Kitchen Is Done!

Filed under: Personal — Administrator at 2:36 pm on Monday, December 19, 2016

We have successfully remodeled our kitchen.

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This is something we’ve wanted to do for nine years, since moving into this house in 2007.

Here’s what the kitchen used to look like:

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As you can see, the kitchen that came with the house was probably 50 years old. It was dingy and needed to go.

I mentioned in this post how difficult it is to tear out your kitchen and put another one in. At one point, the kitchen looked like this.

We had people install the cabinets and counters, but we did everything else, including painting, plumbing, electricity, and tiling the backsplash behind the stove.

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One day in an antique store we ran into a vintage tile mural of Don Quixote fighting a windmill. It was hand-painted from Spain. I knew right away I wanted it for behind the stove.

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Up close:

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Now the house is 90% remodeled.

Nine. Years. Later.

Whew.

Superstition Review: On Sondheim and Whether Lyrics Are Poetry

Filed under: Joy's Work — Administrator at 12:27 pm on Monday, December 19, 2016

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Over at the Superstition Review, check out my essay On Sondheim and Whether Lyrics Are Poetry.

I wrote about why I don’t think Bob Dylan should have won a Nobel Prize in Literature, using Sondheim–another great storyteller through lyrics and music–as an example. An excerpt:

When people equate lyric writing with poetry, they’re often trying to express how meaningful they found a song. The word “poetry” is associated with depth, so to call something poetic is to say it’s beautiful, eloquent, or profound. Thus, songwriters who are adept at language are called poets despite the fact that they aren’t actually writing poetry.

But to say that lyrics and poetry are the same is to discount the role music plays in a song. Song lyrics, no matter how lovely, are meant to work with music. When you separate one from the other, you’re getting only part of a whole. On the other hand, a poem, as poet Paul Muldoon said, “brings its own music with it.”

READ THE REST HERE.

Yellowstone National Park Part 2

Filed under: Personal — Administrator at 7:36 am on Thursday, December 15, 2016

Here’s more from our trip to Yellowstone National Park. See Part 1 Here.

Yellowstone is the Earth’s largest active geyser field.

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We’ve all heard of Old Faithful Geyser, but it is one of hundreds of geysers in Yellowstone. There are so many that the landscape steams with them.

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It rained for part of our trip, so many of my geyser pictures didn’t turn out, but they are quite a sight. Some look like the mouth of a dragon. Some look like bubbling mud puddles. Some shoot water hundreds of feet into the air.

My favorite was the Grand Prismatic Spring. Here’s a picture of it from the air:

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Because of the fall weather, we didn’t see that version of Grand Prismatic Spring, but what we did see was fascinating. The colors in the spring are caused by heat-loving bacteria. As such, each area is a different color and pattern, often reminding me of stained glass.

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I have to stop myself from posting more pictures. I mean, the mud looked like this.

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And this.

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I would definitely go back to Yellowstone. We barely scratched the surface of what there is to see there.

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Ominous witch cloud bringing the rain.

Today I’m 40 Years Old

Filed under: Personal — Administrator at 10:50 am on Wednesday, December 14, 2016

It’s weird–Awful? Irritating?–to say that I’m 40 today.

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Eh, what are you going to do?

Yellowstone National Park Part 1

Filed under: Personal — Administrator at 11:31 am on Tuesday, December 13, 2016

In October, Kyle, Gideon, and I went on an RV trip. We rented a Cruise America RV and drove over 3,000 miles through Nevada, Idaho, Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, Glacier National Park in Montana, Seattle, Vancouver BC, and Portland, Oregon. Here’s the route:

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The RV looked like this:

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We covered a lot of the country, but the highlight of the trip was Yellowstone.

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For one thing, the park has the best wildlife viewing I’ve ever experienced. On this trip, we saw buffalo, elk, coyotes, antelopes, deer, chipmunks, bald eagles, and big horn sheep. Most of these were in Yellowstone.

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At one point, a huge herd of buffalo crossed the road right in front of us. The bulls sounded like bears growling.

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Speaking of bears, there were signs of them everywhere. For example, these claw marks:

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Yellowstone has a varied landscape that includes forests, waterfalls, plains, a huge lake, and even its own Grand Canyon.

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Because of all the volcanic activity, the earth was all kinds of cool colors, red, pink, yellow, orange.

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The fall foliage was colorful too.

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And of course there were the geysers. PART 2 HERE.

Essay: The Joy and Frustration of 3D Printing Your Kids’ Toys

Filed under: Joy's Work — Administrator at 12:15 pm on Wednesday, November 30, 2016

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I have an essay on Parent.co today! It’s about 3D printing, something I talk about a lot on here. In particular, it’s about 3D printing toys for our son Gideon. Right now, we’re printing him stocking stuffers for Christmas.

Here’s more about that: Read The Joy and Frustration of 3D Printing Your Kids’ Toys

Book Review: Moonglow By Michael Chabon

Filed under: Joy's Work — Administrator at 12:04 pm on Wednesday, November 30, 2016

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Check out my review of Michael Chabon’s elegantly structured novel Moonglow on KQED.

Article: How Reality TV Made Donald Trump

Filed under: Joy's Work — Administrator at 11:14 am on Friday, November 18, 2016

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I have an op-ed up on Vice! Check out How Reality TV Made Donald Trump President.

A sample:

We should learn from this election. It’s imperative that we look at who and what we’re elevating in the form of harmless entertainment. Even when television seems silly and trite, the images and messages it sends to viewers are influential. We need to question whether we want the entertainment we put on TV to become, over time, mirrors of our society as a whole. I, for one, don’t want to live in a nation of Real Housewives.

More Here.

Wildacres Writing Residency

Filed under: Personal — Administrator at 9:00 am on Friday, October 28, 2016

In September, I attended a writing residency at Wildacres Retreat in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It was a terrific experience. I can’t say enough about Wildacres and the people who run it. They help all kinds of artists by giving them the gift of time and peace to work, which is valuable and important work.

For my residency, I got to stay in a cabin and write for a week. There was no Internet, cell phone, or distractions. I wasn’t sure if I would like that. I imagined being lonely and restless, but I was delighted to find that I’m a natural hermit. In fact, half the time I didn’t even leave the cabin to go to meals. (Don’t worry–I stopped at a grocery store on the way there.)

Here’s the outside of the cabin:

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The inside had a full kitchen, a king-sized bed, and a table where I spent most of my time working:

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I also worked on the deck until I figured out that North Carolina bugs really like to bite me.

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It was inspiring to be in a forest, especially since my book is set in a forest. I saw so many animals while there. I saw a bear, first of all. (I was in my car.) I saw a doe and a fawn. I saw tiny owls, butterflies that looked like fall leaves, lizards with blue tails, and the strangest spider ever, the Arrowshaped Micrathena.

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The Blue Ridge Mountains is one of the most beautiful places in the United States and I plan to keep going back. While at Wildacre, I took tons of pictures of the Blue Ridge Parkway, all while singing this song to myself.

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Book Review: The Mothers by Brit Bennett

Filed under: Joy's Work — Administrator at 9:33 am on Monday, October 24, 2016

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I have a new book review up on KQED. This time I’m looking at The Mothers, a debut novel by Brit Bennett. Check it out here!

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