zirconium: snapshot of oysters enjoyed in Charleston (oysters)
The subject line comes from "The Crafty Mistriss's Resolution, which appears in Wit and Mirth; or, Pills to Purge Melancholy, which is quoted by Graham Christian in his presentation of the 17th-century dance "Excuse Me."

These videos chronicle some of the English country dances enjoyed in Atlanta a couple of weekends ago. The list was originally compiled by Barb Katz (I added two vids and dropped the photo album). I'm wearing my gray Girls to the Moon / Ladies of Space tee and a long gray skirt in the workshop dances, and a teal cocktail dress at the ball; my favorites among these are "Noisette," "Horseplay," "Mr. Isaac's Maggot," and the two Blue Heron Waltzes. ("Wa' Is Me, What Mun I Do?" is my heart's tune, and I greatly enjoyed dancing it with Barb, but the sound/band do better in other iterations.)

The Fandango
https://youtu.be/MUxaIaOA04E

Noisette
https://youtu.be/FVEeTvqMo7c

Horseplay
https://youtu.be/oIwI7Jj33Ng

Mad Robin
https://youtu.be/MhBv7l8cFdo

The Bishop
https://youtu.be/jSQDt18wwYQ

Apollo's Hunt
https://youtu.be/5w05tYrUQi4

Blue Heron Waltz (workshop)
https://youtu.be/SZFgPuEYO6s

Blue Heron Waltz (at the ball)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAliw1Umulg

Corelli's Maggot
https://youtu.be/7247oNnDvj4

Mr. Isaac's Maggot
https://youtu.be/eYp0bryJsVc

Trip to Tunbridge
https://youtu.be/Axr9MMdrqH0

Wa' is Me, What Mun I Do?
https://youtu.be/vkrUbXWl0Lo

Alice
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Is3DsgzZ_Q0

ETA 10/9:
Impertinence
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_H3GQCiI_o
zirconium: my hands, sewing a chemo cap liner (care caps hands)
A local radio station has been playing an ad with Mavis Staples the past couple of weeks. Which in turn reminds me of the Ysaye Barnwell workshop I participated in a couple of Junes ago, which included improvising verses to "Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me 'Round."

==

From Bill Penzey's latest e-blast:

One of the things I admire most about conservatives is their sincerity in their belief that they take responsibility for their actions. As Lincoln said, we can all be fooled some of the time; there is no shame in that. The trick is to not fall into the crowd that can be fooled all the time. What matters is what you do next; you can dig your heels in and become what you've stood up against your whole life. Or you can simply make amends and move on.


==

Resources:
https://5calls.org/
https://jenniferhofmann.com/home/weekly-action-checklist-democrats-independents-republicans-conscience/
https://calvinslist.org/
zirconium: of blue bicycle in front of Blue Bicycle Books, Charleston (blue bicycle rear)
Today's subject line is from "Fanfare in D Major (Come, Come)," by Grant Hart, who died of cancer a few days ago. I'm listening to a bunch of his songs as I prepare dinner, and damn if his voice doesn't take me back to being 17, to one of the few aspects I care to remember. Warehouse: Songs and Stories holds a special place in my heart as one of the two record reviews I published (and earned checks for!) that summer. (The Replacements' Pleased to Meet Me was the other.)

Depeche Mode performs less than 3 miles from my house in about 24 hours, and 15 years ago I would have been raring to go, deadlines and sleep deprivation and budget notwithstanding. Instead, I'll go to a dance lesson if I can wrap up work in time, and hope to hit the hay before the concert's even over, and if those things don't happen, maybe I'll crank up "Where's the Revolution?" to an unseemly volume while I crunch through whatever needs to be catapulted through its hoops.

But, grumpy as I feel about not feeling up for things (this !@#%@ cough: !@#@!#!% it!), small pleasures abound. I spent part of my afternoon writing to the childhood friend who introduced me to Depeche Mode, and I had a baseball stamp to use on the envelope. I have a new batch of bread dough rising, and snipped thyme from my yard for fried rice. It is far simpler to contact public servants now that my phone plan has unlimited long distance. (The calls themselves don't rate as a pleasure, but it is nice not having to faff with Skype and other workarounds, or -- going further back -- constantly calculating how much each call was going to cost.) The rosebush is still blooming, as are the zinnias. There is a huge pile of ironing, and there is Italian wine in my glass. :)
zirconium: US and POW-MIA flags above Andrew Johnson National Cemetery (US/POW flags)
The subject line is from P!nk's "What About Us":

]

September 17 is Constitution Day in the United States.

  • My friend Katy boosted the signal on the "We the People" jewelry by Slow Factory (proceeds to the ACLU, hoop earrings become available this Monday): https://slowfactory.com/


  • A certain medal pin collector tried to drag Kaep for not mentoring guys in the hood. That sound you hear is New York and Tampa clapping back:







  • I've given the NYT pieces of my mind at least twice this year, and link to them probably less than 1/8 of what I used to, because [profane rant redacted here], but the wedding section remains a guilty pleasure, in part to glimpse how other connections are made:


    "Melissa you’re going to like this guy," she recalled Amanda Lynch, a former Harvard roommate, telling her. "He has the preamble to the Constitution tattooed on his back."


  • At the New York Public Library (which will star in a documentary that comes to my town next month), there are people meeting monthly to write out the Constitution by hand. [NYT]


  • Andrew Johnson


  • Tennessee's Andrew Johnson was a very, very, very flawed man, but when I first learned about him (in my US Presidents coloring book), what the one-page biography stressed was his profound love of the Constitution, and how he was buried with a copy of it under his head.


  • political cartoon
    zirconium: black pearl pepper plant at Cheekwood (black pearl pepper)
    There is a mental metric ton of paperwork I must plow through tonight, and I don't wanna, plus the US Open women's singles final was this afternoon, which means the garbage bins are significantly cleaner (and I even went at some of the grodier corners with q-tips), some ancient dog shmutz has been scrubbed off a kitchen window, some recent hackberry shmutz has been wiped off the car windows and handles, leftover tiles from our 2009 bathroom renovation delivered to Turnip Green, and assorted leftovers incorporated into tastier hodgepodges (the last of the white wine from the freak bottle that sent glass into my cleavage has been blended with bargain-bin oranges and fruit salad dregs; the asparagus I defrosted and then forgot about has been scrambled into some eggs), and while I shall desist from dealing with the nearly-on-the-wrong-side-of-the-compost-bowl potatoes until tomorrow (possibly putting them into a lazy woman's version of potato nik), there is bread dough rising on the other end of the kitchen counter.

    This morning I volunteered for the dragon boat festival, a fundraiser for the Cumberland River Compact. I ended up helping one of the Buddhist temples set up their tent, distributing oars, helping rowers in and out of boats and (un)tying said boats from the docks, and ferrying lifejackets to and fro. It was a good fit for what my brain and body needed after this week (which included one editing push that went past 4 a.m. and another work-thru-lunch-and-dinner haul yesterday), especially since I'm still coughing too much to dance or go to shows. After my shift, I played cornhole with one of the "Best Little Oarhouse in Tennessee" paddlers and a mother-daughter pair, and watched some of the dance-offs. One emcee was beside himself when a temple team busted into a rehearsed version of The Wobble. Next year I'll try to plan the day so that I have time to fly a kite.

    It was likewise tempting to continue avoiding the paperwork put in much more time on the yard, but I confined myself to adding water where needed and clearing enough of a bed to plant the "whirlwind" anemone into its new spot (as well as putting the rosemary and thyme into proper pots):



    When I checked on planting distance and depth, I had to look up the word "friable." Which was enough to get a new poem going as well.
    zirconium: snapshot of my healthiest hollyhock plant (French hollyhock)
    Today's subject line comes from a letter Elizabeth Bishop wrote to Robert Lowell on July 18, 1950:


    Just had a visit from the Dutchman who works here & writes poetry incessantly. I hope he wasn't one of your problems too. One poem this time is about his soul fermenting in a barrel of sauerkraut. He's so grateful to God for sending him such marvelous ideas, but personally I'm afraid God is playing tricks on him.


    My head cold is now a chest cold, so no ASL-interpreted Winter's Tale for me tonight. Also, deadlines. But there are happy and spirit-lifting things as well:

    * My 86-year-old neighbor blowing a kiss back to me as I unloaded groceries.

    * Crabcakes.

    * Jaime Anderson's My Body, My Choice, which appears on page 26 of Teen Vogue (Volume III 2017) as background to a Mad Libs-style poem by Nadia Spiegelman.

    * Speaking of artists, check out the turtles, kitties, etc. at You're Awesome Design Machine (full disclosure: the artist is my big brother's partner).

    * A friend from Brooklyn replied to a text with a galloping unicorn. I would normally block that sort of thing faster than you can say "Roy G. Biv," but I am in fact LMAO.

    * Progress on divesting from three problematic companies.

    * Vary the Line is ramping up again. New posts by Sherry Chandler, Dawn McDuffie, and Lisa Dordal, as well as my first draft of Aubade.

    * The sun tattoo in the photo with the poem is still on my arm, as are the moon and stars.

    * The ACCURATE Nashville Statement, y'all. And Downtown Presbyterian doing its thing (among its many other fine doings).
    zirconium: photo of squeezy Buddha on cell phone, next to a coffee mug (buddha and cocoa)
    On my way home from this morning's workout, I stopped at Bates Nursery, mainly because I have a large Christmas cactus frond, one tomato cutting, and one geranium-from-Desire offshoot waiting to be established in fresh soil. I was not planning to acquire any plants, since I could easily occupy myself for several years with the weeding and trimming that needs to be done, but their English thyme looked great and as long as I was buying herbs, why not some golden lemon thyme and rosemary as well? But it was the "Whirlwind" Japanese anemone that I picked up, put down, walked past, and then came back to claim:

    Japanese anemone

    Japanese anemone

    [I am out of practice with both blogging and taking photographs, not to mention a great many other things. Please to bear with me...]

    [ETA: FFS, the images looked fine in preview mode. I'll get the hang of the sizing specs someday...]

    What is growing again or anew with/for you?
    zirconium: of blue bicycle in front of Blue Bicycle Books, Charleston (blue bicycle)
    [subject line is from "Shady Grove," which The Ripples meld with "Water Under the Bridge," and which they played Sunday afternoon]

    [Here's a clip of them and some of the other dancers in action. I danced most of the dances, but I don't see my turquoise tail twirling in this segment, so I'm guessing I'd gone for water or leftover waffles and bacon, having skipped the scheduled part of brunch in favor of some writing that didn't want to wait.]

    Three nights in two cheap hotels = exactly the right length of time away from home. I needed the break from housework and paperwork and work-work, but I am so very glad to be reunited with my own sheets and towels and kitchen.

    I wasn't expecting the tub in the second hotel, but was immensely grateful for it after the four hours of waltzing on Saturday and twelve hours of contra on Sunday, at Contrathon XXI. There really are people who make a point of dancing every dance (I danced the final contra with one of them, Jay, an older gentleman who has accomplished that feat several times and this year was determined to do so because it would confirm for him that he had fully recovered from surgery), but that was never within my sights. I mainly went because I want to waltz more and to waltz better. This was the second Scott Baxla workshop I'd attended; it was great to watch Jan Luquire in action this time, and to dance the first open waltz with her. Another goal of mine is to become confident dancing both roles, so the next workshop I attend, I'll probably make a point of practicing lead.

    Saturday's festivities included a wedding -- Bethany and Ben. The bride's father was the officiant, and there were mountain flowers and roses in her hair and her hands and around the cake, which had been baked and decorated by a fellow dancer, and another dancer played fiddle. It was short and sweet and I sat through it next to another Nashville dancer who had officiated at her sister's East Tennessee wedding the day before.

    There may well have been the highest concentration of Asian American dancers I've seen in some time -- my guess is that three of the guys I danced with were Indian, one was likely Japanese, and I chatted with one who was half-Korean. At least two gentlemen of Middle Eastern descent as well.

    As with other gatherings of advanced dancers, there were quite a few men in skirts, and little overlap between that subset and that of men choosing to dance the follower's role with other men or women, and zero fuss about any of it within my sight or hearing, other than the occasional query to mixed couples to verify that they were role-switching on purpose. (I've learned not to assume, but given the presence of newer dancers, collective sleep deprivation -- many of the dancers had camped overnight on the farm, and there had been a heck of a frog-strangling thunderstorm the night before -- and complex figures, I can't blame anyone for double-checking.)

    I got to practice lead during a couple of dances, including one where my partner and I deliberately switched roles several times during the dance. There were several no-walkthrough dances, including a medley with four or five different callers taking the mike. One dance had same-sex balance-and-swings in the choreography, which amplified the chain-yanking between some of the dancers who go way way way way back. (It occurs to me that contra has been a good fit for me lately because it calls to (so to speak) both halves of my wiring: my left brain grooves to the precision required to end up in the right spot at the right time, and my right brain lights up at all the room for improv and clowning and sass.)

    During the evening's last band/caller change, both Clinton and Charlotte stood at mics, with four sets -- Clinton calling for the two at stage right, and Charlotte the two at stage left. The method behind their madness became clear several phrases in -- the two halves of the room were dancing different figures to the same tune, and Clinton and Charlotte synced their calls so that when the instructions happened to be identical, they spoke together.

    Charlotte cheerfully told terrible jokes, including one about what Star Wars and church have in common, and two about equines walking into bars.

    I learned a bunch of new-to-me holds and spins from more experienced partners, and my heart damn near melted all over the floor during poussets with a young man named Michael. Clinton tried to teach a hands-eight dance that didn't survive the walkthrough, even with demos. Some other dances were ... messy. Fun as hell anyway, and it's satisfying to have learned a dance quickly enough to recognize exactly when the trains will veer off the rails and to allemande them back on. My reward for attending dances more frequently is manifesting itself in more partners on the floor (from both TN and NC) and more conversations on the side.

    The intersection of dance and progressive interests was visible on some buttons and shirts (one of my partners wore a beautiful "Water Is Life" tee), and I introduced two environmental scientists to each other (having met both just the day before, and liking each enormously). While I packed my favorite dance dress, I ended up wearing an orange yoga bra and long shorts under a beach dress and long shorts, which handled the hot day and night than the dress would have.

    A Johnson City Kroger had a sale on heirloom cherry tomatoes, which were accepted with alacrity when I offered them to various picnic-table companions. An economist shared his sugar snap peas, and there were crackers and cheese from I think a Virginian, and another brought to me a slice of the wedding cake.

    I recognized some pop hooks within some bridges and medleys, and the next-to-last contra was to Prince's "When Doves Cry." One of the medleys included a tune named "_____'s Chaturanga," in honor of the composer's wife. And there was a waltz that I eventually identified as Jonathan Jensen's "Candles in the Dark."
    zirconium: medical instruments @High Point Doll Museum (medical instruments (miniature))

    There's a funny story in John Richardson's biography, A Life of Picasso. Pablo Picasso was notorious for sucking all the energy out of the people he met. His granddaughter Marina claimed that he squeezed people like one of his tubes of oil paints. You'd have a great time hanging out all day with Picasso, and then you'd go home nervous and exhausted, and Picasso would go back to his studio and paint all night, using the energy he'd sucked out of you.

    Most people put up with this because they got to hang out with Picasso all day, but not Constantin Brancusi, the Romanian-born sculptor. Brancusi hailed from the Carpathian Mountains, and he knew a vampire when he saw one. He was not going to have his energy or the fruits of his energy juiced by Picasso, so he refused to have anything to do with him.

    -- Austin Kleon, Show Your Work!
    zirconium: snapshot of my healthiest hollyhock plant (French hollyhock)
    The subject line is from "The Church in the Wildwood," a hymn Ann Green apparently used to sing whenever she went back to Mississippi. Made a cheese ball with pickled peppers for her service (because, by the time I got around to figuring out what to pull together on a school night, it was too late to get started on benne wafers, and I have in fact lived long enough to recognize that), and brought sweet potato crackers to go with it.

    Lawd, this week.

    Transplanted the geranium from Desire to my front yard a week ago. Three days later, every leaf but the smallest one looked infected. Can't tell if that corner is fungally cursed -- last year's results were wildly, weirdly mixed -- or if said geranium just doesn't like Tennessee clay, even though I aerated the hole and mixed in some compost and tried not to get its feet too wet. The French hollyhock a few feet away survived the winter and now looks glorious. Perhaps it's yet another chapter in the universe's attempt to school me in not trying so damn hard that I get in my own way. (Which, not incidentally, is what a waltz partner told me at the Orange Peel a couple of months ago.)

    Lawd, this week.

    Anyway, I binned all the leaves except for that sweet little leaf at the tip of one stalk, and we'll see if what emerges -- if anything -- looks better. My car reeks of pine chips because I've been too busy to unload eight cubic feet of mulch from it. I would probably do best to compost the mallow seedlings in my sunroom because I waited too long to transplant those, but it's nice to know that the dozens more in the pet food tub are likely still viable.

    I am sipping Hild Elbling Sekt and snacking on Milano salami at this hour, because a gal's gottta unwind. Some good dancing tonight. I was tempted to road-trip to Blue Moon later today, especially since there is a waltz workshop on the schedule, and because Jed-who-drives-up-from-Huntsville is a favorite partner, but there is too damn much to do right here at my kitchen counter (so much that I'm going to have to skip a choir thing already on my calendar). Maybe next year...

    A singing thing that did happen this week: singing backing vocals on a video, at Jeff Coffin's studio, and chatting with him about his upcoming trips to Tuva and Myanmar. And he's the second person I talked to in person in Nashville this week about Tuvan singers. I do like my life.

    My Garden & Gun subscription has kicked in (read, frequent flyer miles from an airline I don't fly that frequently on), and Roy Blount Jr.'s column has beautifully paired opening and closing sentences. The opening sentence: "I'm walking up Dauphine Street in New Orlenas when a man turns the corner carrying a tuba and walking an enormous hairy dog, simultaneously."

    A message I sent to a friend in Asheville yesterday: "PUT THE PHONE DOWN and go ogle art at Blue Spiral or eat a marshmallow at French Broad Chocolates or pet the crocheted coats on the cats near Laughing Seed Café."

    Wall Street, Asheville
    zirconium: Photo of cat snoozing on motorcycle on a sunny day in Jersualem's Old City. (cat on moto)
    An unexpected milestone tonight: I called "Cat in the Window" during tonight's English lesson, after learning and dancing it one time through the recording. We were a small group tonight, and me calling the second pass [with one other dancer wanting to rest] allowed two other people to join the set.

    It was not a flawless call -- for some inexplicable reason, my default was set to saying "right-hand turn" instead of "two-hand turn," and mixing up waltz vs. single steps here and there, but I'd noticed that the cues the dancers most needed were the middle-couple casts over left/right shoulders, and those I did have down. I also now realize that I'll want to know other dances cold before attempting to call them, because trying to read the instructions -- to a dance I'd just danced! -- resulted in brain cramps.

    That said, I was looking up some possibilities later (specifically "The Pharmacist's Pleasure") and came across a piece called "P.S. Nobody Likes You," which includes a figure described as "Partners gypsy meltdown." I might be giggling.
    zirconium: photo of flask with feathers in and around it (flask with feathers)
    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)
    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)
    ... 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)
    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)
    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.

    IMG_0074

    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)
    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)
    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)
    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)
    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...

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