Friday, July 31, 2009

Observations for the end of July.

  1. I have now edited and revised so much that I can actually feel it in my behind. I'm hoping that it has the same basic effect as multiple sets of squats. With free weights.
  2. Did you know that sitcom According to Jim, starring Jim Belushi and Courtney Thorne-Smith, is on? As in, they're still making and broadcasting episodes? I found this out today whilst reading USA Today, which is a veritable fount of vital information and mostly easy crosswords.
  3. A picture of a big shark (also in USA Today) is effectively able to deliver a mild scare to a person such as myself. To me.
  4. Without excessive heat applied to my brain, I am capable of sustained thought.
  5. While Everything is Illuminated has a style that I enjoy and even admire, it has, so far, virtually no narrative momentum.
  6. A bicycle can be an effective compositional aid.
So long July and hello August.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

What it is.

With the historian gone, I am fully into the stay-up-way-too-late mode that is apparently what I revert to when I'm on my own. Go ahead--call me at 1 a.m., I'm up. But you might want to wait till . . . oh, let's say ten before you call in the morning. I am slightly disgusted with myself, but why should I be? Because I got a whole lot done today:
  • went through every poem line by line
  • tentative new organizational plan
  • full draft of difficult poem
I rode on my bike to get the paper, read it, did the crossword, did all the laundry, hung it out on the line, made an awesome dinner. I also took a mind-clearing bike ride in the middle of drafting the difficult poem.

Right now, I'm hanging with Stephen Colbert, because there's no one else to hang with. (I also hung with Tina Fey and Tracy Morgan earlier.)

I thought I would offer you a guided tour of this domicile, because I think you need to have a better picture in your minds of where I am. I know you've been wondering.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Lonely Ave.,

aka Productivity Blvd.

I had a serious engagement with the Poem of Legend and Lore today, the one I think will be the last poem in my new manuscript and the one I have discussed in this forum before. I had basically half a draft when I came up here--I took it to my writing group the last time we met in its half-assed state, clearly remembering the last time I took what I thought was a half-written poem to the group and they were all, "No way! it's finished! Write no more!" Well, not this time.

But that's the past, what's done is done, and I drove this poem all the way to Idaho to get it all the way written. Among other things on my agenda.

Here was a lucky thing: among the books of poems I brought with me, I brought C. D. Wright's Deepstep Come Shining, a wonderful, idiosyncratic long prose poem (I guess that's what it is). In the middle of coping with my draft's collapsing middle, taking a look at Wright's long poem gave me an idea for a with a solution: rather than try to accomplish a river-like flow, connecting all the disparate parts of this poem into some kind of coherent narrative, I could disrupt it a little. I've got some Jonathan Edwards in there, for instance--that kind of appropriation practically begs for a manifestly disrupted form, rather than some form that tries not to call attention to its joins.

Well, I know this kind of talk can be tedious, but I needed to say it anyway. My draft is significantly expanded and, I would say, much richer. Tomorrow I will be going down the mountain to find a place to print the whole manuscript, which is way long and will need reorganizing and cutting. Then I will drive back up the mountain to do that work. But I will also be able to de- and re-construct the printed-out version of the Poem of Legend &c., and--perhaps--have something like a complete, and closer-to-finished, draft. Wouldn't that be awesome.

Also, this evening on my post-dinner bike ride, I saw a bluebird, which is, my dad tells me, the state bird of Idaho. It was perched on a post. I slowed down, turned my bike around as quietly as I could, and headed back toward it, whereupon it flew up to a telephone wire. You know how sometimes the light has to be just right to see the color of a bird's plumage? I wish I had a picture to show you, but all I had was my own eyes. The light was just right, the blue was the very archetype of blue, and it was--you'll have to trust me--beautiful.

Monday, July 27, 2009


The historian went home today, so it has been nothing but me and my own brain, a situation that is ripe for contemplation.
  1. working on poems uses a different part of my brain than working on movies.
  2. I love to see the sky, and the sky here is wonderful--mercurial, moody, huge.
  3. when there is a shortage of foods from the salty/crunchy food group--as there is, indeed, now such a shortage at my lodgings--it leads me, ineluctably, to the conclusion that we need more salty/crunchy foods close at hand. Soon if not immediately.
  4. If I could be a kind of weather, I would be rainy.
  5. leftover noodles? delicious.
  6. no matter how well you think you know a place--a place you've been coming since your infancy--there is more to learn and more to see. More to know.
  7. riding with the wind is excellent. Riding into the wind reminds me of things I would rather not consider about my physical condition and age.
  8. with no one here but myself I can think more steadily about these poems.
But I already miss the historian.

Here are some things we saw yesterday:

Saturday, July 25, 2009


The sky was brilliant tonight when we went out for a quick spin, between the rains.

It actually looked more like this (the above is a composite I tried in Picasa):

Friday, July 24, 2009

Let's evaluate the evidence.

Is this little episode a vacation or is it work? Let facts be submitted to a candid world:
  1. Arose today at 9 a.m.
  2. Toast and cherries for breakfast.
  3. Bike ride to the river and then to pick up a newspaper.
  4. Read the paper. Did the crossword in ten minutes flat. (Probably not true. But it was easy.)
  5. Finished reading The White Lioness, a great swath of it.
  6. Opened documents for the poems I was planning to revise today, four of them.
  7. Bike ride to giant antique and craft fair across Hwy. 20.
  8. Hopped in the car to buy potato chips and magazines.
  9. Read magazine. Ate potato chips.
  10. Looked at poems.
  11. Helped daughter with documents for a job interview.
  12. Revised one poem. (It may still be in need of further surgery. It's a fixed form poem. I'll say no more.)
  13. Decided one poem will not be in the manuscript, thus needs no revision at this time.
  14. Warmed up stellar leftovers for dinner.
  15. Bike ride to another part of the river.
  16. Saw an osprey.
  17. Shot footage via bike-cam on the way home.
  18. Finished reading magazine.
  19. Watched two episodes of The Wire.
On second thought, maybe "work" isn't the right category for this exercise. Let's just wrap this all up into a category we'll call "summer." With work on the side.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Land spreadin' out so far and wide.

In the city, there are movies. Lots of movies. Harry Potter, for instance. There are grocery stores with a lot of produce. In the city, there is a farmer's market, and there are peaches. In the city, I could be having lunch with my friends, and petting my dog, and wearing different clothes than the ones I've been wearing. I could wear blue shoes instead of red ones. Or yellow shoes. There are free concerts downtown.

In the city, I have a garden and flowers. A combination of sprinklers and twenty-year-olds are watering them. People are having parties and I am not in attendance. There are outdoor chairs I could sit in after having taken Bruiser for a walk whilst sipping iced tea.

In the city, there are grandchildren I haven't seen for two weeks. Swimming pools. Target. A printer.

In the city there are no bats under the eaves.

In the city there is a library where I could return the novels I have already read and in turn, check out new ones.

HOWEVER: in the city, I almost certainly would not have done the work I've done here, to wit: revising sixteen poems and counting, renaming the manuscript, and getting a grip (yet again) on what it's all about. I would not have read so many books and I would not have spent as many peaceful, restorative hours in a place I love, with the historian whom I love. I would not have seen so many birds or coyotes (or bats), nor would I have logged as much river-time.

City: when I come back I will have a big howdy for you. But till then, I'll be living off the land and whupping my manuscript into shape. I trust there'll still a little bit of city-style summer fun left when I see you again.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Under the eaves.

The people, there are bats that live under the eaves of this dwelling.

This we have known for a long time. But sometimes we forget about it and then we are reminded.

Let us pause to consider the beneficial qualities of bats: they eat a hella lotta insects. That's good. [The historian notes: "I don't know that people understand the value of bats. That is, they eat their body weight in insects every day. Like spiders. They are our friends."] Also, they are nocturnal, so we don't have to contemplate their preternatural weirditude in the daylight. Thank you, bats!

Today, however, just as I had thrown up my hands at the last two incorrigible poems I was going to work on today, and had therefore turned my therapeutic attention to the second half of Road Dogs, by Elmore Leonard (quite good, thanks for asking!), I heard something slightly meow-ish or groan-y or what? it was the middle of the afternoon and it was an eerie animal sound. A tad bit eerie. And then, there was a certain scrabbling. Like little bat feet? somewhere in the vicinity of the eaves.
Me: There are bats. That live in the eaves.

Historian: I'll go fetch a ladder. And a flashlight.
Okay, that probably wasn't the conversation, but it was the result:
Historian: Yep, there are bats. Do you want to see them?

Me: (faints)
Okay, I didn't faint, but I did NOT want to see them. Even though in years past I have seen them taking flight at dusk (I believe I used that very poetic phrase in a poem many many years ago--"taking flight at dusk"), I did not want to climb the ladder in the middle of the hot afternoon and see the bats hanging out in the eave-ish region. No. I did not want to.

But I will say this: I found the sound just distracting and creepy enough that we decided we would go out to dinner:
Me: Is it cheating if we go out [note: by "go out," I meant "flee the scene of the scrabbling bat sounds"] and find someplace to get dinner?

Historian: No, it is not cheating.
So we went out and found a place to get dinner, and that's why I love the historian. The end.

P.S. we--and by "we," I mean "the historian"--saw the bats taking flight at dusk. Yes: "taking flight at dusk." The poesy of it all, ugh.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Very refreshing.

This morning. The historian gets out of bed.
Me: (eyes closed) What time is it?

Historian: Ten o'clock.

Me: Whaaa?
Nonetheless, I had a very productive day: four poems revised. The tricky poem I revised yesterday holds up very well today. We had a delicious dinner. I downloaded a bunch of new maps. We took a bike ride to the river.

The evidence is in: sleeping in is the new productivity.

Monday, July 20, 2009

A prospect of flowers.

Today when we went to our regular USA Today (crossword) (and news, obviously) purchasing spot (ancillary purchases: arborio rice and baking powder, because (a) risotto, and (b) projected baking), the proprietress took the time out of her busy schedule to tell us that she and her husband had driven up Mt. Sawtell yesterday and there were flowers galore, flowers aplenty, flowers of every season, era, and provenance, and they were blooming like mad. So after we had taken care of our responsibilities:
  • finishing listening to the Tom Waits interview that was critical to my being able to
  • thoroughly revise a tricky poem, and
  • bake oat shortbread (well, Tom Waits wasn't strictly necessary, but helpful, obviously),
we hightailed it out of our lodgings lickety-split and drove up the mountain, where there were, truly, flowers galore and aplenty &c., and blooming like mad:

Friday, July 17, 2009

Modern conveniences.

The people, this is a clothesline.

Something about fetching this fairly ancient contraption from the shed, figuring out how to uncollapse it and post it in its designated clothesline spot (a tube sunk into the ground with its own tidy little cap for when the clothes line is not posted), finding the clothespins, and hanging our laundry out in the dry, warm, sage-scented mountain air gives me a big idea:
Me: That's it. I'm living here forever. I'm quitting my job and I'm living here forever.

Historian: Sounds like a good idea. And I'll come see you on weekends?

Me: No, you quit too and we'll live off the land. The Land. Doesn't that sound amazing. I'll be a total housewife. I'll do the laundry and cook and hang the laundry on the line. And I mean total. A Total. Housewife.
And the awesome thing is, I have loads of time ahead of me to play this little game. And take pictures of my scenarios.

Well, that's it for today. I'm back to work.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Well, here's another reason that the internets are better than anything: free maps. And I am not talking about Google maps. I am talking about U.S. Geological Survey maps, downloadable free to any human who has bandwidth and patience. Well, bandwidth and episodes of In Treatment to watch whilst the maps are downloading. We have our limits.

In the midst of my Los Angeles project, I have looked hither and yon for a map that will tell me everything I want it to: where are the various cities? and where are the geological features? and what about the rivers, streams, and canyons? Well, look no further: you use the Map Locator to get the general area, then you pinpoint markers, which allow you to see the relevant maps, and then you download the maps as pdf files. And then, you screen grab 'em and post 'em to your blog:

And free! The coolest maps ever, and they are free!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Doesn't matter.

Posted by Picasa

I forgot to bring the first season of Weeds, as it turns out, and also yogurt, of which there is a-plenty at home. As far as cooking goes, I am working in the "nuns fret not in their convents' narrow rooms" mode, as in, I am cooking with what I have, with tasty results.

Also, I forgot to bring this one shirt.

As it turns out, it was good to plan feverishly and it was good to execute that feverish plan, or execute it for the most part. But now that we're up here, none of it seems to matter. I would like to have those things I didn't remember to bring, but it is so beautiful. So peaceful. So calm and quiet that the need for those things is pretty much abolished.

We have had no big adventures whatsoever:
  • the historian has taken a couple of bike rides,
  • we walked to the store to pick up a paper so I could do the crossword and we could keep up on sporting news,
  • I have revised a poem and done an overview of my manuscript,
  • we've both read copiously in various kinds of reading matter,
  • we've slept and eaten, and
  • I'm making a little movie at the moment.
But the real thing is, we're relaxed and undistracted. We're distraught over practically nothing. I am indulging myself in the dream of what it would be like to live here, a pleasant dream that is undiminished by the fact that it won't ever happen.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Why, yes I would.

The historian is reading Pictures at a Revolution.

Historian: Would you say this describes you? "Excitable on even the calmest of days"?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Update 1.

We arrived yesterday evening. Our accomplishments thus far:
  1. Brought up two bikes with no mishaps.
  2. Slept the sleep of the blessed last night.
  3. Cabin-napping. (Studies show that cabin-napping is far superior to regular napping.)
  4. Two walks by the river.
  5. Watched a new episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, which featured an egocentric poet/editor of a poetry magazine. Oh! 'twas very heaven.
  6. Watched three episodes of In Treatment, which is everything I have been told it would be. Which is to say, excellent.
  7. I finished one L.A. detective novel and am now halfway through The Black Dahlia. Which is excellent as well. Remind me to tell you about my whole new L.A. thing. There is a reading list.
  8. Started reading through my manuscript. Hey. It's the weekend. I'll get serious tomorrow, which is Monday, which is, in case you forgot, the beginning of the work week.
The people, Idaho is beautiful. There are birds everywhere, all kinds of birds. It is warm but not hot, and there was a wonderful stiff wind swooping around everywhere while we were eating our dinner, which was spaghetti, which tasted like everything tastes up here: perfect.

Friday, July 10, 2009


If I am going to be gone for awhile, I should
  • change all the sheets for all the people who will be in and out of this house taking care of things and cats and dogs.
  • clean the bathrooms.
  • clean the kitchen.
  • consider how much cleaning could go on on a more regular basis at my house.
  • water everything.
  • make lots and lots and lots of lists of things to bring with.
  • go to the library to find that the new Elmore Leonard I requested is there for me. Score!
  • contemplate which poets will be the best advisors for my manuscript revision. Donne? Frank O'Hara? Alice Notley? the Psalmist?
  • bring all the cameras.
  • take my own oatmeal, oat bran, sugar, tea, oat flour, regular flour, salt.
  • contemplate if I need all my computer accoutrements, or just some of my computer accoutrements.
  • upload relevant files to my cloud.
  • mail off stuff (done!). Manuscripts, Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls (to Singapore), birthday gifts.
  • don't forget my external hard drive.
  • add more necessary songs to the iPod.
  • collect dvds to watch: The Wire, In Treatment, first season of Weeds, Deadwood. Oh yes! we will watch dvds!
  • try not to hyperventilate.
  • try not to freak out about forgetting something.
In short, the people, I will be in Idaho, working on my manuscript, chilling out with the historian, watching dvds, taking naps, and in general trying to cultivate a mind like a river. Wish me luck on the manuscript. There will be updates. Oh yes! there will be updates.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Productivity report.

Today, I had breakfast with my friend Ann at the Blue Plate (Greek omelet, sourdough toast). I woke up with allergic eye, a phenomenon that is, if the evidence is to be trusted, going to be an annual occurrence. It starts with an itchy eye, which I then rub, and then I sleep, and voila, I wake up and scare myself in the mirror. When this happens, I like to worry about it incessantly. Today, I put a warm washrag on it and massaged my tear ducts and used eyedrops and checked it out a million times. Also, took healing naps. It's better, but I hated having to alarm my breakfast companion. However, we talked about everything under the sun while I wore my hair Veronica Lake-style, except curly. I'm pretty sure this helped.

Today, I read the book for my book group, Women as Lovers, written by Austrian, Nobel-Prize-in-Literature-winning Elfriede Jelinek. I bought this book months ago. I kept track of its location, since books in my house have a tendency to wander. When I received the book from Amazon, I read a page or two and thought, sweet holy Lord, this book is damn depressing, then laid it aside for a week or three months. And I thought about picking it up. And then this morning, I did. I picked it up and I read half of it. Here is my verdict: damn depressing. Scores 11 on the Depress-o-meter (out of 10).

Today, I bought a birthday present for my granddaughter. Don't tell her, but it is a family of horses playing on a playground. Actually little plush horses, with an actual plastic playground. It is the cutest thing ever and I wish I had had some tiny horses on a playground when I was little. Too bad all they had was rocks and Bubble-head Barbie back then. Lucky granddaughter!

Today, I had my book group at Martine and ate several expensive yet delicious little plates of food. The excellent salad had a Bleu d'Auvergne dressing that was subtle and suave. The shrimp was on a spring pea risotto cake and was bathed in some sort of divine jus. The desserts included grilled gingerbread as well as a peach-cherry jalousie. Yes. Jalousie. Are you jaloux? Because you should be. Jalousie is good.

And now I am going to bed. My eye is ready for it. Also, now that I have put away Women as Lovers, I can finish my L.A. detective novel. It is heating up and it is good.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

A proposed new video series: let the people decide.

This morning, whilst eating pancakes.
Me: I thought of a new video idea this morning when I woke up. It would be called, "The Historian Explains the Difference Between Socialism and Communism." And you would explain the difference, possibly while you were eating pancakes.

Historian: . . .

Me: Just like you explained it to singing son. When we were in Yellowstone.

Historian: . . .

Me: There could be a whole series, called, "The Historian Explains."

Historian: That could be interesting.

Me: So, you'll let me?

Historian: No.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Alluring objects.

But first, this small discussion.

Today, I got an e-mail from Amazon:

I wracked my brain as to what my recent purchases of DIY project books (cookbooks? bookmaking books, maybe).

Okay, this maybe made sense:

I'm not sure what this even is:

This would absolutely be cool. Making a stuffed monkey talk? I'm in:
I am not sure, however, why Amazon thinks I would be interested in this:

But luckily for everyone who lives with me, loves me, lives in my neighborhood, and maybe for the whole world, I'm not.

Video, again with the stripes. This is about shoes:

The Mission. from lisab on Vimeo.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Forth and back and forth again.

This is the summer of Idaho.

I have already been up and back and up and back and up and back again. The first time was an educational mission, where my folks showed us the ropes about opening the cabin for the season.

The second time was with my oldest friend. After all these years, we had never taken a trip there together. It was sublime.

This time, my brother and his wife were there, along with their daughter (my niece), my darling auntie Sal and her son, singing son and his lovely wife and child. There were:

Bison. Aplenty.

The baby.

Birthday cake.

Big rigs. And also:

Stuff blowing up in the sky.

Hope your weekend was awesome, too. I'll be back in Idaho soon, working on my manuscript and getting all chilled out before my school preparations commence. Won't that be nice?

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Keep that iced tea coming.

In megastore news:

• heat makes me cranky.
• the historian hooked up the swamp cooler.
• it needs to be replaced.
• we're running it anyway, because
• heat makes me cranky.

Also, who finds it annoying when things you want to read that should be online aren't? Well, I do. I am a full-on digital crank. With extra cranky on the side in the summertime.

Anyways, here's my video essay (who knows why we're getting stripes here? I don't). Hope you're staying cool.


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