ragtags studio central: sarah's random this & that

random means "having no definite aim or purpose," (1655), taken from "at random" (1565), "at great speed" (thus, "carelessly, haphazardly"). In 1980s college student slang, it somehow, and sadly, acquired a distinct sense of "inferior, undesirable." (Online Etymology Dictionary, Douglas Harper) Well, okay, fine, Mr. Online Etymology Dictionary person, but THIS is the 21st Century. It's a whole new ball of wax.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Returned to sender

Returned to Sender

Published NY Times Sunday magazine: January 27, 2008

My father didn’t leave us much, thinking it somehow better that his girlfriend, whom he lived with for a dozen years, come to own our parents’ things. There’s no point relitigating that now, despite my fitful daydreams of smashing each of the china cup-and-saucer sets I’d purchased as Mother’s Day gifts into chalky shards of memory. I agreed with this arrangement when Dad said it was what he wanted, and it wasn’t as if my house needed more clutter, but after he died the stuff meant more to me.

One thing I got was his passport, filled with stamps from Britain, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Austria, one of the Baltic states. My sister (whose frequent e-mail messages since Dad’s death helped take the place of my phone conversations with him) said she would enjoy having it as a keepsake. She and Dad were the travelers in our family. Mom had her fill escaping Nazi Germany, and my best trips are still to come.

So near the end of the year, I mailed a package to my sister, who lives outside Jerusalem, from my New Jersey post office. It contained four bags of organic chocolate chips (she doesn’t eat processed sugar), a book about a zoo in Palestine (she’s a leftist, and I thought she’d appreciate the zookeepers’ gumption) and the passport.

About three weeks later, my wife came home to a message from the American Embassy in Beijing. It was a fairly long message. Nina (the embassy’s second secretary, it turned out) said that a Chinese woman had contacted the embassy to report that she had Stanley Schachter’s passport and wanted to return it to him. Nina somehow tracked me down, in hopes of putting the Chinese woman in direct touch.

These sorts of encounters with strangers no longer take me completely by surprise. A couple of years ago, I Googled my mother. She wasn’t famous, and she died before the Internet was invented, but one entry came up. Long story short, my sister and I ended up talking with two women who went to elementary school with Mom in Berlin. Not long after, I got an e-mail message from a guy in Southern California. He was a crime analyst for the sheriff’s department, and he had something of mine: a copy of “The Hardy Boys’ Detective Handbook” he picked up 30 years ago at a garage sale — I’d written my name in it. He said he’d get it back to me, but he never did; that’s O.K. — he’s the detective.

My father loved hearing me tell these stories. He loved absurdity. Still, what was his passport doing in China? I e-mailed Cindy, the Beijing woman who had been in touch with the embassy, and she quickly responded. “It is so good that you contact me, I am really happy to receive feedback from you,” she wrote. “Maybe last week, I received one package from my friend, but when I opened this box I found it is not the things she sent to me.”

Somehow, I guess, the label came loose from her friend’s package and stuck itself to mine. It remains a mystery exactly where packages mailed within China mix with packages mailed from New Jersey to Israel.

“I found the passport,” Cindy continued, “and I know that must some one urgently need this, so I contact the U.S. embassy, mailed them and hope they can find the gentleman. Now if you are sure this is your fathers, OK, I like to back to you. Originally which places you mailed to? Are you in CHINA? I mean which place I post this passport to? Did I make myself clear?”

Quite clear, despite her broken English: Cindy was going out of her way to get something valuable back to someone halfway around the world, someone unlikely to ever have the occasion to do her a good turn. I replied, explaining my story: father dead, package meant for Israel. I asked her to return it to me and inquired how I could repay her. I told her about the year my sister spent in China, working at a pizza parlor in Kunming and visiting Buddhist shrines. I wrote that my father “loved to travel, though he never got to visit China.”

Cindy’s reply arrived after a few minutes: “It is my pleasure that can help you, for me it is not a big thing, I think most people would do the same thing as me.” She said I could pay her back if I ever got to Beijing. She said she was sorry to hear that my father had died.

“You said he loves travel,” she added. “Maybe this is a journey for him.” I smiled at the mysticism of that.

When I went to my post office to collect the package, the clerk was not so interested in its travels. Next time, she said, I should be sure to write the destination in big letters. Then my next package would be less likely to go astray. I’m not so sure this one did.

Jim Schachter is a deputy editor of the NY Times Sunday magazine.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Radiate me

Drink me

Friday, January 25, 2008

Yes, you! Go - now! And read The Altered Page!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Fashion note:

Almost forgot to tell you - I finally got a coat. It's just-above-my-knee length, with two big patch pockets, a hint of swing and fabulous bell sleeves (see detail). Whaddya think?

And here's an atc I think is darling; Jennifer Gordon made it:

Long time, no --- nuthin'

So. . . I realize I have been curiously absent from Ragtags on the net lately. No real reason - just a little case of "After The Holidays" malaise, missing me mum (it's been a year now), and work to do (so what else is new).
As much fun as we (me, kids, Col, grandsons, b&gfriends) couldn't help but have throughout December, I am seriously feeling like my extended family is on another planet "or something" - my little brother Pete hasn't returned any of my calls for like, ever, and he's not calling me on his own either. My Auntie Barb, well, I know I seriously suck at almost every form of responsible communication, but it's been months since I heard from her, too. I have talked once or twice with my baby brother Joe, my Auntie Jean, my dad, but --- oh, honestly, I don't really know what I expect. If I want to have a connection with them all, long distance dictates I have to write or call, but when I do and there's no answer --- like with Pete? do I just give up? I mean seriously, I was starting to get some very weird fantasies going about "why no word", and I don't like that in myself. Maybe it's just the fact I'm totally frozen as I sit here typing; you would never think the heater even works around here. Okay, enough of my ridiculous whoping!!! You know - whining and moping? Actually, does anyone out there have a surefire cure for The Wintertime Blues? Might as well do a free prize - haven't for weeks! Leave me a suggestion. Anything, puh-leeze! I'll add your name to the Drawing Box (thanks, Cher) and a special edition artist's apron with a Ragtags Studio image will be the prize. The drawing will be held on February 1st.

Hey! Haven't sent any Photobooth self-portraits out into the blogaliscious world of cyberspace for awhile, so here ya go:

In this one, I am trying to show you the Lotus 'n' Pearl earrings
Jean Yates made for me --- That's another pearl from her on my neck.
Her book Links shows how to wire wrap with the aplomb of a professional.
(You can also see a glimpse of my Big Eyes Artist Girl ring.)

And in this snap, check out the oh-so-cool dress I have on over my basic black
cropped uni. It's kinda 80's; 100% linen, with a Monica Rezman, Chicago label.
I have Angela to thank for it --- her unfailing artist's eye, combined with
an accurate knowledge of what I like, guided her hand in adding it to a package
I recently received from the Great State of California.

Speaking of Big Eyes, if my Fortune is just around the corner, maybe I can spend some of it on this Margaret Keane piece (that kitty looks just like Janie Marie Appleseed):

Well, I think that's "all the news that's fit to print" today. I promise to have some rockin' vint. postcards or other free images for you this weekend, so be sure to check back.
Me? I'm gonna go reheat my Chai and make the house nice for Colin getting home (late) tonight from Boston (again).
'til later,

ruff, ruff, meoooowwww

Greetings from Bernie Berlin and "A Place To Bark",
I am writing to you, in hopes you will help me make a difference. . . As many of you know, I have been doing animal rescue for now, 8 years. We have grown over the years from helping 10 to 25 a year to now for "2007" over 400 animals. Never had I planned to walk this road for so many years and finally come to the realization that this is going to be a part of my life for a long time to come. Just recently, we have been given a HUGE opportunity. The first is a matching grant from the "Zoline Foundation". Any donations made to "A Place to Bark" via the badge link below, will be matched up to $25,000.00 until June 1st, 2007.

In addition to the matching grant we are currently in a contest called "America's Giving Challenge" all donations made, will be counted and if we have the most individual donations by January 31st, 2007, we will win a $50,000.00 grant. If this happens we can build our much needed shelter. Now, the EXCITING NEWS IS: We are in the top ten!!!
But we can get knocked out of the running, if we don't keep going!!
We need to be in the top 4 to win the grant money.

We all have a voice, something the animals I help don't. They depend on us to care for them and I have seen a world of neglect since I have moved to the south. Bad things happen everywhere I know, but I focus on what I can do and the good that is being done. In the past two years my program has saved over 700 animals. I've put it out to the Universe that this is something that I have dedicated my life to and will continue to do so and also continue to do my art in tandem:)

What I am asking of you, is if you can to make a $10.00 donation to increase our chances of winning 50k grant money. Please help me to spread the word. We are all powerful individuals, who can create change if we put our hearts and minds to it. If you don't feel comfortable spreading the word, that is fine too, no pressure. I have to exhaust all my resources for my cause.

If it is meant to be, all things will work out as they should and I will be picking up dog and cat poop the rest of my life:)

All you have to do is click on this 'badge' to donate:

If you donate, you will receive a receipt immediately, all donations are tax
deductible. I am a registered 501(c)3 with non profit status. Whether we win or not we still will receive the matching grant. Please help spread the word, we so want to make our vision a reality. There is also a video of our current kennels here if you click on the link that is on the badge.

I thank you for your time and truly appreciate any help you can give.
My best to you...

Bernie Berlin
"A Place to Bark"

Monday, January 07, 2008

Feeling Overwhelmed?

If you ever are on my site and feeling overstimulated (What's that?? You say the music's too LOUD?) and feel you need the music turned down to watch a YouTube, or even just to hear yourself read, why, simply go to the little Sonific player in the right hand sidebar. See it there, just below the slide show?
There's a little slider button right about 2/3 down on the player - slide it all the way to your left - you can do it with your mouse! Can you hear me now?
And if you're no longer too overwhelmed, click here and spend a little time playing with some brilliant on-line lexicographers:

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Sox Love and Videotape

No, not THAT kind - after all, I do live in Colorado - umm? Home of the Colorado Rockies - 'member them?
Yeah. But if you need some of the kind that can make even funny looking feet feel well-dressed, successful, stylish, that can take one from day to night with the mere change of a heel, I suggest you go to the 'Ozone' zone. The purple, oatmeal, and black striped pairs you see here are from the ultra-nice people who work there. The little square swatch in the upper right-hand corner of the photo? That pair arrived in the "Christmas Barrel" from Tawnya. Thanks, luvie! YYY

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The Long Winter Chapter 32 - The Christmas Barrel

I wanted to give you all a little prezie of Chapter 32, but don't really have the time to type it out. Get the book, read the entire thing, and don't stop with Chapter 32!

Thanks to Wikipedia for this synopsis:

The story begins in Dakota territory on a hot August day in 1880. Laura and her father ("Pa") are working hard to bring in enough hay to feed the livestock over the winter. When they come across a muskrat's house, Pa tells Laura that he knows the winter is going to be hard because muskrats always build a house with thick walls before a hard winter, and this year, they have built the thickest walls that he has ever seen. In mid-October, the Ingalls wake one morning to find an unusually early blizzard howling around their frail claim shanty. The October blizzard lasts three days. Soon afterward, Pa receives another warning from an unexpected source: while he is talking to some men at a store in town, a dignified old Native American man enters and predicts seven months of blizzards. Impressed, Pa decides to move the family into nearby De Smet for the winter.

Until the severe weather makes it impossible, Laura attends school with her younger sister, Carrie. One day, when a blizzard strikes unexpectedly during afternoon classes, the teacher and pupils – Laura and Carrie included– head home through the blinding storm, and barely make it back to town. Meanwhile, provisions are beginning to run low; after each blizzard, the townspeople anxiously anticipate the arrival of a train filled with food and supplies, only to be disappointed when yet another storm blocks the tracks. Eventually, the railroad company suspends all efforts to dig out the train, stranding the town. For months, the Ingalls subsist on potatoes and coarse brown bread, using a small coffee mill to grind wheat into flour; for fuel, they twist hay into sticks. With even this poor provender running out, Laura's future husband Almanzo Wilder and his friend Cap Garland risk their lives to bring wheat to the starving townspeople– enough to last the rest of the winter.

As predicted, the blizzards continue for seven months. Finally, the trains begin running again, bringing the Ingalls a Christmas barrel full of good things– including a turkey, still frozen. In the last chapter, they sit down to enjoy their Christmas dinner in May.

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New Year's Ragtags

Happy 2008 to ya! I have been having a spate of nosebleeds that has kept me away from the keyboard - can not let it get all over that! - let alone everywhere in Art (my go-to room for making it). . .but have a few loose ends to tie up/tell you about. . .need to get back to my emails, too. . .
First, the winner of the calendar is Jolene! Yay, Jolene, hope you'll love it - it's on its way.
Secondly, today is my little mum's birthday; she would have been 76 - Happy Birthday, Little Mummy, wherever you are. Hope you're having fun.
Next, a couple of excellent Christmas gifts I received to show off.

This darling little ornament just arrived from my trés arty AND artistic friend
Tawnya in Denver - yes! we need to get together, woman. . .
Chai - the real deal - Silver and Heather remembered and brought me this
pretty little bag of it from Adivasi in Brattleboro, Vermont. . .
Went shopping at the M.A.C. store in Cherry Creek where
Corina got me Viva Glam VI -
"In the spirit of all Viva Glam, every cent raised goes to the M·A·C AIDS Fund
to support the fight against HIV/AIDS."

Another tiny treat from Tawnya:

Got lucky (again!) from Lisa with Taco Pups:
Santa left one of these (with a note) cool gifts for each and everyone who celebrated Christmas at our house. It's a 'green' To-Go-Box, with a movable divider, so we no longer have to be environmentally care less when we eat out:

On New Year's Eve, I went to First Night with September and the boys (Colin was home a little under the weather and it was oh so freezing out). First we watched some film shorts made for kids, then a magic show and finally, Bella Luna, a French -style (Italian name) cirque. They were just grand.

Also went to a matinee with my girlfriend Monica; we saw Juno and absolutely relished it!

I am going to be reviewing Links, the new book by the lovely and witty (and generous) jewelry designer Jean Yates on Amazon in the next few days, so be sure to log on to see what I have to say!

Finally, if you haven't yet ordered your copy of Pasticcio 2,
well, what are you waiting for?
Get it here!

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