Monday, November 28, 2022

Books in Progress + Facebook Birthdays

I love Facebook telling me whose birthday it is daily, so I can say "Happy Birthday!" but sometimes I pause and wince and think, "Is that person dead?" which is terrible to confess, but you get me, right? So many people died over the last couple of years, and we were isolated a lot, plus Facebook algorithms probably hide a lot of people from me, and vice versa, and, well, sometimes I click over to that person's page to see if they seem to be alive before I say, "Happy Birthday!" Eerily, I do sometimes see other people saying "Happy Birthday" to people still on Facebook whom I know to be dead. Sometimes I post "thinking of you" sentiments on those pages... But, Happy Birthday if I missed you on Facebook. I hope you're still alive! So far, I am, too!

I'm reading two books at the moment: Living with a Wild God, by Barbara Ehrenreich, in preparation for the December Adult Reading Challenge at the library, a grown up book, and King Dork, by Frank Portman, a young adult book. I found the latter on our bookshelf, with an inscription from his grandparents, Christmas 2006. He remembers it as hilarious, and I was laughing out loud in bed with it last night, reading a conversation in French class, transcribed into awkward English. This may be my go-to book for laughing myself into utter relaxation and perfect health, and therefore keeping myself alive until my next Facebook Birthday.

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Leaves, But No Leavings...

We have raked our leaves toward the street--but not into it, which is bad for the storm drains, etc.--and they await the second coming of the great leaf-sucking machine. We've had glorious warm sunny weather for the Thanksgiving holiday, and I took long walks, alone and with friends. I took a notebook with me on the long walk alone and was grateful to have poems tumble out. I stopped at various benches to write them down. At one I found a key and a dog leash in the leaves underneath, attached the one to the other, hung it over the bench, and moved on to the next. A woman came by, looking at her feet. "I'm looking for my keys," she said. "I found it," I said, "a single key, and a dog leash." "That's it!" she said. Yay! 

We had no leftovers from Thanksgiving dinner this year. I cooked for my parents, a crockpot meal, low salt. No turkey, no stuffing, no ham, no mashed potatoes, no green bean casserole, no pumpkin bread, no orange jello pretzel salad. It makes me a little sad. But I was pleased to see these dishes turn up on other tables in Instagram photos...! Christmas will be a little different this year, too, but fine by me. For instance, this is our tree. Surely, I will still bake pumpkin bread.

I read this haunting book of short stories, Under the Moon in Illinois, by Kipling Knox. Really charming, and funny, and poignant, and, yes, sometimes scary. I liked how any ghosts yearned to do good. Then I re-read The Master and Margarita, by Mikhail Bulgakov, in preparation for a progressive discussion, by Zoom, in January. It is also funny, scary, and poignant, and begins with this epigraph from Goethe's Faust:

     ...and so who are you, after all?

     --I am part of the power which forever wills evil and forever works good.

Thank goodness.

Oh, but I forgot to tell you that on my long, poetry-tumbling walk, I discovered a Monarch Butterfly sanctuary, with an entrance from the trail! Apparently, monarchs--orange and black--were named for  King William III of England, Prince of Orange! My Christmas-tree monarchs are an impossible but beautiful red! I love them.

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Yellow Butterfly

There's a yellow butterfly in the house. It blew in on the big wind a few warm days ago, when various doors were open, and is now alive among the houseplants and plants I brought in from the patio back when frost was predicted. It went down to the twenties last night, and we had a real first snow yesterday. Or first tiny iceball fall. It stuck a while, though not in flake form, and is gone in today's sunshine.

I have been tidying again, and now have 5 empty shoeboxes to re-purpose. More shoes I had forgotten are now visible on the rack, and beloved shoes I wore out but was keeping...are gone. As are pants I wore till the seams were giving. And unraveling sweaters. During the process, I did a little decorating and re-organizing of the holiday closet and re-arranging of the wedding garlands, some of which now festoon the glass patio doors, where the yellow butterfly hovers between real and fake greenery. Pale pink appleblossom impatiens are still blooming in a pot that once hung from the eaves, now from a curtain rod.

I finished some books in progress so I could 1) put them away on bookshelves 2) pass one along to my book group. We are reading Annette Vallon, by James Tipton, about a real woman who helped resist the awful violence of (and after) the French Revolution. She was the lover of poet William Wordsworth, and the mother of his child, Caroline! I don't think I knew that, and the author in his notes explains how England protected the reputation of their great poet, and Wordsworth "hid" her in his writings, as poets often do, but clearly loved her and cared about his child! We chose it from the library display table for The Revolutionists, by Lauren Gunderson, now playing at Heartland Theatre. Funny, moving, devastating play!

Poetry submissions continue, but my record-keeping process has changed due to printer (or printer cartridge?) problems. It's probably best that I use less paper and ink, but I am so technology challenged, I dread relying on electronic tracking. So I still write things down, now on empty folders, recycled from teaching days. And that, along with 10 Ways to Recycle a Corpse, by Karl Shaw, which I found on the bookshelf in the middle of a sleepless night, and which had some icky violence by tryants in it, makes it a Random Coinciday as well as a Poetry Someday in the blog!

Friday, November 4, 2022

Ladder of Years

As if to balance the recent rejection, I had a recent acceptance! Of 4 out of the 5 poems I sent to a magazine I had been meaning to send to for a long time, missing its deadline again and again. Because time keeps getting away from me. This batch was a sad one, but it had a ladder in it, leaning on a peach tree, and that makes it a Random Coinciday in the blog. Because I just read--or possibly re-read?--Ladder of Years, by Anne Tyler, a sort of sweet, sad novel about a woman who walks away from her family one day... I could picture myself doing it as she did it, much as I love and would never leave my family, other than that time in Chicago when I walked out the back door and down to the streetlight while my toddler crawled around on the dining room floor at the feet of my husband and father, who were talking about politics and real estate. Really, this was not meant to be a Cranky Doodle Day in the blog. That was years ago. My kids are grown. I'm still married to the same man, and today, early in the morning, I looked all through the house for him and then saw the ladder on the patio, leaning against the house, and found him on the roof, sitting cross-legged at the edge, scooping leaves from the gutter into a plastic bag, during a Wind Advisory. It was a little like the time I was down in the church basement during a tornado, and the rain was horizontal, and the neighbor from across the street had come out to tell my husband, scooping leaves on the roof, that he should go inside. But not as windy, and I was there smiling and talking to him, waiting till he was done before going back inside...

I may have read it before...but I didn't know what was going to happen. Books are often different the second time you read them, especially if a lot of life has happened in between. I have walked along many a beach since then, but not at the ocean for a long time now, and the annual summer lake vacation is done... Yes, time keeps getting away from me. But this version of the cover, the one I read, a copy I picked up at the ongoing library sale, is warmer, sort of peachy in a way, and has a hat with a brim, which I need to protect my eyes.