Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Mondo Monkey Madness

Yesterday as I was MIGHTILY avoiding actual work, I created this silly little sock monkey face on my computer. A friend of mine is starting a business making and selling sock monkeys, so the funny little creatures have been on my mind lately.

What IS it about sock monkeys that make them so universally appealing? This one is kind of a Shriner Monkey...can't you just see him riding a little scooter in a parade?

OMG...this crazy exchange between Beth and me is too damn funny to leave hidden in the Comments section.

Said Beth (of Salvage Studio fame): I bet a zillion of them could cram into the little car too!

To which I replied: Oh Beth, that's brilliant. I'm now imagining an entire team of sock monkeys driving a flotilla of little red go-carts. I can see the tassels on their fez (what IS the plural of fez...fez, fezzes, fezi, fezzzz???) streaming behind them in jaunty exuberance.

I know that a whole bunch of REAL monkeys are called a barrel as in "more fun than a barrel of monkeys".* But I wonder what a gabillion SOCK monkeys are called...maybe a mondo? As in "Those art girls are as zany as a mondo of sock monkeys."

And then I looked up the plural of "fez" and found that it can be "fezzes" or most unfortunately, "fezes", the latter altogether too suggestive of something wholly unpleasant. And most unfortunate of all? Perhaps the fact that I could not keep this little-known fact to myself. Oh no, I just HAD to add it to my blog post for my dear readers to see.

I blame the heat. It's 100 degrees here in Seattle and we're just not used to it. It makes us mental.

* Yes, Gentle Readers, I, too searched "the google" and found that a gabillion REAL monkeys are known as a troop (no accident that troop is also the term for a gabillion Cub Scouts, is it?) But I saw no such reference for SOCK monkeys, and so I selflessly offer up "mondo" for the job.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Embroidered Flora & Fauna

Oooooh, I just got the coolest book from the library...Embroidered Flora & Fauna. Imagine pages and pages of sumptuous photographs of 3-dimensional textured embroidery like this:

I want to be sitting in a comfy lounge chair, under an old shade tree, tall glass of iced mint tea next to me, embroidering pomegranates. Yes, gentle readers, you heard me correctly...pomegranates. Like so...
Check out the little birds and rabbits and flowers and leaves and grapes...I can SO feel a new obsession starting...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Unruly moo cards

Here's my handmade version of those fun little "moo" cards. I hand them out to people when I want them to take a look at my blog.

I'm so gruntled to have found Grammar Girl!

Deftly avoiding actual work this afternoon, I came across the website of the renowned Grammar Girl, who kindly and clearly instructs her gentle readers on the finer points of grammar.

I am somewhat embarrassed to say that I have wondered why a person could be disgruntled but not gruntled, why we deplane an aircraft, but do not plane it. According to Grammar Girl, folks in the Middle Ages were indeed capable of being gruntled, but the stem word fell from usage over time, leaving us with just the cranky version.

Grammar Girl even offers thoughtful advice on how to leave comments on a person's blog. Grammar Girl is a gal after my own heart.

If only I knew more about grammar, I too, could be an official "Grammar Girl". As it is, I've got my hands full trying to decide if I'll "lie" or "lay" down for a little nap...

Friday, July 17, 2009

Isabel DePew, who were you?

I came across this wonderful vintage high school history book, especially printed for the state of Kansas in 1922. It obviously belonged to one Isabel DePew in Howard, Kansas. It's so perfect that despite the admonition in large letters "NOTICE: PLEASE DON'T MARK IN THIS BOOK PLEASE" our dear Isabel did just that. Perhaps she started the "altered book" trend that is going strong all these years later?

The penalties for various classroom infractions are noted on the last page:

Forgetting assignment - 10
Chewing gum - 5
Turning around - 10
Whispering - 10
Speaking without hands - 15
Tardy - 5
Rudeness - 10
Disagreements - ??

Thinking back to my own high school days, I fear I would have gotten a "perfect 100" on many a day...

On page 301, Isabel and a friend had this written conversation:

Isabel: "I am out of luck know. I guess tennis will blow up now with me."

Friend: "No I don't think so there is always some one. Bill is not through yet you can't tell he may."

There are sketches of the first floor of "my future home" as well as the somewhat resigned, "I don't care a darn but...". The best is a rough sketch of "you" with an obvious black eye!

One small scrap of fragile writing paper tucked between stained pages read:

"He said he had been saving his money for several years expecting to leave my native country that I loved so long, my friend, my home and my relative all but my wife and three children. We finally got enough money to take us across the water."

You can't help but wonder who Isabel was writing about...

Anyway, I did a quick internet search and found that there was indeed an Isabel DePew Jones who graduated from Howard High School in 1930. So I emailed the local historical society, explaining how I had Isabel's old text and offered to send it to them or Isabel's descendents if they were interested. No response yet, but I'll keep everyone posted if I hear back.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Monkey Memories

The other day it seemed nothing was going right. My dishwasher was leaking, my cat was being naughty, my back was hurting, I dropped a dish on the floor of Goodwill, shattering it to bits, a few minutes later I dropped and broke a cup I had just bought at said get the picture.

On a whim, I continued down Airport Way toward the Georgetown neighborhood of Seattle and I happened to see an intriguing shop. So I went in...AND IT WAS THE COOLEST SHOP EVER!

It's aptly named Great Stuff and even though it wasn't officially open that day, the owner, Kirk Albert, graciously allowed me to browse around inside (maybe he sensed I desperately needed a big dose of eye candy?) Kirk and crew find really funky, unique objects and either display them as they are or turn them into even funkier, unique-ier items for home decoration.

The very best thing in the store is a funny little rocket-shaped go cart. Kirk said it had the craziest story behind it. He pointed out a thin leather strap that surrounded the tiny driver's cage and said that the car had been designed for MONKEYS to sit in. Yes, gentle readers, you heard me correctly...monkeys. Apparently the car was just pulled by chains on a track, but with a monkey sitting in it, it looked as if the MONKEY WAS DRIVING.

Horribly wrong and yet horribly wonderful at the same time.

When we were kids, we had a pet monkey. My grandparents were pretty low-income and my grandfather used to make a little extra money by fixing up and selling things he got free or very cheaply. One day my grandmother gave him her old sewing machine and he was supposed to come back with money for it. Instead, he returned home a few hours later, having bartered it for a monkey. "I said money, not monkey," she must have thought, but we kids loved it. The little simian was promptly named "Michael-the-monkey".

Michael-the-monkey had a tiny cage inside the house and a bigger one on the back porch. I watched in grossed-out fascination when he caught flies with its bare hands. And I recall him learning how to open the latch of the indoor cage, diving over to my uncle's sandwich and stealing the last slice of bologna in the house. And who could forget the time he got out of his outdoor cage, jumped on the back of the dog (Sleepy-the-beagle) who of course freaked out and run amuk about the yard. Michael-the-monkey then raced up the telephone pole and shrieked with monkey-delight (or so I made up at the time). I do not recall how we caught him and returned him to his cage, but we must have because he later died of natural causes not related to telephone poles.

Anyway, Great Stuff is a great place to check out next time you're in or around Georgetown. In fact, the annual Georgetown Garden Tour is this Sunday, 7/12 and that would be the perfect time.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

I bless the (faux) rains down in Africa

My friend Kim just sent me a link to this amazing performance...a jazz choir recreates an African thunderstorm AND sings one of my all-time favorite songs, Africa by Toto. Check it out...and sing along; it's way cool! Perpetuum Jazzile is from Slovenia and they rock, plus they all have those little curlicues and accent marks sprinkled over their names. Apparently the little accent marks are called "strešica".

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

More Patience Than A Saint

Last weekend I went to Port Townsend on a crazy fun roadtrip with some friends. A few of us made a quick side trip to an Estate Sale just before we were heading back home. The sale was in a dilapidated old building that had been a junk / antique resale shop. Apparently only a FRACTION of the owner's goods were in the retail space downstairs; we were told there were 9 more rooms of stuff on the upper floors.

As we happily (and dustily) excavated through the piles, I came across this odd little framed Asian carving on a painted background. It appears to be carved out of some sort of light wood...and the detail is not to be believed. Can you even imagine how much time it would have taken to create just a fraction of this work? This section, with the little building (a temple?) is less than 3" square. I would love to know more about this type of art.

There's even a tiny person in the boat!

There are loose bits of wood (or maybe cork) floating about inside the glass, the frame is loose and dented and the blue fabric surrounding on the mat looks exquisitely delicate. And I love it just the way it is. I'm going to hang it on one of my newly painted robin's egg blue walls and I think the crisp new paint will be the perfect contrast to its lovely fragile beauty.