zirconium: photo of ranunculus bloom on my laptop (ranunculus on keyboard)
zirconium: snapshot of cookie cutter star from sorghum marshmallow making (Default)
August Moon Day 10 prompt: I love the power of music to lift the spirits. I head to the stereo and put on...

Jam Coffeehouse

...Candi Staton singing "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me," a forty-six-year-old song when I first heard it in The Jam Coffeehouse back in 2012. It may have been Madeline Bell's take on it, or Renee Geyer's -- or, this being Nashville, who knows, someone here in town with a good set of pipes. None of the versions I've listened to since quite match what I remember, but I wasn't paying close attention to the cafe stereo in the first place, which made it all the more annoying several weeks later when I realized the chorus was still in my head.

I find the lyrics of the entire song pretty creepy, truth be told, and most of the melody doesn't grab me either. But that first/third line of the chorus: Just four notes. Maybe three measures? Sometimes that's all it takes. Sometimes I sing along with the mp3 on my computer, and sometimes that line leaps out of my lungs at random -- a bolt of attitude between deadlines or destinations. (And sometimes I get super-silly and sing "dog dog-dog dog-dog-dog dog doggggg /dog dog dog / dog dog dog" at Miss Abby.)

"Lift the spirits" isn't quite the right phrase for me. I have been known to turn up Alkan's piano concerto when I'm upset, but I don't associate "comfort" with "lift." Left to my own devices, I'm likely to turn to myself music [hello, Freudian typo!] not for uplift or lightening up, but to provide whatever I'm in the throes of -- anger, ambition, gratitude, grief, nerdiness, nostalgia -- with company and fuel.

Gingerbread sculpture

This gingerbread jukebox was on display in Asheville a few years ago. Speaking of intense... :-)
zirconium: me @Niki de St Phalle's Firebird (firebird)
August Moon Day 9 prompt: In that moment I felt luminous.

Erm. When this first showed up in my in-box, I thought, Pass. Celestial I am not. When people call me a goddess, it's usually in reaction to a meal I've cooked or some deadline I've met or something I'm wearing with a low neckline or high hem. I've been described as earthy. Grounded. Driven. Terrifyingly pragmatic. I'm the woman who, after two rounds (whisky, neat), goes back to work or practice if I don't go straight to sleep.

But then I remembered what it sometimes feels like when I'm singing Handel or Josquin or Praetorius, or sight-reading something new:

I wasn't actually feeling luminous at all when this video was shot, as I had the flu and was thus singing most of the night through clenched teeth (aka trying to suppress a coughing fit). But it's what's near to hand at the moment. It's a link to how I've felt in the car or on the porch now and then these past few weeks, singing bits of this or that as I get my higher notes ready for the new season. It's a reminder that in the course of fumbling my way toward competence and reliability, I've managed to learn a few things here and there: Use what you have. Showing up matters. Time at the keyboard matters. What or how you feel is not necessarily material (thank God!) to what you are called to say or sing.
zirconium: snapshot of cookie cutter star from sorghum marshmallow making (Default)
from one side of the gate

August Moon day 8 prompt:
I sat outside and told my secrets to the moon. This was her reply: ....

The sun was high in the sky when I rose
and yet cannot melt
tiaras into bullets
or bullets into bedpans
or bedpans into spades

nor coax fresh fruit
from smothered seeds.

Who are you to despair
at stones not turned
and leaves no longer new

when you stand but a step
and a hinge-life away
from a sky with different answers?

from the other side of the gate


  • Both photos were taken earlier tonight.

  • I took a break between stanzas to walk some magazines around the corner. There is already the scent of burning leaves in the air.
  • zirconium: medical instruments @High Point Doll Museum (medical instruments (miniature))
    August Moon Day 7 prompt: I pull back the curtain and I see...

    Bercy, 2011

    ...a game between strangers
    who see each other often
    but not away
    from the courts
    or the parties

    just as I blink
    stumbling into someone
    out of their Sunday best
    as I exit a shower

    -- yes, a fig leaf
    would fool me.
    My garden is thick
    with saplings
    so green
    they would smother
    an angel's sword
    with all
    of their wayward

    zirconium: snapshot of cookie cutter star from sorghum marshmallow making (Default)
    August Moon prompt: There is something about twilight that makes me feel...

    also on the rogue rosebush

    ... like I've barely begun
    to study the roses

    and that I'll still feel
    I've barely begun
    my life

    twenty-four summers hence
    should I be
    so lucky

    to grow
    past my prime

    zirconium: of blue bicycle in front of Blue Bicycle Books, Charleston (blue bicycle)
    August Moon Day 4 prompt: So I had a conversation with my shadow...


    ... where she asked me what kind of net
    I would want to knot

    were time no object
    and money no limit

    men's spa/salon

    I said to her, I
    am both oil and water
    whip and trench
    slipper and shard
    caper and crutch

    Down the street

    I'll meet you at the corner
    where the wind
    has been whisking
    shreds of tealeaves
    past the lost screws
    of stray sunglasses.

    zirconium: me @Niki de St Phalle's Firebird (firebird)
    1. The urge to create a version of the mushroom-and-cheese "nem" (spring roll) at Boris Bistro.

    2. Jars of confiture from Maison Christoph Faure.

    Maison Christian Faure Maison Christian Faure

    3. A program and ticket stubs from this year's Coupe Rogers tournament, where Jeremy Chardy saved about 70,000 match points vs. John Isner, Kei Nishikori scored a tweener lob against David Goffin, Karlovic aced Raonic a bunch of times, and Mikhail Youzhny earned a standing ovation after winning a spectacular point during his loss to Rafael Nadal. We also saw two Djokovic matches, as well as Andy Murray in both singles and doubles.

    Andy Murray on Court 5

    4. A Rodin exhibition catalogue. So much to revisit and to write about...

    5. A list of places for next time -- costume institute, marchés, parcs...

    6. A longing to improve my French skillz...

    7. as well as my photography and lettering chops, what with being surrounded by so much art inside the hotel as well as on the street and in cathedrals, shops, and galleries...

    Plensa Outside LHotel LHotel Down the street

    8. and stories to spin, someday, about jazz in the square across from organ practice in the basilica:

    Doxas Brothers Trio

    9. An ocean-scented facial mask from a hostess at the Chinese restaurant where we'd just consumed spicy jade tofu and sauteed sweet pea greens. I couldn't help wondering if I really looked crazy-haggard, but I suspect she just couldn't resist the possibility of future sales ("If you like it, come back..."). My companion did in fact enjoy the greens so much that we discussed returning to the restaurant again, but that plan got hosed (so to speak) by rain delays at Stade Uniprix the next afternoon.
    zirconium: snapshot of me at class in Israel (me with M14)
    Prompt 10: criminals

    The manga I mentioned in the previous entry, FAKE, is mainly about the antics of and relationship between two NYPD cops:

    10 - criminals 10 - criminals
    zirconium: snapshot of cookie cutter star from sorghum marshmallow making (Default)
    Prompt: "friends are so cute"

    9 friends are so cute

    During my first visit to Paris, in 2009, my friend E good-humoredly took me manga-shopping, as I was on a quest for French-language editions of Sanami Matoh's FAKE. (Two years later, E would present me with two volumes she'd found. The friendships I've formed and the keepsakes I've been given through fandom are a source of both wonder and pleasure to me.) One of the bookstores had characters from Totoro on its front, including the Catbus.

    [About the challenge: http://upperrubberboot.tumblr.com/post/123904555213]
    zirconium: photo of ranunculus bloom on my laptop (ranunculus on keyboard)
    ... so it's nice to remind myself of projects I helped to the finish line. This is a stack of books I either indexed and/or copyedited:

    8. issues

    [Prompt 8: issues // Upper Rubber Boot's 100 Untimed Books photo challenge]
    zirconium: of blue bicycle in front of Blue Bicycle Books, Charleston (blue bicycle rear)
    Prompt 7: playing

    7 - playing

    The book was likely given to me by one of my grade school piano teachers, though none of its pieces were formally assigned. There are a handful of notes on alternate titles and verses -- my hymn-nerd tendencies apparently go WAY back.

    What I mainly remember is playing and singing from it year round -- then, as now, for solace and discovery (how will this sound an octave up? if I play it cross-handed? ...).

    The piano in the photo was a gift from the calligraphy teacher mentioned in the previous entry. Years later, I learned it had been a gift to her from her father.

    That moment in By the Shores of Silver Lake when Laura realizes she must be a grown up because [...] is gone? My mind flies to those pages when I think about when, in the process of getting my mother's house ready to sell, I realized that I would not be moving my childhood piano from Kentucky to Tennessee, for a host of practical reasons. It is not a decision I lose sleep over, but it's embedded in my history as This Is What Grown-Ups Do moment: I like being an adult most of the time, but it does at times require making choices I didn't foresee -- choices that carry the gut-punch of saying farewell to things I'd thought I'd always want in my life.

    [Prompted by Upper Rubber Boot's #100untimedbooks photo challenge // http://upperrubberboot.tumblr.com/post/123904555213; subject line from Ahrens and Flaherty's "Streets of Dublin"]
    zirconium: my hands, sewing a chemo cap liner (care caps hands)
    The subject line comes from Dorothy L. Sayers's translation of a Dante canzone/sestina that I used as the text of my first major bookbinding project, for a class I took twenty years ago at Elaine Borruso's house in Michigan:

    12 slim

    12 slim

    12 slim

    That class was also where I first picked up on the buzz about Shereen LaPlantz's Cover to Cover -- which, as the buyer of craft books for Borders's 100+ stores, I promptly placed large orders for. The publisher was unprepared for that. Given how most craft titles sold only a handful of copies each year at best, and given how many people I personally knew were eager to get their hands on a copy, I grew so exasperated at the "indefinitely out of stock" notices that I typed "PUBLISHER IS AN IDIOT" in the memo line of the order screen, which I understood to be visible only to Borders corporate staff.

    Some months later, the publisher reps took me out to dinner and cheerfully informed me that a copy of that purchase order -- WITH my note on it -- was now framed and hanging on one of their office walls. The senior children's section buyer, another guest at the dinner, squawked, "What? You all can see that line?" The publisher liaison later said she'd never seen my face so red. The reps then presented me with an autographed copy of the book:

    Shereen LaPlantz autograph

    I've bought many Lark books in the years since, what with Aunt Louise and Paula and other people dear to me being dedicated knitters and beaders and the like.

    Shereen died in 2003, but her work remains visible at the LaPlantz Studios website, where her husband continues to create and teach and share ideas and examples.

    [This entry prompted by #100untimedbooks - items 6 (craft) and 12 (slim).]
    zirconium: French word for "light" (on wall of Cheekwood Mansion) (lumière)
    The subject line is from Francis Cabrel's L'encre de tes yeux, which just popped into my head.

    prompt 5: planets

    In France, whole arenafuls of fans know the lyrics to this and other Cabrel classics by heart. I think of people on this side of the planet singing along to James Taylor and the like. It's disconcerting and wonderful how someone so embedded in the musical culture of a country just seven time zones away is so

    Then again, I had no idea he had performed in Chicago in March 2014. How did I miss that? ... oh, yeah. That was the winter after the BYM's encounter with a Dodge Journey. I was a little preoccupied. Then again, I don't even pretend to keep tabs on who-all is playing wherever on any given night in Nashville. That said, I have been to Third and Lindsley on at least two Wednesday nights. Wooten Brothers, y'all, with Louis Winfield twirling his sticks without missing a beat.

    I went for a walk earlier tonight. On the way to the library, I passed a couple singing riffs to each other as they bustled toward their destination. They weren't quite in sync and didn't sound like session folk, but in this town you never know. Two streets over, the bars were crowded and I could hear what sounded like a live band from one storefront.

    On the way back, I noticed a bus stop where someone had crammed a beer can within a brown paper bag into the back seam of a bench. That wasn't surprising, but what about the thin pastel ribbons still looped around a couple of the bench's legs and one of its arms? Was there a birthday with balloons, or a bored child, or ...?

    So many mysteries within a mile of my mint patch.

    [The prompt: 5 - planets. The challenge: http://upperrubberboot.tumblr.com/post/123904555213. The other book in the photograph is a collection of science fiction poetry. ]
    zirconium: David Ferrer with his pet cat (Ferru con gato)
    Four things that entertained me today:

    1. #fieldworkfail (h/t Mer)

    2. Roger Rees explaining why an actor should never wear lace-up boots during the last act of a play (25:51): https://youtu.be/4_r9JsBbIh8?t=25m53s. And also Noel Coward's visit to Vivien Leigh after a performance of Titus Andronicus.

    3. Edward Petherbridge on arresting one's undulations.

    4. My sweetie dissecting the claims on the label of the beer he is drinking.

    Four reasons I had a crush on my 8th-grade Spanish teacher:

    1. He wrote out exams in calligraphy.

    2. He played "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" on the guitar after-hours.

    3. He was really, really smart and articulate.

    4. His strategies for dealing with nuisances included throwing erasers (at students) and shooting rubber bands (at flies).

    Prompt 4 in the #100untimedbooks photo challenge -- the rest is history:

    prompt 4: the rest is history

    My brother wove the front of the pillow in art class. The book was a gift from the Spanish teacher, with the inscription "Keep interested in everything."

    Four items translated from Spanish I've edited within the past year:

    1. Sixteenth-century verses, by St. John of the Cross

    2. Twentieth-century Mexican police reports

    3. Quotations from seventeenth-century wills

    4. Lyrics from nineteenth-century musical duels

    Sadly, I'm not actually fluent in Spanish. I didn't stick with it beyond my second year of study. Still, someday I shall seek to soak up enough of it to speak to strangers in Seville.

    [This last paragraph has been added because the BYM spotted the subject line and said, "There's always a letter..."]
    zirconium: doll with bike @High Point Doll Museum (doll with bike)
    In Dan Chiasson's recent NYT feature on Robert Rauschenberg's archives:

    In a file cabinet, personal letters from the choreographer Trisha Brown and Al Gore shared folders with a clipped-out New York Times review of a sushi place and a cartoon of a guy taking his pet radish for a walk. The impression is of a life in which making art was, to a remarkable degree, an extension of friendship.
    zirconium: of blue bicycle in front of Blue Bicycle Books, Charleston (blue bicycle)
    The challenge: http://upperrubberboot.tumblr.com/post/123904555213

    Prompt 3: animals

    chowhound with garden book

    The book is Carol Lerner's My Backyard Garden, a 1998 children's book featuring two different veggie garden schemes. Miss Abby is fond of snacking on both the plants in my own back yard and on scraps as I cook (especially green bean and asparagus tips), so the pairing immediately came to mind when I saw the prompt.
    zirconium: of blue bicycle in front of Blue Bicycle Books, Charleston (blue bicycle)
    The challenge: http://upperrubberboot.tumblr.com/post/123904555213

    Today's theme: blues

    Today's pic:

    #100untimedbooks photo challenge

    I bought the dress a couple of Saturdays ago, at Goodwill -- it was a 50-percent-off everything Saturday (making the damage a mere 4 USD) and the still-life motifs struck me as fitting for my museum editor persona. I bought the book after copyediting People Power: The Community Organizing Tradition of Saul Alinsky; I'd borrowed it via Nashville Public Library's interlibrary loan to sort out some quotations and citations, and while Mr. Becker's attitude toward accuracy enraged me ("To list every such reference seemed fussy and overmeticulous"), I nonetheless wanted more time with Mr. Field after the loan had expired. The page with "pops of blue" is from the August 2015 issue of Harper's Bazaar; I was admiring the Bottega Veneta necklace, the Dior bag, and the Simon G. ring during one of yesterday's baths (yes, plural; heat index was 100 F).

    It's back to work later today, but the clouds have masked the sun for the moment, so it's outside with the gloves and tree-branch clippers for me.
    zirconium: me @Niki de St Phalle's Firebird (firebird)
    Explanation: http://upperrubberboot.tumblr.com/post/123904555213

    Item: 1. self-portrait

    100 untimed books: 1

    The book is An English-Speaking Hymnal Guide, first compiled by Erik Routley and later edited and expanded by Peter W. Cutts. It was a birthday gift from Aunt Louise three years ago. The ring I am wearing on my pinky is one she used to own.

    A book in the background is Helen Keller's Light in Darkness, which someone at the Swedenborg Chapel in Cambridge recently sent to me after reading "Wearing Persistence," a poem from Measured Extravagance that I'd put on the card I used to order a copy of Missing Rachel's The Thundered Word, having loved the sample I'd heard of "I Am That Great and Fiery Force," which is from a UU hymnal and which I'd sung in my own church a couple of months ago.

    I believe my father-in-law (Louise's brother) selected the hymns for her service, which was held at an Anglican church in Ontario last week. The printed melody for "Rock of Ages" in the hymnal did not match the standard tune, which the organist played and the congregation sang; it was fine, but the disconnect had me sympathizing for once with those singers with perfect pitch ho get twitchy when a piece gets transposed to a different key than on the page. The other hymns were "Holy, Holy, Holy" and a five-verse "Abide with Me" (Routley/Cutts tells me that Lyte wrote eight stanzas, with 3 through 5 commonly omitted. Thank you once more, Aunt Louise).
    zirconium: snapshot of cookie cutter star from sorghum marshmallow making (Default)
    Two of the balloon flowers bloomed today!

    balloon flower

    Even so, even the weather is telling me to concentrate on screenwork instead of yardwork. The heavens opened as I was tugging and snipping at vines tangled with the rogue rosebush.

    Today's cooking: wasabi-edamame dip for lunch; posole with country ham in the slow cooker, for dinner and beyond.


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

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