just a few suggestions

So, I sent this to Adam at work today. But, he was to busy Working to respond.
I have compiled a list, on his behalf, of what would have been appropriate responses:

+ "Oh my! This is why I married you; your cute creative genius."

+ " I don't know who is cuter-- you or the puppy!"

+ "Wow, that cupboard door doesn't look nearly as dirty in that picture. Did you clean it?"

+ "You are fantastic. On my way home from work tonight I am going to stop and buy a present for you."

+ "The only thing that could make this better would be if we had TWO puppies."


oh, i forgot to mention

Spring sprang in Tower Grove Park. Some people don't like the idea of having a dog because they don't want to have to walk it all the time, but I think that is one of my favorite parts of dog-ownership. I love having an excuse to go out and wander around in the park twice a day. Watching the season progress:


i have my mother to thank for it.

The big problem with spending eight, or maybe even eighty (it felt like eighty), hours yesterday
glaring at my computer screen b/c the damn statistics program didn't like my commands :

> slope<- import.asc("slope100.asc", type= "numeric")
> stack<- as.kasc(list(slope, elevation, aspect)) > image(stack)
Error in par(mfrow = mfrow, mar = mar) : invalid value specified for
graphical parameter "mfrow"

> stack
Variables measured:
1. : numeric
Error in .subset2(x, i, exact = exact) : attempt to select less than one element

> pca <- dudi.pca(cleanstack$tab, scannf=FALSE, nf = 2) Error in `rownames<-`(`*tmp*`, value = c("1", "2", "3"...

-- well, the problem with all of that is that now, today, my glaring reserves have run low, I've run clean out of spite and fury, having directed it all at my screen yesterday, and today has consisted of the following:
  1. Stare forlornly at command screen, hoping it will correct itself
  2. Stare forlornly at the papers I need to read for class
  3. Make lists of work I should be doing.

The greater point is that all this huffing and puffing and glaring and stewing makes this happen:

The Great Forehead Scrunching.

Hey kids, remember when your dad told you that someday your face would freeze that way?


like a little hobo

By the way, in my head I am packing my bags and moving into this little enchanted castle in the middle of the Mississippi River:

You can write to me at:

One Enchanted Castle
Mississippi River

When I was little I was really into the idea of miniature 'living' spaces -- forts, trailers, tents. I even remember vividly a plan I had for how I might be able to put walls up around my seat on the schoolbus to make my own private room. And since the bus was so tall, maybe I could even put in a spiral staircase up to a 2nd floor.

When we lived in the Hudson Valley I loved the lighthouse in Saugerties, and the fact that someone got to live there, all the time, practically in the middle of the river. The romanticism is almost too much for me.

(and to put an its-a-small-world spin on it, when we moved to STL we found out that our new friend Steve is actually friends with the lighthouse keeper, and has been a guest at the lighthouse... the brain churns with the possibilities...)

And now, in this month's issue of ReadyMade is a whole feature article on tiny do-it-yourself modern kit-buildings to put in one's backyard--esentially a fort for grown ups.

I'm currently bargaining with Adam that either we build one for me on top of our deck or i'm moving out to the island.

If, someday, you decide as we did, to ride on up to the Chain of Rocks Bridge, you might see Adam standing there, trying to figure out how to come and visit me in my castle.


the problem with Photo Booth

If you are not a Mac user you may not be aware of Photo Booth, an application that uses the built-in webcam to snap pics.

At first Photo Booth seems like a fun, innocuous way to kill a few minutes. You could take a few pics of your new haircut and send them to your sister! Or send love-notes to your husband while he's away on business!

But beware.
It also enables you to immediately answer burning questions such as:

  • What do I look like when I'm staring intensely straight at my screen?
  • Does my double-chin show up when I'm gazing down at my keyboard?
  • Do I look funny while eating this burrito?
  • Does this hat make me look like a bruiser?
Answer: YES.

But on a positive note, Photo Booth also enables you to sneakily capture cute moments when getting up to find the camera might disturb the cuteness:

So, as long as I can keep my curiosity in check, I give it a thumbs-up.

get your greens

In thinking about my diet over that past few weeks I came to the startling realization that it mostly involved the following:

  • White Cheddar Cheezits
  • Storck Chocolate Reisen
  • Chevre
  • Strawberries
And ok, so there is a shining beam of hope in there in the form of a grossly out-of season fruit, that I even feel guilt for admitting that I purchased-- those strawberries have probably required as much fossil fuels in their brief life as I have used in the past year. But really, where are the vegetables?

I think about eating more vegetables all the time. I LOVE vegetables. But often they make their way into my system via a thick coconut curry, which, while tasty, is also fully stocked in the calorie department.

So, given that it is spring, and the Farmer's Market starts up soon, and 'tis the season to start eating fresh, I announce the deployment of

Operation Eat A Vegetable

Wherein I regale you with tales of my adventures in the produce department. Well, I guess I'll wait until I get home to eat them.

I even inadvertently got a jump start on this when I brought home a head of fennel last week.
I wish I had taken a picture. It was delicious. One down, thousands to go.


sometimes i do things that do not involve men in body paint

I thought that you should know about two crazy things that I have done lately. Two things that while not really related, both fall under the category: "Exhibitionist Men in Body Paint"

First off--
I went to a baby shower where there was entertainment, so you know it is going to be a good time. None of those games where you have to remember all the baby paraphernalia on a tray-- the kind of memory games that make me so anxious that there is no hope of me every remembering if there were two diaper pins and one rattle, or maybe the other way around?

No. My friends are way too high class for that. Instead there was this guy:

Clownvis Presley

He danced, he sang, he did magic tricks?

And that was NOT the first time my path crossed with Mr. Presley.

Then, as if that wasn't enough excitement for one month, we went to the South Broadway Athletic Club for the monthly wrestling match. I thought we were going to see something like the wrestling version of amateur boxing matches we used to go to in Maine. I was picturing young fit men in unitards and head guards. Then we walked in the door to see two burly dudes in denim cut-offs and broadaxes talking to another in tight black pants and silver body paint. Sooooo, it is that kind of wrestling.

The crowd was calling those two guys above Captain America v. Rainbow Warrior. Guess which one they favored.

I personally was much more comfortable with the hippie in the tie-died shirt, over the lanky Eruo-trash dude who, as my father pointed out*, looked like he was still wearing his favorite pair of Captain America underpants from grade school. I don't have a close-up, so you'll just have to trust me on this one, but honestly, this guy was way more hard-core Euro-techno-club than All American Man. But this was not the kind of crowd with whom I would have liked to argue, so I let it go.

*my dad wasn't there! i just showed him the pictures. But according to him, my great-grandmother was waaaaay into the wrestling when he was a kid.

Anyway the true crowd favorite of the night is Shaft.
This blur is Shaft giving the smack-down:

But anyway, it's weird. It is so weird that I feel that I need to talk on and on about it. About the dressed up men and their theatrical punches and stomps. About the crazed fans that just shout, and shout and heckle and jeer. About the little old LADIES wandering around with canes. About the fact that people bring their babies and small children and there is cursing and a cloud of smoke, not to mention grown men tossing each other about.

If I were a contemporary ethnographer this would be my playground.

P.S. If you just can't get enough, there are others who have taken better pics than me and my cameraphone:



The first in a new occasional series entitled: My People Are Awesome

This is my littlest sister, Laura.

Well, actually, now she's all grown up and sophisticated:

She is a fantastic artist: photography, video, mixed media wonderfulness.
She is also the most stylish person I know. You can see it even here: Laura is the little one in the cute dress with matching shoes. (I'm the disheveled one with the scabs on her knees. And that's Sarah with the fun preppy stripes-- more on her soon.)

I'll always think of her as my cute baby sister:
But now she's all getting married and living both in New York AND Los Angeles and generally just being wonderful and inspiring.

I'll give you a small little example of why she is so great. Yesterday I was having a terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad-day. So she sent along this greeting:

Now how perfect is that?


something you just must know

I've been boring myself to tears with my own blogging lately, I can't imagine how you must feel. So, I've started brainstorming about things to write about (toast? chickens in the city? the old lady who offered Adam a dollar to take her groceries into her house and he almost turned her down because he thought she was asking for money, and then when he realized his mistake and saw the inside of her sad lonely house, how he almost cried right there?). I make lists...someday i'll get them all up in here.

But for now, I really feel that you need to have this most amazing brownie recipe. I got it from my dad, but I'm not sure where it originated. He used to make them at night and put them in our lunches, and I remember calling them "Daddy Brownies", even though we never really called him Daddy.

World's Best and Most Foolproof Brownies; Your Friends Will Thank You

1 stick butter or margarine
2 squares unsweetened baking chocolate
1 cup sugar (or less. i often use less)
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
3/4 c. flour

Melt butter and chocolate over med. heat in a heavy bottom saucepan. Once melted, remove from heat. Stir in sugar and vanilla. Add eggs one at a time. Add flour.
Bake at 350 in a 9x9 baking dish for 20-25 minutes depending on how gooey you like them.

Eat as soon as you can--by which I mean as soon as you can without scalding the roof of your mouth. Then, after they have cooled a bit, have another. Then have one for breakfast.

You are welcome.


dog sitting

I spent the week-without-internet house and dog-sitting for two of the nicest black labs you have ever met. Moxie came along and proceeded to torture them and run them ragged for seven days. I think they all loved every minute of it.

Most of the week went something like this:

And this,
Followed by some of this,

Until Kirby would come along and break it up.

Or until Grace would collapse next to me with eyes that said "When is the little one going home?"

Live action footage:

Moxie wants a piece of Grace. from ginger allington on Vimeo.

A good time was had by all.

beta diversity

In ecology we talk about the diversity of species in a few different ways. Alpha diversity is your general total number of different types of organisms in one place at one time; what most people think of when you say "biodiversity". But we also consider other ways of calculating diversity. Beta diversity is the turnover in species diversity as you move from one point to another-- i.e. the "suite" of species might change as you travel across a state or country, or even a single forest.

I was thinking about this concept of beta-diversity the other day when I ran across a CD mix that I made in 2004. I had no idea what to expect when I put in in the CD player, and it is interesting to note the diversity of bands that I was listening to in 2004 compared to today. In certain ways there has been quite a bit of turnover; beta diversity is high. But there were several notable exceptions to this... long lived and adaptable bands that have remained on my playlists through today-- the generalist species, found in a wide array of habitats.

Here's a brief run-down of what I was apparently listening to in the fall of 2004, in order of how they appeared on the mix:

1. Bishop Allen

2. Blonde Redhead

3. The Shins (Goosestep - which is still the best Shins song if you ask me)

4. Blonde Redhead. Apparently I was in the throes of a B.R. revival in that fall.

5. Harpswell Sound. From Portland, ME. Currently dis-banded. This was a really, really great album.

6. Death Vessel. Also from Southern Maine. We had just moved back to NY after 2 years in Portland, so I was feeling the Maine love. The singer sounds like a girl and looks like a 12 year old boy, but actually is probably a 30 year old man. Enticing?

7. Rush. I have no explanation for my brief but intense Rush phase.

8. Some song by some band that I swear that I have never heard before and I can't figure out how it ended up on this mix. The CD just says 2004 so I don't know who on earth it could be. Also, this song (and the band playing it) are terrible. Apparently in the fall of 2004 I was exercising some poor judgment in my quest for new music.

9. The Decemberists. Wow. I really liked them in 2004. Now... not so much.

10. RJD2. I totally forgot about how much I loved RJD2. What a great show.

11. Kid Koala. See #11.

12. Songs: Ohio.

14 & 15. T. Rex. I love me some glam rock. Telegram Sam and Jeepster back to back.

15. The Stone Roses. Was I having a Stone Roses throw-back phase in 2004? Adam just told me that it's never a bad time for the the Stone Roses. So, there.

16. Monade. I must have made this right before we went to see the new band formed by the woman from Stereolab. We saw them in Hudson, NY and it nearly bored me to tears.

17. Black Mountain. And, well, if you've been keeping up with things around here you know that I am still listening to them.

18. Joan Jett & the Blackhearts-- covering Crimson & Clover. What a great song about god knows what, but it is just vaguely dirty enough for Joan Jett to feel like rocking it out.

19. Niel Young -- My My, Hey Hey. Who ISN'T still listening to this song? I need to have a word with that person.

20. The Cars (My Best Friend's Girl). Rick Ocasek might be the world's ugliest man but he can sling a killer keyboard riff.

There is another premise in ecology that basically says that the longer and harder you look in one area, the more species you will find. It's one of those seemingly obvious ideas that we all try to ignore when planning sampling methods into our experimental designs.

Well, it's the same thing for finding new music, and lately I've been exercising little to no effort, so most of the lack of turnover in what I listen to now compared to 2004 is mostly due to lack of initiative on my part. But that is going to change! And someday when it does I'll let you know what I'm listening to now/then for a true measure of my beta-diversity of bands.



1.  Black Mountain:  Stormy, Stormy

2.  Paul Simon: Born at the Right Time

Four days. Four days on my knees counting inch-high plants and these were the only two songs that were playing in my head. Sometimes back to back, sometimes just one of them for hours on end. I tried to excavate them from my brain by humming Girl from Ipanema, but she just worked herself into the mix and I ended up with a bizarre dj-remix of all three.

It made me realize how people could go mad in the desert.