zirconium: of blue bicycle in front of Blue Bicycle Books, Charleston (blue bicycle rear)
On the last day of June, I read some pages in Staying Alive: Real Poems for Unreal Times during lunch, and one with the phrase "Remember June's long days" caught my eye.

It's titled "Try to Praise the Mutilated World," and you can read/hear it at http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/247934.

May 2010 - trying to salvage a friend's photos after their drenching by Nashville's biggest flood:
attempting to salvage photos

November 2011 - Paris laundromat door:
Paris laundromat door, 2011

June 2015 - mushrooms in my front yard:
mushrooms in my yard
zirconium: animated gift of cartoon woman flailing (gravity)
When I first saw this tweet, I was like "huh"?

...since it showed up in my in-box before I'd seen what it was responding to:

At any rate, I'm now saying "hmmmm..."

not longer
but stronger
and stranger

see how what
you want to inhale
sits just a letter
or two
or three

apart from what
your mouth
first stretched
toward drawing in

not every balloon
can glide toward escape

not every breath
will suffice for anchor

but these are not
reasons enough
to abandon the study

of possible ways
to stay afloat

balloonflower bud
(Balloon flower about to bloom. More on those later.)
zirconium: black pearl pepper plant at Cheekwood (black pearl pepper)
Phew. Intense week. I was tempted to blow off the pear-cinnamon Bavarian cream I'm attempting for a party, but yep, the instructions said it would need to be in the fridge overnight, so I eventually rode a second wind to the whisk and the stove:

Bavarian cream

Beyond that, though, all I was good for was some tidying up of the indoor tomato plants. I find them endlessly entertaining, though, even when I'm not stone tired. That the vines hold yellow blossoms, green fruit, and red fruit all at the same time is part of the fun.

tomato plant tomato plant tomato plant
zirconium: snapshot of my healthiest hollyhock plant (French hollyhock)
The subject line's from Rilke's "Turning Point," from the June 20 entry of A Year In Poetry (ed. Foster and Guthrie). The poem does nothing for me, actually, but years ago the anthology introduced me to C. H. Sisson's "Letter to John Donne," which I felt like reading aloud, to myself last night and into my microphone earlier today:

I am grateful particularly that you were not a saint
But extravagant whether in bed or in your shroud.
You would understand that in the presence of folly
I am not sanctified but angry.

The rest of my day has been more mellow. The Abbygator was delighted that I prepared baby bok choy for brunch, as she enjoys hoovering up the stubs. I followed the instructions at i am a food blog for preparing and baking the tofu, but instead of the honey garlic sauce, I stir-fried the bok choy with garlic, mirin, soy sauce, and scallions, to end up with this:

tofu with bok choy

The crepe myrtles burst into bloom a few days ago. Some of the tomato vines were nosing near my French books for a couple of nights. Many of the other plantings have not panned out, but there is at last a French marigold blossom in sight (grown from seeds harvested last fall):

French marigold

And blooms are emerging from the second generation of Christmas peppers (also from seeds I saved) as well:

Christmas pepper

And I'm hoping the cornflowers in the front yard do the self-seeding thing:

zirconium: medical instruments @High Point Doll Museum (medical instruments (miniature))
The subject line's from Foster the People's "Helena Beat," which is currently at the top of my working mix at home.

Things I could have done without this week: dog digestive trouble, I-24 as a parking lot, various aspects of this year's physical (nothing to be alarmed about; it's just Not Fun).

Things that have gone well: other aspects of this year's physical (phlebotomist, vaccinator, and radiology tech all very good).

The comedy that is my life:

Me to the BYM: So my internist was laughing at me this afternoon, just like you were the other night.

The BYM: That's because you're funny.

Me: Uh-huh. She was tapping my knee to test my reflexes -- and then, just like you, she was like, "Is that ...whiteout?"

The BYM: [snickers]

(Last Friday, a splotch of correction fluid fell on my knee. I guess it doesn't come off when one keeps falling asleep in the bath instead of scrubbing... *sheepish*)

* I sowed zinnias in the planter that failed to yield any radishes.
* The asparagus I overcooked tonight is still a decent carrier for leftover aioli.
* The Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup! Seeing snapshots of the celebrations reminded me of being in the city when the Bulls won their first championship. Nashville's where I belong, but I do sometimes miss that Windy City energy.

Over on Twitter, several friends needed a moment -- as did I -- when Toews handed the Cup to Timonen:


I'm writing a thank-you note to my friend Sue, who treated me to a Predators vs. Sharks game eleven years ago:

happy retirement, Kimmo
zirconium: black pearl pepper plant at Cheekwood (black pearl pepper)
My stop at Cheekwood Saturday afternoon had been a maybe on my list. I'd gone to an intense dress rehearsal in the morning, and was torn between wanting to sleep for twelve hours and wanting to enjoy a change of scene.

The sun shining and a dining discount won out: I stopped at 360 Bistro for lunch (white port, scallop-grapefruit salad, fig cheesecake, and tamayokucha tea), where Colombia vs. France was on the TV, and then said hi to the black pepper plants...

Cheekwood - Plensa

... and the tree-hugging statues (Purcell on a back, Schubert around a neck, Monteverdi at a waist, Mozart on a hip...)

Cheekwood - Plensa Cheekwood - Plensa Cheekwood - Plensa

... and enjoyed part of documentary not only on the screen but reflected in a nearby door:

Cheekwood - Plensa Cheekwood - Plensa
zirconium: of blue bicycle in front of Blue Bicycle Books, Charleston (blue bicycle)
...Why He Put Off the Bus and Fired a Good Lead Guitar in West Texas

That's the title of a James Whitehead poem reprinted in the Spring 2000 issue of Shenandoah, where I encountered it, and in Leon Stokesbury's The Made Thing: An Anthology of Contemporary Southern Poetry, which is on the shelves of Nashville's public library (811.5408097 M1811) and elsewhere.

Someday I might request permission to do something with it -- and I won't be unhappy if someone with stronger lettering + illustration +/- typesetting chops gets to it first, to get it to more of its people. People who have endured gigs with someone who will not shut up. People stab-inching their way through this year's CMApocalypse. People who might want a persona poem for teaching or performing. "The day I put him off the sun outside..."

In the meantime, it's 1:15 a.m. and I'm finishing a late second supper of tuna + bok choy + mayo + mustard, followed with some handfuls of Spanish peanuts and a glass of Nortico Alvarinho. Music studied, poem drafted, dishes washed, tomato tasted ...
zirconium: Unitarian Universalist chalice with pink triangle as base (rainbow chalice)
A June tradition at my church is Music Sunday, and this coming Sunday, at 9 a.m. and at 11 a.m., the choir will be performing a new setting of Darrell Grant's Ruby Bridges Suite.

It is going to be outstanding. Darrell Grant is on piano and keyboard; man can play. Brian Foti on drums -- ditto. Same for the guy on string bass (whose name I didn't catch, apologies!). Connye Florance is one of the soloists (I haven't heard Lari White yet, who's another). Majic Jackson narrating, with words by MLK and Maya Angelou and others. The gifted and dedicated Seth Adler working sound. Yes, I'm name-dropping, because some of you locals need that to get you out of the house on a summer morning (and I include myself in that group).

Some of the songs have had me tearing up as I study them. The text alone won't convey why -- it's the rise and fall of melody and harmony that hits me in the gut -- but here are some of the lines anyway. In "Hold My Hand," Ruby's mother sings to her:

Hold my hand, child, hold my hand
Someday you will understand
Straight ahead, child, never fear
God is watching, love is near

For the world, child, is not fair
Danger follows everywhere
Lift your eyes, child
You will see
God is watching
You are free

And in "Come in," a teacher sings to her student:

Ruby, you're a special one.
Pray that I can see you through.
There's so much meanness in the world
but you should know they don't see what I see.
In here you're just a little girl
who has a right to learn who she can be.

With faith, and time,
you'll see that I believe in you.
We've much to learn, we two.

Darrell says he spent twenty years writing the finale, "We Rise," originally composing it for a sophomore album that fell through, and then revising it periodically (with a four-bar stretch that kept defying his attempts to perfect the piece), and then realizing that all the great creators resort to "shims" at times, and later recognizing that the suite was where the piece belonged...

Rise up, brand new day
You know that love will find a way
Together we cannot be broken
Up from the bitter past we rise
To build a world where peace is spoken
The time is now
At last we rise
This time the circle can't be broken
This time the ghosts of hate must die
We'll throw the gates of Freedom open
The time is now
At last we rise

Again, the music is essential -- left to my own devices, I don't know that love will find a way, I see circles broken every damn day, and on, and on, but when I'm singing those words, my unbelief doesn't matter. Rise up, brand new day.

Like many other commuters, I've been cranky about the congestion amplified by CMA Fest (a friend retweeted Gretchen Peters's quip about meanderthals, and I admit I laughed out loud) ... but I've also been entertained by the skin and plumage on display, and I managed to miss the fish parts on the interstate snarl-up, and I give thanks yet again for the pleasure of living in a city with session players on virtually every block. When I got home tonight, the rock cellist and/or guitarist (not always sure what the instrument is, but the playing is consistently good) who lives a couple of houses away was practicing licks.

Music in the air, fireflies in the yard, doggie at the door, piano waiting ... praise.
zirconium: photo of cupcake from Sweet 16th, Nashville (crackacino cupcake)
Tomorrow my week goes from 5 mph back to 90, but today I went to the dentist and the watch repairman and one of the international markets on Nolensville Road, where I picked up bok choy and Taiwanese sausages and rice sticks:

from K&S (Nolensville Rd.)

I also harvested the radishes that looked ready:


My love went riding around this past weekend, and came back to me with a flower:

from my sugah
zirconium: snapshot of my healthiest hollyhock plant (French hollyhock)
Today's subject line comes from Sam Anderson's piece in the NYT Magazine on blind contour drawing:

It turns out that the world, on close examination, is gloriously strange. Things are lumpier and hairier than we have been led to believe. . . . Sleeve wrinkles can be as beautiful as the most exotic flower. Every object (book, pencil, glove, banana) is in fact a bewildering universe of lines.

Today has been a letting-my-brain-regrow day, what with logging over sixty hours of work this week between the day job and a side project. There have been some weird-even-for-me meals, what with the piling up of dishes and deferring of grocery shopping and miscalculating of minutes left in my lunch break: today's mint-chard-miso soup was a result of me shredding the greens and herbs for a salad on Thursday, realizing I had to returning to the office before I'd finished assembling the salad, and then coming home to a frozen slab of leaves because I'd neglected to wrap the plate in plastic wrap before shoving it into the fridge. Oops.

I was stone tired all this morning, so for breakfast and lunch I supplemented the leftovers with runny fufu:


For dessert, some jello I'd made with agar-agar I'd bought as a prop for my Heartbreak Happy Hour performance back in February:

Filipino agar-agar bar agar-agar dessert cups

For dinner, I might roast a chicken. But the BYM is frolicking with goats today, so maybe I'll just make another mint-chard salad and do the rest of the dishes and trim dead leaves from the tomato jungle:

tomato plant

Without the cooking and cleaning and contemplation, there would not be the stamina for helping with the constructing and chronicling of more glamorous events and exhibitions:

The Frist Center at night
zirconium: doll with bike @High Point Doll Museum (doll with bike)
I'm planning to carry this purse later today, to two fashion-related events:

purse by Louise Duthie

It's a fun, fuzzy thing that the BYM's Aunt Louise made for me some time ago. It normally lives on my study wall, but one of the purses in the exhibition reminded me of it. She passed away on Tuesday after about two months in the hospital.

In November 2012, she brought to the BYM and me a Stairsteps to Heaven quilt she'd made. I believe I sent her a "your quilt in action" snapshot at some point, but can't find that message at the moment (it was probably via snail mail). I did come across a glimpse of that quilt in a photo of Abby napping (and me on the verge of it):

an August nap

From a note Louise sent to me last July:

My backyard looks like a jungle.

As usual I am busy either beading, knitting or quilting. As I often say, there aren't enough hours in the day.
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: snapshot of cookie cutter star from sorghum marshmallow making (Default)

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