Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Survival camp.

Basically, this lavender in my front yard contains, like, the hope for all nature:

I know I've posted a video of this lavender already this week. 
But the earlier video was of bees. And this video is of a moth. 
And yes, I know I already posted a video of a moth this week. 
But that earlier video was of an orange moth. And this is a 
video of a white moth, so: totally different.

…or so I like to think. Anyway, this pretty white moth is what I saw as I was about to get into my car to go into work for a meeting and then another meeting. This departure took place at, oh, 9:18 a.m. So before the full weight of The Heat of the Day fell upon us all. I saw the moth flickering there, on the periphery of my vision, and went to take a look.

As my brother used to say—at least I think it was my brother—about living where it is hot: ‘What hot? You get in your car where it’s air-conditioned, drive to work, go into a building that’s air-conditioned, work, and drive home to where it’s air-conditioned.’ Not that living this way has any bearing at all on the future of mankind or anything. Well, today, I got in my car, drove to work, had my meetings, then drove to meet my niece for lunch. This was all lovely, and of course, air-conditioned. Then, I went to Target.

The people, the automatic doors to Target are like a giant maw of cool, refreshing, refrigerated air. I felt it as the doors opened and closed and opened again, automatically. I was drawn into this cool, cool place, an oasis where you could buy a little blouse to go with a skirt for said niece’s wedding, or a new pair of reading glasses, or dishwasher detergent, or, like, gum, all in the refreshing coolness of a world of discount retail that is bathed in an impossible, unsweaty temperature. Anyway, I strolled around the Target, considering this and that, possibly lingering because of the AC.

And then I drove home (air-conditioned) and turned on the AC there.

I feel I should apologize for this post and for my dependency on cool air. But that’s how it was today. It was about shelter from the sun and from the heat, and cool air blowing in my face. Let me also mention the amount of cool, refreshing water I drank today. With ice in it. I guess it’s not supposed to be as good for you, with ice? But sometimes, America, we just plain need ice to make it through.

Monday, June 29, 2015


It's too hot for a walk. This is an objective truth.

Bruiser's desire for a walk literally makes him blurry.

But Bruiser is quite clear that he needs a walk. At 10 p.m., the time is now. We held him off for maybe 45 minutes after that, just to let the temperature fall a few more degrees.

there's AC in that house. just fyi.

So we gather our character and our fortitude and the leash. 

'Let's get a move on, you guys.'

We take a short route. Bruiser isn't as young as he once was (unlike the rest of us, whose youth springs eternal, although a mite grouchy with the heat, not that anyone's counting).

the moon, acting predictably beautiful.

Full, or almost full, moon--it's a beautiful night. Point conceded, Bruiser. Now let's get in there and make the most of that swamp cooler.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Up the canyon.

Not that I'm complaining, but it's hot. Well, I am complaining, but only incidentally. My point is really that in the heat, it's a really good idea to leave the oven of the valley, and ascend to the tops of the mountains, or at least the canyons among them.

The historian's son was the originator of this perfectly timed and wonderful idea. We drove down to their house, then we all drove together up American Fork Canyon, to put our feet in the creek and find kindling and build a little fire and make s'mores.

It was beautiful. It was so much cooler. We had such a good time.

ace stick wranglers.

Eden & Elise.

so freaking chilly! it was the best!

the Jedi master of kindling finding.

just wearing shades and eating a marshmallow.
that's all.

Jenna & Rachel, down at the water.

finishing the fire.

how much fun did we have? so much fun.

cool water.

big mountain sky.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Looking forward.

Although we had decided we'd get up bright and early to go to the farmer's market, when it came right down to it--as in, when it meant getting up and getting in the car--we decided the morning was too lovely for anything but hanging around here.

So we did. We read the paper a little and ate some breakfast. I got the pruning shears and cut back the spent blooms on the roses. It was still cool, especially in the shade. I felt like I had stepped out into the morning's own dream.

After that embrace of the moment, I sat down in my chair and read and corrected the second set of proofs. I sent them back before noon, and I already have the next round, with my corrections in place
--'hopefully the last round,' my editor says. Sometime before too long, these proofs will be an actual book, with a cover and pages.

My mom and dad came up to meet the new baby. So I went over there for a little while. My dad sent this four generation picture:

great picture, dad!

That's me, my mom, my daughter, and her two daughters. So wonderful. I stayed longer than I thought I would because it was just so lovely.

Soon it will be July, and more family will be arriving, coming and going. It's so much to look forward to. And not too long after that, we'll be going to Scotland to visit those beloveds.

School will start, of course, with its flurry and pressures, but also its joys. I'm in no hurry for that to arrive, but when it does, it will be good, it will be great.

And in the winter, this:

honey! it arrived! finally!

We've been waiting for this Save-the-Date to arrive, and yesterday it did. I love the happiness that shines from this picture.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Little gardens.

Today was such a great day. After I made pancakes, I retreated to my study to warm up the internet for the day. The historian was on his way out the door. My major news sources--you know I mean Facebook, right?--told me that the Supreme Court had ruled. Before I knew the full extent--although the vibrations felt good--I ran to the front door, opened the screen, and hollered to the historian to come back inside.

As I've checked in and out of things all day, I've been so moved by how much joy and happiness there is. So beautiful.

In the light of that, I worked a little on my poem, then dashed out to pick up some grandkids. We went to a garden shop and bought wee plants and tiny creatures for fairy gardens:

thanks to my daughter for this picture.
I think I might need a fairy garden.

A photo posted by Lisa Bickmore (@megastore) on

After that, I went to work out for the first time in several days, because of the previous sick. It felt amazing. Also, when I got home, my muscles were literally trembling. So I made myself a Havarti, tomato and basil sandwich with a little olive oil on the bread and lo! that is a damn good sandwich, you guys.

I called another part-time faculty member to see if he wanted to join the team. He had questions. I was still high off my Havarti, tomato and basil sandwich, so I answered said questions cheerfully.

A couple of different times today when I was outside, I found myself near plantings humming with bees--my lavender, the lemon balm, the thyme that is decidedly outdoing the lawn in certain places. I saw a beautiful butterfly, yellow and black, flit from my yard to the next door neighbor's. And there was this beautiful little moth:

A video posted by Lisa Bickmore (@megastore) on

A video posted by Lisa Bickmore (@megastore) on

So, you know, between all the joy-crying, intermittent but all day long, from the great news of the day, and the tiny gardens and their tiny denizens, and the small children I planted them with, the humming bees, plus the delicious sandwich as a minor yet not insignificant bonus, I feel solidly happy. Well, actually--happy without alloy.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Summer day.

if you look it up, there's a picture of me.
Not that it really matters, but I couldn't fall asleep last night. 1:30 a.m., wide awake. I got up and did this and that for awhile (on the internet, obviously. I may or may not have purchased a yellow sweater on eBay.). When I got up this morning at 8:30, it wasn't with great energy, exactly. The historian, who had done the same middle of the night wakefulness rhumba, was just leaving.

He drove away. The house was quiet.

I just want an internet beat that
gives me the good stuff. That's all.
I ate my granola and took care of little business items associated with teaching in the fall. Talked to a part-time faculty member. Set up a meeting, then set it up again. And again. Etc. Found this and this and this in my quest for a better internet daily protocol. Took a shower.
Ted Hughes drafted long hand, then 
crossed things out. I am drafting 
on my laptop. I haven't got to the 
crossing things out part yet.

And then started a draft of my/the/a poem. [insert joyful emoticons and exclamation points!]

After awhile, I betook myself to the cinema for an afternoon showing of a movie that has been fairly universally disliked. I brought my own treats: half of a fennel bulb, saltines, a packet of cashews, and a water bottle with my favorite iced tea/limeade concoction. I was the only person in the theater. As I watched the movie, I could see where people would find things to criticize in it. It wouldn't be hard. And yet, as I sat there, the sole person laughing at the jokes and crying, a little, at the moving parts, I thought, but I still like it. It's not like I was trying so hard, either. I liked it.

Oh, like I'm going to tell you what it was. I can feel you judging me already.

my Greek panzanella was even
more delicious than this picture.
After that, I went to the store and bought peppers and cherry tomatoes and a good loaf of bread, a red onion, some kalamata olives and feta, and made Greek panzanella salad, which is pretty much the epitome of what you should eat at the end of a strenuous day in which you have battled fatigue, advanced the mission of your department by emailing from home, made gains on your own internet proficiency, began in a substantial way a draft of one of the two poems you hoped to write this summer, and successfully balanced your critical faculties with your basic dumb love of movies.

Make and eat that salad, my friends, and be whole again beyond confusion.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The body.

The other day, I was in my daughter's kitchen, where her son was talking about something he had heard at church.

"My teacher said your body is like a glove," he said, looking at his hand, "and your hand is like your soul."

I am unfailingly interested in how we think of the body--so often, our metaphors will have the body as other than the self, or as a not-true self, or as a husk which the soul leaves at death.

Because I am thinking obsessively about shelter and home, I ask myself: is the body a home? a shelter? is it a good one?

I've been sick this week, nothing dire, a stomach ailment that has me sticking close to home. Resting. Needing what feels like safety and quiet.

Is the body safety?

I think a lot about how people say that we live too much in our heads, not enough in our bodies. There's truth to this. For me, it's sometimes hard to feel at home in my body--I think this is true for plenty of women. The body can feel like a lifelong project, one that requires an almost fanatic discipline. How to balance the pleasures of the body--of taste and touch and movement--with the desire for it to comply, to be normal, to be ideal.

I'm thinking about this right now because I just I read this (Nik posted it on Facebook). Too, I'm currently reading this, as I've noted. I also found this serendipitously.

I read, once, on a blog I still keep up with, something a young woman wrote. She said, "I am not my body." A few years ago, she survived a small plane crash with serious, almost fatal burns, therapy for which persists to this day and will no doubt go on for years. The body is a theme of hers--how could it not be? isn't it for all of us?--and she often expresses gratitude for her body, for what she is able to do and be because of that survival, and because of her recovery.

I've thought about what she said ever since. I think, I am my body. My body is me. I try to bring my attention to my restlessness, my ease, my desire to leap up, to depart, my enjoyment, my desire to linger, to stay. These seem to me to be also the movements and dispositions of my spirit. It's hard to separate them. When I'm writing, when I'm making something. When I'm cooking. When I'm with my children, laughing. When my grandchildren are near me. When Bruiser, lying next to us on the bed while we watch television or read, heaves a great doggy sigh. The animal comfort I take in just being near my husband. When life is good sometimes, for hours and even days at a time, I feel entirely whole. At home with myself.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Link on the move.

My grandson is deeply, deeply interested in The Legend of Zelda. If I sit beside him, he will narrate and comment on it while he plays. This weekend, we watercolored together, and he painted characters, figures, and scenes from it--and narrated and commented on them, while also humming little snippets of the music. (His sister can also sing/hum some of the music--she's also an onlooker, commenter, and absorber of this fascinating game-story.)

Anyway, he is also interested in the swordsmanship of Link, the heroic quester figure in Zelda (I am fairly certain I have that right)--he has built multiple models of the swords of Zelda out of Legos. He also seeks to practice the moves of Link, particularly his style of hurtling forward rolls. Behold:

Deacon the Acrobat from lisab on Vimeo.

I apologize for my obsession with slow motion at the moment. I just cannot get enough of it. It turns out that not everything is a fitting subject for slow motion capture, but I really love the way you can see the gracefulness of his form which would otherwise be tricky to catch.

And I am in love with the way that Zelda translates into all my grandson's activities--his current storehouse of story, his play with other toy-systems, his aesthetic, and his movement. (I would love, for instance, to be able to translate a poem I'm writing into a similarly dashing, daredevilish choreography.)

Monday, June 22, 2015

Good things.

How about this? Marc Maron interviews President Obama.

I cannot get enough of this amazing article about Robert Rauschenberg's archives.

Do you love to read and look at anything at all about the ways language families are interconnected? I know I do.

My best friend sent me this link to a beautiful video with artist Nayland Blake. It is amazing.

Continuing my obsession with linen coats.

One of the all time great songs.

There's a whole fantastic series of beautiful pieces on storytelling on BrainPickings, but this, on Vivian Gornick's The Situation and the Story: the Art of Personal Narrative, is exceptional.

Since my trip earlier this month to Mesa Verde (and the thwarted Hovenweep trip), I've been looking at how many, many sites there are throughout the general Four Corners area. You guys, so many. How about this? and this? and this? or this?

My grandson did, on video, an amazing and thorough lip-synch of this Muppets 'Bohemian Rhapsody.' (if it becomes shareable, believe me: I will share it.)

I kind of think this shirt is hilarious, although I cannot imagine wearing it.

This epic video essay about Los Angeles as it appears in films is now available as a DVD, and you can bet I'll be watching it.

I read this, sighed a deep, deep sigh, then did the math about what it would take to get those minutes in per week. I had a plan to go to the gym and begin whittling away at those minutes. But I was sick, as it turns out, so instead I took a hardcore nap. Tomorrow, for sure.

In conclusion, the historian just saved me from a giant moth that was strafing me and this blog post, causing me to shriek my patented moth shriek. He also saved the moth, so that makes him the Moth Savior of our house. He is the best.

Sunday, June 21, 2015


This morning, the historian went out before I woke up to take a bike ride. So the house was quiet. I made my little breakfast and chatted with my daughter in Scotland--it had been at least two weeks since our last conversation.

The historian came home. We read the paper while he ate his breakfast, drawing one another's attention to this and that article in the Tribune and the Times. I made a list. This is what was on it:

only crucial things on this list, obviously.

Before anyone expresses shock at how behind I am in my television watching (!)(this list isn't the half of how behind I am, just for your information), I would like to point out that I am caught up on my (highly selective) list of housekeeping chores, except for vacuuming, which: it is too hot, in my opinion.

In the mid afternoon, my sons, all of them, were here for a few hours to kibbitz with one another and catch up, and to have dinner. Soft tacos, in case anyone wants to know. Guacamole. Pineapple. It was good. We had a dance party, briefly, to the new Beck song. Then, they all departed at once.

The historian sat out on the patio as the evening cooled, reading a new book. Inside, I finished a detective novel set in New Orleans, floridly plotted and, perhaps, floridly written, although to say 'florid' may be a little glib for what I found interesting in the novel. I've put in a request with the library's robot for the second book in the series. Evidently, I'm interested in this potentially florid yet compelling series, and there you have it. I also started a book I heard about on the radio, when I was out buying the pineapple and some tortillas and a couple of avocados. I came right home and downloaded it.

Now, it's time to read a little more and end the day in quiet, an estimable bookend to the day's beginning. I'm grateful for it.

(little photo project)

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Because my dad, you guys.

Ten great things about my dad.

1. He really, really, really really loves my mom. Which means that respect and consideration for her were always present in my upbringing--a great gift.

2. As my brother once noted, 'Our dad is perhaps 
the handiest man alive.' True story. He knows how to take care of a car, make and expertly refinish furniture, turn wood on a lathe, fix all manner of stuff, and carve a turkey. He was so good at fixing machines that my grandpa worried, just a little, that he wouldn't feel motivated to go to college, although that fear turned out to be groundless, since my dad has a Ph.D. in physics.

3. He totally crushes the family history game, having  written a couple of family histories as well as his own personal history.

4. Once, my dad helped my son build a doll house for which he had drawn up plans--he wanted to give the doll house to his sisters (my daughters). 'Let's do it,' my dad said, and they did.

5. My dad used to help kids in his neighborhood with their science and math homework.

6. Speaking of which, my dad used to help me with my math homework. He and my mom are so committed to educating their children and grandchildren that they have helped all the grandkids with funds to subsidize some of their educational costs.

7. Once, when I was seized with an urge to make Cornell-style shadowboxes, my dad helped me construct them.

8. He was such an attentive and devoted son of my grandmother and grandfather in their later years.

9. He is always game to tell a joke, even a dubious one--he is willing to try to make it fly.

10. He played the guitar when we were kids--between him and my mother and our reel to reel tape deck, we always had music in our home.

Happy Father's Day, Dad--you really could not be better. I love you.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Ongoing conversation about faith, good works, clarity.

Losing my religion or not:

Me: ... I admire people who manage to stay but still engage. Like, if someone says something awful, they just speak to it, without rancor, because they're still brothers and sisters. But they engage.

Historian: ....

Me: I know, it's not what you'd do.

Historian: Well, it's not like there's just one way to respond.

Me: Right, exactly. And I know, it's not like people at church don't say stuff and do stuff that actually hurts people. They do. But still.

Historian: Right...?

Me: ...So what I'm saying is, if I'm still in, then what good am I doing out here on the sidelines? I could be engaging. [body language and hand wringing.]

Historian: ...

Me: I just wonder if I'm doing my part.

Historian: Oh, sweetheart.

Me: I know.  [dramatic change of subject:] Well, at least we're going to a movie.

Historian: ...I was going to say, nothing is ever easy for you, but some things are easy.

Me: Like movies.

Historian: ... like movies. I was going to make a list of things I'm completely clear about. Like riding my bike. I'm completely clear that I love riding my bike.

Me: Movies.

Historian: Right, for you, movies. And also poetry, you're clear about writing poetry.

Me: [to self: well, most of the time. Aloud:] Yes, definitely.  [...] But what else is on your list? That list of things you're completely clear about?

Historian: Oh, well, I haven't actually made the list. I was just thinking I was going to make it.

Me: [to self: dammit I need that list STAT! ...  Aloud:] Hey, I need that list!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Aquatic life in Draper, Utah.

Today, we had a long-awaited trip to the aquarium. By 'long-awaited' I mean several days, since we've been plotting out our hither and yons since Monday. America, it is a long wait from Monday to Thursday, I'm sure you can see that. But today, we went.

It was magnificent, according to Gwen.

There was a certain amount of waiting around for otters to finish their naps already. Which they did not. The otters were basically in a pileup of nappery. Snap out of it, otters!

All of us--all--loved the shark tank. Personally, I could stand there all day and let the light ripple, let the sharks swim over me and feel that movement. All day.

This sea turtle was one of our favorites, too. It didn't seem fazed by any of the sharks.

The fish just kept moving, and we kept watching them in the cool dark shark tank room.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Little thread I'm pulling.

I can't remember what the source--if there's a source--of this phrase: mistaking a threat for a shelter. But I remember that I heard it, and used it, in graduate school, and I've been thinking about it a lot recently.

This is because I'm working on the Francis Bacon poem. At least I think it's a poem about Francis Bacon. It's a poem with Francis Bacon, the painter, in it. I think it's going to be a poem with Francis Bacon the painter in it.

I'm working on this poem as a consideration of art. I've written, one way or another, a lot of poems about art. How does art fit into my larger set of subjects and concerns (and who cares, anyway? I do, I guess, which is why I keep on writing in the first place)? For instance, the way we are, or can be, so porous to the experience of being with the ones we love that it's almost unbearable? or how faith is so persistent and so maddening and so unfulfilling and so necessary, somehow? What does art have to do with all of that?

My friend read the manuscript I'm currently working on, the new one, or newish, and said she hoped I wouldn't arrive at the sarcastic, mordant conclusion of a Shawn Colvin song--well, at least I got a song out of it. That my experience, love, those life questions, wouldn't just be a pretext for making art. That that--art itself--would be what the poems would seem to be salvaging, holding up as the one hope.

This possibility is mortifying to me.

You didn't see anywhere in the manuscript the notion that art is radically insufficient? I asked her. By which I meant: like everything else.

I like thinking about Francis Bacon because of that studio, the one his heir gave to the Hugh Lane City Gallery in Dublin, and that was so meticulously reconstructed in that gallery, so that his studio, a place for making art which was also his house, became itself an exhibit.

A shelter, at least from the elements if from nothing else, that became an objet d'art.

Who, who said that--mistaking a threat for a shelter? Anyone? Was it only me?


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