Angst on a Shoestring

Tuesday, May 30, 2006


Designing with Languages

This poster was to announce one of our branches that deals primarily with the Asian Community. The calligraphy was created by an eldery gentleman. The librarian in charge of the posters/PR asked if he could write out the characters for "Library".
With that he pulled out some paper, an old bottle of ink and his brush. And voila! It was painted.
Doing the text was tricky. It was to be in Cantonese, but I don't understand it, plus I had to find the right font out of all the Chinese fonts that would work. A very patient library aide worked with me.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


Chào, baby!

Happy Alex

On May 20, 1999, we finally got to meet our child. When Alex was put into my arms, I felt a wave of emotion like I never have before. We fell in love with his photos after we were approved as parents. I looked into those dark eyes and thought this is an old soul. May 21, 1999 was the day we signed the final papers in Viet Nam and we became a family.

Get that camera outta my face!
Now I watch my little man running around, self assured and bright, easy to cry but just as easy to laugh. Some days the whole concept overwhelms me. Did I really travel to Viet Nam? On a plane for almost over 24 hours? Each way? Where did that will power come from? The answer is in our son's eyes.

We usually celebrate by heading to his favorite place, Hoa Viet. They make the best Pho and their crispy spring rolls are so good. And they do bubble drinks that are so yummy. It's a homey, sit down and relax place. And The Boy is the prince in there. He'll be behind the counter talking to the owner as she makes bubble teas and hacks ducks. He had duck for the first time and loooooved it. Actually he was supposed to just try it and managed to swipe the plate from my husband. He sat blissfully enjoying duck and grilled veggies. Then he moved onto a bowl of pho. We all needed naps!

Chúng ta yêu mến con

Explore VietNam

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Such A Pretty Face

Portrait of the Artist, age 4

All my life, I heard "such a pretty face,
why don't you lose weight?"

I hated hearing it time and again..

I heard it as my mom would load my plate

with adult sized portions of food, that had to be eaten..

cause there were starving children

and your father works hard..

So for the starving kids and Dad, I ate.

I heard it as I would go clothes shopping

in the Pretty Plus section at Sears,

I heard it as total strangers would whisper to themsleves

as though fat meant deaf as well.

I learned to blend in with my surroundings..

trying not to be's quite easy to do.

Hating myself for not being "normal"

I saw things differently than other kids...

I was artistic and mom taught us to read at home..

so my vocabulary was at a higher level..

made me more of an outcast.

I hated being different.

I wanted to be wanted.

I wanted the boys to like me.

I wanted to be everyone's favorite friend.

I wanted to be normal.

At 12, who really knows what normal is?..

Take It On Faith

Dragged out of the junk drawer from another site

I never understand people and religion.
I was raised Catholic..not just any Catholic, ROMAN Catholic. There were only 2 religions, them and us.
We were much better then those pagan babies we give our pennies to every week. I was all into it. My eyes would go just as wide as all the other little sheep in maroon plaid at the stories of Jesus and his Apostles. What child wouldn't go into convulsive weeping at the first time hearing how he died for us? Talk about nightmares and guilt! All at the age of 6!
It was around this time I started asking little questions. What was Jesus' wife like? Did he tell jokes? Did he hate to get up early?

All of these perfectly honest questions of a six year old child were met with the blank stare and silence of a habited cow.
I would ask my mother. Mom is a practical woman and she said she's not sure he was married, but she was sure he told jokes and didn't always like getting up early. I trotted back to school happy at least someone told me something! When I dutifully corrected my nun after she said Jesus didn't tell jokes, and, then told her my mom said that he did. Sister Regina Gertrude (she was a fridge with a head and one eye that kinda popped bigger than the other..she terrified me) started turning into a screeching horror. Now she knew my mom wasn't Catholic and she dismissed anything my mom said as heresy. Jeez.

And my mom will surely burn for taking us to a Protestant church for Christmas Eve.

The story is, she took us to the little church next to our Big Roman Catholic one. She just wanted to go there. So we go in and the minister greets us warmly shaking our hands welcoming us. We had never been in there. It was a small congregation..only like twenty people. And we sat in the front pews and the minister stood in the aisle talking to us. Our priest never worked the crowd. This guy didn't even have on vestments or anything!
He began telling the Christmas story in such a wonderful way. I was captivated by his easy manner and expression. The other children there asked questions, and he answered them! I was amazed! I was like sign me up! As he moved to the part about the Wise Men, he handed out little slips of brightly colored paper and pencils. He asked us to write what we would give to Jesus for his birthday. He stressed to all that material things were not the idea, rather something that we would do to make the Christ Child smile. We each wrote something, I can't remember what, probably something like help my mom before she asks. And he collected them in a little basket and placed them at the modest creche at the altar. He said Jesus will open them tomorrow. We sang songs, read passages and had a very nice time.
As we buttoned up to go home, the minister shook our hands and thank us for coming. Shook our hands! And he didn't even pass the collection plate!

We walked home quietly. My mind was so filled with questions. My mom was happy so I felt it was fine. When coming back to school after the holiday, my Sister asked if we visited any other parishes for Christmas. I raised my hand and told her we went to Glading next door. Her face turned bright red and said it wasn't a real church and I committed a sin going there for the Lord's Birthday. I was stunned. I never thought anyone could be so angry. Over a little church??..I got more from that modest little service, then I ever did in my whole time at St. Martins.

I decided I wasn't a sheep anymore.

I never really bought into alot of things. And I didn't take things on faith..I needed to know answers. forward to high school..I'm in a religion class..( which, btw, are NOT transferrable credits to public high school) and a nun who went into the convent as a teen, never had sex is teaching Love and Marriage classes. Most of my class had more experience in sex then she's ever had. I raised my hand and asked if she ever dated. This was met with stone silence. And no answer. I was now the antichrist, to be sure. I ended up leaving this "nurturing" school after I refused to dime on someone about a bottle of Southern Comfort that was in a locker. Amazing how these "brides of Christ" become "Brides of Frankenstein" when things don't go their way.

So anyway, what was my point? I think that asking questions and challenging authority is an admirable trait to teach your children. I know I'm rambling here but Catholic School memories bring out the worst in me.

As I grew up I researched all kinds of beliefs. I became Jewish when I married my husband. I like alot of the principles, and the fact I can question the rabbi. I leave what I don't like. You might call it cafeteria style religion, I look at it as being spiritual, which is to me alot more important then how many days you went to church or how much you gave to the organized religion of your choice.

Fun with dolls & a Self Esteem Booster

I'll admit. I've always -hated- those "net dolls".
One of the reasons? None of them really looked like me! None had fat bods!
So imagine my delight when I came across 2 dollmakers. Do I think I look -that- hot in real time? No, but it's a heck of a lot closer to my body shape. With so many girls having eating disorders and the phobic way they deal with food, thankfully now there's a little bit of help, albeit online.
I've had the pleasure of having my eyes assaulted by myspace and friendster sites so I know the young ladies out there are hit with "desirable" body types at a dizzying pace. I worry about young fat girls and the beating their self esteem takes. There needs to be more voices, in what ever way, to help them. So ladies, thanks for the dolls.
Missy's Doll Maker

Lori Fury's Dolls

Monday, May 22, 2006


It's Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Birthday

Sunday, May 21, 2006


The Ditty Bops

They're -really- into bikes.

Just a quickie post till I can flesh this out.
Saw a great video by a band I never heard before, The DittyBops.I saw the video for the song Wishful Thinking and really got into the bright guitar (or was it ukelele?) playing. They're a treat to listen to. I'll be adding them to our CD collection. They have a brilliant site with videos and artwork.

I watched:
Short Stacks a lovely little animated video.
Wishful Thinking The one that hooked me!
Sister Kate and Jazzercise A flim clip of their song Sister Kate as part of a Jazzercise class.

Friday, May 12, 2006


Too Early for Halloween? Never!

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingYou're walking down a long dark corridor. A quick gust (gasp maybe?) of air swirled about you and threatens to blow out the candle in your trembling hand. Its hard to tell where you're going, you try to open your eyes wider to see. The large portraits on the walls, crowd you, they almost fight for your attention. In an effort to calm yourself, you try looking at one. It's a long dead relative captured as a young child. Captured in more ways than one. As you walk past, you see what else lurks in that portrait. The sound of your screams die away with the light from your lone candle....

Haunted Portraits is the creation of Norm Lanier.
It all starts with a real antique photo. I covet these. My son wants one as well.
"When can I get one, Mom? Mommy, get me one?"
"You can have one when you can pay for the therapy."

And to fill your deep dark cravings everyday, please visit
^o^ gorey details ^o^
has such wonderous and unusal things. More than I could ever describe. I've been lucky enough to score some great jewelry from them.

Devilishly Disturbed Books

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


My Anglo-Addiction

Bill Paterson
Ok, I admit it. I am powerless against the lure of the British, Scottish, and Wales...and Ireland. I think it all goes back to when I was a child. We watched alot of PBS so I watched Upstairs, Downstairs, Dr. Who and of course Monty Python's Flying Circus. Remember, that I grew up at time when Python was brand new. The timbre and melody of accents, of words (torch for flashlights, bonnet for carhood etc.) all fascinated me as a child. Its funny to me when people tell me they can't suss out accents, it all sounds natural to me.

Robson Green is Doctor Tony Hill

Wire in The Blood As a clinical psychologist, Hill works with convicted killers in prisons. But he is also gifted with the ability to see into the mind of his patients, to delve and discover information that can be used in research. He is attached to the Police Department as an advisor in strange cases. His ability to understand both victim and killer makes him vunerable at times. Most of the police view him as an interloper on their turf. Robson's Official Site

The Cast of Sea of Souls
Sea of Souls You walk past a house you've never been to and you know its secrets, you know who's on the phone and that's before it rings. Paterson plays Dr. Douglas Monaghan, head of the fictional Parapsychology Unit at Clyde University. Along with his two researchers Justine McManus (Dawn Steele) and Craig Stevenson (Iain Robertson), they try to find the truth in the mad rush of the unknown. Sea of Soulsfilmed in Scotland, won the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Teleplay for the episode "Amulet."
Bill Paterson's Official Site

Murder In the British Style

Monday, May 08, 2006


Do you know where -your- towel is?

Ford Prefect, on the left showing us what a hoopy frood he is, cause he really knows where his towel is.

From The Hitchhiker's Guide to The Galaxy: A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitch hiker can have. Partly it has great practical value - you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a mini raft down the slow heavy river Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mindboggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you - daft as a bush, but very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitch hiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have "lost". What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with.

So why am I telling you all this? Well GBR, May 25th is Towel Day, A Tribute to Douglas Adams.

The Real Raven

"Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
" 'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door;
Only this, and nothing more."

For those of you who paid attention in Lit class, you'll remember the above piece from Poe's The Raven, first published in 1845.
Little bit of trivia for you. Did you know The Raven was based on a pet raven, named Grip, that Charles Dickens owned? The bird came into his possession when he was researching the black bird, as a character in his new story, Barnaby Rudge. Poe, who at the time, was also a reviewer for the Philadelphia Saturday Evening Post. He felt Dickens did not use the bird to it's fullest potential, as a prophetic omen so he was compelled to write The Raven.
The real Grip,who was a beloved pet of the Dickens children, could talk.
His favorite sayings were:
"Never Say Die"
"Keep up your Spirit"
"Polly put the kettle on, we'll all have tea!"
Grip slept in the stables, usually on horseback.The stables were being repainted and white lead was used back then.
The painters were careful, but Grip being curious in his nature, burned to possess the pound of white lead.When the workmen went to dinner, he ate it all and died. He was stuffed and mounted. Dickens himself made the glass and wood case that he is displayed in. He was part of a large Poe collection given to The Rare Book collection of The Free Library of Philadelphia.

Raven and Poe Links:
EA Poe Society of Baltimore
The Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore, with information about Poe, his life and works, and the Poe Society.

Edgar Allan Poe Museum
The Poe Museum provides a retreat into early 19th century Richmond where Edgar Allan Poe lived and worked. The museum features Poe's life and career by documenting his accomplishments with pictures, relics, and verse, and focusing on his many years in Richmond.

Edgar Allan Poe Collection at Bartleby

Grip in all his taxidermied glory. He's a very large bird. I can't imagine having a bird that big flapping around my house!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006



Leo Rosten in The Joys of Yiddish defines chutzpah as "gall, brazen nerve, effrontery, incredible 'guts', presumption plus arrogance such as no other word and no other language can do justice to."

Chutzpah could be summoned up in this joke:
"A boy is on trial for murdering his parents, and he begs of the judge leniency because he is an orphan."

That's chutzpah.

Why am I telling you this? What to make you hip to the ways of Yiddish? No, my Gentle Blog Readers, it is to make a plea for you to toss a buck into my "tip jar" as it were. I would like to start painting again and I have to buy everything new. All my stuff dried up, and when you have a bill in your hand, that money goes there. So here's the plan, I start to paint again, thanks to you kind hearts out there. By painting, I can find a new way to move with my disability. I can teach my son how to paint on canvas.

This is known as schmaltz.

In American slang, the word is used for anything that is excessively sentimental, particularly film, theater, poetry or music. In the Montreal Jewish community, it is a slang term for money.

Drop a buck in the box for me, won'tcha?

It's over on the right hand side. Or go here Alms for the Poor Artist