Waxing Elegant

Hardy, har, har.  I’m currently reading a book, a PUBLISHED book, wherein the author has used the phrase “hardy laugh” twice and the title phrase of this post once…so far.  I’m waxing eloquent and enjoying a hearty laugh at his expense.  Actually, I think I’m going to give him a pass on the use of waxing elegant instead of eloquent because it would be in character for the narrator/main character of the book to make that kind of gaffe, but the the continual enjoyment of hardy laughter by the characters is a brig to fare.  Spell check is obviously to blame, yet again, for not being able to catch typos that accidentally form other legitimate words, or the misuse of words that sound similar but have completely different spellings and/or meanings.  When are they going to come up with Phrase check?  Or Homonym check?  Or Does this writing make any sense at all check?

Where have all the editors gone, long time passing…

I’m about to jump off that bridge too far, but before I do, may I recommend The Elements of Style by E. B. White? I recommend it to all, not just to the aspiring writers among us, because it’s some of the best writing around about how to write and at the same time some of the best writing around, period.  That’s no easy feat.  E.B. White.  Ahhh.  Some writer.

Read any good books lately?

Postscript: that’s twice for “waxing elegant.”  Maybe it’s a Southern expression?  Could be one of those idioms that pinpoint the geographic region where you learned to talk?  That they might one day use to create a quiz like this.


May I sew…

At the end of April, I went fabric shopping in the LA garment district while attending PatternReview Weekend.  Here is some of the fabric I bought:

LA Fabric

Here are 2 of the 3 tops made from this group so far this month:


CJ V neck top brown abstract

And here are 2 tops from stash fabrics:

mod dots tank

Butterick 6026

This is the only one that’s a new pattern, Butterick 6026 by Katherine Tilton.  Love this pattern.  Made a straight 12, no mods but setting the bias on the armholes a little closer to the edge than called for as some reviewers on PR thought the armholes were big.  It fits and flatters.  I’m wearing it tomorrow with the white crops that are needing to be moved from the washer to the dryer, RIGHT NOW.  But before I go…

Also made a hooded après swim robe for the 2 1/2 year-old in my life, DGS.  He selected the fabric himself.  Go Giants:


And while I was at all this sewing, I managed to make it through much of the Wool series of post-apocalyptic sci-fi novels by Hugh Howey.  Admittedly they are short and quick reads.  One of the better entries in that genre.  Thanks to DS for recommending the series.


This year I somehow managed to get a few more illustrations done in the spring section of the Nature Poetry book.  This first page was done a while back in Three Rivers, if not in a covert then certainly in a meadow after walking over a clear stream strewn with mossy stones.   And there were birds singing.  2 out of 3 spring-ish poetic allusions covered, not bad.  Unlike Christina Rossetti, I am averse to sitting in coverts and lingering near mossy-stone stream beds with the ticks, mites, fleas and mosquitos.  Decidedly unpoetic of me, I know.

Nature Poetry illustration 2


The second is of our olive trees in bloom.  There will not be follow-up illustrations depicting the development of the fruit since we (again, most unpoetically) sprayed the trees shortly after I finished the drawing below to prevent a crop from setting.

Nature Poetry Illustration 3

Like most commercial orchard crops, olives grown in a backyard are not properly cared for to produce anything that will rival what a pro who knows how to control the critical variables can grow, but that doesn’t mean the crop won’t be abundant and cause no end of nastiness come fall.  If you want to press olive oil, you must withhold water for 3 weeks prior to harvest.  I expect some similar admonition applies if you are trying to create olives with interesting flavor profiles for curing whole.  Well, the rest of your landscape would not appreciate the stress this watering strategy causes and your HOA association might call on you to make sure you are not neglecting your landscape in violation of the CC and R’s.  So, no olives are to follow the bloom.

Many years ago, I had an old olive tree situated between my garage and the adjacent orchard that must have been treated with just the right amount of benign neglect because come fall, the elderly Armenian ladies I didn’t even know would come knocking at my door toting buckets and asking to collect the olives from my tree.  Silly me, I didn’t even think to request a lesson in the processing of olives from them back then and now, of course, they are all gone and their descendants never learned the fine art of home curing olives.  There just might be a poem hiding in that situation.

Any road, the olive drawing really belongs thematically (for me) to the poem on the facing page where it would not fit visually:  In a Spring Still Not Written Of, by Robert Wallace.  So, at “double nickels,” I guess I have become one of those he mentions who has time for poems that really are not written for me, sigh.

Why do I refer to these illustrations I’m doing here as “cartooning?”  One of my instructors in the Filoli Botanical Illustration Certificate Program refers to the linework in drawings like these as “cartoon lines” in a very dismissive way and points them out as something to avoid at all costs.  That certainly doesn’t stop me from doing work in this style of colored drawing I enjoy so immensely, it only stops me from showing any of the work to them, ever again.


Now that summer is here and there are no chorus rehearsals to prepare for and no tennis matches to recover from, I have gotten a chance to read a couple of books and watch some movies.  I’ve read We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves  and The Magician’s Assistant recently and enjoyed both but if I had to choose one I’d give the nod to the second choice.  I would say this book could be described as elegiac, and I’d made up my mind that I’d turn and run from any book that had that word used to describe it after reading The Sea by John Banville, which won the Man Booker Prize and is described on Amazon as “luminous” as well as elegiac.  Three strikes against! I read that book for a group discussion and there was 100% agreement that The Sea was one of the most boring books we’d read.  It’s right up there with A Sport of Nature by Nadine Gordimer which we’d read many years previously and held up ever since as the standard bearer of painfully boring books by award-winning authors.  Sport of Nature was the book for my first meeting and I naively thought at the time that when you committed to a book group it meant you were committing to the reading of the selected book each month in its entirety, period.  I got to the meeting and found out no one else had bothered to finish the book.  I still believe if you join a book group you should read the book or not go to the meeting.   

What Ann Patchett has done here with The Magician’s Assistant is nothing less than sleight of pen.  Yes, it’s about grief and loss and wallowing, but it’s also about the magic of love, whenever and wherever it can be found.  I read all the one star reviews on Amazon and find some of the complaints about the book valid but still, there is something about it that satisfies, even though I agree with the 1-star reviewer who found  him/herself saying, “Huh?” at the puzzling end.  Maybe I was just grateful I’d made it to the end and the book hadn’t devolved into the wrenching violence I kept expecting from reading all those Oprah books back in the Book Group days.  They all had at least one episode of horrific violence which often felt like it was dropped into the book arbitrarily and for the sole purpose of getting Oprah’s attention and therefore selling lots more books.  The worst offender for me in that category was Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts in which (major spoiler alert if you haven’t read it) a very minor child character was brutally raped by an even more minor character in the book and then never mind and on we go with the rest of the story.  Yes, there is violence in this current book, but it makes sense within the context of the story and serves a purpose in driving the plot.  Yes, I get it that extreme violence happens to unsuspecting innocent people all the time and it makes no sense.  That’s why they call it senseless.  There’s plenty of it to go around in real life, I don’t want it in my books.

The other book, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is a good read too, and I suspect most people will find it more to their liking.  I read it.  I liked it.  I just wasn’t affected by it in the same way.  I think Patchett’s prose just carries me along effortlessly.  I found myself stopping and noticing the effort behind the prose more in Fowler’s writing.  Also, I guess I’d rather have a bit of, “Huh?” at the end of a serious book than a sweetly tied bow.  Just me surprising myself.

Movies:  “It’s Kind of a Funny Story” and “Sweet Land.”  Both good in their own way.  So nice to have a breather from the blockbusters and all their noisy explosions.  Sweet. Sad.  Funny.  Moving.  Satisfying.  Small films with big hearts.  Thanks for the recommendations Netflix.  Your algorithms are working.

Puppy Love Scrubs

Long ago I decided I would never “take in sewing” for money. This has allowed me though the years to take on only projects I want to do for people I care about and is no doubt why I still like to sew.

Here’s a fun example: a scrub top for someone dear to me who works in a veterinary clinic and has to wear scrubs every day.

There are so many cute animal fabrics to choose from it was hard to decide, but this one was sui generis, my phrase of the week, lifted from a biography of Winslow Homer.

How many times will I have to use it to cement it in my vocabulary? Sui generis: peerless, without equal, just like the recipient of the scrubs, in fact!