the ornithogrinarium - Ψυχῆς ἰατρεῖον

Saturday, May 31, 2008

that time i went bat-shit crazy...

I think I lost my joy in news- papers.

Present day ones, anyhow. I would psychotically link, emotionalize and over-interpret such that articles about things as banal as discount airfares became unbearably painful to experience. ancient history was fine, so that's what I read. Counterculture of the 1960's seems to fall in to some kind of gray area.

I can assure you that my current state is not the result of anything premenstrual, though having read up on other more worldly woes, I may run off to consult various graphs in an attempt to chart seas of hormones to calendar and bloodstream.

RFK's funeral train here

Friday, May 30, 2008

today i thinned the beets

My garden  is becoming quite lovely.  

Because I planted herbs in with sweet smelling plants (hyssop, salvia, scented geranium, succulent stems of Cuban oregano) it has some of that otherworldly fragrance going on each time I water.  Carrots and lettuces continue to sprout, and bumble bees moved into the house the chickadees lived in last spring - which should help ensure few problems with pollination.  It's nice to go out there and feel less crazy, even through flashes of paranoia, senseless meaning making and doubt my brain will ever function properly, whatever that is.  

16th century leaded glass from paris parfait

Thursday, May 29, 2008

i'm with caroline

I want my next boyfriend to be an assassin.

visit her tumblr site

shack up with me?

This afternoon my local alt weekly's untitled classified section, circa 1968-1971, nearly slay me with laughter. Untitled because of course everyone was living and everything was happening in a revolutionary, anti-fashion present. Also included, the comic, "Adventures of Acidman," and many pictures of bums (cheeky variety).

Mount Zion exists. Wanted young men and women, girls and boys who are interested in starting a colony in the mountains of --, in the name of love, hope, and charity in preparation for the greater things to come. For information write Box 111, A.W.

Attractive 23 year old man with apartment wants to meet passionate chick who is sincere. For sex and companionship write Box 404, A.W.

Musician 25, wants clean, understanding chick for shackup. Write Box 416, A.W.

Man 34, would like to meet girl (16-35) for sex and outings. No objections to children, Write Box 362, A.W.

Young women 18 and over, who want to learn what livin' and lovin' is all about but afraid of gossip, predicaments or back-seat billy-goat tactics of "horny-toads" and "young studs" of your acquaintance or as per these pages. Why not an older man (40's) who has learned from experience that kindness and consideration and affection are prerequisites to a [sic] happy fulfilling affairs. I am single [yeah right], tall and reasonably handsome, well-dressed, own transportation. Sort of a square, with the corners bashed off. No entanglements and you terminate as and when desired. Short holiday trips or --------- scene as possible. Answer in all confidence with frank letter to Box 405, A.W.
Young good looking guy from Toronto wishes to meet good looking swinging chick 18-32 to help enjoy life to its fullest. Have nice pad and auto. Please send photo and phone number to Box 414, A.W.

Broadminded male newcomer, reasonably attractive, well endowed, 32, would like to meet horny females, couples. Discretion assumed and expected. Write Box 413, A.W.

UNDERGROUND GUIDE to literature. Send $1.00 to 4518 Varna Avenue, Sherman Oaks, California 91403.

Come to Chicago this summer. It'll be a riot.

Eric Starro Galt is still missing and presumed dead.

Unsatisfied females, write to insatiable males. Box 415, A.W.

Will the sailors who gave Charlie Brown a ride to --- send him his spectacles. He is the forgetful type and left them in your car.

more classifieds/where women's lib came from

Two men around 40 non-drinkers would like to end our state of celibacy. Ladies over 21 write Box 409, A.W.

Physician available to women to help solve age old problem. Write box 484, A.W.

Englishman seeks bird to share pad in ----. Write Box 419, A.W.

Attractive couple early 40's seeks other couples for swapping and swinging photo sessions. Write Box 793 A.W.

ACHTUNG girl hate bunnies! You will write 2 male hate bunnies shared in straight varren. Write Box 401, A.W.

Dirty old man of 37 with several hang-ups [read "kinks"] needs sweet understanding, discreet chick for psycho and/or physiotherapy. Please write details of age, qualifications etc.. Send photo if possible. Write Box 185, A.W.

Photographer will do anything for $100 by July 1. Write to Box 833, A.W.

AUSTRALIA is so uptight that PLAYBOY is banned

Beware BLUE CHEER from S.F. It contains DEATH and will put you on a BUMMER.

If you've got it, don't give it away. Go to the VD clinic at --- ---- -- Ave 8:30-4:30

What is the function of Police?

Why do we have Police?

Is it necessary for the Police to carry guns... clubs... mace...

Sexy female would like to meet HINDU unattached age 45-50. Write Box 402, A.W.

HELP! I'm slowly dying from loneliness and lack of affection. Would a 17-28 year old woman rescue me. Could possibly support if necessary. Write Box 175, A.W.

Quiet introverted student 19 with large suite West End wishes intelligent pretty girl to move in for summer, free. Write Box 424 A.W.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


I was carrying a gift of a fig tree into the garden when a huge garter snake slithered by. I've never seen a snake here before.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

it's springtime, and...

People seem to be happy. Exchanging words on the train and in the library where I was tracking down long-gone addresses, history hedged in something semi-mythical, and the beginnings of lifestyle marketing. If you're feeling generous with ideas about the latter, hit me.

I am tired and feeling ever so wobbly, wondering what the fuck is up with that when I'm taking enough medication to... nevermind, wondering why I feel so much better if I take the medication that leaves me with no memory, wondering why I have no memory anyhow, MY BRAIN! OH DEAR GODS MY BRAIN!, and I'm getting these weird lower spine and leg twitches, in a financial hole (sorry Z), going to take a little lie-down.

Oh look, it's Parker Posey as Fay Grimm, looking as a vaguely superhero-ish Z would look. Look at the picture, not the film.

Monday, May 26, 2008

i live in a rainforest

the cat

"enough. put the camera away and come to sleep."


I reach around to hug myself and notice lovely gardening core strength muscles. I'm looking to transform them into a metaphor for my psychological state.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


The cat has been leaving me little presents in the garden in return for my extended photography session with him the other night. He may also, ostensibly, be aggrieved by a lack of cuddling available at his beck and call, although my decipherment of cat as regards, "put collar on," "remove collar," "clean the litter," "feed me," and "kindly sit there elevating my rump while I writhe about and paw your face as you watch Clive Owen on t.v.," is flawless.

Friday, May 23, 2008

truly odd behavior

I'm properly sleepy. For the first time in a couple of weeks, spent digging invasive rhizomes from my mother's garden. Sort of an extended birthday/your back is in no shape to do this thing. Today I deported 24 snails and three slugs to the bog because I did not want to crush them. As I walked they stuck their heads up through the holes in an upturned plant pot, wriggling antennae in snail code for "WHAT THE HELL!"

Thursday, May 22, 2008

my mirror

After the Smart Girls.

People will sometimes tell me that I look young, even a decade less than my real age. I smile "no", and they fuss: at the liquor store, standing in a damp field, in a hospital nursery to visit a new cousin for the first time.  I search my face for family resemblances and they never seem quite there. My mother is unquestionably, easily beautiful; blonde and green eyed. I probably look most like my dad's mother as she was in the 1950s and 60s - the oval face and her nose, for instance, as well as my hair when I'd coloured it darker.  In old pictures I see, in my mom's family, bright eyes, the way wrinkles accumulate under them, how their bone structure emerges as they age, and I look forward to the same.  In the past couple years the planes of my face have become clearer; in the bathroom mirror I turn my face to watch them shift. My grandparents were orphaned, on the wrong side of war and genocide, cut through with a swath of oddity or mental illness, and finally, just far away. What registers over all is a kind of distance.  

My expression doesn't often give much away. I'm not photogenic at all, which may have something to do with my enjoyment in photographing various other body parts instead. I'm self reliant and probably look more unsure than I am - it's broad spectrum attention and attunement, or the attempt thereof that you see. Maybe a little detachment. The only promise I've ever made myself, and it was while I was a teenager, was that I would always be curious. Lately my curiosity has been tempered with an attempt to tred gently. I suppose that's what you do when your sense of safety has been ruptured, but when I find this curiosity thing in someone else it still feels like a good place to crash in to. I like to see myself best reflected in curiosity, but I now have more respect for the things that seem sure, and to enjoy them when I can.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

my small corner of the world

there's another plot of vegetable garden as well


new york city

by Simon Critchley, at The Drawbridge

My friend David is an anarchist anthropologist, and it is to him that I owe the true story of Gotham. It was a small village in south Nottinghamshire which, during the reign of bad King John in the early 13th Century, decided to forgo the questionable pleasure and huge expense of welcoming the King and his considerable retinue. Instead, they decided to behave like idiots.
It is reported that royal messengers found the villagers engaged in ridiculous tasks, like trying to drown an eel or joining hands around a thorn bush to shut in a cuckoo. King John took fright and moved on. This story of Gotham as a village full of would-be village idiots burbled down through history until Washington Irving picked up the legend as an appellation for New York in the early 19th Century, and the name stuck, right through to Batman and beyond. It is also the name of a chic little restaurant on Manhattan's West 12th Street, between 5th Avenue and University Place, which offers an excellent and reasonably priced lunch menu, despite being full of idiots. New York is a city of idiots, a town full of crazies, some of them under medication, some exploring their inner truth, some doing both at once. One or two New Yorkers still try to scare the king.
But the idiocy of New York also has another deeper dimension evoked at the beginning of E.B. White's wonderfully tightly written memoir Here is New York. "On any person who desires such queer prizes," he begins, "New York will bestow the gift of loneliness and the gift of privacy." Of course, this is deeply paradoxical, but completely accurate in my view. The prize of life in New York is the only privacy that is worthwhile, one that is not lived sequestered behind walls but lived in the crowded exposure of the public realm, on the subway or on the street. The loneliness of which White speaks is utterly foreign to a feeling of alienation or anomie; it is the gift of idiocy. In the many idioms of New York life, idiosyncrasy and individuality can meld together. Provided, of course, that one is lucky. As White adds, no one should live in New York unless she is prepared to be lucky. The idiocy of New York can forge the strongest individuals, but it can also destroy them and drive them mad.

andy warhol / the velvets - sunday morning

velvet underground - all tomorrow's parties

Monday, May 19, 2008

Sunday, May 18, 2008

reused hanging basket

Let it not be said that I'm totally useless.  I spent five hours digging weeds out by the roots and got about one third of them done.  It was partly shaded, and when you get a whiff of lavender, it's lovely*.  

Me, sunscreen, my cup of coffee, the dog going beserk.  A little more than half the seeds I put in have made their appearance - inter-cropped and studded with onions and eggshells for maximal space use and pest control.  The seeds' planting arrived at what we'll call an optimum situation, a couple days of light rain followed by heat and somewhat less heat today.

Trying to tread lightly I tossed some slugs and snails in the composter.  I'm not sure that was a good idea - they can't escape, but their offspring could.  Did you know that worms can reproduce asexually?  But they're the good bugs.

*Partly due to the advantage of being on a steady dose of allergy medicine and muscle relaxants, no doubt.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


I am a soup lover and a soup maker. Right now my favourite one involves this-

small handfuls of
juniper berries
dried lemon
1/4 bunch dill
1 onion, quartered
1 carrot, cut in 4
6 chicken thighs, skin removed and bone-in

boiled for one hour

... meanwhile, fry about a cup of shallots until translucent and turning golden; quarter a cup of cherry tomatoes (fresh or frozen); rinse a can (16 oz) of chickpeas; and finely chop about 1/2 cup of fresh dill

-remove the juniper berries, peppercorns, and lemon and grind them together in a coffee grinder or with mortar and pestal
-let the chicken cool, and tear it in pieces from the bone
-remove the cooked onion and dill
-dice the carrot
-and add all remaining ingredients to the pot and bring to boil again, with 2 star anise and salt (in small increments) to taste

I stir in a scant 1/2 tsp of red chilis for heat, but they're not in the original recipe by Padma Lakchmi

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


It seems to me that a stick of incense and a pot of india ink and pen are a pretty good approximation to what I imagine a candle scented like a shotgun would be, so that's what I spent last night with. I feel like a ghost rattling around the darkened house; I haven't been sleeping well.

Whether it be the rain or fast walking, today was better. The good psychologist googled garden pest prevention with me and helped me pull myself together.

Now I'm barefoot with a glass of wine, because I walked all over and my feet got wet, and then I went outside to move some things out of the rain. I have to wrap an early birthday present for my mom, and that's it. I have a stack of library literary magazines, a stack of books, a stack of books from an art school library, a stack of books I have vowed to return. Tossed in a corner is a dress I'm going to finish, while everyone is away and I have the place to myself.

Monday, May 12, 2008

if i was a rich girl sunday (monday edition)

An idea stolen (with permission) from Caroline.

***A FIRE ARSENAL OF WOOD STOCK, 19TH CENTURY LACQUER AND SMOKY GUNPOWDER. Long-burning candle from the Modern Alchemy Collection by D.L. & Co. 7.4 oz.

from Le Train Bleu in Portland.

(click the link for a good story)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

under my fingernails

I went outside this weekend and found out I really really like growing things. Now... I already had a window full of wee tomato sprouts, with nasturtium seeds and dahlia bulbs sleeping in soil by heating vents. But my mother's back was hurt, so I dug holes to put the blueberry bushes in for her. Then I insisted on establishing a small grove of mint under the hazelnut tree, with a drift of my dorky little tiny purple pansies to go in salads (with nasturtium flowers), and a lady's mantle - because last summer I learned that medieval alchemists believed the morning dew collected in its leaves to be magical. Then I advocated for purple cabbage next to marigolds, for insect control and colour contrast, and deep raised beds (dog protection, and partly hidden by tree and flower beds) for beets, chard, peas, lettuce, radishes and kale. Sweet peas and poppies in a couple places. Next was a place in the sun for long beans on tee-pees, with short beans and carrots. Leaving sunny space for lots of tomatoes.

Winner of "best carrot package," from the local gardening society: "Carrots originated in Afghanistan; the earliest were purple, red or white. Yellow carrots were first mentioned in Turkey in the 10th century, with orange carrots not developed until the 17th cantury in Holland. The 1885 reference book 'The Vegetable Garden' by Vilmorin-Andrieux noted that 'the seed is employed in the manufacture of some kinds of liquers, and the juice of the red varieties is used for colouring butter.' We occasionally grow Belgian white carrot, one of the few vegetables we know were grown by the Stewarts. These carrots are cylindrical, 4-6" long, sweet and crisp. Carrots were commonly stored in root cellars as inter food for the family. To grow: Plant seed in April in light sandy loam."

Then my mother assured me that despite all appearances she does like gardening - flowers - and that she and I will have to arrange different times to be in the yard so that I do not encroach on her alone time.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

mother' day blogging

Reading this morning's newspaper I found news of Michel Houellebecq, who wrote the book my friend thinks everyone should read, The Elementary Particles/Atomized.  Totally his bag.  So I present to you mother's day guest blogging from my friend, in absentia.  He loves his mom.  

I recommend The Guardian article.

I copy Elizabeth Renzetti of The Globe and Mail’s related article in full, for the polyglot polar bear punning (boldfaced, near the end) on maternal brutality, and because I think the Globe’s refusal to provide editorial content for free (some sort of cute, unintentional, post-colonial statement on The Guardian’s “comment is free” tagline?) is dumb.

My sentimental favourite interview with Houellebecq is from The Believer.  

My mom thinks anything boys do is twice as nice as a girl doing the same thing, but then so does her mother.


'I never left anybody. It was him that left me'

Michel Houellebecq, France's most shocking novelist, made his name with tales of dysfunctional, estranged relationships. Now his own mother, portrayed as a sex-obsessed hippy in one of his books, has launched a devastating counter-attack in a new memoir. Here the foul-mouthed Lucie Ceccaldi, 83, grants her first British interview to Angelique Chrisafis

'Maybe I should have sent him to an English boarding school' ... Photograph: Pierre Verdy/AFP/Getty Images


“Take these apron strings and strangle yourself for all I care”

Elizabeth Renzetti


When thousands of glittery pink cards are handed from sons to their mothers tomorrow, I doubt that we’ll see many exchanges along these lines: “Hey old slut, thanks for nothing!” “Well, you stupid bastard, nothing’s what you deserve!”

Yet these are the very sentiments at the (wizened, blackened) heart of a literary scandal that’s the talk of all of France. And while it may be a French fight, it says something important about unorthodox mothers, wherever they live. Michel Houellebecq, the country’s most famous novelist and a man on kissing terms with controversy, is in the limelight again, though not of his choosing. This time he’s been coldcocked by his 83-year-old mother.

Houellebecq was essentially abandoned by his mother, Lucie Ceccaldi, when he was a child, and called her “old slut” in public, and painted a terribly unflattering portrait of her in his award-winning novel, Atomized (originally published as Les Particules élémentaires).

Now Ceccaldi – possibly the world’s scariest octogenarian after Robert Mugabe – has laid into her son with her own memoir, L’Innocente. (Could there be a more provocative title?) “This individual, who alas came out of my tummy, is a liar, an imposter, a parasite and especially, especially, a little upstart ready to do anything for fortune and fame.”

That was an exerpt, from Ceccaldi’s memoir, published in the French press last week, which also included this little cuddle: “My son can go and get screwed by whomever he wants, he can write another book, I don’t give a toss.” Worse was yet to come, when Ceccaldi was interviewed by The Guardian newspaper: “Houellebecq’s a stupid little bastard,” she said, “whether he’s my son or not.”

So far, Houellebecq has remained mum on the whole mom issue. The feud began – if you can possibly navigate the perilous headwaters of this Freudian drama – eight years ago, when a character called Janine Ceccaldi appeared in Les Particules élémentaires. She is a grotesque horror show of a mother who abandons her baby, named Michel, in a pile of his own filth, and doesn’t attend her own father’s funeral. Cceccaldi (the fictional one, though who’s to know?) doesn’t want children, but believes “that maternity was something every woman should experience.” Michel, not surprisingly, grows into a despairing, sexually powerless man.

Possibly the feud began even before the novel, in the early nineties, the last time the two met, when they fell out over the Presian Gulf war. Probably it began earlier, when Ceccaldi, a doctor, left her son in the care of his paternal grandmother to live out her bliss on an island in the Indian Ocean. Today, Ceccaldi looks like a bohemian apple doll, her face as furrowed as the drought-struck river delta, her kohl-lined eyes gazing fiercely from hollow sockets. She’s a hippie Medea.

This tempest arrives just in time for Canadian Mother’s Day and, a few weeks later, France’s annual Fête des mères, the day when maman is supposed to put her feet up and let her lazy children make the clafoutis for a change. But it also arrives at a time when the deification of motherhood (not mothers, of course, because that would mean universal childcare and maternity benetifs) is at an all-time high.

How is a woman unsuited to motherhood supposed to feel when she looks at the infant-littered landscape of pop culture, with its endless Hollywood “bump” watches, its fertility monitering as ominous as the advance of the Doomsday Clock, its endings that are happy only with the splat of a baby into a bassinet?

Worse, how is a woman supposed to feel when she has made the commitment to parenthood and then realized – as Ceccaldi so clearly did – that parenthood isn’t for her? It’s the last decision in the world that’s for life. You can always sell a house, send a puppy back to the breeder, even leave the convent if you realize a life of celibacy and contemplation isn’t for you. But that umbilical cord’s tougher than titanium.

We reserve special toxins for women who are perceived to be unmaternal. The Germans have a word for it – rabenmutter, or raven mother, which a crowd of angry citizens yelled outside the cage of Vilma, a polar bear at the Nuremberg Zoo who’d eaten two of her cubs. Not many in that crowd could have been mothers, because anyone with children would have understood Vilma’s pain (although we tend to draw the line at actual chomping).

I remember a friend saying, at the end of a wine-sodden evening, that she wished she hadn’t had her children. It was the most unsettling confession I’ve ever heard, the ultimate taboo. In her very insightful interview with Ceccaldi, The Guardian’s Angelique Chrisafis quotes Philip Larkin’s famous line, from This Be The Verse: “They fuck you up, your mum and dad.” But she didn’t include the gut-wrenching line that follows, which I’ve always thought takes the poem to a different plane of sorrow and resignation: “They may not mean to, but they do.”

There are very few parents who set out with the intention of maiming their children emotionally, even if many of us – most of us – end up doing just that. On the eve of this greeting-card holiday, we should honour Larkin (childless) and Ceccaldi (who probably wishes she were) by remembering the great poet’s words: “Man hands misery on to man/It deepens like a coastal shelf/Get out as early as you can/And don’t have any kids yourself.”

Friday, May 9, 2008

haiku me

As seen at Tartesque.

Haiku2 for theornithogrinarium
a sigh driving down
old country roads past curling
paint and houses slouched
Created by Grahame

Thursday, May 8, 2008

sock it to me

I am proud of  my newly knitted knee sock; all cables and pearl stitches and the most beautiful heel it is.  Now... for the second one.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


I know I'm a sensitive person, but I try to keep a handle on things.  Hypersensitive people make me feel cruel. Because I am. Not sensitive enough.


I have no idea what I did this time, but knowing that I did something makes me want to fucking die.  

*ah ha.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

melissa auf der maur - taste you

When I was sixteen I learned to play bass because of Melissa auf der Maur, who then played in the band Hole.  Her aesthetic stuck.  I still play scales and finger exercises sometimes, I loved it and should get back to it, just as soon as I read some philosophy so that my friend and my psychologist don't get bored of me.  I still need to learn from his great talents.  

Why the fuck this video, "Devil's Plaything," performed by the incomparable Ms. auf der Maur and Karen Elson, won't post is anyone's guess.  I like it better (the first one kind of sucks).


I got the job!  My present-tense dream job.  I get to work for a fantastically smart woman, and will have the opportunity to learn tonnes from a relatively low pressure position, with the other smart woman.  I am stunned that I managed to impress this person, as I seem to have done.  So so so cool.  It is immensely powerful motivation to feel that I am in exactly the right place at the right time.

Monday, May 5, 2008

animal collective - for reverend green

my friend sent me an audio file of this when i gone lost my mind

Sunday, May 4, 2008

wolf parade - i'll believe in anything

sometimes you gotta

[seriously, I'm fine, but I had the worst time trying to fall asleep last night]

Friday, May 2, 2008


Today I went to the farm to relocate strawberry plants and manure.  The farm has tenant Scottish Highland cows that are just beautiful and keep the lawn mowed.  "I almost spilled the wheelbarrow and they gave me the eye; 'that's precious cargo,'" said the nearly-on-vacation vocational rehab guy.  I fed them and he said, "I'm sure that is their moo-ed tribute, 'Wrenna is the clover queen'."  The lovely psychosis researcher calls them "skater cows," for their hair.

In other news, my German grandfather has received birthday greetings from the premier, prime minister, and opposition leader (his daughter interceded).  He's hanging them in his toilet, "at an angle so that they can look at each other."  Hilarious.

Photo courtesy of


Just bashed myself in the head with something I wrote while very ill.  That's what it feel like each time I find one.  A bash in the head.  Sorry, to the person I wrote.

cat power - he war

black mountain - angels

I don't think this is a great song, but I like the band and pretty use of the film "Wings of Desire."

nick cave - where the wild roses grow

Thursday, May 1, 2008

scarlett johansson - falling down

she has my favourite flowers in that bouquet: ranunculas, orchids (past lover's tattoo), and poppies.


I shall be gleefully returning to university in September to begin finishing my degree.  It will be a slow return, but I am WAY excited by the prospect of a research seminar on the history of emotions, and another, with linkage to urban geography.   The interview for my dream job is next Tuesday.  I am crossing fingers, scouting lucky stars, and engaging in preparatory reading.  The "can I handle it?" is crushing.