zirconium: photo of squeezy Buddha on cell phone, next to a coffee mug (buddha and cocoa)
I lugged a contractor bag to the bin earlier today, having detected two kinds of infection among a half-dozen pepper plants. A plant we hauled home from New Orleans in December is doing fine, though. I call it "my geranium from Desire," since it was dug from a flourishing patch on Rampart that had been started with a cranesbill clump from a few streets over, on Desire.

a geranium from Desire

Some days I rock the "It was _______, but it had to be done, and she did it" roll, and once in a while I stay up binge-reading Grace Burrowes novels, which last time induced several rounds of ugly-crying-on-the-way-to-enjoying-a-happy-ending, which happened to be what I needed to get past the out-of-sortedness I can get mired in when too many things are out of order.

Broadsided Press just published a series of downloadable poem-posters about Standing Rock, with my "Snake Dance" among them. The link: http://www.broadsidedpress.org/responses/2016dapl/
zirconium: photo of squeezy Buddha on cell phone, next to a coffee mug (buddha and cocoa)

River Arts District
Asheville River Arts District - White Duck Taco parking lot

I have been dipping into the Summer 2016 issue of Rattle during breaks. The highlights so far:

  • Christopher Citro - "The Mutual Building" ("When is someone going / to come clean this up? ... // No one needs the wrong time in the sky / when we're just trying to cross the street...")

  • Jennifer Givhan - "The Cheerleaders" ("What's not feminist / about this, how the sport could send us -- / most of whom had ever been on a plane / since there was no airport in our town / besides barns for crop dusters -- to New York City....")

  • Felicia Krol - "Between Funerals" ("One by one / the white letters...")

  • S. H. Lohmann - "Survival English" ("What I know are just facts: / which vowels gave them trouble...")

  • Peter J. Curry's contributor note: "When I think about the poems I've written, I see they come mostly from that impulse -- to mend something, or to bring some kind of order to an obviously broken world."

  • Now I am off to scrub the shower walls with lemon water (left over from scrubbing the inside of the microwave). Ars longa, housework vincit, vita brevis, laborare est orare, etc.
    zirconium: photo of flask with feathers in and around it (flask with feathers)
    My local library branch has a book cart stationed by its main entrance, with culls from the collection priced between fifty cents and two dollars. A few months ago, I scored a copy of Skim, a 2008 graphic novel about a gothy Asian Canadian teenager. (I gather it won several awards, but its appearance on the cart was its first blip on my radar [that I noticed, anyway. 2008 was a rough year].)

    The library's kept three copies, which makes me glad, because it's a story I'd like to see remain available, particularly to other women who are experiencing or have experienced what it's like (1) to be an outsider, or (2) to be the target of misguided or self-serving concern. The story's topics include suicide, pagan practice, girls being judgey/cliquey, same-sex love, and whether Romeo and Juliet is a good play or not.

    (I'm also glad I read it before checking out the Wiki article or Kailyn Kent's appreciation. Keen as I am on spoilers most of the time -- un-recovered control freak that I am -- I really enjoyed following this story without anticipating its digs and twists.)

    (And, when I have a little more time, I want to spend some of it browsing through the illos on Jillian Tamaki's blog. The glimpses of Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea look phenomenal.)
    zirconium: photo of pumpkin on wire chair (pumpkin on chair)
    On hips, 1: Last night's bedtime reading was parts of Alicia Drake's The Beautiful Fall: Lagerfeld, Saint Laurent, and Glorious Excess in 1970s Paris (2006). I picked it up mainly because it mentioned Colette Bracchi -- there's a photo of the winners of the 1954 International Wool Secretariat Competition that was recently reproduced in Vogue or Marie Claire or their like, with KL and YSL and CB, and as Drake observes, she "disappear[ed] into fashion oblivion." (To add insult to injury, her name's misspelled in the index.) I don't care enough about any of the people involved to spend more time with the book, but every now and then it's nice to glimpse the craziness populating other creative realms.

    An aside, 1: UnFold published a micropoem+photo by me yesterday, titled "Hide."

    On hips, 2: Tried on three pairs of jeans on chez Target. One of them fit me waist-wise, but not only were the legs too long (as is usual), they were too skinny. I am just going to have to get the hang of riding in skirts, is what.

    An aside, 2: The editor of Overplay/Underdone (Medusa's Laugh, forthcoming) sent a message today, about proofs being ready. I am wicked excited about this.

    On hips, 3: the rogue rosebush by my kitchen is currently displaying hips in three phrases -- fresh, orange-crinkled, and blackened:

    What's cool...
    zirconium: photo of ranunculus bloom on my laptop (ranunculus on keyboard)

    Don't worry about the "professional" feeling -- you may never have it. I haven't after all these years. That is, if the feeling of something new, fresh, difficult, and strange which comes to you with each story is the mark of the amateur spirit, then I still have the amateur spirit. The excitement comes from what's still to be learned at least as much from what's been struggled with before or partway, for the time being perhaps, mastered.

    -- quoted in Eudora Welty: A Biography by Suzanne Marrs (p. 251)

    [Side ramble: in this book, and in Two Gardeners: A Friendship in Letters; Katharine S. White and Elizabeth Lawrence (ed. Emily Herring Wilson), there is a lot about women coping with the care of aging parents. I am witnessing friends and clients coping with being those parents or children. I find myself praying about it: be it 1952 or 2012, the solutions are rarely easy and too seldom acceptable to all involved, and sometimes the conversations veer into comfortless territory.

    Two more books on my kitchen counter: This is Not the Life I Ordered (found on sale at a Franklin Covey store some years ago) and Crucial Conversations (mentioned by Havi Brooks in a recent post that has already done me some good). I can only handle a few pages a time from either book, but y'know, a little bit at a time can add up to good things.]
    zirconium: photo of ranunculus bloom on my laptop (ranunculus on keyboard)
    I'm in the thick of reviewing a client's responses to copyedits, a process that has included some muttering under my breath at Microsoft Word (which I get along with for the most part, but there have been a couple of spots where a random style seems to have suddenly imposed itself -- on random phrases, of course -- and that is Not Okay).

    That said, it is so nice being able to deal with all the slicing, deleting, and repositioning by merely tapping and scrolling and clicking (and swearing). Here's another look at Miss Welty at work, as described by Suzanne Marrs:

    By the time she was at work on Delta Wedding in 1945, Eudora had become an ardent revisor, using a method she would ever afterward follow--typing a draft chapter, spreading it out on the bed, or on the dining room table downstairs, cutting paragraphs, or even sentences, out of a page and attaching them with straight pins in new locations, before preparing a new typescript and starting the process again.

    And here's Eudora writing to Bill Maxwell in 1953, after reading a draft of one of his stories:

    I do see from this how elegant rubber cement is. I'm so used to writing with a pincushion that I don't know if I can learn other ways or not, but I did go right down and buy a bottle of Carter's. The smell stimulates the mind and brings up dreams of efficiency. Long ago when my stories were short (I wish they were back) I used to use ordinary paste and put the story together in one long strip, that could be seen as a whole and at a glance -- helpful and realistic. When the stories got too long for the room I took them up on the bed or table & pinned and that's when my worst stories were like patchwork quilts, you could almost read them in any direction. No man would be bemused like that, but Emmy [Maxwell's wife] will understand -- and on the whole I like pins. The Ponder Heart was in straight pins, hat pins, corsage pins, and needles, and when I got through typing it out I had more pins than I started with. (So it's economical.)
      What There Is To Say We Have Said (Houghton, 2011)
    zirconium: photo of pumpkin on wire chair (pumpkin on chair)
    The subject line is from Adrienne Rich's "Night Watch" (1967). I met Rich once, at a dinner hosted by the resident masters of my dormitory; I mainly remember someone asking her how she felt about her son getting married and she responding along the lines of "Why would I have a problem with that?"

    I also remember reading Sylvia Plath's diary entries (mentioned in the Independent's obit) and feeling guiltily soothed by her seething jealousy of "Adrienne Cecile Rich"; it was so reassuring to glimpse the great ones wrestling with petty emotions (especially with my then-partner repeatedly deriding my "competitiveness").

    thinking Catholics and abortion making sense )

    On a more cheerful note, Physicians for Reproductive Rights has updated their curriculum for "physicians who want to teach other medical professionals about the best practices for adolescent reproductive and sexual health." And I've met people who speak of my church's sex ed programs (yes, I really did just type those four words in a row) as a lifesaver -- that it truly helped their children make the choices that were right for them during college and beyond.
    zirconium: snapshot of cookie cutter star from sorghum marshmallow making (Default)
    Recent reading: Leslie Jonath's Postmark Paris: A Story in Stamps. Charming and deceptively light -- it reminds me of Debi Gliori's No Matter What, in that there's the kid-level face-value narrative, but also an adult-level sub-layer in the illustrations and between-the-lines. For instance, opposite a reproduction of Georges Seurat's Le Noeud noir, the ten-year-old narrator says:

    Once when we vacationed in the Dordogne, my mother went for a walk in the woods. Later, she came back crying and ran into my father's arms. She'd found an old cemetery, she said, and had stopped in front of a weedy, forgotten grave. When she looked at the tombstone, she was shocked to read her own name there.

    After she told us the story, she stopped crying, and then started to laugh. My father held her for a long time. I didn't know what she found so funny.

    I was lay leader and hymn leader at my church on New Year's Day. One of the readings was adapted from Isaiah 58:

    If you remove the yoke from among you,
    the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,
    if you offer your food to the hungry
    and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
    you shall be like a watered garden,
    like a spring whose waters never fail.

    The theme of the month is Justice. (Each month, the services are designed to explore and honor the theme in question.) Later this month, we will be ordaining a woman stationed at Fort Campbell who will become an army chaplain. I am very much looking forward to that service.

    Given the ongoing bout of bronchitis, my voice wasn't in good form Sunday morning, but it was functional, and that was enough. That's pretty much my m.o. for this week. I'm steaming my face frequently over pots of hot water/cider/soup, and that seems to be helping as well.


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

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