Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Best Foot Forward

Kathryn True went on architect Paul Crowther's tour at the Central Public Libary in Seattle. A week later the Seattle Times photographer Dean Rutz followed me around while I presented my tour. He took pictures of my shoes and black pant legs, on conceptual artist Ann Hamilton's 7200 square feet of computer routed maple wooden floor.

Question: Who's got the copy right on my feet when they appear in the newspaper?

I look at my feet in the newspaper's photograph, and think, "Here we have 556 first sentences, in 11 languages, from books in the library's world collection. They're inverted in reference to the letter press." I tell visitors that the artist took great care not to use sentences which contain words that we don't want to put our feet on. No blasphemy underfoot, so to speak.

This makes me think of something I was told in the summer of 1993, back in Amsterdam. Something about saving snippets of paper. I even remembered the location where I heard the information (an alley off the Nieuwe Zijdsvoorburgwal), but what the exact gist of the story was, I couldn't recall.

Author Jan-Willem van de Wetering said to me, "If you haven't written it down, it didn't happen." But that was in 1994, when I went to say "Hé, hoe gaat het met je?" at Seattle's Mystery Bookstore. So, I looked through my datebook of 1993, and low and behold, there was a note about "Jineze" and "Islamic Institute".

After some Google-ing I found what I was looking for at Wikipedia: "It is against Jewish law to destroy anything that contains God's name. All deteriorating or no-longer-usable ritual documents, therefore, had to be either buried or stored in a special room called a geniza. There were time periods when it was also a tradition to bury religious texts with scholars."

Put your message in a bottle, put your hope in a jar, make a wish upon a star.

All rights reserved © Judith van Praag

Sunday, March 27, 2005

When in drought catch water.

Governor Gregoire declared Washington State drought prone. The Concervation Corps offered water barrels, made out of recycled olive drums for $52 + tax.
"Shall we fill it with water from the faucet?" Pleasant Husband Dearest asked.
"Of course not, we wait for the rain," I said, forgetting that even if it would ever rain again, we don't have gutters, nor pipes, that would direct the water to the barrel.
But then the clouds came racing, wanting to let go, and then it started raining. And not a little bit either, but only so many drops made it into our barrel. Something had to be done.
Under the gazebo, in galoshes and late Mama's raincoat, I unscrewed lids of a grocery bag load of empty glass jars, placing each under the drip of the gazebo's scalloped edged cloth roof. "I can hear the rain," (Ann Peebles), " in my glass jars." (JvP) Who would ever have thought rain water would be music to my ears, here in the Pacific Northwest?
I was emptying the first set of filled jars into the barrel, when PHD stuck his head out the door. "One of your spigots is open," he yelled, "'sLike pissing in the rain!"
And yes, the water I poured in from the top, drained just as fast from the bottom. Concervation Corps turns out to be Conversation Corps.

All rights reserved © Judith van Praag