Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Lab Girl

I love this book! I knew I would when I heard an NPR interview with the author, Hope Jahren. The book came to the library, and I waited patiently for it to come back! Now it has, I've read it, and it's just come out in paperback, and my book group is going to read it, and all kinds of yay! This is a book about trees, about plants, about love and being a scientist, and about an interesting guy named Bill

Just read it.

I read it at the perfect time, while working on the play Photograph 51, about another "lab girl," Rosalind Franklin. Both of them had to deal with some men who didn't know how to respect women scientists as equals. I was surprised that it still goes on today, and I expect to hear more about that at a discussion by Dr. Cynthia Moore after the 2:00 Saturday matinee at Heartland Theatre on April 22.

This year I am keeping a reading journal in a notebook that looks like a library card. So far in 2017, I have read 33 books. Because I love to read. Some of them were plays and books of poetry. Some were novels, some short story collections, and several were nonfiction, including this wonderful memoir, Lab Girl.

Here are some sentences I wrote down in my reading journal:

"Tiny but determined, I navigated the confusing and unstable path of being what you are while knowing it's more than people want to see."

"Science has taught me that everything is more complicated than we first assume, and that being able to derive happiness from discovery is a recipe for a beautiful life."

I could stop there...but I can't.

"It has also convinced me that carefully writing everything down is the only real defense we have against forgetting something important that once was and is no more, including the spruce tree that should have outlived me but did not."

This comforted and bolstered me so much because 1) I have kept a diary since I was 10 and 2) I'm now keeping this reading journal.

"There is nothing in the world more perfect than a slide rule." We have one as a prop in the play!

And, to reveal myself as I record what I value: "A vine becomes whatever it needs to be and does whatever it must to make real its fabulous pretensions."

I love that. I feel a strange affinity to vines. "Vines are not sinister; they are just hopelessly ambitious. They are the hardest-working plants on Earth." I'll leave you thinking about that!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Home From Away


I’ve been away from the blog for a while, but I’m back, at least for today. I was doing other things and not quite in the blogging mood. Some of the things:

1)      Democratic precinct work building up to the April 4 election.
2)      Assistant directing the play Photograph 51 at Heartland Theatre.
3)      Library work + freelance writing & editing work.
4)      Writing a poem a day in April for National Poetry Month.

Well, the election has happened, the play is up and running, I’m still working, and it’s still April, so I’m still writing a poem a day, but the blogging mood seems to have bloomed with the tulips, violets, dandelions, and bleeding heart. So here I am.

Our local politics have gone viral. Yesterday, my husband was reading his Daily Kos and said, “Isn’t that the lady who was in our front yard?” Yes, indeed, that was Chemberly Cummings, who had brought a campaign sign for our yard and was elected on April 4. She is the first African American to be elected to the Town of Normal town council. This is the new Normal!

Daily Kos and others had picked up the story from the Huffington Post, which had also done an earlier story on Cheri Bustos holding a workshop for motivated people like Jodie Slothower, to help them learn how to run for public office. I’m so proud of all our locals who stepped up to serve the public! The mayoral race was too close to call. Official results will come out today, and there may still be a recount. A reminder that every vote really does count.

While I was not blogging, I was also not sending out very much poetry, but that engine is beginning to rev up, too. I participated in a wonderful poetry reading for the museum of Americana at the McLean County Museum of History with fellow poets Justin Hamm and Tim Hunt. On April 20, we have the next open mic reading at the Normal Public Library, with an Earth Day/Arbor Day set of themes: earth, trees, weather. It’s from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the library cafĂ©. Local poets and poetry lovers, come on over!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Do What You Do


I’m through with you,

You winter flu…

I seldom get sick, but this time I did. The winter crud, the winter plague, whatever it was, I got it. I wasn’t sorry to miss some of the ongoing Trump disaster, but I was sorry to miss a local rally for Planned Parenthood and the annual Roosevelt Dinner for the Democratic Party. Sigh… But I kept my spirits up (and down) with favorite movies, To Kill a Mockingbird, Tootsie, Saving Mr. Banks, Mary Poppins, Cloud Atlas, Hot Fuzz. Yes, a weird array.

And now it’s almost Valentine’s Day…which I will be celebrating with another rally, Stand Up for Social Justice, while my husband celebrates by coaching volleyball.

My daughter has written a Valentine column in The VidetteThere is a new Valentine feature at Escape Into Life.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Math Challenged

I often joke that I am "math challenged,"...because I am. Now I am delighted to read and to be in the new issue of Snakeskin, an online poetry magazine in the United Kingdom. It is the Maths and Numbers issue, guest edited by Jessy Randall, poet and librarian.

Jessy also maintains Library Shenanigans, all about...library shenanigans! And she writes poetry comics as well as poems!

My poem, "We Matter," is about math, science, sociology, and counting.

Speaking about libraries, yesterday I participated in an online class on Librarians vs Fake News. You can, too, here at Gail Borden Library. I live streamed the panel discussion and Q&A, but you can still watch it there on YouTube and also see a great list of fact-checking sources.

Speaking of maths and numbers, yay for Hidden Figures at the SAG Awards!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Women's March

What a thrill it has been to watch live video of the Women's March on Washington, D.C. today. And live video and photos of the sister marches all over the country and the world, even in Antarctica! I saw joyous, strong, peaceful protests everywhere I looked. At noon I was silent, and during a part of the march, I "marched" a 2-mile trek on the local hiking trail, as it is 60 degrees and sunny here in globally warmed central Illinois today, smiling at my fellows humans and dogs. So many friends and strangers were marching in so many cities. Thank you all. And thank you, Shepard Fairey, for these peaceful, hopeful protest posters. And now I'm off to see Hidden Figures, another form of peaceful protest. (I think Hollywood listened.)