zirconium: photo of squeezy Buddha on cell phone, next to a coffee mug (buddha and cocoa)

River Arts District
Asheville River Arts District - White Duck Taco parking lot


I have been dipping into the Summer 2016 issue of Rattle during breaks. The highlights so far:

  • Christopher Citro - "The Mutual Building" ("When is someone going / to come clean this up? ... // No one needs the wrong time in the sky / when we're just trying to cross the street...")

  • Jennifer Givhan - "The Cheerleaders" ("What's not feminist / about this, how the sport could send us -- / most of whom had ever been on a plane / since there was no airport in our town / besides barns for crop dusters -- to New York City....")

  • Felicia Krol - "Between Funerals" ("One by one / the white letters...")

  • S. H. Lohmann - "Survival English" ("What I know are just facts: / which vowels gave them trouble...")

  • Peter J. Curry's contributor note: "When I think about the poems I've written, I see they come mostly from that impulse -- to mend something, or to bring some kind of order to an obviously broken world."


  • Now I am off to scrub the shower walls with lemon water (left over from scrubbing the inside of the microwave). Ars longa, housework vincit, vita brevis, laborare est orare, etc.
    zirconium: the word "SANGUINE" engraved in stone (sanguine)
    [Today's subject line is from Christophe Willem's "Berlin," which is on the album advertised on posters at Lyons Part Deux seven years ago.]

    090527 strasbourg 142


    Seven years ago, I was staying in a (comparatively) cheap hotel in a slightly sketchy section of Strasbourg. From a 27 May 2009 e-mail to the BYM:

    Slogging away on the [] manuscript and missing American ice machines (I literally pried four cubes out of the hotel tray yesterday afternoon so that my liter of Coke could remain drinkable), takeaway coffee, and clean glassware.

    Minor nuisances: the shower's so small the water temp changes whenever I turn around (because my body keeps hitting the faucet), and some dude tried to hit on me by asking if I was from Japan, which is a lame pickup line in any language.

    On the plus side, I do think I looked pretty good yesterday [], I bought strawberries and scallions at an open market near the Jewish quarter, and there was a fantastic countertenor busking in front of the Cathedral. Got in a half-day of sightseeing just from getting lost, so I will feel less lame about staying glued to the laptop/netbook all today.


    Two mornings later, I took the train from Alsace...

    French train station Strasbourg train station, I think

    to Marseille, which included a transfer at Lyons Part Deux, where some passengers sit on a bank by the tracks between trains:

    IMG_1489 IMG_1485

    30 May 2009:


    Marseille even noisier and rowdier than Strasbourg, but I was expecting that. I'm getting a good sense of what 65 EUR hotel neighborhoods are like, I guess. ;-)

    Also, the further south the train station, the crazier it is. Well, not really, but Lyons Part Dieu was like JFK/O'Hare combined (in terms of sheer mass of humanity and chaos and I even first got on the wrong train, because somehow everyone is supposed to know that the TGV to Marseille will be on track I as opposed to the normal train on track G, and though I at least suspected something was wrong since the train I was supposed to catch had two levels and the Ter had only one). When I got on the right train, some dude was in my seat, so there was a moment of "Oh no!" -- and then another dude mistook it for his because *he* had gotten onto the wrong car.

    The drama at Marseille St. Charles was seeing a dozen people pelt through the station, trying to catch their connections.

    Dinner was pasta from Chicken World, where I also threw back two espressos (at 11:30 pm).


    Today, I ended up discarding plans A, B, and C in favor of housework, yardwork, and time with the dog. Lots of tugging at stubborn vines, stubborn roots, and occasionally stubborn canine. (Me to the BYM: She was chomping on some of ivy. Do you suppose it has hallucinogens in it, and would that explain why she ate half of my poodle-print scarf earlier this week?) I transplanted a hollyhock seedling (which didn't look happy about its new location, but it was one too many further down the row), a cactus cutting, and a bunch of pepper seedlings. I harvested a handful of radishes. I am planning to sow zinnias and maybe marigolds.

    We are worried about the dog. Some days she gallops from one end to the house like a puppy; some nights, like tonight, her hind legs intermittently give out on her. It may be time to revisit medication options; it is certainly time to steal more time for her, as it were. I spent a good chunk of the afternoon pruning branches and yanking at stems in a corner of the yard she likes to disappear into, the better to let passersby know that they're on her street. I can't save her from tripping over herself, let alone most of the wide, ever-beckoning universe, but I can at least clean up some of the corners. Digging at the roots unearthed an old shard of glass, some blue-green netting, and the usual jumble of rocks and clumps.

    Some of the branches are now propping up parts of the fruit-heavy mama pepper plant, whose pot I also tidied up today, adding soil to cover roots that our spring weather (or the dog) had disturbed. I am resisting the urge to stock up on sale mulch; given the music I need to have in my bones by mid-week (on deck: a recording session [touching up some spots on the forthcoming Heritage OP album], a workshop with Ysaye Barnwell, and two Music Sunday services [also featuring Dr. Barnwell]), I'm unlikely to get through the bags already on hand. As it happens, the dog is now napping in the room with the piano. When I practice tomorrow, she'll probably jog my left elbow before I'm ten minutes in, because (planting snout firmly in my lap) don't I already spend enough time not paying attention to her?
    zirconium: photo of squeezy Buddha on cell phone, next to a coffee mug (buddha and cocoa)
    FIGO
    (FIGO Pasta, West Midtown Atlanta)

    The mockingbirds
    have been trilling all night

    while myrtles groan
    like neglected doors.

    The moon shines above
    the neighbor's roof

    among the shreds
    of party pink clouds

    one more thing
    not yet put away

    among the snapshots
    and sketches
    and samples

    forming my nest
    of songs to be hatched

    before the keyholes
    kiss encroaching walls

    before mortality
    mandates a morning
    of trowel and mortar --

    old clay,
    new seals.
    zirconium: Detail from Paris Polytechnique building (Paris Polytechnique)
    [The subject line is the opening line of Wislawa Szymborska's "Clochard."]

    The first day I spent in Paris: 8 May 2009. There were daffodils painted on poles within CDG airport, and I paid I think two euro for a bouquet of muguets from a Latin Quarter street vendor:

    my first day in Paris my first day in Paris

    I had to bring work along (plus ça change...), and I also had a requiem I'd promised to learn by the time I reached Prague, which would be the following morning. But first there were pork rillettes for breakfast, with gherkins...

    my first day in Paris

    and there were sights to be seen, including flowers tucked into statues (this one is of Romanian poet Mihai Eminescu)...

    my first day in Paris

    and pianos being played:

    my first day in Paris


    Everything's mine but just on loan,
    nothing for the memory to hold,
    though mine as long as I look.

    - Szymborksa, "Travel Elegy"


    my first day in Paris
    zirconium: Russian tins of fish (Russian tins of fish)
    [The subject line is from Barbara Jordan's "Bruegel's Crows," in Channel.]

    Some days, things mushroom like mad:

    IMG_9924

    They might even get decidedly warped:

    IMG_9951

    It's okay. There will be other days full of light...

    NC Arboretum

    and sweetness:

    NC Arboretum
    zirconium: photo of bell tower seen on a walk to the Acropolis (athens bell tower)
    [Subject line from Barbara Jordan's "We All Have Many Chances," in Channel (Beacon Press, 1990)]

    River Arts District
    Asheville, April 2016


    Also seen/heard this weekend:

    * a girl on a stool on a porch, with a clarinet

    * a father with his arms full of Maypole ribbons

    * a colleague about a friend who used to play horn for Prince, on retainer

    * the church pianist's riffs on various hymns

    * "Don't Leave Me This Way" (Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes?) at Pinewood Social
    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

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