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."
zirconium: snapshot of cookie cutter star from sorghum marshmallow making (Default)
So it turns out it wasn't me who'd left the eggs out but the BYM, who'd prepared some for himself this morning, so they would've been safe to restash. Ah well. The gist of the conversation that followed:

Me: Some critter will enjoy them.
Lui: Something ovidiperous.
Me: *rolls eyes*
Lui: It is too a word! Look it up!
Me: *types* Nope.
Lui: Gimme that. Oviparous... ovivorous! See?
Me: *rolls eyes*
Lui: So what would you call a critter that eats its own eggs?
Me: *starts reading aloud choice bits from "Why Some Animals Eat Their Offspring"* ... "filial cannibalism --"
Lui: Yeah!
Me: "... grow up fast or get eaten"
Lui: That oughta be a tattoo.


Mar. 3rd, 2018 11:09 am
zirconium: me @Niki de St Phalle's Firebird (firebird)
Well. Given the headline-hollerin' weather, I feel like my flight left Philadelphia in the nick of time. A summary of the NJ-DE-PA circuit:

5 trips to the nursing home
1 February Fling (advanced English country dancing)
1 afternoon of waltzing
2 waltz lessons and 1 swing lesson
3 solid Italian meals
2 apples and 2 chocolate muffins purloined from the hotel breakfast buffet
3 bags of coffee purchased as gifts
2 pairs of boots purchased for myself
1 ratty Taiwanese towel finally binned
1 ratty washcloth cut up to wrap around damp toothbrush head
1 poetry submission
assorted lines jotted down and/or typed into my phone, but not expanded-on in time for the deadline in question, but that's OK, because I was stonking TIRED through most of the trip, and I get sparklepoints for choosing safety/sleep over ambition/FOMO
1 dinner plan cancelled because of feeling too dozy on the drive back from NJ. I still have much to learn about realistic scheduling.
50 object labels, 5 wall panels, assorted menu updates, and other projects herded along remotely
1 sparkling peach jelly sake shot + 1 bowl of shanxi cat ear lamb pasta at Suga. They were both REALLY tasty.
an hour+ of good conversation with the friend at Suga, during which I finally confessed that my birthday is in May, not March, but I hadn't said anything before because I'm used to other friends being calendar-challenged (one handed me a very nice bottle of Scotch on my 44th with "this is for all the years I missed...") and in any case what's not to like about celebrating being alive from May 9 through May 8 every year?
1 "Stop Profiling Muslims" sign seen, in the window of Joe Coffee Philly. I promptly went in and ordered a spiced golden mocha.
1 bourbon cocktail at the Oddity Bar
2 hours in Manayunk, where I didn't find any postcards, but I did huff and puff up some hills (can't wait until my wonky ankle regains full strength/reliability. Lungs, too...) after sipping on some Invisible Ink (an IPA) at the Goat's Beard
assorted compliments re the hair (green) and tattoos (glittery) and dancing (I do enjoy being sought out)

I went to bed early last night, and I was so tired that I hadn't remembered about the cut apple or carton of eggs I'd failed to put away. Merde! On the upside, it's a sunny day, so it was less of an ordeal to fling them onto the compost patch than it would've been on a filthier morning. Also on the upside, it was chilly when I got out of bed, so I started my day in a fleece top and a fleece vest, which was like shuffling around in a light nonsmothering cocoon. And I'm now wearing a poet-ninja tee that was a birthday present from another friend -- another light nonsmothering cocoon. :)

As usual, the day has sped by faster than my plans for it. But it remains a fine day. I have defrosted homemade onion soup for lunch (see, ancestors, see? I'm not wasteful -- just absent-minded! This is also how the garlic powder ended up in the fridge...), ordered books for my church library, and moved half of my home library room to other parts of the house (and recycling/resale bins). Progress! Also some laundering and rehearsing and filing and corresponding and wrapping.

Rejections received: 4
Dresses binned: 1 (it was time, ancestors! I paid less than a dollar for it in the first place, and it had become shaggier than a bedraggled sheep...)
Hilarious "nope" exchange of looks with the BYM after trying "savory" Lunar New Year cookies from a relative: 1
zirconium: doll with bike @High Point Doll Museum (doll with bike)
Today's subject line comes from Mary Oliver's Wild Geese.

The cardboard coffee-cup sleeves in my hotel room exhort, "COOL IT! You can't book a vacation with injured fingers." It took me a minute to realize it was referring to hot beverages, since what's on my mind at the moment is the discerning act (for an assortment of reason, right now the word "balance" is skunked to me*) between what can feel like incessant pressure to Do More vs. self-care vs. making excuses for snaggety things one would rather not (as opposed to cannot) tackle. They wear each other's clothes, and sometimes the people strongly urging that I not sacrifice health and sanity for ambition/achievement are also the ones simultaneously mountainizing molehills in the name of ideals (including the illusory grail of a "balanced" approach/treatment/what-have-you to some of them snaggety things), which in turn gets in the way of me meeting my existing promises.

[* Hadn't read Elizabeth Gilbert on the topic before looking up something else midway through writing this entry, but yeah. What she said there.]

Old George, a dancer I'm fond of, once told me that experienced dancers make tons of mistakes but recover from them better/faster than novices. I'm thinking of how some very successful people in my circles didn't do their part in projects we worked on together, and how irritating that was but also how ultimately irrelevant, but also how I don't want to be that kind of person and that's why I keep saying no on a regular basis to numerous worthy asks, and how several people have told me I'm their hero/inspiration for my ability to do so. I'm thinking of how I know I need to dial back even further when I have to jettison or even cancel existing plans, and when it's a relief when things fall through, and how FOMO, like many other afflictions, is something that hasn't permanently gone away but returns again and again to be dueled with. How my tendency to overplan means that I spent several hours reading up on things I did not have time to pursue in the first place, but it's also how I found the wonderful restaurant where I answered my craving for homemade pasta after a particularly nerve-shredding visit to the nursing home (where a resident with dementia demanded help I could not give, where I was gently reprimanded for wheeling another resident to the dining room [her request, but it turns out she's supposed to wheel herself for PT reasons], and an aide claimed my honorary mama's caregiver had set out only one sock last night and thus not put them on [but said caregiver, who is fan-freaking-tastic, checked the drawer and the socks were together. WTF]).

Where I'm going with this venting? It can be either or both gratifying and uncomfortable when people praise me for all that I get done, because I do pride myself on stubbornness, smarts, and stamina and am pleased when those qualities are recognized, but sometimes the complimenting has the tinge of backhandedery or self-justification, especially when the dialogue essentially filters through as "You're superhuman (or crazy), and I'm not, so I'm going to ask you for this last-minute favor..." I want people to see me as a (re)source, and for my beloveds** in particular to not feel undue constraint about asking me if I would like to help out with a this or that, but I get as pissy as the next diligently boring corn-hauling ant when I feel taken for granted.

[** And, it's probably no accident that my beloveds tend to be people who, being often of cloth or wiring similar to mine, generally don't lightly or habitually make demands of me in the first place.]

I hesitate to post this, since I too can be as bad as the next screenhead when it comes to worrying about whether a subtweet (subpost?) might be about me or if I've effed up Yet Again without realizing it. (The saying of "You know what you did" when angry? Instant friendship-ender, that. I've been called a mind-reader multiple times because of my ability to pay attention and commit key/interesting details to memory, but the label doesn't make it so, and even if my background/values/temperament weren't distinctly atypical, history has shown that I can be spectacularly clueless at times -- which has been true of a number of people in my circles. So.) But I'm hearing/seeing/sensing frustration and exhaustion from multiple corners in reaction to so much Be More! Do More! YOLO! Sleep when you're dead! You haven't given as much as ____! You aren't _____ until you _____! in the air and on the airwaves, and I'm not immune to comparison syndrome myself. (Will I forever feel a pang whenever I find out that yet another friend/acquaintance made Phi Beta Kappa, and feel thoroughly ridiculous for that flash of envy? It hasn't made an iota of difference in my career or love life or health, the fees would have been a significant burden, actually qualified individuals deciding against membership is a recurring thing, not every school has a chapter, etc., blah, blah, OY. [To my credit, I'm not so obsessed that I knew any of those details (except the first) until a few minutes ago, and it doesn't take a psychologist to figure out that right now it's a trigger because Honorary Mama has been proud all her life of being PBK -- her key (and the chain it was on) was one of the pieces of jewelry she made a point of repairing and keeping -- and we're at a juncture in history where honors are rightfully being questioned and analyzed in depth in terms of who awards and receives them and the presence of privilege in the mix. And, on a more personal level, the yearning for and (non)pursuit of prizes and recognition and (not) being chosen is a recurring motif in conversations and reflections, as is the witnessing (and sometimes experiencing) of delusions and cluelessness (I have been that singer/actor at auditions with zero sense of how inadequate I would have been in the parts I coveted, and I have also zipped my lips and sat on my hands when encountering versions of that younger self: it took me long enough to get to a place where I was ready to acknowledge that I wasn't as good as I thought I was, and it's a lesson my avocations are inherently designed to teach me over and over again. I have been blessed with sufficient confidence to send work out again and again -- and also the analytical skills to read something a few months/years/decades later and conclude that I wouldn't have accepted/purchased it either).])

Anyway -- what I sat down to say? Some people do need to be told to sit ass in chair and put in the legendary 10,000 hours before they angle further for attention. I have been that person, and as unready for that admonition as anyone else raised on fairy-godmother-to-the-rescue tales. Some people are better off in the company of kindred spirits looking askance at words that rhyme with "flaweductivity" and coming up with superpowers. I have been that person. Some people alternate slip-slogging through mud and serenely spending hours in a rocking chair by muttering about how none of this will matter in a few hundred years because humanity is heading toward extinction faster than not but for the time being, we (being able) still owe it to God to bake chicken pies and brighten at compliments (especially when the compliments come with tattoos) . . .

chicken hand pies

cards (and tattoos!) from friends

. . . and right now, I am that person. And now I shall half-rush through breakfast and half-ass my makeup and hair and get myself to the places I have promised to be at today, and there will also be pockets of time later today where I shall treat myself to something delicious food- and/or drink- and/or sightseeing/hearing-wise, and linger over it for longer than strictly necessary, and feel gratitude from head to toe for being alive.
zirconium: my hands, sewing a chemo cap liner (care caps hands)
The subject line comes from Mary Oliver's Blue Horses, the full line being "It must be a great disappointment to God if we are not dazzled at least ten times a day." Blue Horses was a gift to my honorary mama from one of her actual daughters and her wife, and it came to the rescue yesterday when I was visiting her at the nursing home.

I don't have much to say about ALS that doesn't involve copious streams of profanity. HM used to talk enough for the both of us, and now I can't even make out when she's saying yes or no, and it's a struggle for her caregivers as well, and she doesn't have the muscle control or strength even to lift her head. But we carried on as best we could yesterday - the Jewish yoga book I brought didn't lend itself to reading aloud as easily as I'd hoped, but the Oliver poems did, so I ended up reading the entire volume to her.

At any rate, I knew this trip would be challenging from the get-go, and I am adequately equipped in experience, resources, and temperament to deal with said challenges, so meet them we have and shall. My flight left Nashville three hours late, but that meant I could catch up on some work and catch some Olympics on the bar TV. For all her flaws, Ayn Rand did write some things that have resonated and remained with me, one of them her characters' love of cities (aka demonstrations of human mastery), and one thing I have loved about landing in and driving around PA/DE/NJ after nightfall is getting to behold the beauty of so many lights and of ornate factories wreathed in steam.

Also, the young women at both the rental car counter and the hotel desk were both friendly and competent in spite of it being 3:30 and 4-effing-a.m. respectively when I showed up in their lobbies, and last night a man named Luigi saw me out to my car after my meal at his restaurant; a fashionably scruffy man sauntering by cheerfully bellowed, "Was it good?" -- his words and smile transforming him from possibly-sketchy-guy-on-kinda-sketchy-block to guy-who-lives-in-the-neighborhood-enjoying-the-fact-that-people-stop-in-to-enjoy-Luigi's-cooking.

There's more to say, but now it is time to don clothes and makeup and head north for more visiting and some dancing.
zirconium: my hands, sewing a chemo cap liner (care caps hands)
The subject line's from Louis MacNeice's "Snow." Which we don't actually have here, as it's above 70 F (according to @NashSevereWx, we hit a record-breaking 76 F a couple of hours ago). The temptation is to ignore the must-do list and putter about in the yard, but I would also like to get enough sleep before driving around the northeast later this week, so I'm sipping a glass of Barcelona cava (left over from Saturday's brunch, and still bubbly!) and mopping the floors, retouching my hair, de-skanking a heating grate -- you know, the things one must absolutely get out of the way before buckling down to paperwork and phone calls and the other things that shove aside mopping the floors and retouching my hair most weekdays.


Indoors, the largest of the Christmas cacti is magnificently in bloom, and my little quartet of romaine/bok choy stubs supplied leaves for today's salmon salad. There are also new buds on the kalanchoe.

I've noticed the cardinals out and about today, with two pausing on the fence just outside my window. I look at the cardinals on the holiday address labels sent to me by some charities. My other windows are open, and a couple of yards away, someone is attempting to force notes out of a wind instrument -- possibly a saxophone. I might be shaping some lines in my head about seasonal and boundarial messiness.

In 2016, J. S. Graustein wrote about trokeens at Folded Word and invited readers to submit them. Last week, unFold published "Lab(orare est orare)" as a video.

And, at Vary the Line, I posted "Calculations": http://www.varytheline.org/blog/2018/02/18/calculations/
zirconium: sunflower core against the sky (sunflower sentinel)
Colleague walking me to my car: Someone asked for you today. Did they find you?

Me: Hmmm, no. Odd.

Colleague: They seemed nice. Polite.

Me: Well, some of the people who know me are. And then there's the riff-raff.

Colleague: Peg, we all know some riff-raff.

Me: Well, of course we do. Live long enough, you're gonna run into some riff-raff.

Colleague: Now you're sounding like my pastor.
zirconium: photo of Greek style coffee, Larnaca, October 2011 (coffee in Cyprus)
Today's subject line comes from Khaya Osborne's When All the Dandelions Have Wilted, the Scratch of Tobacco is So Much Less Damning, via Frontier Poetry's Exceptional Poetry From Around the Web list.

Signal-boosted by tweeps: Brian Bilston's Refugees and Irene Klepfisz's Perspectives on the Second World War.

Week in review: Six poems rejected, five images rejected, one new poem drafted and submitted. See previous entry for links to the two now online.

I logged more than fifty hours at the day job last week, and wasn't good for much by yesterday evening, so instead of going out, I opened a bottle of cava and pan-fried four scallops with a strip of pork belly, with leftover rice and fennel rounding out the meal. Then I divided the rest of the night between song/dance prep and housework.

There's a line in Philip Gefter's "Place Beyond the Pines" (published online as The Place Beyond the Fire Island Pines, about Columbia County, that particularly resonated with me when I read it in the bath some days ago: "I like to think of the region as a sprawling artists' colony, where everyone is almost pathologically productive, keeping a safe distance from one another in their secluded studios while still wanting to know what everyone is working on."

Sending you thoughts of both naps and seeds from my secluded studio, my dears.
zirconium: photo of Greek style coffee, Larnaca, October 2011 (coffee in Cyprus)
Making Africa

A few weeks ago, I tossed a couple of sandwiches and a half-eaten cucumber into a bag that I took with me on a work trip to Atlanta (the photos in this entry are from the visit to the High Museum). I ate the sandwiches and part of the cucumber. The bag still isn't fully unpacked, but I fished out what remained of the cucumber early last week. Thank goodness for solid ziploc seals.

It took me most of another week to drag the compost pot to the yard, which encapsulates it being cold, me being sick, and things being hectic. (I added "club soda" to my mental shopping list earlier tonight, and just a few minutes ago noticed the two-liter bottle of club soda I'd brought home last night and completely forgotten about. And -- as if in reproach -- it promptly fizzed all over half the kitchen when I opened it. Some days the comedy is everywhere.)

Making Africa

Anyway, some things are getting done, and some new poems are online -- "Lost Wax" over at http://varytheline.org and a sestina over at the CDC Poetry Project.

Last month Sidekick Books published an Advent calendar of window poems; mine was on Day 2: http://sidekickbooks.com/booklab/2017/12/sidekick-aperture-poetry-advent-calendar-day-2-peg-duthie.html/.

Making Africa

Today's subject line comes from Maxine Silverman's Shiva Moon (published by Ben Yehuda Press, which is bringing out my friend Rachel's Texts to the Holy next month), in a poem titled "A Small Craft Advisory," which I bookmarked earlier this month even though at this point there's nothing subconscious about references to 1930s Germany and 1940s treatment of Japanese Americans bleeding into and all over my drafts and correspondence. Silverman:

Years back if the S.S. crashed a poem
at once I'd rub them out. . . .

Nazis aren't subconscious anything.
Generations after Auschwitz, they still have their way
with us, show up when you least expect. That is the poem.
The rest -- commentary.
zirconium: snapshot of cookie cutter star from sorghum marshmallow making (Default)
The subject line's from "Qum," by Tim Dlugos (who, among other things, was called the Frank O'Hara of his generation and had planned to become an Episcopal priest before AIDS killed him). It's the January 12 entry in A Year in Poetry, edited by Thomas E. Foster and Elizabeth C. Guthrie.

During dinner, I read Mimi O'Donnell's piece in Vogue (as told to Adam Green) about her life with Philip Seymour Hoffman, and about how her kids and she are living with the loss four years later. The final paragraph:

This fall, after a long campaign by my kids, I agreed that we could get a family dog. They had their hearts set on a French bulldog, and after some research we found a breeder and picked out a puppy, a girl, whose picture was so cute it was almost insane (and I’m not a dog person). The moment we made the decision, Cooper said, “She’s going to die. Dogs don’t live very long, so we’re going to see her die.” In her birth and in her coming to us, we were also mourning her death. Something about that felt right, knowing that everything you meet or love is going to die. I was in awe of my kids that they were able to hold both things in their heads at the same time. That’s who they are now. And it hasn’t stopped them from loving this little creature (her name is Puddles) scampering around our apartment. None of them wants to hold back. They’ve given their hearts to her, without hesitation or reservation.

Me, I'm probably another 6-12 months from opening heart and home to a new-to-me dog. My schedule needs to become several degrees less breakneck for me to spend adequate time with any additions to our household, and I'd also like to see through some major repairs while we are pet-less (among other things, a patch of ceiling has been shedding plaster every time someone takes a shower). But I do greatly miss the affection and entertainment our past furballs have provided.

January 2016 January 2016

It's currently 59 F in Nashville. (The high yesterday was 69 F.) The temperature is supposed to plummet to 29 F by mid-morning. That is bonkers. Who knows what the roads are going to be like.

Although it will likely be months before I'm back on the water, I'm dreaming of it:

January 2016
zirconium: illustration of boots for a fic I wrote (Hooch's boots)
Green Hills Starbucks, 6:30 am

I'd hoped to stay in bed, but duty called,
but had I not been out I wouldn't have stopped
for the slow treat of a tall peppermint mocha.

Although I had the pew-bench all to myself,
the shop seemed full of congregants --
a grizzled gentleman holding forth on Churchill,
younger creatures conferring on clothes for clubbing,

and who-knows-what-fresh-hell-now unspooling
across the phone and laptop screens. I'm too far away
to see what's being said, and I am fine with that,

for right now all I want is to steep in the sweetness
of sitting still, of studying glass
being both filter and mirror, night-edged research
sharing its margins with daybreak, the sky

the pink of the Christmas cactus blooms at my house,
the plants flowering on, beyond the carols and candles.
zirconium: medical instruments @High Point Doll Museum (medical instruments (miniature))
[The subject line is from Bei Dao's New Year, translated by David Hinton.]

Culling unloved photos from the drives --
blurry loaves, a squinting ex,
streaks alluding to nights that no one
else this side of the afterworld can recall,
much less light up with the lived-through-it --

my husband peers at my screen, asking
about my codes while knowing
I'm not going to make any sense.
On cue, he groans. I kiss his neck,
advise him just to call our advisor
should I get hit by a pedal tavern.

"I will," he says, "after I burn
all the pedal taverns down." "I'll do
my best not to get nailed by one." He nods
with feeling. I've seen him throw
whole albums into bins, and
t-shirts into rag-piles. I myself flung
his aunt's old clippings and ledgers
into the dumpster -- records I would
have loved to pore over, some other lifetime,
but there was no time to spare and no room
and even what I hauled back's since been further
"curated" down to what I can swear
I'll probably wear, and even then
I still have to tell myself, "Get real!
No one's going to study your dozens of drafts,
let alone save them, and that's not even
how you'd want them to spend their days, not
when the world will still need defending
from despots, not to mention
friskier frolics--" I want to be
the kind of ghost that kicks their butts
into dancing alone at the disco
should they want to dance when no one else is game
and the strength in their no when they know
they're overdue for tea with just the trees.
zirconium: of blue bicycle in front of Blue Bicycle Books, Charleston (blue bicycle rear)
Down the street . . .

Hanging onto my hourglass-sand-scoured ride
as it swerves and dips, wrenches and screeches
its way through the jagged turn of this year
onto the fog-wreathed bridge of the next --

the first of many gauntlets waiting ahead.
Some may well dissolve with huffing and puffing
but I have seen what straw can devour --

like plague, like lava -- as it fans out within flames,
rippling, ripping everything near the fury
into indiscernable ruins. Ninety years hence --

or just nineteen, or hell, even nine --
this story will be ancient, all too possibly buried
beneath triumphant lies. But meantime, meanwhile -- time notwithstanding --

meanness must be countered, rugs rolled away
for air to meet rot, hearths unwalled
to hands trained in mending and measuring what's true.

Down the street . . .


For another stare-and-riff inspired by this site, see Frames at Vary the Line.
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



Mad Robin

The Bishop

Apollo's Hunt

Blue Heron Waltz (workshop)

Blue Heron Waltz (at the ball)

Corelli's Maggot

Mr. Isaac's Maggot

Trip to Tunbridge

Wa' is Me, What Mun I Do?


ETA 10/9:
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.


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: snapshot of cookie cutter star from sorghum marshmallow making (Default)

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