Friday, August 31, 2012

Bloon = Blue + Moon

I thought I had made up a cute new word for the blue moon, but I had not. Bloons are part of a major game thingey PLUS a thing you can fly around near space in to enjoy your home planet. Probably I had learned some of that before, though the test flight for the near-space bloon was just this May in Spain.*

Anyhoo, there's a 100% full moon tonight, and it's blue, meaning it's our second full moon this month. This is making some people crazy, but it's making me clean the bathrooms and launder the sheets. Oh, maybe the approach of houseguests accounts for that!

The moon does have a big pull on us, in many ways. It makes some of us blue, it makes some of us stand in awe, and, you know, the tides... But, speaking of cleaning toilets, what makes the swirl of a toilet flushing go one way or another? Ah, the Coriolis effect. My brain is full. And swirling.

And gone.

*The bloon in Spain stays mainly on the plain?

Thanks to Gregory H. Revera and Wikipedia for this full moon.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Prettier Than Mushrooms

There are some very, very pretty mushrooms in the world, but these Four Lemons on Plate, by Jonathan Koch, are prettier than yesterday's yellow mushrooms in my alligator pear pot.

Mushroom update: the one big yellow one spread out its parasol, and then crumbled into...mushroom crumbs.

The summer continues gorgeous, the cardinal climber continues to climb and to bloom, and I continue to write poems, edit, and send work out, before the activities of fall completely take over, which is already happening. So this is a week full of labors, and I look forward to the Labor Day weekend.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Bright Yellow Mushrooms

Ew, right? Today, as if to celebrate the Hump of the Week, bright yellow mushrooms surged up from the soil in the big flowerpot that holds my thriving avocado plant. I know from Googling, and from this Houseplant Care Guide in particular, which I also thank for the images, that the problem is fourfold: some probable combination of overwatering, poor drainage, old soil, and/or cheap potting soil (with mushrooms already in it).

So I put my avocado plant outdoors in the gorgeous sunlight; most of the little 'shrooms curled up and died, and one got bigger. (But not as warty as these.)

I am reading two books at the same time. (I have my reasons.) One is Blindness, by Nobel Prize author Jose Saramago, and the other is The Solitude of Prime Numbers, by Paolo Giordano, both in translation. Loving the latter, a fast read, and a little scared of the former, partly because, before I read the opening scene, I dreamed it!

It was happening to me this morning in a dream: I was driving, and I suddenly went blind!

Fortunately--so I don't have to fear my own psychic powers--the blindness in the book is milky white, while the blindness in my dream was utterly black, as if all power went out everywhere.

Creepy as yellow mushrooms!

AKA flowerpot parasols.  (Cheered myself up with these!)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Cardinal Climber

What a beautiful, beautiful late summer evening, with a three-quarter moon. Just home from the Truly Irish poetry reading, but the moon has put me in mind of the Eddi Reader song, "Wings On My Heels," with its refrain about music in three-quarter time. She's a Scottish folksinger.

One of her verses:

I never learned how to sweet talk
those are the words I can't find
yet I had a tongue of pure silver
when they played
in three-quarter time

Eamonn Wall was a charming poet with a tongue of pure silver!

And recent rains have charmed the cardinal climber on the fence into bloom, finally!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Sweet Corn

It got back-to-school HOT (but not too hot, cuz the blues are cool) just in time for the Sweet Corn Blues Fest in beautiful Uptown Normal.  As WGLT says, "The Blues are free and the corn is cheap!" Some years they actually run out of corn, which is cooked on the street. You can hear, smell, and eat fresh Kettle Corn, as well. And buy ears.

Bands today have cool names, among them: Chicken Shack and Sugar Prophets. But it's Slattern Day in the blog, so just click the links!

We may bike into town via the Good to Go program! I may be tempted to purchase WGLT Acousticity pint glasses, to honor beer and folk music. But mostly I will hang out with the college grad son, home for the Sweet Corn weekend!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Truly Irish

If you are local, I hope you will attend Truly Irish: A Poetry Reading with guest poet Eamonn Wall, at the McLean County Museum of History this coming Tuesday, August 28, at 7:30 p.m. It's free! Come early to see the Greening of the Prairie exhibit on Irish immigration, or see it right after the reading, as the museum is open till nine and the reading will only be an hour.

Read more about it here, on the museum's events page, or here, in Julie Kistler's theatre & events blog, A Follow Spot!

And this guy is guest poet Eamonn Wall! Eamonn is truly Irish and will read from among his poems that address the Irish immigrant experience.

And some of the Kirkshop the Workshop poets--who are the "pre-show" for the guest poet!--are truly Irish, too, including my mom and me and Judy Boudreaux. My mom's side of the family--the Sidleys--have Irish heritage, and my dad's side is Scotch Irish, and "kirk" means "church." We will be reading poems inspired by objects in the museum's exhibit.

I will read "Whole Cloth," written in the spring, when the exhibit first opened, under the influence of the huge loom in the exhibit and the actual greening of "that loom of grasses" in my back yard. As a preview, you can read it here, in A Clean, Well-Lighted Place.

And I just told my workshop poets about a perfect place to send their American-museum-inspired poems: the museum of americana, a brand spanking new online journal that has a call for submissions right now--August 20-September 20--for their very first issue.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Back to School

First day of school here, a half day. My daughter's already gone, come home, and headed off again to enjoy some last bits of summer with her friends.

Tomorrow, it gets real.

A new poetry feature is up today at Escape Into Life, Eric Burke. Tiny poems, huge concepts. And fabulous art by Jeremy Geddes, his Adrift and White Cosmonaut shown here. I have a poem called "Cosmonaut" (it's in Nocturnes), and I always feel a little adrift at the end of the summer. Or the beginning of it. Or the change of any season or routine....

Monday, August 20, 2012

Back to Blue

I'm back to blueberries on this Blue Monday, and the sky is back to its beautiful blue these past few days, after the much-needed drenching rain. I need to get outside and stay outside, but have been so busy with various bits of work here and there, chores, and the back-to-school energies.

Troubling news: shootings, the phrase "legitimate rape," the election grime.

But the Margie Piercy poem, "The Seven of Pentacles," gave me courage and plenty to think about, quoted in this reflection, Milestones. I'm going to keep thinking about what quiet, "underground" work I continue to do, and have faith in it.

Wait! What are pentacles? Thank you, of course, Wikipedia, both for the general definition and the seven of pentacles (previously, coins) in the tarot deck. I loved learning that "pentacle" might refer to five, a five-pointed or five-cornered thing, or a five-pointed star or pentagram, as pictured in the pile here. Or it might just refer to a pendant--a charm hung from the neck--from a French word. Possibly an amulet with magical powers. Somehow, I think all Harry Potter people know way more about pentacles than I do.

But I'm interested in how this fellow seems able to rake them up.

And thanks again to Jonathon Koch for the pile of Blueberries and Raspberries.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Chocolate Girl

I received this lovely postcard in the mail yesterday from poet Sarah J. Sloat,* who was in Saxony. It put me in the mood for hot chocolate, and wouldn't it be nice if a lovely maiden brought it to me on a tray with a glass of water.

This rainy and stormy day is indeed a good day to stay indoors and have hot chocolate. Real thunder on a Thor's Day in the blog, which happened last Thursday, too! Good to have some significant rain around here for a change.

Or tea would be nice, but I will probably be fine with instant cappuccino, cinnamon dulce flavor, made and served by me to me, no tray. No little pink cap.

Thanks to Jean-Etienne Liotard and Wikipedia, for the public domain images of his paintings.

*Thanks to Sarah J. Sloat, who has a new book out, for the postcard from Saxony. I love all mail, but letters and postcards are the best!

Acceptance letters are good, too, but lately it's been mostly rejections for me. One recent acceptance from Ekphrasis! I do love to write poems in response to paintings. Perhaps there is a pink-capped hot-chocolate poem in my future!

Lastly, a big fluffy black cat named Boo Radley is living with us this week. He appears to be hiding at the moment, perhaps because of the thunder, but he's very comfortable here, lounging with us, luxuriating under the petting, and purring up a storm. Every morning at 4:10, he checks to see if I wanted to get up or anything, and again at 6:10, and, after some petting and purring, I do.

Ooh, reading on the couch.** Another good option on a rainy day! 

**Possibly with a cat.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Julia Child's Kitchen

Isn't that beautiful? Of course, it's Julia Child's kitchen, not mine. Mine always has a few dishes in the sink, or next to it, a few crumbs on the surfaces, and many, many non-kitchen-related items on all surfaces: car keys, volleyball schedules, volleyball bags, sometimes even volleyball shoes. Today's mail, yesterday's coupons, a drawing of somebody else's kitchen rehab or hip roof, a book or literary journal with a bookmark in it, and various random items. Often, I put these random items on the stairs to go up. And there they remain.

It's Julia Child's 100th birthday. This may inspire me to make tomato sauce from garden tomatoes for supper tonight. They were left for me on the picnic table in the back yard by my mother, along with a bag of fresh-picked green beans. Thanks, Mom! I was off at work, conveniently time around my daughter's morning volleyball practice. (Freelancing is good!)

Now she's off at practice, round 2, which today is community service as a team, for team bonding. She = daughter, not mother. (Community service is good!)

I was celebrating Julia Child at Escape Into Life today, too, by telling you "what's cooking" for 3 of the EIL solo feature poets. If you are a poet with something good cooking, please tell our readers over there!

And here is a delicious new painting by Jonathan Koch, Peach, Black-berries, Walnut. That could make a mouthwatering crumble, couldn't it? With lots and lots of butter.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Following Up

Synchronicity again, and following up. The service for Michael Pullin was just lovely. I choked up immediately, when the minister choked up, telling about the sign on the door of The Garlic Press that said they were closed to celebrate the life of their friend. And there was the staff, in a row (and scattered about the church). Here are some of the cooking classes he taught--alas, with his name still on them, to add a pinch of nostalgia.

And here is a wonderful and thorough profile of Michael Pullin, at Julie Kistler's blog, A Follow Spot.

Michael received great applause and a standing ovation at the end of this service, just the right touch.

Today, over at my own church, the reflection was on "the fragility of existence" in terms of its very unlikeliness. "How are we even here?" we might ask ourselves, as a way to more fully appreciate that we are, and, as Bob Ryder reminds us, not to take life for granted, nor "to get too used to it."

And my post on the "well-earned bravada" in the robot voice of Curiosity on Mars led poet Ron Hardy to comment that his poem "Hearing Her Voice" was about the inability to hear the voice of the planet herself, that Mother onto which our Curiosity descends. You can read the poem here.

I am struck each time by this:

The moment we see the other will be
the moment of helpless compression.

Ron's poem made me think of "Mars is Heaven," a Ray Bradbury story, and a scary one, with irony as well as nostalgia. And I was just reading a profile of the moral philosopher Derek Parfit, who questions the whole concept of personal identity, reinforcing the fragility of existence. And I saw the end of a documentary on quantum physics that makes me want to see the beginning of it. Which I will. But, hey, end, beginning? It might all be now.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Behind the Bravada

I was behind an Oldsmobile Bravada yesterday, right after hearing the term "bravada" on NPR. I love when that happens. It's as if the universe has decided to neatly collate itself in my mind. OR as if I am folding blueberries into pancake batter. Completely different images, both from my origami brain.

Anyway, the bravada on NPR was about the voice of the Mars rover Curiosity, in a story about the tweets from Mars on Morning Edition. Curiosity's tweets were given a male voice and a female voice, and scientist Stephanie Smith said Curiosity spoke with "well-earned bravada." This sent me scurrying toward the word "bravada," which we often hear changed into "bravado," often used to mean a show of bravery, or swagger, even if no real courage exists, or there's not much foundation for the apparent confidence. But the real and root meaning, from a Spanish term, does go back or "wild" and "brave," so "well-earned bravada" can refer to a swagger based on true boldness, backed by action!

This, by the way, was swagger as expressed in tone of voice and choice of phrasing. (And it's hard to convey tone at all electronically, so mainly choice of phrasing.) You can hear it all at the link to "Followers Embrace Curiosity's Mars Tweets."

Then my brain folded back to that phrase "fake it till you make it," which can mean swagger until you succeed, which is something I cannot do myself. Odd, since I worked as an actor, I suppose, but I can't really fake it. I have to mean it. "It," whatever it is, has to come from somewhere real and deep in me, so I have to summon real courage and real competence to succeed at anything.

Curiosity can be my robot role model, then, thanks to her "well-earned bravada."

I am unlikely ever to own or drive an Oldsmobile Bravada.

Anyhoo, I admire and forgive those who can "fake it till they make it," even when it comes off as a bit arrogant. We are all on a difficult journey, I imagine. Look at this nice quotation (thanks to poet Kelli Russell Agodon) from David Rakoff--another NPR connection, This American Life--from his book Half Empty:

"People are really trying their best. Just like being happy and sad, you will find yourself on both sides of the equation many times over your lifetime, either saying or hearing the wrong thing. Let's all give each other a pass, shall we?"

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Gather Up the Fragments

It's Thor's Day in the blog, with actual thunder as I write, but also another mosaic-of-labels day, where you'll find a link to an obituary and links to some poems on death and grief, as well as a reflection on John 6:1-13, on gathering up the fragments to feed the multitudes (aka the story of the loaves and fishes*).

*Or, in this case, the Blueberries and Raspberries, by Jonathan Koch.

I've been eating plenty of blueberries lately, on yogurt, or with strawberries and cantaloupe, or yogurt with granola, very little meat, as much fish (see above) as possible, etc. Because I do not want to die.

An acting buddy died Tuesday, suddenly, and young, or young at heart. His obituary says he was 65. I think our last deep, extended conversation was about such things--he was philosophical about life and death, very calm and at peace--and I recalled him saying that when his obituary was published, no one would know who he was because we know him as Michael Pullin and the paper would print Thomas Pullin, as it did. But we all know who he is.

What a funny, energetic, talented man he was. He was my husband in the play Dinner With Friends, at Heartland Theatre, and my fantasy lover in the play, A History of Things that Never Happened. We cracked ourselves up in the latter, re-enacting scenes from Wuthering Heights and Anna Karenina.

And, of course, there's the butcher block moment in Dinner With Friends. What a good sport. And an actual gourmet cook, very pertinent to this play, who taught cooking classes in town! I am only one of the many, many people who will miss him.

How do the living handle these losses? So many ways. There will be a celebration of Michael Pullin's life on Saturday, and I'm sure it will have plenty of laughter with the tears, as he would want to be remembered with joy and a sense of fun.

For those who ponder death and grief with the aid of poetry, here are two unsentimental poems that handle these dark topics well:

"How I Will Outwit Grief," by Donna Vorreyer, in The Bakery (Fresh Out of the Oven)


"When He's Dead," by Mike Puican, in The Cortland Review.

Now I offer you some Strawberries and Cream (hold the cream). Or plenty of loaves and fishes.

P.S.  And, speaking of fragments, here are the Fragments at qarrtsiluni!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Midlife Scrimshaw

Well, dear readers, I've been "gone" again and will compress myself here, doing multiple days of the week in one (see labels at bottom of blog entry).

Today I celebrate the new poetry feature over at Escape Into Life: Carol Berg. Her "Wife's Mid-life Crisis" poems are accompanied by albatross photographs by Stefano Unterthiner (which you can see a glimpse of here, too). The albatross was an omen of good luck for mariners, until one of them killed one (in a poem) and then the phrase "an albatross around my neck" came to mean a great burden or curse. So keep that in mind.

Speaking of mariners, my book group just discussed The Art of Fielding, which has a character named Henry Scrimshander in it, and a running Moby Dick/Herman Melville component, and now, in a perfect random coinciday moment, we are reading Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell, in which a character in the first section possesses "a handsome army of scrimshandered chessmen."

A scrimshander is someone who makes tools or art from the bone, teeth, and tusks of whales, walruses, and other marine animals, this all being called scrimshaw. I'm interested in Mitchell's choice of language here; he didn't say "scrimshaw chessmen" but instead "scrimshandered," emphasizing the maker and the making. So I'll keep that in mind.

My own making and work and daily action have been inter-rupted lately, by good things--a vacation, a weekend with old friends, a visit with our son to see his new apartment--and by not good things, which continue to preoccupy me. I've been thinking of the phrase "heart goes out," as my heart goes out to someone who is suffering and, perhaps while it is busy glowing there, my heart goes out like a light and is dark for a while at home. I need one of those long-lasting environmentally aware heart lights.

Oh, I have one!! (light bulb hovers over head)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Rufous Fantail

Dinner's on the stove, there's cloud cover, wind whipping up, the hope of rain, and someone I love is hurting. It's been an odd, interrupted, lovely, loving day.

This is the rufous fantail, in a picture by Brett Donald. "Rufous" means red. I learned that by reading and submitting to Rufous City Review, "where industry encounters raw earth."  I have a poem called "Glimpse of Red" in the current issue.

One thing I love about being published is that I get to read everybody else's poems! I learn & feel so much. And, in this issue, I also love the center section of collage art!

Another thing I love about Rufous City Review, and what drew me to submit, was its list of what it contains: "rusted memories; russet sparrows; random whimsy; really great writing." A list (a longer list, of which this is a section) punctuated with semi-colons.* If you know me or have read my blog for a while, you know I love "random whimsy."

*If you know me, or my mom, or Ron Hardy, or the play Wit (aka W;t), or if you read Marilynne Robinson, you, too, might love semi-colons, or the fact that the Rufous City Review list is punctuated with them.

My poem not only has a glimpse of red in it, but also some rust.

This is the rufous-headed hornbill, aka the writhe-billed hornbill, aka "Dulungan," thanks to Callan Bentley. Remember the hornbill in The Lion King? "Didn't your mother ever teach you not to play with your food?"

Oops, better check the black beans and rice!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Just Desserts

It's taken me a while to recover from the sandy family-wamily vacation and catch up on all the chores (laundry), mail (bills), writing/editing tasks (submissions, script revisions, actor/poet bios for some upcoming events), and mood issues (sad, vacation is over, who am I?) so today is a Blue Monday, Fat Tuesday, Hump of the Week, and Poetry Someday all at once. Tomorrow may or may not be an actual Thor's Day.

Today I am showing you some beautiful women cheerfully guarding the dessert table at the 2nd (annual) memorial celebration of the life of Chris Al-Aswad, founder of Escape Into Life. You can read more about it in the EIL Blog today (and see more pix) and more about Chris, including a journal poem about his connection to his mother, here.

I'll pause to mention that my church used to have a fundraiser called Just Desserts that was indeed just desserts but that the phrase "just deserts" is about justly receiving what you deserve, a common misspelling and misconception. But a sweet one!

In life, I don't know if we all receive our just deserts. Or we do and don't always know it. Oh, karma!

I just paused to Google the question, "Is there a dessert called karma?" and found this: Sweet Karma Desserts. Thank you. And you're welcome!

What was I saying? Oh, yes, I also enjoy this photo of the men discussing the problems of the world and my husband guzzling beer in the background.

I think there was more I wanted to tell you, and more that ties in with just deserts/desserts, making it also a Random Coinciday in the blog. Yes. Tonight I will be discussing The Art of Fielding, by Chad Harbach, and eating angel food cake baked by our hostess, with the book group, inviting partners to partake this evening (whether or not they read the book, but it's a baseball-philosophical novel, chosen with partners in mind). I will be taking cherries, because life is a bowl of them.

In The Art of Fielding, a promising young baseball star encounters unexpected personal failure and self-doubt. It's perfect to be looking closely at this book during the Olympics, with all those stories of high expectations, upsets, glory, and confidence lost and found. And, of course, driving home from lap swimming this morning, I got to hear Frank Deford talking about "Four Sports Superstars, Four Years Later" on NPR, which ties right in.