Octopus' Garden

Monday, April 28, 2008

BE MY VALENTINE

My Valentine arrives in the mail today:





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Other recent minty vintage eBay goodness (abstract mid-century bird carving, and Royal Crown Paradise pieces, including Tampopo, who likes to make sure her head's in the frame):







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The possum runs on fleet pink-eraser feet.

Faster than you'd think.

Small burr of a baby stuck to her back.

Raising a trailed flare of dog barks

like car alarms.

Dead? Or only playing?
posted by Artichoke Heart at 4:02 PM | link | 3 comments

Saturday, April 26, 2008

NOODOOROOS

My Japanese Mother pronounces noodles something along the lines of new-dew-rues -- noodooroos. She says this word with a certain kind of buoyant joyfulness, as if proclaiming kangaroos! There also always seems to be an an implied exclamation point at the end of noodooroos.

Noodooroos!

Because my people? We are all about the noodles.

Lately, though, what with the adult onset diabetes and all, things have undergone a sad change for my mother. My mother will first exclaim, Noodooroos! And then as if remembering her diagnosis, she catches herself, and she sighs loudly and plaintively. It's a pitiful, depressing sound. Kind of like the cartoon beagle sigh that Snoopy makes.

For awhile, my mother would send me packaged noodooroos in a box around X-mas time. And then she'd make sure to tell me not to eat noodooroos because I was going to give myself diabetes.

Yeah. I know.

"You so crazy about noodooroos," my mother tells me.

And it's true, I'm a potential sucker for any sort of Asian-style noodle dish, but the true noodle hound in my family? That would be my Japanese Mother.

Those of you who know me in Meat Space may have noticed that I suffer from a (not entirely unwarranted) carbphobia that borders on the downright pathological. Yes, it's true. I can be a little bit of a Carb Nazi. For the most part, I keep no refined carbs or processed sugar products in my house. No bread, no desserts, no chips, no white rice, no noodooroos. In fact, I think I may have a physiological sensitivity to these types of refined carbs/processed sugars. They tend to make me feel awful, sometimes even violently ill. But if I inadvertently let my guard down and end up reintroducing them into my system, I immediately start jonesing for them big time -- major, monstrous, big-time crack-cocainey jonesing. Seriously. It's a very, very, very fine line for me between staying away from the carbs and feeling good/healthy and mainlining sugar and feeling sick as a dog.

Yesterday, though, a ginormous box of Shirataki noodles -- Japanese "yam" noodles made from the konyakku root and traditionally used for sukiyaki -- arrived from Asian Food Grocer. (Oh, beloved online Asian Food Grocer, where would I be without you?) The thing about Shirataki noodles? Zero carbs. Zero calories! Chock full of healthy soluble fiber.

Last night I served up spicy Thai green curry on a bed of brown shirataki noodles. Yum!

Today I had a ridonkulously delicious lunch of cold Japanese noodle salad: cucumbers and noodles in a dressing of sesame oil, shoyu, and rice wine vinegar, with a sprinkling of furikake on top. Oh . . . the happy slurping of cold noodles in a tangy sauce with crunchy cucumbers!

Noodooroos!

posted by Artichoke Heart at 5:27 PM | link | 3 comments

Friday, April 25, 2008

CLEARING THE FOG

Loose mist of fog tangled like bits of wool in bare tree branches, climbing up my balcony like a lovesick intruder, breathing on my windowpanes. Morning bathroom after a hot shower. The fog now bitten to nothing by the icy quick sting and staticky swarm of buzzing snow.





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Yuki the Cat leaves a marvelous present of chipmunks in my shoes.

posted by Artichoke Heart at 1:17 PM | link | 1 comments

Thursday, April 24, 2008

ARTICHOKES AND SOTTSASS

There's been a disturbing trend toward autosarcophagy here at Artichoke Heart Headquarters, what with the advent of artichoke season and all. Sometimes I like to steam up a couple in the vegetable steamer for a light dinner. I dip the leaves in Miracle Whip Lite, into which I mix in gourmet green curry spice. I love how the artichokes keep one busy for awhile with the pleasure of eating . . . it takes time to peel off each leaf, and scrape of the soft nutty rind of flesh with one's teeth. I love how the flavor's complicated and difficult to pin down: Is it nutty? Is it bitter? Is it sweet?

I re-upped my artichoke stash at the grocery store yesterday, and in typical small-town fashion, the contents of my grocery cart were fodder for scrutiny and commentary.

"What are these?" the cashier asks.

"Artichokes," I reply.

"How do you eat them?"

I explain, but avoid getting all Antonia's Line about it.

"That's weird," the cashier says. "That's really, really weird."

Yes, maybe weird . . . but delicious. All you have to do is to steer clear of the thorns, which are readily apparent. Because of their thorniness.

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My father still does all of his writing on an Olivetti Studio manual typewriter. Sometimes I mock him for being a Luddite. Sometimes I have to order him typewriter ribbons from eBay. Amusingly, his typewriter is now considered somewhat of a collectible vintage antique.

I learned how to type (and write) on a manual typewriter. I admit, there is something highly satisfying about writing and having the sound of one's writing bear a vague resemblance to artillery fire. It makes one feel busy, and as if one is producing something terribly noisy and important.

I periodically switch things up in terms of writing tools when I feel that I'm getting potentially complacent or lazy. Sometimes I worry that it's almost too easy to word process. You can go in and change one word here, and one word there, and poke at it from what occasionally feels like maybe too much of a distance. When I draft by hand, it feels more connected/visceral. More deliberate. When I type, the process of revision really means to re-vision. Every single word has to be retyped, and therefore reconsidered and redeliberated. The same with every line break. Goldsmithery. Hammerplating.

With that in mind, please meet the most recent soon-to-be acquisition at Artichoke Heart's House of Wayward Cats & Co. This is the Olivetti Valentine, designed by Ettore Sottsass in 1969. (I found it for a song! Well, okay, maybe not quite a song . . . more like a recitative and aria . . . but it usually goes for an entire opera). Not only is it a typewriter that nostalgically evokes my own literary roots -- a back to the source kind of thing -- but it is also a Design Icon!

Featured on page 245 of Landmarks of Twentieth-Century Design: An Illustrated Handbook, by Kathrynn Hiesinger & George Marcus, the description contained therein reads as follows: "Having used color and referential shapes to humanize the office equipment he had designed for Olivetti since 1957, Ettore Sottsass, Jr. further personalized it with the Valentine typewriter he designed with Perry A. King for use at home. Rejecting the cool efficient image of Olivetti's earlier portable models, he conceived a typewriter that would visually suggest an alternate context and be appreciated less for its function than for its novel design--of orange-red molded plastic accented by two yellow buttons on the ribbon spools ("like the two eyes of a robot"). It was made, he said, "for use any place except in an office, so as not to remind anyone of monotonous working hours, but rather to keep amateur poets company on quiet Sundays in the country or to provide a highly colored object on a table in a studio apartment. An anti-machine machine, built around the commonest mass-produced mechanism, the works inside any typewriter, it may also seem to be an unpretentious toy."

What could be better than that?

posted by Artichoke Heart at 10:36 PM | link | 7 comments

Saturday, April 19, 2008

NAKASHIMA REDUX

Hey, thanks and a shout out to M.J. at Friday Fishwrap for her DIY Dyke Decorating Tips. I dithered and dithered yesterday about whether the faux Nakashima should go on the rug, or in front of the rug, and in my head, it sort of sounded like: Should I put the table on the rug? But if the table's on the rug, shouldn't it have to be in the middle of the rug? But then the table will be too far from the futon! So maybe that means the futon should overlap the end of the rug, yes? I know I read somewhere that you're supposed to get a big rug, and then put the sofa/futon/what-the-fuck-ever ON the end of the rug. Gah! I need a bigger rug, don't I? But a bigger rug will crowd out the room! And I can't afford a bigger rug right now! And I love this rug! Gah! In fact, I love this rug so much I don't want to put anything on the rug. But what's the point of having the rug if I won't put anything ON the rug? Gah!

And so I basically really needed someone to just say to me: Put the freaking table on the rug!

And voila!







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Hey, now, Hey, now. Aiko, aiko, ah nay. Jockamo feenah ah-na nay, jockamo feenah nay.







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I don't know, I'm just sort of a in a weird place right now.

And I'm in a weird place with my writing. I'm working with material that I'm not really sure I should be working with--for various personal and familial reasons--but I seem to need to go there . And maybe this is good. Feeling uncomfortable with the material is, I think, ultimately good. I guess I feel as if I should just keep writing and then sort out all the other stuff later on.

I also have completely unrealistic expectations for what I'm able to get done on my sabbatical. There's so much I desperately want to do--three projects that I'd like to explore to varying degrees--but there's just not going to be enough time. And it's making me nuts. And making me frantic. But I need to slow down, concentrate, and focus on one thing at a time. Plus, it seems as if there are constant interruptions . . . I start to get a really good rhythm going and then I have to go out of town again, or I have professional responsibilities that need attending to, or the Norovirus hits, or a Very Bad Kitten spills a vat of coffee on the laptop, etc. etc. etc. So I get nuts. And frantic.

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Rule of thumb: When the going gets weird, cat-blog!



posted by Artichoke Heart at 12:13 AM | link | 5 comments

Thursday, April 17, 2008

NAKASHIMA!

Exciting quick trip to the Twin Cities last weekend: Gave a reading as part of the Taproot Reading Series, coordinated by recent University of Nebraska M.F.A. alum, Gary Dop. Saw this exhibition at the Walker Art Center, toured The Loft Literary Center and ate delicious food!

BEST OF ALL, there was an exciting Blogger Meetup with the smart, fun, funny, and fabulous Minneapolis-based poets and po-bloggers Teresa Ballard and Emily Lloyd. Yay!

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I am currently obsessed with Isamu Noguchi and George Nakashima. Part of this obsession has entailed the recent acquisition of a Nakashima-esque tree-slab coffee table. I have hemmed and hawed for many, many, many years over whether or not to get a coffee table--preferring, instead, to use T.V. trays, largely because of their convenient height. (I frequently like to camp out on my living room futon with my laptop, and my coffee, and okay, so I frequently like to eat there, too.)

There's something about a coffee table that has oftentimes struck me as somewhat, I don't know, inherently fussy, I guess?

But it's nice to have a coffee table when one takes the Fortress of Solitude off Lockdown Status and invites (not always imaginary) guests over, yes?

I'm not entirely used to it, yet, but I think I like the new coffee table, so far. Because it's a slab! From a tree! And it's inspired by George Nakashima! So it's mid-century modern! But also slightly Asian in sensibility! So what's not to like?







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Bad kittens! Bad, bad kittens!



posted by Artichoke Heart at 4:06 PM | link | 2 comments

Sunday, April 06, 2008

ANTONYM OF THE FALLING DOWN SICKNESS

In a somewhat upsetting turn of events, I was recently stricken with what appeared to be either (1) food poisoning, or (2) a virulent strain of the stomach flu. Things at Artichoke's House of Wayward Cats & Co. were bearing a distinct resemblance to cattle call auditions for Linda Blair's role in The Exorcist. Only not so pea soup-ish. More, well . . . never mind.

I'm still feeling pasty and diminished, although much less in dire need of an exorcism at this juncture, so there's that.

In other news, I recently purchased a nice chair I was very excited about, which has already now officially become a very nice chair for my cats to sit in.



posted by Artichoke Heart at 1:53 PM | link | 4 comments

Thursday, April 03, 2008

SORT OF LIKE A KLIMT PAINTING . . . EXCEPT WITH CATS

posted by Artichoke Heart at 10:13 PM | link | 1 comments