Sunday, August 22, 2010

Weather Report: Time to Get Things Done

Weather Report: Rain, a soft gentle rain that began around 4 a.m. and continues into the hour of coffee. It's, at last, cooler. The next two weeks will be filled with preparation for the upcoming semester and finishing of projects. So much to do, so much to do.

We made the blueberry and navel orange jam sans sugar. It's a very sophisticated taste. More like marmalade. I like it, but those who prefer a sweeter taste would be startled by its pucker up. The book says it's best on zucchini bread. Now that it's a bit cooler, I'm going to bake some bread. We do have an abundance of zucchini.

Planning on going out to the gardens as soon as the rain lets up to harvest tomatoes and carrots. The carrots are very sweet this year and look more like starfish than straight eights, but once cleaned and sliced, who really knows or cares. It's interesting how veggies have been engineered to look a certain way in the grocery stores. The code of uniformity does something to the taste.

As a kid, I used to love Red Delicious apples, so sweet, so juicy. Now the store bought variety
have no taste. It's disturbing. Peter has been grilling fruit, peaches and pears. What a nice side taste that is. Nothing better than summer veggie fare.

Went to see EAT PRAY LOVE this past week. I really enjoyed reading the book and had an opportunity to hear and meet Elizabeth Gilbert several years ago. There were 900 people at the reading, but she made the room feel very intimate. My favorite part of the movie and book was Italy. And after seeing that landscape and plates of food and gatherings of friends for meals-- I wanted to jump on the next plane.

Enjoy your August Sunday . . . any way you please.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Joni Mitchell - Both Sides Now 2000 lives

Black Mountain North Symposium Rochester NY October 1-3, 2010

Time to sign up for this. There's an early bird special online. This promises to be a big event.
Hope to see you there!

Black Mountain North Symposium, Rochester, NY, October 1-3, 2010. This conference celebrates the experimental arts tradition in upstate NY, while also commemorating the centenary of Black Mountain College rector Charles Olson and the life of poet Robert Creeley. In the collaborative and multidisciplinary spirit of the original Black Mountain, Black Mountain North will feature poetry and visual arts panels, as well as readings and performing arts performances. Distinguished speakers include poet and troubadour Ed Sanders, Black Mountain historian Mary Emma Harris, and Black Mountain College alumni Martha Rittenhouse Treichler, Basil King, and Martha King, among many notables. See For questions, contact John Roche at

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


It's early early Wednesday morning. The crickets are still simmering under my open window.
Their rhythm sounds like the slow shake of jingle bells. August has always been a snarly month.
Not sure if it's the intense heat, or the fact that summer is waning and new beginnings are just around the corner. I have those pesky dreams that I've missed a history class for a whole semester, and I'm wondering if the professor noticed my absence; wondering if I could take the final exam. When I wake up, I review my life up until now. What have I forgotten?

800 Charlemagne's coronation. 1066 Battle of Hastings. 1215 signing of Magna Carta.

The dates are still there. The dates are numbers you can count on. Always one answer.

The dates of my own life. Another story. What lies between truth and fiction. Fuzzy dates.

Gosh, what if the history class was on revisionist history? Wouldn't that be a fun(ny) topic?
Just think of the debates in that classroom, and the papers would certainly be creative.
(Although , some history professors may believe they have revisionist students to begin with.)

I think August is a time to count blessings, especially now with the garden's abundance. My facial skin looks great because of all the steaming pots I've been looking into every day.

Is there anything better than fresh tomatoes, tomato sauce, salsa? Could we bottle the scents of dill, basil, cilantro? And this year's peaches are just exceptional-- our mouths full of sun.

I'm mid-week in my last summer writing & art workshop. The children are 8-12, again quite wonderful. Surprising too, working with colleagues' children and grandchildren. With this bit of knowledge, I can see what I like best of them in the children. It's curious what's passed on, and none of it is genetic. I see this in my own children and grandchildren too. Startling when they're quoting me, especially when I believed whole-heartedly that no one was actually listening. Wrong again.

Spent last week with my granddaughter. Able to give her a lot of attention. She's swallowed up by the din of her brothers. We went blueberry picking and we were quite successful hunting blueberries, but to avoid boredom, I had to incorporate a bit of opera in our picking. We sang lines and repeated lines in chorus. Example: Blueberry, blueberry, blueberry pie, better than a bug in your eye. It went on and on, and soon families in other rows were singing with us. It was fun. We even had a grand finale. The singing made us forget the heat and focus on the picking. And I must say we had perfect pitch.

So now, and most likely today, Peter and I need to put up the blueberry jam. We're going to try some new low sugar recipes. We've discovered a new book. Will post more later.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Pop up Thunderstorm !

Attempted to go berry picking yesterday. The farm is about a half hour from my home, and it was very overcast, with the prediction of some pop up thunderstorms. Being this close to the Lake anything can happen, and does.

A few drops began to sprinkle as I headed out to the rows of blueberries. Then, a swoosh of cool air and big fat raindrops, which felt delicious. A year ago, I was caught in a storm there and kept picking. But, this time, it grew more and more intense. The thunder I thought was rolling off, was actually rolling around and around overhead; followed by
cracks of lightning. Oh jumpin joseph! Considered hiding under a bush, but thought better of it. Made my way back to the farm's storefront. Just as I got under the eaves (soaked to the bone), the rain came down even harder.
Lightning everywhere. I had about a pint of berries. A woman, who I spoke to as I headed out to the rows, came out under the eaves and gave me a wad of paper towels and asked me if I wanted a cup of coffee(that was dear of her, don't you think.) She told me my berries were going to get washed, and boy, was she right. Then, after she made sure I didn't want a cup of coffee and my face was sufficiently mopped up, she headed back inside and out of no where came a tall, fit
WW11 Navy Vet, who talked to me for nearly 45 minutes. The storm lasted that long.
He had quite a story and I listened. My guess he was 84 years old, but really fit, so he looked younger and had the philosopher's twinkle in his eye. Sometimes, I get into situations that seem like scenes from a movie. Both of these people were poignant. When I squeaked my way to check out, my picking amounted to $1.19 , which made me sigh. Stopped at a roadside stand and bought corn and peaches. The 8 quart basket fell apart on the dirt lot (a mess!) Had to pick them up and stash them into plastic bags. I was so cold when I arrived home, I changed into my PJ's and ate dinner with peter. Sliced up a few peaches for dessert and sprinkled premium
blueberries on the slices. Yum.

This morning the sun is out, I'm thinking I will try again.

Last night, and actually for several nights in a row, I've been dreaming about my parents. They look beautiful in my dreams, and we're at the lake house, which is now my sister's home.
When I dream of people who are no longer on Earth, they always have an aura around their whole bodies, and the auras are different colors, and the colors change when they are active or quiet. The dreams have been very comforting. When my mom died, my desire to talk on the phone went too. I used to call her all the time, about everything and nothing. I use to enjoy making her laugh. She had a great sense of humor, and she was always on my side. She was a great support, even when she really didn't understand my desire to be a writer. I can't remember everything in these dreams, except for sense of calm. . . .

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Panorama: Lake and Clouds 2 by K. Iuppa

Panorama: Lake and Clouds by K. Iuppa

Went to Just Poets' first meeting of the 2010-2011 season. David Tilley presented on"taking the ego out of poetry." David, practicing Buddhist, artist and poet, has been involved in several successful collaborations over the past few years, which practiced his process of using "random choice."

Here are some ideas that I thought were intriguing ( and if anyone is actually reading my blog and wants to add to or clarify my interpretation, please do):

Concept rooted in Buddhism: "root of all pain is habit." "Habit" demonstrates the repetition of same words, actions, and situations. Ego driven poetry relies on what it knows exactly-- authorial control of images, using stock images and narrative to convey meaning to reader.

Hazard: poetry that is stuck in its habit. (this is significant, and it depends on the poet to recognize his/her habit, and how to break out of same old, same old ways).

David 's presentation gave us ideas on how to "loosen our grip."

He read three different poems. First one was purely random choice text selected and orchestrated by set parameters. The syntax was rough in this. The set parameters are determined by author. Much like creating word spills, with use of certain words or phrases.

The second poem used the random choice, but allowed author manipulation of text. This poem
had a fluency, and allowed the narrative to evolve in its connections to images, ideas.

The third poem (my favorite) random choice in a poetic mash up with his interest in dream and shamanic journey work. This poem demonstrated active imagination and altered state of consciousness, but it was also lucid and felt primal ( could be a clash of sacred and profane) when listening to it.

David uses a variety of "poetic machines" to create his random choice. He defines a machine as something that does repetitive things.

He suggests these possibilities to create random number generators:

I Ching, Tarot, Astrology, Runes-- all create open interpretations and are linked to their particular mythologies/cultural histories, so the poet can riff of them and create something new.
(Do you hear Pound's outcry, to make it new?) Also, these poetic machines are random number generators, so that's how you would get your parameters using which ever (I Ching, Tarot, and on) repetition or pattern of numbers.

Our Discussion: I liked the notion that the ego wasn't to be eliminated but redirected. It is the ego that makes sense of the poem, or stops the world's chaos in order to make order, which could be linked to the random choice infused with the poet's interpretation.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Hobbit house or Faerie house ?

How fabulous is this! A children's playhouse designed by Bristol Shire cottages; inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien.

I had a Davey Crockett house as a child, and I spent hours in it. Even, in winter. It wasn't as finished as this Hobbit house is. This looks pretty secure-- windows et al.

You could live in this little house, right?

Here's the website: if you want to see more.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

High Humidity

Such high humidity. Everything is swollen-- plank floors, cupboard doors, fingers and toes.

Went swimming yesterday with my daughter Meghan, and we talked and talked and swam and bobbed for over an hour. We were cool prunes when we decided to get out. I did feel so much better. The heat just drives a nail through the top of my head. We shut the farmhouse up during the day and it does stay quite cool. Then open windows after dusk. Again, it's going to be in the 90s. Making fold books with my workshop today. They are a great bunch of children (8-12).

I've been thinking about projects versus free-wheeling writing (define as, inspiration on the go).

I think the project focuses intention. Can be the best way to explore voice through persona.
Can be an opportunity of invention. Creates the sequence. Makes me look hard at each poem's individuality, that is, can the poem stand on its own or does it depend on the strength (cumulative effect) of the sequence. Whereas "inspiration on the go" is quite random and I tend to bounce around in several genres. This has been my creative mode this summer. I think the project allows you to dive deeper, because it contains or has its own form. So, liberation occurs within the form. I think some of my "random" work has been the deep dive, and some has been a skipping stone. Nothing is intentionally linking up, but maybe it does link in subtle ways (?)

But I do love listening to people discuss their projects; and I love figuring out the trajectory of the project when I get to read its final version. I like process.

Now off to my workshop. Glue sticks and stickers, ready, set, go!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

First Day of August

Garden News:


Picked our first batch of tomatoes yesterday. As my son Nick would say, "Deliciousness!"

We are going to have many, many, many kinds of tomatoes this year. Thankfully we figured out fencing to keep the chickens out of the garden. They too love tomatoes, and last year they were first to pick our garden's meager offerings. So we were out of luck. This year, the weather has been a balance of sun, heat and rain-- everything is just right.

Workshop News:

Last week I taught a teen creative writing class at Writers & Books. The week went by in an eye blink. This upcoming week, I'm working with the 8-12 years old set. I enjoy working with this age group too. Then, week of August 16th, I'm working in collaboration with the Rochester Co-op. It's poetry, pottery, paper-making, and more. I had a planning meeting last week with all of the instructors, and this workshop is going to be a blast. I became extremely nostalgic when I went into the Co-op. Back in the day(decade of the 70s), I collected clay chalices and pitchers (still have them), and I bought many of them from the Co-op. I told Kate about them, and her eyes sprung open-- "Ohh, I'd love to see them." I think it's interesting how my life circles back in its intersections with people and places. So August is busy with work. I'm getting back into the groove. Should be chugging along by the end of August, ready for the Fall semester. The summer has been a terrific tonic. I'm getting into shape, both mentally and physically. Have accomplished a lot, which amazes me, because we had some steamy, humid weather which just saps my energy.

Planning Getaways:

I bought a magazine Life in the Finger Lakes, dedicated to the Finger Lakes region. Looking for some getaway ideas. I found plenty in this magazine. One feature article "Horse in my dream" caught my eye. There is a stable called the Painted Bar, that offers trail riding near the Finger Lakes National Forest. I guess there is a particular trail called Backbone that allows riders to look across Seneca Lake and miles of open countryside. Sounds lovely. I guess you can ride from afternoon to sunset and have a catered dinner there. I'm going to check this out further.

Movie Recommendations:

The Kids Are All Right
Just released. Very strong performances (Bening, Moore, Ruffalo) and
captivating script. There were funny scenes, but the audience was older and quiet. I think they were trying to make sense of the film's dynamics. The characters changed as the narrative unfolded. Challenges and makes fun of stereotypes. Makes you look into your own relationships too.


A quirky film. This too is about relationships. Strong performances (Marisa Tormei, John C Reilly). This script felt like a slice of life. Some wonderful moments. I was startled when the movie was over. It seemed quick to end.

More later.