zirconium: snapshot of my healthiest hollyhock plant (French hollyhock)
At the bakery, a man who had just stepped inside stopped in his tracks, two and two visibly clicking together, and then told another man behind a stroller, "Your daughter's other shoe? I just saw it down the street and put it on top of a fence." The father and the rest of us looked at the girl's feet and sure enough, one purple clog was missing.

A woman ahead of me and I were both dancing in place to "Little Red Corvette."

Another woman posed with her "One to Go" at her mouth while her partner took a photograph, presumably to taunt friends elsewhere.

Between the tea shop and the wine store, a woman in patterned leggings placed a beaded bracelet into a crook of a young tree.

In a optician's store -- closed as of six days ago, online presence soon -- a statue of a large black dog stood among things not yet moved out.

A Dutch party, in honor of the king's birthday. Lots of orange.

A waist-high mural, of dancers.

Another Free Library stand.

A house for sale by owner. Asking $450,000.

A "SOLD" sign in front of 1505 Woodland.

(On a tangential note: I am pleased to see locals listed with NAGLREP, from several agencies.)

Roses, and phlox, and lilies, and other flowers.
zirconium: photo of cupcake from Sweet 16th, Nashville (crackacino cupcake)
[Subject line from Mary Chapin Carpenter's "Jubilee"]

I took the cookies to work, labeling the bin "oatmeal-flax cookies" so as to warn for allergies. The container was empty by the end of the day, and two colleagues told me that the biscuits tasted good for something that looked so healthy. ;)

The lemon tart is really, really good.

The dawg is delighted with the steak drippings and potato salad dregs from tonight's supper.

The rogue rosebush produced three blooms this round. A relief to know my ill-fated attempts to propagate it (by taking cuttings that then didn't take) didn't kill it.

IMG_9807
zirconium: snapshot of oysters enjoyed in Charleston (oysters)
Today's efforts, brought to you in part by the Department of These Leftovers/Lemons/Yogurt Need To Be Used Up NOW:

* pan-fried ground turkey, to go with defrosted jar sauce on leftover penne, with red onion and cheese
* mashed parsnips
* leftover green beans seasoned with leftover bison drippings, with the four last radishes from the first spring crop, with their greens, plus a fistful of mint from the garden
* lemonade
* (in progress) oatmeal cookies with yogurt (using this recipe as a springboard, but with regular sugar instead of Splenda, a hit of Crisco to make up for the not-quite-a-cup-ness of the yogurt, and nutmeg and coriander added to the mix. Turns out I have only two cups of oats instead of three (and quick oats, at that), so adding another cup of flour, plus some flaxseed I picked up a few days ago from the Herbiary's sale bin.
* chicken thighs seasoned with cinnamon, nutmeg, and cumin. I'd read a recipe for Lowcountry Cinnamon Chicken in Charleston Receipts Repeats that looked interesting but too sweet and too fussy for my taste, so I then consulted a nutmeg chicken recipe and simplified it to four chicken thighs with white wine, olive oil, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cumin, baked at 375 F until cooked through. (Didn't track the time, what with other things on both literal and figurative burners claiming my attention; just peeked in when things started smelling/looking good, flipping the meat once and turning the oven off when I got going on the veg and starch.) Wine was Molino a Vento pinot grigio, which I think was from a Woodland Wine Merchant 6 for $60 bag.
* leftover brown rice, stir-fried with onions in olive oil and seasoned with tomato sauce and a bit of ancho pepper powder.
* asparagus. Chucked into boiling water for a couple of minutes; then turned the heat off and put the lid on. Perfect by the time the rice was done.
* (in progress) Shaker lemon tart

Onward!
zirconium: medical instruments @High Point Doll Museum (medical instruments (miniature))
[Subject line from Counting Crows' "Einstein on the Beach"]

A reputation I enjoy is that of being left-brained to a fault. I like coaxing bibliographies into consistency, and I've demonstrated a knack for devising and refining chronologies, schedules, and itineraries. I am sometimes inordinately amused when friends and associates find my pragmatism maddening: watching me add commas and conjunctions to her draft, one author muttered, "You have no poetry in your soul, do you," which cracks me up every time I think back to that session.

This trait likely plays into why I am rarely captivated by artist statements, which are often too lofty, wifty, theoretical, and/or all-encompassing for my taste. Today, however, Heidi Ross's Flickr summary got me off the fence about going downtown to see her show at Third Man Records. The description in the Scene had me adding it to my calendar, but then I put in more than ten hours at the office yesterday, subsequently falling dead asleep in the tub with my eyeliner on, and there are SO MANY WEEDS still in the beds, plus stacks of receipts, plus a manuscript, plus lemons to slice, etc., etc., yadda yadda ishkabbible.

But traffic was lighter than I'd feared, and parking was not a problem, and I hadn't really registered on my previous visit to Third Man (a packed-to-the-gills poetry reading that became too overwhelming for my group, which fled to a Jeni's to recover) just how beautiful its spaces are. I wished I'd brought my own camera as I walked toward the Blue Room. Within the show, I was drawn especially to the trio of Eat the Fruit (Mennonite), Good News, Bad News, Good News, and First Service, Second Service; the third image is that of a Kentucky Theater marquee, listing both a church meeting and a screening of Thriller. The pairing reproduced at the top of the Nashville Arts profile (Rip It Up and Start Again with Nine Knives) also beckoned to me.

When I ventured into the store, the two young women inside were on the floor, shrieking with uncontrollable laughter. They were still in its grip when I slipped out a minute or two later. I couldn't make out what had happened, nor did I particularly want to. I'd bet that the trigger was not only a "you had to be there" thing but also a I'd-have-to-be-them. Better to continue on to Woodland Wine Merchant's weekly tasting, which today featured three wines that go well with grilled food. (Lately, I've been enjoying how good the wines smell -- more so than how they taste. A rabbit hole to explore some other time...) And then to the supermarket, and then back to the house, to make up stories about disconcerting mysteries while yanking at half-matted speedwell.
zirconium: snapshot of my healthiest hollyhock plant (French hollyhock)

La problème de la nuit reste entier. Comment la traverser, chaque fois la traverser tout entière?

Que mes secondes sont lourdes! Jamais je ne les aurais crues si lourdes. Instants éléphatiasiques.

The problem of the night remains total. How to cross it, cross it completely each time?

How heavy my seconds are! I never would have thought them so heavy. Elephantasiac moments.


-- Henri Michaux, "Après l'accident / After the Accident," translated by Dori Katz

NC Arboretum

This variety of tulip is called "Blue Wow," but it looked decidedly purple to me.

I am salivating, so to speak, over the Julia Child rose in my White Flower catalog. I am also tempted to attend tonight's Plants + Pints event, in search of begonias. At the moment, though, the urge to go back to bed is warring with the urge to sneak in an hour of weeding. And maybe to sow a new crop of radishes.

Speaking of radishes...

best crop yet
zirconium: tulip in my front yard, April 2014 (tulip)
[Today's subject line comes from Shelley's "Ode to the West Wind."]

Earlier this evening, my department head and I stood at my office window, watching a strong wind bend the trees and menace the panels of the Gala tent. It appeared to peel a sheet of metal from its moorings, knocked over stanchions in the parking lot and, at home, flipped open all the lids of the giant roller-bins. But the rain also eventually lightened up enough for me to don a wide-brimmed hat and scrape at some of the weeds attempting to strangle my mint patch.

Last Saturday I danced for seven hours -- two two-hour workshops, plus the Playford Ball, of which there are videos, including this one. I am thinking of splurging on a blue + green +/- dark gray tartan sash for next year, which is the sort of thing that happens when I try to figure out what should happen during a Dunant House Waltz and somehow end up studying Viking's Sheepskin moves. (The Duthies are part of Clan Ross, but I'll likely go with one of the universal patterns, like Highland Granit, or maybe wear Montgomerie in honor of Alexander, seeing how "What Mightie Motion" haunted me on first hearing for the better part of several years (to the point that I wrote to the Scottish Poetry Library to obtain the full set of verses).

Speaking of poetry, it is April, and thus there are goings-on. At Vary the Line, Mary, Joanne, and I have written and/or collected responses to the question "What is a poem?", with my friend Lisa Dordal starting the series. Over at Pretty Terrible, Natalie Luhrs analyzes and links to some of my poems as part of her own monthlong poetry project.

It is still too soon to put out plants that cannot withstand frost. I am edgy and eager to get them resettled, even though there is plenty of prep that still needs to be done. I can hear and see my impatience reflected among my colleagues and acquaintances: Whennnnnnnnnn? one whimpered. Whennnnnnnnnn indeed.
zirconium: tulip in my front yard, April 2014 (tulip)
Some months, the spreadsheets and social commitments and sundry other obligations outstrip one's ability to answer the call of laundry and le laver la vaisselle. One resorts to the strapless stick-ons and thanks Providence for the quick-sale Anaheim peppers staying fresh for several weeks, plodding on and picking one's way through mud and cement slicks...

IMG_9553

I am not thrilled about PDF-wrangling and number-crunching cutting into time for sleeping. It'll likely hoover up swimming and dancing and socializing time as well, and I might be kicking myself right now for choosing to spend most of Saturday away from my laptop. But part of that day was spent riding around Lewis State Forest on a quarter horse named Question Mark, with a shepherd mix named Zeba happily galloping along, with the sky bright blue above pines and saplings and sprinklers, and then there were turnip cakes and bubble tea back in Nashville, and then I scraped and snipped and lugged and tugged thises and thatses around the yard, and that was a pleasure too.

IMG_9554

space

Mar. 14th, 2016 01:24 am
zirconium: snapshot of cookie cutter star from sorghum marshmallow making (star)
An ongoing challenge here -- both with plants and with people -- is gauging how much space is in order. The pepper plants are particularly perplexing this year: in the past, they have flourished only when I got around to transplanting them into larger pots, but this year some of them seem happier and healthier in tight quarters. There are, of course, numerous other variables I haven't tracked -- soil, light, tea and coffee dregs, floor vs. table -- but that hasn't stopped me from marveling and dithering over the if-whens and what-nexts.

This batch seems happy crowded together:
Christmas pepper plants

This batch, not so much:
Christmas pepper plants

An upstairs daughter plant is doing really well right now:
Christmas pepper plant Christmas pepper plant

Over at Vary the Line, I dwell on light and astronomers. As I was closing windows after posting that entry, I clicked on a link to John Brashear's obituary. This sentence stood out:

Often, in the evening after his mill labors were over, Mrs. Brashear held a lantern, giving light to her husband while he sawed and hammered on their house.


So many possible directions one could pursue with that. Some other night.
zirconium: Photo of 1860 cast of Lincoln's hand (Lincoln hand)
City of the Big Shoulders, how I love you tonight.

Last Sunday we sang Ella's Song.

First Class Lit published Token today.

Music to learn. Mud to scrape. Papers to plow through. Onward.
zirconium: of blue bicycle in front of Blue Bicycle Books, Charleston (blue bicycle)
This morning's subject line comes from The Paper Raincoat's "Brooklyn Blurs," which Alex Wong introduced last night as being about a 4 a.m. ride through Brooklyn, during last night's concert.

Everyone who performed = legit chops. Charlotte, the dog, was adorable, affectionate, attentive, and amusing ("It's OK, Char, they already donated," Alex said to her, when she started barking at folks re-entering the room.) Megan Slankard and Kristen Ford complimented my hair, which I had re-tealed before work.

I was able to fit in two walks yesterday -- one during my lunch hour, and one late at night with my sweetie.

The radishes in my front yard have germinated. There is a new sliver of leaf on the hollyhock seedling I'd feared was a goner.

Nothing was stolen when some jackass rifled through the BYM's truck.

I've already won a fantasy tennis medal this year, which does take the sting out of missing out on the current awards by three points. (Picking Alize Cornet was a fatal error.)

The dry shampoo I tried out this morning is doing its job.

I am wearing the filigree chai pendant I purchased at a Jewish museum sixteen years ago; my duties today include attending the media preview for a photography show from another Jewish museum that I've been working on during the past year.

The dance card includes dancing. Also two recitals as an audience member and a recording session + two concerts as a performer. Also, an ice cream date with a friend.

There's a Vary the Line project to get moving on as well, along with this month's post. I pulled together a sub last night; being at Angelhouse South was lovely in itself, but it did also stir up the gotta-get-my-own-stuff-out-there groove. Which is good. It'd be nice to make some new things as well (Megan praised her Patreon fans last night for allowing her to choose writing over having to play not-so-nice gigs) but I'll carve out that space again eventually. For now, it's time to pick up some dog biscuits with my breakfast and then beat the lane-clogging trucks (and SEC tournament trappings) to my day-destination.

dealing

Mar. 7th, 2016 10:32 pm
zirconium: my hands, sewing a chemo cap liner (care caps hands)
My poem "What's in the Cards" has been posted online by Kind of a Hurricane's editors.

Over at Dawn Potter's, Tu Fu readers are musing on writing while (pretending to be) a lush/slacker and (not) using color in poems/translations.

I am enjoying the tiny flowers around and in my house: little blue weeds amid the rocks of a border; little white flowers on the mama pepper plant; little yellow flowers on a tomato cutting.
zirconium: photo of cupcake from Sweet 16th, Nashville (crackacino cupcake)
IMG_9460

I found this among some other things-to-file-or-glue-somedays. While I agree with the observation, something about it emerging from a long-ago splurge on kung pao beef or sesame balls gives me the giggles.

pace

Feb. 28th, 2016 12:59 pm
zirconium: of blue bicycle in front of Blue Bicycle Books, Charleston (blue bicycle)
Future Bicycle II

by Cyrus Kabiru


From the March 2016 issue of ELLE (page 410):



Adrift and Apathetic: How do I spark a desire to improve? How do I rekindle my career fire? How do I keep up with the pack?

E. Jean: Adrift, Darling: Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! Keep up with the pack? Nobody keeps up with the pack. Hell, the pack can't keep up with the pack. Even Kylie Jenner (Miss Kylie Jenner with her 45 million -- repeat, million -- Instagram followers) says she wakes up "every morning with the worst anxiety." Your primate brain -- and its precuneus, concerned with conscious and reflections upon self; and its temporoparietal junction, where thought processing and perceptions lie -- centers your attention on people above you in the pecking order. Ergo, you always feel behind.

Weirdly, you don't even register the 97 percent of the world that's trying to keep up with you and your razzle-dazzle education and art projects.

Lately I was glued to an article in the Wall Street Journal by the primatologist and neuroscientist Robert Sapolsky (I had no choice -- I'm so behind this guy in the pecking order that I'm an amoeba on the backside of a flea on the buttocks of one of his baboons) called "Brain Reflexes That Monitor the Pecking Order." Read it and you'll never fret about the pack again.


From Laura Brown's interview of Drew Barrymore, in the March 2016 issue of Harper's Bazaar:


"I don't think I'm hot right now necessarily, because I have all my irons in a bunch of different fires," Barrymore says, amused at the heavy-handedness of the metaphor. "I'm writing. I'm doing makeup. I'm doing design. I'm expanding Flower into different categories." She adds, "I think it's a huge mistake to think you have to burn bright for your whole life. You cannot sustain it. It's exhausting, and it's not very realistic."


Winemaker Jason Lett, in a 2008 interview at the Splendid Table that was rebroadcast on WPLN today:


Grape vines are a bit like human beings. As they age, the quality of what they produce goes up and the quantity goes down. These vines will continue to produce fruit for probably past their 100th year. What we're going to continue to see as that process happens is an increase in quality and a decrease in quantity.

We're already starting to see this. This vineyard is giving us maybe a ton-and-a-half to the acre every year. But the flavors are concentrated and gorgeous, so we'll keep farming this long past the time an accountant would tell me to pull it out.

scale

Feb. 27th, 2016 09:15 am
zirconium: photo of pumpkin on wire chair (pumpkin on chair)
I am actually in the thick of replacing a rotting deck with more house, but this quote in the March issue of Southern Living spoke to me anyway:



People get caught up in grandeur, forgetting that the best times they ever had in their lives were in tiny spaces with low ceilings and the best things ever said to them were whispered. When I design a house, I start with the site to figure out what elements you want to engage with emotionally and spiritually. Then I consider the communion of people and objects and create containment around them. My consideration is always what it's going to feel like together. Only lastly do I concern myself with what a house looks like. The only real value of building a house is to increase the territory of your own heart. The only real truth is to create something that will settle your spirit.


-- Bobby McAlpine
zirconium: photo of fabric elephant-shaped tissue holder in Thai massage parlor waiting room (elephant at Smile Thai)
One of yesterday's pleasures: suddenly discovering that the locket I was wearing (inherited from an aunt) contained a watch:

hidden time

Also, sipping some Est! Est!! Est!!!, a white wine a friend had given to me in December. Preparing squash casserole and a bison steak with some seasoned salt, another gift from another friend, and having it in the oven by the time the BYM got home, in spite of weariness-induced dawdling. Doing this while wearing a thick shawl from another friend.

Also satsifying: filing a tax schedule. Writing letters. Seeing tiny new flowers on the mama pepper plant and one of the tomato-cutting transplants. Freezing sale donuts for future noshing. Listening to Richter play Beethoven. Patting the dog, even though I'll be cleaning her mess out of a tulip bed this weekend. I have three Acapulco semifinalists on my fantasy tennis team, which does make me feel better about finishing dead last the previous week.

The chores are many. So are the rejections. And I missed a dance class this week because my gut was acting up. But I discussed with the BYM how to get my bike rideable again, and my yoga studio has just moved to a larger space, and I can sleep all damn weekend long if that's what my body ends up needing. True luxury, that.
zirconium: my hands, sewing a chemo cap liner (care caps hands)
This morning's subject line comes from Glenn McKee's Late Fragment. McKee's life included working as a UU minister and performing at slams (in his 60s), though it is the title that captured my attention, since I have told my own minister and several other potential decision-makers that I want Raymond Carver's Late Fragment printed in the program of my memorial service.

(My church has a "Wishes at Time of Death" form that the senior pastor keeps on file. Should any of you like to see it in the course of getting such things organized, if you have not done so for yourself, message or e-mail me and I will send you a copy. Speaking as someone who needs to update her other directives; one of the most liberating bits of advice I received in my 30s was from a friend who pointed out that such documents ought to be reviewed and updated every five years or so anyway, as circumstances and relationships and preferences evolve. Realizing that the documents should be treated as a snapshots rather than engravings into stone helped me get on with designating executors and beneficiaries and other arrangements. And while I don't expect my nearest and dearest to require those forms anytime soon, Stuff Happens, and I have had what-do-you-want-me-to-do-if discussions with at least two dear-to-mes within the past month because Stuff Doesn't Stop Happening and I happen to be the person the medicos and/or lawyers are likeliest to call should a bad-case-scenario come to pass. Plus, that earthquake in my parents' native province, cancer diagnoses and permutations among friends and acquaintances -- had I any delusions of immortality or other exemptions to begin with, the universe would have blasted them clear out of the water by now. [And I haven't been able to cherish such delusions since I was five, when I vividly dreamt both of being shot to death and of a future self incarcerated in prison without any knowledge of me-in-this-life. Yes, it does skew your world-view when your brain inflicts that on you before you've even gotten out of preschool.])

But, yesterday was in fact terrific -- the kind of day I dreamed about enjoying when I was small. I spent the morning completing my Memphis Open albums and reports for Tennis Buzz, with mashed neeps for breakfast, along with leftover trout from Thursday night's dinner at Prima. I headed across town to vote in a primary, and then stopped at a department store with a gift card, which I used on a new set of steak knives. I also tried on a dress on clearance: the fabric had caught my eye as perfect for an event I'm attending in May, but, alas, the cut did not flatter my body:

right fabric, wrong cut

Still, considering it as a possibility brightened my day, as did the knowledge that I don't have to score a new dress for the event; there are several tried-and-true standards in my closet that would fit the bill. I had another gift certificate in hand for Sally's, where I picked up lipsticks and a sharpener to supplement my currently-too-purple supply, and yet another rebate for Three Brothers, where the sandwich and "signature drink" were delicious, the conversation near me faintly but not distractingly intriguing, and the newspapers and magazines plentiful:

noshing at Three Brothers

On my way home, I stopped at the library to pick up a picture book, and at Woodland Wine Merchant for their weekly tasting. I didn't care for the beers in this week's sampler, but picked up cider and sake while chatting with Tyler, one of my favorite associates. At home, there was time with the dog and time with a friend, and glossy magazines, and a poem I finished and submitted a few minutes ago.

It is 63 F right now and the birds are singing oh so sweetly and merrily. I am short on sleep and soon going back to bed. That too is a luxury, and I am grateful.
zirconium: me @Niki de St Phalle's Firebird (firebird)
My week so far has included the rejection of eight poems (though one was a near-miss) and some aggravation (both of the near-to-firing-a-firm kind and the dammit-I-left-my-badge-on-the-piano variety), not to mention truly atrocious fantasy tennis results. But, I seem to be providing pleasure to assorted Kei Nishikori fans, there was plenty of butter and black pepper to mash into the neeps I boiled for supper, and I'm closing my evening with a glass of Beaujolais (slightly rough, but sanding down a bit of jag as I sip) and assorted phrases for pieces.

Also, Rattle published a poem on Sunday, both in text and audio form: "Look at that, you son of a bitch"

I also keep meaning to mention "Some Who Wander Become Lost," which the SFPA posted online a few months ago.

My calendars contain crossouts and calculations. So, for that matter, do the cards and scraps of paper containing what I might write or shape next. In the meantime, there are roses everywhere -- I saw some near a curb on Valentine's Day, just as I was about to cross White Station Road:

White Station Road, Memphis

The back of the card I picked up was blank. It has me wondering about roses not sent. It brings back memories of roses I have sent, and thrown, and pressed, and attempted to propagate (not yet successfully). Not every Emily Dickinson poem pairs up well with "Yellow Rose of Texas" ("So much of Heaven has gone from earth"? No), but it's not as if the ghosts of Amherst or Austin ever insisted on that. Perhaps the roses really want to grow. Perhaps the mallows will survive this morning's freezing fog. There is more than snow between the glass and the huge roses. There is more to work than work. Earlier this week, a colleague and I talked about trading plants later this year -- succulents for peppers. The dog knocked over one of my pots while I was away, and happily hoovered up asparagus stubs two nights ago. Cleaning. Digging. Dreaming.


A name for a new rose: Mozart.
That's what I'd call the first rose on the moon,
If I got there to grow it.

-- Robert Nye, "Travelling to My Second Marriage on the Day of the First Moonshot"
zirconium: snapshot of cookie cutter star from sorghum marshmallow making (Default)
More often than not, it cheers me up when a Vaughan Williams setting is included among the opening hymns. This morning started with the Down Ampney tune, with verses by Bianco da Siena (died c. 1434), translated by Richard Frederick Littledale (1833-1890) with further alterations by the hymnal editors:

Come down, O Love divine,
seek thou this soul of mine,
and visit it with thine own ardor glowing;
O Comforter, draw near,
within my heart appear,
and kindle it, thy holy flame bestowing.

O let it freely burn,
till earthly passions turn
to dust and ashes in its heat consuming;
and let its glorious light
shine ever on my sight,
and clothe me round, the while my path illuming.

And so the glory strong,
for which the soul will long,
shall far outpass the power of human telling;

for none can guess its grace,
till we become the place
wherein the holy Spirit makes a dwelling.


Sanctuary
First UU Nashville sanctuary, September 2015

The Story for All Ages featured Moses arguing with God about returning to Egypt, and the pastor spoke at length about astronaut Edgar Mitchell during her sermon. Between those two points, the worship associate read Neruda's Keeping Quiet and the chamber choir sang Malcolm Daglish's setting of Wendell Berry's "To the Holy Spirit":


O Thou, far off and here, whole and broken,
Who in necessity and in bounty wait,
Whose truth is light and dark, mute though spoken,
By Thy wide grace show me Thy narrow gate.


Cheekwood
Cheekwood, December 2015
zirconium: snapshot of my healthiest hollyhock plant (French hollyhock)
IMG_2221

heedless of
the hockey down the street
crocus shoots




The same yard, a week and a day earlier:

IMG_2095

It was rather creepy hearing the branches creak and groan under the weight of so much snow.
zirconium: black pearl pepper plant at Cheekwood (black pearl pepper)
at least for a while longer:

hollyhock seedling

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