Pardon my dust, this website is moving! See you over at ElizabethU.com :)

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For months I’ve been psyching myself up to consolidate my two websites, and have finally started moving everything over to the soon-to-be-new-and-improved ElizabethÜ.com.

In classic Elizabeth fashion, I’ve made a bit of a mess in my haste to make it happen, and it’s looking like things are going to be a bit messy while I figure out how to clean them up again. Not all links are working properly, for instance. Lots of work to do still. Exciting times!

Thanks for bearing with me, and I’d love it if you’d sign up for my e-newsletter so that I can keep you posted once things are settled 🙂

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Clear as mud: Black Willow, Mississippi Mud, and FBI informants

LomaScott very rarely plays songs more than once in a sitting, so the fact that we’ve now listened to Loma‘s Black Willow six times in a row is no small endorsement. I agree: it’s infectiously beautiful, darkly haunting, the lyrics are provocative… definitely worth playing over and over, and there’s something about the album cover art, too.

I finally decided to look for a video and Lo, not only does one exist, it’s in a similar vein as the ones I have posted twice before:

And the plot thickens! The video’s first comment on YouTube is from (actor, producer, and writer) Daniel Martine, who points out that the song sounds eerily similar to a song called “Mississippi Mud,” a Black Blood and the Chocolate Pickles song with a grim history:

In his comment to the Black Willow video, Daniel continues:

The story is about the death of black students who protesting [sic] at Jackson State in Mississippi in ’70. Not long after Kent State shootings happened. But it didn’t get the press of Kent State, because they were black students.

I can google up no evidence that Loma may have meant Black Willow to be a straight up homage to the song and/or a rememberance of the events that took place at Jackson State, not to mention the inequality of the response thereafter compared to shootings of white students. But I could understand that the band could have gone there Continue reading

Life is Magic, Where is My Rabbit?

I’ve been playing Fraser Ross nonstop the last couple days. Scott figured out that he’ll be playing a house concert in our old neighborhood next week AND there were still tickets available, so I’m very excited about that.

The whole album is rich and melancholic and lovely and there are more upbeat, fun moments as well, which remind me a bit of parts of the Farallons’ Outer Sun Sets EP.

If you want a quick taster, here’s one that makes me want to jump around:

 

Watch Cold War on a big screen

ColdWar Though we missed most of the New Zealand International Film Festival because of our trip to Maine, we did catch Pawel Pawlikowski’s Cold War on closing night. I loved it even more than Ida (every shot in both is composed like a photograph I’d want to spend time in front of at a museum) because of the music. Highly recommend you see these in a theater if you can!

Book review: Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

OliveKitteridgeWe were going to be visiting Scott’s family in Maine and I’d never been there before, so I wanted to read something that was set in that state; Scott did a bit of research and suggested Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge. Extra points for a Maine novel written by a Maine author!

This book reminded me of:

I kept thinking back to Anne Tyler (Ladder of Years especially, not that I can remember a single detail other than how the book made me feel) and Alice Munro’s Still Life in terms of the female character’s experiences. Alice Munro again because the novel is a collection of short stories that could very well stand on their own. And Wendell Berry because of Strout’s choice to illuminate one small town through the eyes of several very different inhabitants and their very different stories… though to be fair, I think Strout covers a lot more ground in terms of humanizing a wider range of characters and situations.

This book got me thinking about:

…the many different ways aging relationships can go.
Apparently I had unconsciously assumed a very narrow spectrum of feelings and/or options available to people that had been in a relationship for decades, because I was very pleasantly surprised by the number of representations in this book.

…the fraught nature of parent/child relationships.
So many of the characters and scenarios reminded me of just-slightly-more-extreme versions of people and relationships in my own life Continue reading

I want to talk to someone about Wendell Berry

LoadingBrushI love Wendell Berry. I think I’ve read more of his books than any other author’s. I’ve had the honor of seeing him speak on three different occasions. When he came and spoke to a rapt crowd at a packed barn in my (then) small town, I was thrilled that he signed my post-it-note-laden, cover-is-delaminating, I-recommend-it-to-everyone-who-expresses-an-interest copy of The Art of the Commonplace. I have had nothing but massive respect for the man and (most of) what he stands for.

With that context in mind, it kills me to admit any crack in my admiration for Mr. Berry. Now that I’ve started examining that crack, however, I’m realizing that I’ve had a few misgivings all along. This has sparked a familiar sort of grief: the grief that comes from removing someone from a pedestal I had them on.

In the first essay in The Art of Loading Brush (Counterpoint, 2017), “The Thought of Limits in a Prodigal Age,” Mr. Berry repeatedly compares screen addiction to drug addiction, but worse “because it wears the aura of technological progress and social approval.” Continue reading

Aimless Love: a poem by Billy Collins

Aimless Love
by Billy Collins

This morning as I walked along the lake shore,
I fell in love with a wren
and later in the day with a mouse
the cat had dropped under the dining room table.

In the shadows of an autumn evening,
I fell for a seamstress
still at her machine in the tailor’s window,
and later for a bowl of broth,
steam rising like smoke from a naval battle.

This is the best kind of love, I thought,
without recompense, without gifts,
or unkind words, without suspicion,
or silence on the telephone.

The love of the chestnut,
the jazz cap and one hand on the wheel.

No lust, no slam of the door—
the love of the miniature orange tree,
the clean white shirt, the hot evening shower,
the highway that cuts across Florida.

No waiting, no huffiness, or rancor—
just a twinge every now and then

for the wren who had built her nest
on a low branch overhanging the water
and for the dead mouse,
still dressed in its light brown suit.

But my heart is always propped up
in a field on its tripod,
ready for the next arrow.

After I carried the mouse by the tail
to a pile of leaves in the woods,
I found myself standing at the bathroom sink
gazing down affectionately at the soap,

so patient and soluble,
so at home in its pale green soap dish.
I could feel myself falling again
as I felt its turning in my wet hands
and caught the scent of lavender and stone.

Original source: Billy Collins, Nine Horses, Pan Macmillan and Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2003, accessed via Pan Macmillan on 9 August 2018. Continue reading

Dean Fidelman finally getting the kind of attention he deserves (and not only for StoneNudes)

I met photographer Dean Fidelman while living in Yosemite National Park in 1999, and for years I invested everything I had—physically, energetically, spiritually, and financially—into his StoneNudes project. This attempt to build a something that would financially support a complete immersion into art, nature, community collaboration, social activism, and a life well-lived sparked a sense of purpose I’ve been both refining and expanding ever since. Though I ultimately chose to distance myself from the always-fraught business side of StoneNudes, Dean and I have remained very close friends and artistic collaborators.

Climbing podcast Enormocast recently published not one but two entire episodes’ worth of an interview with Dean (here’s Part 1 and here’s Part 2), and they’re fantastic. As someone who came of age listening to climbers’ yarns around Yosemite campfires, and who regularly groans at the media’s lazy sensationalization of Dean’s work, I have to say that it is a rare treat to hear the man himself explain, at length and very eloquently, why he does the work he does.

All other accounts leave out what I believe are the most important elements of his story: his deep appreciation for his mentors, his community (including those who have left us), the places that inspire his work, his commitment to giving back, and the reality of what it’s like to walk in his shoes… the mismatched shoes of our deceased friend Sean, as the case happens be.

This year marks the 20th and final edition of the StoneNudes Calendar, and I’m thrilled that Dean’s Kickstarter campaign is doing so well! Continue reading

Botox for butts (and other fancy GI health tips)

ToiletGirl.jpg

Scott found this photo tucked into a used book at Green Apple Books and I love it.

One of the changes I’ve had to get used to upon moving to New Zealand is that medical offices exhibit very little of the American paranoia around client privacy. And so, in addition to things like Doctor Sam asking Scott whether we’d gone on the hikes he’d recommended to me during my last visit and our dentist giving Scott shit about the fact that I am long overdue for a cleaning, everyone in the waiting room at the gastroenterologist’s office got to hear about my upcoming colonoscopy.

I won’t go into the details about my symptoms other than to say they warrant the procedure; my grandmother had to have her colon removed at a relatively young age, so we’re proceeding cautiously.

The doctor explained that one of the possible treatments (depending on what they find, and how I respond to other options) may involve Botox. I missed all the articles about “Anal Botox” that apparently made the social media rounds last year and found this fascinating, immediately texting my brother Continue reading

Rainy Sunday recipes (and one for Summer)

Earlier today I ran across this Susan Ertz quote:

Millions long for immortality who don’t know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

Really?! I love a rainy Sunday, and immortality sounds… exhausting 🙂

I’ve spent the last several rainy Sundays cooking up way too much food in my new multi-cooker. I know I know, I’m super late to Instant Pot Mania!

Of all the pressure cooker recipe sites I’ve checked out, Amy+Jacky is (are?) my fave so far. They’re from Hong Kong, and offer lots of recipes that are faster versions of things that I learned to cook from my dad (like jook). I LOVE their Cook’s Illustrated / scientific approach to discovering the best bone broth formula, and can vouch for the results!

Amy+Jacky are also really big on umami flavors, which means I’m suddenly learning that adding fish sauce and soy sauce to chili and beef stew recipes (etc) makes them taste So Much Better.

While I’d love to be cooking up a big batch of something hearty and yum today I’ve been cut off, for three reasons:

Continue reading