1. What is the significance of your octopus default-icon?
When I first went to Wiscon, I was charmed by the Octopus Car Wash locations I saw around Madison. My icon is from a photo of their mascot -- a statue of an octopus with its arms full of cleaning supplies. I adopted the icon for cleaning and housework and generally being busy, and used it here because I was doing a lot of work cleaning out my life, selling off books, and trying to cut down to essentials. I have done a lot but still have a fair bit to get through.
2. What are you reading currently?
Dearie, a biography of Julia Child. A fascinating story, but the writer is annoyingly sloppy with language. (No matter how hungry she and Paul were, they did not eat "a myriad of meals" in the space of two months.) Renee L. Bergland's The National Uncanny, about how Indians appear as ghosts in US literature. Dense lit crit but full of insights. Also, Paula Guran's The Year's Best Dark Fantasy & Horror 2010. Some truly great stories. I'm reading slowly to savor.
3. Night owl or morning person?
Night owl. Or sometimes morning person. IMO afternoons are for napping.
4. Do you prefer to travel by plane, travel by train, or travel by some other means?
Depends on how far I'm going. If I'm visiting my family back east, it pretty much has to be an airplane -- and I do love the rush of takeoff almost enough to make up for the TSA, the crowding, the dry air, the airports. OK, it's my least favorite form of travel, but it works for cross-country trips. For commuting and shorter journeys, I am happy with trains. Much more legroom, and I can read, nap, or just look out the windows. I like driving when the roads are relatively quiet -- I'm a speed demon and prefer that nothing get in my way. And I love to walk around in a city or in the country.
5. Please share some of your own thoughts on nonviolence?
Nonviolence works, but it requires time, patience, honesty, self-awareness, and genuine concern for the other. None of these will get anybody rich, so our government will go on making war -- so profitable! But I've seen too much violence (and lived with the effects of it) to believe that violence can ever be anything but a partial and temporary solution, carrying the seeds of destruction for tomorrow.
6. Forest or ocean?
Oddly enough, I had a chance to test my knee-jerk answer about ten days ago. I drove alone down to Santa Cruz and then north along California Rte. 1 -- a spectacular road along the ocean. Then I went inland through the towering redwood forests of the Santa Cruz Mountains, where I lived when I first moved west. The ocean was beautiful. The forest, the mountains -- they are home. I belong to them.
7. Dog or cat person?
Cats, and not just because I am allergic to dogs.
8. E-book or paper book? And why?
I'm in transition. I love paper books. The batteries don't fail, Amazon can't repossess them, my friends can borrow them, and they're always a topic of conversation. I own thousands, and my housemates own thousands. We're thinking of moving, to a smaller place, and that means letting go of a lot of them. But it's so much easier to carry a lot of books on an airplane if most of them are digital. I use an iPod Touch as an ereader, so I can literally have a library in my pocket. Also, the iPod lets me read under the covers at night without a flashlight. However, some books are not yet digitized and aren't likely to be. So I'll provavly go on owning (and preferring) many paper books but also reading on the iPod.
9. Favorite impressionist artist and/or artwork?
That's a toughie. Using the strict definition of Impressionist, I'd have to say Cezanne. Something about his landscapes in ochre and olive has always touched me -- then I came to California and saw landscapes like them, and was hooked. For an inidividual artwork, the Monet oak. Taking the definition a lot more loosely -- (19th century French painters), I like Courbet's lush landscapes and lusher nudes.
10. Best live musical performance you've ever been to?
Hmmmm. Eric Clapton? The Talking Heads? Joni Mitchell? The Grateful Dead? Richard Shindell? No, probably an outdoor summer concert of the Philadelphia Orchestra, where I heard Beethoven's Seventh Symphony for the first time.
11. If you could visit any country that you've never been to before, where would you go?
My foreign travel has been limited. I've only been abroad once: England -- for 10 days, 2 of them travel days, on my honeymoon in 1985. Because my allergies have become so severe, I can't go anywhere that they don't speak English. I'd like to see British Vancouver someday. I'd love to go back and see much much more of Great Britain.
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