Monday, June 06, 2016

Episode 1: The Great Summer Cull of the Vast Wardrobe of Overconsumption.

1. Sparkly librarian sweater. I realize that this characterization makes, potentially, an insinuation about librarians. So, to clarify: librarians are awesome. Librarians exhibit the entire spectrum of style. This sweater, sparkly navy blue, made me look like someone I'm not, or, worse, like I was aspiring to that look. It did not work. Into the donation bag it went.

2. Game of Thrones knit.  Provenance: Target. I bought this last summer, when, frankly, it was too hot to even try on. I literally thought: this has a Game of Thrones vibe. I imagined wearing it with long black articles of various sorts. And directional, simultaneously futuristic and medieval footwear. Have I ever seen a single episode of Game of Thrones? Were there, in fact, occasions when Game of Thrones looks were called for, in my day to day life? No, and no.

3. Pink knit kimono of great wideness and too-short sleeves and NO POCKETS. There is nothing about the description of this item that was, or is, or ever will be, right, by any definition of the word.

4. Brocade coat that won't button. Provenance: eBay. I have often had excellent luck with eBay purchases, namely in the form of a small suite of linen coats that are treasures and workhorses and give me hope for the entire future of outfits. My outfits. This brocade coat, however, resulted from what turns out to be an ill-judged and rather long-lasting obsession with brocade. It is nominally my size, but it only buttons with a strong dose of persuasion. The people: your clothes should not have to be argued with to fit you. Your clothes should not judge you by not buttoning. Your clothes, in a word, should not insult your body. I draw the line.

5. Brocade coat that would hold two of me. Also eBay. Sometimes a swirly flowy effect can be the effect of an item of clothing that is a bit on the expansive side. That was my thought, anyway. But this brocade coat (see: "an ill-judged and rather long-lasting obsession," above) turns out to look more like a bathrobe, except a bathrobe out of which you could pitch a tent. No.

On the bubble: campfire sock sweater. It is made from that kind of Ragg knit that campfire socks are made from. Is a campfire sock a thing? I think it's a thing. I thought to myself, at first, NO., because I am not much of a camper. But then I tried it on (too hot to try on sweaters, but anyway). It looked cozy (and too hot) and actually kind of cute. I thought, sweater for cozying up at home? while reading a book? and hung it back up. We'll just have to see.

Friday, June 03, 2016

Top 5 (sets of three edition).

1. Three excellent breakfasts in a row. One: Wednesday oatmeal, which I have perfected according to my own tastes (one half cup oatmeal, 1 1/4 c. water, golden raisins galore cooked in the microwave for five minutes while I (a) make tea, and (b) chop ten almonds, then serve with milk. And possibly a little raw sugar.) Two: Thursday breakfast with my daughter, her three children, and her niece at Little America coffee shop. Eggs & bacon & rye toast! (c) Friday buckwheat pancakes made at home. Breakfast is super satisfying.

2. 'Live it up' as my new motto. Or summertime motto, anyway. I have been testing it out: when we went to Arizona, I said to the historian that we should live it up, and we did. It was great. This morning before I got out of bed, I texted my oldest darling friend, whom I am visiting next weekend:

And last night, I floated the idea to the historian that living it up, together, should be our big plan. I say 'live it up,' as a motto, has legs, and thus I am sticking to it.

3. One two three poem days in a row. I am doing an online writing community group accountability thingie (sounds so sexy does it not?) this month, in which I have committed to write a poem every day, and send it to my little group. Sort of like Poem a Day/National Poetry Month, but with higher expectations, i.e., small fear of shaming, fear of letting down the team, fear of being an embarrassment to the entire endeavor. Basically fear-based poetry writing, in other words. The great news is that I am doing it, and have written three poems in a row. I texted my poet friend, who was the one who invited me to do this:

Good advice! I am working on that 'don't think about it' thing, even though it is not my strong suit NOT EVEN A LITTLE BIT.

4. One two three two-a-days in a row. I was chatting with my daughter today about her beautiful philosophy ('fake it till you make it'). Conversation turned to my long-time beautiful philosophy:

Sometimes the thing I have to talk myself into is getting up to work out. Summertime, most days, allows me the beautiful reward of having a leisurely period when I am still in bed, for purposes of the self-talking-to, and possibly other self-improving thoughts. But this week, after we lived it up in Arizona, I got myself out of bed, whenever that may have 'occurred,' and worked out ('Trust and Believe!'), and then at the end of the day, I got myself to the gym and worked out a second time.

As ever, working out like a fiend makes me feel like I am living my life instead of the reverse (i.e., my life is living me). It's weird how summer brings out the structural recalcitrant who lives inside my head and perhaps my soul. But for the past three days, me and my inner grouch worked out, and we feel much the better for it.

5. Sing Street for the third time. First time: with the historian. Blissful. Second time: with my friends, also blissful. Third time: with my son and his wife, in Arizona. Also blissful! The conclusion, America, is that Sing Street is basically and entirely blissful, and you should see it--if not three times, then at least once.

BONUS ITEM: I have listened to this at least three times (well, realistically, many more than three):


Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Arizona in tacos.

"Let's live it up when we go to Arizona," I told the historian. Not like it was an actual proposal. Maybe more like a directive.

"Yes, let's!" he replied, because he is good-natured like that, and also living it up was maybe a more or less agreeable proposition, as far as directives go.

"And let's eat tacos every day," I said, by way of an addendum. A rider on the directive, if you will.

"Sure," he said, for the same reasons as above.

Herewith: a taco report.

DAY 1: We eat pizza, at Organ Stop Pizza. Also, we see Zootopia. Altogether a good way to go, day 1.

DAY 2: We head to Tucson. We arrive at the borders of Tucson just about lunchtime. I Google and FourSquare Tanias.

A photo posted by Lisa Bickmore (@megastore) on

Tania's is excellent. After a rather lengthy tutorial from the proprietor, in which we are told that it would be extra foolish not to get the maximum combo, if we want tacos, because: side of rice and beans plus a beverage!, and in which my daughter-in-law, upon requesting black beans, gets this in reply: "No no no no, this is Sonora, not New York!"--which basically means "pinto beans"--we all order excellent plates: three tacos for me (plus rice + beans + a strawberry agua fresca), including a potato and green chile one, a cauliflower one, and a carnitas one. The historian gets three various vegetable tacos, and so on. It was an auspicious and perfect beginning to our taco extravaganza

After some saguaros on the east side of Saguaro National Park, and a visit to my middle school (!):


 we find our way to the very first Mexican food restaurant I ever ate at in my life. IN MY LIFE.

I have a green corn tamale. Actually, I order two of them. They are enormous. However, I do not have a good sauce situation. Also, and to be truthful, I possibly had eaten more tacos, at Tanias, than I had already digested. Still, and in any case, it is meaningful to me to eat at Cafe Molina. I ate there the first time when I was in sixth grade. That, plus the middle school, plus being there with people I loved, plus the chips and salsa: saturated with meaning. The tamale qua tamale is kind of beside the point.

 DAYS 3 & 4 & 5: We are over saturated with the taco quest. My son had chosen some chorizo concoction at Casa Molina and it is having lingering effects, the details of which I will deftly leave to the side. We go to a Village Inn for breakfast and have various snacks at the cafe in the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum. Perfectly good and fine.

A photo posted by Lisa Bickmore (@megastore) on

On our way home from Tucson, I admit I ate an apple pie from McDonald's. The next day, we have naps and sandwiches while we continue to recover from our road trip. Also: coffee cake, which one grandson helps me whip up, and which is estimable.

On Memorial Day, we go for a wander at the park, and eat at Flower Child--Dr. Write's recommendation, entirely wonderful--just before we have a visit to the butterfly sanctuary. On the way home, we buy a pineapple and a watermelon and stuff to make my best pasta salad, and a loaf of French bread. These comestibles restore us further.

I hope you're seeing that I am capable of setting an agenda aside if it is for the greater good.

We also get a babysitter for the boys, and see Sing Street, at which we eat popcorn.

DAY 6: Today is a glorious day in tacos. We eat at Mucha Lucha, which is my son's favorite Mexican
restaurant. I have three shrimp tacos and they are pretty much everything a taco should be. The line is just about out the door the whole time we're there, so we have to be patient (which I can totally do, and be), and we have to be prepared (me also). When I take my tacos to the table where the little boys are each eating a small quesadilla, and where the historian is eating a large vegetarian quesadilla, and my son is eating a burrito, and my daughter-in-law is eating street tacos, we all heave a collective sigh of joy, the ultimate joy of sublime tacos entirely achieved.

A photo posted by Lisa Bickmore (@megastore) on

A photo posted by Lisa Bickmore (@megastore) on

In conclusion, here are the lessons we learned:

 1. Chorizo is dangerous. Proceed with caution.

2. A taco agenda, while worthy as agendas go, is, like all agendas, to be taken up with humility and the willingness to adjust, especially where there is new data of which to take account. Data that is chorizo-inflected, for instance.

3. Returning to one's (taco) agenda is, however, a joy. A taco-centric vacation is an excellent vacation, even if the center does not hold, at least not entirely, when chorizo is involved.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Category error.

We got in to the airport in plenty of times, because like the rest of America, we were afraid of long ass TSA lines. Which fears, of course, proved to be unfounded. I don't want to brag, but you're looking at a TSA Pre holder here, who knows how that happened, but I am totally putting it down to unspecified character strengths. So we sailed through, leaving us plenty of time to do airport things, such as:
  • Buying a Times (the Thursday edition is the best edition);
  • Logging on to the wireless;
  • Etc.
...and then realizing that it was elevenses, and therefore time for a snack.

"I don't want to eat a lot, but I need a snack," I declared. "Because I'm a little bit hungry."

"Well, it sounds like you'd better find something," said the historian.

I perused my options, which, as per usual, were thin. Dubious looking cookie at the coffee shop? Bagel? Bag of potato chips (a perennially trusted option)? Yogurt cups? With granola on top?

Well, I wandered past the airport Wendy's, the very same Wendy's that was once the site of a previous bad airport elevenses episode. Be that as may be: I saw a fancy picture of fries (where admittedly I have a weakness) with cheese on them, and also chopped peppers. Yes, America: I fell prey to a marketing strategy, in the form of fries. Ghost pepper fries.

I'm sure you can imagine that I thought I would be getting actual cheese, in its grated form, on my fries. But I watched as the behind-the-counter guy ladled the cheese sauce over the fries he'd harvested from the fry warmer, I thought, oh, right. Cheese SAUCE.

A SMALL DIGRESSION ON CHEESE SAUCE: There are people in my life who love what we call 'nacho cheese,' e.g. the Kraft product that is sold in jars to be heated and consumed with tortilla chips. See also: queso. I find this product repugnant. To me, this product bears the same relation to cheese that Pringles bear to actual potato chips, or that butter-flavored spray bears to actual butter, or any gross simulacrum to its legitimate forebear. However: there hath not been queso/nacho cheese/cheese product in my house for a long time. Maybe this is why, though I should have known better, I did not, and was led astray by the attractive picture of the grated cheese, aka the ghost pepper fries.

Did I eat the fries? Yes I did. Some of them. Some of them were not bad, or not fatally bad, anyway. In my defense, I was hungry. Okay, I know: that's not a real defense. 

Did the historian eat some? Yes, yes he did--in fact, he finished them up, when there was too much of the cheese sauce drowning the remaining few potatoes. Would I order them again? Jeez, I hope not. But the airport elevenses might be a felicity condition for bad snack choices, and that's the (possible) truth.

In Tempe,

People really like to play Minecraft. Also: eat pizza and listen to organ music. Also: watch Zootopia.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Today in Hank Williams news.

I'm continuing to work on my little Hank Williams obsession. I am, of course, working on a poem, or something that might become a poem.

Today, for instance, I found out that Williams was born with a spine issue, called spina bifida occulta. It later caused him great pain, which both exacerbated and instantiated his alcohol use and the pain drugs he sought. That 'occulta' is giving me something to work with, it must be acknowledged.

I've been listening to a Hank Williams playlist I made, which includes songs from The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams. This playlist is, of course, open to suggestions of other songs I should include.


I asked Ann Cannon today, in an email:

...and her answer did not disappoint, including a rundown on the instruction she received from her dad about how Hank Williams sang the songs of the people, and so forth, and how, despite her past-Ann eyeball rolling, present-Ann loves Hank Williams, especially the classics.

Today, I found out that there is some disagreement about whether Hank Williams believed the gospel songs he wrote or not. (In related news, I read Hilton Als today about Beyonce (I know. I am in the grips.) and how she's performing this and that because she wants to be more serious and still make money. GET A GRIP America, musicians who record music want to make money. (There, I said it.)) Anyway, I'm interested not only in the state of Hank Williams' music but in the state of his soul, however he exhibited, recorded, wrote, and performed it.

I am interested in any and all Hank Williams leads, intelligence, sources. Also opinions. Please direct me, internet. I am on a mission.


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