Jolie Guillebeau

Archive for March, 2009

By request…

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

When Chris is gone, I get a lot of reading done.
And since we’ve moved and I don’t know anyone, I spent even more time reading this month.
And to this, that you can only spend so many hours of the day painting, or on the internet, and well… let’s just say, I’m really glad the library is right across the street.

So Portland’s library system has this neat little feature that keeps up with the books you check out– I love it. It’s much easier to remember what I’ve actually read.

So, in March of 2009, I read 28 books. Now, before you freak out– some of those were children’s books because I’m re-reading the entire Ramona Quimby series to celebrate moving to Portland (Ramona’s hometown). Those take less than an hour each, so it’s really not as much as it sounds like. I promise. Though, it’s a lot– even for me.

Anyway, these are the books. Some are worthy of further discussion and some aren’t.

Beverly Cleary Books:
Ramona the Pest
Ramona the Brave
Ramona and Her Mother
Ramona and Beezus
Ramona and Her Father
Ramona’s World
Ramona Forever
Ramona Quimby, Age 8
Ellen Tebbits
Otis Spofford
Henry Huggins

These were all pretty quick reads– 20 minutes to an hour. They’re written around a 3rd grade level, so they weren’t any big brain stretch. But it was nice to find the references to Portland and reread books I loved as a kid.

Speaking of children’s books. I also completed the entire Harry Potter series this month. I’d never read any of the Harry Potter books, and so I requested them from the library, and read all seven while Chris was away. Though I technically started in February, so I can only count three of these in the total for March.

I also went through a Jane Austen phase this month. I love Pride and Prejudice, so I find myself drawn to the modern sequels–even though I know I’ll probably hate them when I’m finished. That was true of the Pemberley Chronicles, yet I still read the whole series this month. I can’t recommend them though.

Now for the “real” books I read.

The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman
A historical account of WWII in Warsaw, Poland. An amazing story, though I was tempted to skip parts in the middle, because it got a bit repetitive.

Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky

Amazon has been recommending this to me for months, if not years, but I never took the bait, because it seemed so sad to read an unfinished work by an author who was murdered in Auchwitz. However, I finally checked it out from the library and found it to be lovely and moving without being too depressing. I should have listened to Amazon earlier.

Salt by Mark Kurlansky

More useless facts for my eventual takeover of the world via Trivial Pursuit. Or just more useless facts. But I like them. Do you know where Salzburg got its name? I do, now. Those little moments of “Aha!” made this book worth the read, though it got a bit tedious near the end.

Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin

Another book I had been meaning to read for awhile. The story of one man’s work to build schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. It’s inspiring, but a bit rose-colored in its perspective. If you want to read a book about one guy trying to save the world, then read Mountains Beyond Mountains.

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

A good quick read, though a bit eerie. I liked it, but it’s not very memorable.

Beneath a Marble Sky by John Shors

Another quick read, this time about the building of the Taj Mahal. The imagery was lovely, though again I doubt I’ll remember this book a year from now.

And my favorite book of this month: The People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks.
Geraldine Brooks is my new favorite author. I loved March and Year of Wonders. People of the Book doesn’t disappoint. It’s a fictionalized account of the history of the Sarajevo Haggadah, which is a real book with an intriguing story. I loved every word. And reading the acknowledgements, I found a small connection that made me happy. The author was able to see the Sarajevo Haggadah under restoration in 2001, thanks to the help of Jacques-Paul Klein, who was working as the Special Representative for the UN in Bosnia at the time. Later, Mr. Klein was appointed as the head of the UN Mission in Liberia, and met with Chris several times while we were working in Liberia. It was just a small detail that made the book a little more real to me.

I’m ending March with a knitting book, and The Audacity of Hope, another book I’ve been meaning to read. Perhaps I’ll run out of things to read in April and this won’t be quite so long. And if you requested book reviews on my blog, be careful what you ask for…

Vote Hope

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Shutter Sisters Dream Assignment: Picture Hope from LittlePurpleCow Productions on Vimeo.

Jen Lemen has a new hope-full scheme up her sleeve. It’s awesome. Go vote for it and help her fulfill her dream.

Vote here. Hurry!

Stone Soup Challenge

Friday, March 20th, 2009

I joined the Stone Soup Challenge last month. I thought it was a neat idea and planned to blog about it, but promptly forgot to do so and moved on with life.

Wednesday (after my post requesting help) I made my first Etsy sale in almost a year. I had almost given up on Etsy, because it just didn’t seem to be worth the effort and I wasn’t willing to spend hours a day promoting my Etsy shop– I’d rather be painting.

But Mary found my work on Etsy because of the Stone Soup Challenge and made a purchase. On the day I requested help from the Universe. Coincidence? I think not. I’m taking it as a sign to keep going. Maybe I can make a real career out of being an artist– even in this economy.

(An aside: Hey, Universe– this doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. One sale doesn’t convince me that I still don’t need a second job, but thanks for the encouragement. Keep it up!)

So today I used the proceeds from my sale to support another Stone Soup Artist. I can’t wait to see what arrives in my mailbox!

Intention: Donuts (and a Job)

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

Hello out there…

I’ve decided to stop whining and actually ask for help. This goes back to intentions. And also, pride. My pride doesn’t really like me to ask for help. And donuts. Wait– not donuts, I was just thinking about donuts, because of the vegan experiment. Vegan donuts are not very good, by the way.

Ok, away from donuts and back to asking for help.

Dear Universe:

Here’s what I’m asking for. A job. A job that’s fulfilling and fun with cool people. A job that allows me to have a little structure to my days and get out of the house occasionally, but doesn’t take too much time from painting. A job that provides a reasonable income and maybe even health insurance, but doesn’t require me to wear pantyhose. A job that provides all of that for less than 25 hours per week. A job that challenges me, but doesn’t leave me too exhausted to paint or wander. And offers flexibility for the occasional travel with the husband. Ideally, this job would provide me with artist connections here in my new city, too.

Here’s what I’m offering: me. I’ll give this job all my very best effort when I’m there and I’ll even think about creative ways to make my job more fun, my co-workers lives better and I’ll show up with a good attitude at least 95% of the time. I’ll be my usual friendly, smart, creative self. I’ll enjoy this job. I’ll do a good job. I’ll be willing to learn new things and even like it.

If you’ve got an offer, you know where to find me.

Thanks in advance,

P.S. And if it’s not too much trouble, can you make sure that there’s a Bavarian Cream donut for me this Sunday? It’s the 3rd week in a row that I’ve been really excited about having one on my non-vegan day, only to find that someone has bought all of them before I get there. Of course, they’re there Monday-Saturday when I can’t have one… can you do something about this for me? Please?


Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

I just saw the protosite for the new site design for this space– I can’t wait. Changes coming soon here!

What if the Hokey Pokey is really what it's all about?

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

Ok, so not really, but I’m starting to wonder.

I’m a bit discouraged this week. Still no job here in Portland. But do I want one? I don’t know. I do want money– and health insurance, but couldn’t I get that from painting? Well, only if someone one actually buys the paintings. But that isn’t really happening right now…

I’m feeling undervalued. Our society doesn’t really care about painters. They value mathematicians and physicists. And engineers, and other science-y people. And lawyers. No one needs a still-life painter of toys.

Also, I know that there are more than five people that read this blog, but only two commenters were willing to put themselves out there– I’m not sure what to think of that. I don’t want to guilt you guys, but I don’t want to expend the energy on this if it’s not working.

This year has been a year of transitions. It’s made me a bit introspective. Between losing my community, my house in turmoil, and the subsequent move to Portland, I’m a little lost. What am I doing? Who do I want to be? Why am I whining to you? I should go paint.

Trust Will Lead the Way

Monday, March 9th, 2009

Trust Will Lead the Way
Originally uploaded by jenlemen

The Word of the Lord.

Thanks be to God.

This is so fun…

Sunday, March 8th, 2009

I got this idea from Jenica. Not my sister, just to avoid confusion. My sister is also Jenica, but she’s blogless.

Anyway, I thought this was fun, so I’m playing too!

The first five people to respond to this post will get something made by me! My choice. For you. This offer does have some restrictions and limitations:
1. I make no guarantees that you will like what I make for you!
2. What I create will be just for you.
3. It’ll be done this year.
4. You have no clue what it’s going to be. It may be a song. It may be a self portrait or maybe even some creation I haven’t yet dreamed up. I may draw. I may bake you something and mail it to you. It may not be big or impressive. Who knows? Not you, that’s for sure! (Nor I at this point…)
5. I reserve the right to do something extremely strange.

The catch? The catch is that you must offer the same to the first 5 people who do the same on your blog. (Or if you’re blogless like my sister, then choose 5 people that you think need a little extra love and email them with the details.) The first 5 people to post a comment will win a fun homemade gift by me! Let’s keep the chain of love going around!!!

The Road to Hell…?

Sunday, March 8th, 2009

I’ve been thinking about living with intention lately. I throw that word around a lot. I intended to go to the grocery store, but got distracted with painting, so now we’re eating random frozen vegetables with the pasta I found in the back of the pantry. Or I intend to give my neighbor a piece of my mind the next time she says something snarky. I intend to go to Antarctica one day. I intend to write a blog post (with pictures! Ha!). I intend to lose weight. I intend to make a living as an artist. I intend to be more disciplined. I intend to stop taking rejection so personally. I intend to call my sisters more often. I intend to paint more and play on the internet less. These are all things I intend. But does that mean I’m living with intention?

We all know that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Whatever that means. Is it the idea that the intentions without action lead to misery? If I intend to lose weight, but continue to stuff myself with Quarter Pounders and Girl Scout Cookies, then not only am I betraying my body in unhealthy ways, but I’m probably berating myself for betraying my intentions as well. I’m more miserable because I intended to act differently.

So if that’s true, then I need to figure out what I’m doing to follow through with my intentions or even give myself permission to let some of my intentions go. Some days, I’m better off giving up the illusion that I’m going to go to the grocery store. If I’ve planned to have “Random Pasta” for dinner, then I can enjoy painting more fully and enjoy dinner more because I don’t feel guilty that I didn’t do something I’ve intended.

With that in mind, I’m rethinking my intentions. I’m letting go. I’m choosing the intentions most important to me right now. And I intend to tell you about them soon.

Friday Fun…

Saturday, March 7th, 2009

Big adventures today…

After yoga class (yay for ankle recovery!) I came home, made myself lunch and decided to celebrate my finished painting. It was a beautiful sunny day, and I decided it was perfect weather for an adventure.

I bought an all day bus pass, and discovered that I can get to Ikea via public transit in less than 30 minutes here. I love TriMet! Chris is not going to be happy about this.

The sky was so pretty and from the train, and the clouds lifted so that I could see both Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Hood. (I believe now, Havi. It exists. Though I was starting to doubt, since I had only seen it once.) I remember reading a Ramona Quimby book that talked about Mt. Hood and thought about how much fun it is to live in places I read about as a little girl. I’m rereading the entire Ramona series to celebrate living in Portland.

I bought some candles and researched desks, rugs and floor lamps and decided that Chris must return to Ikea with me soon. I’ll lure him there with the promise of Apple Strudel– that always works.

From Ikea I took the train downtown to Powells City of Books (I love it there! Even more than Ikea) to hear Molly Wizenberg. She writes the blog Orangette, she lives in Seattle, and she’s just written a book, A Homemade Life, and like her, it’s lovely. I sat and listened to her read and realized this is what Chris is going to do and it’s going to be awesome. I can’t wait to see him there. But first he has a lot of writing to do.

Finally, (and maybe the best part of the day) I met Amy of Angry Chicken. I’ve read her blog for ages, even though I don’t sew (except for that one quilt) yet.I really love her ideas and her aesthetic. Just go look– you’ll see. She’s awesome. And as for sewing, notice I said yet. That’s because I made my very first apron this week. And I’m looking on craiglist for a good used sewing machine, because I want to make more. Much more. Amy’s blog (and book) have inspired me to learn to really sew. Not just the one quilt.

Now I’m home. And I’ve lit my orange candle from Ikea and the cat is purring in my lap and my husband is on the way home (sort of– he’s flying from South Africa to Hong Kong tonight, then 24 hours in Hong Kong, then he flies to LA, and then he’s actually on the way home) and I have half a vegan chocolate chip cookie left for breakfast tomorrow.

Days like today make me wish I could bottle gratitude and store it for later. Oh wait, I can. Someone remind me of this post the next time I’m whining.