zirconium: me @Niki de St Phalle's Firebird (firebird)
firmly rooted to the floor
yet floating

in Sharon Louden's COMMUNITY
(Playing within a thicket of mirrors at the Asheville Art Museum. Album here.)
zirconium: of blue bicycle in front of Blue Bicycle Books, Charleston (blue bicycle rear)
I tried some defrosted durian tonight. The $8 I paid for it falls into the experience tax column, I'm sorry to say -- I couldn't get past the smell. I have taken the fruit and its container outside to the bin. I have taken the trash bag holding the plastic wrapper that was around the container out to the bin, too. I am burning candles and I am about to brush my teeth, even though I've since nibbled on a lavender-kirschwasser cookie and sipped some wine.

The day started out with a different kind of mayhem: a battery-powered fish given to the BYM for Christmas suddenly went bonkers, even though it wasn't near water or the dog or any other motion-provoking substance or being. I reached for the eyeglass-repair-kit screwdriver. I tried dangling it in mid-air. I dunked it in water. It's still twitch-ticking its tail incessantly nineteen hours later, even though it's supposed to go to sleep after five minutes. I knew that the last Monday of the year would have its share of flailing, but sheesh...

fish robot in soup bowl
zirconium: snapshot of cookie cutter star from sorghum marshmallow making (Default)
...the Titans were predictably ending their season with a whimper, and I had an errand that couldn't wait anyhow, so I picked up my camera and walked around the 'hood for a while:

Sunday after Christmas

Read more... )
zirconium: Unitarian Universalist chalice with pink triangle as base (rainbow chalice)

... but I wasn't expecting the back spasms during yoga this morning. Those were new. (The flare of foot cramp was not, alas.) Fortunately, it was a very small class (four people), and silent (by design), so I didn't feel conspicuous easing into the poses I could and modifying (or simply dropping) the ones I sensed were too risky for today's practice. (I also managed one of my better toe-stands ever. Yay!)

kitchen floor, with dog

The stiff back also made scrubbing the kitchen floor more challenging than it normally would have been. (The dog planting herself in the way is customary.) I took some time to rip up some old shirts and linens to use as rags, which was satisfying (especially the destroying of a pillowcase where I hadn't been happy about the seller's shenanigans, but backing out of the transaction would have been more trouble than it was worth. I did like the fabric and design of the set, and it served me well for something like fifteen years, but still, there was that frisson of pleasure in casting out what was left.)

Last night I sang lessons and carols with a subset of First UU's chamber choir at Riverbend Maximum Security Prison. There was both literal and figurative warmth there (well-heated chapel, hugs between inmates and ministers...) but there was also an instance of institutional rudeness as well as broader reminders of it being a place where weariness and mistrust -- with reason -- seem to be in far greater supply than hope. Even with reminders every damn day about the messed-up-ness of U.S. law enforcement and penal systems, it's something to wait at and walk through all the checkpoints. To surrender one's ID. To be thanked for showing up because there would be no one else visiting.

One singer mused afterward about the balance that we must wrestle with. To paraphrase: "I was watching the faces of two of the men when we were singing 'Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming,' and of how seldom beauty must be in their lives, and yes, you know they're in there because they've killed people, and that matters, but you also have to think about how to help them so that they can return to society, and beauty is essential to that."

Nashville police chief Steve Anderson has been making headlines in a good way, with nearly 7200 tweets, Facebook links, and the like of his Christmas message to the department and a reply to a critic. (Anderson earned my admiration earlier this year for speaking up against a judicial good old boy's mishandling of domestic violence cases.)

Yesterday's mail delivery included a slew of cards (I was pleased to have so much company in the "getting it postmarked by the 24th will be good enough" ark [*]), and today a friend (who will next see me early next year) asked me what I wanted for Christmas. Maybe I won't pitch the wreath into the brush pile just yet. :)

(* And honestly, if you feel like exchanging greetings with me, I do that year round. No need to hitch it to a holiday central to a religion I don't happen to belong to, though I do like the glitter [dodges glare from the other biped in the household, who was brushing it out of his stubble two evenings ago]. I do need to thank the post offices [yes, plural] with cookies, baking being another must-do item on this weekend's list...)
zirconium: sculpture of owl at Cheekwood, Nashville (Cheekwood owl)
I wasn't expecting to like this show much (it's at Cheekwood through January 4), but there are some great pieces in it that I'd like to see again, time permitting. I'll dig up the rest of my notes later, but the one I'm enthralled with is Jacob Lawrence's The 1920s . . . The Migrants Arrive and Cast Their Ballots.

In the meantime, one of the guards at the entrance to the Color Garden has some backup now:

on guard at Cheekwood

Cheekwood caution
zirconium: snapshot of cookie cutter star from sorghum marshmallow making (Default)
I attended a memorial service for the extraordinary Elizabeth Papousek this morning. At the end of the service, Rev. Seavey said that opening the hymnal at random (a habit of Elizabeth's at worship committee meetings) had led her to these words of Maria Mitchell (a Unitarian as well as an astronomer):

Small as is our whole system compared with the infinitude of

Brief as is our life compared with the cycles of time,

We are so tethered to all by the beautiful dependencies of law,

That not only the sparrow’s fall is felt to the uttermost bound but the vibrations set in motion by the words that we utter reach through all space and the tremor is felt through all time.

After the reception, I stopped at the Green Hills library, where some Advent calendars from the collection of the Steele Family were on display, including one featuring planets and stars:

Advent calendar

Advent calendar

(I also saw three other church members at the library while I was there. My tribe indeed.)
zirconium: snapshot of cookie cutter star from sorghum marshmallow making (Default)
From Sophie Appleby, via Kat McNally:

In the busyness of the everyday, taking time to nourish the soul doesn't reach the top of the 'to do' list as often as it should.

What nourishes your soul? How would you like to incorporate more of this into your life in 2015?

Night 2

This year, there were a handful of Fridays where I was able to stay offline from sundown on Friday to sunrise on Saturday, and sometimes even until sundown on Saturday as well.

I'm a happier woman when I can manage it. It can be time for reading. Time at the piano. Time with crayons and pencils and markers. Time with my plants and seeds and my plans for them. Time ironing -- which is, yes, a chore, but also a pleasure, in wearing clothes and using linens that look and feel better when cared for in that fashion. Time with the dog. Time sifting through old papers and keepsakes.

It sharpens the saw, to borrow Franklin Covey terminology. It brings a bounce back into my brain. It forces me to wait for answers instead of racing toward them, and insists on my enjoying slices of the "someday" ("someday I'll read that book..." "someday I'll get the hang of sight-reading pieces with umpteen sharps in the key signature..." "someday I'll expand those eleven words into a full sestina...") that I would otherwise not get around to anytime soon.

my hanukkiah at work

Tuesday night, I was so dead on my feet that lighting candles was out of the question. Tonight was nice, though. It was a long day at the office and there was yet more work-related stuff to deal with when I got home, but once that was out of the way, it was time for light and for some writing and wrapping.

I sketched this hanukkiah a couple of weeks ago during a visit to Martin ArtQuest Gallery at the Frist Center (where, full disclosure, I'm currently working as their interim editor). Earlier this week, I spent the end of my lunch break at another crafting station stocked with metallic crayon-pencils and translucent bookmark, the better to add a chalice to my bulletin board:

my bulletin board (detail)

(Yes, Michigan tweeps, that's a Zingerman's postcard. I dig the moose and waterfowl.)

On a related note, here's what's happening at the Center the rest of the year, narrated by the newbie: http://fristcenter.org/calendar-exhibitions/detail/at-the-frist52
zirconium: snapshot of cookie cutter star from sorghum marshmallow making (Default)
Yesterday, I went to the 12:30 p.m. performance of Tuba Christmas Nashville, a gathering of 148 tuba players who'd gathered at First Baptist Church that same morning for their one and only rehearsal, and then performed an earlier concert at 11 a.m. How awesome is that?

horns up

There were so many tuba players that they couldn't all fit on the stage -- some of them were seated in front of it.

Read more... )
tuba christmas 034
One of First Baptist's trees, at the corner of 7th and Broadway.
zirconium: French word for "light" (on wall of Cheekwood Mansion) (lumière)
In a bit of synchroncity, today's prompt from Kat McNally is:

What are you really proud that you made happen in 2014, despite the gremlins? And what will you do anyway in 2015?

...and the slip in today's fortune cookie from Chinatown tells me, "Try it, you may like it."

Wednesday, Court 9

A big first for me this year was covering the Cincinnati Open as credentialed media, for Tennis Buzz. Read more... )
(I have been writing a post in my head for some months now about Ma Ingalls hating sewing and yet being fearless about cutting into delicate fabric because she had made so many dresses by the time Laura was old enough to bring home the very pretty lawn. Someday...)
zirconium: black pearl pepper plant at Cheekwood (black pearl pepper)
Via [personal profile] kafj, a prompt posted by Kat McNally at "I Saw You Dancing":

The idea of rooting down into your own personal beliefs and center of truth is an ongoing process, and many things can serve as anchors or roots as you move through life.

What rooted or anchored you in 2014?

And where do you want to put down roots in 2015?

the dog slept on my homework...

This snapshot is of my dog, who had parked herself on the sofa after I left for a 6 a.m. yoga class Tuesday morning. She was too sleepy to leave the sofa when I let myself back in ninety minutes later, which gave me time to grab my camera, which luckily still had the photos-in-dim-light lens on it the BYM had borrowed from a friend for last weekend's gathering at Mason's.

When I come home, she's often at the door, and the first thing I say to her is "Girl's best friend!" Then we both head to the BYM's study, where I greet him with "Girl's other best friend!"

The photo contains elements that allude to other linchpins of my life: library books, so essential to so many of my projects. A tote bag in which I have carried flowerpots, swimsuits, lunches, sheet music -- whatever needed shlepping. An embroidered wallet that used to hold makeup, formerly owned by my big sister in New Orleans. A thick afghan from my big brother in Kentucky, featuring rows of books. The sofa itself -- site of countless naps and necking sessions as well as all-night cranking toward deadlines.

Frist Center bollard

I love my house and I love my city. I was going to say that I don't love having to choose between staying home and going out -- such as this very afternoon, where I had grand plans for attending a wine tasting and finding my sis-in-law's Christmas present and so on, on top of slicing in some edits and rehearsing some music and hammering out some writing and recording some texts, but the need to crash-nap (on the aforementioned sofa) grew too immense to dismiss -- but, thinking about it, I actually love that I have the luxury of such choices. That the days seem so ridiculously short is directly related to the amazing fortune of having multiple all-absorbing callings (and distractions) at my fingertips, sometimes literally. I could spend all day at the piano and feel as though I've only started to understand a four-line hymn. I've been known to spend all night at my laptop trying to get a paragraph right. I go to sleep with cookbooks next to my water glass. I sometimes get out of bed to expand a workflowy item because a dream or a drift-thought unknotted part of a problem I've been trying to detangle.


I am trying to be realistic about how much yardwork and gardening I can manage in 2015, which is to say, probably not much, even though I'm not planning any major vacations. Tending to raised beds and rosebushes and the like would require time and money I currently feel compelled to direct toward things I want even more. (The reassuring thing, of course, is that improving my health and feeding my piggy bank will help make it possible for me to devote proper attention to those roses in a decade or three.) It is good for my health and sanity to spend time outside, though, so I'd like to at least make progress on tidying up the scrubbier parts of the property and encouraging the mossy parts to expand. There are tulip bulbs in various beds and pots and baskets, and various herbs and flowers and peppers in different stages of storage/seedlingness.

Circling back to the spirit of the original question: focusing on what to do, and what's specifically doable within the near future -- that's how I roll. Being grateful for the ability and resources to make things happen -- that's a core part of me as well. Understanding and accepting that things take time, and how much time may be needed -- I'm still learning this, and boy, is that curve slippery.

During May, I completed a thirty-day challenge at my yoga studio, and before this latest round of lung crud took hold, I was swimming laps at the pool at least twice a week. I'd like to bring those practices back into my life in 2015 -- and both the studio and the community center recently expanded their offerings, so I'm feeling hopeful about coming up with routines that will be compatible with upcoming work obligations.

Back in 2013, I'd also become comfortable enough on my bike to ride it to the bank on a last-minute errand (i.e., the morning we left for Vancouver). I've since lost that confidence. I'd like to regain it in 2015. The answer, of course, is hopping onto the saddle and putting in the miles. (Cue loud sighing.)

Speaking of saddles: horseback riding. That's something else I'd like to return to next year. I went on a couple of trail rides a couple of years ago while on the road, and I have a partner in crime who would be keen on checking out stables in this state should I get around to it.

And also: stand-up paddleboarding. Finally took my first lesson this year; further attempts to return to the lake didn't pan out, but it certainly is a lovely way to spend a Tennessee morning in high summer. And I just reread a 2010 message from the BYM about seeing if I like kayaking. And amid all this there's the desire to spend more time with the BYM and the dog.

Which circles yet again back to the original question: my household -- my house and who it holds -- both keeps me grounded and alight with delight.
zirconium: snapshot of cookie cutter star from sorghum marshmallow making (Default)
Some of our friends make a point of getting together every year at a local hotel bar in our holiday finest. (This year the organizer showed up in a tiara given to him by a former Miss Tennessee Earth. Sparkling leaves, y'all.)

While gifts are not required, producing them is part of the pleasure. Last year I made salted caramels. Earlier this summer, the BYM's face lit up when I dreamed aloud of giving Christmas pepper plants.

So, since then, there's been the tending of a tray of seedlings. There's been the collecting of brown paper bags. And last night there was a flurry of snipping and banding and ribboning before we headed to Mason's:

wrapping up a long-term project... wrapping up a long-term project...

I wasn't kidding about the Christmas Hello Kitty ribbon wrapping up a long-term project...

Part of the fun of the holidays is the dressing up, which for me often involves celebrating the victory of thrift-shop finds in tandem with treasures from friends and family. Last night I wore a gown from Goodwill, an anklet from eBay, earrings [identity profile] xanthophyllippa.livejournal.com made for me, a ring from the BYM's grandmother, and a shawl from [identity profile] qrssama.livejournal.com. It's been a week where health and scheduling glitches put several crimps into my social life (this stupid cough. I'm obviously well enough to work long hours -- one colleague asked me if I was hiding a cot in my office, having seen me after 6 p.m. the night before and before 8 a.m. the next morning -- but lozenges give me an upset stomach, and hacking all the way through a friend's highlight reel would have been So Not On, so that was one of the events I had to bail on. Argh!) -- so it was especially nice to put on physical reminders of connections past and present.

Another friend is a professional decorator, and we happened to be seated near a tree she had decked out for the holidays. Isn't it beautiful?

At Mason's
zirconium: photo of squeezy Buddha on cell phone, next to a coffee mug (buddha and cocoa)
... as opposed to making stock, which was someone else's task today. (Though I did pull together a passable udon last night, and put roast beef in the oven for lunch, and set out butter and sugar to mold into bourbon balls...)

For reaching this moment, I give heartfelt thanks. And for these things as well (among others not listed for, among other reasons, the sake of discretion, sheer absent-mindedness, and running out of time on a school night):

1. This winter's first Christmas cactus bud, which appeared this past weekend. The plant is one of three divided from one my mother owned:

Christmas cactus

More enumerating of blessings behind the cut... )

Hoping this finds all y'all warm and well!
zirconium: photo of pumpkin on wire chair (pumpkin on chair)
Last weekend's hard frost killed all the magnificent zinnias in front of my house, as expected, but to my surprise, one of the runts in the alley seems to be enjoying the cold:


Some of the French hollyhocks and French marigolds are still in bloom, too. And the rogue rosebush -- as unpredictable as ever -- is showing off a fresh yellow bud amid the dead and wilted:

also on the rogue rosebush rogue rose rogue rose

I finally peeked at the seed exchange at the Inglewood branch of Nashville's public library. It was out of parsley, but I picked up packets for bok choy, chives, and three kinds of marigolds.

Recent publications:
"dicing up..." (tweet-sized poem) at 7x20
"the resident ghost..." (tweet-sized poem) at 7x20
"Ballad Breath" (audio and text versions) in Stone Telling 11
zirconium: sunflower core against the sky (sunflower sentinel)
Cox Arboretum
Cox Arboretum, Dayton, Ohio, August

While the knives seek the pumpkins
the fish glides along.

aging zinnia zinnia
Nashville, October

Who will tell the zinnias
it's long past Labor Day?

A fun thing: last week, a verse I wrote was selected for Pilgrims' Stride, and today the verse to follow it was picked. The most fun part seeing the sixty-some directions people pursued...

A frustrating thing: local businesses failing to return phone calls.

Today's work will include: mixing ink and cutting paper.

Today's cooking will include: Greek cinnamon chicken. Maybe. The recipe looked like just the thing when I was reading it in bed last night, but we have neither bay leaves nor dry white wine in the house, nor (uncharacteristically) onions (not counting the scant quarter-cup in my freezer). Hmmm.
zirconium: black pearl pepper plant at Cheekwood (black pearl pepper)
Christmas pepper

Sometimes, when a pepper seedling emerges, the husk that covered the seed remains attached for a while.

In this case, the seed came from what I now think of as the mama plant, which I've featured in this journal now and then. That plant now seems well on its way to producing its second crop of the year:


In the meantime, I roasted store-bought peppers this afternoon (with an eye toward maybe making soup with the a can of evaporated milk now past its best-by date), since I had the oven going anyway, for pot roast (with onion, daikon, and potatoes, seasoned with rosemary and thyme from my garden). One of the recipes I looked at called for red wine, so I opened a nice bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon/Malbec (Dos Fincas 2012) a friend had contributed to a party I hosted back in May. I prepared green beans as well, which meant the dog was practically leaping with joy, as she loves to hoover up the tips.

Middle Tennessee was under a tornado watch most of the evening. I am kicking myself a tiny little bit for not making "The Hugo" (a variation of the Dark and Stormy, by the Lee Bros.) to complement the occasion, but not really, what with working on a submission through half of the night and on someone else's manuscript much of the day. Some other time ...
zirconium: tulip in my front yard, April 2014 (tulip)
I like the scent of tomato leaves. Before I chucked the last of this year's plants into the compost heap, I snipped off a few stems to keep the scent around a bit longer, slipping a couple into one of the stripper glasses our friend K. gave to us last Christmas:

tomato cutting

That was more than a month ago. They're clearly finding the confines agreeable:

tomato cutting

So much that there are even flowers!

tomato cutting tomato cutting
zirconium: snapshot of cookie cutter star from sorghum marshmallow making (Default)
veggies are sometimes unnerving

This Miyashige daikon radish kind of reminds me of my attempts at side plank the other day.
zirconium: of blue bicycle in front of Blue Bicycle Books, Charleston (blue bicycle rear)
Prague, May 2009

amid and above
the trinkets and the trudging

Prague, May 2009

(Snapshots from a walk around Prague, 14 May 2009)

hanging on

Sep. 29th, 2014 09:51 am
zirconium: snapshot of cookie cutter star from sorghum marshmallow making (Default)
in my kitchen
In my kitchen this morning

20 years!

Sep. 23rd, 2014 01:38 am
zirconium: tulip in my front yard, April 2014 (tulip)
Ann Arbor Juvenile Probate Court, 23 September 1994

me and my sweetie

Brentwood Bay, British Columbia, 29 August 2014


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

March 2015

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