zirconium: Photo of cat snoozing on motorcycle on a sunny day in Jersualem's Old City. (cat on moto)
happy doggie

Normally, snapping an out-of-focus pic on my phone would merely mean a moment of mild annoyance on my part, but I kind of like this one -- it has the haze of some contemporary paintings that I like. Plus, it reminds me of seeing the plump little pup splashing happily in the kiddie pool in front of Baxter & Bailey -- that, really, was my favorite moment of my neighborhood's Tomato Fest: the generosity of the shop owner in setting up the pool (and the sign encouraging doggies to cool out in it) and the happiness of the dog and its owners as they paused there.

It was crazy hot all that day, but sunny, for which I was grateful, in part because I walked across the 'hood to meet a friend and later again to go to class but also because it meant our basement would get a chance to dry out. I was a little jittery during the storms on Thursday and Friday. We didn't get hit hard at all (there are people in Madison who lost homes and business-space to this latest round of flooding), but I come from a line of champion worrywarts, so it takes a conscious effort to dial down the disaster-lurking-in-every-drop circuits. (Last week's discovery: the sound of a running fan can sound like heavy rain to me.)

I've been clipping possum schmutz out of Abby's fur. I joked to a friend that dogs really do get away with murder.

A fine, fertile keyword popped into my head during yoga Friday or Saturday afternoon -- that is, a word I immediately recognized as a ripe, romp-around-the-yard-with word for a project due next month -- and, of course, it has since faded into the soup of other not-yet-written words-waiting-to-be-coaxed-into-flesh swamping the back burners of my mind. (How's that for trying too hard? *wry grin*) Anyway, I suspect it'll come back to me -- and in the meantime, I shall use it as motivation to get myself back to class, since I think it had something to do with what I was asking my body to do, so perhaps re-exercising muscle memory will jog the clog out of the conscious kind.
zirconium: mirliton = grinning squash from NOLA (mirliton)
I was a little apprehensive about going to the Chef and I in Nashville's Lenox Village last week. When I bought the Living Social voucher, the word "interactive" hadn't leapt out at me the way it did when I went to the website for more details, and I can get pretty sullen and surly if I'm feeling badgered into more interactivity than I'm in the mood to provide.

But it turned out to be a nice evening, even after I realized I'd totally gotten wrong which Lenox-something the restaurant was located around. (Note to self: do not buy anything via LS before the second cup of coffee. Ever.) The place is more mellow than its website -- I had a lovely sparkling wine (from Cielo winery) with lobster bisque, and halibut with various vegetables. The chef chatted briefly with me about the amuse-gueule (leftover coffee-crusted turkey, brie, and a sliver of scallion), tools for flipping fish, and the economics of serving lamb, but I was mostly left alone to enjoy my food, my notebook, and book in peace, and the room was large enough for the large birthday party behind me to be amusing rather than annoying.

The Chef and I
"Thanksgiving in a bite"

(More cell-phone snapshots here)

Other recent eats:
* fried calamari at the Bosco's in Cool Springs, with iced tea
* buffalo cauliflower at Tavern, with a pint of Left Hand Milk Stout and a pint of Mayday Boro Blonde. And they serve cucumber sticks instead of celery. Rawk!
* chicken, stuffing, corn on the cob, and other sides, prepared by Jase. Happiness is comparing Music City Tent & Events warehouse sale acquisitions (*) while sipping a good pinot noir. :D

(* Jase is a party planner. I used to coordinate events for a cathedral. I don't plan to execute anything ambitious in the near future [at least in that vein], but I did leave the sale with what I'd gone for [5 champagne flutes] and then some [4 martini glasses].)

On the writing front: 2 outright rejections, 4 rejections-by-inference, 2 made-it-through-another-round, and 1 stern-talking-to to stop myself from taking on a new and intriguing but poorly remunerative assignment that would tick me off if I actually let it nibble into the time I already can't spare for [lower 4/5 of Workflowy list]. (But because I am a dreamer, it's nonetheless tucked into that bottom 5th. It'll save me from making the same notes again the next time my magpie brain darts in that direction...)

In the meantime, an item in the top 1/5 is to get enough sleep. So it's off to bed, undrafted [x] and unpasted [y] and unstitched [z] notwithstanding.
zirconium: sunflower core against the sky (sunflower sentinel)
The author of Life of Pi is speaking in Nashville this Saturday, so there's a feature on him by Fernanda Moore at Chapter 16 that was reprinted in Monday's City Paper. I was struck by this exchange on criticism:


Chapter 16: Every artist must find a way to cope with critical opinion, but you have encountered an unusually huge range of reactions--reviews which are absolutely transcendent, as well as reviews that are scathing. How do you account for the extremes of opinion that your work seems to inspire?

Yann Martel: I mostly ignore critical opinion, good and bad. Art is a gift, the making of it, the receiving of it. So, like every artist, I create and then I give. What the world does with my gift--raise it up high or cast it down--is not my affair. For example, Beatrice and Virgil received an awful review from The New York Times' Michiko Kakutani. She positively hated the novel, as did the reviewers for The Washington Post and the San Francisco Chronicle

And also:

Any work of art is a co-creation between the artist and the reader/viewer/spectator. My interpretation of Pi is just one reading among many possible readings, and it should not have any more weight because I'm its author. Having said that, I don't see the point in making less of life. It’s short enough as it is, so why not see more in it? Why not make leaps of faith?
zirconium: photo of pumpkin on wire chair (pumpkin on chair)
Our friends Jase and Chuck are hosting a carnival tonight. Since I own a cloak, and it's going to be cold, I told the BYM that I'd be going as a Generic Fairy Tale Character.

He nodded sagely: "Oh, that's what I tell people you are anyway."

(The ongoing joke in his circles is that I'm imaginary, since I'm more introverted than he is by a factor of 31.)

I am, however, also the Queen of Tarts. (The Dreamwidth icon, incidentally, was taken in front of a Dublin cafe with that name.) After consulting this recipe for proportions, I made a plate of chocolate cheesecake bites and another of raspberry-jalapeno ones:

raspberry-jalapeno cheesecake tarts almond-chocolate cheesecakes

I'm also going to be wearing two pendants, both made by Jaime Lee Moyer (her Etsy shop is Warrior Kitten Creations). The one that arrived in this morning's mail is my prize as one of the October first line contest winners:

pendant

(The one I won earlier is chronicled here.)

...It was a poetry-thickened week, in fact. Wednesday, I went to Vanderbilt to hear Lisa Dordal read from her new book, Commemoration. She also read some poems outside of the collection, including "Bad Dog on Couch," which has made me smile every time I hear it. I've also been wrestling with revisions for a poem I originally started submitting to markets in 2009. I truly thought it was ready back then, of course, but rereading it earlier this week, I realized it needed a better first line, and by the time I was done, the only words the new version shared with the original were those making up 3/4 of the punchline.
zirconium: my hands, sewing a chemo cap liner (care caps hands)
My new icon (chez Dreamwidth) comes to you via a photo in the latest Vanderbilt University Medical Center Reporter of the sew-ins from earlier this month. (I'm third from the left; I like that my hands are what's visible.)

The November 2012 issue of Vogue arrived in my mailbox a day or two ago, and I'm really enjoying it so far. It starts with ten pages of Tiffany ads, showcasing some spectacular arrangements and gowns. The "letters from readers" section include four letters about Bel Kaufman that are a welcome tonic to fears of aging:

To read of her life and undiminished enthusiasm for books, theater, and people at 101 humbles me in light of my waning interests at a mere 70 years of age. When I was 23, I wanted to be like Bel Kaufman, and now, 47 years later, there are miles to go before I sleep and that goal is still before me. - Rocky S. Thomas


While many [of my med school interns] say, "Oh my goodness, you're turning 30. Yikes!," Kaufman's story puts things into perspective--this woman is 101 and talking about editing her works for e-books! - Sofia Mohammad


There were also two letters about the excerpt from Paris: a Love Story, which I finished recording for the Talking Library earlier this week...

Nashville Talking Library

...and four letters in praise of Pamela Paul's article on the trouble and condescension women run into when they want to obtain a tubal ligation. I skipped reading the original -- it's not as if I lack for material to enrage me these days, especially on the topic of people being arses when they encounter others who don't share so-called traditional values -- but I have to admit I had a moment of "my tribe!" in reading these letters -- three of the writers likewise knew in their 20s that they did not want to become parents, and encountered doctors unsympathetic to their efforts to avoid pregnancy:


In 1973, as a recently married young woman, I visited my family physician to seek information about tubal ligation. He responded that he would recommend a good psychiatrist for me. - Elizabeth Soladay


Also in this issue: an ad for the Oscar de la Renta exhibit in Little Rock, featuring Penelope Cruz in a phenomenal red gown, an excerpt from Richard Russo's new memoir (about growing up in New York with a single mother), and Lisa Cohen on her friendship with Sybille Bedford. When they met, Lisa was in her 30s, Sybille was 86, and Lisa was researching Madge Garland, whom Sybille had disliked because Madge had made clear she cared only about "people who were successful. I was an aspiring writer; she made one feel it." Lisa continues:


I was in my 30s, with no book to my name. But she did not make one feel it. Instead, exacting as she was, she made it clear that good friends were what she lived for, along with excellent writing, food, and wine. . . . She considered herself, not just her book, a work in progress.
zirconium: Photo of cat snoozing on motorcycle on a sunny day in Jersualem's Old City. (cat on moto)
There was a lot of sunshine today -- it was beautiful at the lake, gleaming on the jet black necks of geese and the different browns of fresh mulch and the white froth of rushing water -- and also a lot of absent-mindedness. I left my phone at home during my first round of errands. The exterminator left his clipboard on our porch. The contractor left the garage door open. (It's a good thing I happened to be taking the laundry downstairs.)

stained glass peacock at Graceland stained glass peacock at Graceland
Peacocks in the parlor at Graceland

After all that running around, I am staying home tonight, working on a manuscript and painting my toenails blue.

Today's quote comes from a 1983 lecture by Katherine Paterson:


A year ago January I hit a section in my current novel which had me convinced that I was never, never, never going to be able to finish it. Painfully, I announced this sad fact to my husband, who said: "Oh, you've reached that stage." And he proceeded to remind me that in every novel there is that THERE-IS-NO-WAY-I-CAN-FINISH-THIS-BOOK stage. I don't care to be told in a crisis of mortal agony that I am merely passing through a thoroughly predictable stage -- one that I have successfully travered six times and am certain to do so again. So I took my anguish to my friend and fellow writer, Mary Lee Settle, with whom I share frequent Szechwan lunches. "I'll never learn to write," I moaned over the hot sour soup. "I'm such a dodo. Nothing I've ever done ever helps me with anything else."

"No," said this woman who is one of America's finest novelists. "NO, you've learned one thing from those six other books. You've learned that a novel can be finished, and that tells you that you can finish this one."

    - The Kerlan Awards in Children's Literature, 1975-2001 (Pogo Press, 2001)





P.S. I am charmed by this report from today's Tennessean:


What came across at the dinner, Newkirk said, was the president's commitment "to the average person like me, to making sure that I have the ability to have a better life."

She was floored when Obama took out a pen at the table and jotted a thank-you note to a friend of one of the other couples at the table for watching the couple's two children during the dinner.

"It was really amazing to me that the president of the United States would take time out of his schedule to write a note to one of the attendee's baby-sitters," she said with a laugh.

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