zirconium: snapshot of cookie cutter star from sorghum marshmallow making (Default)
September 2013:
Christmas pepper seedling

January through July behind the cut )

August 2014:
christmas pepper 001

christmas pepper 002
zirconium: me @Niki de St Phalle's Firebird (firebird)
My current gig at the Western and Southern Tennis Open was the kick in the pants I needed to get the long-overdue better camera. Here are some of the shots I've been taking with it:

Sara Errani Sara Errani

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova

Cincy Open marshal
A marshal, aka security, aka making sure only properly credentialed folk run up and down the stairwell to the player areas and media center.
zirconium: doll with bike @High Point Doll Museum (doll with bike)
I spoke too soon about the French hollyhocks -- they've all produced blooms now, except for one, and that one is one of the larger, healthier-looking stalks, so who knows if it offended the bees or is simply taking its longer, even sweeter and perhaps every-other-year time than all the others. Even the one growing diagonally. (I laced some of the others to the fence for support, but that one looked runt-y enough that I hadn't bothered.)

In the toiling and spinning department, I'm waiting to hear back from various contacts about this and that, doing a fair bit of homework, and inching along in the never-ending quest to turn things right:

when at first you don't succeed
zirconium: snapshot of cookie cutter star from sorghum marshmallow making (Default)
Dog at the door

It's 96 F (36 C). I am dripping, and not just because I sloshed a bunch of dishwater onto myself while scrubbing and rinsing pots. Praise be for air conditioning, and running water, too.

It is, as ever, the usual scene here: the more I pay attention to the house, the yard, the writing, the lettering, the studying, and so on, the longer the lists grow and the twistier the learning curves, and the more I yearn to address the little details I currently don't make time for. Scraping at x. Clearing out y. Saving for z.

In the meantime, I'm getting some things done here and there. I'm now listed at the Haiku Registry (on the task list since 2010). I updated part of my website. I cut and sanded boards ...

cutting boards

... and prepped for other projects. Onward!
zirconium: snapshot of cookie cutter star from sorghum marshmallow making (Default)

(1) Amendment 1 is ultimately a power grab by Tennessee's legislature:

Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion. The people retain the right through their elected state representatives and state senators to enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother.

This is the legislature whose shenanigans have repeatedly embarrassed us on a national scale (cue WasTNOnTheDailyShow.com, Don't Say Gay). It frankly should be given as little rein as possible, especially when it is essentially trying to override the rights to privacy discussed in great detail in Planned Parenthood of Middle Tennessee vs. Sundquist.

(2) For the amendment to pass, it must collect a majority of votes not only among those voting yes, but also in relation to all the ballots cast in the governor's race. Put another way: this November, it will be important to vote for someone for governor (even if you think Haslam has his next term all sewn up), because each vote will raise the threshold of yes votes needed, and thus improve the odds of defeating the amendment.

P.S. My mood is "irritated" because there are plenty of other things I would rather be working on, and there are plenty of things the damn lege should be working on, such as directing funds toward food deserts. From an article by Shelley DuBois:

"it's important that we talk about how we can do things that are not always punitive to mothers who have issues going on. Sometimes we must also do things that are positive," said Rep. Harold Love.

The punitive law he's talking about refers to a controversial bill the legislature passed last month, effective July 1, that will enable law enforcement officials to prosecute women whose babies test positive for illicit drugs.

One positive step, Love suggested, would be a bill that took a portion of the money the state collects from soda taxes to build grocery stores in areas that lack fresh produce. Women's health, he said, ties directly into resources available in the community.
zirconium: snapshot of my healthiest hollyhock plant (French hollyhock)
My allergies were out of control when I was a child, which meant I stayed indoors as much as possible, so I'm just now learning things that are probably obvious to other gardeners my age. This summer has really shown me how much the size of the container affects the growth of a plant. I'd been trying to get by mainly with the shallow and small pots and planters I'd had on hand, but this year I sanitized some larger ones (and splurged on some quality soil) and lo, the lone survivor from last year's batch of Christmas peppers is finally bearing fruit:

Christmas pepper plant

(That's one yellow pepper among a crowd of ripening-into-purples. Nature is weird and cool.)

The big pot vs. smaller pot demonstrations appeared in the form of basil (not pictured) and cucumbers. This cucumber vine (with a chopstick as its stake)...

lemon cucumber plant

... was sown at the same time and in the same box as this lot (I couldn't resist transplanting it when it was clear some thinning needed to happen):

lemon cucumber plants lemon cucumber plants

(And yes, they needed water. I took care of that after snapping the photos.)

That noted, I hear that lilies prefer being root-bound, so I dithered some about repotting the calla lily we received last fall. But I'm going to be away a fair bit in August, and I'm trying to improve the odds of things staying hydrated without investing in major installations or complicated rigs, so I decided the lily should at least go into a pot large enough to accomodate a wine-bottle nanny. Plus it was kind of neat getting a look at the roots:

pot-bound calla lily

And now to those indoor things. Ars longa...
zirconium: snapshot of me at class in Israel (me with M14)
From Dorothy Wickenden's Nothing Daunted: The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the West (Scribner, 2011):

Sam [Perry] doted on Marjorie, his firstborn, treating her like a son. Every year she accompanied him on a weeks-long hunting expedition. As one newspaper account described her, "Wearing a heavy flannel shirt and chaps, like a cowboy of the plains, she has ridden through the wildest regions of the state, shooting deer and bear and even an occasional mountain lion." One year she returned with a bear cub she named Perrywinkle and kept in her parents' backyard in Denver. (As an older woman, when her two favorite dogs died, she skinned them and used their pelts as rugs.)

(On a side note, there is nothing like reading about pioneer wives to snap me out of a pity party right fast. Good God, what those women endured.)
zirconium: black pearl pepper plant at Cheekwood (black pearl pepper)
Harvested seeds from my healthiest French hollyhock (aka mallow) plant just now. If you'd like some, send me your address (comments are screened) and I'll drop some into the mail. They need full sun and don't necessarily flower the first year (I've got three plants without flowers and five with, all from the same packet of seeds, but planted/transplanted at different times, and over-wintered in different-sized containers). In theory, they don't like being transplanted, but the healthiest plant started out by the side of my driveway last fall, was dug up and lived in my study over the winter, and then moved to the other side of the house this spring. (I left the two biggest plants outside over the winter, well mulched, etc., etc., but the winter was too damn long -- nothing in that row survived other than the crepe myrtle offshoot.)

French hollyhock (aka mallow)

French hollyhock
zirconium: black pearl pepper plant at Cheekwood (black pearl pepper)
From Timothy Beaton's profile of Charles Clary in Nashville NATIVE:

Appropriately, his largest and most ambitious piece was constructed in tribute to his mother, the woman who put the first crayon in his hand. The piece took six months to complete, and the final product sprawled across 240 square feet in an eight-by-forty-foot installation.

The number of towers reflected the number of days from his mother's cancer diagnosis to the day she passed: 204. It included seven seventeen-by-seventeen-inch towers representing the seven-month period, and twenty-six twelve-by-twelve-inch towers for the twenty-six-week period. There were also another 172 towers of varying sizes that completed the piece.

"It was something I had to do. I didn't let myself say, 'This is exhausting.' You're alive, and you're telling a story."

17 Tamuz

Jul. 15th, 2014 06:32 pm
zirconium: photo of squeezy Buddha on cell phone, next to a coffee mug (buddha and cocoa)
"People must be taken one by one in the world, that is the way they are loved, believed, or understood, and when we are told to think in masses, we are lost for the one thing that is the essence and holy is gone. . . ."

- Eudora Welty to Diarmuid Russell, 23 December 1941 (quoted in One Writer's Garden)


Jul. 13th, 2014 08:43 am
zirconium: me @Niki de St Phalle's Firebird (firebird)
For reals:
grinding out some green

Some other goings-on:

  • The 2015 Texas Poetry Calendar is now available. It includes my poem "Texas Instruments."

  • The Changeover published my essay "Accounting for Tennis Prize Money," and Sports Illustrated noticed.

  • Also now available: the 2014 Dwarf Stars anthology, which includes my poems "Even an Empty Life Can Hold Water," "Newest Amsterdam," and "Making Rice Dance."

  • Also, three rejections, the usual bug bites, half of my horses finishing third (which is useless when you're making win-place picks), and two hours in a waiting room with a TV on (but at least it was tuned to HGTV, which I find more tolerable than what's usually on). And a dress I bought just last month is not working out, but is already stained in multiple spots, so into the ragbag it went.

    But at least I figured the not-working-out on second wearing, which was a quicker scramble out of the denial swamp (aka making-do morass) than my usual wrangle with buyer's regret. Also, I won a gold medal in Green Acres (fantasy tennis tournament) and drafted a new poem on my phone while sipping a free glass of prosecco at a neighborhood bar. And now it's back to the drawing board...
    zirconium: photo of flask with feathers in and around it (flask with feathers)
    (borrowed after lingering with the ones at my favorite wine store...)

    Minette's Feast: The Delicious Story of Julia Child and Her Cat (Abrams, 2012) - text by Susanna Reich, illustrations by Amy Bates (pencil and watercolor)

    The Grand Mosque of Paris: A Story of How Muslims Rescued Jews during the Holocaust (Holiday House, 2009), by Karen Gray Ruelle and Deborah Durland DeSaix -- the illustrations were "created with oil paint applied with brushes, paper towels, and all twenty fingers." The artists' command of line, color, and texture is impressive, and I could study the results for hours. (The story is too text-heavy for story hour, in my judgment, but the academic side of me appreciates the presence of both documentation and an index, even for a forty-page picture book.)

    Charlotte in Paris (2003), Charlotte in London (2008), and Charlotte in New York (2006) by Joan MacPhail Knight - contrived but nonetheless cute fictional journals, with cameos by real people like Julie Manet, Mary Cassatt, John Lavery. and Paul Durand-Ruel. Had these been available when I was Charlotte's age, I probably would have fantasized about being Charlotte's best friend; now, I want to find time to read more about the adults and look at more paintings. Coincidences: reading about Henley 1895 the same evening a friend in England happened to be moaning about Henley 2014, and just now I was reminded about the sheep dyed yellow in honor of the Tour de France when Charlotte and her father deliver a package from Edwin Austin Abbey to Frank Millet. It contains several tubes of cadmium yellow, and Millet explains why he keeps running out of that color: "At certain times of day the entire village looks as if it's been dipped in golden honey -- including the sheep."
    zirconium: snapshot of cookie cutter star from sorghum marshmallow making (Default)
    ars longa, fungis omnis

    mushrooms sprout on the wheelbarrow
    as I sharpen
    another pencil
    zirconium: photo of fabric elephant-shaped tissue holder in Thai massage parlor waiting room (elephant at Smile Thai)
    * I am a novice at lap swimming, and today was my first experience both with the long course at the sportsplex and with sharing a lane. The guy I shared the lane with during most of my workout was very nice. I was glad I had the lane all to myself, however, when my right calf cramped up (about an hour in), because it meant I didn't have to hurry to get out of the way.

    * Karen E. Summerly's photo of a cat delights me.

    * There are new blossoms on the bean vines.
    zirconium: tulip in my front yard, April 2014 (tulip)

    Hearst's morning newspaper in Chicago had recently folded, and in a period when newspapermen were generally scarce, Chicago boasted a temporary surplus. So for an adamantly liberal newspaper, the Sun began life with a sensational collection--about half the staff--of Hearst hacks and reactionaries, spiced by a few rummies. (For months the Sun was referred to as "the Field Museum of Hearst Antiques.")

    - Stephen Becker, MARSHALL FIELD III (1964)
    zirconium: photo of squeezy Buddha on cell phone, next to a coffee mug (buddha and cocoa)
    Tonight's things-need-using-up improvisation:

    4 sad carrots, chopped
    1 can chicken broth

    Shredded the carrots in the broth in the Vita-Mixer. Then added

    a couple of tablespoons cumin
    approx. 1/4 cup chopped white onion
    1 can pumpkin
    a couple of shakes of ground ginger
    a couple of shakes of ground black pepper

    Ran the Vita-Mixer at variable, increasing speed from 1 to 10, and then switched the setting to high and let it run for three minutes. I added a squeeze of lime juice to each serving. (Lemon juice or apple cider vinegar might be my first choice if I were making this for others, but the lime was the saddest item in the fruit drawer, and it provided the right kick.)

    If I didn't have the machine, what I might have done is stew the carrots and onion in the broth until tender, then pureed the mixture, returned it to the pot, and stirred in the rest of the ingredients and heated until hot.

    On the other hand, that probably would've been a few steps too many for me tonight (work and studying await), so odds are I would have boiled just the carrots in plain water and then seasoned them with some sesame oil and rice vinegar. Or skipped cooking entirely and simply slathered nut butter onto apple slices, followed by a bowl of cereal. :)


    Jun. 26th, 2014 09:00 pm
    zirconium: black pearl pepper plant at Cheekwood (black pearl pepper)
    1. Putting together breakfast this morning for a friend from grade school and his wife, which mainly consisted of stopping by Sweet 16th for four to go.

    2. The Straight to Ale beer tasting at Woodland Wine Merchant. My favorite was Unobtainium. Rich (their sales manager) was fun to chat with; Tyler talked me into picking up a bottle of Ransom gin (I'm not a fan of most gins, but I do like jenever, and I like whisky, and the Ransom reportedly has elements of both); and staying to the end of the tasting meant that Rich poured me an exceedingly generous portion of Monkeynaut, which I sipped while reading picture books such as Maria Kalman's Chicken Soup, Boots and Sasek's This Is Paris.

    Also, a neighbor and I and Rich started chatting about space monkeys (Straight to Ale is based in Huntsville, hence beers named after Laika and the like), and the neighbor reminisced about taking her daughter to the US Space and Rocket Center while the monkeys were still there, and one of the monkeys playing pattycake with her daughter through the barrier for twenty minutes.

    Also, another neighbor showed up with a super-sweet lovey-dovey doggie.

    3. Speaking of picture books, I happened on Gloria Houston and Barbara Cooney's The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree: An Appalachian Story at the library. It is a beautiful story, with a strong woman who is not its central character and yet is its true heroine.

    4. On my walk to the library, I passed a young boy (eight years old or thereabouts) calling out "Have fun at banjo!" to a girl about to enter a house a few doors down. She cheerfully replied, "Thank you!" I just -- this is Nashville, and I have the heart of a mountain troll, and yet, God, it was just so unbelievably cute and real.

    5. My micro-poem "Five Finger Frustration" was published by unFold today.

    6. Coming home in time to see Roger Federer slam down three aces in a row.

    7. Reviewing the proof for the 2014 Dwarf Stars anthology, which will include three of my poems.

    8. World Cup mania = soccer on the TVs in waiting rooms and the like. A vast improvement over the usual daytime fare, imnsho.

    9. I'm still alive in the Wimbledon men's suicide pool. (I consider making it past the first day an occasion worthy of champagne, and I may well treat myself to a jeroboam if I get to the second week.)
    zirconium: photo of ranunculus bloom on my laptop (ranunculus on keyboard)

    Subtitlers face a number of questions beyond how much to translate. Slang and jargon are perennial tests, but so is humor.

    Pascale Joseph, who specializes in translating from English to French, used to go to gun shops to find out certain arcane vocabulary; now it’s message boards on the web.

    -- Nicolas Rapold, A Freelance Career, Found in Translation
    zirconium: Photo of graduated cylinder with black and blue feathers (measured 1)
    [The subject line is from Freedy Johnston's "Bad Reputation."]

    As I work, I've been listening to Arcade Fire's "Rebellion (Lies)," a song that often takes me back to the spring and summer of 2008, specifically to the counter of Ground Effects, a coffeeshop in Berea, Kentucky. There was neither coffee nor wifi at my mother's house, so I'd drive to Chestnut Street to get my caffeine fix and check in with project managers, and this song was often playing as I researched and wrote, as well as dealing with the things that executors do.

    Foster the People's "Don't Stop" is the ringtone on my phone. (I originally set it as the alarm, but the BYM threatened to stop sleeping with me unless I changed it.) It takes me back to watching tennis in Paris (the DJ frequently played it as exit music -- in fact, I first heard it as "Bon Soir, Bon Soir") at the POPB, which ranks as my favorite arena experience to date, and also brings back happy memories of making myself understood in French, as well as later parts of that trip (such as the evening chez Ginette et Au Lapin Agile).

    The alarm is Mika's Elle Me Dit -- which the BYM probably now can't stand either, since my phone was blaring it every four hours during the first month after The Wreck, to keep us on track with his meds. But the opening still cracks me up every time, and other roommates have burst out laughing at its sheer obnoxiousness... (dum dum dum, dum dum dum dum HEY!)

    The Smithereens' "Blood and Roses" takes me back to my late teens, to an apartment in Lexington, Kentucky, listening to an ex sing along to "I want to love but it comes out wrong." "Dance Like an Egyptian" reminds me of the Snowball Dance I attended with that ex, and the tinsel I draped on his suit (some of which found its way into the Christmas card he sent later that month, which is still somewhere in one of the boxes in this house).

    The Cars' "Just What I Needed" was the only vinyl single I bought in high school (long story, and long after it came out), and I have lots of memories attached to it, but my favorite may be the time I sang it twice at a wedding reception two decades later -- the second time was by request, because the crowd of church teenagers wanted to do the hustle to it, which was hilariously weird and happy.

    "Stacy's Mom" reminds me of dancing with [personal profile] marginaliana in a Chicago ballroom, on another hot summer night. "Lay All Your Love on Me" reminds me of Haifa, Israel -- of the hip sushi bar that played the Erasure cover that earwormed me, the skanky hotel room where I subsequently played it on my laptop through half the night, and the characters that then wouldn't leave me alone until I gave them their say.

    (I usually don't work with music on at all -- especially when creating or finetuning wording is called for -- but sometimes it's unavoidable [e.g., when dependent on cafe wifi] and sometimes it's compatible with the tasks at hand [such as entering data or cleaning up redlines].)
    zirconium: snapshot of cookie cutter star from sorghum marshmallow making (Default)
    The BYM pruned the rogue rosebush yesterday, and some of the branches happened to be the right length for the tomato and pepper stakes I'd been meaning to set up, so today ended up being mostly about gardening.


    Today's digging and weeding turned up shards of ceramic and glass, some shreds of cassette tape, a couple of nails, and a penny very much worse for the wear. In what I think of as the west tulip bed, I replanted some of the bulbs I'd dug up and divided earlier this month, cleaned up and transplanted the begonia I'd picked up from JVI, and sowed bachelor buttons and balloonflowers. In the east tulip bed, the mint is alive and the crocuses and tulips are dormant; today I added the two so-called mosquito-repelling geraniums I'd purchased at May's hospital party, putting them next to the gutter spout.

    On the deck, I repotted two of the basil plants and gave up on the rail-planter zinnias (the ones in the leaky watering can are looking good, though, as is the lily the BYM received last fall).

    Inside, I decanted and diluted the quart of Vinegar of Four Thieves I'd been steeping and shaking for the past fortnight. It didn't smell as foul as it looked, but it also didn't keep all the skeeters at bay. Later this week I shall try the clip-on fan thingie a physician's assistant recommended to me, and then I will likely concede defeat and swathe myself in long sleeves and jeans regardless of temperature (and even that didn't help me last summer -- I wore mesh from head to toe and the little fiends bit me through that, and denim too) and dab myself with vinegar/OFF!/etc. on hot spots.

    I do like summer, though, godawful bugs and ginormous electric bills notwithstanding. I enjoy not having to factor school zones into my schedule, my heartiest hollyhock is still heavy with flowers, and every now and then I glimpse a fat firefly flickering near the rogue rosebush.


    zirconium: snapshot of cookie cutter star from sorghum marshmallow making (Default)

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