Friday, December 26, 2014

Let the Right One In at Christmastime

It's certainly been a lovely holiday season so far!--gatherings of friends, gatherings of family wamily, and Santa came! In that case, we let the right one in! Why am I recalling the title of a vampire movie and novel--excellent! scary! Swedish!--at holiday time? Let me tell you about that!

First, there is the aforementioned Santa, the one you want to come! You might even leave milk and cookies for him, and carrots for the reindeer. Then there is the Grinch, the one Cindy Lou Who discovered taking away the Christmas tree in Whoville, and who returned it when his heart got big enough.

Then there are the uninvited guests. Like me. Don't let me in, even if I happen to barge in. Which, alas, I did, on our way to the holiday book group dinner gathering. There were cars in the driveway, which we expected. We were on Regency Drive, thanks to Google maps, etc. But, alas, we were still on North Regency Drive, just an intersection away from South Regency Drive, our actual destination.

"I'm Kathleen," I said to the nice young man who answered the door, apparently the host's husband. I entered boldly, smiling, and encountered a dinner table of guests who smiled back over their wine glasses at me. "We brought things!" I said, still in energetic greeting mode, the unfamiliarity of all the faces only just beginning to dawn on me.

"What's in the bag?" asked one of men as I cheerfully retreated, saying something like, "Oops, wrong house!" It was a Victoria's Secret bag, large and pink, with pink ribbon handles, sturdy enough to bring the veggies, dip, and plastic Rudolph-the-Red-Nosed-Reindeer relish trays.... My special happy new year greetings to the folks on North Regency Drive, and thanks for your big hearts! I'm glad I'm not a vampire, for your sakes!

All this is coming together on a Random Coinciday as I encounter a particular section of the book I am reading, The Liar's Club, by Mary Karr, as she discusses her imaginary vampire club (and some very icky actual stuff) in childhood. Reading this and Lit in December, I am all the more grateful for my own childhood, the safety and security in my loving family, and the continuing love and relative good health of us all. Today we all go Into the Woods together...! Even though, oddly enough, The Interview is playing in our town. None of us has the urge to see that.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A.M. Yoga

I do A.M. Yoga with Rodney Yee at anytime of the day, but, yes, preferably in the A.M. In the summer, I swim and walk, and, this summer, I also biked with a Saturday morning biking group. In spring, summer, and fall, I do a lot of walking. In the winter, I am, these days, stuck* with A.M. Yoga. (I used to swim in winter at an indoor pool that is now rubble, carted away or smoothed into a street on the university campus.)

*"Stuck" is, of course, exactly what I might fear, but more on that later. And I love my morning yoga, don't get me wrong. P.M. Yoga, with Patricia Walden, the lady on the cover of the VHS tape, is too strenuous for me. Downright dangerous, as I can't hold the pose and simultaneously look at her on the tape to make sure I am doing it correctly, so I might 1) not be and/or 2) fall over 3) get stuck in one of her entangled poses (not pictured).

Yes, I am still a beginner. But without "beginner's mind." Instead, "monkey mind" intrudes on the meditation part of A.M. Yoga some mornings. I fear not. I do the stretching and relaxation, become aware of the monkey, and go complete things on my to-do list.

But this year, I am happy to report, I can do this pose, the one shown on this DVD cover. I can do it quite handily, quite leggelly, and have not fallen over yet. But I can only do it on one side, the side required to plug in the Christmas tree, which I positioned in a corner, near an outlet, an outlet that is now blocked by the decorated tree. I left just enough space for me, or Rodney Yee, to get in there and plug in the extension cord, doing this. So far, I haven't gotten stuck in this position. But if I do, I'll be behind the lit Christmas tree, so hand me a book.

I often wear my hair this way, as well.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Silver Anniversary

Today is our silver anniversary, 25 years of marriage! We have kind of a rolling celebration because that's how we...roll. And because our "church wedding" was on December 15 while our "legal" union was on December 16, with an Abraham Lincoln lookalike justice of the peace pronouncing us husband and wife in the courthouse of downtown Chicago. Our "church wedding" consisted of us walking into St. Gertrude's church in the middle of the day, where the janitor was busy vacuuming, to ask God, if available, and the statue of Joseph with toddler Jesus on his shoulder if it was OK with everybody if we got married. Evidently it was.

We celebrated last night with pink champagne! We watched the movie Mr. Nobody and talked about time, time loops, love, choices, quantum physics, and other stuff. And there's another bottle of champagne in the garage, because that's our wine cellar.

I am reading Committed, the funny sequel to Eat, Pray, Love, at exactly the right time! Of course I also wish I had read it earlier, but she hadn't written it yet when I needed it the most. By "she," I mean Elizabeth Gilbert, who was writing this book while waiting around to marry a man she'd sworn not to marry. He'd sworn, too. I've always loved how the book title evokes a nut house.

There are many things I could quote from this book, but I'm going to quote Gilbert quoting Eleanor Roosevelt, because I like Eleanor, and her marriage was an interesting one. Eleanor said, "All human beings have needs and temptations and stresses. Men and women who have lived together over long years get to know one another's failings; but they also come to know what is worthy of respect and admiration in those they live with and in themselves." Yep!

I did love Gilbert's list of her own worst traits. It makes me want to list my own! And share it, humorously and earnestly, with my mate of 25 years. We both have silver running through our hair. We respect and admire each other. We make each other laugh.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Advent of Darkness

'Tis the season, yes, of darkness and cold. Winter solstice looms. There are terrible reminders of our hearts of darkness in the recent disclosures about torture and in the sadly, strangely necessary hashtag black lives matter. I know this is an especially difficult period--the holidays, the early night--for people who suffer from depression, recent loss, or seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

But I hunker down in the darkness, reading, beside the Christmas tree that lights up my lucky little corner of life.

I've been reading Cleopatra's Sister, by Penelope Lively, a fascinating look at fate, randomness, alternatives, accidents. It's a novel that allowed me to revisit a bit of the history of Cleopatra, particularly her sister Berenice, who is imagined as surviving and having her own affair with Mark Antony in a fictional land of the past, which is the fictional land of the present that the novel's main in. My actual sister, who once played Cleopatra, arrives soon after the solstice to celebrate Christmas with us! So, in this way, I am Cleopatra's sister. And here, on an alternative cover, are Cleopatra's sweet, sandaled feet.

Saturday, December 13, 2014


Yes, today is 12-13-14, one of those delightful calendar coincidences! So today is about numbers. I just finished reading Nine Inches, a bunch of short stories by Tom Perrotta, who also wrote Election and Little Children and The Wishbones. These are funny and tender and wise stories about crazy stuff that happens in schools and suburbia, scary yet sympathetic police officers, guys that have some difficulty growing up, marriages falling apart, and wannabe or used-to-be musicians.

I cringed at the TMI conversation between a teacher and student in "Grade My Teacher," then marveled at the little turn this story took. Lots of them take a very interesting turn or serious swerve! I winced at the beating a character took in "One-Four-Five," and many of these stories do end with a "punch," so to speak, a sentence that hits hard.

"Nine Inches" is not about a ruler, nor Converse tennis shoes. It's about the distance kids are to remain apart at the middle school dance, and is measured by a bit of measuring tape, not a hard ruler, as depicted. There's another school party, a high school party, in "The All-Night Party," where we get to see vulnerable people care about each other. That's always nice.

Speaking of numbers, my car is fixed! For only $46! Thank you, Davis Tire and Auto! And in the 100 Rejections project, here's the tally so far: 76 Sent, 33 Rejected, 20 Accepted, 21 Pending, and 2 N/A. Amazingly, the math adds up! True, I did not get 100 rejections in 2014, and did not even send out 100 submissions, but I persisted in sending out what I had that seemed ready. Rejection sometimes means it's not ready, and sometimes means it just needs to go to the right place at the right time.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

All Over Creation

"Can you drop everything?" said my husband, appearing in the doorway of my office at home. He was wearing a headlamp.

Things are marvelously random at my house.

He had got the car going, my car, the one that has been sitting in the garage for two months, hood up. Not going.

I dropped everything (my hands from the keyboard) and grabbed other things (purse, phone) and drove my blue car through the rain and vague fog, my husband following in his red car, to Davis Tire & Auto, where it will sit a bit longer before they can get to it and fix it, we hope. It's probably the ignition. We have figured this out after two months of fiddling and diagnosis, in the form of conversations with car people, Internet research, and a Chilton book from the library. Don't tell me it's the battery or the alternator. It isn't. Anyhoo, I am glad!! All I want for Christmas is my car fixed. And, OK, a new oven/gas stove. I don't need a dishwasher.

Now I am reading All Over Creation, by Ruth Ozeki, which, as you can see, is about potatoes. And a bunch of other things. Actually I am reading the edition with seedlings on the cover. I love Ruth Ozeki. Thank you, Kim Tingley, for recommending her book My Year of Meats, which put me off meat in general and red meat in particular and onto Ruth Ozeki. I miss hamburgers. But I do love the occasional bit of free range ground beef we get from relatives in Missouri.

I love potatoes.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Blue Flower

In the middle of the night, I finished TheBlue Flower, by Penelope Fitzgerald, making good use of a couple of sleepless hours. In the book, the character of Fritz (who will grow up to be Novalis) has begun a story in which a listener is enraptured by a stranger’s story of a blue flower. There is also treasure, in the form of conventional riches, but the narrator longs to see the blue flower and Fritz, the writer, asks, “What is the meaning of the blue flower?”

Stop now, if you don’t want to hear another character’s answer to the question. But usually a symbol in literature can mean many related things; a symbol has great complexity, interpretations that ripple out like circles on a pond. (Wikipedia kindly ripples out the meaning of the blue flower from German Romanticism to the present day.) I’m still pondering the blue flower of the novel and won’t name all the ripples I see, but I do plan to quote “the Bernhard,” one of the children in Fritz’s family, a blond boy also called the angel in the house, who loves water—the river—and is relentlessly curious.

            He had been struck—before he crammed the story back into Fritz’s book-bag—by one thing in particular: the stranger who had spoken at the dinner table about the Blue Flower had been understood by one person and one only. This person must have been singled out as distinct from all the rest of his family. It was a matter of recognising your own fate and greeting it as familiar when it came.

This is what rippled inside me, the “matter of recognising your own fate and greeting it as familiar when it came.” (Spellcheck has automatically recognized and provided the familiar American spelling of Fitzgerald’s “recognising” as I compose….and I have obstinately changed it back in three cases.)

Still awake, the new issue of The Sun at hand, I read the interview with Stephen Harrod Buhner on plant intelligence and natural healing. You should know that Sophie, the betrothed in The Blue Flower, is seriously ill. When Fritz first sees her, age 12, across the room, he is inexplicably drawn to her. Says Buhner, “The ancient Athenians had a word for that moment when some intangible part of ourselves leaves our bodies and touches a living intelligence in the world: aisthēsis. There is an exchange of soul essence accompanied by a gasp of recognition, a deep breath, an inspiration.” As Fritz recognized Sophie, I recognized the Bernhard, with a little gasp at his inspiration.

And finally, for now, as I’m sure I’ll keep rippling in the blog, yesterday’s mail brought the current issue of Quiddity, in which I have a very short poem called “Broken Clouds.” You can hear it here, and it has blue in it. The magazine defines itself up front:

quiddity—the real nature or essence of a thing; that which makes it what it is (OED)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

In a Nutshell

In a nutshell, I cannot afford this singular painting by Jonathan Koch, Walnut, nor the gorgeous apple paintings of the previous post, but maybe you can! (It's OK! Buy it! I am happy for you!!) I am reading The Blue Flower, by Penelope Fitzgerald, with my mouth ajar in amazement and delight, perhaps subliminally wishing for walnuts.Various small nutcrackers adorn the room in a holiday fashion. The Blue Flower is about the philosopher-poet eventually known as Novalis. I love it. Reading it, I was reminded that "diligence" is a stagecoach, not just my own painstaking effort..., presumably because it is a persevering if slow-moving apparatus of travel. At Escape Into Life today, we announced the Pushcart Prize nominees, and I wish them all well! I am nominated this year, too, by two fine journals, so I know it is an exciting honor. Diligently tallying my submissions, et cetera, I noticed, before I lost count of things in general, that I've been nominated seven times before, as well, but not yet included in the Pushcart Prize anthology, so I'll end in a large slow-moving stagecoach of hope.

Monday, December 1, 2014


Happy December! We had a lovely Thanksgiving weekend with family in Missouri and Illinois. Beautiful travel weather, yummy food, so much to be thankful for in our immediate circumstances and in the abundance of this life and this year. It's like a windfall of good fortune, and I am acutely aware that it is not always so and not so for everyone.* Sigh.... Many thanks to all--the known and the unknown--who contribute to our well being and to the well being of others in our shared world.

*There was no traffic outside St. Louis, and I think we know why. Deep sigh.

The weekend included discussions of good and evil, right and wrong, and, for some, us and them; for me, none of this is black and white. I found that my current reading matter, Leaving the Sea, short stories by Ben Marcus, somehow captured the gray areas in a 21st-century Kafkaesque way.

Here is a new poetry video** by Swoon, Declination, best viewed at Vimeo, in the current issue of Right Hand Pointing.**

**in which I play a small part! The whole issue is a windfall of fantastic short poems!

And here is a windfall of apple paintings by Jonathan Koch, for which, many thanks! And we came home with apple sauce!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Daughter of Midas

I love it when somebody makes a movie based on my work! (You should hear my Academy Award acceptance speeches in the shower.) The most recent is Daughter of Midas, based on a poem of mine in Glasschord, as interpreted by Nic Sebastian, who created The Poetry Storehouse. Poets offer poems for "remix" and filmmakers do just that!--remix by re-conceiving poems in their own way, adding available video clips or filming new footage. I love it when Nic records the poem herself, as in this case, when she was also the filmmaker, here at Vimeo! So eerily beautiful!

Othniel Smith also made a film of "Daughter of Midas," and I shared it a while back, but here it is again, for comparison! What a delight.

He has a wonderful sense of humor. So does Paul Hostovsky. I reviewed his book Naming Names today at EIL. It does name names! And it made me laugh.

I needed to laugh. Because, you know, the cold is here, and I don't really want to go out. And my car is still broken. And we raked all the leaves already. Almost all. Almost all the golden leaves...

Thanks to Wikipedia, Walter Crane, and Nathaniel Hawthorne for this illustration of Midas touching his daughter and turning her to gold. Thanks to Meryl Streep for hugging the Oscar.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Second Snow

I woke to the second snow of the season this morning, this one sticking to the roofs and cracks and shadows under shrubs. In celebration of "sticking," I share with you these photos from the Stuck Series of Dana Colcleasure, up today at Escape Into Life. She's not stuck artistically, as you can see, but, instead, physically, but she'll soon be unstuck, I am glad to report! Read more about her here.

I'm coming unstuck, too, lately, a few poems bubbling, fermenting...others due soon in journals. Of course, as usual, the rejections are plentiful!--but, as the submissions have diminished of late, soon, er, won't be, I guess. "It don't worry me, It don't worry me..." (Barbara Harris, singing that song from Nashville.)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

First Snow

I do love the first snow! Today it brought a mini-fiber-optic Christmas tree to the door, mis-delivered mail. (I picture the poor mail carrier shivering and overburdened with yesterday's Veterans Day mail in addition to today's.) Anyhoo, I went out in my winter coat, hat, and gloves to re-deliver it to our neighbor a few doors north. In our mail: coupons, bills, retirement account disclosures, requests from charities, and the ISU Alumni magazine, with great stories about local Route 66 doings. The first snow was minimal and is gone, but I wrote a poem about it. That matches.

Up today at Escape Into Life is my review of The Dailiness, by Lauren Camp. I have been reading this book of poems, gently, for almost a year! That's often what I do for poetry reviews--read and re-read slowly, or read a book all at once quickly, and then re-read slowly. Her original solo feature, as well as the review, are accompanied by wonderful and whimsical art by Andrea D'Aquino. Whimsy with an edge, as in Bathers, pictured above.

I am currently reading The Man Who Loved Children, a novel by Christina Stead, and The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, nonfiction by Nassim Nicolas Taleb. I recently finished Little Women of Baghlan: The Story of a Nursing School for Girls in Afghanistan, the Peace Corps, and Life Before the Taliban, by Susan Fox, the topic of tonight's book group, with the author in attendance! I do look forward to that. And I note, with glee, that it is highly improbable that a lion would blow dry his mane! Thanks to Andrea D'Aquino for that!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Iron Women

The Fate issue of Granta arrived, hitting the spot. I've been a bit sad--hence, it's a Blue Monday on what is actually Friday. A hometown girl died this week, at her new hometown in Massachusetts, and I'm sad for her family. And we had a local murder, the mother of some of the sweet volleyball girls my husband has coached. I grieve for them and remain troubled and shocked.

But good things have tumbled right out, too, as usual. Last night we saw the local high school volleyball team, Lady Iron at NCHS, win their sectional. They move on to a super-sectional Saturday and then, we hope, state!

 Right after the game, still in orange and black spirit clothes, I went to see Falling, an autobiographical play by Deanna Jent, at Heartland Theatre--beautiful performances by all. Karen Hazen plays Tami, the iron woman of that family, holding up under the relentless stress of being the mother of a severely autistic son with violent tendencies. Intense, with spots of needed humor and remarkable beauty. You'll like the feathers!

And there was such joy! My sister and my brother and his wife came to town on the Halloween weekend! My son and daughter and my nephew and his fiance joined the fun with my parents. Sort of a Hallowurkey gathering, as I like to call it! The weather was so nice on Monday, some of us walked the Constitution Trail. And I've still been raking, raking, raking...

For beauty and strength via poetry and art, take a look at this EIL feature: Kelly Cressio-Moeller paired with Meghan Howland. You'll like the feathers there, too. And thanks to Natural Garden for the blue poppy, white dogwood, and green hellebore.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween Weather

I woke to wind and the beautiful yellow leaves against the chill gray-white sky. Now the wind is keening at my office window, suggesting, "Lower the storm window,"* but in its own triple-throated language, and the sky is in a costume of blue. Rumor has it there's snow in the Chicagoland area. Earlier this week, raking in the sun, I hoped the Indian Summer would last for the trick-or-treat kids. Alas, no. It rained on the downtown treat fest Thursday, and tonight there's the usual Halloween freeze to expect, but I'll greet the brave ones at the door, the littlest ones, who come in the daylight. I've got my chocolate ready!

Scary things happen in threes: the car broke, the dishwasher broke, and the oven broke. The scary part is the expensiveness of replacement or repair. I don't at all mind 1) walking everywhere 2) washing dishes by hand 3) cooking on the stovetop (on the 2 1/2 working burners) and by crockpot. But, yes, we'll have to fix things. I miss roasting vegetables and baking cakes.

Likewise, here are three scary things up now at Escape Into Life: 1) a new book review of Skin Folk by Nalo Hopkinson 2) Cat-at-Strophe 3) In Cat Country (the cat poem features mentioned earlier here in the blog). The cat poems were chosen for October as the cat is often depicted as the witch's "familiar" (or attendant spirit in animal form) in connection with Halloween. And, yes, Kevin Nance, the photographer, says it's OK to post his photos here! These are all his. Thanks, Kevin!

And here is a poem with death in it, "After the Game," and also baseball, and also my brother, Jeff, who is here for a visit. The poem just came out--perfect timing (personal and World Series timing)--in Intentional Walk, an online literary magazine dedicated to sports. And I just dressed in Halloween colors, orange and black, to attend the area volleyball regionals last night. Congrats to NCHS, Regional champs, and lovely to see NCWHS girls play, too! My husband has coached so many area girls, we root for them all! (You can expect a volleyball poem to appear in Intentional Walk in a future issue!)


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Where I've Been

Where I've been: 1) raking in my yard 2) in cat country. In the recent gorgeous fall (Indian Summer) weather we've been having, I've been raking lots of yellow leaves to the curb, where a great leaf-sucking machine will suck them up for local composting. As the leaf truck hasn't actually arrived yet, I am soon to head back out to rake some more, as, you know, the leaves just keep falling until they're gone, the trees bare. For now, I share with you this lone yellow leaf on a green fence, called Loner, by Kevin Nance.

I hope it's OK to share it here, but I think so, as it is shared at Facebook, and you can find (and "Like") more of his work there, at Kevin Nance Photography and also at Escape Into Life at his own feature and in the current poetry feature, In Cat Country, with more poems with cats in them. Kevin Nance is a wonderful writer and journalist, too. "In Cat Country" is actually the title of one of the poems in the feature, by Julie Brooks Barbour, and it's got stray dogs in it, too, and black snakes, as well as feral cats. Plenty of surprises and a general eerie mood, set up by this stone lion, so check it out!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Cats and Birds

Emily Dickinson loved birds,* and her sister, Lavinia, loved cats. That's a comic mini-conflict inside The Belle of Amherst, a one-woman play by William Luce. I did it as a senior thesis project at Kenyon College many years ago (I'm finally the right age to play the role!), and now there's a revival of it Off-Broadway, starring Joely Richardson, reviewed by Scott Klavan at Escape Into Life. Julie Harris played the role originally.

You can see production shots at the review and also this fabulous Death tarot card, starring Emily Dickinson, by Susan Yount.

This week and next, you can read poems about cats at EIL, too! We had the Dog Days this summer, poems about dogs, and now, in October, it's equal time for cats,** with cat art by Nicola Slattery. I'm calling the first installment of this mini-anthology Cat-at-Strophe, a horrific pun. You see the Halloweenish theme here. This lovely Slattery piece is actually titled Hallowed Cat! Lavinia would be pleased.

*  And also bees and butterflies.
**Birds are pretty ongoing in poetry.

Monday, October 20, 2014

I Love Letters

I love letters. It’s been a while since I got any. These days the mailbox, like the inbox or the phone, gets mostly junk mail. I did just write a few letters, notes, really, short ones, to say thank you and get well. And I still write checks and mail my bills, using stamps. Today I am walking to the post office!

But I miss writing the long letter that sends love and news and personality to the recipient, that asks questions, hoping for an answer—by mail!—soon. I miss the little illustrations I used to add sometimes and the decorative marginal or closing flourishes. I miss getting such a letter back. Sigh…

I’ve just finished reading A Fire in the Mind, the biography of Joseph Campbell by Stephen and Robin Larsen that excerpts many letters as a way of delivering information and personality. Several are by Campbell, of course, to his wife and friends and family members. Others are about him, by these people and various students and colleagues and professional associates along the way. Biographers must already be having a harder time re-constructing a life, now that the age of letters is over.

Our EIL theatre reviewer, Scott Klavan, just got to see Carol Burnett and Brian Dennehy in a revival of Love Letters, by A. R. Gurney, a play that recreates a relationship through years of letters. Generally, the actors simply sit and read the letters, which makes it easier for actors to do star turns in limited engagements, as in the current Broadway production. Burnett just replaced Mia Farrow, and other actors coming up include Alan Alda, Candice Bergen, Stacy Keach, Diana Rigg, Anjelica Huston, and Martin Sheen. Here is Scott’s review of the current production. (The art there and here is by Erika Kuhn, from a Moleskine journal project at Escape Into Life.)

And I yearn to direct and/or be in Dear Elizabeth, by Sarah Ruhl, a play based on the letters of the poets Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell.

Today is expected to be the warmest day of the week, and I already see the sun poking out between the morning trees. Reading the end of A Fire in the Mind yesterday, I got a short note from Nature, in a way. The last chapter has a lot of letter excerpts, several recounting where the writers were when they first sensed Campbell’s death. Yes, those intuitions or premonitions or visitations…that, when confirmed by the facts, make it possible to construct the myth or narrative of one’s own life, or see one’s life as such a thing.

I was reading this testimonial by Lynne Kaufman: “I find that beyond all the brilliance and scholarship, when that fades, still as a man, he was shining. He was radiant, the aliveness of the world came through him. The vividness, the vivacity of it, the immediacy and warmth of him. The way the universe was alive for him, he could transmit that.”

It had been gray all day. As I read, the sun pushed through, gently, beginning at “He was radiant…,” and faded away again during the next two sentences. I like it when stuff like that happens. It’s just the sun, doing what it does, shining, and being covered by clouds, and me, doing what I do, reading, and reading the world for its endless signs of life. “This is my letter to the World,” wrote Emily Dickinson, “That never wrote to Me—” Or, in my case, That never always wrote to me.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Whistling Mailman

Today I was awaiting some super-good news to befall a buddy in the way of a big performing arts award, and I couldn’t stand it, so I took my 2-mile walk to town to run a couple errands and do  some magical thinking and wishing and hoping and…(earworm?*) 

When I approached the bank (first errand), I heard but did not see the Whistling Mailman, but he put me in good cheer. At the library, it was 2-for-1 DVD day, so I got Infamous (the other Truman Capote film) and The Upside of Anger (Joan Allen!) for $1! At this point, I was pretty darn sure my pal would win his award!

Then I escaped death not once, but twice! For what to my wondering eyes and ears should appear, as I approached the parking garage, but the Whistling Mailman in his mail truck. He opened his window-door to say hello. I asked him how he was.

“I’m trying to stay out of the obits!”

“Me, too,” I said, confessing to the vague Internet Quiz Death paranoia.

He was sympathetic and almost whistled.

 “Don’t run over me with your truck,” I said, bravely walking in front of his government vehicle. He didn’t.

When I got to the corner, he was stopped at the crosswalk, looking down at the mail. His foot could slip off the brake, I thought, crossing with the light. It didn’t. He opened his window-door again, and we kept up the open-air conversation.

“Thanks for not killing me!” I called.

“What did it say? Death by government vehicle?” he called back.

I love our Whistling Mailman.

I won’t be whistling, though: “A whistling maid and a cackling hen / Always come to some bad end.” I’m glad I am able to cackle at my Internet Quiz Death, if still a bit haunted by it. After all, Jan Hooks and Elizabeth Peña just died. Sigh… Loved their work. At least I survived (spoiler alert!) past the age of the concierge from The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery!

But my wishful thinking did not make my pal get the award. Instead, he graciously congratulated another winner, and will move on to other things, and already has. “World tour!”

*Bacharachround Music: “Wishin’ and Hopin’” by Burt Bacharach (as sung by Dionne Warwick)(or as whistled by the Whistling Mailman)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

An Apparent Intention

I'm on p. 456 of A Fire in the Mind, the biography of Joseph Campbell. I continue to enjoy the coincidences and connections I am making while reading the book, and reading it at the right time in my life. His wife, Jean Erdman, who is still alive (98), is a dancer, choreographer, and theatre artist, and I feel connected to her (via birthday) and delighted that my life in theatre and writing has also taken me into the dance world. Since she created a dance theatre piece, called The Coach with Six Insides, based on Finnegan's Wake, I will probably have to read Finnegan's Wake someday! At least I can use Campbell's Skeleton Key to get inside it!

Anyhoo, on p. 456 is this, from a letter Campbell wrote to Erdman:

"It all puts me mind again of Schopenhauer's wonderful piece on An Apparent Intention in the Fate of the Individual: how the continuities of a lifetime seem, in the end, to have been plotted out by a novelist--all the accidents, apparently uncoordinated as they first occur, concurring finally toward the shaping of an order."

I've been attuned to that "apparent intention" lately, noticing it in my own life, and also hearing a lot about it in current culture, while having forgotten that it came from Schopenhauer, so I suppose he'll also have to go on my reading/re-reading list.... Surely I've read some excerpted Schopenhauer! And those he influenced. Sigh.... How will I ever read everything? Also I'd rather look at this dahlia.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Acting in the Rain

We finished up the annual Evergreen Cemetery Walk, in its 20th year, with a wrap party at the McLean County Museum of History and a fond farewell to the retiring director, Judy Brown, to be succeeded by Rhys Lovell, who reprised his role this year as Hoss Radbourn, baseball player, and directed the scene I was in with Jeremy Stiller. We played Asahel and Mary Gridley, a sparring couple who look nothing like these two under their umbrella.

We did stand under umbrellas at times during the week, but cheerfully put them down and acted in the rain. And, briefly, in the snow! The very first Saturday was quite cold, and the earliest precipitation was white. While it soon dissolved into rain, it prompted Judy to recall the past and say, "I came in with snow and will go out with snow!" Judy also went out acting, doing a role she had played before, taking over as a sudden understudy for an actor taken ill. Bridgette returned, and all was well, but it made for some extra cemetery drama.

Today, on a rainy Blue Monday in the blog, I am playing catch-up again, with laundry, editing duties, general clean-up and organization, and possibly some poetry submission. I have finally read all the sweet cards from the cast of The Language Archive, which I was a bit too teary-eyed to peruse closely at the time, even though I was able to enjoy the gifts of fresh bread, kitchen towels, world music, marvelous scents via incense, and various wonderful doo-dads. I was comforted to see that the director of In the Next Room at ISU had the same problem. It's hard to let go of a production we love doing!

I guess it helps if it rains and snows on you, and you are on your feet for 6 hours a day, doing a performance 140 times in one week! But it was great fun!!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Twisted Cords

Oh, my, this is beautiful. Twisted Cord Flower. It's from Africa and Asia. Sometimes when I think of what I might still yearn for in life, it is to see the beauty of flora elsewhere in the world and to taste the fruits! I am reading A Fire in the Mind, the biography of Joseph Campbell by Stephen and Robin Larsen, and he is traveling right now--India, Burma, Thailand, and Hong Kong...and headed to Japan. I love that guy, and in the world of serendipity, I share a birthday with his dancer wife, Jean Erdman, and my theatre life took me to her Theatre of the Open Eye in New York, once upon a time!

Last night I got to see In the Next Room, by Sarah Ruhl, at Illinois State University. Also beautiful! What a funny, sweet, tender, melancholy play. Very well done. I think this is the last night, and I've urged my parents to go see it, and I urge you, too. Tonight, locally, or any time you have the chance. Boy, do I love that play!

By marvelous chance, the actor who played the doctor in In the Next Room was in the audience today at the Evergreen Cemetery Walk. I was able to tell him he was fantastic! I felt so honored and delighted to see him there! It was our second-to-last day, good weather, wonderful audiences. One of our actors was taken ill, and we wish her well and hope to see her back tomorrow, but, if she needs to rest, we're glad our fearless director, and 20-year veteran of the walk, Judy Brown, could take over the role!

Anemone, or wind flower!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Fear Nothing

Fear nothing! Not even a photoshopped flower. Oh, I hope it is real. I have white bleeding hearts in my garden and would love to have some black ones!

Beautiful day in the cemetery today! Sunshine! Leaves! Acorns!

In poetry news, here is a review of Fear Nothing of the Future or the Past, by Angie Macri, newly posted at Escape Into Life.

And here's a new theatre review, by Scott Klavan, of The Killing of Sister George. I've never seen it. (And the dolls do scare me.)