Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Yesterday into Today

Finished another scarf yesterday. Quite glamorous.

Wrote another poem that I keep tinkering with. Delicate mechanics. Sometimes I think the
nip here and there could cause the poem to implode or explode. So far I haven't gone too far.

Haven't been able to do deep work in the garden because of all the rain. And, it's going to be cooler and rain right up to 4th of July.

Finished an anthology yesterday. Took it to the printers. Will pick it up today and deliver it to our program director. Another year's work is complete. The work is quite brilliant-- our future competition.

I made popcorn on the glass top stove last night and it turned out perfect!

I want to take the sketchbook class at the Memorial Art Gallery. I have to sign up for it.
Hope I'm not too late.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Memory Lane

Thinking about the Past Today. . .

Years ago, 1980 to be exact, I was given the assignment to drive Gerald Stern from event to event. I remember trying to lift his suitcase into my new chevette and was nearly pulled over by its weight. I said, in disbelief, "What's in this suitcase?" And he rolled his eyes and said, "Books." Everyone had given him books and of course he couldn't say no. Which prompted this conversation as we were on our way to his workshop. But, first, we stopped at Leo's Bakery, to bring pastries to the workshop and he sang to the bakers and counter help and postman-- sprinkling smiles all around-- completely charming. Okay, here's the point, which relates to the weight of his suitcase. Enroute to the workshop, he asked me to name the 25 books I would always keep, no matter what. It was such a huge question. I don't think I ever truly finished the list. I think I wanted wiggle room, because it's a permanent selection. It's a big question, isn't it? Which 25 would you keep always? You can mix the selection up (fiction, nonfiction, poetry), because this is your top 25.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Waiting Game

Do you think inspiration is a waiting game? Sometimes I think I'm an old farm implement, like the plow that is on one of our burms, surrounded by perennials. Sometimes I think my thoughts are oxidized. I need to do other work in order to free up my imagination, which works overtime, most of the time. I have been writing in the mornings this week. So far, so good. I would give my eye teeth (if I still had them-- I had braces as a teen) and half a ring finger for the opportunity to go to a writers colony or retreat. I have daydreamed about this, but have never had the opportunity. Not really. Perhaps the closest I've come to time away from all responsibilites was my MFA. That degree happened in an eyeblink. I miss my mentors and classmates. It was bliss.

When I read posts in blogville about retreats and residencies, especially when they include pictures with commentary, I think the winning writers are in a slice of heaven. Very tempting. I would like to go to the Adirondacks for a week and write, or the Thousand Islands. Maybe, I'll figure that out this summer. In the meantime, I can channel Dorothy-- There's no place like home.


Oh! I just remembered, I have a bunch of lilies of the valley in my car truck that I have to plant. Need to get out there-- pronto!


A raccoon made a night raid on our barded rock chicks' cage. Reached in, strangled and ate two of the chicks. I'm so upset about this. It was very disturbing imagery. In truth, living in the country is violent.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Houston . . .We Have Stove!

What a difference a stove makes! The glass top range is a new concept for me. The pan "floats" on the top, so I have to be careful with my cooking gestures, or else the pan will "fly" off the stove. The oven has "even" cooking temperature. The funfetti cake turned out perfect! This is very exciting stuff.


Today is going to be a busy residency day. PD in morning, then working with select students in the afternoon. I'm going to stop at this 4 greenhouse, family-owned farm market on my way home. I stopped there last week and bought a hanging basket for one of my friends who retired. It was just gorgeous, what I named, "Go with the Flow"pink petunias-- not pale pink but a true knock-your-socks- off pink. These would look lovely on my porch. The woman who works there is so much fun to talk to. She's a wealth of flower info. I listened very carefully to her "dead-heading" technique. It's amazing how many private lessons I get in a day!


This is week five of summer school. We're heading for the home stretch. Hard to believe it will be over next week. Then Fourth of July, which is a big family gathering.

Rebecca Loudon has a recipe on her blog that sounds yum. Rebecca, please don't take the recipe down yet. Someone said she should write a cookbook. I think so too. I like the cooking songs that come with her recipes.


Let the week begin! I'm ready and feeling much better.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Home Improvements

So far, the installation of the new stove has only been four trips to the hardware store! I say this with humor because every home improvement is complicated by the fact we live in a farmhouse that has "hidden" surprises. One job leads to another job, and so it goes. Many trips to the store.

But the good news, things are going smoothly. The oven from my friend didn't work out. It was a built-in oven, and that wasn't exactly right. The old stove was built-in too, but had the range on top. So,we bought a relatively new stove in pristine condition on Craig's List. Much better than buying brand new.

Hopefully, by this afternoon, we'll have hook up. Meghan bought funfetti cupcake mix and frosting. She's ready to celebrate.


It rained for 24 hours yesterday. Hope the sun comes back today.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday Round Up

In spite of a miserable summer cold, I have forged ahead, teaching all week, and going out too.
Went to Rochester's International Jazz Festival and heard:

Jake Shimabikuro


This is a UTube connection so you can heard him. Amazing! He's adorable too. A poet on that ukulele! How he makes four string sing like 13. He's whimsical, soulful, electric-- so much to admire. It's exciting, discovering someone like Jake. Hope you enjoy him as much as we did.

Also heard Carolyn Wonderland Group. She's from Austin, Texas and her vocals are a mix of Melissa Etheridge, Bonnie Raitt, and her own sound. She's an accomplished musician( guitar, mandolin, trumpet) and song writer. I enjoyed her music, but I couldn't hear the lyrics. She played a song called "Bad Girl" which seemed to be quite playful and outrageous. I like that honky-tonk, funk, blues sound.

Hope to take in more musical events this weekend.


Finished knitting another scarf last night while watching So You think You Can Dance.
I was disappointed in Max's dismissal. Ouch! I thought he was a fabulous dancer. I would have bet on Kupono to go, but I guess they're keeping him for his stylin' outfits.
Lil C's high brow feedback is fun to listen to-- as he says, the dance vernacular.

It's going to be hard to watch the elimination rounds because I like all the contestants this year.


Need to get busy now. Household maintenance awaits!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sunday, briefly

I've come down with a miserable summer cold. It's disgusting. I feel like a hound dog.

Have been reading several collections of new and selected poems. Lola Haskins's Desire Lines intrigues me. Her use of the word bloom has haunted her work for these twenty years (1983-2003). Maybe always. Her poems focus on "to be," celebrating the life that is and isn't recognized. Her persona poems are distant voices, ethereal-- yet electric, with images that burn in your memory. Lola teaches at the Rainier Writing Workshop, where I completed my MFA at PLU in 2006. I never studied with her formally, but enjoyed her readings and workshops during our residency sessions.

Here's a test:

Look over your poems written in the past three years. Select your favorites. Are there any repeat words? Identify them. Put the poems in a sequence and see if the repeat words gain meaning in the sequence. Are there subtle shifts in meaning, like a kaleidoscope?

It's so interesting looking for the repeat words in the new and selected collections. I think it's a mental landscape. It reveals a lot about the poet's concerns and creative process.


Every book or drawer or notebook, something pops out that's connected to PLU. I think I'm missing everyone. I received an email from Michael Schmeltzer the other day, regarding A River & Sound Review www.riverandsoundreview.org. Please check out the first issue. Shout out to Jay Bates, founder of A River & Sound, which began as recorded reading series. He has done a terrific job. Hope you'll consider sending your work there. Tell them you read about the review here.


What are you doing today?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Thursday's Garden

I worked over 14 hours yesterday. I'm just plum tuckered out today. My brother is visiting and I'm going to see him this evening. Looking forward to catching up with him. He lives in Virginia now, where they have red dirt. Went outside this morning just to regroup and see what's sprouting in the garden and checking on all the animals. The RI Red chickens are getting big-- losing that puck rock feather stage. My grandson Jack, who is a red head, named all three hens Jack. I thought about this when I was looking at them. Of course, we should call them Jackie 1,2,3.

Everything is starting to be lush. That point when you know everything is just going to kick into high gear and grow, grow, grow, especially the weeds. We have some feisty weeds, too.
Will have to get out there soon to head them off.

I have to teach this afternoon. Dragging my heels a bit. Need to get going.
Received a thank you note in the mail today. Social grace. It still exists. It's amazing how few people say thank you, much less write it.

I'm really tired. Need some energy. Please send some my way. The afternoon awaits . . .

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Something in the air

I'm teaching a summer school course called Film and Society. It's four hours twice a week for six weeks.

Here are the films we've watched thus far: Zorba the Greek, To Kill A Mockingbird, Seventh Seal, and On the Waterfront. Discussions have been thoughtful and thought-provoking. I like the compressed format, and wonder what it would be like to teach this in a traditional semester. Not sure if I would like the slower pace. I like watching two movies a week. I wish you could have seen their faces after seeing Seventh Seal. They were speechless. Great discussion on To Kill A Mockingbird, especially focusing on Jem's rite of passage and who or what Boo Radley really is. For the sake of the lyrical-narrative, he is a nonspeaking man, who has been supposed by the whole town. Everything about Boo is speculation. The Radley porch is not a threshold of safety, as most porches are. Rather desolate, filled with shadows, the empty swing. Does Boo represent fear of the unknown, or the virtues of Atticus, which, in turn, become Jem's virtue protecting Scout? And, who really kills Bob Ewell? Both in movie and book that question is significant. We've had a great discussion about this and close analysis of particular scenes, which
open up our understanding of the story. I'm so glad I'm teaching this course.


Yesterday was a terribly sad day for me. I don't know what happened. I felt like I was falling down a well. I did a lot of maintenance work, bills and errands, grocery shopping, and went for a long bike ride, but I always felt like I was standing on an edge. The sun was too bright. Basically, I was a mess.


Today, I have to find the perfect wedding shower gift. Any ideas?


Congratulations to Kelli Russell Agodon for receiving a grant. Also, her second collection is under serious consideration, right as I speak, so send some good vibes her way. I think she's going to be hearing some very good news, very soon!

Monday, June 1, 2009

June 1st. Where is the Sun?

Woke up this morning and the farmhouse is cold. Brrr. It was an extremely busy weekend. I took my sister Karen to the W&B Gala, and she made me laugh the whole night. We bought raffle tickets, and I won a gift certificate to a restaurant on Park Avenue, which is a very hip neighborhood in Rochester. (This will come in handy after teaching a summer school session!) During the drawings, she nearly torn up her tickets with every number called. She said it was a bad night of BINGO. She's so funny.

The awards were lovely, but the auditorium was so warm. I thought I was turning into pancake batter. Julia Glass won the sense of place award. She was so charming in her acceptance speech and Q&A. K and I wanted to be friends with her. She lives in a small town by the sea in Massachusetts. Sounds perfect.

I was so glad to be there, to celebrate the other honorees, especially Wendy Low and Len Messineo.
Highlight was a little boy from School 12 named Darius who gave a Frederick Douglass speech. Amazing.


On Friday, Waiting for Lefty was an exciting staged reading. Again, a warm room situation, but I wasn't reduced to batter. I sat next to an adorable 4th grader whose uncle was one of the actors. Because the audience was part of the play's setting as a union meeting, the little boy joined right in with the actors' shout outs and songs. At the end of the performance, I told him that he could be an actor too. He said, Naw, I'm going save that for later.

I hope Working Class Theatre continues with these staged readings and future full performances.
I really like the artistic director Sandy Nagar. He's very talented.


On Sunday, I resisted doing work that needed to be done. Instead, I finished knitting a scarf and wrote a new poem. Have an idea for a play, which came to me in that hot auditorium. Now to make the commitment and write it.


Want to go see PUSH at GeVA Theatre. They are an amazing dance troupe. Have to buy the tickets soon. They are both lyrical and muscular in the way they interpret narrative. I had wanted to take my Encounters class to see them in the Spring semester, but they changed the performance dates to this month.


Presently, my one reality interest is So YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE (Dance, Dance, Dance).
I've watched this show for several years now. I usually watch American Idol too. However, I didn't see all the AI shows this year because of work. So I read Collin Kelley's blog for the update, which was a very entertaining read. I was surprised by the results. But, I'm not sure if there really is an exclusive winner, because the top contestants always do well after the show.
So it's really a win, win, win.


I want to go fishing. This summer, I'm going to do that. Sit on the bank of Sandy Creek and fish.
Haven't been fishing in so long. Need to make my to do list, before summer just ambles by.