Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Reads

I love a good ghost story. I even have a few stories of my own. So, while other bloggers will be showing you their Halloween costumes today, I'm going to be a nerd (nothing new there) and share some Halloween themed reading. And don't worry, that sound you heard was probably just the wind... Probably.

Starting at the top of the pile:

The Witches of Worm by Zilpha Keatly Snyder: Scared the crap out of me-- in the best way-- when I was a kid.
The Shining by Stephen King: Come on, it's a classic.
Turn of the Screw by Henry James: Ghosts and child abuse, both very scary.
The Haunted Looking Glass stories collected by Edward Gorey: Includes short stories by authors you never knew liked ghosts stories.
The Ghost Stories of Edith Warton: A good ghost story is scary when it's ambiguous. Over explain the plot points and all the mystery is gone. Warton's ghost stories don't have that problem.
The Tell Tale Heart and Other Writings by Edgar Allen Poe: Do I even need to explain this one?
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson: Shirley Jackson is a genius in my opinion. What makes her stories and novels scary is the implication that it is not the ghosts that are evil, but our own broken psyches.
Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link: Please, please read Kelly Link. She is amazing.
The Dark Thirty: Southern Tales of the Supernatural by Patricia McKissack: Another one that scared me as a kid.
Tales of Terror collected by Alfred Hitchcock: Some (ok, most) of the stories in this collection are pretty cheesy, but it's still a ton of fun to read.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Curious about Corvids

When I was little, my mother always warned me to never chase or tease crows because crows remember you. I think my mom's superstition came more from folklore and general proximity to crows and their behavior than from anything else. As it turns out though, crows do remember you, and apparently they have a pretty long memory. Right now I'm reading Gifts of the Crow, a fascinating look at the behavior and brain function of corvids (crows, ravens, magpies, and jays). It talks about how the corvid brain can to do many of the things ape (including human) brains can do, but arrived there by a different evolutionary track. Corvids use tools, solve problems and, yes, form memories.

Maybe it was my mom telling me to watch out for those crows when I was young, but I developed a preoccupation with crows and their behavior and my library grew to reflect that. Here are a few of my favorites.

Gifts of the Crow, by John Marzluff and Tony Angell: Has a lot of very informative and entertaining anecdotes about corvid behavior. Parts of it explain the evolution and functions of the brain, which can be little hard to get through if you don't know much about neurobiology, but I don't think anything is lost if you skim through those parts.
Crow Planet, by Lyanda Lynn Haupt : More crow behavior and observational stories
Mind of the Raven, by Bernd Heinrich: Observations of raven behavior in the wild and in captivity
Arabel's Raven series, by Joan Aiken: A very cute and funny series of children's books about a girl named Arabel and her mischievous pet raven, Mortimer. Not a lot of science in these, but lots of funny raven behavior.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Backyard texture

The overcast skies of fall act like a giant light diffuser and familiar things in my back yard take on textures I never noticed before.

Friday, October 19, 2012


Apparently at some point in 2009 (which was kind of a black hole year for me, let's not talk about it) I joined Ravelry. I don't remember doing this, nor do I remember why I signed up and then never did anything with it. Nevertheless, it sat there dormant for three years until the other night I had the brilliant idea to join Ravelry. So, I guess the point is I'm on Ravelry and if you are too, we should be friends.

My user name is JuneKelly. Click the photos below to go to the project page. You know, if you feel like it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Discovery Park

This guy swooped in about six feet from our faces and hung out on some power lines looking regal and posing for photos for a while.

Discovery Park used to be a naval base, but now it's a beautiful, at times over-grown, park full of trails and clusters of old military buildings. It's very easy to forget you're still in Seattle city limits while you're here.  A couple of years ago, they had to shut the park off to visitors for a little while because there was a cougar lose in the park (cue the jokes about hiding your teenage sons). This was a problem because, even though Discovery Park isn't smack in the middle of downtown or anything, it is right next to a populated residential area. Seattle is unique that way. You can be in the middle of a forest and still, technically, be in the city.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Return of Handmade Style

I don't think I spent any time in front of the sewing machine or with knitting needles in my hand for the whole summer, but as soon as people started talking about pumpkin spice lattes, it's like an instinct kicked in and the knitting needles started clacking again. This scarf was based on this pattern. I changed it by making it wider, and making the wedges slightly bigger. I also added some button holes at the end, so I could wear it like a cowl. I sincerely hope this giant cowl trend stays around for a while because I love them. I know some people don't agree and think they look silly, but I don't care, I say make 'em even bigger and fluffier.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Modern Enlightenment

Modern Enlightenment 
 SZ (Süddeutsche Zeitung) #8 Spring 2012Photography: Ola Rindal
Models: Johanna Fosselius and Luisa Bianchin
Styling: AÏcha Reguieg

Beautiful gingers and beautiful light

Images via here

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Do you know the story of Vivian Maier?

It's pretty incredible. She took thousands of photographs, but she was the only one who saw them during her lifetime. She was never published and never turned professional, she never shared her photos with anyone. Eventually, a forgotten storage locker full of her negatives was auctioned off, seemingly lost forever. In 2007 a man named John Maloof found her negatives at a thrift auction and has been bringing her amazing work to the public eye ever since. Please go here and read more about this incredible woman and her story.

Maier was never formally trained, but she documented what she saw on the streets of New York and Chicago from the 50s through the late 90s. She had an amazing ability to reveal the vulnerability, pride, and beauty of her subjects, and capture truly unique moments.
August 11, 1954, New York, NY

Undated, New York, NY
 Undated, New York, NY
 January 1953, New York, NY

 Undated, New York, NY
 Untitled, Undated
 Undated, Chicago, IL
 Undated, Vancouver, Canada
 Undated, Chicago, IL
August 22, 1956, Chicago, IL 
September 30, 1956, New York, NY

May 16, 1957, Chicago, IL

EDIT: There is a new book just published with more of her photos called Vivian Maier: Out of the Shadows here's an article about it with some of the new photos

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

DIY: Leaf and Flower Press

It's DIY tutorial time again! The last one I posted ended up being the second most popular post I've ever done on Intrepid Hermit (the most popular post has always been this one. I have no idea why) so I'm excited for this one.

Originally I planned to do this in spring when all the flowers were blooming, but fall is also a great time  to make a flower press because you can grab all the newly fallen leaves and try to preserve all their gorgeous color. As you can probably tell from my blog design, I love to press leaves. My neighborhood is full of trees and every time I walk anywhere I end up coming home with a fistful of colorful leaves. Nature! Last year I put them all to good use while making this, this year I'll have to think of something new to make with all of them.

There are a lot of flower press tutorials out there on the interwebz, so feel free to use mine more as guidelines rather than instructions. Most of the time when I'm making stuff I'm winging it, and then I go back and figure out what I should have done before I post it as a DIY.

So here's what you'll need:

2 wood plaques of the same size (the cheap kind you can find in craft stores for like $1.50)
4 three inch bolts
4 washers
4 wing nuts
(it took me a quite a bit of staring at the wall full of screws and bolts in Home Depot before I found the right combination of hardware. I believe the size I ended up going with was 10)
corrugated cardboard
a thick, acid free, absorbent paper (like watercolor paper)
a drill

On the two plaques, measure out where you want to drill your holes. Remember the old saying "measure twice cut once" or in this case drill once. Where you chose to drill the holes will depend on the size and shape of the plaque you're using.

Cut 4 sheets of the corrugated cardboard and 10 sheets of the paper (you can do more or less. Just remember you need two sheets of paper for each sheet of cardboard, plus two sheets of paper for each end). Make sure you cut them slightly smaller than the plaques. I recommend using corrugated cardboard because it gives a little so that when you tighten the two sides of your press, your leaves/flowers will be gently pressed instead of smashed.

You can either cut the paper and cardboard so it fits between where the bolts will come through, or you can drill holes through the entire stack like I did.

Stack the paper and cardboard following this pattern: 2 sheets of paper, 1 cardboard, 2 sheets of paper, 1 cardboard, etc.

If you want you can decorate the plaques. I decorated mine using this image transfer method. To be honest, my decorating idea seemed a lot better in my head. I might go back and change it later.

Finally, attach the hardware. Thread the bolt through the washer, then through the front plaque, then through the paper and cardboard, then through the back plaque. Lastly, screw the wing nut on the bolts and tighten (but not too tight, remember you want to press, not smash)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Hey nerd

My computer crapping out on me this summer was a bummer and a big inconvenience, but it gave me the free time to plow 
through a pile of summer reading like I haven't since I was in high school. Here are a few highlights.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Sweater weather

I feel an approaching wave of domesticity coming on. Which must mean that fall has officially arrived. Though the weather is still in the upper 70s without a rain cloud in sight, the other day my fingers were itching to start a knitting project. Also, cooking chicken noodle soup from scratch and baking my own bread started to sound like a really good idea (never mind that I would have to clean all the dirty dishes off the counter in my tiny kitchen before I even started). I don't know what it is about fall, maybe because the days are shorter and more time is spent inside, but all of the sudden a pile of yarn, a mug of coffee, and Downton on DVD sounds likes luxury to me.

I'm almost done making a scarf, so I am currently auditioning ideas for the next project. By auditioning I mean spending way too much time looking for knitting patterns online.

The Berroco website usually has a good selection of free patterns, but it's also nice to support independent designers. I've been following designers like Ysolda Teague and Andi Satterlund for a while, their patterns are always beautiful and a little bit whimsical. Knitty is also has great place to find free patterns from independent designers.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

DIY Inspiration: Mary Tyler Moore Show

I am officially declaring it impossible to watch an episode of the Mary Tyler Moore Show and not feel just a little bit better about the world. Is anybody on that show not completely lovable despite--or more likely because of--their flaws? Warm fuzzies all over the place for real.

Of course I don't need to say anything about how iconic the opening sequence is (you probably started singing the theme song to yourself as soon as I mentioned the Mary Tyler Moore Show) it contains the most famous hat toss ever executed. I was watching an episode the other night, and I realized that I could probably totally make that hat.

Of course after it's done I will be obligated to run around spinning and tossing it in to the air like an idiot because that's what you have to do if you're wearing a Mary Tyler Moore hat.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The bees

Seattle summers are the perfect climate for growing lavender. The patch of lavender in my front yard practically exploded into life earlier in the season and the yard was full of happy bees all summer long.

If you're paying attention, you know the bees are disappearing and you know what dire results it would mean for us and our food supply if they disappeared completely. I know little patches of flowers in yards isn't going to solve such a huge problem, but seeing them there helps me to stay mindful of the things we need to change and grateful that there's still time to change them.