Saturday, December 28, 2013

Snow Angels

The Pope is making snow angels on the cover of the current issue of The New Yorker, and Heather Horton's Central Park Angel graces the snowy top of the essay "Winged or Shriven," still up at Escape Into Life. No snow angels here! Sunny, blue sky, currently 37 degrees. Off I go soon on errands and then to more family wamily gathering! Maybe I can actually burn the trash out at my parents' place today. Last night it was too windy, but, oh, the starry sky!! May you escape any woe or trouble in 2013 into a Happy New Year. And please wish the same for me, as there's been some! Yeesh. But already it feels/is lighter in the morning!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

No Zumba For You

Remember this guy? He is yelling at me. On Slattern Day in the blog. With a sheet of ice out there on the roads. We heard a prediction of “five inches of ice.” How could that even happen? (Don’t tell me! There are things I don’t want to know.) Well, the less-than-five-inch sheet of ice caused me to go around the block and come home this morning, instead of continuing on to my last zumba class of the season. I was glad I could stop at the stop sign and turn into the proper lane, and my own driveway.

On my way around the block, part of my introverted mind (the neocortex, or “new brain”) was firmly attentive to the road and the brakes. But part of it was also spinning titles for this blog entry. The first, before I realized just how slick it was, was “ReZumbaed” (meaning “zumba, resumed.") Yes, I know. Not very funny. And strangely convoluted, also probably due to my essential introversion. I am reading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a WorldThat Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain. I feel so externally validated! So comforted, so relieved. Anyhoo, that was when I thought I was resuming zumba this morning.

This quickly changed to “Re:Zumba,” as in “regarding the matter of zumba,” just as quickly discarded.  “Zumba: Epic Fail” skated by, but I didn’t want to imply the failure of zumba itself, only my personal epic fail. And then “No Zumba For You” reared its ugly head behind a deli counter in my mind, via the “Soup Nazi” from Seinfeld.

So, yes, I did not make it to zumba class this morning. Nor did I make it to the special, extra, holiday zumba class offered to Saturday participants this past Thursday, which would have allowed me to make up one of the other classes I failed (or forgot) to attend. But I forgot.

Instead, I was making a dreaded Christmas shopping trip to Target, a store I haven’t visited in over a year, I’d guess. So, of course, I go there when Target shoppers have had their credit cards hacked. Fortunately, I just missed the hacking period. I hope. It is the season of hope, right?

Little did I know, when I wrote of my “Slow Waltz” yesterday that I would be going so slowly down the literal road this morning.  Not, thank goodness, figuratively waltzing on my half-new tires. So, I will “Rezumba Quiet” (heh heh) this morning, on my couch, maybe, wrapped in a cuddly sherpa (blanket, not a guy from Nepal). 
It’s the shortest day of the year, so I might be there all day. I can write Christmas cards from inside a sherpa, right? And it's the longest night of the year. Here is some more to read, Re: Winter Solstice, at Escape Into Life, excerpts from the journals of Chris Al-Aswad, founding editor, and from a book he was reading, The Happiness Hypothesis. More stuff about how the brain works.

I mention snow angels. Around here it might be mud angels, as it’s been raining. Or sheet of ice angels. Or Sherpa angels.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Slow Waltz

I'm slowing down here, moving into Christmas week. Also slowed down by the fog but glad the temps are warm! I proofed galleys for Interior Sculpture: poems in the voice of Camille Claudel, forthcoming in January from dancing girl press. I think the cover will play with this famous sculpture of hers, The Waltz. This is a chapbook of poems written for the dance collaboration, Claudel, 20 poems, of which Columbus Dance Theatre will enact 15. Many thanks to Kristy Bowen for choosing the manuscript, designing the cover, and living with the crazy timing! She also took 3 of the Claudel poems for Wicked Alice, an elegant thing. My connectivity issue continues, a further slowing down...of the Internet sort. Hmm, does fog impede the Internet? Off to waltz in bronze. Slowly.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Speaking of Sculpture

Speaking of Sakuntala, as I was yesterday, specifically Camille Claudel's sculpture of her reunion with her lover Dushyanta, here is the poster for Claudel, with dancers taking the pose. And here again is the poem, that retells the legend in the voice of Sakuntala but also in the voice of Claudel, whose lover made her a promise he could not keep.

This and other poems will be spoken by my sister, an actress in Columbus, and performed by Columbus Dance Theatre, with new music by Korine Fujiwara of the Carpe Diem String Quartet in January. You can imagine what a thrill this is for me! Here's the Claudel sculpture, and Wes Kroninger took the photo of the CDT dancers!

And here, at Escape Into Life, is another sculpture, a stone bride, her visions captured in songs by Nicolette Wong, in her chapbook Stone Bride Madrigals. I reviewed it in the form of a cento taken from bits of all eleven poems in the book. That was also a thrill. David Heg took the photo for the book cover.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Fickle Connectivity

I'm delighted to have 2 poems up in Fickle Muses, an online journal of myth and legend. Both are based on the life and work of sculptor Camille Claudel. "Red Umbrella" incorporates a sort of legend about herself, based on local gossip that she escaped her room at night by way of a red umbrella. "Sakuntala" is the story of Sakuntala, spelled various ways, rejected by and reunited with her lover, from Hindu culture. Claudel created a beautiful, tender sculpture of Sakuntala, the recognition scene.

It's been difficult to blog lately--due to fun things, like being busy with kids home for the weekend, but also because of limited connectivity issues with the fickle Internet. (Probably the modem. Sigh...) So, if you don't hear from me, 1) I've been kicked off the Internet 2) I'm stuck in a snowdrift 3) I threw my back out shoveling snow 4) I am lost in the freezing fog... 5) I am out (or at the window) gazing at the glorious full moon!

But, surely, I'll be back.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Instead of Zumba

Instead of zumba this morning, I shoveled the driveway. Needed to clear it so hubby could get off to volleyball practice and kids could get out for their planned Christmas shopping trip. Both kids are home--son for the weekend, daughter for winter break + boyfriend--and I got a good workout.

Last week, instead of zumba...I forgot. The week before that, I was in Missouri for Thanksgiving. I am failing at zumba. I think next Saturday is my last class. I hope I make it.

These wonderful celebrity-inserted-into-famous-painting images are thanks to 22 Words, Worth 1000, and my old theatre pal Julia, via Facebook. They are fun, funny, and sometimes a wee bit frightening. They also reveal some problems with proportions. Isn't Steve Carrell's head too big?

It's Slattern Day in the blog, and I've also failed at that, I guess, by neatening up the driveway. Shoveling snow is a lot like zumba but without the music. The world was white and silent when I was out, very early. I felt like Scarlett Johannson with more clothes on. It's the flowy white resemblance of the snow I'm talking about here. I somehow entered the landscape. (Once again, I am yearning for red hair.) My husband was out a bit, too, but that was to throw an old volleyball at the snow-laden mugo pine to knock snow off a branch that was so laden it had leaned into the power line to the house.

He did it! Without getting electrocuted or knocking out the power! You see I am focused on the positive today. Even the silly. It's a way to keep joy in the heart when bad things happen. So is Love Actually, which I have seen this holiday season and would be happy to see again, as needed. Yet to see: It's a Wonderful Life. And now I'm also in the mood for Space Jam.

Speaking of Love Actually, here is Rowan Atkinson as Jean-Paul Marat being assassinated in a painting by Jacques-Louis David, via Worth 1000. I have a dark, dark sense of humor that gets me through a lot. Now I'll go write a few Christmas cards, but not in the bath. Even though he does look strangely cheerful.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Satsuma Mandarin with Insects

I found the stockings and hung them over the quilts on a quilt rack that shields us from the cold air that seeps in through the chimney from the not yet finished fireplace, site of the 2006 house fire. I don't ever want a fire in that fireplace again. But Santa should feel to come down the chimney if he wants. It's up to current code, the opening is wider than normal, and the quilt rack can easily topple over if he just kicks it.

Yes, usually we hang stockings not tangerines, or in this case mandarins, as in the painting Satsuma Mandarin with Insects, by Jonathan Koch. But we do like finding tangerines or clementines in the toes! Insects, not so much. Not in the toes. In the world, yes!

My daughter is home from college for winter break, and busy with boyfriend, room cleaning, and Christmas shopping. My son plans to come home this weekend for a visit, but a snowstorm is in the forecast, and I want him safe. But it is beginning to feel a lot like Christmas!

In poetry news, I've had some new acceptances, a surprise and delight, as it's usually rejection at this time of year. Also, while I don't always send stuff out in December, I've done that, too. So, uh, yes, instant karma? It's coming from an organization impulse, I imagine, or is an elaborate tactic for avoiding Christmas shopping at the mall. So is sweeping up. And making lists. And checking them twice.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Insidious Karma

OK, was it yesterday's weensy bit of snark that caused this morning's electronic glitch, or what? I don't really think things work that way, but I do think karma can be insidious, an ambush from within, in a perfectly reasonable way beyond superstition. I also think we can interpret our dreams the way we might interpret poems, looking for what's there and asking why, and how the evidence links up toward meaning, or paradox. Our dreams are in our own heads! We can figure them out by looking closely.

What's all this adding up to? Well, this morning I posted the new poetry feature at Escape Into Life--Matthew Murrey--and emailed the poet to check it out and let me know if there were any problems. When I got back from a business meeting, he'd answered that only 3 lines of the first poem appeared in the post. How awful, and how embarrassing (for me...I hope he was OK!)

Anyhoo, I don't know what happened, nor why comments are turned off on that post, but I did figure out how to restore the missing text, images, bio, and link by returning to a previously saved version and re-saving and publishing that. Whew!

Was it a wack attack on our site? Was it some glitch caused by the "limited connectivity" message I keep getting today on my home computer? Is the Internet overloaded by online holiday shopping? OR did my grinchy spirit in yesterday's post and my self-righteous-sounding complaints against snark in the Sound of Music posts leading up to that collide to screw up my online karma? I'll never know, unless I can figure out how to fold up my origami brain into a cootie catcher in order to re-ask those questions.

Speaking of "insidious karma," that is a phrase in my poem "Learning Simple Things #5" up this month in the wonderful Redheaded Stepchild, "a home for rejected poems." The poem is based on a wonderful whimsical but ultimately scary pastel drawing of a fanciful forest by John Cassidy. His whole show was about learning simple things, and I keep learning them over and over. I don't have his images, but I can show you these wonderful Samuel Jan images from Escape Into Life.

And speaking of interpreting dreams, I had a sad one this morning about losing my shiny bicycle, which was, at first, in parts, then reassembled and whole, then stolen. I wept in the dream, already interpreting, and woke still doing both. Then the Internet ate my post, and now I am peeking out at a rhino from under an umbrella. It's snowing a little, it's the hump of the week, and, oh, look, the sky has turned blue!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Being Human

It's Human Rights Day and Emily Dickinson's birthday. Happy Birthday to Emily, and we were all born with our universal human rights. It's just hard holding on to them.

Sadly, Eleanor Parker has died, and, now that her death has been announced, the snarknado will probably start to swirl again, and somebody will say that Carrie Underwood's Sound of Music did her in. (See how easy it is to be snarky? What's harder is to sing well, sing while acting and dancing and wrangling children, and hold up under relentless public criticism. But I sure wish Carrie hadn't brought Jesus into it.) Here's Eleanor Parker as the Baroness, realizing the Captain is in love with Maria. Sigh....

Monday, December 9, 2013

Glass Harmonica

OK, you know how Sandra Bullock in MissCongeniality plays water glasses as her talent in the Miss United States beauty pageant scholarship competition? That is a real thing! I mean, I had heard of it before, as a music-making technique, and even tried it, the playing of water in glasses by touching the rims, but there was also a musical instrument based on that technique, and, of course, Benjamin Franklin designed one. Yes, the glass harmonica (aka armonica, from the Italian word for harmony).

Actually, as the Wikipedia article explains, the glass harmonica was based on what was called the glass harp, the arrangement of wine glasses filled with varying amounts of liquid. 

So, “Gracie Lou Freebush” aka Gracie Hart aka Sandra Bullock is actually playing the glass harp, but I was tickled to find the glass harmonica.
AND to learn that the glass harmonica was the instrument used in the mad scene of the opera Lucia di Lammermoor that gives us the beautiful aria sung by Diva Plavalaguna (pictured above) in The Fifth Element. I love The Fifth Element. It is funny, inspiring, and has that song in it. I replay it over and over to hear opera singer Inva Mula sing, and watch the blue alien played by French actress Maïwen le Besco move her lips and dance. Director Luc Besson had hoped to use the voice of Maria Callas for the Lucia di Lammermoor aria, but older recordings were not pure enough, so instead we got the pure voice of Inva Mula!

Somehow this all relates to Carrie Underwood and Julie Andrews and Marni Nixon singing for Natalie Wood (in West Side Story) and Audrey Hepburn (in My Fair Lady) and Deborah Kerr (in The King and I) and that acting vs singing swirling controversy (see Snarkado), and somehow it doesn’t. It just relates to my joy in hearing beautiful singing and finding out cool information. For instance, how lovely to learn that Marni Nixon played Sister Sophia in the 1965 film of The Sound of Music! Since Julie Andrews could sing for herself! Hence, so could Marni! Finally.

And do you know what else? Playing the glass harmonica was supposedly hard on the delicate nervous system. You could go a little mad playing it, or get melancholy (or lead poisoning). But healthy Ben Franklin called its sound “incomparably sweet.” Like Kirstin Dunst, dressed as Marie Antoinette. 

Because you know who else played the glass harmonica? Uh huh.

Saturday, December 7, 2013


I will be glad when the Age of Snark is over. Sigh... Yes, Carrie Underwood was a little stiff and not as good as Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music. But she was sweet and charming, and it's a good story, and the overall wacky conventions of the American musical overlook all kinds of reality. Let it go, people!

Imagine all the pressure she was under while preparing for this event. And while doing it! And, if we want to be cynical, snarky, and mean, we might vent about the commercials, specially designed to sell stuff at Walmart, including the CD.

Anyway, watching The Sound of Music made me 1) play songs on the piano from the vocal score, recently obtained for 25 cents at the WGLT Recycled Music Sale 2) want to see the movie again, to watch Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer fall unrealistically in love according to the conventions of musical comedy 3) recall the joy of Mary Martin singing on the vinyl album. Now there's a good "Lonely Goatherd"!

But, while I prefer to get lost in the story and songs when watching musicals, I imagine the at-home and online commentary was lots fun for some, maybe as much fun as what must have gone along with Sharknado during its airings on the Syfy channel this summer. When I first heard the word "sharknado," I had no idea it was a real thing, meaning a real movie, as clearly a waterspout leaving man-eating sharks on the ground is not a real thing. Is it? Anyhoo, the sequel is on its way.

Speaking of Christopher Plummer, I loved seeing Amanda Plummer in Catching Fire.

Many thanks to Wikipedia for the beautiful white funnel cloud on the blue sky of northern Texas, a public domain image, and to Justin1569 at en.wikipedia for the scary tornado touching ground in Manitoba, a GNU Free Documentation Licensed image.

And I've been doing this snarknado swirl instead of dusting my house because it's Slattern Day.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Joyful Furious Flower

Oh, all kinds of joy! Today we announced the Pushcart nominees at Escape Into Life.  The colorful, joyful art here (and there) is by Xiong Lijun. And I needed some random sunflowers, as it's pretty misty out there. Congrats to the nominees, and lots of EIL poets are getting good news--books accepted, awards, Pushcart nominations from other journals. Poetry readings!  All good stuff.

Meanwhile, I was expecting more of the year-end rejections and got a sudden acceptance, from Redheaded Stepchild, one of my favorite online journals, as it is "a home for rejected poems." And a good one. So if you are wearing sad puppy face because your poems keep getting rejected, go read some of the fabulous poems there, take heart, and submit your work!

Visiting Redheaded Stepchild today, I learned that founding editor Malaika King Albrecht is on the board of Furious Flower Poetry Center at James Madison University. Perfect!

So I leave you with some lines from Gwendolyn Brooks: "The time // cracks into furious flower. Lifts its face / all unashamed. And sways in wicked grace."

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


Woke up to fog today, and perhaps drifted through the day in a fog...  Many chores and tasks accomplished, a meeting tonight, but I feel a bit floaty.There was the promise, via weather report, of higher temps, so I thought I might tear vines off the fence, but it was too damp, too misty. I collected the last of the morning glory seeds, as it was dry enough yesterday. We finished raking over the last two days, and the leaf sucker machine came by...

Over this past week, I read this book, which appears to be the common book of many colleges and universities, The Submission, by Amy Waldman, about the controversy surrounding the submission of a design for a memorial after a terrorist act. The architect is a Muslim; nothing is simple or clear.

Monday, December 2, 2013


I thought this ("hermitude") was a made-up word (made up by me), a noun meaning "a temporary or permanent condition of solitude similar to that of a hermit" or "the attitude of a hermit in preferring or discovering oneself in sustained solitude."

But it turns out to be 1) an Australian hip hop band and 2) indeed, the attitude of a hermit, according to Urban Dictionary (which is usually ruder than this, a condition known [by me] as "ruditude"). Hermitude, dude!

I find myself in (self-defined) hermitude lately, a kind of accidental solitary confine-ment relieved by 1) human contact of a holiday nature 2) engagement with nature of a raking or (necessitated by storm) tree-chopping sort 3) visits by grown children, who then return to a) work or b) college, thus returning me to hermitude, a hermitude shared by my hermit-like artist husband.

It's all good.

Upon return from a Thanks-giving visit, I found a poem of mine, "House-keeping in Downs," originally published in and taped for Menacing Hedge, back in the summer of 2012, had aired on Thanksgiving Day at WGLT's Poetry Radio, here. It is accompanied by "Jeannie's Song," from the album Jeannie's Song, by Tim Green, jazz pianist, and his fellow musicians. Holy Moly, Batman! Tim Green studied Philosophy at Eastern Illinois University, just down the road!--the road we traveled last night, returning our daughter to school!

And Holy Guacamole, Batman! When I went out to get/give the mail today, I learned that our mail carrier's daughter also attends Eastern Illinois University, studying Zoology! It's a Random Coinciday in the blog (and also a gray Blue Monday)!

Not only that, but there's a new theatre review up at Escape Into Life, a review of the New Group's production of The Jacksonian, by Beth Henley. Review by Scott Klavan, art by Sherry Karver. People (and dogs) wearing text, none of them, evidently, in hermitude, dude.