zirconium: Russian tins of fish (Russian tins of fish)
Today's subject line comes from An Extraordinary Adventure Which Befell Vladimir Mayakovksy In A Summer Cottage, which I recently learned was the source poem for Frank O'Hara's A True Account of Talking to the Sun at Fire Island. Here's a choice morsel from the Mayakovsky:


Give me tea, poet,
spread out, spread out the jam!


I baked bread tonight, which surprised me by rising higher than I'd expected...

baking bread

... and provided both satisfaction and entertainment. It smelled good, made the BYM smile, and then there was this:

The BYM: *comes out of the shower, bows to the kitchen counter*
Me: *raises eyebrows to ask, You are genuflecting to the tortillas?*
The BYM: It looks like an altar.

baking bread

OK. There is something of the sun about it. ;)
zirconium: (Decatur sculpture)
Today's subject line is from Destiny Hemphill's "dna is just anotha theory for reincarnation: me, sitting in a burning tree (c. 4063)," which is the featured poem at Poetry Daily at the moment.

Bloody cough. Bloody heel and shoulder. Bloody paperwork. The BYM is fighting another cold, too. The list goes on. But I happened to catch Tank Ball reciting a poem about an ex as broken Walmart merch. I found a geocache and treated myself to a latte, which felt very soothing. I bought more avocados and am eating one (wrapped in a flour tortilla, with leftover shallots and soy sauce) as I wind down with turmeric-galangal-honey "tea." I have two big bowls of dough rising, one for bao and one for bread. I received a poetry acceptance. I made inroads on the housework. I took a looooong nap. I heard from people I love. The roads to and from church weren't dangerous. My leggings fit over my laddered tights. And that list goes on as well.
zirconium: snapshot of oysters enjoyed in Charleston (oysters)
[Today's subject line is from Frank O'Hara's "Autobiographia Literaria." His Selected Poems accompanied me to New Orleans.]

There is an avocado lost somewhere in my car, unless it never made it into the shopping bag to begin with. My lungs are still trying to turn themselves inside out, which has precluded attending birthday parties, dances, and the like. There are all sorts of goings-on going on, some which I've managed to tweet about.

I had an inkling that January was going to be un-fun health-wise on New Year's Day, when I needed a four-hour nap before I got myself and Louise to the lake. But we did get there:

New Year's Day paddle

Last month's audition was successful, so I'll get to sing Monteverdi this July. Tomorrow's anthems include Rollo Dilworth's setting of some lines from Langston Hughes's "Freedom's Plow," and the discussion at Wednesday's rehearsal about the lyrics was intense. (And, you need chops to nail the harmonies, which makes me happy, even though I'll be sucking down honey before, after, and likely during the service to suppress the infernal coughing.) We also sight-read a new arrangement of "Drive the Cold Winter Away" commissioned for us. (If you had told ten-year-old me that she would get to sing in the very first performances of so many songs, she would have been beside herself with joy. Twenty-year-old me was frustrated about repeatedly failing to make the cut for elite ensembles. Middle-aged me recognizes that I hadn't and haven't put in the time to become the singer twenty-year-old me thought she was, and I'm largely OK with that: I do what I can with the time I feel I can spare. Which applies to nearly every other category of my life, for that matter.

Speaking of music, this video of Live from Here's Kansas City show includes Gaby Moreno singing/rapping lead on "Dance or Die" and Chris Thile breaking down "I Say a Little Prayer." Good stuff.

I burned my left thumb cooking some sad carrots tonight, but ice has minimized the damage, and the carrots (and crispy tofu, and brown rice, and reheated stew) turned out OK. I attempted vegan benne wafers earlier this week; waferness was not achieved, so I will try another recipe and/or a hotter oven next time. Tomorrow, I will experiment with pork and cabbage bao. (My donations to the church auction included a Year of the Earth Pig dinner for four. It raised $180.)

Speaking of party prep, it's time for me to tackle the ironing and mending piles. In the meantime, here's a glimpse of an Edward Gorey panel someone affixed to the inside of a Little Free Library on Eastland:

Gorey scene in Little Free Library
zirconium: (Decatur sculpture)
Today's subject line comes from Ninna nanna, a Neapolitan Christmas lullaby. It's from a verse where Mary essentially sings, "It's time to sleep now, and the time for pain will come." Philippe Jaroussky, Christina Pluhar, and the other members of L'Arpeggiata are a joy to watch as they perform it (videos on YouTube), and I have been spending more time with it as I prepare for an audition.

Philly hostel

A year old, I was in Philadelphia, primarily for the Predominantly Playford Ball, staying mainly at a hostel, and wandering around the city early (for a ballet class in a super-sketchy part of town) and late, talking poetry with a bus driver, writing postcards to voters in spare moments, and gazing at variations of glass and light everywhere:

Philly bus stop Philly bus stop Walking around Philly at night

This year I'm prepping for tonight's dance in my own town (I'm calling "Land of Mist and Wonder," which was composed by Rachel Bell, tonight's accordionist, and subbing for another caller on "Wa' Is Me, What Mun I Do?).

As I work on the dances and songs, I have to remind myself that it's OK that I'm not more proficient, fluid, etc. I work more than 40 hours most weeks, I have other obligations/interests and, like most other people, I need mornings where I stay in my sheep-patterned flannel pajama pants past lunchtime, sipping porcupine tea and not going anywhere -- even to the piano two rooms away -- until my shoulders are a bit looser and my my breathing more measured, my body more prepared to welcome and produce both precision and extravagance. You need both for the genres I'm drawn to -- historical dances and chamber music favor fine timing and placement over sloppiness, but it isn't dancing or music, no matter how slavishly one focuses on the rules and steps/notes, if communication and connection aren't also in the mix. People tend to respond to a partner or performer who is looking at them and inviting them into the magical world delineated by the composer/choreographer and brought to life by those moving into and within it.

...

I wasn't planning to write all that this morning. (I have steps and scales to practice today, after all.) But it is December 1, and I have been thinking of Thomas Peck quite a bit anyhow, which is par for the course when I prepare for a tryout. I sang for him in 1991, as a member of Chicago's Grant Park Symphony Chorus. Here's what I wrote about him in 2000:

He was the choir director who'd asked me where was "Bruton Town" (the title of one of my audition pieces), and I'd told him, "I'm not really sure, I just assumed it was one of those towns where people died for love." He had repeated my answer back to me -- "one of those towns where people died for love" -- with a sort of appreciative astonishment. At that time I hadn't the faintest idea he was HIV+.


And in 2002, I wrote "Living Bread." And, sixteen years later, it is still how I feel and what I know.
zirconium: sculpture of owl at Cheekwood, Nashville (Cheekwood owl)
Some weeks - months - YEARS ... life comprises wild pendulum swingy-swoops-de-swoops between "Boo-yah, I got this" and "!@#%!@$@!!@#@!#@!#!$%%%!!! learning/practice curve de tabernak!"



On a more festive note: holy cucurbita, giant pumpkin regattas are A THING! On multiple bodies of water! Including in...

Quebec: https://superstitionhockey.tumblr.com/post/179162884242/singelisilverslippers-swingsetindecember
Oregon: https://www.tualatinoregon.gov/pumpkinregatta
Nova Scotia: http://worldsbiggestpumpkins.com/2018%20Overall%20Regatta%20%20standings.pdf
Utah: http://livedaybreak.com/events/ginormous-pumpkin-regatta

... and elsewhere.

You know this is going on my list. After the whitewater paddleboarding.
zirconium: signage pharmacy Eilat (pharmacy near Eilat)
So, the show that hoovered up many of my waking hours (as well as hefty chunks of my sleep cycle) this past summer is up, and it's splendid. And me and my frock received many compliments throughout the day, and I dealt capably, competently, and/or creatively with assorted wrinkles and monkey wrenches prairie-dogging me through this and that ...

.. and then came home, and caused dealt with more mayhem, including the cooking of chicken livers, and then the BYM came home.

BYM [peering suspiciously at the stove]: Is that organ meat?
Me: Yep.
Me [after wincing during a hug, points to blister on collarbone]: Burned myself.
BYM: How did you manage that?
Me: Flying organ meat blood.



On a slightly less ridiculous note, here are two glimpses of the dancing at last month's Fandango. I'm wearing a short white lace dress and long white leather gloves.

A New Leaf
Marjorie's Sou'wester
zirconium: (Decatur sculpture)
Between the host's TV (on until 4 a.m. or thereabouts) and the neighbor's lawnmower (running at 8 a.m.), I didn't get as much sleep as I'd hoped, but there is coffee and almond cake right now (sparklepoints to Past Me for packing the latter), and there will be craic and napping later. Plus my 5 a.m. rummaging through my luggage revealed that neither the jewelry case nor croakie I had planned to pack were actually with me, which is vexing but far from insurmountable, and now that I know they are not here, I am not frantically hunting through my things right now for the earrings I'd planned to wear this morning, and the 5 a.m. start I will have to make to get to Columbus (for whitewater rafting) will be a tad less fraught as well.

Last night's program included "Hambleton's Round-O," which is the absolute favorite dance of an otherwise stately gentleman I met two Playfords ago (he gushed at length about it during the after-party); I didn't see him in the hall last night, but I was thinking of him fondly as I twirled with Luanne and gently tried to help newer dancers through it. The dance that's in my head is Rosamond's Pond (*), which took me more than few minutes to get the hang of, but oh my heart, the tune. And oh, the connection to be enjoyed with people who know how to take their time and "use the music to its fullest," as callers are wont to say.

(* Apparently named after a spot with quite a bit of history...)
zirconium: me @Niki de St Phalle's Firebird (firebird)
Back in February, I succumbed to a Southwest special offer and decided to fly to Atlanta for this year's Fandango, and to take the extra days dictated by the sale rate to poke around and see some friends, which rarely happens if I'm carpooling or zipping in just for the dancing. There was some second-guessing in the months since, but I left the arrangements alone, and last night I knew I'd made the right call: I'd needed the whole day to get various things closer to a not-fretting-about stage, from moving a dozen pepper plants from vases into pots to shredding chicken into freezer bags.

The Lyft driver and I chatted about her toddler's love of drawing, which led to me urging her to visit Martin ArtQuest, the terrific, materials- and activity-stocked kids' space at the museum where I work. We also chatted about theater -- she was a stage manager, I was a techie. At the airport, I treated myself to a 15-minute chair massage, after which the therapist couldn't help asking, "What are you doing to yourself!?" (Knots galore.) On the plane, I scored an exit row seat and dove into Laura Jacobs's CELESTIAL BODIES: LOOKING AT BALLET. My bookmarks so far include these sentences:


Once the shoe is put on, it awakens. The moist heat of the dancer's foot warms the layers of glue that stiffen the box and the shoe becomes one with the foot.


Leg room!

What I was not expecting, in this shift to vacation mode, was getting hit with childhood memories. As the plane left Nashville, the lights below reminded me of how excited I was during my first trip to Atlanta, on a business trip with my father. I was six or seven years old. We were on an upper floor of a tall hotel, and when I wasn't sneak-zooming ahead in my English textbook (*), I couldn't stop staring at all the beautiful lights of the city, and desperately wanting to keep that view with me.

Atlanta coming into view

Like then, like now, ordinary cameras don't capture the magic of so many lights. It was an unexpected melange of emotions to deal with -- really enjoying being an adult (no one stopping me from reading as much as I want, with drink coupons paying for grapefruit vodka [meh] and sparkling wine) while at the same time having flashbacks back to when I was in pigtails -- and also to about 2002, which is when I made several trips to Atlanta to attend workshops and visit Rancho Lesbiano. Rereading old entries about those trips (especially The Dinner Party) has reminded me not only that I used to blog way more regularly and in way more detail, but that I enjoy revisiting such details, and it's on me to make that possible. (Badsnake and I are meeting for dinner next week. The internet is a cesspool, and the internet is also freaking fabulous magic.)

Decatur also contains memories of the year the BYM lived here (attending motorcycle mechanic school) -- and also of walking along this same stretch of Ponce de Leon (where I've spent most of today) with Honorary Mama a few years ago, when I drove her here to visit her children. The cafe where I've taken refuge (less crowded and more air than the library) this past hour is an outpost of Nashville's Pinewood Social (which I didn't know had expanded), including the Crema counter. The illustrations on the wall facing me are of tree branches and of cross-sections of a trunk. They look a bit like prints of a scarred fingertip.

Speaking of the pleasures of adulthood, it is now happy hour. Time for me to head to the Iberian Pig. :)

* Strictly forbidden by the grade-school teacher in question, but I was SO BORED and there was so little to read, both at school and at home, so I gobbled up all the stories while on the trip, and then pretended they were new to me the rest of the year. I might be more than a little bitter about how me being "gifted" was a something for those teachers to tame rather than feed -- especially now that I realize that other girls had to accept and conform to that crap.
zirconium: snapshot of oysters enjoyed in Charleston (oysters)
Today's subject line comes from Muriel Rukeyser's Effort at Speech Between Two People, which I loved when I first read it at age 16 in John Frederick Nims's Western Wind, and had a sudden urge to reread just before I went to bed.

This week, I am giving thanks for nipple covers. Sports bra --> zit --> yeowch. Also, they're handy on "where the hell are all my bras and socks" mornings, which have a way of corresponding with clusters of 13-hour days.

I am also giving thanks for the shower rod that indeed required no tools to install, for fun stamps, for Dorothy Parton singing with Sia, for Garden & Gun (that "Good Dog" column gets me every time), for seedless mandarins,

I am mystified by gas jugs showing up out of nowhere, how to fold Louise-du-Ha! Ha! properly, why my heel still hurts, where I last put my dance shorts, how I became someone hunting for shorts four hours before a flight -- and quick-pickling peppers three hours before same.

OK, that last one isn't a mystery: I come from peasant stock, and salvaging/preserving anything remotely harvestable is what we do.
zirconium: of blue bicycle in front of Blue Bicycle Books, Charleston (blue bicycle)
I was drawn into Christian Wiman's "He Held Radical Light" excerpt at Poetry Daily earlier today because I became curious about where he was going after calling a good chunk of another writer's body of work "flavorless as old oatmeal." But the part where I sat up straight was when my own dour mutterings about eventual nothingness ("Look, I'm not going to get wound up about not getting anywhere with x when humans are going to be extinct within a few hundred years...") suddenly showed up on my screen like a mirror:


Nothing survives, I suddenly realized. Dante, Virgil, even sweet Shakespeare, whose lines will last as long as there are eyes to read him, will one day find that there are no eyes to read him. As a species, we are a microscopic speck of existence, which, I have full faith, will one day thrive without us.

Still, abstract oblivion is a small shock as shocks go. When over lunch one day my friend and then poet laureate Donald Hall turned his Camel-blasted eighty-year-old Yeti decrepitude to me and said as casually as he bit into his burger, "I was thirty-eight when I realized not a word I wrote was going to last," I felt a galactic chill, as if my soul had chewed tinfoil. I was thirty-eight. It was the very inverse of a calling, an ex post facto feeling of innocence, death's echo. In a flash I knew it was true, for both of us (this is no doubt part of what he was telling me), and yet the shock was not in that fact but in the nearly fifty years of further writings Don had piled on top of that revelation. "Poetry abandoned me," he writes in his little masterrpiece Essays After Eighty, the compensatory prose of which is so spare and clear it seems inscribed on solitude itself. If there were any justice in the world, this book would be read by my great-great-great-granddaughter as she gets ready to die. But of course there is no justice in the world.


I submitted two new poems today. I filed a rejection for four others, and made notes about a handful more to craft by the end of the month if mind and fingers and electronics cooperate. And, like quite a few other locals, I could not resist whisking out my phone yesterday when I saw this from the parking lot at work:

downtown Nashville, 7 pm

downtown Nashville, 7 pm

My being in the parking lot at that point was a compromise -- because of bloody honking deadlines needing to be met, I stayed at the office past the point of getting to the dance lesson on time, but I did go to the lesson, which ended up being a fine time -- the group was practicing "St. Margaret's Hill" when I arrived, and there was enough room in the studio for me to walk through the figures on my own. The rep for the rest of the evening included "Miss De Jersey's Memorial" (the dance of the month), "Kelsterne Gardens" (as a 4-couple dance), "Key to the Cellar" and several others in Scottish sets, "The Introduction" (which I requested after we collectively struggled with right and left diagonals during "The Weevil"), "The Young Widow" (which I requested when given three dances to choose from because it was the one I hadn't done yet), and "Bonny Cuckoo." We talked about regional differences/practices, including "the Philadelphia rule," which is when you're not the caller of the dance, shut up and don't "correct" the person who is leading the dance if no one is about to get hurt. Very sensible people, those Philadelphians.

I am too tired at the moment to be sensible, so while I knew full well that I needed to sit tail in chair and fingers to laptop to get to bed earlier, I went ahead with baking a cake (along with chicken that needed to be roasted sooner than later) and scrubbing this and that. Pacing will out. Anyhow, there are worse fates than snacking on chicken skins and listening to Monteverdi while editing docs on Italian art...
zirconium: snapshot of my healthiest hollyhock plant (French hollyhock)
[Today's subject line is from Mika's We Are Golden."]

Work out. Decide against buying fancy soap on sale. (Points to me.) Work. Swear at VPN fail. Clean. Correspond. Cook beef shanks with chicken and jasmine rice and assorted spices and frozen spinach. More cleaning. Extended chat with service provider over billing/cancellation issue. More correspondence...

Sleep for 11 hours. Fry pancakes. Clean. Card-writing. Log receipts. More birddogging of provider, this time on the phone. Recognize two of the musicians in Dark Carnival (guest band in "Says You" rerun) as members of Bare Necessities (renowned English country dance ensemble). Begin loading car to escape neighborhood before game traffic ties up outbound routes. Swear at drippy remnants of lunch leftovers I'd forgotten to take in. Clean up gross drippiness and line surfaces with tote bags. Load rest of things to shlep.

Head to suburb to pick up lantern (for winter paddling, after sundown). Stop at JVI Secret Gardens to pick up more soil (no one at the till, because a baby duck had shown up. This is not so usual for Dickerson Pike...). I also grin at the car I parked next to, which is plastered in humanitarian stickers (including the same Amnesty International decal I have on mine) ... and one of "Basic Snape," which makes me laugh my ass off (and order copies for friends as soon as I get home).

Head to lake. Car-powered pump fails to work -- Kaylen at Nashville Paddle to the rescue. She's whom I went out specifically to see in any case, since today I am dressed for quality time in as well as on the water (unlike the kayak lesson I had with her earlier this month, which was sandwiched between work and rehearsal, with heavy rain less than a mile away):

New bikini top

The timing is perfect -- the other women in the group are more interested in photographing one another and chilling in the cove, which means Kaylen is free to demo the two self-rescue moves, and then to sympathize as I struggle through them. After smashing my chest against the edge of the kayak several times, I swear to get serious about building arm strength. But I do ungracefully manage to complete each one, and Kaylen and I then joke about how it's going to look when I next borrow a yak and try practicing them 30x (i.e., dealing with passers-by who don't realize I'm messing around on purpose, the better to deal with messy situations on real trips).

A family on the bank plays a bunch of Latin tunes, and I dance-bounce to them. Kids in a kayak shout, "Nice moves!"

I cannot resist hacking at some weeds, the better to harvest more peppers and take in one of the Julia Child roses:

IMG_4398

Clean. Cook (flounder and corn with leftover rice and the first of the peppers). Clean. This has been a summer of finding weird stuff left in books and binders: Two TBI ID cards from a couple of decades ago. (Irony: I bought the book for a friend hospitalized for an illness exacerbated by government issues. Cue grim jokes about how government has a way of exacerbating things even at the best of times, which are most certainly not these.*) A phone message slip, possibly from before I was born. Four postcards pasted onto two sheets of notebook paper: Edinburgh Castle's Stone of Destiny, Minnesota Boundary Waters, Hotel Viktoria Hasliberg, and Brough of Birsay.

Ahead: Tea. Work. A rose I shall sniff from time to time. Sleep.

* Related story -- last year I had a biopsy done for some mysteriously inflamed tissue, and I reported to a friend the results: "In a nutshell: it's not cancer. They don't know what specifically caused it, but my body has a history of overreacting to irritants, and that is basically what's been going on." The friend promptly responded, "Since last november we're all reacting to one very large irritant, so it's no surprise."
zirconium: photo of Greek style coffee, Larnaca, October 2011 (coffee in Cyprus)
Here in Nashville, when someone says, "You look familiar," it's usually because they've seen me at First Unitarian Universalist Church or because I resemble a woman on NPT (one of these years I'll find out her name). At Wednesday's ballet reception, though (Bearded Iris beer and pimento cheese before a rehearsal for Swan Lake), it turned out the woman had seen me at a Planned Parenthood fundraiser, and that she and her companion were avid kayakers. That was a fun chat.

Working long hours, coping with a heel injury, and chasing after money owed. But also...

  • writing Postcards to Voters in Texas...



  • harvesting the first Prairie Fire pepper of the year


  • transplanting some of the seedlings I saved when thinning them out -- plenty still occupying wineglasses, yogurt tubs, and Cheerwine bottles


  • enjoying the roses


  • shrugging at the caterpillar-ravaged hollyhocks


  • eating salads, including this one from a new local cafe (D'Andrews):

    Salad at D'Andrews


  • Hope this finds you well, my dears.

    inventory

    Sep. 3rd, 2018 08:30 pm
    zirconium: photo of squeezy Buddha on cell phone, next to a coffee mug (buddha and cocoa)
    1 heirloom tomato bigger than my phone



    1 rose stem tied to a stake

    some of the rosebushes pruned

    countless falls into the pool (Glidefit bootcamp. Just in case I thought I knew how to stay on a board...)

    1 hour on a kayak

    around 4 hours on a paddleboard

    2 premature attempts to leave the shore (third time = charm. aka hand-pumping to 15 psi. gonna have Popeye arms by next summer.)

    1 party attended. And the BYM remembered to warn me to wear pants ("parking sucks" = getting there by motorcycle) hours in advance. The hosts got married in Italy a few weeks ago, so there were an array of spritzers (amaretto, aperol, strawberry limoncello, and negroni) and tasty bites. Oh, and moonshine.

    3 temporary tattoos applied

    4 actual tattoos discussed

    2 mosquito bites

    1 unexpected farewell message

    1 new person to ping when I next get to New York

    2 library books skimmed (one, a trilingual survey on Julius Shulman's oeuvre; the other, Jerrelle Guy's Black Girl Baking)

    1/4 blackberry-cherry pie left

    1 tanka published

    unmapped

    Sep. 1st, 2018 08:10 pm
    zirconium: snapshot of oysters enjoyed in Charleston (oysters)
    During this afternoon's driving around, I caught part of the TED radio hour's rerun of a feature on a boiling river that didn't appear on any maps before a Texas grad student's aunt connected him to a shaman who has allowed him repeated access to it.

    On a far more mundane level, my cabin at Splashdance didn't appear on the map. Finding it -- while hauling a tub and duffel with my weekend bedding and clothing -- was an adventure; I've never been so happy to wear a headlamp (originally purchased for night padddling) in my life.

    The weekend was a blast. I would have liked to have arrived much sooner and much more rested (having been warned that the camp was off the grid, and wanting 48 hours away from redlines and deadlines anyhow, I worked more than 45 hours while fitting 14 hours of driving prior to reaching Flat Rock). But I had energy enough for exhilarating waltzes and frisky contras (with a bit of blues and some squares in the mix, along with my beloved English country figures), and I snuck in naps on the bleachers, on a paddleboard, and in a hammock (heartfelt thanks and apologies to Cameron, who was very gracious about my mistaking her hang for community property -- it was a revelation to snooze between and beneath the pines, and I've since added "camping hammock" to my wishlist). The 6 a.m. breakfast prep assignment was a perfect fit for me, as I spent half of the shift cracking dozens of eggs while chatting with a whitewater guide, and the other half scrambling them eggs. I loved getting dipped by Shep (a carpenter I first danced with at an Orange Peel waltz night a few years ago), and grinning at Bill every time he soulfully yet wholly unseriously clasped my hand between his palms, and enjoying a few more turns with Dan, one of my favorite partners during the July workshop at Brasstown we'd attended. I'm not yet much of a lead, but that workshop gave me enough confidence to ask more women to waltz, which resulted in some memorable conversations as well.

    Splashdance 2018
    Posing in the photobooth during the Saturday night dance


    It is fun to be a more confident dancer in general. I screwed up plenty of times, but there were also plenty of smiles and compliments. One I'm still glowing about: one partner's pleased murmur about how people were actually dancing to "Sapphire Sea," not merely walking their way through it.

    The rest of the week was even more "wait-what-whoa-JESUS" than usual, although I managed to avoid bellowing "Sonnnnnn!" at anyone (which happened last week when a particularly hapless Carolina driver veered into my way. Sometimes the South just leaps from my mouth...). Though some of my Congresscritters (TM Marissa) and other so-called representatives need to be deluged with more than mere exasperated hollerin', but that's a rant for another time/venue.

    anchovy aioli

    Today's moment of culinary inspiration: making aioli with leftover anchovy oil. (That's galangal sprinkled onto the sauce. It didn't add much, but hey, points to me for experimenting.)
    zirconium: snapshot of my healthiest hollyhock plant (French hollyhock)
    [Today's subject line is from Frank O'Hara's Having a Coke with You, which I encountered via a marvelous introduction by the keeper of the Read A Little Poetry blog.]

    I hadn't planned on writing any full poems today -- the reasons I worked a nonstop 12-hour stretch yesterday are not yet dispatched to the land of Done -- but I do have one soon-closing-market's guidelines stored on my bookmarks bar, and when I clicked on it earlier this morning (largely in a Please Let Some Fun Prompt Park in My Head To Amuse Me While I De-skank My Kitchen Floor instead of Brain Hamster-Wheeling Ad Pointlessium Through All the Things I Have to Crank Through Tres Vite), some conversations that took place the past two days tilted into the brainpan and twined-extended-curled themselves into a new story. Eventually.

    Today I also produced several batches of tomato pumpkin bao . . . .

    Tomato Art Fest 2018

    . . . . and ran into various people from various circles in the course of wandering around my neighborhood's annual Tomato Art Fest, and inadvertently accomplished some Christmas shopping, and picked up a yard sign for my preferred vice mayor candidate (#TeamTorah) from the voter registration booth. I have also spilled sparkling wine on the gas bill, transplanted two Christmas pepper seedlings, made anchoïade (so tasty on pak choi!), boiled a potful of peanuts, and tugged at a few weeds around hollyhocks I didn't plant. (Yay for self-seeding!) I received some invitations and queries this week that have eased a bit of the ache/insecurity of not being as important to various people as I used to be (the head totally gets it -- it's not as if I stay on top of personal messages or correspondence myself -- but it has to quell the tendencies of my inner eight-year-old (and eighteen-year-old, for that matter) to grieve wholly foreseeable results and turns. I contain multitudes, and they are sometimes seriously tiresome.

    But I also received a sparkly-fun six page letter from Rae today, and the BYM has been good about sending me updates from the road, and my poem "Decorating a Cake While Listening to Tennis" (text and audio) is now up at Rattle (it appeared in print earlier this summer). And, I just soaked for as long as I wanted in my tub, with the water as deep and as hot as I could make it, with a stack of magazines (mostly from my mom-in-law) and a fragrant candle (from my gal Rooo) and a box of matches with a Conan Doyle quote (from my assistant). Any one of these things would have been viewed by eight- or eighteen-year-old me as a very special treat -- and I get to enjoy them practically every day. It is wondrous to have these things, and I do not take them -- or, really, anything of comfort or convenience or connection -- for granted.
    zirconium: photo of squeezy Buddha on cell phone, next to a coffee mug (buddha and cocoa)
    My name and foot
    Etch A Sketch of my name and foot by John Taylor


    John and me Etch-A-Sketch-ing at the entrance of Nick Cave: Feat. Photo by Marlow Amick.


    Nashvillians, the show closes Sunday at 5:30 p.m. Get your tails over there!

    And while you're in the museum... there is a sweet spot in the Gordon Contemporary Arts Gallery, to the left of the intro wall for The Presence of Your Absence Is Everywhere, about six feet back, where the light brings out the everywheres in white letters surrounding the title treatment, which happen to be invisible (absent) if you aren't standing in that spot where the light hits them just so. It is So Very Cool. I love this show so much. Come see it if you live here! (And come to An Evening of Chaos and Awe, too, which will feature music inspired by her work, along with a special dish by Maneet Chauhan.)
    zirconium: tulip in my front yard, April 2014 (tulip)
    Literally:

    gathering rosebuds while I may

    I snuck in a few minutes of gardening before night fell -- uprooting some fistfuls of weeds and lopping off the iffier branches of the rosebush. There are tiny purple flowers occupying a corner of the yard, and bright white chickweed (I think) blossoms that close up at night. Alas, the geranium from Desire did not survive the winter, and the the whirlwind anemone isn't showing any signs of life. But, I have plenty of seeds stashed in old jars and shoeboxes and the like. Some are probably as dead as the geranium and the anemone. But some . . .




    I had several observations saved for the Plus Ça Change department, but the only one I can lay my hands on at the moment is an endnote in Paul F. Ramírez's forthcoming book, Enlightened Immunity: Mexico's Experiments with Disease Prevention in the Age of Reason. It struck me as rather relevant to the firing of Father Conroy, in tandem with the wake-up call Bill Gates is attempting to sound regarding the "significant probability of a large and lethal modern-day pandemic occurring in our lifetimes":

    Rather than lead to systematic, preemptive transformations in social policies by governments, sixteenth-century plagues produced a degree of elation or relief resulting from the connection drawn between disease and the elimination of poverty, commonly achieved through the elimination of the poor. [Brian] Pullan, “Plague and Perceptions of the Poor,” 121.


    [rummages through bag] Oh, here's another one, from the April 22 NYT:

    PHILIP GALANES: We’re living through a time right now where men in power who’ve done ugly things —

    DENZEL WASHINGTON No. We’re not “living through a time right now.” It’s always been this way, from the beginning of time. Pick one: from Caesar to Caligula. Now, it’s just on the news cycle every 15 seconds.


    And, today, the nerd prom take that has stayed with me, from Kara Calavera: "This #WHCD set was a career-making moment for @michelleisawolf the same was that @StephenAtHome's was for him [in 2006]. The press's reaction to hers is nearly identical to the reaction they had after his."
    zirconium: Detail from Paris Polytechnique building (Paris Polytechnique)
    Today's subject line is from Eternity, a poem by US poet laureate Tracy K. Smith that she read on Live from Here last weekend. Though what I've been replaying over and over is Gaby Moreno powerhousing through Live from Here's cover of "Techno Cumbia": La technocumbia que te traigo te dará el placer / Para que muevas tu cuerpo, de la cabeza a los pies. . . .

    Lord, this month. It was already going to be complicated enough without my car getting burglarized (followed by literally dozens of subpoena calls -- because the sheriff's office uses an automated service that doesn't recognize responses from my mobile phone, and it took multiple calls to his staff to get it to stop, and oh, look, he's running for re-election. Guess whom I'm not impressed by at the moment?) and our largest exhibition having to close five weeks early and one of my car's hubcaps merrily rolling away on I-65 after being liberated by a particularly vicious pothole. Did. Not. Want.

    But! the sun is shining today, and there are dozens of buds on my Sky's the Limit rosebush, and the Christmas cacti and kalanchoe are in full bloom, and I have what I need right here at home (specifically puff pastry and jams) to improvise something for a reception later today (following the ordination of my church's assistant pastor, who is moving on to serve as a hospice chaplain). My parents-in-law gave me an early birthday check that I am applying toward lifetime membership in the John Rae Society. I have to power through a ton of work this weekend, but I can do it in supercomfy leggings and ratty shirts. But I also enjoyed dressing up for Keeneland last weekend...

    ready for Keeneland

    ... where I came out ahead on my wagers, thanks to Sundress, High Fashion Star, and Ravish (trifecta) and Smart Response (show)

    winning trifecta!

    ... and my honorary big brother and his partner spoiled me all weekend long. Treats included bourbon, bourbon-laced brownies, brownies, and a brown-butter popcorn sundae ... decadence followed by 8 a.m. hot yoga. It all balances out, right? ;)

    Speaking of yoga, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily published Hot Yoga Chaff last month and A Calm, Fixed Mind earlier this week.

    Batch 1 of the experimental tarts are out of the oven and, well, they wouldn't win even a second look at a state fair, let alone any ribbons, but I popped a couple into my mouth while cleaning up, and they'll do. Lord knows I love to hit things outta the park, but sometimes it's enough just to be bringing a bit of sweetness and air.
    zirconium: photo of squeezy Buddha on cell phone, next to a coffee mug (buddha and cocoa)
    Tonight's subject line comes from the first line of a letter Elizabeth Bishop wrote to Robert Lowell on April 1, 1958. It was actually a sunny day here, but I liked seeing the phrase just now, as well as the pleasure of peeking at a letter written sixty years ago (replete with frustration about a worker stealing apples and singing awful songs, a snotty jab at my beloved Ciardi, and kinder talk of work and mental health, along with paragraphs on babies, birds, books, and cities).

    It would have been nice to go singing, shopping, or simply walking/biking around in the sunshine, but my body was tired, my brain fried, and my kitchen filthy, so I put on a nightgown when I rolled out of bed and have spent the day moving slowly between chores and diversions. I wrote a postcard poem and postcards to voters:

    postcards

    I abandoned my plan of trying a new recipe with the chicken thighs in the fridge; instead, I tossed them into a pot with bay leaves (from my big sister), carrots (that had been in the fridge for weeks), a yam (that had been on the counter for weeks), the dregs of a jar of pasta sauce, and garlic (from Penzeys) and let it all stew for a while. Tomorrow I may add lima beans and an onion, but I may also just let it sit some more, as there will also be two services to sing in and tax paperwork to tend to. Plus I'd like to paint my nails and retouch my hair and sleep for about a week more before heading back to the office. Wishes, horses, la la la.

    The timing is not right for me to sign up for The Iteration Project Partner Program, but it sure sounds cool.
    zirconium: sculpture of owl at Cheekwood, Nashville (Cheekwood owl)
    The subject line comes from a lovely dance by Joseph Pimentel based on a Moravian hymn that he taught yesterday during the closing session of Nashville's Playford weekend. There was also "Candles in the Dark" with Mady from Chicago (who wore jeweled lizards in her ears on Saturday), a fine "Bishop" with Fred from Houston (who wore lizard-printed socks on Sunday), a galloping "Spanish Jigg" with Leonard from DC, whirling around with Will (a transplant to Tennessee who misses his old marshes something fierce) during the last waltz, and other romps and swoops and "luscious" turnings-about, to borrow one of the caller's favorite adjectives.

    Earlier this month, there was Dancefest in Durham (that's me in the white sweater and gray skirt), which featured plenty of, ah, learning moments. In one exercise, Kalia Kliban sent everyone in the right file out of the room, taught the dance to everyone in the left file, and then had them attempt to convey the moves nonverbally without any assistance from her. I misread my partner's attempt to communicate "Figure 8" so thoroughly that I bodychecked him, which had him laughing so hard he could barely talk about it afterward. (Later, our waltzing was so over-the-top it had people on the sidelines laughing as they chatted with me later. And that wasn't even my wildest spin around the room that night.) But there was sublime dancing to be enjoyed as well (within those same waltzes as well as within the English figures), and the dance I've spoken of most often since coming home has been Kalia Kliban's "The Flying Sorceress." I was able to put full trust in my partner (Joe from Asheville) during the poussettes, and it in fact felt like flying as we swooped across the room (crossing but not crashing into other lines) and back again and again. Magical!

    Honorary Mama passed away a week ago. It was time, so there is plenty of relief amid the feeling bereft. Yesterday I came across both an envelope and a postcard I had pre-stamped and pre-addressed to her back in January and then set aside because some other image or combination of enclosures seemed more fun/compelling those mornings. I shall repurpose them for notes to politicians or the like, in Nancy's memory.

    There is a lone yellow tulip in my front yard. When I see it, I say, "You lovely sturdy thing."

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