Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I'd rather

go shopping. eat potato chips. sleep longer. be just a little younger. sit out in the autumn light. make jam. write. finish reading my book and start another. stay home. hold the baby. watch a movie. clean out my study, actually. walk the dog. take a nap. let someone else do it. sew some skirts. paint. write. listen to music. sit for a long, long, long time, and then maybe lie down. ride my bike.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


So far so good, today, as we got up at the crack of nine and hustled on over to the farmer's market. We got melons from our farmers, which somehow feels like an extra special bonus. To reward them for this excellent behavior, we bought extra garlic. We searched high and low for Asian Pear Guy, and were denied. This would have been tragic, but there was a compensatory huge stalk of brussels sprouts, right on the stalk! We also found beautiful ultra-sweet and spicy little green grapes--the kind we have growing in our backyard, but apparently all of God's creatures with wings have heard about this so that the ripening of them synchronizes perfectly with the moment they are entirely eaten, and not by us. But we found them! At the farmer's market! and also we bought raspberries and blackberries, as well as another batch of tomatoes from the savages. So as we speak, I am roasting a pan of tomatoes (another one tomorrow) and have just made a batch of raspberry jam, already spooned into its little half-pint jars. Blackberry tomorrow.

Also, we found Asian pears from another vendor, and they are excellent. Also, we had breakfast with kids/grandkids. Also, I have changed the title of my manuscript. Also, that manuscript is freshly revised and is almost ready to send out. Also, it is almost 11 p.m., there are 21-year-olds hollering songs in my basement, and it is almost time for Bruiser's w-a-l-k. So: good day.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Thinking about music.

Because I'm bff with eMusic (on Facebook--that's the same thing, right?), I commented on a post about fall releases. My totally awesome friend eMusic asked what fall releases I was most looking forward to, and I said

I also recently stumbled upon the Elvis Costello list (once a Vanity Fair article) of his essential albums. I started to think I should do the same, and maybe I will one day (here's a start: the monaural recording I used to moon over when I was a teenager, the one that contained both Ralph Vaughn Williams's "Variations on Greensleeves" and Barber's "Adagio for Strings," long before it became part of a movie score; Glen Campbell, Wichita Lineman; Simon & Garfunkel, Bridge Over Troubled Water; Joni Mitchell, For the Roses; etc. That's just for starters. I'm just thinking about the ones I've lived with longest.).

But what I'm really here to tell you is that recently I had an e-mail exchange with an old friend (he blogs at cpsconsolidated) who really really really loves music. I said once, in a query he posted, that I thought the entire Rufus Wainwright oeuvre was worth listening to and owning. He needed to be persuaded. That's what we wrote back and forth about--what he was thinking about Rufus as he kept listening to Poses and the newest, All Days are Night: Songs for Lulu. Here's the result of our exchange, in case you want to know. (bonus: Rufus videos!)

Also, I am looking forward to two cds that will be coming my way soon: Sufjan Stevens' newest (all delighted people who are loving the new SS EP, raise your hands!), and Martha Wainwright's address to the work of Edith Piaf. The Wainwrights! Can't get enough of them!

(p.s. also, I bought the new Robert Plant.)

Saturday, September 18, 2010


I fear I have lost my blogging mojo.

I, who love the blog.

I am worried about this, because it feels like the thin end of the wedge to losing writing altogether.

If I can't drum up a little sentence or ten to write on a daily or every-other-daily basis, what then?

For blogging stood in as a proxy for writing proper. Kept me at it. Was in the near vicinity of other writing. Poetry, if you must know.

Today, I could have written about: the birth of a new grandson (yesterday). A funeral (today). A movie (The Town). A pile of new books. My Moleskine collection in which I can never quite locate the relevant notes I took at that one meeting. The farmer's market. The new/old Rock Band version my youngest son found. Having a grandson over while his folks were at the hospital with his new youngest brother. The pressing need to locate new restaurants to frequent.

There was a time when any one of those could have been a blog post.

I just feel the need to say it: some little writing space is closing off in my life, I don't like it, it actually makes me feel a little cold inside.

I'm going to find a way back in. I think I need to.

. . . and out.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

New regimen.

Raise your hand if you think it's unreasonable--improbable--to go to bed at 1 a.m., with a little ancillary chatter before actually falling asleep, and then get up at 7 a.m. to take the dog for a walk and get ready for, y'know, work.

Since school started, it's officially summer's over time, even if the equinox isn't for a few more days, but we have nonetheless been keeping summer hours around here. Why? you may ask. Well, we ask ourselves this same question. Is it because it's still a little hot? because there are 21 year olds playing Beatles Rock Band in the basement? Is it because we're rebelling against our own selves and our better judgement?

(It should be noted for the record, although you probably already guessed it, that that last "rebelling against our own selves" item is only about me and not the historian. Obviously.)

Anyway, on our way into work this morning, we had the following conversation:

Me: We should take Bruiser for his walk at 10 o'clock, not 11 or 11:30. That would probably help us get to bed by midnight instead of 1.

The historian: Right. I should probably just mention it at 10, instead of waiting for you to mention it.

Me: (to myself: Is he implying that I'm the foot-dragger in this situation? IS HE? Because he's probably right. But still!) [pause.] Yeah, probably.

Later today, while we were riding our bikes in the dusk:

Me: 10 o'clock! And none of your foot-dragging.

The historian: I beg your pardon! [not his real words.]

Me: Just kidding. I know I'm the reluctant foot-dragging one.

All foot-dragging aside, we did take Bruiser for his walk at 10 p.m. And we're on track for an early bedtime. Early for us, anyway.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Here it is:

It's now fully mid-September. As we were pedaling around the 'hood on our bikes in the twilight, I said (and not a bit out of breath, in case you were wondering), "It's the autumnal equinox pretty soon, isn't it?"

"Yep, the 20th, isn't it?" the historian rejoined, in his knowledgeable way.

Right. And then the day will last, briefly, as long as the night; and then the nights will grow longer. So as of this moment, the people, I believe we can all agree that the light is a precious commodity, and we'd all best be making the most of it.

Today, in order to make the most of the light, I
  • ate my little breakfast out on the porch and watched our raggedy cherry trees up against the blue and cloud.
  • read my student drafts on the terrace outside the Student Center at work.
  • took the aforementioned bike ride in the evening.
I hope to do more of the same and similar over the next few weeks, and so should you. Tomorrow, alas, I must arise at the crack of dawn for an early meeting. I will try not to focus on the crack portion of the morning, and instead, look up to see what's happening in the sky. Something good, I bet.

Cooking update: the quinoa salad was lovely today; yesterday, the ratatouille was resplendent. And we still have gorgeous tomatoes left, just lying around, not called for in any recipes, and therefore fair game for any rapacious tomato eaters. Of which there are at least a couple, lurking in the kitchen and environs.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

I love the smell of fresh basil in the morning.

Yesterday we bought a metric ton of vegetables and fruit--mostly vegetables--at the farmer's market. This matches the metric ton of vegetables and fruit we bought last week. I could not help myself. The historian likes to get sacksful of grapes from this one family, and I like to buy piles of basil and arugula and eggs and bread and peaches and corn. Hence the tonnage. All this food made me feel pensive.

Me: I'm going to cook a whole bunch of things tomorrow, and then we can just eat it all week. Like, corn salad . . . and pesto . . . and quinoa salad . . . and that one sausage casserole for singing son and his family [note: a baby is arriving at their house soon, so the sausage thingie is to put in the freezer for a rainy day, aka a day when there is fussing and diapers and no time to cook.] . . . and gazpacho and ratatouille and vegetable curry!

The historian: [noncommital but encouraging remark. He's heard me in this enthusiastic fantasy before. Still, everyone acknowledges that this would be a good thing, all this cooking and putting the food in a state where we could actually eat it, as opposed to watching it become slowly, slowly less edible by the day in the refrigerator.]

Me: . . . and caprese salad!

Little did any of us know, least of all me, that I would wake up in a state of being moved in fact, as opposed to "in theory," by the Spirit of Cooking. I got up and made myself both toast and a list:
  • pesto
  • sausage thing for singing son
  • corn salad
  • quinoa salad
  • vegetable curry
  • caprese salad
  • ratatouille
  • gazpacho
  • red beans
The list also comprised a pile of other stuff, non-cooking stuff, almost none of which I've done. It turns out that cooking motivates me more intrinsically than grading. Huh, who knew.

I actually ended up cooking only about half of the things on the list. But I think I can make two or three more of them tomorrow. And that means, the people, that at our house we can just about do no cooking all week, which, in a week with a pile of upcoming meetings and less spare time than is actually desirable for an activity I like to call "living my life," a lot of food ready to eat with no more effort than opening the refrigerator door, a spoon in hand, is a good thing.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

The thick of it.

Hello, September 9, with your aggressive late night e-mails and pursuant troubles galore. Hello, days scheduled from dawn to dusk, already. Hello, the collision of this possible event with that fixed event, and hello, that sweaty feeling that I'm forgetting something. Hello! I hadn't exactly forgotten about you, the thick of it, but I certainly didn't remember how you sidled up, almost silently, and hung around my doorway like a doom.


Yet there is beautiful weather, although there are also gusty winds. Yet there are interesting classes to teach and a good crop of litmag students; still, more and more meetings. Yet there is Beatles Rock Band (aka the birthday pony) and leftover birthday cheesecake that I may or may not have eaten for breakfast. And many, many tomatoes, and weeks and weeks left of the farmer's market. And mostly not waking up in the middle of the night because of The Troubles incumbent upon me because of being a faculty leader (aka, FL, which means . . . anyone? anyone? F*** Lisa?). Mostly not, the thick of it, mostly just sleeping with the window still open.


It just got so busy so fast.


And still, the thick of it, I will be able to keep riding my bike for a little while after dinner for a few more weeks. As long as dinner is early, and before the late night e-mails commence.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

For my birthday I may or may not be getting a pony.

Over Mexican food:

Running son:
What if we really did get you a pony? What would you think?

Me: I would probably get horse-tending lessons.

Running son: . . . but what if we got you horse-tending lessons that came with the pony?

Me: I would teach myself how to make a bridle by hand.

Running son: . . . but what if we were able--what if we got all of that in a bundle, like, in a package?

Me: I would apprentice myself to a blacksmith and, like, learn to make horseshoes, and then I would get a farrier to teach me how to put them on.

Running son: Okay, but what would you think? Would you be shocked, or would you love it?

Me: I would be shocked, and then I would probably like it.

Running son: Where would you keep it?

The historian: You'd keep it in the field, wouldn't you?

Me: Sure.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Dear poet,

We're having another manuscript competition. We hope you'll submit yours. Also, we hope you'll send us a check or money order or an open credit line. While you're at it, please tell every other poet you know about our competition. We hope the thought of all the other poets submitting doesn't make you want to slit your wrists, because we're kind of hoping you'll keep submitting your manuscript forever. You never know--this year, or the next, or the next, or the next, might be your year.

Don't be bitter, dear poet. You, your manuscript, and your open credit line are important to us! If you weren't around, there would be no reason for our existence! Chin up, dear poet. You are our raison d'etre.

In a side note, dear poet, we notice you haven't been writing much lately. Why is that? We realize we're veering away from our mission here, and that's a little risky, but we're a little worried about you. We know about those two word notes you make to yourself while you're in meetings, notes that you hope will turn into poems. But dear, dear poet: surely you can face the fact that if you don't at least spin those notes into sentences, they will be as dust. They will not become poems.

Well, dear poet, we hope you've noted the deadlines and the requirements for our manuscript competition. We hope--really hope--you'll start writing more. And we hope to see your manuscript soon. We're thinking about a secondary business, making bricks comprised of pressed manuscripts. We intend to sell them at an affordable price to community housing activists. We feel pretty good about this project. Think of it, dear poet! Think of how much good your manuscript will do in the world!

Sincerely yours,

The Press


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