Saturday, December 3, 2022

One Book Leads to Another

Because I am apparently obsessed with reading...I will always tell you about what I am reading. And, in this case, how one book leads to another. King Dork, by Frank Portman, mentions Brighton Rock, by Graham Greene, as the best novel ever. So I ordered that through interlibrary loan, and now I am hooked. And sort of scared, as this is how it opens: "Hale knew, before he had been in Brighton three hours, that they meant to murder him." Has this been made into a movie yet? (Um, yes, but I haven't seen it, and I am not going to until I have read the book!) There are various covers, but this simple "Collected Edition" is the one that came to me from Bushnell Public Library in Bushnell, Illinois. Thank you, Bushnell. And I do love Graham Greene.

There is a kind of scary face book cover, too. In colors resembling the King Dork book cover, making this a Random Coinciday in the blog. But it is also a Slattern Day, meaning I did no housework, instead walking in the annual Christmas Parade, in the bitter, bitter cold. I knew, however, to wear layers, having walked in several parades over the past few years. Double socks. Undershirt, t-shirt (for Heartland Theatre Company), down vest, long sweater, red coat, blacked knitted Santa-esque boots, black gloves covered by Grinch-green fingerless gloves, a hat with a brim to protect my eyes from the lovely sunshine, and gingerbread man earrings, as the parade theme was "Season's Eatings, a Gingerbread Affair." I ended up toasty warm. We gave out candy canes to the kids, and postcards about the next theatre event to the grownups.

In Living with a Wild God, Barbara Ehrenreich mentions Valis, by Philip K. Dick, and I thought, "I have that, in a bag of paperback science fiction novels, mostly by Philip K. Dick, down in the basement, waiting to be put out in the Little Free Library after the winter." (I do think in details and with commas.) So I went down and got it. I love this pattern book cover, but mine is a small paperback with a different cover. If this blog entry gets long enough, I will show you that, too!

Oh, it will, it will. Because I need to mention (or re-mention) that the Little Free Library needs to be re-mounted on its own stand, because it used to be mounted on a tree trunk. That tree was a pine tree snapped off in a bad storm one November. We used the top of it as our Christmas tree that year, and chopped up the rest. But, as happens, the remaining trunk rotted this year, we detached the Little Free Library, and toppled the trunk. Sad. Also sad: the lack of a Christmas tree this year, as we will be traveling. Sigh... But I do love my little red butterfly tree in a pot, pictured here, a blog entry about another book! And about leaves and leaf-sucking. All the leaves are gone.

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Day Without Art

Today is December 1, World AIDS Day, commemorated in the beginning as a Day Without Art, to acknowledge all the artists, of all kinds, that we lost in that pandemic, alas! So...no art today in the blog.

It's a day I pause to remember theatre artists Mitch Webb, actor, and Scott McPherson, actor and playwright, both lost to AIDS. We worked together in Chicago, and I also went to college with Mitch. These two, and so many others. It is terrible to recall. 

It's a day of turning the calendar page, and, in my case, on one calendar, two pages. Sigh... I have many calendars, some portable, some on doors or desks or walls. One is in a project bin beside my computer. I lose track of some of them.

It was 16 degrees this morning! But sunny. I went with Ken Kashian, a photographer, to Chenoa, to do a live radio broadcast with Kent Casson, for his show Route 24. Ken Kashian has created a new artist book, Fugue, and I have written the tiny poems for it. He took photos of the native plants and tombstones in the Weston Cemetery Prairie Nature Reserve. Not showing you any. It's a day without art.

Monday, November 28, 2022

Books in Progress + Facebook Birthdays

I love Facebook telling me whose birthday it is daily, so I can say "Happy Birthday!" but sometimes I pause and wince and think, "Is that person dead?" which is terrible to confess, but you get me, right? So many people died over the last couple of years, and we were isolated a lot, plus Facebook algorithms probably hide a lot of people from me, and vice versa, and, well, sometimes I click over to that person's page to see if they seem to be alive before I say, "Happy Birthday!" Eerily, I do sometimes see other people saying "Happy Birthday" to people still on Facebook whom I know to be dead. Sometimes I post "thinking of you" sentiments on those pages... But, Happy Birthday if I missed you on Facebook. I hope you're still alive! So far, I am, too!

I'm reading two books at the moment: Living with a Wild God, by Barbara Ehrenreich, in preparation for the December Adult Reading Challenge at the library, a grown up book, and King Dork, by Frank Portman, a young adult book. I found the latter on our bookshelf, with an inscription from his grandparents, Christmas 2006. He remembers it as hilarious, and I was laughing out loud in bed with it last night, reading a conversation in French class, transcribed into awkward English. This may be my go-to book for laughing myself into utter relaxation and perfect health, and therefore keeping myself alive until my next Facebook Birthday.

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Leaves, But No Leavings...

We have raked our leaves toward the street--but not into it, which is bad for the storm drains, etc.--and they await the second coming of the great leaf-sucking machine. We've had glorious warm sunny weather for the Thanksgiving holiday, and I took long walks, alone and with friends. I took a notebook with me on the long walk alone and was grateful to have poems tumble out. I stopped at various benches to write them down. At one I found a key and a dog leash in the leaves underneath, attached the one to the other, hung it over the bench, and moved on to the next. A woman came by, looking at her feet. "I'm looking for my keys," she said. "I found it," I said, "a single key, and a dog leash." "That's it!" she said. Yay! 

We had no leftovers from Thanksgiving dinner this year. I cooked for my parents, a crockpot meal, low salt. No turkey, no stuffing, no ham, no mashed potatoes, no green bean casserole, no pumpkin bread, no orange jello pretzel salad. It makes me a little sad. But I was pleased to see these dishes turn up on other tables in Instagram photos...! Christmas will be a little different this year, too, but fine by me. For instance, this is our tree. Surely, I will still bake pumpkin bread.

I read this haunting book of short stories, Under the Moon in Illinois, by Kipling Knox. Really charming, and funny, and poignant, and, yes, sometimes scary. I liked how any ghosts yearned to do good. Then I re-read The Master and Margarita, by Mikhail Bulgakov, in preparation for a progressive discussion, by Zoom, in January. It is also funny, scary, and poignant, and begins with this epigraph from Goethe's Faust:

     ...and so who are you, after all?

     --I am part of the power which forever wills evil and forever works good.

Thank goodness.

Oh, but I forgot to tell you that on my long, poetry-tumbling walk, I discovered a Monarch Butterfly sanctuary, with an entrance from the trail! Apparently, monarchs--orange and black--were named for  King William III of England, Prince of Orange! My Christmas-tree monarchs are an impossible but beautiful red! I love them.

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Yellow Butterfly

There's a yellow butterfly in the house. It blew in on the big wind a few warm days ago, when various doors were open, and is now alive among the houseplants and plants I brought in from the patio back when frost was predicted. It went down to the twenties last night, and we had a real first snow yesterday. Or first tiny iceball fall. It stuck a while, though not in flake form, and is gone in today's sunshine.

I have been tidying again, and now have 5 empty shoeboxes to re-purpose. More shoes I had forgotten are now visible on the rack, and beloved shoes I wore out but was keeping...are gone. As are pants I wore till the seams were giving. And unraveling sweaters. During the process, I did a little decorating and re-organizing of the holiday closet and re-arranging of the wedding garlands, some of which now festoon the glass patio doors, where the yellow butterfly hovers between real and fake greenery. Pale pink appleblossom impatiens are still blooming in a pot that once hung from the eaves, now from a curtain rod.

I finished some books in progress so I could 1) put them away on bookshelves 2) pass one along to my book group. We are reading Annette Vallon, by James Tipton, about a real woman who helped resist the awful violence of (and after) the French Revolution. She was the lover of poet William Wordsworth, and the mother of his child, Caroline! I don't think I knew that, and the author in his notes explains how England protected the reputation of their great poet, and Wordsworth "hid" her in his writings, as poets often do, but clearly loved her and cared about his child! We chose it from the library display table for The Revolutionists, by Lauren Gunderson, now playing at Heartland Theatre. Funny, moving, devastating play!

Poetry submissions continue, but my record-keeping process has changed due to printer (or printer cartridge?) problems. It's probably best that I use less paper and ink, but I am so technology challenged, I dread relying on electronic tracking. So I still write things down, now on empty folders, recycled from teaching days. And that, along with 10 Ways to Recycle a Corpse, by Karl Shaw, which I found on the bookshelf in the middle of a sleepless night, and which had some icky violence by tryants in it, makes it a Random Coinciday as well as a Poetry Someday in the blog!