. Good times.

November 12, 2009

Grad School Visits

Just returned home from a trek out west. First stop, visit my sister and her family, including new niece Phoenix.

Second stop, head to California to visit the Monterey Institute of International Studies (MIIS) and University of California, Santa Barbara Bren School of Environmental Science & Management (Bren). Here's how they stacked up. Wish I could do this in columns, that would be rad.

1. Both had murals of marine life.

Santa Barbara

2. Both were located on the coast of beautiful California

Santa Barbara

3. Both offer really excellent extracurricular speakers/lectures

"The global scourge of armed violence: Can anything be done?"
Communication through Technology
"Nuclear Power: One Envirornmentalist's Perspective"
"Managing our oceans: Recent national and international incentive to conserve marine ecosystems"


No Impact Man (Film)
Michael Specter "Denialism-How irrational thinking hinders scientific progress, harms the planet, and threatens our lives"
Earth Days (Film)
Philippe Petit, Man on Wire (Film)

Okay, that was to satisfy your visual comparison desires. But seriously, how did they stack up? Let's just say, I'm super excited to go to either school. Impressions:

*Extremely international student body. Over 50 languages spoken amongst the <1000 students. What I like about this is the broader experience amongst teachers and peers. You become familiar with more points of view, thereby gaining greater ability to build bridges to actually make changes in the world.
*Students repeatedly said that they felt like they had always had a nebulous idea about the ideas that they wanted to mix together (ie business with social activism, or economics and environmentalism, etc), and finally these ideas came together to form something solid, leading to their dream job.
*Peace Corps and Fulbright scholars amongst the student body in large numbers. I have a feeling this will lend a similar atmostphere as the Gaines Fellowship did for me in undergrad,,,my favorite school situation so far, aside from Montessori elementary school.
*Professors are not pushed to publish papers constantly. They do publish, and well, but they are also congratualated for the hands-on work they do. I think this more hands-on mentorship will suit me well. I want to make sure I can be active in the field when I graduate. Seeing my mentors being active gives me strength and courage that I will be able to achieve that.
*Marine ecology/management is stronger here than most programs, where terrestrial environmental issues are the norm to study. With my background in sailing, I feel I have a particular bent and responsibility to steward the oceans.
*The degree is called "Masters in International Environmental Policy". When asked what is international about the program, the answer is that it can be as international (aka you can travel abroad) as much as you want to make it, but basically, the environmental problems facing us in this world are international problems. I like this broad view! The policy covered is not USA policy specific/centric.
*MIIS only offers Masters degrees. Which means that students don't compete with Ph. D. students or undergraduates for attention from their professors. From another point of view, the professors are there to help turn out capable professional (as opposed to academic) graduates.
*Despite the classes offered being cutting edge, the students (miraculously!) say they don't ever feel like guinea pigs as they learn. (This elicited a choked-up throat and a tear in my eye when I visited. I always felt like a guinea pig @ Tufts).
*The students say they learn something and then put it to practice (as opposed to learning something then being tested on it, then practicing it after they graduate in the workplace). Hence, employers that know about MIIS, say that the students from MIIS ALWAYS out perform students from other schools in their first few years in employment. I am ready to hit the ground running when I graduate, I'll've been in grad school for EVER. And the prospect of more projects over more exams is enormously exciting to me.
*The school's motto is "Be the change".

*The location is mind-bogglingly beautiful. Like, you can't believe that place exists, let alone that there's a prospect of studying there for your choice program.
*Large, state university means that the availability of resources like arts/lectures runs deep. Similarly, the marine laboratory facility is located next door, should I find that I need to take classes there, or get myself embedded in that in any way.
*The program is very academically stringent. I am used to this, and given my recent history, I feel a bit shy from this way to go, but I also see the inherent strength of a program like this. I know that my personality and ideas can be really, shall we say, "creative" at times...and having a program like this might be grounding, and help to make me more versatile in a more cookie cutter world. Wow, that sounds really pejorative, but I mean it in a positive way. Like, I realize I have faults and this program might balance those traits to some degree.
*they offer GIS training. I have to check and see if MIIS offers that. (Global Infomation Systems. a mapping method)
*The student body seems very outdoorsy. I sat in on one class, and everyone looked like they were dressed to go on a hike. Two women from the environmental office at Patagonia lectured. It was rad.
*The school's motto is "Become the change". Which is very similar to MIIS's motto, but implies that you will be the change later than now. Semantics (o:
*The program I am looking at is the "Masters in Environmental Science and Management" which is recognized as one of the top schools in this arena. But there are only like 5 schools in this arena, and they're all top. So you can't really go wrong.

What I like about both programs is that they are more about management, policy, leading to positions in NGOs, government or consultancy positions rather than research positions. That's what separates these programs from MOST environmental/ecological programs. Basically, I want to finish school and help the environment through being active in the field. I appreciate the curiosity that drives research (have done plenty myself!), but I need/want a job that helps me see my progress on issues. I also don't really want to write grants my whole life.

I am leaning toward Monterey, but I thought Bren was going to have to REALLY knock my socks off to stand a chance of me wanting to go there instead. Impressively, I would love to go there too. Still leaning slightly toward MIIS, but applying to both, looking into more questions about both. Win-Win.

November 3, 2009

Ventriloquist Choir

I have had this window open in my browser for days, each time it makes me laugh til I cry, it's so ridiculous.

October 26, 2009

Feather Antics

Teresa and I perfected this little scenario with encouragement from Rachel (Brice, filming) and Rachel (Bryant, bystander). Feather wear from Hairtillery.

October 22, 2009

Blaze of Blue

I just had to share these amazing pictures of a kingfisher from National Geographic. I hope it increases your love for our world and the other critters on it.