zirconium: photo of ranunculus bloom on my laptop (ranunculus on keyboard)
["Under the oak leaves" - a line from "Au clair de la fontaine" (By the clear fountain)]

The senior minister at my church is on sabbatical, and Rabbi Rami Shapiro is visiting monthly as a guest preacher. On September 11, he brought with him a shruti, which he played as the congregation learned a new round:

I am a fountain

Longtime readers/friends may recall that I do have a thing about fountains... though this past month my scant spare time has been more on lake and river. My Labor Day getaway plans having fallen through twice, I decided to get on a paddleboard four out of my five days off, and last Friday I watched the full moon from my lantern-lit plank on the Cumberland.

Elsewhere and elsewhen: Paying work. Housework. Homework. Paperwork. Footwork. Speaking of--
Dancing: hip-hop, flamenco, Afro-Cuban (orishas), English country.
Friends: Visiting from France and elsewhere. Running for office.. Organizing campferences. Selling taco + lesbian farmer buttons (coupon code here, btw). Preparing for High Holy Days. Coding. Cajoling. Caretaking. I could go on ... in short, inspiring me.
Harvesting: peppers.
Deadheading: zinnias.

Recently published:

  • At unFold: "Spacing for Sky," with typography by J. S. Graustein


  • At Folded Word: "O Margaret, Here We Are Again"


  • At 7x20, a weekful of polished micro-poems: 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5


  • There is more to say and write, much of it off-blog, but a guest arrives tomorrow, so for now it's back to cleaning. Onward!
    zirconium: of blue bicycle in front of Blue Bicycle Books, Charleston (blue bicycle)
    The subject line's from "Brooklyn Blurs," a song by/in The Paper Raincoat. I heard Alex Wong perform it with Megan Slankard in a house concert back in March, and he mentioned at an Angelhouse Family Dinner that he would probably play it during his Basement gig last Saturday.

    I'd hoped to go to that show, but Other Things Happened. I'd hope to see tonight's ASL-interpreted performance of the Scottish play, but Other Things Had To Get Done. I have a suspiciously sore throat that I'm hoping won't get in the way of Things I Gotta Get To and Through within the next week. Mann traoch, Gott lauch.

    There is a metal screwcap perched on my handbag. I am perplexed - none of the bottles in the cabinets or on the counters appear to be missing their stoppers or lids, nor is there an open bottle of wine - but not enough to feel like I have to figure it out before I head to bed. Though it's all too likely that my brain will seize on some aspect of this to turn into a tanka or triolet a couple of hours from now, and that will get me out of bed to type out the words before they evaporate.

    IMG_1091

    This week's Tarotscope urged me to embrace change. ... I broke in my new pair of swim goggles this week. I tried buti yoga last week. I'm looking at dance classes around town -- it's going to be a full day if I try to attend the Muslim hip hop doubleheader that's scheduled for the same Saturday as the Early Autumn Day of English country dancing, but it looks doable and is therefore tempting.

    I am contemplating iron-on vines, to cover a stain on a gooseneck rocking chair I acquired last week at the Habitat ReStore for $25. My current tomato cutting + pepper cullings look sunburnt in their beakers and jars, so I'm thinking of throwing out the lot. I am thankful that I had limes on hand this morning, as I was again careless about gloving up before dealing with Prairie Fire seeds and ended up giving myself an invisible moustache of a burn. The zinnias are thriving:

    IMG_1105

    ripples

    Aug. 14th, 2016 09:24 pm
    zirconium: Photo of 1860 cast of Lincoln's hand (Lincoln hand)
    I mentioned Rahsaan Barber in my previous entry. The ads for his concert had caught my eye in large part because he played in First UU Nashville's 2015 performance of Darrell Grant's Ruby Bridges Suite; I sang in the choir.

    A snapshot from the dress rehearsal:
    Rahsaan Barber

    A recording of "Hold My Hand," from the suite: https://soundcloud.com/tn_choirboy/hold-my-hand-sunday-june-14

    That Sunday, the orders of service included postcards of Norman Rockwell's The Problem We All Live With. I'd collected a few left behind in the pews and sent them to friends.

    I had forgotten that I'd received a copy of that postcard myself back in 2009, when my late friend Marilyn purchased it at the Detroit Institute of Arts and sent it to me:

    postcard from Marilyn

    Now I wonder what spoke to her -- why that card, that day, out of the many others in the racks? These conversations we can no longer have -- they don't quite form a regret, not with the many conversations yet to be entered into with the near and the here. The questions that cannot be answered -- this learning to live with them is not new, but the texture and the thicket-ness of them shifts with the living and rereading and rethinking.
    zirconium: photo of Greek style coffee, Larnaca, October 2011 (coffee in Cyprus)
    It took time to harvest the Christmas (aka Prairie Fire) peppers, some of which were hidden behind and below many leaves:

    pepper at the heart of a bush

    Read more... )
    zirconium: photo of bell tower seen on a walk to the Acropolis (athens bell tower)
    [The subject line is from an Emily Dickinson poem.]

    I walked to a neighborhood store earlier tonight for caraway seeds, which I will blend with some recently harvested hot peppers and other spices for harissa. I was drenched with sweat by the time I got home, but also delighted with the aliveness of my street: bands playing, lovers walking, flowers nodding, kids playing ball, friends queueing up for pizza... A new apartment complex has a painting of an octopus in its lobby. Spiky white and purple flowers fill out the front border of one of the houses on the route; a holly hedge separates a comparatively conventional lawn from the deliberate wilderness next door. Next weekend there will be around 60,000 people in this patch of Nashville for the Tomato Art Festival. I shall certainly rejoice in the money they are adding to the local economy and likely hide from them all.

    During tonight's walk, I thought about the Pharmacy and I Dream of Weenie -- places I had visited with a high school friend and his wife, a librarian who passed away last week -- and of Sweet 16th, whose breakfast sandwiches they also enjoyed. Tomorrow another friend will go into surgery for cancer.

    Another friend is a student minister, and preached with passion this morning on the complexity of people, including Paul Gauguin, whose painting Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? provided the lyrics of a hymn that separated the sections of her sermon. There was a medical episode in the congregation midway through the sermon, and she acknowledged it with poise and grace as well. For the musical affirmation and offertory, Kathleen M. Basi's "Bud Break" and "Far from Home" flute-piano duets were performed.

    I didn't actually get around to making the harissa tonight. There was supper to prepare (steak and salad), and also a sort-of tagine to get started (chicken thighs that had been marinating in a pepper-wine-garlic brine for a while, to which I added some of the spices listed here, a bag of frozen artichoke hearts (because the cauliflower I thought was in the fridge was not), and a yellow tomato. There were also various bits in the fridge to pour into houseplants (iced tea dregs) or thermos (kickass butternut squash soup I made late last week).

    Been chucking some clothes and papers as well. (Goodbye, awesome but worn-out purple dress from Reims ...) I came across a letter I wrote back in 1993, soon after the BYM and I started dating. This sentence leapt out: "He wants a dog someday, and I am near-phobic." Some things do change, it would seem.

    Miss Dawg

    I likewise sacked out when I got home from church. Hurrah for Sunday summer afternoons!
    zirconium: mirliton = grinning squash from NOLA (mirliton)
    The BYM: [heading-out wave and hug]

    Me: Don't hurt yourself and come back to me.

    The BYM: [raises eyebrows]

    Me: Don't hurt yourself, comma, and come back to me.

    The BYM: [smirks] Punctuation matters.

    processing

    Aug. 1st, 2016 09:31 pm
    zirconium: photo of pumpkin on wire chair (pumpkin on chair)
    It is Ewe Day according to the Jacobin calendar (h/t [personal profile] okrablossom), and Lammastide in other circles. There has indeed been some harvesting and preserving among my relatives and friends. The aunt I visited on Saturday gave me a bag full of figs and blueberries from her yard. It turns out fresh figs are highly perishable, so I spent a good chunk of yesterday evening rinsing and slicing and pureeing the lot, with 1.5 cups going into two loaves of fig-lemon bread (improvising off of the recipe for pear-pecan bread in Joy of Cooking. I saved a few of the least smooshy ones (which were still plenty ripe) for breakfast:

    a fig from my aunt Cherry

    I also combined the too-tired-for-salad cherry tomatoes with the last stub of red onion and a pepper and some water, for a cold soup I carried to the library courtyard for lunch.

    A friend spent part of her weekend pickling summer squash and okra:

    pickled okra and summer squash

    This same friend gave me a quart of homemade fire cider earlier this year. I sipped some tonight over ice while formatting some submissions. Hello, August.
    zirconium: photo of Greek style coffee, Larnaca, October 2011 (coffee in Cyprus)
    This week, y'all. (In)substantial pomp and circumstance on larger stages notwithstanding (the BYM: "Dude, you have got to watch Bill Clinton with the balloons. I want balloons!" Hee), there were deadlines and revelations galore.

    Read more... )

    peppers
    this morning's harvest, which I'll be taking to a cousin and an aunt
    zirconium: doll with bike @High Point Doll Museum (doll with bike)
    The subject line is from a letter Elizabeth Bishop wrote to Robert Lowell on November 1, 1974. As is this:


    (For a poet, I am sometimes amazingly practical--as John M. Brinnin remarked the other day, when, after a night's consideration, I turned down taking over the late Anne Sexton's job at B.U.--Once a week; 4 or 6 people; but I figured out how little I'd actually earn, what with more taxes, remembered how tired I get with the two classes I have; and then began wondering how I'd ever get along with the students that had been attracted to Anne, and decided I wouldn't . . .) Then I attended a memorial service fro her in the BU chapel--it was well-meant, but rather awful--and after hearing a few of her students reminisce, I knew I'd been absolutely right--especially as to the last reason. It is very sad--and deplorable pieces are appearing everywhere, about her.


    On a more cheerful note, the Frist Center is holding its member and media previews for Women, Art, and Social Change: The Newcomb Pottery Enterprise today, and the exhibition opens to the general public tomorrow. The "people I want to read yet more about when time permits" list includes Harriet Coulter Joor and several other women featured in the show. It'll be in Nashville through the start of November.
    zirconium: photo of ranunculus bloom on my laptop (ranunculus on keyboard)
    The subject line's from Marianne Moore's Baseball and Writing. The two quotes below are from Elizabeth Bishop to Lowell. July 10, 1967:


    Well -- the Village will rejuvenate me, no doubt. I never appear without earrings down to my bosom, skirts almost up to it, and a guitar over my shoulder. I am afraid I am going to start writing FREE VERSE next . . .


    July 27, 1967:


    Just as I came in now Bob G called inviting me to lunch next week to meet R Straus (whom I've met, but no one, including me, remembers the meeting at all) and the famous Miss Sontag . . . This is almost too much for one day, particularly as I have to be bright and energetic for idnner with Anny that same night. I thought in the SUMMER in N.Y. one could avoid this kind of thing, but apparently not. I do think that was marvellous -- Marianne demanding a "house call" and almost unable to speak at 12 noon, yesterday, and then refusing all help and going to a baseball game. I don't think I can bear to tell on her . . . I always thought she'd die one day on the Brooklyn Express; now I think she'll die in the bleachers.
    zirconium: my hands, sewing a chemo cap liner (care caps hands)
    From Soshitsu Sen's Chado: The Japanese Way of Tea (1979):


    The charcoal is arranged in a set pattern in the container. The long, white sticks are charcoal made from azalea branches and painted with gesso. The black charcoal is made from any of a variety of woods (20).



    The artisan who crafts the scoops will usually give a specific poetic name to each, such as "Outgoing Boat," "Incoming Boat," "Spring Wind," "Firefly," "Demon's Arm," and so on (26).
    zirconium: photo of flask with feathers in and around it (flask with feathers)
    Nitro ice cream demo

    The need to catch up on sleep and housework quashed most of my original plans for today, but I did head to Adventure Science Center for the tail end of Summer Science Day, getting there in time for the Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream demo. It was entertaining watching some of the kids creep closer and closer to the stage, yearning to touch the magical fog (and the educators diligently warning them back lest they get burned):

    Nitro ice cream demo
    Nitro ice cream demo

    The ice cream mixture was pretty crunchy at first (solution: add more milk), and bent the first spoon used, but eventually there were two batches -- plenty to go around, and I heard more than one parent telling their kid to not go up for seconds until everyone had gotten firsts:

    Kids enjoying ice cream

    The 2:30 screening in the planetarium was of Natural Selection: Darwin's Mysteries of Mysteries. A copy of The Origin of Species is on display in the exhibit From Wolf to Woof: The Story of Dogs:

    From Wolf to Woof

    The film is lush, and I especially liked the classroom-lessons-on-cardboard scenes, which included a PAC-MAN noshing on circles with spines. On the other hand, the narrative seemed jumbled and erratically paced to me; perhaps all the hopping between different graphic styles and storylines was meant to cover multiple learning styles and attention spans, but I'm still shaking my head at the caveman with the guitar (even though I'm sure some of the other audience members thought it was hilarious when said caveman casually socked a blue-footed booby with the guitar handle).




    I started to assemble a blueberry pie Sunday night, but ran out of evening and energy. It's a good thing blueberries keep. Back to it now, and to pickling peppers, too.
    zirconium: photo of ranunculus bloom on my laptop (ranunculus on keyboard)
    Elizabeth Bishop to Robert Lowell, 18 July 1950:


    Just had a visit from the Dutchman who works here & writes poetry incessantly. I hope he wasn't one of your problems too. One poem this time is about his soul fermenting in a barrel of sauerkraut. He's so grateful to God for sending him such marvelous ideas, but personally I'm afraid God is playing tricks on him.


    There is no actual sauerkraut here, as I've despised the stuff all my life. What we do have on hand: kosher dill pickles, salted lemons, and capers. From generous colleagues, fire cider and dried pineapple. From the container garden, belatedly harvested radish greens and arugula, tempered on my stove with cream or bacon and wine vinegar, countered by a orange-skinned cherry tomato I popped into my mouth a day or three too soon. I cut down the rust-plagued hocks a few twilights ago, and in the morning shall steel myself to thin out the zinnias, if rain is not pelting down. The Christmas peppers run the gamut from stunted seedling to shriveling unharvested pod. So too my drafts. So too my sketches and lists.
    zirconium: me @Niki de St Phalle's Firebird (firebird)
    There was a storm last week:

    our driveway a week ago

    Today was the first day I could safely get to the hollyhocks in front. There's some rust to deal with.

    after storm vs. tree

    There were also quite a few bloodstains decorating the basement floor earlier this week. That, though, was less about tree vs. storm and more about man vs. board, one that propelled him into a nail during his tussle with it. The subsequent tetanus shot and squirts of silver solution seem to be doing their job.
    zirconium: photo of squeezy Buddha on cell phone, next to a coffee mug (buddha and cocoa)
    [Subject line source: Kristin Hersh, "Me and My Charms"]

    tree man

    We have been sawing and chipping away at things, in some instances literally.

    Lunch today was at Otaku Ramen -- hot chicken bun and Tennessee tonkatsu with miso butter. At one point, the conversation veered into "things we wish we could have photographed except we were driving." A colleague recalled spotting a friend's graffiti art on a moving train. This morning, on my way to work, I saw a large upside-down wood cross dangling from a short front crane, with a man walking alongside to (I presume) keep the cross from swinging too much, or perhaps to guide it around curves and corners.
    zirconium: of blue bicycle in front of Blue Bicycle Books, Charleston (blue bicycle rear)
    (First set of notes here)

    Second-half standouts:

    Ruth Madievsky, "Paragard": "I was in a lecture hall, explaining how the copper IUD works..."

    Brendan Constantine's conversation with Alan Fox. Among BC's provocative statements:


    I just had a conversation with a poet I can't name, who was very angry because they felt that the internet was flooded with lots of mediocre poetry. Now anyone can put a badge on their shirt that says "Poet" and communicate with ohter poets and have all this great access, the world, the media, the "readers" are overwhelmed with bad work, and thus can't find or recognize where the "good" work is. That is a paranoia I don't share. It's an argument I've heard, over and over, that bad poetry somehow diminishes our joy and plight. That if the "bad" poets are allowed to publish, it destroys connoisseurship. I don't see that to be the case. I think that every great artist, like every great art critic, will die ignorant of most of the good art in their time. That's been true of virtually every generation. I mean, why else does it seem that half the work that ultimately "comes to define a generation" is discovered posthumously.


    And also:


    If you're lucky enough to live a good long life, you're going to see most of your cherished profundities reduced to trivia, and virtually every banality celebrated.
    zirconium: my hands, sewing a chemo cap liner (care caps hands)
    There's a feature on Dr. Ysaye Barnwell in the current issue of UU World. It includes this:


    She turns solemn and angry talking about how "Kumbaya," which means "Come by Here" in the Gullah language, has become snarky shorthand for feel-good or weak-minded groupthink. A soulful cry sung by the Georgia Sea Island slaves, the song was carried on by Southern blacks in the time of Jim Crow and lynch mobs, and later by the Freedom Riders when they learned three of their workers had been murdered by Klansmen. "When people say, 'It was a Kumbaya moment,' it clearly was not a Kumbaya moment," Barnwell admonished. "It's actually an invocation for God to come by here now because things are needed. If you hear people use it mistakenly, gently correct them."


    Barnwell elaborated on this at the end of today's workshop at First UU Nashville, whose members will be singing a half-dozen-plus songs/arrangements by Barnwell tomorrow morning (9 a.m. and 11 a.m.). The Freedom Riders sang "Kumbaya" in their camp at a point where calling to God felt like the only option. Barnwell demonstrated how she sometimes opens concerts with a furious, fast, rough-edged rendition of "Kumbaya" that is nothing like the Girl Scout version -- to get the audience toward hearing it as the bone-deep cry for help the words are to convey.

    A recurring theme in the workshop: take time to think about the words of spirituals from the perspective of the enslaved, often after being preached to by so-called Christian masters. What is being taught or signaled?

    A book to read: Rising from the Rails -- how the Pullman porters led the creation of the black middle class, all the while navigating social tightropes. Barnwell described how the porters closely observed the lives of affluent white passengers , to then subsequently teach about investing and other skills new to most postbellum communities. How the porters would gather up discarded newspapers in the cars, bundle them up, and toss them into towns where newspapers weren't available.

    There was much more. I sat, stood, and danced among and between several different people during the course of the day. The afternoon session included a quolidbet that combined "Honor, Honor," "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," "I’m a Rollin’," "Couldn’t Hear Nobody Pray," "My Good Lawd Done Been Here," and "Please, Lordy," with "Honor, Honor" in harmony.

    Something for me to work toward and look forward to: taming my schedule enough to sing more marching songs and quolidbets. Someday.
    zirconium: the word "SANGUINE" engraved in stone (sanguine)
    The subject line is from Edmund Keeley's translation of René Guy Cadou's "Poème d'amour à Hélène" (Love Poem to Helen).

    On the morning of 30 May 2009, I walked around Marseille for a little while before catching my bus. I hope to spend a longer while there someday, less encumbered with luggage and better versed in modern as well as classic writing about the city:

    Marseille parking meter


    The Marseillais themselves [are] today as varied and original as Fisher described them in "A Considerable Town." They stroll, or rather, strut, in colorful African fabrics, or navy blue woolen fishermen's sweaters; in haute couture purchased from the fantastic boutiques along the Rue Paradis; or in skateboard garb. Fisher claimed that her classic university-learned French deteriorated while in Marseille, for she spent many happy hours talking with its inhabitants--Italians, Tunisians, Greeks--who spoke anything but Parisian French.

    -- Mary Lou Longworth's 1998 essay on MFK Fisher and Marseille


    Marseille market


    The mistral is a violent wind that swoops southward from the center of France and along the Rhône valley. It torments the Mediterranean coast, particularly the stretch between Toulon and Marseille. It shakes windows, it tears laundry from clotheslines, it tears clay tiles from roofs. The people of Marseille like to say the mistral even causes temporary insanity.

    --Jeffrey Mercer, When the Guillotine Fell


    The bus took me to Aix-en-Provence:

    IMG_1555

    Aix-en-Provence


    Thou fair Marseilles, who openest on the sea
    Thy haughty eyes and gazest languidly...
    ...and in this hour
    Art proud once more; but other storms may lower.
    Forget not, then, amid thy revelries,
    Whose tears they are that bathe thine olive-trees!

    -- Frédéric Mistral, Miréio


    ...Oh, that won't do for an ending. Here's Amy Wilentz in a 2011 blog post:


    In one fishwife's basket there was a score or more of lovely striped rainbow fish that I was pining for; she was charging a lot.

    "Awful," said my friend Grégoire Alessi, leaning in over my shoulder to see what caught my eye. "Don't even think about it."

    "But they’re beautiful," I protested.

    "Yah, yah," he said, giving a shrug, possibly the most common gesture in Marseille. "They may look good, but they taste terrible. They get caught by accident, I guess. I wouldn't even put one in soup." He pointed to a bunch of ugly, flattish brown fish. "Those are the good ones," he said.

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