Craft Challenge: February is for Jo!

February 23, 2011 § 2 Comments

I know, I know, February is almost over, but things have been hectic! I’ve been working on something for a neat lady, though, and it’s about time that you all met her!

What is your name? Jo(lene), or, alternately, “that girl with the weird hair/that girl with the bicycle”.

Do you have a blog or website (or Tumblr, Twitter, etc.) that you’d like me to link? As I have a certain… not to say addiction… to test-driving nearly every new blogging platform that floats my way, I could give a rather ridiculous list, but you can mostly find me at Twitter, LiveJournal, and Tumblr. I also run a fashion blog, Her Kirtle Green, and have music for sale at Bandcamp. (NOTE FROM CHARIS: You should all go and check out all of those things, and buy music, because it is awesome)

What is your quest? To get out of small-town Pennsylvania, become a librarian, acquire several more cats, and build a reputation among neighbourhood children as that mad lady in the creepy house who is totally a witch. Also to read all the books, learn all the things, and kiss somebody marvelous someday.

What is your favorite color? COLOUR IS MY FAVOURITE COLOUR. No, but seriously: I love colour. Colour makes me happy. I’m particularly drawn to deep, rich, earthy colours — crimson, plum, goldenrod, sage, turquoise, pumpkin — and I find brown, grey, and cream to be highly underrated. Black is quite nice as well. I love finding the balance between stimulating and clashing when mixing colours and patterns.

What is your life like at the moment? What do you do in a day? As I’m currently in an in-between stage trying to work out where to go next and how, my schedule’s a bit loose — but things you can find me doing on a regular basis include baking, reading, more reading, tripping over cats, bicycling around town, writing, playing with my four-year-old sister, writing, researching for writing projects, making music, accidentally injuring myself in increasingly embarrassing ways, and even more reading. I play at a local coffeeshop every Friday night as well. They give me free drinks and a place to nest and gloriously fast wi-fi and I give them free publicity; it’s an awesome trade.

What is your creative outlet? I’m a writer by nature, and, I hope, by trade someday; I’m currently working on an alternate history pre-WWI vampire novel and an old-fashioned YA werewolf novel (with bonus Wild Hunt) set in the 1940s. (The latter setting may be entirely an excuse to dress all of my characters in tweed and flat caps and wellies, but I’ll never tell.) I also take photographs, bake (and eat), and enjoy designing graphics for my personal internet haunts (and occasionally when my dad needs a poster), and while I’m not very talented at crafty things I love to work with my hands — paints, clay, crayons, and the like feel fantastic, even if what I make with them is rarely impressive or useful. I’d like to learn to knit or crochet and sew a little, especially to alter my clothes and make little things like detachable collars. I also see the human body as a fantastic palate for art, as might be evidenced by my eccentric fashion sense and multi-coloured hair (and while I haven’t any tattoos or other body modifications I love looking at people who do).

What have you been reading and/or watching lately?  What is your current favorite thing to read or watch? Well, the library’s run out of books again, so my reading supply’s gone a bit dry recently, but books I’ve fallen in love with in the last several months include Peter S. Beagle’s Tamsin (my first re-read felt like a homecoming, which is always a sign of a personal classic), Sarah Rees Brennan’s Demon’s Lexicon trilogy (book three is out in June!), Erin Bow’s Plain Kate, Barbara Hambly’s vampire now-trilogy (linguist/retired spy and his badass scientist wife deal with vampires in Edwardian England; it is EVERYTHING I’VE EVER WANTED), R.J. Anderson’s faery books, Eva Ibbotson’s deeply hilarious and intuitive and touching historical novels, Alberto Manguel’s books about books, Karen Elizabeth Gordon’s hilariously macabre books on grammar, and Shaun Tan’s wordless graphic novel The Arrival. Filmwise, my tastes run a ridiculous gamut from Disney’s Tangled to Wim Wenders’ Der Himmel uber Berlin; other stuff I’ve been loving lately includes Moulin Rouge!, Children of Heaven, How to Train Your Dragon, Pan’s Labyrinth, and The Young Victoria. Television-wise, I’ve been a bit busy — I marathon shows at ridiculous rates and have been rewatching Chuck lately as it’s a bit of a happy place, while Fringe (OLIVIA DUNHAM AND HER FACE AND HER EMOTIONS AND HER ENTIRE EXISTENCE) and The Vampire Diaries (awesome girls who love each other!!) are pretty much my favourite things currently airing, along with Being Human and Doctor Who (come baaaack!). And trust me, that is but the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Television is bad enough; if I tried to tell you about all of the books I’ve ever loved we’d still be here this time next year and that would have been the prefacing remarks. I REALLY LIKE ALL FORMS OF STORYTELLING MEDIA, AS YOU CAN SEE.

What inspires you at the moment? Oh, lots of things — sunlight (it’s hard to come by in February), Japanese mori-girl fashion, goth and steampunk fashion, music festivals, freak folk, multi-instrumental confessional folk like Mumford & Sons and Over the Rhine and the Civil Wars and Lisa Hannigan, storytelling musicians like Vienna Teng and Richard Shindell and Sarah Slean, neo-swing, neo-tradfolk, proper tradfolk, ballads (Tam-Lin is demonstrably my favourite), tea (especially the Neipalm blend of Earl Grey and Oriental Spice), colours and textures (my bedroom is a pleasantly cluttered conglomeration of objects and contrasts), kickass shoes that make me feel like a heroine when I walk in them, my cats, long aimless walks, the atmosphere at our little coffeeshop, old photographs (and when I have trouble getting into an aesthetic mood for writing I tend to trawl Flickr or Tumblr or similarly image-driven websites for inspiration), eavesdropping (my earliest and oldest and most accomplished hobby), French Roast in the morning, Madeleine L’Engle’s fiction and nonfiction, really feral music full of clapping and stomping and group harmonies, lists of words, new places, T.S. Eliot, stars, cities, graffiti, really good food (the Orange Crème Dream I get at the coffeeshop sometimes is profoundly inspiring, as is my mother’s Hungarian goulash; I am food’s most ardent fan), bits and bobs and scraps of ideas and information, steamingly hot showers, those underwater moments between waking and sleeping when one’s mind flutters free, Neil Gaiman’s hair (does it belong to him or does he belong to it?!), any breath of spring I can possibly snatch at the moment.

Craft Challenge: January is for Sharon

January 13, 2011 § 1 Comment

Welcome to 2011!  Almost two weeks into the new year and I feel like I’m stumbling out of the Holiday Season Fog–you know, that place where everything turns into one long blur of Merriment and Stress and Twinkling Lights?  I love that place, but it can be a little exhausting.  I’m glad that life is slowing down a little so that I can focus on other things, like my Year of Crafts!

You may remember that a little while ago I requested some volunteers from the audience for a project that will (I hope) motivate me to keep actively crafting and creating throughout the year and also (I really hope) leave my eleven volunteers with items made Just For Them that they will really enjoy.

My first volunteer is Sharon! I’m really excited to introduce everyone to Sharon (this is because she is wonderful) and she graciously agreed to answer a few questions about herself:

Sharon, on the morning of her wedding

(she took some time for herself to sit down and read, because that is how awesome she is)

What is your name? Sharon

Do you have a blog or website? I started blogging at Bride Sans Tulle last year while planning my wedding and have kept it going since as a way of documenting newlywed life, our cross-country move, and my grad school adventures.  (Note from Charis: You definitely want to click on that link and read Sharon’s blog, because it is excellent!).  I’m @pensyf on Twitter and you can follow me if you like rambling commentary on (in no particular order): the mysteries of Bay Area microclimates, TV shows, politics, cooking, Phillies baseball, and a myriad of other random topics.

What is your quest? Currently, in the big picture, I’m trying to figure out if I want to continue pursuing a PhD in the humanities or go in a totally different direction with my career.  I’m also deeply interested in developing communities of women supporting women and have a project in the works involving that.  More frivolously, I’m always on the lookout for good reads, good conversation, and a good cardigan.

What is your favorite color? I don’t really have one, but I’ll admit to having a weak spot for teal household items/furniture.  I never underestimate the power of a good pair of mustard yellow tights to brighten up my day.

What is your life like at the moment? What do you do in a day? I’ve recently gone back to being a student after a few years of working in the non-profit sector, so right now my life involves a lot of reading, writing, and research.  A typical day finds me in the library, classroom, or at a cafe.  Evenings are mostly spent with my husband and we’ll usually do some combination of cooking, watching favorite TV shows, or playing computer games together.

What is your creative outlet? I love crafts and wish I had more time for them!  My crafts usually involve paper goods and calligraphy of some sort (like the centerpieces of favorite poems that I made for our wedding), though I have a not-so-secret desire to learn how to sew.  However, my main creative outlets are of the non-crafting variety.  I love to write (letters, blog posts, stories) and I love viewing the world through a camera lens.

What have you been reading and/or watching lately?  What is your current favorite thing to read or watch? I’ve been using my winter break as a chance to gorge on fun reading, which I don’t get to do much of during the semester.  Right now, I’m slowly rereading George R. R. Martin’s Song of Fire and Ice series as well as some young adult novels.  My current favorite read is actually a reread – I’ve been reading a chapter of Anne of Green Gables to my husband every night before we go to bed to introduce him to the series and am really enjoying getting to revisit my beloved P.E.I. and getting to see him experience a great book for the first time.  We’ve also recently started watching the first season of Fringe because we’re both die-hard J.J. Abrams fans.

What inspires you at the moment? This will probably sound pretty cheesy, but right now my husband is my greatest inspiration.  Jason inspires me daily by how hard he works to support our new family, how generous he is to those around him, and how much he believes that I can achieve anything I set my mind to.  My tendency is to approach life in very safe, risk-averse ways, but knowing that Jason will have my back with every success and despite every failure is really transforming me into a braver, more creative, and more loving person.

Sharon and Jason at the Georgia Renaissance Faire

Thank you, Sharon!  Stay tuned–my craft for Sharon is in progress, and will be unveiled in the next few weeks!

A little T.S. Eliot

September 24, 2010 § Leave a comment

‘East Coker’, No. 2 of The Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot

“I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love,
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.”

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