zirconium: me @Niki de St Phalle's Firebird (firebird)
Spending the day at my easel, but first, sifting through a box of old photos and letters. In the jumble, a photo from 1982:

Richmond May Affair 1982


Feb. 8th, 2015 01:24 pm
zirconium: of blue bicycle in front of Blue Bicycle Books, Charleston (blue bicycle rear)
This afternoon's main project is getting ready for this evening's Heartbreak Happy Hour at the Stone Fox -- I'm one of the performers.

The years I've spent drafting sermons (and numerous other speeches for church) mean that I now have a pretty good sense of how many words = ten minutes of material. Which I found myself grateful for this past week, what with trying to bounce back from the flu while going back to work and staying on schedule on a commission and so on. It was nice to know that ten minutes of material isn't actually that many words and that I could knock it out in a day if I couldn't carve out the time any earlier. (But what actually happened was that I started writing it in my head two minutes after receiving the invitation, and sketched it various lines and points in my Workflowy during the rest of the week before slicing and knotting it all together the past two days.)

Coincidentally, two of the hymns in this morning's church service were ones I selected for a service I led a decade or so ago. One was "When Shall We Learn," which is Carl Flentge Schalk's setting of a poem by Auden:

When shall we learn, what should be clear as day,
we cannot choose what we are free to love?
We are created with and from the world
to suffer with and by it day by day.

For through our lively traffic all the day,
in my own person I am forced to know
how much must be forgotten out of love,
how much must be forgiven, even love.

Or else we make a scarecrow of the day,
loose ends and jumble of our common world;
or else our changing flesh can never know
there must be sorrow if there can be love.

The other is "Creative Love, Our Thanks We Give," a William DeWitt Hyde poem adapted by Beth Ide, and set to "Truth from Above" with harmony by Vaughan Williams:

Creative love, our thanks we give
that this, our world is incomplete . . .

Since what we choose is what we are,
and what we love we yet shall be,
the goal may ever shine afar--
the will to reach it makes us free.

Also at church: an adorable mop of a service dog, who snuggled into its owner's shoulder for a while during the sermon:

service dog

After church, I ran an errand and picked up Chinese carryout. There was an invisible fortune cookie in the bag...

invisible fortune cookie

... and this advice in one of the corporeal cookies:

Business is a lot like playing tennis; if you don't serve well, you lose.

From the speculative writing/publishing realm:

  • Sue Burke and several other very experienced translators want to bring castles in Spain to you -- specifically Castles in Spain, a bilingual anthology they're raising funds for via Indiegogo.

  • If you're a Science Fiction Poetry Association member, you have one week left to nominate your favorite 2014 poems for Rhysling Awards. I have both long and short poems eligible this year [downloadable at http://sfpoetry.com/ra/eligible/PegDuthie2014.rtf] . . .

  • How to Live on Other Planets is available for pre-order. The list of contributors is fierce, y'all.
  • zirconium: photo of fabric elephant-shaped tissue holder in Thai massage parlor waiting room (elephant at Smile Thai)
    Mary's comment on yesterday's entry reminded me that I hadn't yet posted snapshots from a hike two Saturdays ago. It was a crowded morning at Radnor, with overflow parking very much in use:

    Radnor Lake Radnor Lake

    My hiking partner's son was among the young men (most of them from Lipscomb) shredding Christmas trees and wheeling the mulch up the trails.

    As we came down Garnier Ridge, we glimpsed turtles sunning themselves. There were also a series of snowmen on the benches along the trail:

    Radnor Lake

    Radnor Lake
    zirconium: snapshot of cookie cutter star from sorghum marshmallow making (Default)
    first indoor tomato!

    Been down with the flu; slammed with work. This may become the Year of Blogging Just Pictures of Tomatoes (Guest Starring Peppers).
    zirconium: mirliton = grinning squash from NOLA (mirliton)
    So, those tomato cuttings from October? They're still doing well -- so much that I spent part of my Saturday sanitizing stakes to bring inside, as the vines had become too long and heavy to creep up the wall without help:

    indoor garden

    There are also two generations of Christmas pepper plants in that corner (transplanting the trio of seedlings I hadn't placed among friends was another finally-got-to item on the list). I gave up on the pot of thyme.
    I chucked a couple of bulbs into the compost pail and sliced open a third.

    The scent of the tomato plants intensifies as they are handled. It was strong enough to disturb the BYM, on the other side of the wall.

    tomato blossom
    zirconium: photo of flask with feathers in and around it (flask with feathers)
    This just in from the National Weather Service (via @NashSevereWx):


    We don't get much snow here. It started falling late last night. The sun's fully in the sky now, but most of my block is still asleep (or at least not out and about). Some creatures are watchful, though:

    looking west

    And some projects were probably going to be deferred to another weekend anyhow:

    not yet time


    Jan. 12th, 2015 08:41 pm
    zirconium: mirliton = grinning squash from NOLA (mirliton)
    "RAH!" is the name of the third movement of John Muehleisen's Eat Your Vegetables!, which the Tufts University Chorale performed at my church yesterday morning. This snapshot is of them chant-spelling R-U-T-A-B-A-G-A:

    Tufts University Chorale

    Yesterday also brought my first rejections and acceptances of the year.

    I'm the featured poet at 7x20 this week.

    Time continues to feel multi-layered to me -- multi-versed, multi-listastic (both in terms of to-do jottings and back-and-forth swayings), multifarious in its guises, multibarreled in its throwing of curveballs. I am still learning about what can be held together and what must be allowed to disappear.

    Not all ribbons were for the holiday
    zirconium: French word for "light" (on wall of Cheekwood Mansion) (lumière)
    [Subject line from Dawn Potter's Happy New Year post.]

    7th night of Hanukkah


    It has been a hectic yet happy holiday season for me, and it isn't quite over yet. I haven't put away the stocking holders or taken down the wreath. A friend and I waited until yesterday afternoon to open the presents we sent to each other, when we could watch each other opening the packages on Skype. I am snacking on summer sausage (a food gift) as I type.

    While 2014 isn't (and won't) be completely boxed up and neatly sequestered into the basement or closet, 2015 and its tasks are very much here. Yesterday's accomplishments included purchasing the accordion file for this year's business receipts and starting this year's submissions log (optimistically labeling a new spreadsheet "Acceptances 2015").

    I also bought pots and marbles for the bulbs that spent this past week on the living room floor (after two months outside, first on a truck bed and then a front porch):

    tulip bulbs
    zirconium: photo of ranunculus bloom on my laptop (ranunculus on keyboard)
    My Rhysling-eligible poems. Thank you for considering them.

    On a tangential note, this may be my next author photo (if not the one from two posts ago):

    in Sharon Louden's COMMUNITY

    zirconium: me @Niki de St Phalle's Firebird (firebird)
    ...of a sort. William Ackland was a son of Adelicia Acklen, who led quite a life in Nashville some 150-ish years ago.

    Ackland Art Museum

    There are three Picassos on display in one of the galleries, but my favorite painting in the collection is Rose Piper's Slow Down Freight Train:

    Ackland Art Museum

    On the opposite wall, there's a recently restored Rousseau painting of Paris. That captured my attention as well.
    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)

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