Sunday, July 27, 2008 7:59 PM


I'm going on a media fast for a week, which means I will be going online only for work. No blogs (sob!), YouTube, movies, video games, TV, newspaper, or magazines allowed; and I am going to see how long I can hold out before giving in to my regular radio station (which is commercial-free.) The rest of the Miomarmo gang and I have been working through the Edit Your Life series, and this is the last part. I plan to use my new-found time on painting, spending more time outside, and taking naps.

See you in a week!

ps ~ The month of July is my webaversary; I've had this site for 9 years now. Remember what it used to look like?


french toast girl #

Thursday, July 24, 2008 8:35 AM

so I've been thinking

...of making this a poster. (The original is around 18" x 24", so it's meant to be large.) I'm going to send out files for a test print next week. If I like it, I'll add it to the store.

I'm toying with doing this as a poster as well.... what do you think?

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french toast girl #

Thursday, July 17, 2008 8:55 PM

Help yourself to a bit of what is all around you

If you have ever been in the same room with me and a piano (and ahem, we have quite a few of them in our house), you know that sooner or later I'm going to go play "Martha My Dear." Only my most favorite Beatles song ever, with sugar on top. "She Loves You" is a very close second, but "Martha" wins the day for me for its sheer pluckiness and relative obscurity.

My love affair with "Martha" started back when I was a teenager and taped WNEW's "A-Z Beatles Weekend", to supplement my growing desire to learn the entire catalog. My parents had no Beatles records other than an instrumental version of the Hollyridge Strings doing Magical Mystery Tour - my mom said, "Every time you turned on the radio, they were playing a Beatles song, so who needed to buy the records?"

Later in my teenage years I would start teaching myself to play songs by ear, playing my tapes (and eventually, records) over and over, writing down lyrics in a large spiral notebook and adding in my fake chords above them, in red pencil. I would even write down the date, so thorough was I. Generally, fake chords were good enough for me, but there was something about "Martha".... this was something that I might actually be able to play. I've never had piano lessons, and my big thing prior to this was studying the sheet music and teaching myself the intros to "Against All Odds" and "Honesty". But for some reason, I found myself loving this song and wanting to play it exactly like the recording.

I think I was 16 or 17, and I remember a summer where I spent a lot of time at our broken-down piano with a tape recorder by my side, playing, listening, rewinding, replaying, finally pressing the piano keys, and listening again. And finally, I HAD it. Same key, same intonation, same exact notes, same everything. I had to go back to fake chords once the orchestra kicked in at the middle section and I couldn't hear the piano as well, but the main part, the part that makes "Martha" MARTHA, I had. I owned it.

Over the years, I played it all the time - because we were passing a piano, or to cheer myself up, or once even on the radio, when I was called as an early morning phone gag and wound up taking them up on their offer to play it on the air, and they sent me prize money and a sweatshirt. I played it when I was pregnant and the kids must have heard it in utero!

About 20 years have passed since I taught myself to play "Martha My Dear." And while I've grown in that time as a musician and singer, my piano skills haven't improved - I still play "Martha" the exact same way; awesome intro, fake chords in the middle section. And I was starting to feel a little frustrated about it, because I could hear everything I wanted to do, but couldn't figure out how to make my hands do it. Oh, and the three preschoolers and the job and the lack of any semblance of quiet have put the kibosh on any arranging time too. :)

Yesterday, while looking up something entirely different on YouTube, I found a tutorial. TO PLAY MARTHA MY DEAR. This was so exactly the way I needed to see and learn this, that I swear that the sound of something clicking into place in my brain must have been loud enough for the neighbors to hear. Sheet music for this song looks like this, and while I have an amazing piano teacher for a husband, looking at that jumble of notes makes me dizzy. This guy shows his fingers, and then posts the notes of the chord above the keys. Yes, yes, and for goodness' sakes, YES already. It's like someone tapped right into my brain to see the way I'd learn best, and then made a video.

My family has been enjoying watching me running back and forth between the computer and the piano. I watch the computer.... pause it ..... say the names of the notes over to myself ... bang away at the piano, shout, "AHA! D major 7th! Yes!", and then run back to the laptop. I was watching it yesterday, grabbing Paul and yelling, "OCTAVES! He's doing OCTAVES in the left hand! Yes! Why didn't I think of that?" You would think I was discovering gravity or something to hear me go on, but my family's getting a kick out of it. Silly girl...

So in case you have ever been secretly jealous of my amazingly single-minded talent, you too can learn how to play my favorite Beatles song. And thank you to the Internet, for proving that while I may be obsessed, I'm certainly not alone.

And please see...

Wikipedia's entry on Martha My Dear. Lyrics from James Joyce? Uh, I don't think so.

How to Play Martha My Dear, Part 1 and Part 2. The tutorials I've been watching and exclaiming over, and he does many other songs as well. I plan to write him a thank you note.

Martha My Dear performed on classical guitar. Just amazing and really lovely. If this man has an album, I'm buying it. Lots of other songs too; give him a listen.

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french toast girl #


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Sunday, July 13, 2008 9:45 PM

illustration Friday: Foggy

I've been feeling blurry lately, like someone didn't color in the lines properly. And I figured out that when I draw or paint every day, and when I go for a 2-mile walk every morning as well, everything comes into focus and I have loads more energy. So:

More drawing.
More painting.
More walking.
More yoga.

ps ~ This was so much fun to paint. See it bigger here.

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french toast girl #

doodling fool


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Tuesday, July 08, 2008 9:17 PM

The secret

Hanging above my drafting table right now. Yes, yes, yes. Read the rest of the interview here and please dive in deep to The Principles of Uncertainty (the archives are now all free, so what are you waiting for?)

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french toast girl #

Monday, July 07, 2008 3:44 PM

Illustration Friday: Sour

This painting is an exercise I did a while ago, messing around with the watercolour colored pencils. I think it's interesting that I tend to go through waves with my painting - at least once a year I get really loose, and then a few months later, get almost crazily detail-heavy. I guess it's the times in between where I hit a balance. I like the loose, I like the tight, and I really, really, really like citrus fruit.

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french toast girl #

Thursday, July 03, 2008 3:51 PM

Loving: 101 20-Minute Dishes for Inspired Picnics

I this guy, Mark Bittman. I'm going to see if I can try at least one of these recipes this weekend.

The beet salad especially looks easy and colorful (check out the interactive graphic in the article for a closeup), and now that I've been reading more about beets, I want to learn ways to make them that don't involve a can. Anyone have a favorite recipe?

On the subject of red foods, we'll be picking the first of our backyard raspberries this afternoon, and then we're off to the park to hear the community band's weekly Thursday night concert. We bring a blanket and trail mix, and the kids are always in their pj's for hustling off to bed as soon as we get home. (And yes, there is almost always some sort of spontaneous dancing.)

Enjoy your weekend, everybody!

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french toast girl #

Wednesday, July 02, 2008 3:34 PM

the things I do

The things I do to keep myself from painting:

Surf the internet looking for great crafting ideas, home decorating tips, ways to make my own detergent from scratch, see what all the past winners of America's Next Top Model are doing today.

Surf the internet looking at everyone else's work, and comparing.

Listen to my children having an altercation 2 flights below me. Get involved instead of letting babysitter handle it.

Get distracted by the TV on in the background for noise (to cover sound of children).


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french toast girl #

Tuesday, July 01, 2008 8:10 AM

blue bird

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