Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Paintballing in Ireland.

Theorris has asked, "How was paintballing in Ireland?" What a very good question! Thank you for asking.

Before I respond, however, I have an announcement to make: young William Steven Bickmore, the brand-new baby of Singing Son and his lovely wife. Born this afternoon, 5 lb. 5 oz. At the moment, I have no photos but you can watch for photo updates here, and I hope to have some of my own very soon. Everyone is doing very well, and the baby is beautiful.

As for paintballing, see for yourself:

My fancier camera ended up expressing a disappointing "zoom error" in a rather rude and repetitive fashion, as in, I could not use this malfunctioning annoyance of a camera. Luckily I also brought my trusty little one, the one with hardly any megapixels? It took darn good pictures anyhow. I will be posting some more pics as soon as I get them processed and sorted.

We had a wonderful, wonderful time. The highlight was spending a whole week with my daughter and her family, including the lovely Miriam and Evie. We tramped all over Dublin and had splendid meals, played with paper dolls and read stories. In fact, I can't say too much about this because, well, you know. Too far, too long, growing up so fast, &c. Your average heartbreak. But it was beyond awesome to be with them. Beyond, I tell you.

Tomorrow I will tell you about (a) Yeats' papers, and (b) Francis Bacon's studio, which was lovingly transported to the Dublin City Gallery where it was reassembled in its squalid glory, a total mess, which as you might imagine, was entirely inspiring to me.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Back in the U.S., back in the U.S., back in the U.S.A.

Why is it 84 degrees? is my first question for you all.

It is too exhausted, here in the U.S.A., for me to begin my full reporting of our adventures in Ireland, but know this: I am super-tired, Bruiser is happy to see us, and there will be pictures. Oh yes! There will be pictures.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I refuse to despair.

I used to say that, in a democracy, it was my duty to remain optimistic.

This maxim has been sorely tested of late. For one thing, I have to ask myself what a democracy is, if a court can overrule the will of the people. My Scotland daughter asked if perhaps we ought not to have independent observers of our next election. Duly noted.

However, I will not despair. I will not give up hope for this election, or in the hopeful possibilities represented by it. I will not believe that, because some white Democrats are reported to have some negative feelings about blacks, they will necessarily all base their electoral decision on those negative feelings. I will not believe it until they prove me wrong, and even then, I will say to them, History is not on your side.

Update: Check this out.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

We are here!

A few notes:
  • the historian and I had a big Irish breakfast
  • we are staying just one street off the Liffey
  • we are within about ten minutes from the Temple Bar
  • we are going to eat at the Mermaid Cafe tonight, if I have my way
  • we went to the zoo today
  • we are going to rent a vehicle and go west sometime this week.

That is all. Everything is awesome. So far no paintballing or go-karting.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Other Irish activities to consider.

This morning I received the following from the hotel where we're staying:
Good Morning,

We at stayDublin are looking forward to welcoming you and your guests on Saturday 20th September. If you would like assistance in organising any of the following please do not hesitate to contact me:

1. Airport Transfers
2. Car Hire
3. Dinner Reservations
4. Food or Beverage Orders
5. A gift for any of your party
6. Hair or Beauty appointments
7. Paintballing, Go Karting or other activities

I look forward to hearing from you ,

Kind Regards
This thoughtful note was signed by the "Ancillary Revenue Executive," a job I am also going to consider acquiring as my alternate and ancillary career, for after I get back from Ireland.

(also, when I get home from Ireland, I am going to stop shopping, become a minimalist, start all my projects, get into shape, and make sure Obama wins by a landslide. Watch out!)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Ireland: so close, so very very very very very very far away.

We are leaving in about 32 hours. Here is what I have accomplished so far in the way of getting ready:
  • I have purchased batteries for my camera.
  • I have purchased a magazine for the flight.
  • I have purchased a pad of watercolor paper and a pan of paints so I can paint with my granddaughters.
  • I have made lists. A lot of lists.
  • I have picked out several activities I want to do in Dublin.
  • I have revised my manuscript, readied it to send out a zillion places, and have sent some packets of poems to magazines via the internets, and have readied other packets to send.
  • I have a fresh haircut.
  • I have a wardrobe concept.
  • I have done most of the laundry. I think.
Now: I still have to:
  • SEND the manuscript and packets.
  • before that, address the freaking envelopes for the packets and manuscripts.
  • uh, print the manuscript, copy it a zillion times, and print the packets.
  • pack.
  • not forget things like all the cords I need to take so all my devices can be charged.
  • clean up, sort of, at least a little.
  • cancel the milk delivery.
  • call the insurance company (ha! endlessly deferrable!).
  • finish reading Farewell, My Lovely, which I have read before, but I need to have fully refreshed for my book group. Also, because it's fun.
  • Decide what other reading material to bring.
Possibly, I may have a meltdown or two before all of this is accomplished . . . but then, I will be on a plane and we will be, eventually, in Dublin. Seeing the papers of W.B. Yeats, seeing other exhibitions of various stuff, eating in a pub or so, having picnics, taking a trainride to the Ring of Kerry, shopping and seeing a movie with my daughter, and making paintings with my granddaughters.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Party ice.

Also, while we're on the topic, the best ice in the world is pebble ice. I had iced tea at the Beehive today, and the pebble ice made it perfect. What can I say? Sometimes, the small pleasures add up. In case you don't know what I'm talking about, check this out.

And while we're on the topic of small, possibly weird, pleasures, did anyone ever check out R. Kelly's crazy, I don't know, operetta? musical? hip-hopera? called Trapped in the Closet? One night, we had the television on and chanced upon it on IFC, and whoa, what kind of drugs is that guy on? If you want to see it, you can see it here.

And finally, ladies and gentlemen, Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton square off. Maybe you've already seen it, but wow:

These can seem like dark and scary days, so a little party ice, especially if it's the pebble variety, is in order, just for a little lift.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


If you're reading a book of poems, would you prefer:
1. a book with strong thematic and tonal unity
2. a book that is more various--in subject matter, tone, form
3. I hate poetry
4. are you talking about a seamless machine versus a kluged-together book? I love the word "kluge," so I want the kluged book. Okay, "various."
Please share your predilections with me. The future of poetry depends upon it. (not true, I don't know why I even said that.)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

A new word my dad brought to my attention:

Say it with me now:
American Heritage Dictionary kludge or kluge (klōōj)
n. Slang
  1. A system, especially a computer system, that is constituted of poorly matched elements or of elements originally intended for other applications.
  2. A clumsy or inelegant solution to a problem.

  3. [From ironic use of earlier kluge, smart, clever, from spelling pronunciation of German kluge, from Middle High German kluc, from Middle Low German klōk.]
    kludge v., kludg'y adj.
Use it in a sentence:
"My dad was a great kluger. He used to wrap this one fuse that kept blowing in tin foil and then stick it back in. It worked out okay."
My dad taught this word to me. According to my dad and my mom, the word always carries with it a slightly pejorative connotation, even when the kluging is clever and efficacious. Also, add the additional form of the word, kluger, i.e., one who kluges.

I feel this word is, and will be for the foreseeable future, a precious addition to my working vocabulary. I intend to use it several times a day, and urge you to do the same. Remember: everyone needs to kluge, on some level or another. For instance, when I just read this post to my dad, he laughed, and said, "You oughta see the way I've got my television system set up at home." Also, apparently my mom is a talented kluger. Who knew.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Some things to do when you're in heaven, or environs.

Watch this, or this.
Line edit your poems.
Walk out and look at the amazing sky.
Do a crossword.
Make dinner with your daughter and eat it with her and her family.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Get a load of this.

Because Idaho is so beautiful (pronounce that with at least four syllables, please), today I was able to do a rough cut of my re-engineered manuscript, Hymn (2.0). And also to make jam.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

In which The Megastore is interpellated by an agent of the state.

Somewhere in Idaho. The Camry of Power pulls to the shoulder of the road because it is being hailed by the flashing lights of The Law.

HTMS: [fumbles in glove compartment for registration and insurance card. She knows what's coming, all right.]
Agent of the State: Good afternoon, ma'am.
HTMS: Hello, sir.
AotS: I clocked you going at 83 miles per hour as you exited a construction zone, and the speed limit was 65. Any reason you were going that fast?
HTMS: [she is shocked! shocked!] I think I completely missed that it was a construction zone. [Improbable, yet quite true.]
AotS: Well, the speed limit here is 75, so you were still going pretty fast. [pause, so that this truth can sink deep into the sinner's soul.] Can I take a look at your driver's license?
HTMS: Sure. [humbled.] Here it is.
AotS: And your registration and proof of insurance.
HTMS: Here's my . . . registration [so freaking many documents!] and . . . here's my insurance card.
AotS: [inspects documents. Carefully. The speeder might be a dangerous felon fleeing from a crime, in a Camry.] Where are you coming from today, ma'am?
HTMS: Salt Lake. [internal, heavy sigh.]
AotS: And what's your destination?
HTMS: The Indy 500? [this is a patent untruth. HTMS did not say "The Indy 500." Instead, she reported her actual destination, which is "Heaven on the Snake River," in eastern Idaho.]
AotS: [gives what passes for a smile among Agents of the State.] Okay, ma'am: can you make sure to pay a little more attention . . .
HTMS: [obsequious] Yes, sir.
AotS: . . . and if you set your cruise control at 75, that'll help you stay within the speed limit.
HTMS: [again, obsequious, as if this has never, ever occurred to her, and as if, in fact, she hadn't set her cruise control at 81 when she was hailed by Agent of the State in the first place.] Yes, sir!
AotS: [hands documents back to HTMS] You have a nice day, ma'am.
HTMS: Thank you, sir. You too, sir.

Analysis: Can you believe how many times I said "sir"? I am positive that I said "sir" about a million times. On the other hand, all that sirring produced an outcome of no ticket. A positive outcome, I'm sure you'll agree.

Conclusion: Humble + repentant + unsurly + say "sir" a lot = an encounter with The Law with no ill consequences. Also, as the PanOpticated girl I am, I did not speed for the remainder of the journey. Also, and you may have never thought of this, but if you set your cruise control for the actual speed limit, you probably won't speed! Think about it!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Attack of the killer tomatoes.

Predictably, there are so many tomatoes in my kitchen right now, I could plotz. Awhile ago, I made a deal with myself that I have mostly kept, not to eat tomatoes except when they are in season. That means that from August through September, there are tomatoes galore at the market, which I buy in unreasonable amounts, because when you can only eat them for two months, you want to get your fill.

I buy them from the Tremonton farmers (aka Tremonton Girl), our regular farmers, Chad, and the Savages. The ones from the Savages are the ones I use for roasting--they're good, round, red tomatoes that aren't too fancy, and the Savages sell 'em pretty cheap. Today I roasted 15 pounds of them, and that takes care of a lot of tomatoes.
But there are still lots of them! Lots! In every possible color, shape and size. For lunch, I had a slice of bread with slices of yellow tomato on it, very delicious. Tonight, we had gazpacho, which can use up a bunch of tomatoes; roasted green beens with a tomato/garlic/basil dressing; and a corn salad, also with some tomatoes in it. And there are still! lots!

Tomorrow I am going to make some caprese salad, a tomato topping for bruschetta, and a frittata, which I will top with sliced tomatoes. I predict that I will still not have used them up. But by golly we will eat them all, and have a good time doing it, because when they're gone, they're gone, and no hothouse tomato will take their place. It will be a long tomatoless winter, so now is the hour to get our fill.

Saturday, September 06, 2008


I had breakfast with my sisters, my niece, my mom and my aunt today. After that, the historian and I went to the farmer's market and bought
  • 15 pounds of tomatoes from the savages (for roasting)
  • a half-bushel of peaches for bottling
  • basil
  • pears
  • mint
  • potatoes, onions, garlic
  • a melon
  • cherry tomatoes
  • other sundry and beautiful tomatoes from Tremonton girl
  • carrots
Then, I found the following for you:

Triumph the Insult Comic Dog Interviews Star Wars Fans Waiting in Line for Attack of the Clones [This is hilarious but if you're not familiar with Triumph's oeuvre, it is rude and profane. And hilarious.]

Exclusive first look: Inside Colette x Gap [Explanatory note: The Gap is doing some kind of limited partnership with the French retailer Colette. The "exclusive first look" appears on New York Magazine's fashion blog, The Cut, which is exploding with activity because this is Fashion Week in New York! I know you already know that. ANYWAY: the exclusive first look is, literally, photos someone snapped through the front window of the store as the employees are setting up merchandise. Somehow, this strikes me as hilarious, and also also also fascinating, but in a sad way.]

This Strange Map, courtesy of Strange Maps, "The World As Seen From Paris." This reminds me of the map that was on the cover of The New Yorker, showing the United States from a New Yorker's point of view. Uncoincidentally, you can also find this on Strange Maps, along with a thoughtful discussion:

And, for the kids, Candylion:

Friday, September 05, 2008

In which I go to the movies. A lot.

I think it's high time for a movie round-up, don't you?

Since my last movie report (I consider that to have been my completion of the superhero movie sweep), I have seen the following:

1. Pineapple Express: I really enjoyed this movie until about the last third. James Franco gives an entirely inspired performance that I am going on record as saying will be iconic in the category of stoner characters. It got too violent, so much so that it felt like a whole different movie in the last third. Also, why would anyone use Rosie Perez and not give her a funny role? I call that a failure of imagination on the part of the filmmakers. Finally, though, when Seth Rogen first sees Ms. Perez, who plays a corrupt cop, he says, from within a cloud of apparently ambrosial dope-smoke, "What an adorable cop!" So maybe it was worth it, just for that line.

2. Vicky Cristina Barcelona: Believe it or not, this movie was pretty much completely enjoyable. The young women were both good, and Scarlett Johannson had a nice performance for which she seemed well-cast. Rebecca Hall, who plays her friend Vicky, however, is revelatory, and Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem are perfect, wonderful, magnificent. There's always someone in the film who has to channel Woody Allen--both Johansson and Hall do it at least a little bit--but it didn't mar the film at all, in part because there were these two magnetic presences offsetting the Allenesque style/aesthetic/neurosis (take your pick of nouns). Lovely. Life-affirming.

3. Tell No One: See earlier post for my rant about too much exposition. However, the leading man, François Cluzet, gives a terrific, riveting, intense performance, and Kristin Scott-Thomas and Marie-Josée Croze are also very good. I guess I sort of forgive the film for the exposition, but I cannot rave about it the way so many critics did. Have they no standards? How soft are they? (Go ahead, laugh--I want you to. I know I have no standards and that I am soft. I am reveling in this severity I feel about the exposition. Reveling.)

4. Brideshead Revisited: I enjoyed this movie scene for scene and performance for performance. However, I just could not get revved up about it. It felt like there was almost nothing at stake . . . in a movie about the oppressions of organized religion. You'd think I might find a thing or two to care about there! But no. Ultimately, this movie felt decorous and well-made. It should have broken my heart and ravished me. It did not, and too bad for that.

5. The Edge of Heaven: This film is wonderful, beautiful, almost perfect. It has everything to recommend it and almost nothing to detract. It is beautifully written and performed and it does break your heart, as it should. Don't miss this movie!

6. Elegy: Another amazing performance by the beautiful and utterly soulful Penelope C., as well as Ben Kingsley in a great role, a jerk of an English professor (is there any other kind?). I knew I wanted to see this and I also knew it had every chance to make me hate it--aging guy, much younger woman, and he has to learn a lesson and become a better person. See? So easy for this movie to be just awful. But not only was it not awful, it was, I thought, beautiful and very moving. I think this is due to the absolute perfection of the performances. Dennis Hopper also gives a great performance as another asshole--this time, a poet (is there any other kind?). Deborah Harry (yes, of Blondie) plays Hopper's wife, briefly and memorably.

7. Man on Wire: The blurbs for this film used all kinds of superlatives to praise it, and, as with many documentaries, I wondered, okay, well, but don't I sort of already get it? A guy, okay a French guy, walked on a wire between the World Trade Center towers. Well, yes, that is the gist of it, but the film is far more wonderful and ineffable than that summary; the ineffability comes in equal parts from the archival footage, lovely reenactments, and the interviews. It seems miraculous, as with any work of art, that someone would think of this feat and execute it. This is another one not to miss.

And finally, tonight,

8. Frozen River. This is director Courtney Hunt's first feature, and it is really very good. Mostly very straightforward, narratively, but the setting--an economically depressed part of upstate New York, bordering on the Mohawk reservation, which spans the U.S. Canada border--is so meticulously and carefully delineated, and the characters are so evocatively developed, that it becomes a complex dramatic and moral document. Really a wonderful film. Melissa Leo, who looks as if she has lived the life of her character, is splendid and amazing. Lovely, too.

In conclusion, please go to the movies and see one of these awesome films. Sneak your own snacks in (just bring a really big purse, or if you don't have one, bring someone who does, so long as s/he will allow you to put your Slurpee, your Milk Duds, and your Slim Jims in there. Not really. I never eat Slim Jims, or Slurpees. Milk Duds, though.).

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Did not/did.

On my recent trip to Idaho I did not
  1. Sit in a lounge or coffee shop equipped with wireless to do sundry laptop related activity.
  2. Feel fine, despite having slept in Idaho, because this nagging cold/allergy/sinus thing keeps lingering (f***ing lingerer!).
  3. Read more than a page or two in my book (Through the Children's Gate: A Home in New York, by Adam Gopnik).
  4. Listen to music on the way to Idaho or on the way back.
I did, however,
  1. Take a nap in the car whilst nephew and sister-in-law were checking in at the dorms.
  2. Visit a Wal-Mart.
  3. Buy new OTC sinus-related medication that is genius. [¡Medication Update! It is DayQuil Sinus. I am finding it excellent and very very helpful.]
  4. Listen to sister-in-law read highly amusing passages from Bill Bryson's The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid in the car on the way home.
  5. Eat breakfast at MacDonald's (breakfast burrito, y'all!) in Rexburg.
  6. hear a woman say "Me encantaria si tu viera botes asi,"* regarding my awesome boots, in said MacDonald's parking lot in Rexburg.
*It would enchant me were I to have boots like that.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Idaho, suckers.

That's where I am, just for overnight: yeah, that's right, I drove to Idaho just to spend the night. Because I can, that's why.

Actually, I drove with my sister-in-law and nephew, who dashed in from Portland. Said nephew is about to check in to BYU-Idaho, the college formerly known as Ricks, for his freshman year. Once upon a time, I aspired to go to Ricks, because it would have meant I would be near my grandfolks, and because I thought Idaho was the navel of the world. I might have been twelve at the time. Now, I just want to live here, maybe own a little grocery store, make soup to sell to fisherpeople and other outdoorsy types. It's a modest dream, but it's my dream, and I figure I will keep on dreaming it till I die. In the meantime, I will just hightail it up to Idaho lickety split whenever the urge strikes, or when I have a nephew who needs a ride up to Rexburg, whichever comes first.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Looking back.

Today I spent an hour or so writing in a book. That's right, you heard it here: pen, paper, by hand, in a book.

Awhile ago I had the insight that there was a usefulness in keeping a daybook--a way to record my emotional temperature, as it were, and speaking of climate change, as well as the little things I notice and think. Over the years, such a practice has yielded plenty of poems, but it's also a way to frame my days and think through them. Something about writing by hand, I think, makes a difference.

Of course, the fact that I had this insight didn't mean that I actually kept the daybook. In fact, the book isn't quite half full, and I have entries dating back to 2002. Most of my composing I've been doing, for years now, at a keyboard. Anyway, looking back through it gives me a glimpse at certain themes: I love flowers. I love observing the weather. And I think I should simplify my life to make more space for writing.

In 2002: "Today, silence, the joy of it. The only trouble with silence is, it makes me a little giddy, what to do with it all."

In 2003: "Wanting more time, quiet time."

May 2003: "Want to keep focused, and also to stay relaxed. Feel I should start writing this week. Long enough from school--time to start. Want to make headway."

August 2003: "not trusting myself--this crazy this so easily off-balanced"

And this, January 2004:
I want order but not law.
I want time.
I want the field in back of my house to stay a field.
I want to wake up to my husband's body forever.
I want fire.
I want color, sparkle, and gleam.
I want the spangled garment of my flesh to flash like a fish in sunlit water.
I want light feet, vertical leap, speed.
I want language, my familiar, to sleep and wake with me like cat.
I want all my chances back.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Messages from a different world.

From Running Son, in Malaysia:
for all of those who thought i would starve in a place like malaysia, you haven't heard of Elder Bickmore's Hot Dog Routi Surprise...it's a delicious meal that i have created...routi is pretty much the best thing i have ever tasted, truly a malaysian delight...i think it is indian food though...it's like a tortilla but a million times better and probably a million times less healthy but anyways i cook some macaroni and cheese, hot dog, fries, wrap it in the routi and put some ketchup on, it's delicious, my comp wouldn't believe me at first, but now he eats it all the time, it's glorious
Apparently, you can take the boy out of the U.S., but you can't take the U.S. out of the boy.

In other news, I am reading prep by Curtis Sittenfeld, who just wrote American Wife, based on an imagined life of Laura Bush; we had an awesome dinner; we took Bruiser for a walk at noon because it was so cool, and now he wants another one; I made cake. Cake! Hello, September!


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