Monthly Archives: April 2010

In Pursuit of Perfection

Finian, the man who helped us reclaim our house one board, post hole, retaining wall, and joist at a time, had a thing for great turns of phrase.  He would sing as he worked, swinging his hammer in rhythm to Helen Reddy.  There’s nothing like hearing an Irishman’s brogue warbling “I am woman, hear me roar.” One of my favorite Finian phrases would pop up when he had measured twice, cut precisely, and watched as the board or piece of sheet rock or whatever material slid right into place.  “Perfect,” his helper would say, and he’d reply, “Well, perfect will have to do.”

Perfection with building materials is rather straightforward.  Either it fits, or it doesn’t.  And if it doesn’t, and you force it, like those ridiculous IKEA instructions, something is going to break.  But with other things, it is not so easy to decide what is perfection.

I have been having this issue with the cover of my book.

I thought I was done.  I had carefully moved thing around, edging this piece of type up a smidge, or changing the color of that piece of type from latte-colored chocolate to espresso-colored chocolate.  Things got bigger.  They got smaller. They moved around.  It is enough to drive you crazy sometimes, but you hope that by the end you’ve come up with something good.  So I sent the cover off to Hong Kong and I got the proof back.  But it wasn’t perfect.  I knew I liked it … pretty much … but there was something that bugged me.  It was only after folding it onto the dummy book that I realized the chocolate color just wasn’t right for the type, and what WAS I thinking to make the headline type so huge, and it was too close to the edge.

I had to call the printer, tell them to stop work on the cover, and prepare for a new file.  In reality, they don’t care a whip.  They charge for any changes you make, and the slow down of the schedule due to your changes is very clear.  So why was it so hard to make that call?  Why did I think they (and this is so embarrassing to admit) wouldn’t like me as much if I became that kind of client who changed her mind all the time.  You know the type.  Demanding.

Why do I care?


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Stacking Up

Little dead sea urchins from the bottom of the sea.

I can’t get over how lovely they are.  They show the perfection of nature’s graphic design at work.

I wrapped them in tissue paper and said a prayer that they would make it the 17 hours of travel time back to my house.  They did.

They are, hands down, better than any t-shirt or other island item that I could buy.  But are they not just more stuff?  What is it about humans that we like to collect and possess things?  Might they not have done more on the sea bed?  Should I have left them as a home for some little critter?



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My Son, The Fashionista

The first thing said to Hans when he walked into his new school was, “Why are you wearing your pajamas?”

He wasn’t, of course.  He was wearing jeans.  Extra skinny Levis jeans.  That just happened to be plaid.

This stuck me as particularly funny, as Hans had originally chosen his canary yellow jeans for his First Day Outfit.  They used to be even more bright yellow, but somehow the family Laundress had mistakenly thrown them into a batch of whites that were being highly bleached due to some particularly nasty stains.  (Note:  turmeric is a bitch to get out of white clothes.)  Instead of being angry, he admitted they had gotten “even more cool.”

Even so, I thought that bright yellow jeans with bleach blotches might not be the way Hans wanted to make his grand entrance.  I was scared that perhaps kids might think he was weird.  So I told him that bleach-spotted jeans were too trashed looking for day one, and so he pulled out the plaid pair.

“Wow,” I said.  “Now those are much more subtle.”

“Mom,” he fired back, stretching the word out and bending it around his raised eyebrows, “it’s ok.  It’s fine. They’re plaid.”

They day I found the pair that looked like someone had gone mad with a Sharpie, I knew I had found the best Christmas present ever.  The Internet is basically the only way to go to find extra skinny Levi’s 505 jeans, although Tilly’s had the red ones on sale at Christmas time.  Sometimes you can find them at  We found the black and white checked pair in a ridiculously expensive clothing store in Amsterdam. They are two sizes too big, but Hans didn’t care.  They were marked down to $5 US, and they are made by a company called Cheap Monday that has a bunch of Right Wing Christian fundamentalists all up in arms because they have a skull and crossbones on their logo.  The green pair are also from Amsterdam, from a Dutch company called Scotch & Soda.

Some days when Hans puts together his outfits, I have to just sit back and smile.  I’ve tried to talk about using a light hand when it comes to color and pattern.  You know, dark black jeans with a bright purple top is great.  Or polka dot sweatshirt and lime green pants are great, just leave the black and white checked hat off.  But for Hans, it’s all about color and texture and ACTION.  If he could wear nothing but graffiti, he would. For him, stripes and checks and dots DO all go together, and some days, they don’t look half bad.

Until you are an adult looking back on your choices.  And you wonder what the heck your mother was thinking, letting you out of the house like that.


Filed under Silly things

Signs From Above

Sometimes things just line up perfectly.

I was walking up an unending hill yesterday, talking to myself about the plans for my future (actually interviewing myself about my kids book).  It felt good to be somewhere very very green, as Bequia was so very brown and dry.  Roxy, my dog, was happy to be out, and although I had made one “hail mary” call to a local girlfriend to join me last minute, I actually was appreciative of the solitude.

Of course, if anyone could see me, I looked like a lunatic talking to myself.

So there I was, huffing and puffing up the hill, all the way to the top, where I get a great view of my town and beyond.  Beautiful.  Satisfying.  I had said all the things I wanted to say to myself.  But it wasn’t until I turned around, started back down, and rounded a corner that I was met, full face on with the most glorious CLOSE and PERFECT end-to-end rainbow I think I’ve ever seen.

It was a big ‘ol cosmic HELL YA SISTER!   KEEP ON TRUCKIN’.

At least, that’s how I interpreted it.

And I even laughed out loud.  Because it was that perfect.  And I stayed there looking at this thing of beauty even after it started to rain, pretty hard on me.  Because, you know, when the cosmos is talking, you can’t start walking.

Sunshine and rain, that’s all we need.

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Work Less

Hmmm.  The front of this shirt says “Sail More.”

Our friends will be working not at all this upcoming week, thanks to a volcano is Iceland.  How’s that for globalization?  Their British Air flight was cancelled, and the soonest they could get rebooked was a week from now.  So suddenly their 2 week vacation morphed into a three-week vacation, and, as their youngest daughter Abi said, “And nobody is hurt and nothing bad has really happened.”  Indeed.

Family Glader skidded back into Mill Valley late Saturday night, and will endeavor to hold on to the essence of the Caribbean for as long as we can.  That will be profoundly difficult for Anders, who had to put on shoes (imagine!) and fly off to Portland this morning for strategy meetings with his new company.   Last year, he couldn’t concentrate for more than a few hours at a time when we came back, and this year will certainly be no easier.  Perhaps I should put a bit of Amos’ famous rum punch that we brought back with us in a thermos for him, to help buoy his spirits.

I am so relaxed I think I’m a bit of a danger on the road.

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Buzz Buzz Buzz 2

Rum and Ginger with Lime Haiku

A cold wet surprise.

The lime looks like a wee whale

Swimming in my ice.

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Buzz Buzz Buzz

Rum Punch Haiku

Color of sunset.

Swimming nutmeg right on top.

My, the ice melts fast.

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