Saturday, December 29, 2012

Work Ethic

We’ve all been back to work this week in our house, after the wonderful relaxation of the holidays—all kinds of work, in various places. My daughter’s at work now; my son has returned on the train from the city, where he worked till the end of the week. I’ve done editing work, writing work, and theatre work, plus household chores, and my husband did some painting and coaching. There will be more hanging out and chatting, game playing and puzzle doing, and plenty more eating, but for now I have been counting up my rejections for the ongoing 100 Rejections project.

I failed.  Again!  To get 100 rejections.  Evidently I failed even to send out 100 packets.  I sent out 94.  I got 51 rejections this year, which is pretty darn good.  Fifty-four percent failure rate!  I got 26 acceptances.  I think that’s about 28% success rate.  Plus 20 packets pending. It doesn’t all add up, thanks to 1) math challenge and 2) weird situations.

Compared to the last full-year tally, from September 1, 2011 to September 1, 2012, I am down on packets out—got 120 out in that accounting—and pretty similar in the Acceptance/Rejection ratio.  I had 64 rejections, 34 acceptances, and 25 packets pending the last time I did this.  And I think that’s enough for me.

It takes a lot of work, patience, and relentless faith to get one’s work out there in the world.  Sigh….  But it’s also fun, and feels good when someone likes your work, benefits from it, and lets you know.  Here’s a sweet bit of news.  My chapbook Nocturnes turned up on this list: 2012: Best Chapbooks of the Year. Many thanks to The Scrapper Poet, Karen J. Weyant.

I will keep writing and sending work out, but I may not do any more counting and reporting here. Forgive me, my brain hurts. And my fingers are glued together, from poetry collages as Christmas gifts, so it’s hard to count.

Thanks to Arts in a Changing World (their Facebook page) for the Artwork is Work poster!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas Eve!

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good eve!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Lump of Coal

I was such a slattern yesterday that I spent almost the entire day wearing an apron covered with flour. This did, at least, result in delicious chocolate oat bars made with organic oat flour and some cinnamon-sugared roasted soy nuts and chocolate-covered roasted soy nuts. I think I got the roasting right on the latter. Is it possible for soy nuts to take root and grow in the belly if not completely roasted? Let me know!

I guess I also did laundry, taking off the apron for that. Or maybe that was Friday, on which I also wore an apron. The days of the week are getting scrambled now, just like the eggs.

When I was out shopping, I saw some grinchiness--impatient driving, scowly face from a woman who thought my dad bumped her gigantic white SUV with his car door. He's 80, it's icy, the lot spaces were not designed for her gigantic car, etc. He did not dent or mark her car, but the scowl did not leave her face. Sigh...

Also, a lot of sweetness and friendliness out there, thank goodness.
But I have been a bad girl at Goodreads. While it's a great place to keep track of what you read, I don't keep good enough track. Also, I joined a lovely poetry reading group, and, while I am reading my usual amount of poetry, I am also not keeping up with the reviews there. I deserve a lump of coal.

Bad Girl at Goodreads was the alternative title for this entry. I thought better of it.

Friday, December 21, 2012

All Kinds of Light

It's the shortest day, longest night of the year, the winter solstice. If you missed my solstice greeting at Escape Into Life, here you go.

Here, I'm wishing you all kinds of light, whatever kind you need.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Silent Night

Silent Night

And now it’s raining.
It’s raining now.
Elsewhere, they’ve come home
from the funerals.
In this house, candles, burning sweetly.
Balsam fir, brown sugar and fig.
All over the country, cowards
insult us, not signing their names.
All over the county, people weep
for one another, for the children
and the grownups.  Even now,
some of us are signing our names
to letters and petitions, to pleas.
Even now, some of us are cleaning
or loading our guns.
What will we do next?
Here, it is raining.
Somewhere, it is snowing.

--Kathleen Kirk (December 20, 2012)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

World Without End

I prepared this poetry feature at Escape Into Life a couple weeks ago, before the Newtown shootings, and now the boy at the window (in a photograph by Matt Eich) haunts me terribly. I suppose you could see a tilted, makeshift cross in the duct tape on the window, especially with the ghostly strip of glue on glass extending past the main vertical, but I see a symbolic, makeshift "Y" saying, "Why?" about so many things.

This is a sad, dark, dangerous time of year for those who suffer from depression, who live side by side with the joyful tidings of others. I feel grateful and lucky to be able to come up out of my own darker moods. It's not an act of will for many.

But I do feel at times like the road signs are down in our society.

How lovely, then, to be able to gather with women friends last night for book group. Pam, the hostess, had asked if I'd read the last chapter aloud, and I did, though I cried where I always cry, in this hilarious book, The Worst Best Christmas Pageant Ever, by Barbara Robinson, when the Herdman kids make an old story new, and real.

And the soup was yummy! And I took pumpkin muffins (some sprinkled with chocolate chips) and gluten-free pumpkin bread in a loaf soon to be delivered to my mother, as our gluten-free member is no longer gluten-free! Small joys, small pleasures, small acts of sharing. Never-ending consequences.

Please take a look at World Without End at EIL, a variety of poetic responses to the idea of the end of the world. What that means in some personal ways.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Gathering the Goodness

Fat Tuesday in the blog: time to bake pumpkin bread, and lots of it. Regular pumpkin bread, gluten-free pumpkin bread, organic oat flour pumpkin bread, and pumpkin muffins, perhaps with chocolate chips in them. It won't all get done today, but I've got to start somewhere. And clear out space in the freezer.

Gathering the goodness today. A friend emailed to say he'd heard me on Poetry Radio, so here's that: "Nocturne," a poem from Nocturnes (Hyacinth Girl Press), with music by Nina Zanetti from Beside Still Waters. Then another friend sent me this link to a favorite Chopin piece I used to play on the piano! But this is jazzy and on the clarinet. (It's a prelude, not a nocturne, but who's counting? As I recall, the nocturnes were harder.)

Another friend sent pictures of Emily Dickinson stuff, including this letter seal! I love how the name is necessarily backwards. These small, sweet, steady, kind connections keep me going. Thank you, dear ones.

Meanwhile, as misinformation and rants still fly about the internet, there are also sweet, calm tributes and reminders, including this opinion piece in the New York Times, "Don't Blame Autism for Newtown," by Priscilla Gilman. I'm glad I read it.

And last but not least, these ancient bones, evidence that people and communities have always been willing and able to care for one another. "Ancient Bones that Tell a Story of Compassion," by James Gorman. I love science and the New York Times. I love these bones. (Photo by Lorna Tilley.) And also these, by Madeleine Peyroux.

Monday, December 17, 2012

To Do List

Number one, check. Number two, in progress. Fortified by more coffee. (It was on sale this morning, as was gasoline.) Number three will involve a new tire, its installation, and taking a book to the waiting room.

Or the new issue of Poetry East.

I am glad of the civic discourse that has begun (gun control, mental health) this Blue Monday, including an invitation to a conversation by our own mayor. I am avoiding the "conversations" that are still primarily rants, answered by rants; they seem to include cursing, pronouncements, and blame. Not much compassion. I'm OK with anger about this--I'm angry, too--but we can still be kind. Daily. Small, steady acts of kindness. It takes discipline and commitment, courage, relentless attention. It's hard. But good.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Amazing Door

It's our anniversary. We've been married 23 years, together for 31. I can hardly believe it, except that it's so undeniably true. As if to confirm this, my husband is headed off to his usual drop-in volleyball game tonight, and I am headed back upstairs to glue my fingers together at the collage table. Later, yes, we'll have some wine, perhaps, and eat those amazing chocolates I got at The Garlic Press, with flavors like chili, lime, ginger,  passion fruit, and balsamic, er, yes, vinegar mixed in. "I'll try anything," I told my husband. Little did he know.

Today I was with people attentive to one another--listening, comforting, being kind. They reminded each other about goodness and beauty and ways through the wilderness. Here's this amazing door, for instance. 6 Rue du Lac, Brussels.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Driving on a Spare

Since Friday morning’s flat tire, I’ve been driving on a spare. Not very far, just for local errands.  This morning, downtown to the indoor farmers market at the museum—soybeans, organic flour, zucchini. Supporting local farmers and a cultural institution, mingling with real people. Since Friday afternoon, when I heard the news about Connecticut, I’ve felt like a flat tire—deflated, dysfunctional, in the midst of being replaced. But connecting with others and doing small homey things has felt right.

I’m sad about my country. We’re sick. We’re polarized. We demonize each other. We politicize everything. We live driven by the desire for money and power. We live driven by fear. I don’t want to live this way, but I am stuck in a society in decline, like the Roman Empire (as people have been pointing out for years.) America is a clock that’s winding down.

The relentless cheer-fulness and be positive crap gets to me. It’s a kind of denial, causing Americans to be “brightsided,” as Barbara Ehrenreich would say. If you point this out, you’re considered unpatriotic, negative. Whistleblowers get fired, etc. But somebody’s got to say there’s something wrong. Real hope isn’t faked and isn’t a cliché. It happens in the face of real sorrow, shame, anger, and despair. Real positivity takes quite a bit of real courage, I think. It’s not a simple set of rules to follow, or pretend to follow (while you are out aligning yourself with money and power). Real love is genuine. You feel it.

I’m glad for the tight little spare I carry around for the times I get deflated. It’s sort of like the Grinch’s heart, I guess, “two sizes too small.” But it does the job. Tomorrow I’ll sorrow with others; we’ll stand in a circle and sing, like Whos in Whoville. Monday, I’ll get a new tire, the right size. Tuesday, maybe my heart will be huge, and I’ll have love to…spare. Yes, to spare, to waste, to fling about like glitter that’ll get stuck on everything.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Weeping, Down Low

It was a beautiful day here, and tonight we go to the high school to see the Senior Art Show. The morning had started with a flat tire, so, for a while, I escaped into Glee. I baked banana bread, made homemade gifts, involving glue, collage, listened to holiday music. Oh, what a lovely, lucky life I live. But then, in the afternoon, my husband brought home the bad news about the shootings in Connecticut, the people lost, the children. I sought out the news. The Charter for Compassion shared this image, and it is how I feel, too. There's something terribly wrong.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Books to Resume

I read a lot.  But I read in many genres, and for various reasons, and in different rooms, so sometimes I stop halfway through. (This may comfort my sister, as it was a conversation with her that made me remember where I put all those bookmarks.)

So, here’s a list of books I’m in the middle of:

Team of Rivals, by Doris Kearns Goodwin.  I started this when it first came out! And I am still in the middle of it. True, I lent it to my folks for a while, and both of them read it. Now I should really finish it before I see the movie, Lincoln, just as I read Life of Pi in case I see that movie this month.

A Tragic Honesty: The Life and Work of Richard Yates, by Blake Bailey. This is the biography of the guy who wrote Revolutionary Road. I think the tragic honesty got to me, but I do hope I will resume this someday. I feel obliged to finish it before I can start the biography of Joseph Cornell that awaits me, especially because I have also not finished…

Edith Wharton, by Hermione Lee. And I was really enjoying it! Sometimes biographies come to an excruciating place, and I cannot get past it. I had no such trouble, though, with Savage Beauty, by Nancy Milford, the biography of Edna St. Vincent Millay.

All the Devils Are Here, the story of the economic crisis. I took it back to the library. Because  I got lost in the details before the devils arrived.  Who are all already here.  Sigh…  But I will try again later.

The Poetics of American Song Lyrics, edited by Charlotte Pence.  I am loving this! I am reading it essay by essay. Likewise with Poetry in Person, edited by Alexander Neubauer, Twenty-Five Years of Conversations with America’s Poets.

Cleopatra, a biography by Duane A. Roller. I am halfway through this, but I read it backwards. I need to finish it soon and return it to my sister!

What makes you stop reading in the middle of a book?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Anything Can Happen on 12-12-12 Day

Recovering from food poisoning by doing laundry. Yesterday was the day of dozing during movies. Today is 12-12-12, an uncanny date for these self-proclaimed "uncanny" poems by Kate Bernadette Benedict over at Escape Into Life, with uncanny dreamlike art by Kamina Cox-Palmer.

Happy Anything Can Happen Day, Mouseketeers!

In my own poetry life, composition is down, rejection is up. The bright side of everybody cleaning out their files at the end of the year and sending things back is...I can do my 100 Rejections tally early, perhaps. But, as I am relentless, I keep sending things out right up until all the December deadlines.

Hasta la vista, baby.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Google Doodle Pajamagram

I confess to whimsy. I live in synchronicity. This morning, as I pulled out of the driveway to take my daughter to school, NPR was airing a commercial (yes, a commercial) for Pajamagram, where you can find this Hoodie-Footie for Christmas. (I, for one, could never spend that much on pajamas, winter whimsy or not).

When we got to school, I saw more than one high school girl walking toward the school in pajamas! One was carrying a tray of goodies. Please explain! (Never mind, found out, Pajama/Comfy Sweats Day, involves donating to the United Way, daughter is not participating.) OK then.

Got home, clicked Chrome, found Google Doodle on Ada Lovelace (1815-1852), the first computer programmer! Yep! The first computer programmer. Google her yourself, or click above!

Here she is, not wearing pajamas.

Reading about her life, I thought, "Wait! Arcadia, by Tom Stoppard!"  Indeed, I was correct. He based the character of Thomasina, a mathematical genius girl, on Ada Lovelace! Different story, but parallels, and, yes, Lord Byron is a character in the play.

Pertinent because Ada Lovelace was the daughter of George Gordon Byron, aka Lord Byron, the wild Romantic poet! Wooee!

And this is how I live in synchronicity!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Why I Like Hafiz

He was born and lived in Shiraz.  Shiraz is a kind of wine

Hafiz means “memorizer.” It’s for people who know the Quran by heart.

He wrote a bunch of ghazals.  Pronounced guzzle, as in wine.

His other name was Shams-ud-din Muhammad.  Rumi had a friend named Shams.  I like Rumi. Sue me.

Hafiz was a Sufi master.  (I might be part Sufi.*)

*ecstatic desert moment

from “The Life and Work of Hafiz” by Henry S. Mindlin (the introduction to The Gift, poems by Hafiz, translated by Daniel Ladinsky): “In the West, Sufism is usually regarded as a form of Islamic mysticism.” 

Despite my ecstatic desert moment, I am no Islamic mystic.  But wait:

“However, the Sufis themselves say their ‘way’ has always existed, under many names, in many lands, associated with the mystical dimension of every spiritual system. In ancient Greece, for example, they were identified with the wisdom (sophia) schools of Pythagoras and Plato. At the time of Jesus, they were called Essenes or Gnostics. After Muhammad, they adopted many of the principles and formulations of Islam and became known in the Muslim world as ‘Sufis,’ a word given various meanings, including ‘wisdom,’ ‘purity,’ and ‘wool’ (for the coarse woolen habits of wandering dervishes).”

Yes, dervishes! Rumi was a dervish! Alas, I cannot whirl. Neither can I spin.

I can wander!

I can wear wool. Unless it is itchy wool.

Thanks to diaz, flickr, and Wikipedia for the whirling dervishes! From Rumi Fest 2007. Yes, Rumi Fest!

Here is a poem by Hafiz:

Stop Being So Religious

Do sad people have in

It seems
They have all built a shrine
To the past

And often go there
And do a strange wail and

What is the beginning of

It is to stop being
So religious



Saturday, December 8, 2012

Inner Life of Pi

People who know me well have heard me say, in answer to the question, "What do you do?" or "What are you doing these days?": "I have a rich inner life." I do! And I read a lot.

Today I am going back to Life of Pi, by Yann Martel, to pages 70-71, where I stuck a pink mini-post-it note so I wouldn't forget to share these two paragraphs with you on some Slattern Day in the blog during Advent. Pi, an interfaith guy, has been patient in the face of mockery and ostracism for his ability to study and practice religions that usually don't get along with each other.

"There are always those who take it upon themselves to defend God, as if Ultimate Reality, as if the sustaining frame of existence, were something weak and helpless. These people walk by a widow deformed by leprosy begging for a few paise, walk by children dressed in rags living in the street, and they think, "Business as usual." But if they perceive a slight against God, it is a different story. Their faces go red, their chests heave mightily, they sputter angry words. The degree of their indignation is astonishing. Their resolve is frightening.

"These people fail to realize that it is on the inside that God must be defended, not on the outside. They should direct their anger at themselves. For evil in the open is but evil from within that has been let out. The main battlefield for good is not the open ground of the public arena but the small clearing of each heart. Meanwhile, the lot of widows and homeless children is very hard, and it is to their defence, not God's, that the self-righteous should rush."

So there.

And now I can say goodbye to that pink mini-post-it note.  And now, thanks to Rei at Wikipedia, here is some inner life of blackberry pie with ice cream.

Friday, December 7, 2012

But Only Slightly

Once again, I have been lax in the Cranky Doodle Day department, not being very cranky these days!  But I thought I might pretend to be cranky about the categories of commenters I have noticed at blogs and at Facebook.  Here are some.  (I will be loose re: “you” and “I” and in the general structure and consistency of the list, because this is an unprofessional blog.)

Lurkers—They read the blog but don’t comment, so you don’t know for sure they are there.  But sometimes they cannibalize you or capitalize on you by taking your topic. And sometimes they refer to the blog later, IRL, showing they were there.

(I always hope my own Lurkers mainly love me. Example: My mom) (Who sometimes comments, here or IRL.)

(Mom, IRL = in real life.)

Know-it-alls—They comment in a way that suggests some flaw or error in what you posted and also suggests their greater knowledge, even if they don’t provide evidence of that by actually correcting the error or proving that it was an error in the first place, as when they just add additional facts, as if you were really stupid to leave those out, or elaborations that pretty much destroy the subtle joke you provided in the original post. Well, really, they probably don’t care what you intended, as they are just displaying their own knowledge. Over and over again. (This happens mostly at Facebook, where I mostly look the other way.)

Anonymous (plural, Anonymi)—It is possible for “Anonymous” to post here, just like everyone else, but I generally hope for some informal signature or little clue as to the identity/safeness of the comment poster. (Example: “—Love, your sister, Chris” or “—the real Shakespeare”)

(I don’t post commercials by Anonymi.)

Snarks:  They rarely comment, but when they do, it’s snarky.

Sharks:  They may read, i.e., lurk, but they are unable to comment, having fins instead of fingers and being always underwater, swimming. (If someday they find a way to post, they must prove they are not robots.)

Robots—Robots are free to post if they identify themselves as robots and can prove they are not robots.

(Let’s all expect a Know-it-all to tell me what’s wrong with that.)

Humorless Know-it-alls—See above.

Skimmers—They merely skim the blog entry and leave a comment that proves it.

(I leave them at the mercy of Know-it-alls who happen to comment after them.)

Pretenders—If any of the actual Pretenders, say, Chrissie Hynde, wish to comment, they should feel free.  But pretend Pretenders pretend to know me, leaving an Anonymous comment that suggests a familiarity with me without proving that we really know each other, in person or online. So I don’t publish their comments/commercials.  Same as with:

Stalkers—I save their unpublished comments, which they may think are untraceable, but which aren’t (that’s a double negative, you Humorless Know-it-all, that makes sense in this context) if you know technology and law-enforcement people (and I do), in case of legal action later.

(If I end up dead someday, my mom knows what to do.)

Zombies—I think my origami brain is safe from zombies, here in the blog, anyway.

(My mom won’t know how to handle zombies.)

TMI-ers—OK, I am probably one of these, and I don’t mind them at all when they post here (unless they write seven paragraphs about their childhood and psychological diagnoses, which I have seen/skimmed at other blogs), as long as it is fairly short and mostly good-natured.  (If you have more to say, hey, you can start your own blog!) I know I often make a personal connection when I comment at other blogs, noting coincidences, etc.  (Example: “I baked pumpkin bread today, too!” or “I have also written a poem with that title” or “Is that a fin, or are you just happy to see me?”)

So, generally, it is not too much information! It’s just the right amount, people. I love hearing from you!

Failed sit-down comics—Guilty.


Thanks to Louie Baur for the door sign, widely shared at Facebook. Likewise, thanks to Hippie Peace Freaks for the moon shadow.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Hope Springs

Last night my dear friend Kim came over, bearing Triscuits, a borrowed cake pan, hummus, baba ganoush, and Hope Springs, starring Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones, Steve Carell, and a bunch of other fine actors, just out on DVD. We'd intended to see it in the theatres, since we had lots of fun laughing at/with Meryl Streep, Steve Martin, and Alec Baldwin in It's Complicated in the movie theatre back in 2009.We missed Hope Springs when it was in town, but we knew we'd watch it sometime, because, well, hope springs!

This one, about a 31-year marriage, is not as full of yuks as It's Complicated--in fact, at times it's excruciatingly real--but we enjoyed it, and Meryl Streep is her usual/unusual amazing self--that is, transformed. "It doesn't even look like her," said Kim, about Streep's transformation into Kay, the patient-yet-suffering wife of Arnold. Steve Carrell gets to be subtle and stellar himself in this movie.

I forgot to pop popcorn, but I provided Blarney Castle cheese & red wine. Kim had eaten an actual dinner before arriving. I had eaten some french fries. I also forgot to serve the frozen grapes rolled in jello, which was fine as the thought of them made Kim "throw up a little in [her] mouth."

Here's to friendship! And to long-term marriages if they can survive! And to multiple marriages, if that's what's needed.* And to marriage equality! And to loving partnerships, wherever they arise in the human or animal kingdom. (No mixing of human and animal kingdoms, please.)

*I was present/pregnant at Kim's first marriage, as I recall, because I had a baby the next day! (After some accidental vodka.) (Not enough to hurt.) (It was in cranberry juice, a slight misunderstanding.)

Here's to grand pianos and the springing of hope wherever it can spring!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Advent Rocks!

We have a wonderful tradition at my church of building an advent wreath in the weeks leading up to Christmas: a layered circle of rocks, greens, animals, and humans. Somehow this connects to Life of Pi and its interfaith comment on human nature, and Pi Patel's important sentence, "So it goes with God." "Somehow," meaning, "Because I am in a state of synchronicity." It comes and goes, but I like it best when it's here.

We do not use these stones with mouths, by Ronit Baranga, but I wish we could!

But that's neither here nor there, nor why I am here! I am here, on the Hump of the Week, also a Random Coinciday and a Poetry Someday in the blog, to announce a new poetry feature at Escape Into Life--Daniel Romo--and the new issue of Redheaded Stepchild, in which I have a poem! It's one of my Cassandra poems. This is a wonderful issue, and I am so impressed by how the poems all weave together. I love those redheaded editors!

Daniel Romo's work is in that "blurry" place between poetry and prose--prose poetry, flash fiction. I like the humor and darkness in his work. I have paired him with watercolor, by Marilyn Cvitanic, available to blur, but also somehow working as a train wreck (the first piece) and an "anonymous tapestry," to quote Romo's interestingly titled second piece.

Here is some more stuff to get you through the hump of the week:

Early Lessons, Poems of Childhood by Kate Bernadette Benedict, an online chapbook. Kate BB rocks!

A super-duper deal on rufous poetry by Karen J. Weyant, the Scrapper Poet. She calls it a Rust Belt Sale!

And now, because I have been complimented on my "sly humor," I wish you a happy holiday season.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Life of Pi

People kept telling me to read Life of Pi, by Yann Martel, and those people were right. I have a copy given to me by Gary, who writes in books, so it was fun to read it noticing his underlining and the occasional marginal note, like, "Hallucination?"

My husband read it before me, and he stuck a post-it (hot pink) on the back jacket flap: "Chapter 56. Fear." Chapter 56 is indeed about fear. My husband's handwriting looks remarkably like Gary's handwriting, but Tony claims he doesn't write in books, so 1) maybe I am really married to Gary and am just hallucinating that I am married to Tony 2) Tony forgot that he wrote in this book 3) the handwriting similarity is a mere coincidence.

But why didn't he warn me about Part 3? I finished Part 2, and said, "I think the part where you've written 'Hallucination' is real." He 1) said he doesn't write in books 2) thought I was talking about the algae island. I was talking about the voice with a French accent. (So maybe I'm not married to Gary.) He (Tony, not Gary) also mentioned quantum physics, but I did not find any in Life of Pi.

Anyway, then I read Part 3, finishing the book weeping. You'll recall that I finished the book The Worst  Best Christmas Pageant Ever, by Barbara Robinson, weeping, too. I have been asked to read the last chapter of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever aloud when our book group meets, so I practiced tonight, right after finishing Life of Pi, and wept all the way through. I will be a laughingstock. Or a cryingstalk.

While tear-laden sensitivity does run in my family, neither book is sentimental. The children's book nicely cuts through the crap of Christmas pageants, and Life of Pi was a fascinating adventure novel with zoology and comparative religion in it till I got to Part 3, when it bumped itself up a notch.

Both books contain a fine, dark hilarity. Watch out for algae.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Rose-Colored Glasses

The early morning sky was the color of these roses. It's unseasonably warm here, a thunderstorm predicted. So the current blue sky on a Blue Monday may turn black-and-white rose colored soon. Wouldn't that be something? To see thunderheads billow up as these roses?

I'd been in a season of rejections, poetry-wise, but got a recent acceptance from Redheaded Stepchild, which specializes in publishing poems that were rejected elsewhere. Thank goodness for them! So if you have been in a Rejected Slump, be sure to check them out!

And, yes, the editors are redheads! Yippee!

Meanwhile, I've also moved into a season of synchronicity, when everything fits together. In addition to Life of Pi and Simone Weil, I'm now also reading The Gift, poems by Hafiz translated by Daniel Ladinsky; they are hitting the spot.

Randomly yesterday, EIL poet Ron Hardy mentioned that he was reading The Gift. "By Lewis Hyde?" I asked, and was correct. This The Gift is about "gift culture," reciprocity, and so on, and on! I am so lucky to have met Ron in person after featuring him at Escape Into Life! And now to live in the same town. Oh, what a joyous Random Coinciday! Be sure to check out his feature sometime. It has a bow on it.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Reading Woman

Today I got myself this calendar. Instead of Christmas shopping. This, of course, is a hazard of Christmas shopping. Shopping for oneself. But I really, really needed a weekly planning calendar, as I have started cramming notes into the back pages of the little pocket-sized planner I wheedled out of my daughter last year. (It was an Advent gift from her grandmother. Sorry, Mom. I really, really needed a calendar small enough to carry around.) And some felt coasters. On sale. In the shape of fall leaves. For the bedroom (nightstand, water glass), a need I determined while dusting. While not being a slattern.

I am indeed a reading woman. I am currently reading Life of Pi, by Yann Martel, so I will not feel guilty going to see the movie. Enjoying it and learning a lot about wild animals and the zoo.

Also reading Simone Weil, a book of her journal entries, gathered as Gravity and Grace. I've been needing to read her for years, and I am reading both books at the right time, interspersed with poetry books.

It was 64 degrees today. I walked to church and back (shopping and lunch in between) and took off my coat. Sun is shining, leaves are golden and orange, husband has done the last rake. He's not a slattern, either. But he does tend to fall asleep while reading.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Dusting Myself Off

Today is December 1, World AIDS Day, and, in the early "celebrations" of that sad, dark day, the Day Without Art. Some galleries hung cloths over paintings; some theatres went dark. With advances in research and treatment, with so many people alive and thriving, I think the Day Without Art aspect has faded from commemorations of World AIDS Day.

So I am offering art today in the blog, but it is old art, pre-AIDS, a couple of Christmas-shopping Vogue covers!

I am not Christmas shopping today. Nor am I dusting. It is Slattern Day in the blog. But 1) I have been working, on book reviews, poetry features, submissions, etc. 2) there will be laundry (those gym clothes must be clean for PE class) 3) I was dusting, over the past few days, and it felt good! I dusted our bedroom: furniture, books, videos, knick-knacks, photos, and jewelry. Yes, it was so dusty, the jewelry needed dusting. This is costume jewelry, left out in little saucers and glasses or hanging from odd mini-sculptures as my kind of interior decoration. I like it, and I like it even better now that it is dusted off.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Local Shopping, Scooping, or Scoping

Today I walked into town to mail the Pushcart Prize nominations for Escape Into Life. Postmark deadline is December 1st, but I wanted them officially in the mail before posting at the website. So off they go!

I also got some Santa Stamps.

While I was there, I did a little more local shopping and saw some local scooping. Yes, Mike Mulligan was there with Mary Anne the steam shovel, digging up more of beautiful Uptown Normal. But "three-bank corner" is pretty well in place, and, as I recall, another hole is soon to be filled with something. Meanwhile, the trees are lit on the traffic circle, and the town has a holiday feel!

I also did some local scoping at the fabulous Garlic Press, a kitchenware, food, and gift shop with wonderful gadgets and pretties and yummies. Yes, I bought some things that, of course, I cannot announce here. But I also 1) put ideas in my own head and 2) got excited about the after-Christmas sales (where I got some of this year's stocking stuffers last year!)  Which..uh oh...

Yep, I came home and found them in the closet! Because, you know, some years I don't...until Christmas Future...becomes Christmas Past...or vice versa. Ack! Head stuck in a time loop!

The holiday lights and mood remind me that snow must come soon. I hope Katy is ready!

Tonight's full moon and penumbral eclipse beckon and have me a bit moody. Oh, that's right.  That's me all the time. Moody me.

Did I mention that when I got to a certain point in the last chapter of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, I sobbed for the whole rest of the way? This happens every time I read it.

Yes, it's a children's book, like the others you see here, favorites from childhood. And, yes, we are reading it, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, by Barbara Robinson, for the December meeting of my book group, because we wanted something short that wouldn't get in the way of our eating.

Wait. Didn't I say something about the moon?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Butter, Taj Mahal

It's true that I melted a stick of butter this evening, and baked a corn casserole. My daughter had requested this, and that I follow the real recipe, not the one I made up last time, without all that butter and sour cream, more like cornbread with corn in it. The butter recipe is better.

But butter was also on my mind because of WGLT's Poetry Radio, which paired two of my very short poems from Nocturnes--"In the style of a Japanese courtesan" and "Almost Winter"--with the song "Butter" from The Hidden Treasures of Taj Mahal, a bluesy album.

These poems aired on Thanksgiving, a buttery day, just my kind of Random Coinciday, but you can also hear them as a podcast if you like.

Little did I remember that there is a movie called Butter, about butter carving, but now I feel I must see it someday. It has Jennifer Garner in it and Alicia Silverstone. And butter!

And Hugh Jackman.

Hugh Jackman.

And little did I know, not having been there at all, let alone in the right light, that the actual Taj Mahal is known for turning yellow.

It could be carved from butter.

Thanks to Wikipedia for the stick of butter (by Steve Karg) and the Taj Mahal! Thanks to Bruce Bergethon at WGLT for taping and airing the poems. Thanks to IMDb for the movie poster. Thanks to Taj Mahal for the smooth music. And thanks to Hugh Jackman.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Half the Perfect Moon

Imaginary playlist:

"Half the Perfect World," by Leonard Cohen, sung by Madeleine Peyroux

"I Wish I Were in Love Again," sung by Ella Fitzgerald (because it is stuck in my head) after hearing some Otterbein students sing this song for their Showcase production (what they will take to show agents and casting agents after they graduate)!

"How High the Moon" high is it?

Beautiful half moon today (yes, just hanging there) and tonight, bright and clear, when I took strawberry hulls out to the compost bin. Global warming (I fear) has sort of re-started the garden.

And I am only half here, still catching up on things at home after a week in Ohio...and thus a little sugary (cupcakes, pumpkin bread) and scatterbrained. I walked into town on this beautiful warm day to do a little early, and local, holiday shopping. Well, not early for you organized people, but early for me. And definitely local.

Handy how-to-hull-a-strawberry guide.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Walk Like an Egyptian

I'm baaack....

Imaginary sound-track:

"Walk Like an Egyptian," The Bangles

"My City Was Gone," Chrissie Hynde, The Pretenders**

I went back to Ohio, but my city wasn't gone. Columbus.* It had gotten bigger. I lived and worked there, as an encyclopedia editor, right after college.

*I think Chrissie*** Hynde, songwriter, was referring to Akron, another of my Ohio cities (grandparents, cousins, aunts & uncles)! **AKA "The Ohio Song"

On this current visit, most of my time was spent on or near the Otterbein campus, in Westerville, Ohio, or downtown on Main Street at Columbus Dance Theatre working on a dance theatre production of Cleopatra, with text from Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra, new music, and new choreography, which I got to see spring to life from the words and music and mind of choreographer Tim Veach. My sister is playing Cleopatra, and I'm lucky enough to be involved as a coach for the actors.

While I was there, I got to meet Hannah Stephenson, a poet I'd only met online as The Storialist and as a featured poet at Escape Into Life. What fun to have an in-person conversation!

Above: The Death of Cleopatra, Reginald Arthur (1892). Public domain. Look at that amazing toe cramp in her foot. The asps will be played by child dancers!
The Death of Cleopatra, Guido Cagnacci (1659). Also public domain. Nice crown.

***Random coincidink: I call my sister, the fabulous Christina M. Kirk, Chrissy. (Unlike these painted Cleopatras, she won't be showing her boobies, and I hope she doesn't get a toe cramp.)