Saturday, June 30, 2007

Rubaiyat: Handmade Custom Shoes

Yesterday I had lunch with a friend of mine who works as a clerk to one of the cool state Supreme Court justices. We talked about the law, as we usually do, and she mentioned that it had been a hard week, with all the overturning of precedent by the federal Supreme Court. She said the decision limiting school districts' ability to racially integrate schools was particularly surreal, as it struck down law that she had helped draft, and the majority opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts actually quoted words she had written.

But this post is not about the future of our nation, it's about shoes!

As I walked down James Street to meet up with her and her husband, I passed a storefront with a bunch of funky shoes. Sort of Cydwoq meets John Fluevog. Naturally, I had to stop in and take a closer look.

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The husband-and-wife proprietors told me that all of the shoes are custom and handmade. It seemed too weird to be true, except he was sitting there making a pair of super-intricate boots.

He told me it was the last day of a sale -- $100 off any pair, plus a free fitting.

Hmm...

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Oh, yes.

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They're custom, so I could choose any color, toe shape, heel height, heel style, etc. I selected a less fanciful heel shape and decided to get them in a brickish red.

I pick them up on July 12. Fun!

From some random website:

Rubaiyat -- Extraordinary hand made shoes by Louis and Melinda ... Their artisan studio is located at 219 James Street, Seattle WA 98104. Hours are Monday to Friday 9:30-6 PM, or call (206) 551-3986 for a Saturday appointment.


On the subject of shoes, this may be my all-time favorite YouTube video:

Seven Random Things About Me

My imaginary friend Chuck sort of tagged me for the "Seven Random Things About Me" blog meme. Don't worry if you don't know what that means. (In fact, worry if you do.)

Skip this post unless you can stomach faux-modest self-aggrandizement. These things are not random at all; even the seemingly self-effacing ones were actually carefully selected to make me seem mysterious, smart, and cool.

Seven Random Things About Me by JvA

1. My parents and I were all born on different continents.

A clipping from my mom's hometown newspaper about my baptism in Darwen, Lancashire.

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2. I was on my high school's Academic Decathlon team. Even though I'd sometimes skip practice to attend Mike Dukakis events, we won the state competition and went on to the national competition. (I was the second-geekiest girl at my high school.)

As you can see, I was really excited to represent Oregon at nationals.

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3. I was sitting onstage the first time Nirvana played "Smells Like Teen Spirit" at a show.

I reviewed the YouTube clips that are up now and can't positively ID myself in any of them, so you're just going to have to trust me on this. There used to be a YouTube clip of the video shown in the documentary Hype; I can be seen in that one. But it's gone now. Oh, well.

4. In college, I majored in paleoanthropology but spent all my time in the newsroom of the student paper.

Here I am at some college journalism conference in Chicago. The guy on the left was a new pal from the UC Santa Barbara student paper. My companions on the right are now reporters for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and The Seattle Times, respectively. I see them at City Council hearings, where they apologize for not being able to quote me since they know me. Oh, well, again.

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5. I dropped out of college to go work at an expat rag in Prague, and later I lived 75 miles from Chernobyl (where I avoided consuming local mushrooms, berries, fish, and dairy products, but got very familiar with the local beers).

I was pretty sad in the former Soviet bloc. In Prague, I had no money, so I lived in a village that I had to take the 12:05 a.m. train home to every night. Look, 20 minutes to go -- plenty of time to go around posing for artsy black-and-white train station photographs.

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No smiles from me when I was living in the horrible Ukraine, either. Here I am on a weekend trip to Paris, taking a ridiculously lugubrious self-portrait to illustrate how I felt about having to return to corrupt, radioactive commie/mafia land. Woe is me -- no more croissants!

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6. In December 1999, my urban-hipster fin-de-siecle angst / personal existential crisis was so intense that I secretly sort of hoped the Y2K problem would actually happen because I thought it would bring meaning to my life (or at least be an interesting change of pace).

Here's the bartender at the 1201 bar in downtown Portland on New Year's Eve 1999.

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And here I am, pacing my drinking in case the lights really do go out and we all need to hike back to the east side in the dark. That cigarette is pure affectation, by the way.

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7. I stood in the wrong place at the start of my wedding. The maid of honor literally had to push me into position.

I'm in the right place at this point. (You will not see me publishing photos of my mistake, because they're too excruciating.)

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I'd like to blame this on the Scotch that the groom and I had been drinking before the ceremony, but I know that I wasn't really drunk (not yet).

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So whenever I think back on my embarrassment that day, I just remind myself of these two things:

One: We let the guests drink before, during, and after the ceremony. I like to think that they were buzzed enough to be more amused than mortified by my error.

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Two: Though I often brim with self-loathing about the extra pounds that are an inescapable consequence of my abiding love of the Sauvignon Blanc grape (and nachos, and chicken burritos, and cheese plates...), I can say with some confidence that I did not look overly fat on my wedding day.

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And that's what really matters!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Beacon Hill Garden Walk

Today a couple of my new buddies from the neighborhood watch and I went on the first annual Beacon Hill Garden Walk. We made it to 10 out of 25 gardens, some of which are pictured below.

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God bless this man.

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They can see the Starbucks headquarters (see the top of the mermaid's head?).

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Georgetown Old Skool Carnival and Artopia

Yesterday was the Georgetown Old Skool Carnival and Artopia. First we went and got some lunch at Muy Macho in South Park, another south-end neighborhood. Univision was showing La Muerte de un Gallero, a 1970s movie about Spanish cockfighters.

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Then we stop at Crosscut Hardwoods to look at fancy wood before going to Home Depot to pick out 82 10-foot-long 1x2s of clear cedar for the screen we're building in front.

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Another photo of Crosscut. You don't need to see a photo of Home Depot, do you?

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OK, now off to the carnival. We often say that we're within "walking distance" of Georgetown, but we've never actually walked there... until now.

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The carnival is full of weirdos, hurray!

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We're here a little late, so I'm not sure what went on in these booths earlier in the day. (Longtime readers may recognize that fennel, which I've shot twice before.)

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Performance art?

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The previous night at a party we met a drummer who said he'd be performing music as accompaniment to some experimental films at Christoff Gallery. This is it.

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No more performance art or experimental films until we get a beer. Jules Maes is packed.

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OK, now we're ready for more art.

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This is about the time I pass Kathy Nyland, leader of the anti-dump effort (and a million other Georgetown movements), and give her a high-five.

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The old cranky-pants guy who runs this metal shop shoos me away as soon as I take this picture.

"Why?" I ask.

"Because I'm a weird old man," he said. "I don't go around taking pictures of your stuff, and I don't want you taking pictures of mine."

Fair enough. But here's the one photo.

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Nice jacket, dude.

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I start hoping I run into someone I know well enough to bum a ride back up the hill from. But the people we talk to -- a waitress who served us nachos the night before in Ravenna, a woman who hosted a party we went to a month ago -- are not ride-giving types, not like my brother-in-law (hi, C!) or my neighbor-friend-coworker.

Sabey has their work cut out for them in renovating the old Rainier Brewery to fancy condo/office/boutique space, or whatever their plans are.

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These girls are singing and playing guitar outside the Georgetown Brewing space.

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And these girls are collecting money for a squat in Berlin.

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More art.

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I like these cast-vinyl-on-PVC works by Mike Poetzel.

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Here's a picture I took of that last scene a couple months ago.



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The power tool races are packed all evening.

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Throughout the carnival planes buzz past us. This was not taken with a zoom. And in real life, the plane seemed closer than this.

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They were all headed for Boeing Field right next door.

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Time to go home. I understand why people complained so much when I-5 went in, tearing neighborhoods apart. I hate walking over I-5. It's not a "let's go for a walk" walk, you know what I mean?

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And here's the hard part.

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Our next-door neighbor's son has spent the day taking down the laurel hedge. Oh, jeez.

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Before, it was even taller than our hedge. (Here's a photo from a couple months ago.)Now it's nothing.



Not that I have any love for English laurel, but I didn't really want another house in the line of sight from our living room. Oh, well. Maybe this will put a fire under us to do something about the backyard.

Then we're off to Party 2 of 3 for the weekend. Kirsten and Phyllis are there.

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Some people I don't know.

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The host is enjoying his meticulously organized garage.

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I get a beer and start talking to a couple I kind of know. I find out that he worked on the TV show Real People and she worked on the magazine Tiger Beat in the early 1980s.

I ask her if she met Rick Springfield, Ricky Schroeder, Leif Garrett, Scott Baio, and John Stamos.

Her answers were yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes.