Sunday, January 29, 2023

A Tale of Two Re-Reads

I am engaged in re-reading two novels with two book clubs, one that meets by Zoom and one in person. They gloriously connect, making it a Random Coinciday in the blog. And one begins with a poem, making it a Poetry Someday! Friday, the Zoom group discussed The Master and Margarita, by Mikhail Bulgakov, one of my favorite novels ever, in part due to its novel-within-the-novel about Pontius Pilate and Yeshua. Right now, I am immersed in the re-reading of A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles, in which a man is confined to the Metropol Hotel on house arrest. (Is somebody making a movie of this yet?!*) Both novels take place in Moscow during the Bolshevik Revolution and its aftermath, in the 1920s and thereabouts, and on page 84 of A Gentleman in Moscow, Bulgakov is mentioned in a list of beloved Russian poets. In fact (fiction), the book begins with a poem by the beloved (fictional) poet Count Alexander Hyich Rostov, the hero in house arrest.

*Wikipedia tells me A Gentleman in Moscow is being adapted into a limited series to be released on Paramount+ and Showtime. It was to star Kenneth Branagh, but now will star Ewan McGregor. OK, then!

These two books, along with the Geena Davis memoir I am about to return to the library, have given great calm and delight and relief as I cuddle up on the couch under a blue fleece in the wee hours or the hours in between helping my parents prepare for a big move. Working hard with my wonderful sister, who has returned from Abe & Mary  Lincoln research in Springfield to cook and to sort, organize, launder, etc.--whatever needs doing. So, yes, we are still tidying, and it is still magical. And exhausting. In physical and emotional ways. Reading as a comfort is also the ongoing awakening of empathy, so it all helps.

Also, both novels contain significant cats and dogs! They help, too.

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Still Tidying, But Elsewhere

As the title says, I'm still tidying, but elsewhere these days. My sister and I have been tidying, organizing, labeling, and "staging" in preparation for my parents' move from a 100+ year-old farmhouse (that we grew up in) to a two-bedroom independent living apartment in a retirement community. It's a time of ongoing grief and overwhelming stress, and we haven't been able to engage our parents in "the life-changing magic of tidying up." But we have made headway on organizing, donating, and tossing my mom's clothes and shoes. My dad is another story. (He'll tell it!)

To calm down, my sister has left town (she's on a research leave!!), and I have been reading Dying of Politeness, a memoir by Geena Davis. I love Geena Davis! She is fun, funny, smart, a wonderful actress and a world class archer. Her mother had Alzheimer's, making this a Random Coinciday in the blog. I so connect with Geena Davis's shyness. I am so glad she feels more confidence and badassery now! And, wow, about the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. She is making a difference in our world!

I have also been reading The XX Brain, by Lisa Mosconi, which is 1) not so calming 2) affecting my grocery shopping: more blueberries and (finally available!) salmon. It is disheartening to read, I think in the foreword by Maria Shriver, that Alzheimer's arrives in the brain 20-30 years before it presents. And yet!: it's never too late to increase exercise, start the Mediterranean diet, do crossword puzzles and other brain games, and advocate for oneself with doctors. Sigh...  Lisa Mosconi for women's health and Geena Davis for gender awareness, yay, thank you!!

Friday, January 20, 2023

The Yoga of Laundry

I was getting along fine with my new year's routines of morning yoga, coffee, reading & writing, work, random housework, and various meetings and commitments, when I became mindful of my underwear drawer. It was looking pretty sparse! Hadn't I just laundered the bedsheets? Um, yes, but then days/weeks went by. So how mindful am I, anyway?

But you know what? I have already sent out two poetry submissions, and it's still the middle of January. I don't think I got going on poetry submissions until February of last year. So, poetry or clean underwear, which will it be? Happy to say, both, thank goodness! And one of these submissions contained three poems written this January!! In the new Poems 2023 folder! So that's how on top of it I am at this particular moment, which is the only moment I've got. And in responsible recycling mode, I am re-using my Submissions 2020 folder, which still had room on it for notes, for 2023 submissions. Because I am still tied to paper and pen, in addition to electronic recordkeeping, or my brain will explode/atrophy.

Speaking of mindfulness, I know I am probably not very mindful of the present moment when I start writing this blog entry in my head while Rodney Yee is guiding me through two minutes of meditation as I sit cross-legged on the floor. In clean undies. And aqua flannel jammies that match my yoga mat.

Sunday, January 15, 2023


I'm talking literal balance here, like a flamingo's ability to stand on one leg. Recently I attended a mindfulness hour at my local library, doing fine with the seated meditation portion and noticing a balance issue with the walking meditation. Perhaps it was a rhythm issue, and if I'd been in charge of my own rhythm and pace I'd have had less of a balance problem. But, after we walked in a large circle together around our circle of chairs, the leader did say the first time he tried this he had balance issues!

My usual walking meditation is 1) walking on the local trail 2) walking an outdoor labyrinth, just off this same trail. All of this takes place in the three seasons not known as winter! I miss walking outdoors, and I miss a certain balance of mind lately, too, as I am preoccupied these days with some family wamily issues that will sort themselves out pretty soon...though certain stresses will be ongoing. So I was delighted and grateful to discover on the day it was happening that I actually had the mindfulness hour free, could still sign up, and could actually attend.

I also practice my balance by 1) putting on pants 2) putting on shoes. Sometimes I try to stand like a crane, one leg straight, one leg bent, to put on each shoe. This morning, by chance, Facebook offered me a picture of the flamingo sculpture at the Tampa airport, making it a Random Coinciday in the blog! Also, I dreamed of putting on a shoe. And often I write poems while walking, a different kind of walking meditation. (Thank you to Wikipedia & Facebook for these images!)

Sunday, January 8, 2023

The Yoga of Housework

It's back on with me and Rodney Yee in terms of A.M. Yoga in the new year. Taking yoga class with my daughter in Portland, OR inspired me to 1) stay flexible 2) get more flexible 3) get stronger 4) also resume my arm strength exercises with little two-pound pink hand-held cushiony weights. I could not take my fabulous aqua yoga mat on the plane, but my daughter has extra mats, and told me after our heated yoga class together that I had done fine even though my mat was upside down. (Nerves.) All of us as a family also took the class she taught at another studio. Not a heated class, but right after one, so it was plenty hot, despite the door open to fresh air in the rainy alley between classes!

Anyhoo, morning yoga is going fine since then, except for two mornings, including today, when sleep disruption has left me on the couch, sleeping with a book open on my chest. Sigh...  No problem! On those days I can do "The Yoga of Housework," a focussed, meditative, vigorous activity that, like today, might involve changing and laundering the queen-sized sheets. And unfurling different quilts or comforters!

"The Yoga of Housework" might also involve taking down the minimal holiday decorations, and leaving some up. And, naturally, it re-connects me with Marie Kondo and the art of tidying up! Ah, the shoes I forgot--Navy blue Keds--in my original encounter with "the life-changing magic of tidying up" are now in Portland, OR, left behind when my suitcase got too full of hand-me-ups from my daughter (size 8P pants, always welcome!!), so they are now hers, making this a Random Coinciday in the blog! And not really a Slattern Day, though otherwise a day of rest. 

Friday, January 6, 2023

Pink Donut

In my last blog post, Champagne Poetry, I spoke of the fabulous patisserie we visited in Portland, Oregon, and here is the pastry case, featuring the Pink Donut--a perfect Simpsons donut, also reflected in Christmas ornaments I gave the wedding couple in May, which we saw on their tree in December, and which I ate for breakfast in its Champagne Poetry form. As you see, this was a $7.99 donut, and it was good. And look at those mangos! Here at home, it has been a tough day, lots going on. It's exhausting, but it's all working out, thanks to love and family wamily. It's not really a Cranky Doodle Day, despite the eight-days-a-week blog post label, but I so am glad it's Friday. Happy Epiphany.

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Champagne Poetry

Happy New Year, everybody! I do hope 2023 will be a good year for us all, walking out of some of our woes and into more of our joys. I'm very aware of people's losses and changes and the lingering trauma of these pandemic years. We'll we be walking together, won't we? We got to spend Christmas with our kids in Portland, Oregon, where they both were, amazingly, able to buy houses this fall, after a wild real estate market began to settle down a bit. It was great to see them in their new lives and neighborhoods! We hiked the snowy trail to Tamanawas Falls, and saw the waterfall rushing over frozen sections of itself, misting up into the air and gently raining down on us and the heaps of white snow and blue ice. Just lovely. A magical trail of snow and ice laden trees (primarily cedar and Douglas fir), alternately silent or accompanied by the rushing creek, depending on the bends in the trail. That was Christmas Day.

Tuesday morning we visited a charming patisserie, Champagne Poetry, for breakfast. We had delicious treats, coffee, and tea...but, as it was breakfast, no champagne. It's all in shades of pink with a rose wall and neon wings, as evidenced by the wacky picture of me and cooler picture of my son! Back home before New Year's Eve, some of us had a wee bit of champagne before feeling sleepy by nine p.m. But yay for those who made it to midnight!