What I’ve been making

As I write this* it is raining and I am at my sister’s house, listening to Nico Muhly and eating very gingery cookies our friends made, and drinking cold tea. The cat Manapua, a sleek fat tortoiseshell, gazes at me with eyes that I always think of as mint-colored, though they’re not at all the color of the tea I’m drinking. It is a good day.

Here are some things I made in the past week:

 a 15-minute sketch of Sather Gate at UC Berkeley,
before attending a table reading of a friend’s fantastic play

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Memories of the same gate, in 2004:

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and in an earlier project:

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an interpretation of a Turkish breakfast, for friends
(same friends who baked the ginger cookies I’m now eating)

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the Turkish street-vendor bread, simit
(meant to be for our friends, but the dough didn’t rise in time)

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a painting of the vase I arranged for the breakfast table
(actually, I had the idea for the composition while we were eating)

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I meant to do the dark background with watercolor pencil,
but I realized I left them at my parents’ house

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then I disliked the dark paint, so I jazzed it up.

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I went to Learning Ally for another volunteering session, and spent most of the two hours on the table of contents of a history textbook. I never really thought how many words are involved in a TOC; when you’re reading visually, it’s easy to skip over dates and page numbers, but when recording an audio version, those must be read. As a former historian I understand the desire for dramatic chapter titles (things like “Books, beggars, and the Byzantine Empire”), but as a narrator, I rather wished the authors had opted simply for one-worders: “China,” “commerce,” etc! On the other hand, it was fun trying to get through the TOC with some measure of expression, and as always, I found the required focus meditative. I love this volunteer gig.
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*I started this post on Monday morning. I am now in my room at my parents’ house, listening to Lay Low and freezing my fingers off, wondering what’s for lunch and thinking longingly of a strawberry-chocolate puer I had yesterday.

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