zirconium: me @Niki de St Phalle's Firebird (firebird)
[Inspired by a typo-line in Mary's entry: "I don't know, really, want to do with it." And by the fact that I can't find the sexy sufganiyot poem I thought I'd published 12-15 years ago but perhaps simply sent during an e-mail exchange with a friend that has since disappeared, what with friend and I both moving on to other accounts and machines. Oh, and yesterday would have been my mother's 72nd birthday. That might be on my mind as well.]

I don't know, really, what to want about them,
the doughnuts I was sure I'd brought along.
Did they fall off the roof of the car, my
forgetfulness feeding birds or strays
or sweeten the tires of a semi? How
the ghosts growl, the ones who couldn't
forgive the other lapses of attention:
the textbooks and sneakers and cups of coffee
inadvertently littering Lancaster,
Kimbark, Burns -- all those streets
and avs anointed by my distraction.
How wasteful. How pointless -- and
perhaps a rebuke? for I confess
my plan to give was flavored with
the hope of gaining points: pastries
paving the way for projects in need
of green lights, grease, goodwill -- you
know, the unwritten blessings
that separate the inn-mates
from those consigned to the barn. Yes,
a reprimand: see the servant candle
sharing the night with ones expressly
saved for the sameach, that light no others
because they were cast for the holiday.
So why do I long -- aye, pray -- that those donuts
met with the fate of loaves rather than lilies,
I who sit with my thermos of coffee
amid the waiting ledgers and lists?
I don't know what I'm ready to want
beyond the age-old cravings --
one more night, one more meal,
one more story, one more hug
--
that always and forever were an asking too much
and yet, oh wondrous world, were sometimes answered.

Night 4
zirconium: photo of flask with feathers in and around it (flask with feathers)
Upper Rubber Boot's 100 Untimed Books prompt 36 is "nails." I brought Donna Karan's new memoir home from the library today (along with a Pilates manual and a collection of Szymborska poems from the sale shelf for the grand total of $1), but this is the book that first came to mind:

36 - nails

I met with one contractor last week and will interview another this week. The sunroom will get built eventually. In the meantime, I hauled inside one pot of rosemary, four of peppers, and two tomato vines ahead of the weekend's second frost warning. Another vine was too far gone to bother with, but I plucked the two tiny tomatoes off its tip before chucking it over the rail:

tiny tomatoes in a sushi dish

(Diameter of dish = 3.5 inches)

Prompt 37 is "joyful."

37 - joyful

The holiday prayerbook is from West End Synagogue, where I've celebrated Simchat Torah a couple of times. The glossy guide to Tel Aviv was purchased during a stay there, prompted by the wedding of a college friend in Jaffa. That was indeed a joy-filled occasion, as was the wedding celebration I attended in Austin this past weekend (which also featured some Jewish elements, and during which I chatted with the woman next to me about New York and Houston synagogues and community centers). The bride is a librarian, so one of the cakes was decorated with the outline of a book, and the centerpieces were pop-up books with photos of the couple pasted into some niche or tab. Focal points during the gatherings the following day included a restored player piano and hundreds of silvery bats and an Irish band rocking through Elvis and Johnny Cash as well as more traditional-sounding tunes. (I can't hear "Ring of Fire" without remembering the contra dance mashup someone at Christmas School devised for an after hours session, which had a title like "Walking the Line of Fire" ...)
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: Unitarian Universalist chalice with pink triangle as base (rainbow chalice)
Virtual: Hena Khan's Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns: A Muslim Book of Colors, illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini. While I prefer picture books on paper, I do like checking them out (so to speak) via my library's online lending program, especially when said program recommends books to me that might not otherwise show up on my radar, like this one. It's a beautiful book, and I now want to look up the other books the author and artist have produced.

Physical: Elisabeth Kushner's The Purim Superhero, illustrated by Mike Byrne. This one was brought to my attention by someone on my Twitter feed, who pointed to an essay expressing disappointment with PJ Library's decision to make it an opt-in selection (rather than an automatic delivery, as all its other selections have been) because the dads in the story are gay. I didn't save the link to that column, but these comments are in a like vein, and Keshet reports that subscribers opted in in droves.

This Tablet article covers a lot about what I like about the book, including the line that made me stop and sniffle: the hero of the story is feeling pressured to choose a superhero costume for Purim, even though, left to his own devices, he would rather be an alien.


"Max said I need to pick a superhero."

"Is Max your boss?" Abba said.

"All the boys are going to be superheroes," said Nate.

"You know," Abby said, "not all boys have to be the same thing."

Max thought about how most kids had a mom and dad, not a Daddy and an Abba.

"Abba?" Nate asked. "Do you ever just want to be like everybody else?"


Do you ever just want to be like everybody else? Oh. Oh, my heart.

Also? The cast includes a dad who sews and a woman rabbi. Yes!
zirconium: snapshot of cookie cutter star from sorghum marshmallow making (Default)
It's a touch dated (published in 1982), but I am thoroughly charmed by The Philharmonic Gets Dressed, a picture book by Karla Kuskin and Marc Simont. (The link should take you to the publisher's website, which has a "look inside" feature.) There's a cat watching its owner reading in the bath. There are various performers showing, powdering, hunting for socks, pulling on boots, waiting for trains, tuning tympanis, etc. Sometimes I just want a book that revels in the process of getting ready. This fit the bill.

[It is perhaps not a coincidence that preparation has been much on my mind lately. Among other things, it is the month of Elul...]

[ETA: the books listed on the back jacket include The Dallas Titans Get Ready for Bed. That one is totally going on the someday list...]
zirconium: photo of flask with feathers in and around it (flask with feathers)
As I wait for "Voodoo Blue" to set, a few notes:

Signal boosting, because she asked: JJ Hunter's How Are You in Haiku

I have resumed my (somewhat-out-sequence) listening to various episodes of the Moby Dick Big Read, thanks to 7.5 hours on the road today. Melville is both ridiculous and hilarious. I am so glad that I was not his copyeditor.

My friend Donna has a fine riff about the book over at Radish Reviews. In the meantime, here's one of the passages that cheered me along I-81 today:


The skeleton dimensions [of a sperm whale] I shall now proceed to set down are copied verbatim from my right arm, where I had them tattooed; as in my wild wanderings at that period, there was no other secure way of preserving such valuable statistics. But as I was crowded for space, and wished the other parts of my body to remain a blank page for a poem I was then composing--at least, what untattooed parts might remain--I did not trouble myself with the odd inches; nor, indeed, should inches at all enter into a congenial admeasurement of the whale.


Also? Praise be for the recording app on my phone. Listening to Moby Dick sparked some poem ideas (both original and found), as did just having to concentrate on the road (i.e., not having the luxury of scribbling out the simmerings in my head) for 441-odd miles.

Also? I haven't managed to memorize Modah ani yet, but my thoughts drifted to it a lot during the drive. Sorrow is a sharpener, and so is simply being away from my usual groove. The clouds looked unnaturally picturesque -- there was a weirdly clean upper border to them, as if someone had drawn an exacto blade through part of the sky. There were yellow wildflowers (for whatever values of "wild" you want to ascribe to anything along the highway) near the Tennessee-Virginia border. My thoughts skittered from my parents' ashes to shape-note singing to wondering if I'll ever get to experience an Enfoir├ęs concert in person to my personal boycott of ATP-only tennis tournaments, to sketches of poems I want to finish drafting by September. This wild and precious life. So much to ask about where things are going, including the beloved creatures that have ceased to be on this plane.
zirconium: photo of flask with feathers in and around it (flask with feathers)
I just received two of my contributor's copies for Overplay/Underdone, and it is as cool as it looked in the preview photos. Spending more time with it will have to wait for some Friday night in the future, but there is so much to look at -- and take out of pockets, and unfold, and thread through holes...

...including Elliott batTzedek's "The Rebbe's Synecdoche," which was written "for Rebecca, my most favorite ever utterly resistant to being a rebbe rebbe" and features a mass of colorful threads. They are knotted to a list of concepts in a column (beginning with "sleep," "Shabbat," and "dark chocolate"; the reader is instructed to use the threads to "draw lines between the concepts and their corresponding ideals." Nifty!

a page from Overplay/Underdone
zirconium: Photo of cat snoozing on motorcycle on a sunny day in Jersualem's Old City. (cat on moto)
Yesterday, the Velveteen Rabbi posted a Yom Kippur sermon, In The Belly of the Whale, that's richly seeded with stories, including this one...

My teacher Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi tells a Sufi story about a great teacher whose disciples wanted to learn his mystical wisdom. Okay, said the teacher; here is a dove; go someplace where no one can see you, and kill it, and when you come back, I will teach you what you want to know.

Of his 12 students, eleven came back with dead birds, and he sent them away. One returned with the living dove. "I couldn't find a place," said the student, "where no One could see me."


...and question-observations that are at once not easy and un-easy (myself shying away from the mirror as I choose a quote):


How much of our lives do we spend fleeing from what matters? From the awareness of our mortality? From the acts of lovingkindness we know we should be doing? From the brokenness of the world, the awful stories on the news, murder and rape and injustice? Even from our loved ones, when we choose checking email again on our smartphones rather than putting away the electronics and connecting with our parents, our children, ourselves?

This is not new. The internet offers new and fascinating ways of fleeing, but this inclination is as old as humanity.




Also yesterday: 7x20 published my micropoem "Yom Kippur."

Also: on Tuesday, Moment published a review of my book (quoting from my Kol Nidre poem, among others).

One more thing on whales: Moby Dick Big Read -- as in, Tilda Swinton, Stephen Fry, Neil Tennant, and others podcasting That Big Book. Whee!

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