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
zirconium: photo of fabric elephant-shaped tissue holder in Thai massage parlor waiting room (elephant at Smile Thai)
One of yesterday's pleasures: suddenly discovering that the locket I was wearing (inherited from an aunt) contained a watch:

hidden time

Also, sipping some Est! Est!! Est!!!, a white wine a friend had given to me in December. Preparing squash casserole and a bison steak with some seasoned salt, another gift from another friend, and having it in the oven by the time the BYM got home, in spite of weariness-induced dawdling. Doing this while wearing a thick shawl from another friend.

Also satsifying: filing a tax schedule. Writing letters. Seeing tiny new flowers on the mama pepper plant and one of the tomato-cutting transplants. Freezing sale donuts for future noshing. Listening to Richter play Beethoven. Patting the dog, even though I'll be cleaning her mess out of a tulip bed this weekend. I have three Acapulco semifinalists on my fantasy tennis team, which does make me feel better about finishing dead last the previous week.

The chores are many. So are the rejections. And I missed a dance class this week because my gut was acting up. But I discussed with the BYM how to get my bike rideable again, and my yoga studio has just moved to a larger space, and I can sleep all damn weekend long if that's what my body ends up needing. True luxury, that.
zirconium: my hands, sewing a chemo cap liner (care caps hands)
This morning's subject line comes from Glenn McKee's Late Fragment. McKee's life included working as a UU minister and performing at slams (in his 60s), though it is the title that captured my attention, since I have told my own minister and several other potential decision-makers that I want Raymond Carver's Late Fragment printed in the program of my memorial service.

(My church has a "Wishes at Time of Death" form that the senior pastor keeps on file. Should any of you like to see it in the course of getting such things organized, if you have not done so for yourself, message or e-mail me and I will send you a copy. Speaking as someone who needs to update her other directives; one of the most liberating bits of advice I received in my 30s was from a friend who pointed out that such documents ought to be reviewed and updated every five years or so anyway, as circumstances and relationships and preferences evolve. Realizing that the documents should be treated as a snapshots rather than engravings into stone helped me get on with designating executors and beneficiaries and other arrangements. And while I don't expect my nearest and dearest to require those forms anytime soon, Stuff Happens, and I have had what-do-you-want-me-to-do-if discussions with at least two dear-to-mes within the past month because Stuff Doesn't Stop Happening and I happen to be the person the medicos and/or lawyers are likeliest to call should a bad-case-scenario come to pass. Plus, that earthquake in my parents' native province, cancer diagnoses and permutations among friends and acquaintances -- had I any delusions of immortality or other exemptions to begin with, the universe would have blasted them clear out of the water by now. [And I haven't been able to cherish such delusions since I was five, when I vividly dreamt both of being shot to death and of a future self incarcerated in prison without any knowledge of me-in-this-life. Yes, it does skew your world-view when your brain inflicts that on you before you've even gotten out of preschool.])

But, yesterday was in fact terrific -- the kind of day I dreamed about enjoying when I was small. I spent the morning completing my Memphis Open albums and reports for Tennis Buzz, with mashed neeps for breakfast, along with leftover trout from Thursday night's dinner at Prima. I headed across town to vote in a primary, and then stopped at a department store with a gift card, which I used on a new set of steak knives. I also tried on a dress on clearance: the fabric had caught my eye as perfect for an event I'm attending in May, but, alas, the cut did not flatter my body:

right fabric, wrong cut

Still, considering it as a possibility brightened my day, as did the knowledge that I don't have to score a new dress for the event; there are several tried-and-true standards in my closet that would fit the bill. I had another gift certificate in hand for Sally's, where I picked up lipsticks and a sharpener to supplement my currently-too-purple supply, and yet another rebate for Three Brothers, where the sandwich and "signature drink" were delicious, the conversation near me faintly but not distractingly intriguing, and the newspapers and magazines plentiful:

noshing at Three Brothers

On my way home, I stopped at the library to pick up a picture book, and at Woodland Wine Merchant for their weekly tasting. I didn't care for the beers in this week's sampler, but picked up cider and sake while chatting with Tyler, one of my favorite associates. At home, there was time with the dog and time with a friend, and glossy magazines, and a poem I finished and submitted a few minutes ago.

It is 63 F right now and the birds are singing oh so sweetly and merrily. I am short on sleep and soon going back to bed. That too is a luxury, and I am grateful.
zirconium: me @Niki de St Phalle's Firebird (firebird)
My week so far has included the rejection of eight poems (though one was a near-miss) and some aggravation (both of the near-to-firing-a-firm kind and the dammit-I-left-my-badge-on-the-piano variety), not to mention truly atrocious fantasy tennis results. But, I seem to be providing pleasure to assorted Kei Nishikori fans, there was plenty of butter and black pepper to mash into the neeps I boiled for supper, and I'm closing my evening with a glass of Beaujolais (slightly rough, but sanding down a bit of jag as I sip) and assorted phrases for pieces.

Also, Rattle published a poem on Sunday, both in text and audio form: "Look at that, you son of a bitch"

I also keep meaning to mention "Some Who Wander Become Lost," which the SFPA posted online a few months ago.

My calendars contain crossouts and calculations. So, for that matter, do the cards and scraps of paper containing what I might write or shape next. In the meantime, there are roses everywhere -- I saw some near a curb on Valentine's Day, just as I was about to cross White Station Road:

White Station Road, Memphis

The back of the card I picked up was blank. It has me wondering about roses not sent. It brings back memories of roses I have sent, and thrown, and pressed, and attempted to propagate (not yet successfully). Not every Emily Dickinson poem pairs up well with "Yellow Rose of Texas" ("So much of Heaven has gone from earth"? No), but it's not as if the ghosts of Amherst or Austin ever insisted on that. Perhaps the roses really want to grow. Perhaps the mallows will survive this morning's freezing fog. There is more than snow between the glass and the huge roses. There is more to work than work. Earlier this week, a colleague and I talked about trading plants later this year -- succulents for peppers. The dog knocked over one of my pots while I was away, and happily hoovered up asparagus stubs two nights ago. Cleaning. Digging. Dreaming.


A name for a new rose: Mozart.
That's what I'd call the first rose on the moon,
If I got there to grow it.

-- Robert Nye, "Travelling to My Second Marriage on the Day of the First Moonshot"
zirconium: snapshot of cookie cutter star from sorghum marshmallow making (Default)
More often than not, it cheers me up when a Vaughan Williams setting is included among the opening hymns. This morning started with the Down Ampney tune, with verses by Bianco da Siena (died c. 1434), translated by Richard Frederick Littledale (1833-1890) with further alterations by the hymnal editors:

Come down, O Love divine,
seek thou this soul of mine,
and visit it with thine own ardor glowing;
O Comforter, draw near,
within my heart appear,
and kindle it, thy holy flame bestowing.

O let it freely burn,
till earthly passions turn
to dust and ashes in its heat consuming;
and let its glorious light
shine ever on my sight,
and clothe me round, the while my path illuming.

And so the glory strong,
for which the soul will long,
shall far outpass the power of human telling;

for none can guess its grace,
till we become the place
wherein the holy Spirit makes a dwelling.


Sanctuary
First UU Nashville sanctuary, September 2015

The Story for All Ages featured Moses arguing with God about returning to Egypt, and the pastor spoke at length about astronaut Edgar Mitchell during her sermon. Between those two points, the worship associate read Neruda's Keeping Quiet and the chamber choir sang Malcolm Daglish's setting of Wendell Berry's "To the Holy Spirit":


O Thou, far off and here, whole and broken,
Who in necessity and in bounty wait,
Whose truth is light and dark, mute though spoken,
By Thy wide grace show me Thy narrow gate.


Cheekwood
Cheekwood, December 2015
zirconium: snapshot of my healthiest hollyhock plant (French hollyhock)
IMG_2221

heedless of
the hockey down the street
crocus shoots




The same yard, a week and a day earlier:

IMG_2095

It was rather creepy hearing the branches creak and groan under the weight of so much snow.
zirconium: black pearl pepper plant at Cheekwood (black pearl pepper)
at least for a while longer:

hollyhock seedling
zirconium: US and POW-MIA flags above Andrew Johnson National Cemetery (US/POW flags)
At church this morning, div school student Sara Green read some passages from Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Beyond Vietnam" speech, delivered in 1967. Two excerpts:


Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government’s policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one’s own bosom and in the surrounding world. Moreover, when the issues at hand seem as perplexing as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict, we are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty. But we must move on.

Some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak. And we must rejoice as well, for surely this is the first time in our nation’s history that a significant number of its religious leaders have chosen to move beyond the prophesying of smooth patriotism to the high grounds of a firm dissent based upon the mandates of conscience and the reading of history. Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us. If it is, let us trace its movement, and pray that our inner being may be sensitive to its guidance. For we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us.



The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality, we will find ourselves organizing “clergy and laymen concerned” committees for the next generation. They will be concerned about Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. We will be marching for these and a dozen other names and attending rallies without end unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy...

This is the role our nation has taken, the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investments. I am convinced that if we are to get on to the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
zirconium: of blue bicycle in front of Blue Bicycle Books, Charleston (blue bicycle rear)
http://upperrubberboot.tumblr.com/post/123904555213

My parents' wedding album:

100 untimed books - haunting

100 untimed books - haunting

Lynda Hull's poetry:

100 untimed books - haunting

Oh phantoms.
Oh the many lives that have fountained through
my own. Soon, soon, I shall stop upon that platform

& you will meet me there, the world rosegray beyond
the scalloped tops of buildings & we shall seek
that thing which shines & doth so much torment us.


zirconium: signage pharmacy Eilat (pharmacy near Eilat)
Prompt 51: another country

The stamp album I kept as a kid:

childhood stamp album

These stamps came from pen pals, I think:

childhood stamp album

Unrelated: headline glimpsed on MSN/NYT a minute ago -- "Socialite Murder Inquiry Reveals Black Market in Hay"
zirconium: photo of cupcake from Sweet 16th, Nashville (crackacino cupcake)
100 untimed books prompt 50: no idea how I feel

Well, I have mixed feelings about Bobby Flay. I viscerally dislike the whole Throwdown caboodle.

That said, the man likes horses, he seems to support progressive candidates, and I like what I've read about him as a working chef and talent assessor.

For that matter, I have mixed feelings about the Great Chefs--Great Cities book. It was comped to me around 20 years ago, and I've used it more as a flower press than a cooking reference. Most of the recipes are fussier than I'll ever bother with even on a weekend. But I enjoy reading the chef bios, and sometimes looking them up on the net to see where they are now (Jody Adams in particular).

prompt 50 prompt 50

Prompt 52: biting
prompt 52
zirconium: mirliton = grinning squash from NOLA (mirliton)
That's what went into the version of wild rice and mushrooms (recipe by Shellie Holmes, adapted by Ligaya Mishan) I cooked tonight. I used half the mushrooms and butter specified and added onions.

For the tuna steaks, I used a Bobby Flay recipe as a starting point for the marinade/sauce, simplifying it to what I had in terms of ingredients and energy: about two cups of red wine, a tablespoon of ancho powder, salt, pepper, allspice, honey, and garlic. I also ladled some of the sauce over the steamed broccoli.

100 untimed books prompt 49: closer

prompt 49 - closer

On page 25, there is a list of common salamanders. There's a poem or three lurking within the names: Smallmouth. Tiger. Hellbenders. Mudpuppies. Dusky...

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