Sunday, June 27, 2010

Garden Tour

My new neighborhood does a biannual garden tour, so as I didn't yet have keys to the house, I spent my Saturday looking at gardens and introducing myself to yet more neighbors. Most of the gardens are relatively small--from a few feet wide to about the size of my future back yard--but considerable care and imagination went into them.

The tour included, for an extra $5, a restful tea break at the local mansion. And when I say mansion, it genuinely is one, but a mansion rehabbed just like everything else in the neighborhood. We have tiny cottages, medium-sized houses, and a mansion or two.

It's been hinted that I should prepare my garden for the next tour. Since I'll have two years to get ready, I suppose I might manage it. We'll see.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

St. Anne's Hill Trash-N-Treasure

On Thursday I closed on my new house, and Saturday was the annual neighborhood sale in my new area. St. Anne's Hill is fairly famous for the quality of its neighborhood sale, so I was eager to see what I might find for the new house. My current neighborhood had had its sale a couple of weeks earlier, and while I hadn't seen much activity there (and had also promised to take a colleague to the Cincinnati airport), I had nonetheless managed to pick up an antique table and chair, some wooden cigar boxes, and a stack of 1950s magazines for well under $150. Who knew what wonders might await me at the much larger St. Anne's sale?
I was over at St. Anne's, coffee in hand, at the very start of the sale, but unfortunately it had begun to rain while I was picking up the coffee, so for the first hour or so everyone was tarping their wares. That is, everyone except those selling out of a garage, porch, or living room. But most of what I saw to start out was under a tarp. This made it tricky. I didn't see anything I wanted in the first hour or so.
On the other hand, it was also my mission to introduce myself to my new neighbors. The historic districts have very active neighborhood associations, so it made sense to make myself known. This part of the morning went very well. Everyone was welcoming, and many of them were familiar with my house. Some of them had even already heard of me. I heard (not for the first time, but it's a good story) all about how the man who renovated the house back in the early 1980s ordered wallpaper specially from England for it. It's probably still something of a challenge to order wallpaper from England, but let's keep in mind that there was no email or internet then. The wallpaper in my downstairs is part of the city's historic house lore. The house is also one that people are very fond of. Even the various home inspectors and roofers went into ecstasies over it, which I am sure they cannot bring themselves to do over every house they see.
As the weather began to clear, I began to find things I actually wanted. Some had already sold, but mostly not. I could also have gotten a beautiful 1920s stove-and-oven for free had I had a means of carting it away (the owner said it was free to whoever could carry it away first)--I don't actually need a stove-and-oven, but I would have used it as a decorative piece in the dining room (the white Hoosier cabinet there is departing). However, I knew I had no way of carting it, and another enthusiast, who has a store on 3rd and thinks he can fix the recently defunct oven, arrived with a truck while I was chatting with the owner.
I am not entirely sure what-all I got, as it is nearly all sitting in the car, but the haul included two mirrors, one large rug, a Czech perfume bottle by my favorite glass manufacturer (whose name I can never recall), a lamp, a batch of Celtic and jazz CDs, seven plants, a wicker chair, some tins, and a sack of excellent homemade tamales. I met up with three members of my department in the course of my wanderings, and they too acquired exciting items. We were very pleased with ourselves by the time we parted in the early afternoon.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Yellow Springs Street Fair

Last week's Yellow Springs Street Fair experienced considerable rain early in the day, but fortunately things dried off by noon or so. It was similar today at the Saint Anne's Hill neighborhood sale.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Warning: Characters at Work

Subsequent to my post on fictional characters and their ways of earning a living, I find that my mind keeps meandering back to this topic. Whether in any productive way, I'm not entirely certain. But it's seeming like an important thing to think about.
This may, of course, simply be the result of my own history of earning a living in numerous ways. It would be a fine thing if I had forced myself to take notes on the minutiae of all the different jobs I've had, but of course that always seemed just intolerable at the time, even when I recognized that I ought to be noting the peculiarities for future reference. So often, one's gainful employment is largely a matter of getting through the day and getting the paycheck, even when one has taken on less than appealing jobs in order to benefit one's fiction. Besides, I am one of those people who isn't really very good at taking detailed notes, because I only jot down the most vital ideas, or else only what strikes me as new information. This means, among other things, that I don't have vast quantities of notes to draw upon when preparing art history lectures, but it also has its effect on my recall of how the various offices and factories of my working life operated.
All the same, my recall is probably sufficient, aided by spots of internet and library research, to provide convincing employment for some of my characters. It's important to get into that mysterious trance-like state where things float to the surface, and I'm pretty good at telling my conscious mind to go play somewhere else while I encourage things to come together. I'm all in favor of whatever works.
In the meantime, Wikipedia has done a fine job of educating me on the workings of the diesel engine and other things that I never really understood very well.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Titles from Hell

It being near the end of the school year, my students and I would all like to be let loose. That and the hot weather are probably responsible for my spewing forth yet more book titles that do not correspond to any book I ever hope to write. (It's so much harder coming up with titles for books one actually does want to see in print.)

Downcast and Dreary
The Damned are Among Us
Saints and Their Specialties
Does Your Dog Talk?
Why Do Fish Sing?
Clouds Over the Hill Fort
Sands of Destruction
James and the Salubrious Bat
How to Build Your Own Ziggurat
The Big Book of Interfaith Baptismal Rituals
Cannibals for Supper
The Land that Freud Forgot
You Will Go to the South Pole
Of Dreams and Dadaists
Rodchenko Photographs a Dam
Why Is Your Child Deranged?
Insignificant Others
Love in the Age of Big Oil
Of Monopolies and Mutants
Raising Vipers in Your Own Home