zirconium: photo of flask with feathers in and around it (flask with feathers)
2017-04-22 08:38 pm
Entry tags:

Down down with wrong quotations / Up up with source citations!

The subject line is a chant from Chicago's March for Science. This photo is from this morning's march in Nashville:

March for Science Nashville

It was taken by a woman whose mother had knitted the hats; she was there with her grandson, who worked toward getting a selfie with the dog as we chatted:

boy at March for Science Nashville

I've posted a cross-section of photos to my Twitter account (@zirconium). I'll add some more later, but I actually do have a grant application deadline to meet.
zirconium: photo of bell tower seen on a walk to the Acropolis (athens bell tower)
2017-04-15 08:37 pm
Entry tags:

"from deep despair and perished things . . ."

My dear, dear friend M R B (@MBDigital001) sent to me French marshmallow candy drops earlier this week, and also some beautiful photos, which I am re-posting here with permission. (She sometimes moonlights as a photog for hire, btw - mainly NY state and DC area.)

They reminded me immediately of Alicia S. Carpenter's "A Promise Through the Ages Rings," a hymn in Singing the Living Tradition I have posted about before (in 2008, 2013, and elsewhen), and which I have been singing to myself again and again through the past few days:

A promise through the ages rings,
that always, always, something sings.
Not just in May, in finch-filled bower,
but in December’s coldest hour,
a note of hope sustains us all.

A life is made of many things:
bright stars, bleak years, and broken rings.
Can it be true that through all things,
there always, always something sings?
The universal song of life.

Entombed within our deep despair,
our pain seems more than we can bear;
but days shall pass, and nature knows
that deep beneath the winter snow
a rose lies curled and hums a song.

For something always, always sings.
This is the message Easter brings:
from deep despair and perished things
a green shoot always, always springs,
and something always, always sings.

zirconium: mirliton = grinning squash from NOLA (mirliton)
2017-04-12 07:20 am
Entry tags:

sun's shining, I have cute yet comfortable shoes...

... and I had an entire lane to myself at the pool last night. Reminding my broody self of happy things, I am.

"Mile of Smiles" and "Wa' Is Me, What Mun I Do?" are still occupying a sizable section of the earworm bed in my brain. Here's "Mile of Smiles" at the April 1 Playford Ball. I'm not visible in most of it, but what a fine tune it is, and I did enjoy that nice set-and-turn with Joan around 4:13:

I reread my Lessons from Country Dancing sermon from 2009 a few days ago. Methinks it has held up pretty well, and reminded me of some things I'd forgotten.

Autumn Sky Poetry published Reading the Sky - a "quasinelle" I wrote for [personal profile] okrablossom last month. One of these years I'll regain some semblance of systematic self-promotion, but in the meantime, the sun is shining, my shoes...
zirconium: my hands, sewing a chemo cap liner (care caps hands)
2017-04-08 12:22 am

Handel-ing and hoping with care

Free e-anthology (with my sonnet "Continuing Ever After"): Bouts-Rimes for Hope

"Handel with Care," from last weekend:

zirconium: tulip in my front yard, April 2014 (tulip)
2017-04-02 09:23 pm

thumbs to the right

Lunch yesterday was at Anatolia, which turned out to be the destination of choice for the caller and the band and several other groups of dancers as well. Because pretty much everyone else at the table had more English country dance experience in their left little toe than me in my entire body, I made like a sponge and soaked up as much advice and anecdotal knowledge as I could, especially about gender-free calling and global terminology, and I asked specifically about how to position my hands, which has been an ongoing trial, and has become more urgent to get a grip on (so to speak) because I want to become fluent enough on both sides of sets to wear the "I dance both roles" button with confidence. (I'm at the advanced beginner level where I still screw up regularly and sometimes mortifyingly spectacularly -- just ask the gent into whom I barrelled full speed yesterday after yet again brain-cramping on whether to pass right shoulder or left -- but am now experienced enough to steer or cue other dancers out of jams, of which there were a-plenty throughout the weekend. Among other things, I have "dolphin heys" down -- go me!). Maggie Cowan, a founder of QuickSilver, advised "thumbs to the right," and while my muscle memory hasn't gotten the hang of that yet, my brain was regularly repeating that throughout the rest of the weekend, so I daresay that will be my enduring takeaway from the 36th Nashville Playford Ball.

It was a grand weekend. Wendy, my first partner on Saturday evening, quipped that she was glad she'd left her tiara in Charlotte since I was wearing one. The draft program got adjusted as programs do -- something with a name like "Fiddler's Feet" replaced "Childgrove," if memory serves, and there were some other swaps -- but we did end with "Old Wife Behind the Fire," after a "Smithy Hill" where Priscilla and I were having so much fun with it (especially after we got the hang of "swat the flea") that at least two other couples commented on our silliness, and a lovely bloke spun me around expertly through the final waltzes of Saturday and Sunday.


As Honorary Mama observed during my phone call to her, the variety of dance names can be highly entertaining. I told her that I wore her prep school class ring (Class of 1946) through the final session, at some point realizing how appropriate that was, given her stories of social dancing lessons at that all-girls school.

There were cameras at the ball, so I imagine there will be video soon (as there was last year). It seemed like more people made an effort costume-wise this year (perhaps because last year's postings took some by surprise).

This morning's program was chosen from requests made to the caller during the previous two days. It included:

* Knives and Forks
* Candles in the Dark
* Red House
* Hambleton's Round O
* Trip to Provence
* Shrewsbury Lasses
* Sapphire Sea
* An Early Frost
* The Good Man of Cambridge [to Mozart's Turkish March]
zirconium: photo of squeezy Buddha on cell phone, next to a coffee mug (buddha and cocoa)
2017-02-26 01:00 pm

different points of the V

In Jen Hoffmann's post on responding to difficulty, she uses a V-formation analogy to distinguish between different states: "Back of the flock tired," "Middle of the flock flapping," and "Lead goose energy."

This brought to mind Havi Brooks's 2010 post on safe rooms, which speaks of different versions of ourselves taking turns at the front of the V.

Which in my mind ties to marymary's "I'm doing the best I can not to lose myself over my limits," which accompanied her photo of two tall, cool drinks at http://okrablossom.dreamwidth.org/93575.html. And to conversations I had during yesterday morning's horseback ride (a belated birthday present to a friend) and yesterday evening's shindig (a neighbor's birthday celebration).

My ride was on a rescued paint horse named Punk. (Birthday girl was assigned to one named Duchess.) There were a few feisty moments -- I got "Good cowgirlin'" from the lead guide after one contentious turn -- but it was a sedate ninety minutes, for the most part. There were brilliant green patches of moss along a creek bed and swaths of daffodils in the middle of the woods. The guide riding at the rear of the line regaled the stylish women behind me with tales about life in New York, as his day job for most of his life has been styling hair for A-list celebrities.

The party guests included a bloke who looks fine (both health- and attractiveness-wise) but cheerfully reminisced about how a tree practically trepanned him a few years ago -- skull exposed, neck broken, vision permanently compromised. By that point of the evening, I very much wanted to go to bed, but I also wanted to keep learning more about everyone in the kitchen.

Some notes to myself, typed back on November 24, 1989:

next week: just meet all of the bloody deadlines, including the poetry. no matter what [writing workshop professor] thinks.
if you love it enough, it will get done. better imperfect done than perfect unfinished.

...my reflection in the mirror, interviewing myself. black sweater and stretchies, dark green skirt, hair almost schoolgirl back--straight, scarved in black, lips firm together. ... Peggy Bevington and her long gray hair in a braid. ... when you talk to her and D. both you sense a joyfulness--in her more quiet, but an enjoyment. In D. a theatricality, a pleasure in reading the lines in front of other people--assured, no apologies for not being du Maurier.

In bed until two p.m., then cake and corn grits, if only because their middles kept sticking to the middle of the pan. Sigh. Asked J: "Well, which would you prefer, a good body or a good cook." Smiling: "You can always learn the cooking."
zirconium: photo of squeezy Buddha on cell phone, next to a coffee mug (buddha and cocoa)
2017-02-11 09:24 pm

a geranium from Desire

I lugged a contractor bag to the bin earlier today, having detected two kinds of infection among a half-dozen pepper plants. A plant we hauled home from New Orleans in December is doing fine, though. I call it "my geranium from Desire," since it was dug from a flourishing patch on Rampart that had been started with a cranesbill clump from a few streets over, on Desire.

a geranium from Desire

Some days I rock the "It was _______, but it had to be done, and she did it" roll, and once in a while I stay up binge-reading Grace Burrowes novels, which last time induced several rounds of ugly-crying-on-the-way-to-enjoying-a-happy-ending, which happened to be what I needed to get past the out-of-sortedness I can get mired in when too many things are out of order.

Broadsided Press just published a series of downloadable poem-posters about Standing Rock, with my "Snake Dance" among them. The link: http://www.broadsidedpress.org/responses/2016dapl/
zirconium: photo of fabric elephant-shaped tissue holder in Thai massage parlor waiting room (elephant at Smile Thai)
2017-01-21 03:12 am
Entry tags:

not permanent but not yet forgotten

I was in Philadelphia last week, partly for business and largely to learn some baroque dance-steps. During a break between installations and combinations, I went to Chinatown. I happened to reach Ocean Harbor right as two staff members were placing a table at the top of the stairs leading to the dining room, and watched throughout dim sum as food and drink and scent were brought out and offered to the ancestors/deities, with a manager periodically tending to the altar. And then, as my tea turned cool and bitter and as I eventually boxed up the remains of my meal, the dishes were gradually carried away and the incense sticks sputtered out, and finally the table stripped and put back with the others in the dining room.

Photos... )

Ocean Harbor

And more photos... )

Throughout the meal, my thoughts kept going back to "Ah úm," the wife of my father's oldest brother (shown in this entry). I remember her chuckling with my other relatives as they watched me copy her movements and gestures during a similar afternoon ritual.

That aunt has been gone for nearly forty years. My honorary mama moves away this weekend, to a facility up north. As we lingered over one last round of Scotch tonight, she spoke of how much she'd learned from her mother-in-law, who'd survived typhoid fever and endured significant tragedy (including a sibling's death from the fever, and early widowhood) whilst retaining grace and gratitude for small, everyday pleasures. And about how the final autumn of her own husband's life had been one of Nashville's most beautiful, such that they'd sat outside many evenings, simply enjoying the weather and each other's company.

Our conversations have turned frequently to the process of paring down. Two nights ago, she said, I kept many of your cards from over the years, but now I cannot take them... I replied, I never expected you to. She gave me the sweater I am wearing; it has holes now, and will almost certainly be beyond repair by the time I am done with it. I left her apartment Thursday night with two pots and a head stuffed with instructions on orchid care and hellebore cultivation. The ice cubes and rhizomes share the same mental acreage as a host of inarticulate thoughts about devotion and despair (that aunt? she hanged herself), and resilience and respite and resistance, and of the many cards and letters to write, and of how most of those will disappear, and yet the writing demands to be done. I think of Ralegh's "Lie," and Chaucer's "Ballade of Good Counsel," and the finale scene of Frings's dramatization of Look Homeward, Angel, and the final paragraph of "No Place for You, My Love," and of honorary mama shouting "Eudora Welty, get off the dining room table!" at her old fluffy cat, and of the old Phi Beta Kappa key that she put on a new chain this week, and a different PBK enticing me away from sewing costumes to go hear Welty speak in Mandel Hall, and of Welty herself rearranging sentences on her bedroom wall with scissors and pins. Of her house and Sandburg's and other things preserved, like musical instruments, circling back in turn to a conversation just last week, in a van trundling over the Delaware River, with a woman reminiscing about the violin she played in grade school. Of Joe's violin, which became Brianna's violin for a while, and is now another girl's violin. Of instruments an appraiser condemned as firewood, and the piano I didn't keep when it was time to sell my mother's house, and the piano I do have, which was a gift from a teacher's father to her daughter. The circles are not unbroken, but this world is somehow my home, even though I'm more aware than ever that I too am just so fleetingly passing through.
zirconium: me @Niki de St Phalle's Firebird (firebird)
2017-01-07 05:19 pm

I guess I'm keeping the Starter Wife

That is, the essie nail polish mistakenly shipped to me as part of a gift from my gal Roo, who, knowing me, had actually picked Indulge My Whim.

Most of my collection is from R, come to think of it. Which I'm now going to inventory, because hey, among other things, maybe it'll goose a muse into starting something rich and strange. Or at least strange. ;)

Color Club - Alter Ego
Color Club - Masquerade
Color Club - More Amour
Color Club - Secret Agent
Color Club - Ulterior Motive
Duri - Fairytale Prague
Duri - Keep Your Options Open
Rescue Beauty Lounge - Combien?
Rescue Beauty Lounge - Gondoliere
Rescue Beauty Lounge - The Mosses Mar
Rescue Beauty Lounge - Purple Haze
Sally Hansen - Blue Streak
Wet and Wild - Red Red

Maybe I'll even paint mes ongles tonight. First, though, marmalade prep...
zirconium: photo of squeezy Buddha on cell phone, next to a coffee mug (buddha and cocoa)
2017-01-03 10:52 pm
Entry tags:

guessing games

Toward the end of last month, a close friend ordered me to sleep more in 2017. Which I agreed would be a good idea, so I am hitting the hay in a few minutes instead of seeding kumquats for marmalade. But I have sterilized some lids and put the pint jars in the dishwasher, so "guessing game jam" may be on the horizon.Read more... )

The kumquats, Meyer lemons, and grapefruits (plus an orange) are from the New Orleans backyard grove my big sis shares with her ex. I made sorbet last night with some of the lemons (using a Mark Bittman recipe as a base, with the advice of several blogs on making ice cream sans machine), and spiked a pitcher of water with slices of lemon and ginger.

making sorbet without a machine

Today's attempt at dinner was passable, even though the BYM later commented that the salad "smelled like feet." Really, the preparation of everything is experimental. I'm going to sleep on that. :)
zirconium: photo of Greek style coffee, Larnaca, October 2011 (coffee in Cyprus)
2017-01-01 09:34 pm

on the rails

Hullo-ullo-ullo! We are starting out slow, 2017 and I, with cleaning and cooking and tugging at weeds between light spatter-downs of rain. It is a good way to get going -- the pedal will have to hit the metal soon enough. Today's subject line alludes to an article in the Holiday 2016 issue of Edible Asheville, about Carolina Ground, where grain is milled.

[Tara Jensen's] baking practice is influenced by her desire to keep a relaxed attitude, even when the fire is hot and her soul is weary. "What makes a baker exceptional is the ability to recover from mistakes without going off the rails," Jensen says.

The BYM peered into the oven as I was cleaning or prepping something else.

He: Whacha makin'?
Me: Cornbread.
He: Oooh... but, tell me this isn't some superstition thing.
Me: No. Although it does contain black-eyed peas.
Me: ... because I don't have to use as much milk.

I was actually thinking of a spoonbread recipe I'd looked at earlier when I said that; the bean variation of Bittman's cornbread recipe involves 2 eggs, 1 cup milk, and no white flour -- not a significant savings in the milk department, variation-wise. But my main goal was to try something new that would go with the beef burgundy from the freezer. I also made lemon-garlic kale salad, albeit with pecans and gorgonzola instead of almonds and parmesan.

It is true that I picked up the can of black-eyed peas yesterday at the store, because hey, there it was on the endcap, and then I put kale and kielbasa into the basket as well, thinking the three would make a good combination for lunch. But what I actually craved this morning was I grew up calling "mee whun" -- a simpler version of this rice noodle recipe. The version I prepared today contained just bean threads, cabbage, carrots, garlic, and pork.

bean thread package

first lunch of 2017

Other stirrings: one rejection reached me yesterday; I sent two submissions to editors today.

Closing the day with the good kind of hot water: a mug of Li Shan Pear Mountain tea and a hot bath. I'm pondering what to replace tired tulips with, in the shade beds in my front yard, but the truth is also that I might be best off tending to just the soil itself for a long while. I had the old gonna-fail-two-classes-because-I-didn't-go-to-them nightmare this morning -- my subconscious hasn't developed any subtlety over the years. Basics first, you imbecile. Right. Got it. On with the hoe.
zirconium: of blue bicycle in front of Blue Bicycle Books, Charleston (blue bicycle rear)
2016-12-26 12:17 am
Entry tags:

...shall yourselves find blessing

Thank you all!

Flint water fund receipt

Heading off-blog for the rest of the year. See you in 2017, loves.

zirconium: Photo of cat snoozing on motorcycle on a sunny day in Jersualem's Old City. (cat on moto)
2016-12-24 05:32 pm

though the frost was cruel

Today's mailman asked about the dog, having not seen her for a while. He said she was one of the few who didn't bark at him. I might be snuffling as I type. Read more... )
Finally: I started this entry some hours ago. Night has fallen, so let there be light.

first night
zirconium: of blue bicycle in front of Blue Bicycle Books, Charleston (blue bicycle)
2016-12-20 10:06 pm
Entry tags:

when we bear them thither

My big sister will be matching my St. Stephen's Day donation. That means your purchase of a $5 book (or posting/tweeting about this poem) will send $4 to the Flint Water Fund. More details in the previous entry, and heartfelt thanks to everyone who's participated so far!
zirconium: the word "SANGUINE" engraved in stone (sanguine)
2016-12-20 12:25 am
Entry tags:

If thou know'st it, telling

My offer: buy my book for yourself or someone else you're fond enough of to spend 5 USD on (at Amazon or elsewhere), send me some indication of the purchase (order #, screencap, whatever...) by 12:01 a.m. CST on December 26, and I will donate $2 per copy to The Flint Water Fund.

Alternatively: mention my poem "Look at that, you son of a bitch" on one of your social media platforms by 12:01 a.m. CST on December 26, and I will likewise donate $2 per mention.

ETA: My big sister is going to match my donation!

What's the cap? $200.

Why the offer? A sudden urge to goose up my royalty/readership figures.

Why $2? Because "useful, oddly very crisp," and categorically queer (for certain iterations of "categorically" and "queer") could well be used to describe me.

Why December 26? It's the Feast of Stephen. The first Christmas carol I ever learned to play on the piano was "Good King Wenceslas," which is but one of the reasons it's deeply embedded in my blood and bones -- if there's a carol I can sing in my sleep, it's that one. And as my friend M'ris might could tell you, there are a multitude of ways to sing and hear about the snow so deep and crisp and even. (And about what we know to tell, for that matter. Hence the subject line.)
zirconium: photo of ranunculus bloom on my laptop (ranunculus on keyboard)
2016-09-22 08:27 pm

Sous les feuilles d’un chêne

["Under the oak leaves" - a line from "Au clair de la fontaine" (By the clear fountain)]

The senior minister at my church is on sabbatical, and Rabbi Rami Shapiro is visiting monthly as a guest preacher. On September 11, he brought with him a shruti, which he played as the congregation learned a new round:

I am a fountain

Longtime readers/friends may recall that I do have a thing about fountains... though this past month my scant spare time has been more on lake and river. My Labor Day getaway plans having fallen through twice, I decided to get on a paddleboard four out of my five days off, and last Friday I watched the full moon from my lantern-lit plank on the Cumberland.

Elsewhere and elsewhen: Paying work. Housework. Homework. Paperwork. Footwork. Speaking of--
Dancing: hip-hop, flamenco, Afro-Cuban (orishas), English country.
Friends: Visiting from France and elsewhere. Running for office.. Organizing campferences. Selling taco + lesbian farmer buttons (coupon code here, btw). Preparing for High Holy Days. Coding. Cajoling. Caretaking. I could go on ... in short, inspiring me.
Harvesting: peppers.
Deadheading: zinnias.

Recently published:

  • At unFold: "Spacing for Sky," with typography by J. S. Graustein

  • At Folded Word: "O Margaret, Here We Are Again"

  • At 7x20, a weekful of polished micro-poems: 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5

  • There is more to say and write, much of it off-blog, but a guest arrives tomorrow, so for now it's back to cleaning. Onward!
    zirconium: of blue bicycle in front of Blue Bicycle Books, Charleston (blue bicycle)
    2016-08-26 12:11 am
    Entry tags:

    I am a breeze in the still August air

    The subject line's from "Brooklyn Blurs," a song by/in The Paper Raincoat. I heard Alex Wong perform it with Megan Slankard in a house concert back in March, and he mentioned at an Angelhouse Family Dinner that he would probably play it during his Basement gig last Saturday.

    I'd hoped to go to that show, but Other Things Happened. I'd hope to see tonight's ASL-interpreted performance of the Scottish play, but Other Things Had To Get Done. I have a suspiciously sore throat that I'm hoping won't get in the way of Things I Gotta Get To and Through within the next week. Mann traoch, Gott lauch.

    There is a metal screwcap perched on my handbag. I am perplexed - none of the bottles in the cabinets or on the counters appear to be missing their stoppers or lids, nor is there an open bottle of wine - but not enough to feel like I have to figure it out before I head to bed. Though it's all too likely that my brain will seize on some aspect of this to turn into a tanka or triolet a couple of hours from now, and that will get me out of bed to type out the words before they evaporate.


    This week's Tarotscope urged me to embrace change. ... I broke in my new pair of swim goggles this week. I tried buti yoga last week. I'm looking at dance classes around town -- it's going to be a full day if I try to attend the Muslim hip hop doubleheader that's scheduled for the same Saturday as the Early Autumn Day of English country dancing, but it looks doable and is therefore tempting.

    I am contemplating iron-on vines, to cover a stain on a gooseneck rocking chair I acquired last week at the Habitat ReStore for $25. My current tomato cutting + pepper cullings look sunburnt in their beakers and jars, so I'm thinking of throwing out the lot. I am thankful that I had limes on hand this morning, as I was again careless about gloving up before dealing with Prairie Fire seeds and ended up giving myself an invisible moustache of a burn. The zinnias are thriving:

    zirconium: Photo of 1860 cast of Lincoln's hand (Lincoln hand)
    2016-08-14 09:24 pm
    Entry tags:


    I mentioned Rahsaan Barber in my previous entry. The ads for his concert had caught my eye in large part because he played in First UU Nashville's 2015 performance of Darrell Grant's Ruby Bridges Suite; I sang in the choir.

    A snapshot from the dress rehearsal:
    Rahsaan Barber

    A recording of "Hold My Hand," from the suite: https://soundcloud.com/tn_choirboy/hold-my-hand-sunday-june-14

    That Sunday, the orders of service included postcards of Norman Rockwell's The Problem We All Live With. I'd collected a few left behind in the pews and sent them to friends.

    I had forgotten that I'd received a copy of that postcard myself back in 2009, when my late friend Marilyn purchased it at the Detroit Institute of Arts and sent it to me:

    postcard from Marilyn

    Now I wonder what spoke to her -- why that card, that day, out of the many others in the racks? These conversations we can no longer have -- they don't quite form a regret, not with the many conversations yet to be entered into with the near and the here. The questions that cannot be answered -- this learning to live with them is not new, but the texture and the thicket-ness of them shifts with the living and rereading and rethinking.