Harry Clarke’s Illustrations

posted by Edith Zimmerman Dec 06, 2023

Every so often on Instagram I come across Harry Clarke’s stringy, spooky illustrations for the 1919 Edgar Allan Poe collection Tales of Mystery & Imagination (above left) or the 1925 version of Goethe’s Faust. Poking around led me to this 2016 story in the Public Domain Review: “Harry Clarke’s Looking Glass.” As I learned, he once wrote to a friend that his publisher thought a set of his Faust illustrations were “full of stench and steaming horrors.”

50watts has more great images, and here’s a zoomable version of the “Sea Witch” (above right) from his illustrations for Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid.”

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Diary Comics, Nov. 7

posted by Edith Zimmerman Dec 06, 2023

Nov. 8 was pure complaining, so I’m skipping that one. (Previously: Oct. 28 & 29, Oct. 30 & 31, Nov. 1 & 2, Nov. 3 & 4, Nov. 5 & 6)

A funny story about Norman Lear on the day of his passing, if that’s alright…” From comedian Alex Edelman.

via twitter.com

The Story of “The Wexford Carol”

posted by Edith Zimmerman Dec 06, 2023

Last night my family listened to “The Wexford Carol” after my husband asked if I knew about its backstory. I didn’t, but I learned that while the song is centuries old, it was only relatively recently transcribed.

There’s an affecting version of that story in a recent post on America: The Jesuit Review, by Maggi Van Dorn. “I have learned to take Christmas carols seriously,” she writes, “and to anticipate the epiphanies they may bear in my spiritual life as I contemplate them anew. […] As for ‘The Wexford Carol,’ it quietly survived over 400 years of British colonial suppression and was first put to paper in the small Irish village of Enniscorthy,” where she traveled to ask locals about the song.

The above Alison Krauss and Yo-Yo Ma rendition appears on Ma’s 2008 holiday album, Songs of Joy & Peace. Loreena McKennitt also has a beautiful version, as does the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, which made a cheesy music video that also made me cry.

Owl (Comic)

posted by Edith Zimmerman Dec 06, 2023

From 2022, when my husband had facial hair.

Millennial Mom-hood

posted by Edith Zimmerman Dec 06, 2023

“I know some women who have decided to forgo motherhood altogether — not out of an empowered certainty that they want to remain child-free, but because the alternative seems impossibly daunting. Others are still choosing motherhood, but with profound apprehension that it will require them to sacrifice everything that brings them pleasure.” In Vox, Rachel M. Cohen writes about “How Millennials Learned to Dread Motherhood.”

As an old millennial, I feel compelled to say that being a mom is awesome and easily one of the most interesting and meaningful things that’s ever happened to me. But talking about how great it is can feel like tempting the gods. As Cohen notes in her piece, “When I started asking women about their experiences as mothers, I was startled by the number who sheepishly admitted, and only after being pressed, that they had pretty equitable arrangements with their partners, and even loved being moms, but were unlikely to say any of that publicly.”

Victorian seaweed-themed Christmas cards, why not? The rhymes could be a little sharper, though, in my opinion.

via twitter.com

Great Kids’ Book: Little Witch Hazel

posted by Edith Zimmerman Dec 06, 2023

Yesterday at our library’s Story Time, the reader chose a book that knocked my socks off: Little Witch Hazel: A Year in the Woods, by Phoebe Wahl, from 2021. (Trailer above.) It’s about a tiny witch who lives in the forest, and it follows her on her adventures through the seasons. (The book is divided into four sections.) The kids in the crowd — ages two through five — were mostly entranced.


Two of the book’s most beautiful pages are available as prints; my favorite is above.

Wahl’s website also led me to an illustrated editorial she did for the NYT last year: “The Joys of Swimming While Fat.”

Another Knitting Post: The Pengweeno Cardigan

posted by Edith Zimmerman Dec 05, 2023


This is a recommendation for the pattern to the delightful Pengweeno children’s cardigan, by Stephen West. I’ve made three of them — this post is probably/definitely just an excuse to share these photos — and hope to make more.


It’s a good way to use up spare yarn, and the result is supremely cute and satisfying. There’s also an adult version — the Penguono — but for whatever reason only the Pengweeno speaks to me. (Here’s Stephen West on Ravelry, Instagram, and his website.)


Previously: Traditional Maine Mittens. I have to cram as much knitting content as I can onto this blog before Jason comes back!

When I was collecting links to share in advance of this guest-blogging stint, Moe Tkacik’s Slate essay on Jezebel was at the top of my list. Then I saw it shared everywhere and figured it would be old news by the time I started posting. But in case anyone’s missed it, it brought me back immediately to how I felt reading Jezebel at my desk at my first office job. Namely: thrilled/in awe someone like her existed.

Mini anecdote: In 2008 I emailed Moe an idea for a Jezebel story. She wrote back saying, and I believe I quote, because I remember where I was when I got her response as well as the device I was reading it on: “I like this idea.” It never went anywhere, but the idea that she liked an idea of mine changed my life. Thanks, Moe.

via slate.com

Diary Comics, Nov. 5 & 6

posted by Edith Zimmerman Dec 05, 2023

Keeping on with this series… This one may be too much for one post, apologies! (Previously: Oct. 28 & 29, Oct. 30 & 31, Nov. 1 & 2, Nov. 3 & 4)

Note: Tooth discoloration turned out to be Goldfish buildup.


Yesterday I learned that there’s a newsletter dedicated to reviewing New Yorker issues, categorizing stories from “Must Read” to “Skip Without Guilt.”

Tricycle Magazine and an Essay About Stuttering

posted by Edith Zimmerman Dec 05, 2023

I’m not a Buddhist or a meditator, but I’ve subscribed to Buddhist magazine Tricycle for the past few years. They send a “Daily Dharma” newsletter each morning, with a single line from an archived story. I love these and maybe someday I’ll actually start meditating. Here’s one from last month:


But a story from a 2022 issue has especially stuck with me: psychiatrist (and Buddhist) Mark Epstein’s personal essay on having a speech impediment and “How Meditation Failed Me.”

… I was instructed to read the book as perfectly as I could, without rustling or coughing, speeding up or slowing down, or messing up in any way. I had done this once before with a previous book, and I was proud of having accomplished it smoothly. …

On this occasion, however, my old speech impediment came back to haunt me. Going to Pieces begins with the word “In” — a strange sound, when one isolates it and stops to think about it and convinces oneself that it cannot be said.

Each time I’ve read this essay, the ending overwhelms me. “It seemed important, at first, to find someone or something to blame…”

My only criticism of the magazine is that I wish there were more visuals to use other than Buddhas.

Mermaid Entrepreneur (Comic)

posted by Edith Zimmerman Dec 05, 2023


I Drink Water and Mind My Business

posted by Edith Zimmerman Dec 05, 2023

Cool “old” songs, part two? This 2021 jam was used as background music in a TikTok or Instagram reel I came across last year, and it stopped me in my tracks. I looked it up immediately and don’t understand why it hasn’t become a worldwide hit: “Mind My Business,” by Trinidadian singer Patrice Roberts. I think about it all the time. There’s also a funny music video, but I kind of prefer just imagining. [Patrice Roberts on wikipedia/instagram]

Fruit-Themed Running Clothes for Adults

posted by Edith Zimmerman Dec 04, 2023

Last Friday I asked for suggestions on where I might find bright, fruit-themed running clothes for adults (FTRCfA), and I was not disappointed. Commenter Seth wrote:

As a runner myself I always found BOA Running shorts and Chicknleg running shorts to have fun patterns. Last I checked both had at least a strawberry pattern to meet your fruit needs.

I had not heard of either brand before, but he was right, and the strawberry women’s shorts at BOA were even on sale. They also have cute peach ones, for both men and women. At Chicknleg I went for the pineapples and sea turtles. The snails were also tempting. Thank you, and I’m looking forward to wearing these silly, cheerful clothes come summer. I only started running at the beginning of the pandemic, but it has transformed my life. I didn’t think it would change my relationship with clothing, but it’s so much easier to wear goofy, neon stuff this way, and to not feel ridiculous about it — or to enjoy feeling ridiculous.

“The next day, his Twitter … mentions were filled with angry people complaining.” Short, fun profile of Sam Ezersky, the man behind the NYT’s Spelling Bee puzzle, in Baltimore Magazine.

Roz Chast’s Embroidery: An Appreciation

posted by Edith Zimmerman Dec 04, 2023


This is old news, but New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast also makes embroidered tapestries (and occasional embroidered New Yorker covers), and they’re just stunning. I also liked an interview she gave earlier this year with the sewing magazine Threads:

[Threads]: What is your favorite textile piece?

RC: It’s a picture of a little girl and she’s holding a little notebook and she has a pen and she has her parents on either side of her and the border is a quote from a Polish poet, Czesław Miłosz, and the quote is, “When a writer is born into a family, the family is finished.”

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A post shared by Roz Chast (@rozchast)

An exhibition of Chast’s embroidery — “Buildings, Bananas, and Beyond” — recently closed at the Carol Corey Fine Art gallery in Kent, CT, but there are some fantastic images online (three are featured at the top of this post, but the thumbnails don’t do them justice).

I think my favorite is her “Diver” (below).

Diary Comics: Nov. 2, 3, & 4

posted by Edith Zimmerman Dec 04, 2023

Some more day-in-the-life comics, with some coloring assists from my daughter.

Cool Old Songs, Part One

posted by Edith Zimmerman Dec 04, 2023

Lots of Kottke readers probably know about the band Pere Ubu, but I only learned about them a couple years ago, through my husband. Their song “Breath” totally rules, as does their legendary 1989 performance of it (above) on the live-music show “Sunday Night,” hosted by David Sanborn (and Jools Holland — although now I’m just quoting from Wikipedia). May I someday tap into whatever he’s tapping into if I haven’t already.

If you want more, I highly recommend the musician Cat Popper’s 2021 cover of “Breath.” (“I really like that version of ‘Breath,’” said Pere Ubu’s own David Thomas. “I like it better than mine.”)

“Breath” comes from the album Cloudland, which also contains the excellent song “Waiting for Mary,” which Pere Ubu performed on that same “Sunday Night” show. And here’s the studio version of “Breath” [spotify link] if you want a cleaner listen.

The “Sunday Long Read” newsletter linked to two parenting-adjacent stories yesterday, on opposite ends of the spectrum. One scared the crap out of me: an account of nearly dying shortly after a c-section, by Grace Glassman in Slate (“I gave birth at 45. It was a miracle that almost cost me everything”). The other was funny: David Sedaris on modern kids, in The Free Press (“Children now are like animals who have no natural predators left”).

via mailchi.mp

Reading NYT book critic Dwight Garner’s memories of the books that he read/reviewed this past year (“I … remember making a fool of myself”) reminded me how much I also enjoyed his Grub Street Diet from a couple months ago. Without rereading it, and following the Sigrid Nunez prompt he used in the NYT book-memories article: I remember from that post that his apartment seemed creaky and comfortable, and that it seemed like he had a nice marriage. Also maybe something about oysters. […] Okay, no oysters, yes organ meat.

via nytimes.com

Searching for a Wedding Dress Accessory (Comic)

posted by Edith Zimmerman Dec 04, 2023

From 2021.

How to Cook Turkey With Just Chicken and Cinnamon

posted by Edith Zimmerman Dec 04, 2023

Right on time for all upcoming feasts, it’s “Holiday Recipes Dictated by Kindergarteners,” in the newsletter Bright Spots, by Chris Duffy. (His friend, a kindergarten teacher, had her students “collectively dictate to her how they believe their favorite Thanksgiving dishes were made.”) For instance, turkey:


Click through for further instructions on how to prepare stuffing, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. Where was this two weeks ago?

On Buying Toddler Clothes

posted by Edith Zimmerman Dec 01, 2023

fruit-clothes.pngOne problem with having a toddler is that there’s so much you can buy them, and it’s so easy to be tempted by all of it. Or to resist 98% of the time, but then cave and still end up having spent hundreds of dollars on sweaters and toothbrushes and sunglasses and shoes. And trampolines and socks and stuffed dragons. It’s just that my daughter likes everything right now, and it makes me feel good to give her something that she likes. Really it’s just the clothes that torment me. She loves new clothes and will put on anything that’s new to her, including all the fabulous hand-me-downs we get. But Mother magazine sometimes hits that 2% sweet (rotten) spot. A couple weeks ago, it got me to buy a little apple sweater, which I love, but which I regret buying in her size (2T) and not in a size that she’d grow into (3T), because it’s basically already too small, which is absurd because it cost $50 (on sale plus shipping and tax). I also put like $200 worth of clothing (on sale!) from Petit Pilou into a digital shopping cart before abruptly closing the tab and shutting off my phone. But I bet if I open it up again it will still be there. The pineapple dresses were really what got me.

Maybe I just want to dress all in fruit myself, and it pleases me to live through my daughter, since she seems to enjoy it as well. Hanna Andersson has some wonderful fruit clothing, since I’m on the topic. We have their strawberry socks, swimsuit, and hat.

If anyone knows of any running clothes with cool fruit patterns, please let me know. I’ve been hoping Janji will bust out with something good (their other patterns are often excellent), and although it would be cool if Tracksmith did something fruity, it would probably be tasteful and realistic, when I’m looking for something neon and extreme. Something cheerful. I hope Santa is listening.

This 30-minute NYT documentary about an Irish family sheep farm was blissful and entrancing, until they started sawing (or, trimming) a ram’s horns. It was still good, it was just a different experience. I would also describe it overall as “strange.” (“Ramboy.”) [thx, Andrew!]

via nytimes.com

The Pilea, a.k.a. Friendship, Plant

posted by Edith Zimmerman Dec 01, 2023

pilea-and-babies-copy.jpgI don’t have a green thumb, but I bought one of these a few months ago, and it’s still going strong. This post is purely to recommend that plant: pilea peperomioides, also known as the Chinese money plant, the coin plant, the friendship plant, and the UFO plant. It’s pleasingly goofy and, as far as I can tell, resilient. I’ve even snipped off a few of the little “babies” that sprout from its sides (above right), kept them in water for a couple weeks to let them grow roots…
… and replanted them to give to friends.
It’s a satisfying endeavor. I will share this now before any of the little guys die.

It’s nothing like Jason’s fiddle leaf fig, but you never know.

Actually rereading that post is very moving. Writing this blog for even a few days has been an affecting experience. It has me remembering past lives and investigating current ones.

“[W]e’d start up the hill in little groups making polite small talk. How did you sleep? My legs are so sore already! By the way down, the tenor of the conversation had changed. I’m learning to be O.K. with living the rest of my life alone. It took me years to get over the guilt of not giving my son a sibling. With each hike, the time it took to go from small talk to real talk got shorter.” Writing for Air Mail, Lauren Bans makes me want to visit the Golden Door Spa.

via airmail.news

Diary Comics, Nov. 1 & 2

posted by Edith Zimmerman Dec 01, 2023

Continuing on… I feel a little weird sharing these; I realize they may not be especially interesting. But, for now, more days in the life!

Lana Del Rey Covering “Take Me Home, Country Roads”

posted by Edith Zimmerman Dec 01, 2023

As one YouTube commenter says: “The melancholy in her voice should be preserved in a nostalgic museum.”

Why’d I Take Speed for 20 Years?” … asks former Reply All host PJ Vogt, in his new podcast Search Engine. “Dexedrine was like glasses, [the doctor said], but for my brain.” The episode looks at the history and rise of medical amphetamines, and I found it riveting. (Full disclosure: PJ is a friend of mine.) The podcast also has a newsletter, which I read more than I listen to the show. I’m not really a podcast person, although I also especially liked an earlier episode speculating about “what’s going on with Elon Musk?”

via pjvogt.substack.com

“She has set her ego aside in exchange for something bigger and better.” This is maybe a little out there, but a couple years ago I bought a session with a hypnotherapist (or, a subconscious success coach). I wanted to make money through my newsletter but felt weird about it and wondered if something psychological might be getting in the way. I don’t know if there was or not, and I am not here to recommend hypnotherapy. However I have remained on the hypnotherapist’s email newsletter, and the above was a single line from one of her recent “Two-Minute Transformation” emails. I might have just been in the right zone to receive it, and/or it might need more context, but it helped me see that much of what I fear is simply having my ego dented, which made it easier to imagine a path forward. Her name is Gaby Abrams.

via gabyabrams.com

Trying Out ‘The Crown,’ Season One (Comic)

posted by Edith Zimmerman Dec 01, 2023

From 2021.

My Writing/Drawing Process

posted by Edith Zimmerman Nov 30, 2023

Note: I accidentally published this already, but I managed to back-date it to yesterday, so I deleted and am republishing. I apologize.

In the comments section yesterday, Caroline G. asked:

Really interested in knowing more about your writing/journaling/drawing process and practice!

And because I love being asked questions, I thought I would respond in a post!

Basically first thing each morning I drink coffee and draw for an hour or so. I usually draw whatever seems memorable from the day before. This is like three days worth of the journal comics:
The habit started about seven years ago when I stopped drinking and found I had a lot of energy in the morning, and that I really enjoyed doing something manual while I drank a ton of coffee. So I began keeping a traditional journal, and then I started a second journal for sketching (following the classic sober advice of “you might still like doing the stuff you liked doing as a kid”), and eventually the two journals melded into one. Also I was reading a lot of Julia Wertz and Gabrielle Bell, whose work and diary comics have been very influential.

I started posting a few of the comics to an Instagram account in 2017, and I enjoyed doing that so much that in 2019 I quit my job to publish the comics to a newsletter instead, with the hope that I might one day charge people to read it and make a living doing so. That never quite happened (the making-a-living part), but it was going well and growing, until eventually the whole thing started to crumble, for reasons that are still not totally clear to me. But basically I stopped liking my work. I think I was shaping it to try to appeal to people. Or I had lost sight of something. Or both. Or something else. Also I had a baby who was turning into a toddler, and it was easy to accept being a stay-at-home-mom as an identity.

But I kept doing the journal comics, just privately. And a year+ passed, and then Jason Kottke asked me to guest-blog for him, and it got me thinking I might get back into publishing things again! (Plus some other factors, like general boredom and hunger for a project.) I’d love to find a new rhythm for my own newsletter, and I have a few ideas about how I might do it.

On a more technical aspect, I use Micron pens (size 01) and Staedtler Ergosoft colored pencils, on Borden & Riley Paris Paper No. 234. I scan it all in using a Canon LiDE 220 scanner and then tweak it using the Preview application on my MacBook.

Not long ago, when I ordered a café au lait in downtown Washington, I was told my lait choices were oat, soy, or almond. “I’ll take regular whole milk,” I said. “Sorry, we don’t have that,” the barista replied.

My mind was blown in this entertaining Natalie Angier review of a new book on milk. (“Spoiled: The Myth of Milk as Superfood,” by Anne Mendelson.)
via nybooks.com