I ask because I have not posted here for over a week--I was Internet-free off in Michigan with family wamily--but today my blog was viewed by more than 1000 people in Russia. So, clearly, this must be connected to the Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee. Right? Probably I clicked on some Hillary thing, and her campaign is definitely sending me emails. Sigh...
Actually, this Russian blog attention has happened over the past week, so I should have heeded earlier warnings, as reported by CNN. Only, I didn't get any. Should I have been sending money to Hillary's campaign? Sorry, I don't have any!
Aside: Russia, you are hacking up the wrong tree here. Yes, I intend to vote for Hillary Clinton, but I have no actual power, except the power of a single vote, which, actually, is a lot. And I intend to use it. But please don't hack me. I don't want to be hacked. Feel free, though to read my blog, and to admire the Mashtroshka image posted by Fanghong at Wikipedia/Wikimedia. And my actual family wamily of living dolls!
More info here, in the New York Times. Geez Louise, it's just like the Cold War. Only now it's the Clod War, featuring Putin and Trump. Darn it, and I was all mellowed out from Michigan...other than having the Trump Follies on in the background last week. And, of course, there was worse news, so the weeping woman is still weeping.
This morning I went swimming in the rain! Well, it wasn't raining when I left home, and it sprinkled a few drops during my first lap or two but then stopped. But as my lap swim continued, the sky went darker and darker. We don't have to get out unless there is lightning...and, rumble, rumble, flash, there was some! Day cleared up till early evening, when there was another downpour. My sympathies to those with branches down, or worse, around town. Happy for those of you with the rainbows.
Meanwhile, I've posted a review--a sort of reading interaction--about global warming, climate change, extreme weather, and poetry over at Escape Into Life. It's about Scar, by Carrie Etter, a long poem in chapbook form. It takes place in Illinois. In Normal, Illinois!
Evidently, I (or a squirrel) planted a tomato in the pot with the cilantro. It is quite tall now, smells like a tomato plant, and has new yellow blossoms. My hope is for fruit. I thought I had planted a few flowers in there to share the pot, but I am happy to see (and smell) this tomato.
Woe continues in our country (and all over the world). The weeping woman has become my continuing Facebook profile picture. I found this in the book I read over the past two days, My Name is Lucy Barton, by Elizabeth Strout, and I think it is good to keep in mind to keep us in check:
I have said it before: It interests me how we find ways to feel superior to another person, another group of people. It happens everywhere, and all the time. Whatever we call it, I think it's the lowest part of who we are, this need to find someone else to put down.
I think Elizabeth Strout is right here; her narrator, Lucy Barton, is right. It is "the lowest part of who we are," and I am ashamed of any time I was this low or acted this way and ashamed on behalf of those who don't yet realize they are acting this way, and may never realize it. I have to keep my shame and throw off theirs, replacing it with compassion, if I can.
Last night, we watched Zootopia, borrowed from the library. Little did we know how pertinent it would be. Hang on, little tomato.
Happy Birthday, America. I'm grateful and glad to be celebrating with family in my own small town, but I am saddened by the polarization of our country, by our domestic terrorism and dismay, by a kind of pervasive, low-level post traumatic stress disorder, not to dismiss more acute and actually diagnosed cases of PTSD, or some that should be diagnosed but aren't. Sigh...
I am sad about Baghdad and all the violence and suffering all over our world. Yesterday, I listened to a lovely talk about Ramadan by a woman who was shattered by the Pulse shootings, the event itself and its timing during a period of peace, compassion, atonement. Baghdad brings the same terrible irony to mind and was calculated to disrupt Ramadan.
This holiday week and weekend I have posted two poetry reviews at Escape Into Life. One might be the remedy for the other. I hope that Mark Neely, of Dirty Bomb, might read Suicide Hotline Hold Music, by Jessy Randall, so he can cringe and laugh in equal measure.
Wild onion grows happily in my front and back yards. (This particular picture is courtesy the Creasey Mahan Nature Preserve, where you will enjoy the photo caption!) I posted a very similar photo on Instagram, captioned "Electrified!" Commanded by something at Facebook, I also planted an onion that had sprouted in my freshener, and it sports a gorgeous head of white blossoms at the moment. But, alas, today I was out there early with my scythe, whacking at certain tall grasses and plantains that are out of control. Then with my little garden chair, clippers, and gloves, doing some edging and weeding.
Even earlier, I watched a flock of bluejays take up the bread crumbs I'd laid out under the sweetgum tree. Then the resident squirrels enjoyed their chunks of apples. Now it's back to domestic chores and moments of rest, reading outdoors, currently Edna O'Brien, with whom I am in love. Ah, and did I tell you about the neighborhood raccoons, six or eight of them, living in a neighbor's tree? A rare and wonderful thing to come upon a gaze of raccoons! (Many thanks to garyjwood, flickr, and Wikipedia for this particular gaze!)
I learned from The Bloggess that today is National Selfie Day. Or rather, #NationalSelfieDay. (I suspect this is a Twitter thing.) I planned to illustrate this blog post with a selfie. If I could figure out how. I vaguely remembered taking some accidental selfies a few years ago when trying to document storm damage to our fence. Sigh... And I do OK on Instagram, taking pictures of my garden. So the plan was to go out and take a selfie beside the newest bloom on the Prairie Blue Eyes, since I have blue eyes (and it doesn't). I grabbed the new cap I bought today to walk home in, so I could show you that, too, my support of ISU Redbird Volleyball, and I do support Redbird Volleyball, but I bought the hat because I forgot to take my hat to work, since I don't wear a hat on the way to work, so my hair can dry,* only on the way back..., when the sun is in my eyes. Double sigh...
*Swimming, followed by chlorine removal shampoo. (So my hair doesn't turn green.) (Wouldn't that be a fun selfie?)
But when I picked up my phone, it was dead. So it's on the charger now, and I am going to tell you about H is for Hawk instead. This is a wonderful book, as everyone told me, by Helen Macdonald, and I loved remembering two specific things while reading it: 1) My own reading of The Once and Future King, by T.H. White, as Macdonald discusses that and other works by White as she a) mourns her father and b) trains her hawk 2) seeing a falcon in a hood on a falconer's wrist in childhood (sort of scary).
Here are some things I loved in the book:
1. "Being a novice is safe. When you are learning how to do something, you do not have to worry about whether you are good at it. But when you have done something, have learned how to do it, you are not safe anymore. Being an expert opens you up to judgement." (p. 146, British spelling of "judgement.") Yes, indeed, judgment and expectations! Your own and others. Not to mention fear! Fear of judgment, fear of failure, and even fear of success, the self-consciousness that brings and how it can take the joy out of the activity you loved while beginning to learn it. Of course, this can be countered by the joys of mastery, confidence, and the ability to help/teach others, etc.
2. "Some part of me that was very small and old had known this, some part of me that didn't work according to the everyday rules of the world but with the logic of myths and dreams." (p. 220) This is the part of me that I trust and need to remember to trust, because whenever I don't remember to listen to little, old her 1) she stamps her foot 2) it's a disaster.
3. Back to p. 146: "'Need to excel in order to be loved,' White had written in his dream diary." Well, yes. That's exactly what drives my need to excel, to pursue excellence, in general. Plus, I keep a dream diary. What's not to love? Well, the "unspoken coda," as Macdonald calls it: "What happens if you excel at something and discover you are still unloved?" Mmhm. Well, thus far, my answer is, "Be more lovable." That little foot-stamping girl probably taught me that.
Mmm, yes, I appear to be way behind in my blogging. It's not that I haven't been inspired to blog! (Or maybe it is.) It's that I've been busy, and swimming. And walking, and reading, and seeing people. And writing and editing to deadline.* And working.
It's all good. I think five poems have come out since I last blogged, two in a print mag no doubt on its way to me, since I did not go up to Printer's Row Lit Fest this year to retrieve it, and three online:
You can hear me read "Harpoon," thanks to a tiny computer microphone my son gave me for Christmas! It's a very short poem that keeps flailing. I think Emily Dickinson might like my weird use of the word "it" in it. You'll want to see the red hair and peacock feathers on the home page of Redheaded Stepchild, a home for rejected poems.
I am excited about this poetry reading in Chicago on Friday, May 20, 2016! Doors open at 7:00 at 914 W. Lawrence, and the art gallery is on the 4th floor. Come early to see the art! I get to read with the fabulous poets listed here, who start us off at 8:00 p.m. I read after that, probably around 9:00 p.m. There will be refreshments--must bake cookies!!--plus beer & wine. (So I hope there will be potty breaks!)
I have been reading my poems outside, now that it's sunny again, and trying not to be too nervous. Sunshine aids with that, but on the night of the event I will be indoors and trembling. But all shall be well! There will be much love in the place, including friends, family wamily, and encouraging strangers.
Come hear Susanna Lang, Kristin LaTour, Donna Vorreyer, Valerie Wallace, and me!
I'll be reading from my new chapbook, ABCs of Women's Work (Red Bird, 2015), and this poster comes from the cover of that! Both of these great posters are by Paul Ryan, who runs the Lagoons Sessions reading series and Lagoons Editions, a small press. Our paths crossed years ago in a small writing group in Chicago, and I am glad they have crossed again! Random coincidence: cross stitching!
I also plan to read a couple poems from two previous chapbooks, choosing poems with "women's work" in them and honoring the work of the women who run those small presses: Kristy Bowen of Dancing Girl Press and Margaret Bashaar of Hyacinth Girl Press. You go, girls!
"You must change your life," said Rilke. So that's what I keep doing. I've been an encyclopedia editor, a poetry editor, an actor and director, a library clerk, and an assistant professor of English. Now I'm a freelancer, work part time in a library, blog "eight days a week," study the random, tend perennials, and listen to birdsong.