Sunday, June 25, 2023

Open Water Swim

It was a perfect Saturday morning for the open water swim competition this weekend in Evergreen Lake at Comlara Park. I was not swimming! I was there to support my brother-in-law, Tim, and Rob from Early Bird Lap Swim (weekdays mornings at Fairview Pool, where I do swim!), and all the fabulous swimmers of all ages, local and from afar! Hot, so we standers on shore kept seeking the shade, and I got a weensy bit of sunburn despite my sunscreen (which worked perfectly where I had smeared it correctly). Breezy.

It was also a perfect night for the opening of the Illinois Shakespeare Festival! I got to see Comedy of Errors with my sister, and we sat in the castle courtyard afterwards, chatting with each other and with actors, directors, and other theatregoers, as the breeze continued. As we chatted with Karen and Eva, who played sisters Adriana and Luciana, I got to tell Eva that I had played Luciana years and years ago in the same festival! It was a wonderful moment of time doing its weird expansive, eternal, here-and-now thing.

Boy, do we need rain. I'm glad it didn't rain yesterday morning (last year's open water swim was canceled due to a downpour, also needed during a time of drought), nor at night during the play (I saw those Colorado concert rain-and-hail videos on the news!), but I wished for overnight rain (only a 30% chance here, reduced to 0% by reality). There were severe storms to the west of us, but nothing here.

It's lovely to have family in town visiting, and they got to see the final matinee of The Waiting Room--the 10-Minute Play Festival at Heartland Theatre Company! (I had seen it 3 times before, so I stayed home to water my flowers and otherwise be a slattern.) Today my sister, who is writing a play about Abraham and Mary Lincoln, will take her daughter to Springfield to see a new musical about Abraham and Mary Lincoln. And that makes it a Random Coinciday in the blog!

Sunday, June 18, 2023


I had another recent poetry acceptance, this time for a poem about my mother that is also about the time I played Marjorie in the play Marjorie Prime, a few years back. I played an 80-year-old woman, and afterwards 1) everyone mistook me for my mother 2) I cut off my long hair streaked white that I wore in a braid (just like my mother) and 3) people asked what I did with makeup to look 80. Basically, the answer was "no makeup." For those not so familiar with theatre, the stage lights will wash you out, so wearing no makeup did make me look 80! But still. So now it helps me 1) understand my parents and 2) brace myself to be reading Successful Aging, by Daniel J. Levitin! I like it a lot, and I hope I am aging successfully!

I found this book, and got it through interlibrary loan, after I read his book This Is Your Brain on Music, which I discussed with the Stranger Than Fiction non-fiction book club. It meets in a wine bar! Our next book, already in progress, is I Live a Life Like Yours, a memoir by Jan Grue, about living with a disability...and just living his own life, which is like...yours, or mine. The Levitin book on aging is delightful in its examples, many of whom are musicians that he met in his other work! Joni Mitchell, Sonny Rollins.

Also in progress is another memoir, this one by musician Bill Harrison, a bass player I met in Chicago! Making the Low Notes. I think all these connections make it a Random Coinciday in the blog, as well as a Poetry Someday, not to mention Father's Day. (I'm glad I remembered to make a reservation for dinner tonight for Dad!) I love having a book at hand in any room, or to take in a cloth bag for any waiting room. Two medical appointments coming up this week for my mom. Successful Aging recommends learning new things: I am learning proper wound care and wrapping. I doubt I can learn a new language or a new musical instrument at this point, but I am making new crafts occasionally, and playing the piano a bit more, now that I am tuning it regularly. 

Coincidence: Levitin says in the Acknowledgements for This Is Your Brain on Music that one of his favorite songs is "Joanne" by Michael Nesmith (of The Monkees!). When I read that, I thought, "I have that sheet music" and ransacked my piano bench for it. Success! Plus a bit of stumbling around on the keyboard. But it was fun to find some of the elements of music that Levitin describes and admires immediately evident in a song he likes!

Sunday, June 11, 2023

Rain, Finally

These lovely, almost-summer days have gone on and on, and I have been outside whenever I can be, reading on a wooden glider draped with an ivy-patterned comforter. Meanwhile, the ground was parched and the creek has twice gone dry. Until today! Sprinkle, then steady light rain, episodic, but enough to make all the plants stand up happy and straight, with some of them appearing to grow an inch in a day. The first day lilies have opened, making it seem to be true summer! 

Swimming started this week--oh, how wonderful! That, too, makes summer seem here to stay...though it doesn't stay, and already I am aware how swiftly it will go by. I lap swim early, wash the chlorine out of my hair, and walk to work. Sometimes at work, during our 15-minute breaks, we take walks around town. Friday, we walked to the university library and saw a ceramics display, 100 pieces based on poems. I love my life.

In it, this lucky life, I am balancing my sorrow. And some ongoing stress. I am grateful I can do so. And glad that these clematis blooms opened on the fence, despite the weeks of drought. Some vines did not even produce buds. But seeds I planted at the re-mounted little free library did come up. More to be glad of and grateful for!

Saturday, June 3, 2023

Wear Orange Day 2023

 Moment of Silence

When we ask for it, the moment
of silence, the room goes truly still,
the air thick with grief
and our amazement. We hear our
togetherness. It somehow comforts.

When we are outdoors, the birds
come in, or the distant basketball
game in the park, and we remember
the innocence of our lost boys,
our relatives and friends, our girls
in the playground or on their own
porches, in their own beds
when they were shot. It’s not right.

Let’s try. Together. Now.
Let’s try it now. Take a moment,
and let it fill.

                      What did we hear?
Together? As we shared our moment
of silence, filled with the breath
and life we hope to preserve. Hope.
We heard hope, holding us together.

--Kathleen Kirk, June 3, 2023 Wear Orange Day