zirconium: snapshot of my healthiest hollyhock plant (French hollyhock)
So. During the past fortnight, the too-short tomato cuttings grew roots after all:

tomato cuttings tomato cutting

Even so, some of them look a shade too sickly -- leaves too translucent -- to survive much longer. But I have plenty of pots on hand, so I planted them all this evening:

transplanted tomato cuttings

The sun shone steady and strong through sporadic showers of rain as I sat on my porch. That was a treat.


May. 25th, 2015 06:12 pm
zirconium: Unitarian Universalist chalice with pink triangle as base (rainbow chalice)
* Sang at a friend's ordination Saturday afternoon. It at times felt like a wedding (which I hear she excels at the officiating of) -- Denise radiant in her cream suit and later in her purple robe and glittering stole (the latter stitched by Sheri DiGiovanna, who also designs clothes for people with limb loss). Brian Foti doing his usual magic on the drums, Peter Mayer on guitar, Susan Snyder on piano, Ben [last name I didn't catch] on bass, Karl Kersey on mandolin, and Seth Alder as the sound engineer.

I am fortunate to work and worship with gifted and dedicated people, among whom are many others not listed here.

* A friend's father passed away last week. He, too, was extraordinary. As is she.

* My honorary mama moves to a retirement community next week.

* I've hired an architect for the addition to my house.

I also just wrapped a wedding present for a friend, and am finally going to write in the card I made for another friend at the start of this month, featuring a cornflower from my garden.

I would rather be spending the holiday with friends and watching Roland Garros reels than contending with dental pain and databases, but this isn't the first (and won't be the last) time I have to choose work over barbecue. (As for the infected tooth, thank God for salt and hot water.) On the upside, I have a dog at my feet and a moon cake by my keyboard. There are worse ways to pay for permit drawings and presents, and there will be other cookouts.
zirconium: me @Niki de St Phalle's Firebird (firebird)
The BYM and I went to see Dior and I tonight, and there's a scene where a techie setting up for a show on top of an A-frame ladder moves it along the pipe he's at not by climbing down and shifting it, but rocking it to the next spot.

Sensible members of the audience: *sharp intake of breath*
Me: Oh yeah, my pals in college would do that.

And apparently I'm not alone in finding Pieter Mulier "magnetic."

tomato plant

There are around two dozen flowers on my tomato plants right now. Few have been ripening into fruit -- the vines need more tending and troubleshooting than I've been able to provide. Even so, I'm enjoying how tall they've grown since September, and the scent of the leaves, and the prospect of a few bites:

tomato plant

It turns out the cuttings in my spice jars are too short to expect anything from (though they too are still green and fragrant), but the one in the champagne glass is ready for its own pot:

tomato cutting
zirconium: snapshot of oysters enjoyed in Charleston (oysters)
As I reminded/reassured a friend this morning, I celebrate my birthday from May 9 through May 8 each year. Still, I enjoyed the fact that the actual day was on a weekend this year. I woke up early enough to head to a yoga class...

happy 45th to me

... and treated myself to good coffee at Sweet 16th and new shoes at Cumberland Transit. There was a raft of chores that couldn't be put off, but there were also flowers from my big brother...

birthday bouquet

... and greetings from my little brother (along with news of the latest marathon he completed, this time at Big Sur), and lovely notes and cards and presents from other people dear to me, including more flowers in the trunk of a vintage car (in an e-card sent by an aunt from her hospital bed. I am related to very determined people).

The Japanese cloth on the table above was delivered to me as the wrapper around Ray Marshall's Paper Blossoms: A Book of Beautiful Bouquets for the Table.

Blackberries and raspberries were on sale at the supermarket, so for tea, I rinsed some of those, and made edamame-wasabi dip to pair with tortilla chips. For dinner, another friend grilled turkey burgers and corn; we brought prosecco and Cheerwine and other beverages.

I was glad that it was not an official party, as I was fading before 9 p.m. I took two naps today, too. That felt glorious.

There are yellow flowers in the pop-up book, and also on the tomato vines and the rogue rosebush.

tomato plant

the rogue rosebush is again in bloom

I finally transplanted last fall's rose seeds from my meat drawer to a propagation tray. It is likely too late and too hot for them to flourish. Nevertheless, I shall water them for a while and see what turns up.
zirconium: French word for "light" (on wall of Cheekwood Mansion) (lumière)
I have been humming "I Am That Great and Fiery Force" to myself since Sunday, when it was sung as one of the morning songs at church. Words by Hildegarde von Bingen, set to "Ave Vera Virginitas" by Josquin Desprez -- you can hear a bit of it sung by Missing Rachel, and longer versions of the tune on YouTube, inluding one by a Slovak choir, the Hilliard Ensemble, et al. The verses:

I am that great and fiery force
sparkling in everything that lives;
in shining of the river's course,
in greening grass that glory gives.

I shine in glitter on the seas,
in burning sun, in moon and stars.
In unseen wind, in verdant trees
I breathe within, both near and far.

And where I breathe there is no death,
and meadows glow with beauties rife.
I am in all, the spirit's breath,
the thundered word, for I am Life.

The chamber choir sang two pieces, including the Real Group's "Words," which was applauded at both services.

Present reading: Erica E. Hirshler's Sargent's Daughters: The Biography of a Painting

Recent cooking: Chicken with mushroom-wine sauce (and parsley from an early birthday present); Mexican-ish brownies for a Cinco de Mayo potluck (using salted caramel cocoa mix, throwing in a cupful of chocolate chips, cutting the sugar in half, and ancho chile powder -- they turned out fine. The intern who shares my office gushed about them without knowing I was the one who made them. \o/); fufu (to go with the leftover chicken)

Today's workout: a long swim. I had lane 2 to myself, which meant I could indulge in backstroke as well as freestyle.

Today's remaining goal: some ironing. Chores toward comfort: story of my life. ;)
zirconium: doll with bike @High Point Doll Museum (doll with bike)
[subject line from Matthew Arnold's Lines Written in Kensington Gardens, which correspond to a UU hymn set to a Thomas Tallis canon that I often play when in need of solace]

Asheville Art Museum mural
(The Writing on the Pharaoh's Wall (detail), Gabriel Shaffer, Asheville Art Museum)

Hello, new month
of maybes, maybeings,
and wish-I-mays now here --
behold how bedecked
you already are
with swirls of stitchery

already a diary
of crossouts and detours
and acronymed prayers
and half-rehearsed words
and words for rehearsals.

To tally today:
how many angels
in toeshoes on
the sparkling tips
of pinwheel spokes?

Any minute now
the rules that you thought
were to keep you in line

will vault
with a vehemence
over the handlebars.

O brace yourself
for the many-tongued wind

its whipsharp accents
its cloudblurred vowels

you will grapple for years
with what it has to say to you.

zirconium: of blue bicycle in front of Blue Bicycle Books, Charleston (blue bicycle)
My life, it does not lack comedy. Not when a dog who has pelted, trotted, leaped, and sauntered through my kitchen door at least 15,000 times still sometimes tries to charge through that door without giving me room to open it. The resulting Marx Brothers routine is the sort of thing that has me laughing and swearing at the same time, as did my having to chase her away from a pepper plant for the umpteenth time this year. (One of today's accomplishments was adding more soil to that plant's container. I'd hazily attributed the exposure of the roots to careless watering, but on reflection, canine rapaciousness is to blame. Said dawg just chowed down on two kale stems, but those I gave to her.)

bike installation

Two weekends ago, I brought my Jonathan Green coloring book and a box of crayons to a hotel room in Lexington. Some of the gang watched Coachella on the TV; Knight, borrowing some of the crayons, drew a bike for my sweetie, a plaid for a fellow fashionista, and hearts and something else.

A Lexington photographer took a nice shot of the group the next day; I wore the yellow hat the previous Saturday as well. This past weekend was here in Nashville, with Friday and Saturday night dedicated to my husband's high school reunion. The Friday night party was at the Bridge Building; seeing the city from the 6th floor was spectacular, glimpsing the promgoers also in the building was entertaining, the beer good and the conversations lively (an enthusiastic recommendation for H is for Hawk among them).

It was also nice to find out that two very successful men in my circles aren't on Facebook. I wasn't losing sleep over my stance to begin with, but as one of them said, it's nonetheless reassuring to hear of others thriving without it.

I did not get to everything I'd meant to get through today, but I did put two tomato cuttings in water. Even if they do not bear fruit, they look nice and smell wonderful. Sometimes that's all I ask of my belongings. But my shoes will tell you a far different tale, and I am itching to clean up my front door and devise a new window treatment for it. But to tackle that right now would be trying to hurl myself through a hoop while standing too close to it. A wild patience has taken me this far...

A year ago: birthdayage, Christianity, celebrity, commerce, Bardage
zirconium: tulip in my front yard, April 2014 (tulip)
hello, tomato plant ...

remaining indoors

how you like it here
inside my house
with the lily and the peppers
and long sips of water
with occasional shots
of tea and coffee

so do I
oh so do I

Prompted by April Moon 15 Day 13
zirconium: Photo of cat snoozing on motorcycle on a sunny day in Jersualem's Old City. (cat on moto)
...how they toil not, neither do they spin...


It was the larger one whom I accidentally kicked off the bed twice last night (I'm used to cats sleeping on me rather than near my feet), but there seem to be no hard feelings, as he's now licking my left foot. The smaller one didn't think much about me bringing the camera out:

zirconium: photo of fabric elephant-shaped tissue holder in Thai massage parlor waiting room (elephant at Smile Thai)
* two rejections (eight pieces total) this week
* missing yoga classes to meet deadlines

* current management at my pharmacy very friendly
* Soyung Pak's Dear Juno (picture book about an American boy and his Korean grandmother exchanging letters. Boy with dog, gran with cat. (Longtime readers may remember that I'm a sucker for picture books with cats snuck into the spreads.) Illustrated by Susan Kathleen Hartung.
* colleagues grinning at my peacock-patterned galoshes
* forty-minute swim yesterday, some of it with a lane to myself

Carpe Diem

Apr. 5th, 2015 07:07 am
zirconium: Photo of Joyful V (racehorse) in stall (Joyful Victory)
The temperature dropped last night, but the peppers, radishes, lettuce, and poppies seemed to have survived. The yards are full of violets and I'm especially enjoying the yellow tulips. As I drove along Woodland Street yesterday afternoon, I glimpsed a group of young women walking toward Five Points; they had paused in front of a house with phlox spilling over the front border, and one of them kept bending down toward the flowers.

A horse named Carpe Diem (bred by Coffee Pot Stable) won the Blue Glass Stakes yesterday, and is a favorite for the Kentucky Derby. (Not the same Danish gelding sired by Richard of York, or the US gelding sired by Grand Slam, or the British mare sired by Good Times, or the Brazilian mare sired by Ski Champ.) If I make any straight bets on the Derby, though, odds are I'll choose an underdog -- perhaps the other likely Pletcher entry, Materiality.

In the meantime, there are horsies everywhere. Including at Scout's Barbershop:

zirconium: snapshot of cookie cutter star from sorghum marshmallow making (Default)
The subject line is from a March 1958 letter written by Henry Rago, then editor of Poetry, to Aileen G. Melchior, who had asked him to give her "an honest appraisal" of her twelve-year-old daughter's poems. Her letter opens with "I don't understand traditional poetry very well and modern not at all. I am not familiar with your magazine however I have been told that you are one of the most astute judges of modern poetry in America," adding that "it would a tragedy indeed if the child had talent which I failed to recognize."

In his reply, Rago repeatedly cautions Mrs. Melchior against "over-encouraging": "I was a child-poet myself, and I know that she can do justice to her talent and at the same time have all the fun that any child should have. She shouldn't be deprived of this -- even poetry isn't a good enough reason."

The daughter, Julia Anne, replied to this with a thank-you note:

... as for writing poetry, I don't write, I just put words together and they come out poems.

I don't know if I'll be a poet though, Mama says there's no money in it and I do want to eat. I really do love words, especially adjectives. They seem to know how to describe exactly what you're feeling.

[quotations from Dear Editor: A History of Poetry in Letters]

emerging tulip
zirconium: sculpture of owl at Cheekwood, Nashville (Cheekwood owl)
Michael Kimmelman, in a November 30, 1997 NYT review of Jenny Uglow's Hogarth:

This extravagantly detailed biography by Jenny Uglow is less a book of art history than a history of Hogarth's milieu. Much of his character, and the book's, is encapsulated in the colorful story Uglow recounts of a woman named Mary Tofts, who claimed to have become so obsessed with rabbits after failing to catch several of them in a field she was weeding that she suffered a miscarriage and began to deliver animals and animal parts. Fashionable medical men verified her story, among them a certain Nathanael St. Andre, a Swiss who was Anatomist to the Royal Household and a teacher of fencing and dancing before he took up surgery, who announced that he had personally delivered her of several rabbits.

This put Londoners off rabbit stew for a while. Then Mary conceded the hoax and St. Andre was forced to make a public apology. It was the sort of ripe event that Hogarth, like any tabloid cartoonist today, couldn't resist: absurd, bawdy, a perfect opportunity to skewer self-proclaimed experts like St. Andre and his fellow quacks, and also to strike a blow against mystification, which Hogarth despised in all forms, whether from doctors or politicians or art critics. His print "Cunicularii," or "The Rabbit Warren," sold briskly.
zirconium: me @Niki de St Phalle's Firebird (firebird)

As do all other weeks, this week has had its share of derps and dammits and disgusting nightmares (trashed-to-the-rims bathrooms to clean -- thanks, Subconscious of Zero Subtlety). But, as with all weeks, there have been pleasures and blessings, including:

  • Iced tea and a Kentucky Hot Brown at Madeline.

  • Sanjay Patel's Ramayana: Divine Loophole. (The link will take you to an entry at Book Scribbles, where Jen posted some photographs from the book, including the bears and vanaras building a bridge rock by rock.)

  • My friend Knight won Gannett's Innovator of the Year Award.

  • She and several other Nashvillians invite you to Girls To The Moon, a one-day "campference" this September for girls (ages 8–13) and their parents/caregivers.

  • My mama pepper seems to be enjoying its new pot. (Now to cover it and all the other plants properly before this weekend's cold snap...)
  • zirconium: snapshot of oysters enjoyed in Charleston (oysters)
    My eighty-something Mama Nancy is legendary in many circles for many reasons, including her joie de vivre. Within the family, part of the legend is her readiness to pour champagne in honor of any occasion that can be construed as cause for celebration.

    I think of Mama Nancy as I look at the cover of Toasts: The Perfect Words to Celebrate Every Occasion, an anthology to which I contributed two pieces, including this offering for the Fourth of July:

    Here's to everywhere we're from and everywhere we'll be,
    To miracles that brought us together in this country.

    Graduations are on the horizon, as are reunions and numerous other special occasions. Would you like to add this book to your reference shelf, or to the bedside table in your guest room? You have two options:

    (1) Comment below with an occasion you are looking forward to celebrating.

    Tuesday night (sometime after 8 p.m. CDT), I will collect all the entries from the Dreamwidth, LJ, and IJ threads, put them into an ice bucket, and ask either my partner or my dog to fish one out. If you are the winner, I will contact you for your address (U.S. only, sorry), to forward to the publisher. Viva Editions will ship your complimentary copy directly to that address.

    (2) You can purchase the book from Viva, Powell's, Malaprops, and other vendors.

    Santé! Slainte mhath! :)
    zirconium: tulip in my front yard, April 2014 (tulip)
    Paperwork and housework call. But I didn't go home right after church, for there were orchids to ogle:

    Shih Hua Girl "Stones River"

    orchid display Cattleya intermedia

    Taida Little Green orchid

    And also small statues in bamboo gardens...

    bamboo garden, Cheekwood

    ... and daffodils on display, including one named Trigonometry:

    Trigonometry daffodil

    More snapshots here
    zirconium: snapshot of my healthiest hollyhock plant (French hollyhock)
    [Subject line from Swinburne's "March: An Ode," via Dawn Potter]

    [Speaking of Ms. Potter, I read Galway Kinnell's "For Robert Frost" during lunch two days ago. It begins, "Why do you talk so much / Robert Frost?"]

    There is paperwork that must be conquered, but the sun was shining, so there was snipping and lugging and sowing. Four cubic feet of garden soil (plus maybe another half-foot left over from the fall) doesn't go all that far, but it made for a solid start. I transplanted my mama Christmas pepper plant (the one that spawned these) and spice-jar tomato seedling into larger planters, and sowed the following:

  • Evergreen scallions (seeds from Hudson Valley Seed Library, via All Seasons)

  • Hungarian breadseed poppies (Renee's Garden, via [I think] the now-shuttered Worm's Way Nashville) -- I've never gotten these past seedling stage, but maybe third time + larger pot will translate into success

  • chives (Plantation Products quarter packet, via Nashville Public Library Seed Exchange)

  • Jade Gem lettuce (Renee's Garden, via Worm's Way St. Louis, source of the terrific tomato plants)

  • petite marigolds (Ferry-Morse, via NPL Seed Exchange)

  • Grand Rapids lettuce (Bean Acres Seeds, eBay)

  • Rainbow radishes (Seeds of Change, Turnip Truck)

  • arugula (Seeds of Change)

  • Dainty Marietta French marigolds (seeds harvested from last fall's blooms, which were from a 2013 eBay purchase)

  • Now I am chilling out with a tumbler of Pisco Capel and a library copy of Soul Food Love. I am boiling rice in chicken broth for the dog (who was trying her darnedest earlier to hoover up the soil that didn't make it into the pots), and later I will cook shrimp grits for the BYM.
    zirconium: Unitarian Universalist chalice with pink triangle as base (rainbow chalice)
    Marlon James, in the NYT Magazine (March 10, 2015), on his first days in Minnesota, as a new instructor at Macalester College:

    Seven days in, I put on jogging shoes and didn't stop running until I saw something I liked, the downtown Minneapolis skyline. For a man always fearing what people thought, I was suspicious of "Minnesota nice," everybody smiling and saying hello while they kept walking. But by the end of the first week, somebody I'd just met gave me a bicycle to get around; someone else bought me coffee mugs. Another professor, Casey, who moved here to teach as well, was into the band My Bloody Valentine and "Project Runway."

    zirconium: medical instruments @High Point Doll Museum (medical instruments (miniature))
    [subject line from Galway Kinnell's "The Avenue Bearing the Initial of Christ into the New World"]

    I wasn't thrilled about the bureaucratic hoop I didn't manage to hop through during my lunch break today, but walking around downtown does have its rewards. The sacred and the mundane and the profane are all but on top of one another: a cross draped with a purple stole held in place with black sandbags. Balloons tethered to a side entrance of War Memorial Auditorium:

    downtown Nashville

    A cottage door -- complete with rabbit -- painted on a side of a brick storefront:

    downtown Nashville
    zirconium: snapshot of cookie cutter star from sorghum marshmallow making (Default)
    Holland Cotter in the NYT on getting close to paintings (in this case, those of Piero di Cosimo):

    Over the years, I had passed by some in museums, only half noticing them, and seen others in books and online. They registered in my mind as polished but somewhat impersonal variations on standard themes, distinguished mainly by an incidental wealth of fine realistic detail. Piero, it seemed, had brought formal finesse to his altarpieces but left himself out.

    I had a different impression standing in front of them in Washington. For one thing, details that I'd been able to make out only with the aid of a zoom function online--feather-perfect birds, botanically correct flowers, glinting gems--were now clear to the eye and not incidental at all: They were integral to the compositions they appeared in. Pieros paintings were holistic in a way I hadnt guessed from afar.

    And there, underneath the formal polish, was his hand in action. In one area, hes laying on color in chunky strokes, paint-by-numbers style. In another, he’s adding thin, raised lines of highlight with a calligraphers precision. Elsewhere, hes impatiently smooshing pigment around with his fingers. You can't see all of this by standing directly in front of a picture. You have to move around, adjust your position, bend down and look up, catch the surface in different angles of light. In other words, to see a painting, you have to do a little dance with it, and take your time. From a digital distance, you see an image. In person, in a gallery, you feel that image breathing.


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

    August 2015

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