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: 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 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: 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: 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: photo of flask with feathers in and around it (flask with feathers)
Nitro ice cream demo

The need to catch up on sleep and housework quashed most of my original plans for today, but I did head to Adventure Science Center for the tail end of Summer Science Day, getting there in time for the Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream demo. It was entertaining watching some of the kids creep closer and closer to the stage, yearning to touch the magical fog (and the educators diligently warning them back lest they get burned):

Nitro ice cream demo
Nitro ice cream demo

The ice cream mixture was pretty crunchy at first (solution: add more milk), and bent the first spoon used, but eventually there were two batches -- plenty to go around, and I heard more than one parent telling their kid to not go up for seconds until everyone had gotten firsts:

Kids enjoying ice cream

The 2:30 screening in the planetarium was of Natural Selection: Darwin's Mysteries of Mysteries. A copy of The Origin of Species is on display in the exhibit From Wolf to Woof: The Story of Dogs:

From Wolf to Woof

The film is lush, and I especially liked the classroom-lessons-on-cardboard scenes, which included a PAC-MAN noshing on circles with spines. On the other hand, the narrative seemed jumbled and erratically paced to me; perhaps all the hopping between different graphic styles and storylines was meant to cover multiple learning styles and attention spans, but I'm still shaking my head at the caveman with the guitar (even though I'm sure some of the other audience members thought it was hilarious when said caveman casually socked a blue-footed booby with the guitar handle).




I started to assemble a blueberry pie Sunday night, but ran out of evening and energy. It's a good thing blueberries keep. Back to it now, and to pickling peppers, too.
zirconium: Russian tins of fish (Russian tins of fish)
[The subject line is from Barbara Jordan's "Bruegel's Crows," in Channel.]

Some days, things mushroom like mad:

IMG_9924

They might even get decidedly warped:

IMG_9951

It's okay. There will be other days full of light...

NC Arboretum

and sweetness:

NC Arboretum
zirconium: photo of bell tower seen on a walk to the Acropolis (athens bell tower)
[Subject line from Barbara Jordan's "We All Have Many Chances," in Channel (Beacon Press, 1990)]

River Arts District
Asheville, April 2016


Also seen/heard this weekend:

* a girl on a stool on a porch, with a clarinet

* a father with his arms full of Maypole ribbons

* a colleague about a friend who used to play horn for Prince, on retainer

* the church pianist's riffs on various hymns

* "Don't Leave Me This Way" (Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes?) at Pinewood Social
zirconium: medical instruments @High Point Doll Museum (medical instruments (miniature))
[Subject line from Counting Crows' "Einstein on the Beach"]

A reputation I enjoy is that of being left-brained to a fault. I like coaxing bibliographies into consistency, and I've demonstrated a knack for devising and refining chronologies, schedules, and itineraries. I am sometimes inordinately amused when friends and associates find my pragmatism maddening: watching me add commas and conjunctions to her draft, one author muttered, "You have no poetry in your soul, do you," which cracks me up every time I think back to that session.

This trait likely plays into why I am rarely captivated by artist statements, which are often too lofty, wifty, theoretical, and/or all-encompassing for my taste. Today, however, Heidi Ross's Flickr summary got me off the fence about going downtown to see her show at Third Man Records. The description in the Scene had me adding it to my calendar, but then I put in more than ten hours at the office yesterday, subsequently falling dead asleep in the tub with my eyeliner on, and there are SO MANY WEEDS still in the beds, plus stacks of receipts, plus a manuscript, plus lemons to slice, etc., etc., yadda yadda ishkabbible.

But traffic was lighter than I'd feared, and parking was not a problem, and I hadn't really registered on my previous visit to Third Man (a packed-to-the-gills poetry reading that became too overwhelming for my group, which fled to a Jeni's to recover) just how beautiful its spaces are. I wished I'd brought my own camera as I walked toward the Blue Room. Within the show, I was drawn especially to the trio of Eat the Fruit (Mennonite), Good News, Bad News, Good News, and First Service, Second Service; the third image is that of a Kentucky Theater marquee, listing both a church meeting and a screening of Thriller. The pairing reproduced at the top of the Nashville Arts profile (Rip It Up and Start Again with Nine Knives) also beckoned to me.

When I ventured into the store, the two young women inside were on the floor, shrieking with uncontrollable laughter. They were still in its grip when I slipped out a minute or two later. I couldn't make out what had happened, nor did I particularly want to. I'd bet that the trigger was not only a "you had to be there" thing but also a I'd-have-to-be-them. Better to continue on to Woodland Wine Merchant's weekly tasting, which today featured three wines that go well with grilled food. (Lately, I've been enjoying how good the wines smell -- more so than how they taste. A rabbit hole to explore some other time...) And then to the supermarket, and then back to the house, to make up stories about disconcerting mysteries while yanking at half-matted speedwell.
zirconium: tulip in my front yard, April 2014 (tulip)
[Today's subject line comes from Shelley's "Ode to the West Wind."]

Earlier this evening, my department head and I stood at my office window, watching a strong wind bend the trees and menace the panels of the Gala tent. It appeared to peel a sheet of metal from its moorings, knocked over stanchions in the parking lot and, at home, flipped open all the lids of the giant roller-bins. But the rain also eventually lightened up enough for me to don a wide-brimmed hat and scrape at some of the weeds attempting to strangle my mint patch.

Last Saturday I danced for seven hours -- two two-hour workshops, plus the Playford Ball, of which there are videos, including this one. I am thinking of splurging on a blue + green +/- dark gray tartan sash for next year, which is the sort of thing that happens when I try to figure out what should happen during a Dunant House Waltz and somehow end up studying Viking's Sheepskin moves. (The Duthies are part of Clan Ross, but I'll likely go with one of the universal patterns, like Highland Granit, or maybe wear Montgomerie in honor of Alexander, seeing how "What Mightie Motion" haunted me on first hearing for the better part of several years (to the point that I wrote to the Scottish Poetry Library to obtain the full set of verses).

Speaking of poetry, it is April, and thus there are goings-on. At Vary the Line, Mary, Joanne, and I have written and/or collected responses to the question "What is a poem?", with my friend Lisa Dordal starting the series. Over at Pretty Terrible, Natalie Luhrs analyzes and links to some of my poems as part of her own monthlong poetry project.

It is still too soon to put out plants that cannot withstand frost. I am edgy and eager to get them resettled, even though there is plenty of prep that still needs to be done. I can hear and see my impatience reflected among my colleagues and acquaintances: Whennnnnnnnnn? one whimpered. Whennnnnnnnnn indeed.
zirconium: my hands, sewing a chemo cap liner (care caps hands)
This morning's subject line comes from Glenn McKee's Late Fragment. McKee's life included working as a UU minister and performing at slams (in his 60s), though it is the title that captured my attention, since I have told my own minister and several other potential decision-makers that I want Raymond Carver's Late Fragment printed in the program of my memorial service.

(My church has a "Wishes at Time of Death" form that the senior pastor keeps on file. Should any of you like to see it in the course of getting such things organized, if you have not done so for yourself, message or e-mail me and I will send you a copy. Speaking as someone who needs to update her other directives; one of the most liberating bits of advice I received in my 30s was from a friend who pointed out that such documents ought to be reviewed and updated every five years or so anyway, as circumstances and relationships and preferences evolve. Realizing that the documents should be treated as a snapshots rather than engravings into stone helped me get on with designating executors and beneficiaries and other arrangements. And while I don't expect my nearest and dearest to require those forms anytime soon, Stuff Happens, and I have had what-do-you-want-me-to-do-if discussions with at least two dear-to-mes within the past month because Stuff Doesn't Stop Happening and I happen to be the person the medicos and/or lawyers are likeliest to call should a bad-case-scenario come to pass. Plus, that earthquake in my parents' native province, cancer diagnoses and permutations among friends and acquaintances -- had I any delusions of immortality or other exemptions to begin with, the universe would have blasted them clear out of the water by now. [And I haven't been able to cherish such delusions since I was five, when I vividly dreamt both of being shot to death and of a future self incarcerated in prison without any knowledge of me-in-this-life. Yes, it does skew your world-view when your brain inflicts that on you before you've even gotten out of preschool.])

But, yesterday was in fact terrific -- the kind of day I dreamed about enjoying when I was small. I spent the morning completing my Memphis Open albums and reports for Tennis Buzz, with mashed neeps for breakfast, along with leftover trout from Thursday night's dinner at Prima. I headed across town to vote in a primary, and then stopped at a department store with a gift card, which I used on a new set of steak knives. I also tried on a dress on clearance: the fabric had caught my eye as perfect for an event I'm attending in May, but, alas, the cut did not flatter my body:

right fabric, wrong cut

Still, considering it as a possibility brightened my day, as did the knowledge that I don't have to score a new dress for the event; there are several tried-and-true standards in my closet that would fit the bill. I had another gift certificate in hand for Sally's, where I picked up lipsticks and a sharpener to supplement my currently-too-purple supply, and yet another rebate for Three Brothers, where the sandwich and "signature drink" were delicious, the conversation near me faintly but not distractingly intriguing, and the newspapers and magazines plentiful:

noshing at Three Brothers

On my way home, I stopped at the library to pick up a picture book, and at Woodland Wine Merchant for their weekly tasting. I didn't care for the beers in this week's sampler, but picked up cider and sake while chatting with Tyler, one of my favorite associates. At home, there was time with the dog and time with a friend, and glossy magazines, and a poem I finished and submitted a few minutes ago.

It is 63 F right now and the birds are singing oh so sweetly and merrily. I am short on sleep and soon going back to bed. That too is a luxury, and I am grateful.
zirconium: snapshot of oysters enjoyed in Charleston (oysters)
So much happening in Nashville today. Assorted friends and colleagues were at either the Southern Festival of Books or Frist Center events, especially in relation to the Shinique Smith show. My Twitter timeline seemed to be checking in from either Oktoberfest or the Grace Potter concert. I was tempted to walk to the trunk show hosted by my yoga studio (especially on hearing that hot whiskey cider would be served), and equally tempted to stay home and nap, since I'd stayed up longer than I should've rereading a Lee Bros. cookbook.

But I had reserved a spot in the free 9 a.m. screenprinting workshop at Plaza's Hands On Creativity day, so that's where I went after breakfast. The hands-on part of that session involved applying glow-in-the-dark ink to a t-shirt, which is now on my ironing board upstairs, awaiting the heat-before-wearing/washing step. (Note to locals: there are workshops and demos on various topics through Sunday, too.) To my relief, the group opted for the skull-with-flowers design rather than the four-leaf clover pattern. The rep warned that the blue ink we selected would not glow as intensely as the original practically-invisible-in-daylight formula, but I was willing to make that tradeoff, especially since it sounded like the latter might register as yellow (which, no thanks. I have plenty of dingy-looking shirts already).

While at the store, I also picked up a copy of Huis Clos, a new paper I'd heard some buzz about. The "What's It Like to Bike That Pike (Volume VII: Murfreesboro Pike)" column was both fun and informative enough read for me to see if the earlier installments were online, but I've come across only an abridged version of the feature on Hillsboro.

After a stretch of housework, I went back out to Charlotte Pike, dropping off dry cleaning and picking up twenty pounds of rice at K&S, along with a sack of snow pea leaves. Chinatown and Lucky Bamboo have both been out of those greens the past few times I've attempted to order them, so spotting them was today's winning-the-shopping-lottery moment. On the way home, I stopped at Sweet 16th for kung pao quinoa and an Elvis mini-bundt cake.

After lunch, it was back to Plaza for the Gamblin workshop, which involved 2- and 3-D color wheels as well as extended discussions about layering and opacity/transparency:

Gamblin oil demo

The take-home samples included a bottle of Galkyd Lite, a bottle of Gamsol, and a tube of Torrit Grey. A new pair of products of particular interest: solvent-free gel and fluid, which are sufficiently non-flammable that artists can bring them onto planes.

On my way out, I spent a couple of minutes at the Winsor and Newton table, where there were markers and blenders to play with. On my way home, I stopped at Woodland Wine Merchant, where today's tasting was from their barrel of Eagle Rare. Its smell? Glorious.




Upper Rubber Boot's prompt 27 for 100 Untimed Books is "dog-eared." That entry is over at Vary the Line.

Prompt 28 is "water":

28 - water
zirconium: sculpture of owl at Cheekwood, Nashville (Cheekwood owl)
Upper Rubber Boot's prompt 25 for 100 Untimed Books is "skyline."

26 - the same names

The two skylines that have lifted my heart the most often are Chicago's and Nashville's. Riding the bus from Kentucky or the train from Michigan to Chicago. Giggling at Nashville's Bat-building countless times.

I am kind of tempted by this painting party, but Music City Masquerade is also that weekend (not to mention music to rehearse and perform, and letters to letter, etc.). Oh, the choices ...
zirconium: black pearl pepper plant at Cheekwood (black pearl pepper)
My stop at Cheekwood Saturday afternoon had been a maybe on my list. I'd gone to an intense dress rehearsal in the morning, and was torn between wanting to sleep for twelve hours and wanting to enjoy a change of scene.

The sun shining and a dining discount won out: I stopped at 360 Bistro for lunch (white port, scallop-grapefruit salad, fig cheesecake, and tamayokucha tea), where Colombia vs. France was on the TV, and then said hi to the black pepper plants...

Cheekwood - Plensa

... and the tree-hugging statues (Purcell on a back, Schubert around a neck, Monteverdi at a waist, Mozart on a hip...)

Cheekwood - Plensa Cheekwood - Plensa Cheekwood - Plensa

... and enjoyed part of documentary not only on the screen but reflected in a nearby door:


Cheekwood - Plensa Cheekwood - Plensa
zirconium: Unitarian Universalist chalice with pink triangle as base (rainbow chalice)
A June tradition at my church is Music Sunday, and this coming Sunday, at 9 a.m. and at 11 a.m., the choir will be performing a new setting of Darrell Grant's Ruby Bridges Suite.

It is going to be outstanding. Darrell Grant is on piano and keyboard; man can play. Brian Foti on drums -- ditto. Same for the guy on string bass (whose name I didn't catch, apologies!). Connye Florance is one of the soloists (I haven't heard Lari White yet, who's another). Majic Jackson narrating, with words by MLK and Maya Angelou and others. The gifted and dedicated Seth Adler working sound. Yes, I'm name-dropping, because some of you locals need that to get you out of the house on a summer morning (and I include myself in that group).

Some of the songs have had me tearing up as I study them. The text alone won't convey why -- it's the rise and fall of melody and harmony that hits me in the gut -- but here are some of the lines anyway. In "Hold My Hand," Ruby's mother sings to her:


Hold my hand, child, hold my hand
Someday you will understand
Straight ahead, child, never fear
God is watching, love is near

For the world, child, is not fair
Danger follows everywhere
Lift your eyes, child
You will see
God is watching
You are free


And in "Come in," a teacher sings to her student:

Ruby, you're a special one.
Pray that I can see you through.
There's so much meanness in the world
but you should know they don't see what I see.
In here you're just a little girl
who has a right to learn who she can be.

With faith, and time,
you'll see that I believe in you.
We've much to learn, we two.


Darrell says he spent twenty years writing the finale, "We Rise," originally composing it for a sophomore album that fell through, and then revising it periodically (with a four-bar stretch that kept defying his attempts to perfect the piece), and then realizing that all the great creators resort to "shims" at times, and later recognizing that the suite was where the piece belonged...

Rise up, brand new day
You know that love will find a way
Together we cannot be broken
Up from the bitter past we rise
To build a world where peace is spoken
The time is now
At last we rise
This time the circle can't be broken
This time the ghosts of hate must die
We'll throw the gates of Freedom open
The time is now
At last we rise


Again, the music is essential -- left to my own devices, I don't know that love will find a way, I see circles broken every damn day, and on, and on, but when I'm singing those words, my unbelief doesn't matter. Rise up, brand new day.

Like many other commuters, I've been cranky about the congestion amplified by CMA Fest (a friend retweeted Gretchen Peters's quip about meanderthals, and I admit I laughed out loud) ... but I've also been entertained by the skin and plumage on display, and I managed to miss the fish parts on the interstate snarl-up, and I give thanks yet again for the pleasure of living in a city with session players on virtually every block. When I got home tonight, the rock cellist and/or guitarist (not always sure what the instrument is, but the playing is consistently good) who lives a couple of houses away was practicing licks.

Music in the air, fireflies in the yard, doggie at the door, piano waiting ... praise.
zirconium: snapshot of my healthiest hollyhock plant (French hollyhock)
Today's subject line comes from Sam Anderson's piece in the NYT Magazine on blind contour drawing:


It turns out that the world, on close examination, is gloriously strange. Things are lumpier and hairier than we have been led to believe. . . . Sleeve wrinkles can be as beautiful as the most exotic flower. Every object (book, pencil, glove, banana) is in fact a bewildering universe of lines.


Today has been a letting-my-brain-regrow day, what with logging over sixty hours of work this week between the day job and a side project. There have been some weird-even-for-me meals, what with the piling up of dishes and deferring of grocery shopping and miscalculating of minutes left in my lunch break: today's mint-chard-miso soup was a result of me shredding the greens and herbs for a salad on Thursday, realizing I had to returning to the office before I'd finished assembling the salad, and then coming home to a frozen slab of leaves because I'd neglected to wrap the plate in plastic wrap before shoving it into the fridge. Oops.

I was stone tired all this morning, so for breakfast and lunch I supplemented the leftovers with runny fufu:

fufu

For dessert, some jello I'd made with agar-agar I'd bought as a prop for my Heartbreak Happy Hour performance back in February:

Filipino agar-agar bar agar-agar dessert cups

For dinner, I might roast a chicken. But the BYM is frolicking with goats today, so maybe I'll just make another mint-chard salad and do the rest of the dishes and trim dead leaves from the tomato jungle:

tomato plant

Without the cooking and cleaning and contemplation, there would not be the stamina for helping with the constructing and chronicling of more glamorous events and exhibitions:

The Frist Center at night
zirconium: me @Niki de St Phalle's Firebird (firebird)
Abby

As do all other weeks, this week has had its share of derps and dammits and disgusting nightmares (trashed-to-the-rims bathrooms to clean -- thanks, Subconscious of Zero Subtlety). But, as with all weeks, there have been pleasures and blessings, including:

  • Iced tea and a Kentucky Hot Brown at Madeline.


  • Sanjay Patel's Ramayana: Divine Loophole. (The link will take you to an entry at Book Scribbles, where Jen posted some photographs from the book, including the bears and vanaras building a bridge rock by rock.)


  • My friend Knight won Gannett's Innovator of the Year Award.


  • She and several other Nashvillians invite you to Girls To The Moon, a one-day "campference" this September for girls (ages 8–13) and their parents/caregivers.


  • My mama pepper seems to be enjoying its new pot. (Now to cover it and all the other plants properly before this weekend's cold snap...)
  • zirconium: photo of Greek style coffee, Larnaca, October 2011 (coffee in Cyprus)
    my life in a snapshot

    Worker bee + hedonist = cappuccino + Old Fashioned

    and writing during and between courses
    zirconium: photo of fabric elephant-shaped tissue holder in Thai massage parlor waiting room (elephant at Smile Thai)
    since your wedding when you have to Google one of the names on the announcement list, because you no longer remember what that person looked like, let alone why they were either close or important enough to be on list.

    (Doing some more purging of papers before the next shift of easel-work. Ditched: notes for my BA thesis, supporting docs for my parents' early 1990s tax returns, coupons that expired this past Sunday ...)

    In the meantime, the crepe myrtles and other trees/shrubs/what-have-you look spectacular. I haven't been outside today; these are from Monday:

    ice storm in Nashville

    ice storm in Nashville

    ice storm in Nashville

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