Nat King Cole: The Christmas Song

•December 25, 2013 • Leave a Comment

More Christmas

Happy Solstice!

•December 21, 2013 • Leave a Comment

A Wintry Walk, by L. Birge Harrison

A Wintry Walk, by Lowell Birge Harrison

For us northerners it just gets brighter and brighter from here.

Charpentier: Noëls & Christmas Motets

•December 13, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Here is an exquisite half hour of Charpentier noels and motets for chorus and solo voice. There’s no real video here – it’s just for listening.

Christmassy, isn’t it?

British Press for The Rabbit Back Literature Society

•December 2, 2013 • Leave a Comment

The British press has begun to take notice of Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen’s marvelous first novel, The Rabbit Back Literature Society, just published in English, in a translation by yours truly.

“The Rabbit Back Literature Society is a lobster-pot of a book. It lures you in with an irresistibly quirky, witty opening and a huge Big Idea… It pays off, mostly due to an exquisite balance of suspense, precision-engineered structure and darkly playful humour… a unique vein of fantasy-realism unlike anything else you’ve ever read.” SFX Magazine

“This wonderfully knotty novel… is a peculiar metafiction, a very grown-up fantasy masquerading as quirky fable. Unexpected, thrilling and absurd, it is primarily an irreverent exploration of the art of writing itself” – Daily Telegraph

“It’s hard to convey the peculiar atmosphere of this novel – absurd but believable, sinister but enjoyable, beautiful but disquieting. This is Jaaskerlainen’s first novel to be published in English (and hats off to Lola Rogers for an elegant, literary and readable translation). Let’s hope there are more to come” – The Independent

UK paper and ebooks and US ebooks are out now, US paper books will be released in May. Available for order and pre-order from all major vendors or your local bookstore.

Happy Thanksgiving

•November 27, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Norman Rockwell’s Freedom from Want

More information on Norman Rockwell’s Four Freedoms series here.

Sarah Swett’s Needlework Literature

•November 25, 2013 • 1 Comment

Sarah Swett uses textiles to make what she calls “slow literature”.

Her amazing work includes facsimiles:


(click and zoom for a closer look)

as well as entire books in tapestry:

Casting Off 3

Casting Off 4

Casting Off 5

Visit her website for lots more pieces, most of it posted in huge image files that let you pore over every detail.

More crafts

Soneto XI, by Pablo Neruda, translated by Stephen Tapscott

•November 16, 2013 • Leave a Comment

pablo_nerudaI was a bit annoyed recently by a post on Buzzfeed that made an unfavorable comparison between the poetry of Pablo Neruda and Taylor Swift. Not that I prefer Taylor Swift, or, like some commenters on the post, feel that the very act of comparing the two is an insult to the dignity of Pablo Neruda. What bothered me was that the quotes from Neruda were in English, with nary a mention of the translators of Neruda who had written the melodious lines in question.

I don’t feel that the translator must always be mentioned when discussing translated works, but in this case not mentioning the translator gives the impression that the authors at Buzzfeed have no idea that Neruda didn’t write in English.

To take one example, the post includes lines from Neruda’s Sonnet number eleven:

Soneto XI

Tengo hambre de tu boca, de tu voz, de tu pelo
y por las calles voy sin nutrirme, callado,
no me sostiene el pan, el alba me desquicia,
busco el sonido líquido de tus pies en el día.

Estoy hambriento de tu risa resbalada,
de tus manos color de furioso granero,
tengo hambre de la pálida piedra de tus uñas,
quiero comer tu piel como una intacta almendra.

Quiero comer el rayo quemado en tu hermosura,
la nariz soberana del arrogante rostro,
quiero comer la sombra fugaz de tus pestañas

y hambriento vengo y voy olfateando el crepúsculo
buscándote, buscando tu corazón caliente
como un puma en la soledad de Quitratúe.


The lines that Buzzfeed quotes are from this exquisite translation by Stephen Tapscott:


I Crave Your Mouth, Your Voice, Your Hair

I crave your mouth, your voice, your hair.
Silent and starving, I prowl through the streets.
Bread does not nourish me, dawn disrupts me,
all day I hunt for the liquid measure of your steps.

I hunger for your sleek laugh,
your hands the color of a savage harvest,
hunger for the pale stones of your fingernails,
I want to eat your skin like a whole almond.

I want to eat the sunbeam flaring in your lovely body,
the sovereign nose of your arrogant face,
I want to eat the fleeting shade of your lashes,

and I pace around hungry, sniffing the twilight,
hunting for you, for your hot heart,
like a puma in the barrens of Quitratue.


These poems aren’t going to translate themselves, people.

Keaton Henson: Small Hands

•November 3, 2013 • 1 Comment

Beautiful puppets.

Directed by Joseph Mann.

Puppets by Jonny Sabbagh.

Music by Keaton Henson.

More puppets

Animation: The Deep

•November 1, 2013 • 2 Comments

Here’s another delightful animation by PES.

More PES.

More animation

The Cravin’, by Rick Callaway

•October 25, 2013 • 1 Comment

poe coffee

The Cravin’

Once upon a morning dreary, as I wandered, red and bleary-
eyed to work, and none too cheery. Cheerless, when I hit the door.
My office, then, with carpet matching cubby walls and people scratching
as i’twere for quick dispatching, cases going out the door.
Cases, then, and nothing more.

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December
when each – Wait! it was November – step left leaves upon my floor.
Eagerly I wished to borrow, oh I wished that I could borrow
some means to end my soggy sorrow, and hang upon my office door
a bumbershoot, and nothing more.

But the sad, uncertain dripping of my coat, and windy whipping
of draggled hair and clammy nipping, told me that I knew the score.
November then, perhaps October. They blend as one when summer’s over.
The main thing is we weren’t in clover;
T’was rainy, as I said before.

So down I plopped to start my day and opted to just sit and stay
indoors and drink what some would say
is coffee.
When there came a gentle tapping, like a rap. A rappy rapping,
Not quite the sound of one hand clapping, clapping at my office door.
Only this, and nothing more.

Presently my soul grew stronger: hesitating then no longer,
“Sir,” said I, “or madam, your forgiveness I ask for
But the fact is, I was napping, and so gently you came rapping.
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my office door.
What is it, then? I must implore.”

My cohort said, “Well I was thinking, of good coffee to be drinking
to end this dopey, sleepy blinking that we both cannot ignore.
I myself was also napping, just before I went a-rapping
and so faintly tippy-tapping. Also, chum, you sometimes snore.”
This is true. I sometimes snore.

“This northwest winter mocks my sorrow! It knows I cannot lightly borrow.
No ‘shoot today, and none tomorrow! I cannot leave my office door!”
“Perhaps a hat is what you’re seeking. A day like this? What were you thinking?
Had you not the slightest inkling? Besides, two ‘shoots hang from my door.
Umbrellas, that is, and nothing more.”

So it was we left to buy some coffee drinks while staying dry
and hie we back while rains fell all the more.
I will not fear this rainy weather, an easy foe when thrown together
with the means to fight this seasonal pour. A trapped chump I will be

The Rabbit Back Literature Society UK Release

•October 23, 2013 • 1 Comment

Look what came in the mail today.

Rabbit back

It’s The Rabbit Back Literature Society, by Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen, a freaky, funny novel that I translated for Pushkin Press.

Here are some of the reviews from the Finnish press:

“Jääskeläinen’s novel is situated in our reality, but it’s a reality that is warping. You could say that there’s a mysterious substance seeping from some secret place into the world we know…  Jääskeläinen’s distinct authorial voice and rich, personal writing style make the book an unusually enjoyable read… There is nothing flat or ordinary in his prose.” – Savon Sanomat

“…an idyllic and slightly chilling world that you won’t want to leave. Rarely in a novel is literature so well-loved… After reading it, I felt like writing.” – Aamulehti

“The Rabbit Back Literature Society progresses like a detective novel, but ends up being a book about the love of writing, and the mystery of reality.” – Helsingin Sanomat

It’s coming out in the UK on November 21st, and in the US next May. Available for pre-order through all your favorite vendors or at your local bookstore.

Tove Jansson’s Illustrations for Who Will Comfort Toffle?

•September 11, 2013 • Leave a Comment

I love the bold graphics in Tove Jansson‘s pictures for her book Who Will Comfort Toffle?

toffle6 The Groke toffle4 toffle3 toffle1toffle7

If you have never read any Moomin books, I urge you to do so.

How to can peaches

•September 6, 2013 • 1 Comment

This is a recipe for canning seven quarts of peaches.  That’s the number of jars that fit into a standard water bath canner. Make a medium syrup, 8 cups water/5 cups sugar.

Buy a box of peaches and select 25 – 30 of the ripest, biggest, best peaches from the box.

best peaches

Cut the peach in half.

half peaches

Dunk the peach in boiling water for thirty seconds.

boil for 30 sec.

Dunk the peach in ice water for thirty seconds.

plung into ice water

Skin the peach.

skin the peach

Put the peach in a bowl of fruit fresh, which is water & ascorbic acid, to keep them from turning brown.


Once you’ve put all of the peaches into the fruit fresh, put the peaches into sterilized jars.  The jar should be full. Cram them in.

Top the jars off with syrup. Get rid of bubbles with a butter knife, and screw the lid on.

remove bubbles

When you have seven jars of peaches with syrup, put the jars into the canner. Submerge the jars completely.

fill 7 jars, top off with syrup

boil 30 minutes

Boil for 30 minutes at a full rolling boil.


You got seven quarts of peaches in your pantry.


•September 3, 2013 • 2 Comments

My old friends Dave and Molly live in Sprague, Washington, pop. 400.  Sprague is on the eastern edge of the Columbia Basin, which means no trees, hot summers, and lots of wheat fields. Dave & Molly often have so many garden tomatoes that they make homemade ketchup & homemade pizza sauce & generally do everything they can to stay on top of the tomatoes. Not this year. I guess it’s been cool, or rainy, or something, but they’ve harvested seven or eight tomatoes, tops.

Let us now consider the Puget Sound. If you want to get used to disappointment you can do no better than growing tomatoes in Seattle; it is a recipe for disappointment. Tomatoes like heat, which we have not got. This year, however, has not been a disappointment. A combination of skill, bravery, determination and weather has resulted in Lolarusa having the best tomato season ever.  Let me say it properly: Best. Season. Ever. This tasty batch of nightshades was picked on September 3rd from an area about a meter square.


Vintage Knits: Short Sleeved Sweater from 1942

•August 27, 2013 • Leave a Comment

I found this copy of Teenage Fashions at an antique mall recently. It was published in 1942, and has a charming wholesomeness about it. The teenage models look like actual people in their teens.

Short sleeved sweater 028

The patterns are also basic enough for a teen beginning knitter. Here is one of the fancier ones, with some tasteful patterning on the yoke and borders.

Short sleeved sweater 2029

And here’s the pattern:

Short sleeved sweater 3030 Short sleeved sweater 4031

More knitting patterns


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