Poem Therapy at 12:16 A.M. - Alberto Rios

The Cities Inside Us
Alberto RĂ­os

We live in secret cities
And we travel unmapped roads.

We speak words between us that we recognize
But which cannot be looked up.

They are our words.
They come from very far inside our mouths.

You and I, we are the secret citizens of the city
Inside us, and inside us

There go all the cars we have driven
And seen, there are all the people

We know and have known, there
Are all the places that are

But which used to be as well. This is where
They went. They did not disappear.

We each take a piece
Through the eye and through the ear.

It's loud inside us, in there, and when we speak
In the outside world

We have to hope that some of that sound
Does not come out, that an arm

Not reach out
In place of the tongue.

I can't sleep. Due to a recent hand injury, I can't type well or quickly, either, but that is a story for another day. Think: Christmas Eve, It's a Wonderful Life, copious tears, serious anger, a steak knife, a bell pepper, a four hour E.R. visit. You fill in the blanks.

You should know sleep is my friend and that I'm not prone to sleepless nights or insomnia, regardless of the problem presenting itself. You should also know I am prone to horribilizing, or catastrophzing. Think: take a situation or problem, any situation or problem, and I'll take it out to the netherworlds of the universe, (or perhaps the secret cities inside),for a good spin, bring it back to planet Earth, send it out for at least one more spin to see if I can outdo myself, then tuck it away and go searching for historical or mythological references. I go through at through at least ten cycles of examining the issue under a poweful microscope until I'm satisfied with possible outcomes. Yes, I know I don't control variables or outcomes, but it's good for a gal to be prepared! Sounds like a slow process, and sometimes it is, but usually I reach my conclusions very quickly. When the towers came down, the first thing I thought was, "My god! the Goths and Visigoths!" In that moment the only thing my mind could compute was that we were the Roman Empire and the barbarians had us. Then I got myself together, went down my checklist of every person I knew who could have been in those buildings and began calling. Then I got on The Onion and tried to smile. I did. I'll never forget the HFS bullseye, or the interviews from Hell with the perps.

Okay, back to not sleeping. It's now 12:43 (I told you it's hard to type!)I tried everything my weary insomniac friends swear works for them (see, I really do listen to everything). Not working. I'm feeling a little guilty keeping my puppy up so I'm going to have to sign off soon (he's under my chair kicking restlessly).

To the point: my father has cancer. We won't know until early next week if it's bad or if it has spread. I haven't allowed myself to catastrophize until today. I finally turned to Oracle, (the ancient kind). Here's the thing with Oracle, yes it used to explain things that science now explicates bloodlessly, and yes, it is relagated to the realm of kooky crackerjacks, but think about it, almost every religion has one form or another of Oracle that relies on some otherwordly power. If Julius Ceasar had listened to Oracle, he wouldn't have gone to the Senate. Maybe not the best example.

So, I asked and shuffled and this is what I got:
I. 2 Cups
II. King Staves
III. Ace Swords
IV. XIV Balance Yemana
V. 5 Staves
VI. Queen Cups
VII. 9 Swords
VIII. Queen Swords
XI. 6 Cups
X. XVIII The Star Inanna

I have no idea what the Oracle means, but the scary card didn't show up, so I'm going with the prognostications of the ether that his cancer hasn't spread. It's 1:03 and I'm finally tired. I'll edit later in the afternoon. Morning ya'll!

Cooking the Blues Away: Day Four

Just so you know, I have been cooking a lot, just not blogging about it. So far the cooking and poetry therapy really aren't working so well, so I'm going to try potato therapy, (this fabulous idea is inspired by the book title Potatoes Not Prozac). Maybe I should just make my own Mr. Potato Head figures and forget about it. Could be fun. I mean, winter doldroms really can't be that oppressive when there's a troupe of potatoes on the kitchen counter dressed for every occasion: hoedown to cocktail party.

Speaking of potatoes, I made a pretty spectacular fritatta/quiche sauteed vegetable pie which I adapted from a Moosewood Cookbook recipe. I'll post that recipe another day. btw, if you haven't ever heard of this cookbook, don't google, get in the car right now and head to the bookstore for an hour of thumbing through Mollie Katzen's no-frills, handwritten recipe book that is certain to stir your senses.

It's the season of family celebrations, and that always means an abundance of sweet treats. A friend brought this treat as a gift the other weekend, and I couldn't stop eating it, so she gave me the recipe. For lack of a better name, I'm calling it salty sweet crunch treat.

Salty Sweet Crunch
6 cups Captain Crunch
2 cups small pretzels
2 cups roasted almonds
1 pkg CandyQuik (vanilla or chocolate)
note: I've only found CandyQuik in Target stores
1 large cookie sheet
wax paper

In a large bowl, mix Captain Crunch, pretzels, almonds.
Microwave CandyQuik for one minute.
Stir melted CandyQuik over mix until mix is saturated.
Spoon mixture onto wax paper-covered cookie sheet.
Put in refrigerator until cool, (or if you live in a freezing climate like mine, outside for a nano second will do the trick).
Break mixture into sections.

Poem Therapy at 1:21 P.M - Michael Dumanis

Joseph Cornell, with Box
Michael Dumanis

World harbors much I'd like to fit inside
that the parameters preclude me from.

I'm the desire to have had a say.
I'm the desire to be left alone

amid brochures for Europe's best hotels
behind a locked door on Utopia Parkway,

where Brother, crippled, rides his chariot,
where Mother's all dressed up and going nowhere.

Together, sotto voce, we count hours,
fuss over newsprint, water down the wine.

When I was shorter, we were all divine.
When I was shorter, I was infinite

and felt less fear of being understood.
I am the fear of being understood.

I am the modest Joe who hems and haws
at blond cashiers ensconced in ticket booths.

Lacking the words to offer her the flowers
I'd spent a fortnight locating the words

to offer her, I threw the flowers at her.
As penance, I entrenched you, Doll, in wood.

Through your shaved bark and twigs, you stared at me.
Being a woman was out of the question.

Being a question caused women to wonder.
How unrestrained you must feel, Wind and Water.

You are the obligation, Box, to harbor
each disarray and ghost. I am the author,

the authored by. I am a plaything of.
Who makes who Spectacle. Who gives whom Order.

My father was a man who lived and died.
He would commute from Nyack to New York.

The woolen business had its ups and downs.
How unrestrained you've become, Cage and Coffin.

There is an order to each spectacle.
You are the obligation, Wind, to sunder

this relic of. Am reliquary for
the off-white light of January morning.

Have seen you, Fairies, in your apricot
and chestnut negligees invade the mirror,

tiptoe on marbles, vanish from the scene.
Am reliquary for what World has seen.

I'm the ballet of wingspan, the cracked mirror.
Canary's coffin. Sunshine breaking through.

Boxing is the working title of the new work I'm creating. Joseph Cornell is one of my favorite artists. He took detritus and made art. If you're unfamiliar with his work, prepare to unwrap a box of delicious eye candy. You may be inspired to learn more or even to make your own box.

Voodoo Collage: Two

voodoo collage section 2009

voodoo collage 2009

I started this collage out of desperation. I just can't get a concrete idea of what I want to do for my annual Christmas card. Okay, I'm lying, but the images I'm entertaining are from the dark side of my imagination and therefore, far more appropriate for Halloween. The closest I can come to Christmas-themed inspiration, is Dicken's ghosts, (with a twist).

I always leave my cards for the last minute, but generally have something interesting bubbling on the back burner. Not this time. I'm almost of a mind to just buy a box of cards and send them out.

I usually create a painting or collage and include write a flash fiction piece. Last year I painted caricatures of the entire family.

I think I may have found inspiration in what Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote about a dream, so I'm going to play around with "eating the world", perhaps using an erasure process in which you take a page of prose and cross out phrases and paragraphs, leaving specific words to communicate meaning.

For an example of Erasure Poetry check out Travis Macdonald and JenMarie Davis of Fact-Simile Editions', The O Mission Repo, which uses the the 9/11 Commission Report text for erasure purposes.

Why not try it for yourself?

Erasure Exercise
Instructions: Run a pen or marker over any of the words or punctuation from the Poets & Writers text below and see what kind of prose or poem emerges.

Poets have long known that there is as much power in words that are missing as in those that rest on the page. Anne Carson provided a brilliant example of this in If Not, Winter, her 2002 translation of the work of the ancient Greek poet Sappho. Of the nine books of lyric poetry that Sappho wrote—on papyrus rolls—only one poem has survived intact; the rest are fragments. To indicate where words are missing or, in some cases, are illegible, Carson included brackets, so that one of the fragments begins "]heart / ]absolutely / ]I can" while another is a single word trapped in, as John D'Agata put it in an essay in the Boston Review, "a blizzard of brackets." The haunting fragments bring to mind the best erasure poetry, in which the poet alters an existing text by striking or erasing words. Fact-Simile Editions, an independent press in Denver, recently published a unique example of this form of found poetry. While The 9/11 Commission Report is an important and compelling text in its own right (indeed, when it was published in 2004 the report soared to the top of several best-seller lists and was named a finalist for the 2004 National Book Award in nonfiction), its riveting account is nevertheless crowded by the mountain of information that the commission was obligated to document. Travis Macdonald, a graduate of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University and a coeditor, with JenMarie Davis, of Fact-Simile Editions, used the text for an erasure titled The O Mission Repo that is a moving commentary on what Davis calls the "shifting fields of language that have arisen in the post-9/11 world." For instance, the second page of the preface, or "reface," as Macdonald has modified it, reads: "Our aim has been to / redress / Its / lexicon / adjust the / lines within / between and / across / loss / and / balance / event / against / the instruments of / change / over every page" with heavy black lines obliterating every word of text save those that remain. In another section, "The Found Error," taken from the original chapter titled "The Foundation of the New Terrorism," the preserved words seem to float down the pages as if in clouds, the missing words literally erased from the text. Macdonald lived in Brooklyn, New York, at the time of the terrorist attacks, and Davis says he performed the erasure "with the alternating tenderness and rage of one who has experienced the uncertainties of this changed world firsthand." The press also publishes a biannual poetry magazine of the same name that is always open to submissions of "work that pushes the envelope of polite society and has little to no regard for the arbitrary margins of genre." Those interested in more erasure poetry might want to check out the Erasures section of the Wave Books Web site, where users can create their own virtual erasures using texts by Henry James and others. Of course, the great thing about erasures is that a poet can use any source text—even this one. Go ahead: Print this page out and run a pen or marker over any of the words or punctuation to see what kind of poem emerges. Send it to us (90 Broad Street, Suite 2100, New York, NY 10004) and we'll post it online.
Hol Art Books, a fledgling independent in Tucson, Arizona, dedicated to the publication of writing on visual art, is developing a collaborative publishing model worth noting. Anyone can submit a complete manuscript, a rough draft, or a proposal and sample chapter of a book; the press will post it on the Web site. There readers can review it and, if moved to do so, apply to join a "project team." All such teams include a project manager, author, editor, publicist, graphic designer, and bookstore sponsor. Once a team is assembled, the members collaborate online to develop the book. If a given book then passes a review process by other project teams, Hol will print it, market it, and get it on bookstore shelves. Everyone involved receives a percentage of sales. Publisher Greg Albers says several teams have been assembled and the press's first books will be published in the fall. "Though our particular focus is writing about visual art," he adds, "I hope the model we're developing will prove a viable new approach to publishing in all areas."

Kevin Larimer is the deputy editor of Poets & Writers Magazine.

Poem Therapy at 2:42 P.M. - Piotr Sommer

Piotr Sommer

Nothing will be the same as it was,
even enjoying the same things
won’t be the same. Our sorrows
will differ one from the other and we
will differ one from the other in our worries.

And nothing will be the same as it was,
nothing at all. Simple thoughts will sound
different, newer, since they’ll be more simply, more newly
spoken. The heart will know how to open up and love
won’t be love anymore. Everything will change.

Nothing will be the same as it was
and that too will be new somehow, since after all,
before, things could be similar: morning,
the rest of the day, evening and night, but not now.

Some days are like that. This is one of them. The trouble with writing in a blog rather than a diary, is that it's not a good idea to get medieval and let it rip entirely. It's better to be a little cryptic, because there's an off-chance somebody is actually reading.

I'm going to cranial sacral on Monday and I know she's going to get after me. And she should. I just can't make this decision. This decision that I've been worrying like a loose tooth for over a year now. What is the decision? Like I'd tell. You'll have to pilfer my journal for that information. The majority of the decisions I make are of a split-second nature. But the really gnarly decisions that need that kind of incisive steel, are the very decisions that take the longest.

My decision making process when confronted with a serious problem: 1)shock mode - Oh shit! 2)catastrophe mode - The Apocalypse is T-minus ten minutes and counting, prepare to die! 3) battle mode - General Danna here, prepare to lay siege! 4) rational mode - Okay, I'm going to calm down and take a long, hot bath and think about this. 5)intellectual mode - I will read everything man has put to paper on the subject, then google, dogpile, yahoo, and bing. 5)Popeye mode - I'm gonna' get cha, and get cha, and get cha again! 6)multiple point-of-view mode - if twenty-five women from twenty-five different backgrounds were presented with this problem, what would they do and why? 7)kick ass mode - We need to talk! 8) Change of mind mode - Um, we'll talk later, okay? 9)mystical mode - It's really been a long time since I've been to the psychic. 10)ouroboros mode - Back to the beginning for another cycle.

This cycle has been one year three months and eleven days. Plenty of time to nail it down. I'm off to tarot.com to ask the question again.

Portrait of the Family Sans Dogs

baby girl

three amigos

the 'rents

I'm playing around with Photoshop trying to work out ideas for our annual holiday card. Last year I painted caricatures. I think I'm going to make a poster image this year. For now, here are a few rough draft images.

Poem Therapy at 1:25 P.M. - Peter Covino

Cut Off the Ears of Winter
Peter Covino

Cut off the ears of winter
they have overheard too much,
where incinerators burn,
where rubble-strewn streets
are covered in dust from the remodeling.
Again, the doe-man in mauve cashmere—
the nerve of him—in the never world
(where ashes are harvested) where
ashes rain down in glory, a jackpot
of answers. Tonight, the underwriting
of desire is an inky carbon copy.
I have already—that last time drunk
on scotch. Then all morning
a chain gang of transvestite prostitutes
litters the front yard—the Police Station
next door also on fire, burning,
burning handcuffs, the soles of shoes
not holding the earth, cars skidding
everywhere, the tire’s frame sets sparks
along the road. This is my last dollar,
last cigarette, last match.

I concur, most whole-heartedly!

Poem Therapy at 10:41 P.M. - Margaret Atwood

Variation on the Word Sleep
Margaret Atwood

I would like to watch you sleeping,
which may not happen.
I would like to watch you,
sleeping. I would like to sleep
with you, to enter
your sleep as its smooth dark wave
slides over my head

and walk with you through that lucent
wavering forest of bluegreen leaves
with its watery sun & three moons
towards the cave where you must descend,
towards your worst fear

I would like to give you the silver
branch, the small white flower, the one
word that will protect you
from the grief at the center
of your dream, from the grief
at the center. I would like to follow
you up the long stairway
again & become
the boat that would row you back
carefully, a flame
in two cupped hands
to where your body lies
beside me, and you enter
it as easily as breathing in

I would like to be the air
that inhabits you for a moment
only. I would like to be that unnoticed
& that necessary.

This poem is appropriate for the late hour. Late, primarily because tomorrow is a long work day. You might be interested to know that the Beatles's Eleanor Rigby was the background music playing in my head while I read this poem (read it again and I bet you hear it too). The lyric all the lonely people just slays me every time I hear this song.

The lines, and walk with you through that lucent/wavering forest of bluegreen leaves/with its watery sun & three moons/ the cave where you must descend,/towards your worst fear cause a small tremor behind my eyes. I know this cave. We all know this cave. It would be so much easier if we could take a companion or a guide, but entering the cave is a solitary experience. Necessary, but not fun.

Margaret Atwood is one of the most brilliant writers of the century. It's hard to categorize her or her writing. She's fearless, and mischievously funny, a surprising combination. She's tackled every difficult subject under our big hydrogen ball. I went to hear her read a few years ago when she was in Salt Lake City and was shocked when she walked onto the stage. She was blonde. She's always been brunette. Of course she addressed her hair color first thing. Her blondeness was not a 3/4 life crisis attempt at reclaiming youth, or research to see if blondes really do have more fun, (I was blonde for exactly five days and I'll tell you blondes get harassed a lot by men from every walk of life, more than brunettes, and if that's fun, have at it). Her blondeness was merely a transition to gray hair.

I have a few strands of gray right in the middle of my side-part. I used to pull them out, despite the superstition that more will grow. Now I call them my Bride of Frankenstein.

Poem Therapy at 1:45 P.M. - Jane Hirshfield

Waking the Morning Dreamless After Long Sleep
Jane Hirshfield

But with the sentence: "Use your failures for paper." Meaning, I understood, the backs of failed poems, but also my life. Whose far side I begin now to enter— A book imprinted without seeming season, each blank day bearing on its reverse, in random order, the mad-set type of another. December 12, 1960. April 4, 1981. 13th of August, 1974— Certain words bleed through to the unwritten pages. To call this memory offers no solace. "Even in sleep, the heavy millstones turning." I do not know where the words come from, what the millstones, where the turning may lead. I, a woman forty-five, beginning to gray at the temples, putting pages of ruined paper into a basket, pulling them out again.

I woke this morning from a seamless dream intending to write it down, only for all but one scene to vanish. The scene was of my youngest sister sitting alone in the dark, at my dining room table, surreptitiously eating a fancy cake, with a huge smile tinged with just the faintest hint of little guilt. If people, events, signs and symbols of dreams all refer to the dreamer, just what am I keeping all to myself? what is hidden in the half light? Any why cake?

The other night I dreamed of knocking down a butter-colored woolly charging bull. Twice. First by kicking it in the head, the second time by hitting it across its head with a stick. It was after my puppy and I was protecting him. No interpretation necessary. I know exactly what my dreaming mind was presenting there. Totally about last week at work. But what of the dreams where I woke with the question, What is Scientology?, or the woman taking a train from Texas to Tibet? or the words "bindi" and "lindi" written on a board for further instruction?, or Helena Bohham Carter offering her seduction tips in which she just utters the saddest word, "gossip", to make men fall at her feet?

Snow has arrived and so has my little black cloud. And with it my restlessness, and litany of all that I haven't yet accomplished and the entire host of nonproductive self-flagellating interlopers. Actually, my irritating guests arrived yesterday, so no surprise I was drawn to pick up Dalton Conley's The Pecking Order: Which Siblings Succeed and Why.

Disclosure: Before I go any further, being drawn to this subject is totally about me, (and truthfully, it's the Danna Show 24/7. If you're honest, it's the same for you - it can't be helped since we see the world only through our own eyes). This is not about my parents, siblings, spouse (current or ex), relatives, ancestors, pets, livestock, or houseplants! It's about gathering new stones to put in my aquarium (I stole that analogy from poet Billy Collins, btw).

I'm my father's firstborn, my mother's fourth born, and the exact middle of the family. I think you make your own luck, and you have the freedom to choose the road you'll traverse in this life. You should know I've come to these conclusions in hindsight, of course, since pretty much all of my choices, even the ones I thought were conscious, well were hardly in my best self-interest. Great material to mine for writing, yes. My unconscious self has held the map these last four decades and has been at work deciding which road I'd head down, the direction, the switchbacks, u-turns and dead ends. I believe I have wrested the map away from that other self, and you know, better late than never. But, back to Conley's book: you'll be relieved to know that birth order really has nothing to do with how you fare in life, it's the number of siblings, family culture and dynamics, economics, outside mentors, and luck that are the determiners.

So why this poem? As always with my poem therapy routine, I click on poets.org, choose poem, choose a letter, then click on a poem title that speaks to me. Today I chose w, and found Hirschfield's poem, which may be coincidence, but failure & failed have been the hamster which has been running my wheel long into the night lately. No, this isn't about woe is I, it's about, my god, life is short and what is the problem with finishing the novel? and what is with all these roadblocks and diversions? and why are you listening to any other voice than my own? Until I figure out what my deal is, I'll do what Hemingway suggested in A Moveable Feast, All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know..

What I Made Today: Po' Man's Copper Foil

Po' Man's copper foil pendant necklace

So far, this is my favorite of the necklaces. In my last What I Made Today blog entry, I posted just the pendants. Over the last few days I've been oxidizing silver-plated chain and making gemstone bangles, both of which I attached to the pendant.

I've included a number of my Po'Man's necklaces (and sterling silver & gemstone earrings and necklaces), at the Salt Lake City Art Council's Annual Holiday Craft Exhibit & Sale . The Exhibit opens tonight and runs December 4 to December 20 from 1:00 - 7:00. The show features the work of local artists and craftsmen and you can expect to find something for everyone at reasonable prices: everything from original paintings and sculpture, decorative and functional ceramics, jewelry, tie-dyed clothing, hand-knitted hats, silk scarves, brilliant stainglass stars, to hand-lathed pens, seriously groovy children's toys, artist's journals, and an eclectic assortment of Christmas ornaments and cards.

One year I got my daughter a owl hand puppet. I think I loved it much more than she did. I always end up finding at least one fantastic piece of art to add to my collection.

The opening is tonight, and it's something of a madhouse, but the fun kind, with cheerful art-loving people snatching up gifts for friends, family, and themselves.

How to Write a Paradelle Poem

I went to hear Billy Collins read at the Salt Lake Public Library when he was the poet laureate. It was a standing room only event, and I was lucky to get in the auditorium, especially since I didn't have a ticket. He was charming and hilarious,and the audience loved him.

If you google paradelle, you'll find that one description is that it is a type of noodle. Thanks for the laugh, Mr. Collins.

A paradelle is a modern poetic form which was invented by United States Poet Laureate Billy Collins as a parody of the villanelle.

Collins claimed that the paradelle was invented in eleventh century France, but he actually invented it himself to parody strict forms, particularly the villanelle. His sample paradelle, "Paradelle for Susan" (c1997), was intentionally terrible, completing the final stanza with the line "Darken the mountain, time and find was my into it was with to to".

1. Insert tongue in cheek and read Collin's note and instructions on the paradelle form: The paradelle is (in Collins' own note) "one of the more demanding French fixed forms, first appearing in the langue d'oc love poetry of the eleventh century.
a. It is a poem of four six-line stanzas...
b. ...in which the first and second lines, as well as the third and fourth lines of the first three stanzas, must be identical.
c. The fifth and sixth lines, which traditionally resolve these stanzas, must use all the words from the preceding lines and only those words.
d. Similarly, the final stanza must use every word from all the preceding stanzas and only those words."
2. Choose a photograph as insipiration for your poem.
3. Follow Collin's instructions & write an original paradelle.

Paradelle for Susan
Billy Collins

I remember the quick, nervous bird of your love.
I remember the quick, nervous bird of your love.
Always perched on the thinnest, highest branch.
Always perched on the thinnest, highest branch.
Thinnest love, remember the quick branch.
Always nervous, I perched on your highest bird the.

It is time for me to cross the mountain.
It is time for me to cross the mountain.
And find another shore to darken with my pain.
And find another shore to darken with my pain.
Another pain for me to darken the mountain.
And find the time, cross my shore, to with it is to.

The weather warm, the handwriting familiar.
The weather warm, the handwriting familiar.
Your letter flies from my hand into the waters below.
Your letter flies from my hand into the waters below.
The familiar waters below my warm hand.
Into handwriting your weather flies you letter the from the.

I always cross the highest letter, the thinnest bird.
Below the waters of my warm familiar pain,
Another hand to remember your handwriting.
The weather perched for me on the shore.
Quick, your nervous branch flew from love.
Darken the mountain, time and find was my into it was with to to.

House Is A Memory
Lauren lies curled like a comma in the shadow of our house,
Lauren lies curled like a comma in the shadow of our house.
Her child's body punctuating memory,
her child's body punctuating memory.
Of punctuating: In our shadow house, a child's memory.
Her body like curled lies. Lauren, the comma.

Parallel universe is house and shadow,
parallel universe is house and shadow.
Scratched into damp earth, a jagged door, sightless windows, and fence,
scratched into damp earth, a jagged door, sightless windows, and fence.
House is sightless shadow, door into a damp and scratched universe,
jagged windows and fence parallel earth.

Brady rests on the periphery of light, like a pharaoh in repose,
Brady rests on the periphery of light, like a pharaoh in repose.
Childhood and memory disappearing into the shadows with the setting sun,
Childhood and memory disappearing into the shadows with the setting sun.
Disappearing like a childhood memory into the shadow's periphery,
setting, with the on-sun, and in repose, Brady, the pharaoh of light, rests.

The shadow rests. House is a memory curled and disappearing
like shadows with our comma childhood punctuating the periphery.
Shadow lies in a body of scratched light and into Brady
and Lauren into parallel universe, her child's memory
the jagged sun setting on sightless earth,
and the house of fence, door, and windows
like a damp pharaoh in repose.

My paradelle was inspired by Abelardo Morell's photo Laura and Brady in the Shadow of Our House, 1994 from DoubleTake Summer 1999

Poem Therapy at 9:22 A.M. - Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.

"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.

But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.

It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.

But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save.

Mary Oliver is one of my favorite poets, and this poem, along with Wild Geese are poems that I return to in flush and fallow times.

Poem Therapy at 10:02 A.M. - Anne Porter

Winter Twilight
Anne Porter

On a clear winter's evening
The crescent moon

And the round squirrels' nest
In the bare oak

Are equal planets.

The full moon was visible in the early morning sky for a few hours from my office window this morning. Much earlier, the light from the moon illuminated the darkness of my bedroom. December's first moon heralds the coming snow.

When my daughter was small and still in her car seat, I remember we were driving by the local mall, and for whatever reason, I was in the back seat with her. She had cupped her hand and said, "Look Mommy, I'm holding the moon", and it looked as if she was balancing the moon in the palm of her hand.

There are two full moons in December. According to The Farmer's Almanac, the first full moon is called Full Cold Moon, (also know as Long Night's Moon by some Native American tribes. The second full moon is called a Blue Moon.

What I Made Today

front images of Poor Man's pendants

back images of Poor Man's pendants

I've been having a great time making Poor Man's pendants and oxidizing sterling silver chains and findings for necklaces this week. The images I've posted are pendant examples of what I'm calling my Poor Man's copper foil jewelry. They are in the beginning stage of assemblage; the gemstones and oxidized components have yet to be added.

I've made soldered copper foil jewelry for years, but I've been searching for materials that are more in keeping with my collage and mixed-media sensibilities. I finally found material that is lighter than beveled or slide glass. Also, after numerous attempts, I've figured out a process that is less labor intensive than soldering copper foil onto sandwiched glass, (the image is secured inside the glass and sealed with the copper foil, thus "sandwiched". The materials and process I've came up with is a brilliant alternative to copper foil, (if you think I'm getting uppity, just imagine I said "brilliant alternative" in Elmer Fudd's voice, and you'll feel much better).

I'll post a How To make Poor Man's Copper Foil Jewelry another day.

Isabel Allende in the City of Salt

Isabel Allende is in Salt Lake City today for a lecture, "In the Hearts of Women". A panel discussion and screenings of films adaptations of her books are slated for tomorrow, (check the link for details).

I think of Allende's writing as my gateway drug to magical realism. My introduction to Allende's work was Stories of Eva Luna which I read in my early twenties. My favorite book in her ouevre is The House of Spirits which I think is her strongest work, ushered in the allure of magical realism. Although she is a formidable literary and politcal voice, I think her early writing is more powerful.

How to Write a Poem about Piranhas

A friend sent Montesonti's poem years ago with the challenge to write a poem based on the subject matter, piranha. I wrote my version in a few minutes, but revisit it at least once a year to make changes. I write fiction, but read and write poetry because I love it, but also to work on language and imagery.

If you'd like to give the piranha poem exercise a try, I've included directions, Montesonti's poem, and my piranha poem.

Piranha Exercise

1. brainstorm piranha facts, common knowledge info, images, etc.
2. focus on an emotion and list all the associations it evokes; explore all aspects of the emotion
3. focus on a person you know well and write a list of attributes that describe this person; explore all aspects of the person
4. begin writing about piranhas, (remeber to hold the emotion and person in your mind) yet realize what you’re really exploring and writing about is the person for which you listed attributes

Frank Montesonti

I try to tell my students to use images
like, say, a piranha eating an apple
or a piranha flying through the air
and biting a woman's jugular.
Maybe you cold say that when the blood
sprays from the woman's neck it looks like, hmm,
a red Chinese fan.

When I'm asked what a poem should be like
I say simply state the fact that a full-sized cow can walk into a river
and a school of piranha can devour it in two minutes.
They work their way in the belly and eat out the soft organs,
then you see the skin and head dance on top of the water.

Frank, do all our poems have to be about piranhas?
One of my students asks, the piranha,
such a biting question, ahh, and yes her flesh is tender...

No, no, not if you don't want them to be about piranhas,
I tell her, of course I really don't see the point of not writing about piranhas
that moment when the water starts to break and pop

before the frenzied eating.


there is one who sits in the back
braced against the brick wall
the hard animal of his body
an ode to a time
when man killed what he ate

he shifts in his seat
runs a hand through dark hair
words are dark fish swimming inside him
scaling the water's spume with rigid dorsals

a fin unfurls inside him,
razor-teethed words hoover
the mute chambers of his heart
until the taut fish of his body breaks surface
teeth bared and gleaming like pearls

The Lives of Others: Blog Discoveries

Turn on cable and you're bound to be sucked into or assualted by one reality show or another, all screaming for your attention. It's easy to be pulled into the lives and suffering of others. I'm grateful I don't know them. I also wonder if these people exist in the same form when the cameras are off: do they really wear heels and miniskirts all the time. It must be exhausting sucking your stomach in for months of filming. I also wonder what happens to them when their fifteen minutes of fame's over. The news of late show that people will do almost anything to get on tv or stay on tv. It's as if they don't exist unless on camera.

This reminds me of when Warren Beatty, in absolute exasperation, asks Madonna if she exists when the camera's are turned off in her reality film, True Lies. As for Madonna, can you imagine a world where she's not reinventing herself on film? And what about us, the veiwers? Why are we watching and watching? Yes, we experience catharsis watching these programs, but I'm finding blogs far more interesting. It's as if I've been given the key to the front door of a stranger's home while they're at work and I get to puruse the bookshelves and look inside kitchen cupboards, or better yet, I've been FedExed the diary of a someone I'l never meet, and I can thumb throw it at my leisure and piece together a life from the entries.

Blogs let us enter the lives of ordinary people living ordinary lives. This is extraordinary. I still write my secret thoughts in my journals, record my dreams, (which incidentially focused on "bindi" or "lindi" last night), and still make my to- do and to-don't lists, which I will never post on my blog because my journal and my blog are two very different beasts. My blog posts are random, but much less discursive and rambling as my journals. I'm still figuring out the medium.

I found these blogs today, and I'm getting acquainted with these bloggers. Here they are. Go ahead. Enter.

Cool Travel Guide
Features great travel photos and commentary.

Strawberry Kittens
This blogger photographs herself in outfits she wears to the dentist, doctor, etc..

Mrs. Blandings
Has an interior design slant and provides great links.

Zeichenn Press
Features letterpress cards and lots of amusing ramblings.

Stephanie Friedman Photography
Great eye and aesthetic. Lots of interesting photographs.

Beyond Words
Mixed-media art and politics.

London Still
Musing of a real drama queen.

Poem Therapy at 10:37 P.M. - Sarah Manguso

Oblivion Speaks
Sarah Manguso

I am not here to ruin you.
I am already in you.
I am the work you don’t do.
I am what you understand best and wordless.
I am with you in your chair and in your song.
I am what you avoid and what you stop avoiding.
I am what’s left when there is nothing left.
Love me hard, pilgrim.

What a fabulous concluding line. Yes, indeed, love me hard! Isn't that all any of us truly want? To be loved. Hard, as in deeply.

Sages from the beginning of time have said that it's not necessary to travel the world to find our treasure, and that real treasure is in our own back yard. Also, that the answers to all of our questions, lie within ourselves. The Wizard of Oz's Glinda the Good Witch of the East said it best when she told Dorothy, in response to her query on how to get back home,'It was inside you all the time.'

Cooking the Blues Away: Day Three

I don't like shopping. Foraging for treasure in thrift and used bookstores, this I like. I say NO to Black Friday! (when my daughter was two, she'd throw her right hand into a rigid salute by the side off her head and emphatically say, I say no!)

I did not leave the house, except that I had to pick my daughter up from work, but that's a story for another day. I spent the day lazing about, talking and texting friends and family, cleaning up the last leftover clutter from Thanksgiving, watching Ovation tv's Framed photography programming, baking a pie, and then later, quiche, and letting the dogs out and in and out and in x infinity. Harley had three outfit changes yesterday. Today, he went au natural. He's getting a bath tomorrow.

My plan for the day was to stay home and not spend one penny, but, I finally relented and went to the grocery store since we were out of milk and I needed a red pepper for the quiche.

I took a photo of the pie and will post it here later. I didn't take photos of the quiche, although both were equally deserving. Recipes for the pie and quiche are provided below. My husband liked the quiche and loved the pie, and hopes this is not the one and only pie I make.

Homemade Blackberry Pie
3-2-1 Crust:
3 cups flour
2 cups shortening (yes, I know shortening, but it makes the best crust!)
Pinch salt
1 cup water

Preheat oven to 375.
Mix flour, shortening and salt together using a pastry cutter.
Add water and mix with wooden spoon (or chopsticks - my friend Chingling taught me traditional cooking using only wooden untensils and they actually work best, but stick with the pastry cutter since there isn't a wooden equivalent).
Knead dough with hands.
Flour surface.
Roll dough to even consistency.
Place on buttered pie pan.
Trim edges.
Decorate crust edges however you like. (I used a fork for the crust decoration).
Option: I like to cut shapes for the upper crust with my vintage heart cookie cutter.

Pie Filling:
3 cups blackberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 Tbls cornstarch

Mix blackberries and sugar in blender.
Heat blackyberry mix to a boil, then add cornstarch.
Reduce heat and simmer for at least five minutes.
Pour mix into pie pan.
Place dough hearts on top of mixture.
Cook for 30 minutes.

Sauteed Vegetable Quiche
1/4 cup butter
1 Onion
1 Red pepper
1 cup mushrooms
Dash: salt, pepper, thyme, basil, Tapito hot sauce
1 tsp parsley flakes
1 tomato
1 cup Swiss or sharp cheddar cheese
4 eggs
1 1/2 cup milk

Melt butter and sautee vegetables, then mix in spices and hot sauce.
Spread cheese in bottom of pie crust (see 3-2-1 crust recipe).
Spoon vegetables on to of cheese.
Blend eggs and milk, then pour on top of vegetables.
Slice tomato and place on top.
Sprinkle parsley over the entire surface.
Bake for 45 minutes or until center is solid.

Thanksgiving Day 26 November 2009

Edgar Guest

Gettin' together to smile an' rejoice,
An' eatin' an' laughin' with folks of your choice;
An' kissin' the girls an' declarin' that they
Are growin' more beautiful day after day;
Chattin' an' braggin' a bit with the men,
Buildin' the old family circle again;
Livin' the wholesome an' old-fashioned cheer,
Just for awhile at the end of the year.

Greetings fly fast as we crowd through the door
And under the old roof we gather once more
Just as we did when the youngsters were small;
Mother's a little bit grayer, that's all.
Father's a little bit older, but still
Ready to romp an' to laugh with a will.
Here we are back at the table again
Tellin' our stories as women an' men.

Bowed are our heads for a moment in prayer;
Oh, but we're grateful an' glad to be there.
Home from the east land an' home from the west,
Home with the folks that are dearest an' best.
Out of the sham of the cities afar
We've come for a time to be just what we are.
Here we can talk of ourselves an' be frank,
Forgettin' position an' station an' rank.

Give me the end of the year an' its fun
When most of the plannin' an' toilin' is done;
Bring all the wanderers home to the nest,
Let me sit down with the ones I love best,
Hear the old voices still ringin' with song,
See the old faces unblemished by wrong,
See the old table with all of its chairs
An' I'll put soul in my Thanksgivin' prayers.

My favorite line from this poem is, We've come for a time to be just what we are. Family really are the only people who take you just as you are, and where it's possible to leave the mask you wear in the world at the door and enter, as yourself. I heard from six of my seven siblings. Yes, I said seven. I remember after delivering my one and only child, thinking, "mom did this seven times".

Dinner preparations began early, early this morning. The turkey and stuffing where in my husband's man-be-cue grill (it's a huge convection oven that masquerades as a barbeque grill) by 7 AM. We both spent the entire morning and into mid-day preparing. My stepson and friends made stout drinks and spent almost two hours soaking in the hot tub. Dinner was supposed to be at 2:30, and since we're running on Mormon time, it was ready and on the table by 3:00. Only my nephew was bugged we were running late, but I saw that he made good use of his time an had lined up a row of snowballs. (For later!)

We had the usual crowd for dinner: my parents, my husband's mother and her friend, my daughter; we also had new friends for dinner and my sister, her husband, and kids, and my b-i-l's sister. Harley was happy to see everyone except my youngest neice. He barked and barked at her. She didn't mind and chased him delightedly. I remember Harley was also afraid of my brother's baby. He must think babies are dangerous rivals. Who knows?

My daughter kept the tv on so she could keep an eye on her team, the Raiders. They lost. I think everyone had a good time. The turkey was excellent! Best of all,I got presents: Lehi Roller Mills Cinnamon Spice Pancake Mix & Christmas Night Light Veilleuse.

It's 8:39 and the dishes are almost done. The dish towels and tablecloths are tumbling dry, and I'm feeling relaxed and sated. My husband has been in bed for over an hour. He's "tarred". He reverts to Missourian dialect when he's tired.

It took over two hours to make the mincemeat pie and I had to use rum instead of brandy because I didn't want to deal with the liqour store craziness last night - you had to take a number and wait outside because the lines were that long.

I have two favorite liquor store stories: 1. My friend had spent the entire day cooking for a dinner party when she realized she needed port. She looked like a wreck, her baby was dressed only in a diaper, and when she was at checkout to pay, she realized she'd grabbed the wrong wallet and literally counted out the amount in pennies, dimes, nickels, and quarters. So there she was looking like a derelict mother buying liquor instead of onesies. 2. On occasion the "whiskey fairy" brings a bottle of Crown Royal to my husband for helping out on the farm, so my father and I drove into the empty liquor store parking lot, when two cars came skidding in, the drivers got out and ran into the store. When we got inside both were already in line, and both were in various stages of inebriation. The woman could hardly stand and was clutching her sweatshirt together with one hand or she would have exposed herself. The man was as skinny as a stick and looked as if he'd been shot in the eye, it was so red. We got the giggles, I suppose at their expense, but only in a is this really happening? way.

The pie turned out just fine, even though I poured the rum in too early. Instead of a full top crust, I cut out hearts and stars with vintage cookie cutters, buttered them and sprinkled them with cinnamon sugar. My husband said he was going to take a video of me baking to prove I really made a a pie, but decided against it so he can say he must of dreamed it and it never really happened. He couldn't believe I knew how to roll out dough. Does he think I've never watched a cooking show? I actually got a great tutorial at 6 AM watching Martha Stewart Desserts. I think he was a little jealous that I made a pie for Dad because he complained that I never make pies for him. So, I'm going to make a blackberry pie for the man tomorrow.

The mincemeat pie was good, but meat in a pie is a little wierd. I don't think I'll make it again. I am going to make a plum pudding for Christmas. It appears I'm going traditional in the dessert department. Dad ran for the giblets as if they were the best treat in the entire world, and when I told him I'd made mincemeat pie, he got so excited (he said "Oh! and threw his hands up), it reminded me of a child opening presents Christmas morning. Very sweet, and funny. Baking was worth it.

This is what we served:
Love-rubbed turkey (my husband's secret recipe)
Turkey (sauteed giblet)gravy
Honey-glazed ham
Traditional stuffing with celery
Cranberry sauce
Sausage-stuffed mushrooms
Giblets (hidden under in a silver server)
Sweet corn
Green beans with bacon and onion
Rolls & butter
Mashed potatoes with parsley
Berry pie
Peach pie
Pumpkin pie
Mincemeat pie

Joy in Giving Gala

Last night, my husband and I attended the Joy in Giving: Christmas Tree Jubilee gala presented by the Weber School Disctrict Foundation and their partner sponsors. It's always an enjoyable time to play dress up and support an excellent charity. It's taken until this evening for my feet to recover from wearing high heels, though.

Every year my husband's company sponsors the construction end of the annually donated playhouse, which is the grand finale of the evening's auction. This year's playhouse was a cottage-style Pink Playhouse with white siding and bright pink wood trim. Inside there was a table and chairs, and a loft with ladder. Perfect for a princess and her attendants! The bidding was pretty fierce with one lady standing right next to the playhouse waving her arms. The playhouse went for a decent amount, considering the economy. All of the donations from the evening sponsor special needs children in Weber School District.

One feature of this fundraiser is that there is something there for every income level: gift baskets of every sort, trips to Maui, Yellowstone, Puerto Vallarta, ski passes to Wolf Creek ski resort, rival BYU and U of U trees (incidentally, the U's tree kicked the Y's coniferous ass by over $500), donation envelopes.

Quite a few years back I almost "won" an 8K tree, by accident. I was having a lively conversation with one of the dinner guests at our table, actually one of the big bosses, while the tree auction was going on around us full tilt. I asked which tree was being auctioned. He pointed, I pointed, and then immediately, there were two attendants at our table to record our "bidding war". Lucky for us, our bids drove the price up and somebody else won the tree for about 10K. You can bet I sat on my hands the rest of the evening. I know I left with a gift basket, and I think it was a variety of fair trade coffee from Ibis Cafe.

The trees this year didn't reach high bids like in the past, but attendance was excellent and overall, the benefit did very well. If you interested in sending a donation, send it to Weber School District Foundation 5320 South Adams Avenue Ogden, UT 84405.

The dinner was excellent. We were served:

Winter salad with carmalized walnuts
House raspberry vinegrette
Baci rolls with rolled butter

Carrot roasted red pepper & honey braised spinach
Bacon wrapped filet mignon
Baked crab & coconut stuffed shrimp
Whipped mashed potatoes & vegetables

Homemade apple pie topped with caramel with whipped cream & chocolate holly
Premiumm brewed coffee, raspberry lemonade

There was an open bar and the wine was tasty!

Gratitude for Whatever Comes

mixed media painting

The Guest House
Jelaluddin Rumi,
translation by Coleman Barks

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

To be honest I've spent the majority of my life trying to evade the majority of unexpected visitors or crowd of sorrows that have shown up on my threshold. I think it's perfectly normal to slam the door in the face of the dark thought, the shame, the malice when they arrive unbidden. It's much easier to be grateful for whatever guide arrives to fill my guest house, after its gone. My process goes something like this: first reaction - oh shit, second - get out of my house right now, you!, third - you can sit over there in the corner, but keep quiet and don't move!, fourth - um, when are you leaving?, fifth - since you're here you might as well eat something, sixth - seriously, when are you leaving?, seventh - listen, if you so much as twitch or say one word, I'm coming over there, eighth - so, why don't you tell me why you're really here , ninth - would you like a glass of wine?, tenth oh,you're leaving? nice to know you, bye now!

Like the commercial says, life comes at you fast. Although I never am happy when an unruly arrival takes up residence in my guest house, I am looking forward to welcoming family and friends, whatever mood or circumstance they're currently inhabiting, into my home this holiday season. It's a bit of a menagerie around here lately, with the addition of the new puppy and the ubiquitous pee pads and half-chewed toys in every room, so I have lots of cleaning. The puppy has a new winter sweater and coat for the occassion. I never thought I'd be one of those people who buy clothes for their animals.

Thanksgiving is just two days away and I haven't picked up the turkey or the ham, or anything else I'm planning for dinner. To be honest, this is how I roll. I'm not one of those uber organized people checking detail after detail off their lists, nor am I an adrenaline junkie waiting until the last minute to begin cooking. I'm somewhere in between.

Every year I listen to NPR holiday cooking suggestions, thumb through past Martha Stewart Living magazines, pull my recipe cookbooks out, see what looks interesting, and then two or three days before the big dinner, I head to the market. The dinner always turns out well, although one year my decision to make smashed, rather than mashed potatoes, nearly caused my husband to have an apopletic fit. He is a man who loves his potatoes pure: no peels, no horseradish, no nothing. What I know is that the dinner will turn out just fine, family and friends will leave well-fed and satisfied, the dogs and cats will have plenty of left-overs. Afterwards, I will enjoy a glass of wine all by myself.

Last year we had a group from China join us, so our Thanksgiving fare was Americana traditional: bread stuffing, basted turkey, squash, mashed potatoes and gravy, pumpkin pie. This year, I'm planning on adding a few modern takes on traditional dishes, but I am making one very traditonal dish that harks back to the nineteenth century. Mincemeat pie. Since my father won't even look at his laptop, there's no chance of his reading this post and spoiling my surprise. Years ago my father was in the middle of mincemeat mania and he literally badgered me every day to see if I had found a mincemeat pie. It's important to note that his mania began after the holidays, so if any restaurant actually served mincemeat ever, that window had closed. I tried to explain local restaurants and grocery stores didn't offer mincemeat, and probably stopped way back in the 50's. He persisted. And then, he finally gave up. So, I was over at my sister's telling her the mincemeat drama, when my father called and asked her what she was doing. Of course she told him we were just sitting there eating a piece of mincemeat pie. His gasp was audible, so was the invective and demand that she put me on the phone. It took a while to convince him we really weren't eating mincemeat pie without him.

The mincemeat pie inspiration and recipe are from this morning's program that I heard listening to NPR on the drive to work: Pass The Dessert: America's Thanksgiving Recipes I've always hated the mincemeat pies my grandmother made with raisins, but this is made with meat, so it actually sounds good. The suet gives me pause. Where does one purchase suet?

In the case you're too lazy to click on the link, here's the recipe:

Mincemeat PieIngredients
1 pound venison or lean beef, boiled and chopped
4 ounces suet
1 pound tart apples, peeled, cored, and chopped fine
3/4 cup beef broth (or reserved cooking liquid from meat)
1 1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup cider
1/4 cup molasses
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 cup golden raisins
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
Juice from one lemon
Juice from one orange
1/4 cup brandy Pie:
Pastry dough for 9-inch double-crust pie
1 large egg white, lightly beaten Makes a dozen mini pies

For the filling: In large stock pot or Dutch oven, combine all ingredients except brandy and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Add brandy and cool to room temperature.
For the pies: Place oven rack in middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees.
Roll dough to 1/8-inch thickness and cut into 12 4-inch circles and 12 2-inch circles.
Line standard capacity muffin tin with larger circles, pressing dough firmly into pan edges; chill for 30 minutes if dough becomes soft.
Fill each cup to the top with about 1/3 cup mincemeat, top with smaller dough circles, then cut a slit or small circle in the center of each. Brush with egg white and bake until dough is golden brown and filling is bubbling, about 30 minutes.
Cool on wire rack 15 minutes, remove pies from pan, and continue to cool another 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Poem Therapy at 9:44 PM - Carl Sandburg

Caboose Thoughts
Carl Sandburg

It's going to come out all right—do you know?
The sun, the birds, the grass—they know.
They get along—and we’ll get along.

Some days will be rainy and you will sit waiting
And the letter you wait for won’t come,
And I will sit watching the sky tear off gray and gray
And the letter I wait for won’t come.

There will be ac-ci-dents.
I know ac-ci-dents are coming.
Smash-ups, signals wrong, washouts, trestles rotten,
Red and yellow ac-ci-dents.
But somehow and somewhere the end of the run
The train gets put together again
And the caboose and the green tail lights
Fade down the right of way like a new white hope.

I never heard a mockingbird in Kentucky
Spilling its heart in the morning.

I never saw the snow on Chimborazo.
It’s a high white Mexican hat, I hear.

I never had supper with Abe Lincoln.
Nor a dish of soup with Jim Hill.

But I’ve been around.
I know some of the boys here who can go a little.
I know girls good for a burst of speed any time.

I heard Williams and Walker
Before Walker died in the bughouse.

I knew a mandolin player
Working in a barber shop in an Indiana town,
And he thought he had a million dollars.

I knew a hotel girl in Des Moines.
She had eyes; I saw her and said to myself
The sun rises and the sun sets in her eyes.
I was her steady and her heart went pit-a-pat.
We took away the money for a prize waltz at a
Brotherhood dance.
She had eyes; she was safe as the bridge over the
Mississippi at Burlington; I married her.

Last summer we took the cushions going west.
Pike’s Peak is a big old stone, believe me.
It’s fastened down; something you can count on.

It’s going to come out all right—do you know?
The sun, the birds, the grass—they know.
They get along—and we’ll get along.

I read this tonight on poets.org and hope for all who read Sandberg's poem, that it serves as balm to soothe whatever trouble has its claws in you.

Thursday's Child

David Copperfield 1910 edition

"Everywoman" marginalia back pages

Marginalia inside front pages

Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show. To begin my life with the beginning of my life, I record that I was born (as I have been informed and believe) on a Friday, at twelve o'clock at night. It was remarked that the clock began to strike, and I began to cry, simultaneously.

In consideration of the day and hour of my birth, it was declared by the nurse, and by some sage women in the neighbourhood who had taken a lively interest in me several months before there was any possibility of our becoming personally acquainted, first, that I was destined to be unlucky in life; and secondly, that I was privileged to see ghosts and spirits; both these gifts inevitably attaching, as they believed, to all unlucky infants of either gender, born towards the small hours on a Friday night.

So begins the first chapter of Charles Dickens David Copperfield. I found this treasure at the local thrift store. I love books that include marginalia of any kind, and in Eulalia's case, she included her address, calculations, and class notes. I assume from B.Y.E, that she attended BYU before it was a university, and that David Copperfield was assigned reading for a literature class. Why she wrote Everywoman on the back page is a mystery. I'll confess my first thought when I read it was Whitney Houston's I'm every woman, it's all in me,and I hear Whitney and Chaka singing in my ear as I write this.

The narrator of Dicken's novel bemoans being born on a Friday as bad luck. Does he fulfill his query and become the hero of his own life? Read the book and find out. In the meantime, you may consider the meaning of which day of the week you were born.

Monday's child is fair of face,
Tuesday's child is full of grace,
Wednesday's child is full of woe,
Thursday's child has far to go,
Friday's child is loving and giving,
Saturday's child works hard for a living,
But the child who is born on the Sabbath Day
Is bonny and blithe and good and gay.

According to Wikipedia, this rhyme was first recorded in A. E. Bray's Traditions of Devonshire in 1838.

If you don't have any idea on which day you were born, here's an interesting site that will provide the information in a few seconds. What day of the week were you born? The site also provides a modern version of the days of the week rhyme.

Instead of "far to go", in the modern version I'm "very smart", so naturally, I like this version better.

I was born on Thursday. My daughter and both husbands, current and ex, were also. In the original version I have "far to go". Although in reality I haven't wandered too far, I'm a wonderer at heart, restless, willing to drop and run, until the rational and practical side steps in and puts a heavy thumb down. That thumb has been heavy far, far too often. With each year, I've noticed that I'm becoming more and more restless, and that my daydreams center around escaping to anywhere with only a backpack, camera, notebook, iPhone, and credit card. Two weeks ago a colleague asked if I'd be interested in working in China next year. I said YES without hesitation, and it took more than a few beats to bring me back to the reality that my daughter just might object if I moved that far away from her at this point in her young life.

Thank god for Ovation tv and their Staycation programs. And thanks again to diety and the Sundance Channel for Man Shops Globe. Both stations help me get my wanderlust fix, and I'll watch, (twitching with restlessness), until I finally allow myself to pull up anchor and sail the hell out of port! I give myself three more years of nose to the grindstone responsibility.

See, Thursday's child really does have far to go,as in all around the globe and back again!

Ever wonder how Thursday come to be called Thursday? Thursday was named after Jupiter or Thor, the Nordic name for Jupiter, also known as Zeus. Ruled by Jupiter, this planet bestows Thursday's child with the following qualities: Honorable, expansive, generous, jovial, philosophical and/or extravagant, conceited, hypocritical, sharp-tongued, fanatical. Seems a little harsh I'll take the good with the bad.

If you're interested in what the ancients called their days of the week, or how to pronounce Thurday in say, Ido or Scots Gaelic, check out wiki's Week-day Names. And if you feel like it, check out David Bowie's lyrics for Thursday's Child. While you're purusing the site, why not google your own day of the week!

Cooking the Blues Away: Day Two

I woke early this morning to music. Both dogs were still asleep. I thought I imagined the music and it took me a minute to orient myself until I heard Tammy Wynette's twangy refrain, stand by your man, and knew my husband was out in the hot tub listening to his oldies. I swear the man was born in the wrong century.

I joined my husband for an early morning soak. The air was very cold, so the contrast of the hot water was invigorating.

Afterwards, I headed to the local coffee shop for breakfast with my father and uncle. I suppose I could label these Sunday breakfast meetings as coffee therapy and story, but to be truthful, blood pressure watch or drama du jour are better descriptions. The topic of the day was a local murder from the 1950's, about a neighbor who shot his wife in cold blood and got away with it with the old "crime of passion" defense. What's amazing is that this man married three more times. What were those women thinking?

The story: the neighbor's wife was in her early twenties, they had two daughters, she had enough of him so she asked for a divorce. It's unclear whether they were divorced or separated, but they were no longer cohabitating. Well, this neighbor "happened" to drive by, and "happened" to see his ex or soon-to-be ex sitting at the kitchen table with another man, so he went back to his place, got his gun, headed back to her place, kicked the door down, and while the male visitor was exiting out the kitchen window, the neighbor guy shot and killed her. Hardly a crime of passion, and even if it were, the ass hat is allowed to walk without any consequences? Infuriating. It helps to understand that the culture and time period were on his side, that he was well-connected. If he committed his crime today, he or a part of his natty anatomy would be a little forlorn pile of grass!

My father said he took the man's mother to the jail to visit him, and he remembers that he was sitting under a tree reading the Book of Mormon. I suppose in this case Hamlet was correct when he said, Nothing is good or bad, but thinking makes it so. The guy is still alive, one wife divorced him, at least one other wife is dead, (supposedly from natural causes), and he lives in a city called Eden. Can you believe it? If I ever have the opportunity to meet this man, I'll ask a couple questions I bet he's never been asked. And I'll get answers.

Okay, now coffee therapy is accounted for, back to cooking therapy. Our daughter (technically, my stepdaughter), her husband and his brother, and most important of all, the two-year-old grandbaby, came for a visit today. He can say his entire name: first name, two middle names, and surname, and he on occasion, also speaks in full sentences. We played Tyrannosaurus Rex, Legos, and Slinky.

My husband was in charge of cooking today, not only because it's Sunday, my day off, but mainly because I'm interested in cooking healthy, and he is deeply committed to cooking dangerously. He's a red meat, mashed potatoes with gravy and overcooked vegetables kind of cook and eater, and that's exactly what he cooked today: beef roast with garlic and loads of salt slowcooked in the crockpot, mashed potatoes with loads of butter, brown gravy, baby carrots, and white flour rolls, with you guessed it, loads of butter.

My cooking therapy today consisted of making one cup of hot chocolate. I asked the grandbaby if he wanted hot chocolate, he replied, want one. Of the two days of cooking therapy so far, today wins the prize.

22 November 2009 Lazy Sunday Hot Chocolate
1 sippy cup milk
2 Tbls Stephen's Gourmet Hot Chocolate Chocolate Rasberry

Microwave milk for 45 seconds.
Stir in chocolate mix.
Check temperature.

Cooking the Blues Away: Day One

I suppose The Winter of My Contentment works equally well, especially since it alludes to wicked old Richard III, but whatever the title, cooking as a strategy to keep the blues from crossing my threshold, works for me.

My latest brilliant strategy for not getting depressed this winter, is to cook. I plan to cook whatever catches my attention, has potential for lifting my spirits, and the possibility for consumption by my family.

I began my cooking therapy yesterday by making minestrone soup. I made so much that I invited my parents over for dinner. Everyone literally slurped it up, no talking, just spoons clanking and lips smacking. For the majority of my cooking life, I've made dinner because somehow, the job fell to me. I think the "somehow" is that I"m the mom and I don't like to eat out all the time. Also, I've never been one to watch my family eat with a "I did that" smile of satisfaction. Although I expect "thank you" for my time at the stove, I don't expect kudos or raving. I have a lot of "foodie" friends where cooking is the center of their lives and conversations. I've purchased many, many cookbooks I have yet to use because of these people, and now, instead of looking at the pictures and thinking I'll make that someday, well, that day is here.

One thing you have to understand about my daily cooking life, is that my husband over salts everything he eats. He also adds Tabasco or soy sauce to everything. The majority of the time this confounds me. Sometimes it infuriates me. I mean, why spend the extra time to season with fresh lemon zest or basil leaves when it will be drowned in some condiment? Even though my ego isn't hooked to my cooking one little bit, I try not to think about all of the food doctoring that goes on at the dinner table. I suppose it's more a time/respect issue.

I am glad to report no one, my husband, my daughter, or my parents added anything to the soup other than crackers. Success!

21 November 2009 - Minestrone Soup
1 pkg Delectable Additions Vegetable Soup Mix
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 lb browned turkey sausage
1 cup diced carrots, potatoes, celery, cabbage
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp Tapito hot sauce
sour cream

Boil 8 cups water. Add soup mix and simmer for 1 hour.
Brown turkey sausage. Add sausage, stewed tomatoes, and vegetables to simmering soup.
Stir in Tapito hot sauce.
Simmer 25 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.
Serve with a dollop of sour cream.

How to Make a Needlepoint Tapestry

#1 collage or painting to suit your tastes (see How to Make a Voodoo Collage post for additional ideas)

#2 a. Adobe Photoshop texture/patchwork feature

#2 b. Adobe Photoshop Pixelate/mosaic feature

#3 a. Adobe Photoshop Texture/patchwork feature

#3 b. Adobe Photoshop Pixelate/mosaic feature

Needlepoint stitch technique examples

About thirteen years ago I taught a needlepoint tapestry class for the U's fiber program offered through its continuing ed department. The class was a crash course in drawing, design, color theory and color-mixing for the non-art major. All of my students were female, which was not a big surprise, so I used a butterfly motif to teach basic stitch and color theory. During the course we completed value and full-color cartoons (basically, a color mock-up drawing which serves as the pattern), needlepointed small butterfly tapestries focusing on expressive color (think Vincent Van Gogh), color theory (think da Vinci), complementary (think Seurat - and because thread isn't paint, we employed a technique called split thread color mixing in which you take individual threads of one color and bundle them with threads of another color, which, if you stretch the technique a lot, is similar to how Seurat painted dots of complementary colors next to each other and let the viewer's eye do the mixing). The class culminated with a final project in which students completed an original autobiographical tapestry that featured elements learned in the class. In a few short weeks students completed amazing work. The university's fiber program was offered for a brief time, and sadly is no more, but it's resurrected every decade, so it's due to reemerge. Fingers crossed.

Needlepointing is an excellent stress reducer for both men and women. Queen Elizabeth I needlepointed in her spare time when she wasn't dodging assassination plots by contemporary stitcher and queen, Mary, Queen of Scots. Howard Carter found a needlepoint in King Tut's tomb, and although there's no evidence, i.e. tomb paintings, that Tut stitched the piece, he just might have. Check out these guys: Kaffe Fassett's Glorious Needlepoint and Rosey Grier's Needlepoint for Men. And if you still think needlepointing is just for gals, check out Kate Shoup's chapter, Women's Work, My Ass! chapter from Not Your Mama's Stitching: The Cool and Creative Way to Stitch It To 'Em.

Needlepoint Tapestry
18 count mono canvas
wool crewel yarn, rayon, silk, or cotton embroidery floss
#22 blunt tapestry needles
stretcher frame or embroidery hoop
collage, painting, or photo

I. Scan original image in Adobe photo shop
II. For patterns #2 a. & #3 a.: Click on filter, then texture, then patchwork. Save and print image.
III. For patterns #2 b. & #3 b.: Click on filter, then pixelate, then mosaic. Save and print image.
#3. a. & b.
IV. Follow your color pattern. I prefer to work from the center out, but you may begin where it suits you.
V. Once completed, removed from frame and steam to reshape.
VI. Frame needlepoint, (or turn canvas edges under and stich to a throw pillow).

Rosetta Stone for the New Age

Rosetta Disk from O Magazine photo by Spencer Lowell

An analog archive of more than 1,500 languages: rosettaproject.org

Fourth Century Bible from National Geographic photos: British Library

A virtual archive of the earliest known complete copy of the New Testament: codexsinaiticus.org

Tell My Father I Wish to Be His Son

voodoo revision six

voodoo revision five

voodoo revision four

voodoo revision three

voodoo revision two

voodoo revision one

voodoo collage completed 11-16-09

I stayed up late last night working on this collage, pulling images and text from National Geographic, Veranda, Arts & Antiques magazines. I had images spread out all over the bed and Harley, the new puppy begged to be let up. I relented and he did what puppies do. I watched three Ovation programs on, art of the Moors, Goya, and the French Revolutionary painter, David, who has always and inexplicably annoyed me.

Although I've had time to play around with the images in Adobe Photoshop, I haven't had time to reflect on the collage and its voodoo message. The demons in the right-hand corner demanded to be included. They're really not demons at all. They're mythological creatures of the trickster archetype sort called Krampus. Basically, wild men who were the anti-St. Nicholaus, that punished naughty children. Scrooge probably was borne out of the forgotten Krampus, who are currently enjoying a come-back in Austria. Hum bug, indeed.

It's appropriate that the dog is barking the declaration to the Krampus and that the kingisher birds seem to be as well. Of course there's a goat in the background, watching and waiting. The floating woman appears to be a winged water spirit or an untethered water lily about to lift out of the composition.

The title of the collage is taken from the scene in The Godfather when Michael finally accepts his fate as the heir apparent to the Corleone empire. Up until the brutal death of his elder brother, he had been able to distance himself from the family mafia business and pursue his own bent. I understand wanting to follow your own bent.

How to Make a Voodoo Collage

Collage is the medium of mystics - Charles Simic

At least once a year I sit down and rip images and text from old magazines and quickly assemble and affix them on to a poster board. By working quickly, I don't try to make art or get my ego involved. Voodoo collage is an intuitive and invigorating process. What always surprises me is the distinct narrative that emerges, regardless of the magazines I use. Also, that the collage reflects my current emotional state, aspirations, desires, and blind spots.

I call this collage-making process voodoo collage, because, after the collage is finished, shellacked and clipped to the easel for viewing, it almost always acts as a dialogue and provides answers. I use my voodoo collages as inspiration for paintings.

All art reflects the artist's inner world and how his or her filter refracts this understanding. I agree with Simic's quote regardless of the actual medium, whether it is paper, metal, music,fabric, language. It is the cobbling together of ideas, materials and forms that create the unity. Collage is the art form of this new century.

Check out The International Museum of Collage, Assemblage, and Construction, and these artists and writers, although not necessarily collage purists, that employ collage sensibilities and techniques in their work: Marcel Duchamp, Chris Roberts-Antieau, Phillip Glass, Quentin Tarintino, Sapphire, Tupac, Cohen Brothers, Thomas Pynchon, Maggie Taylor. Then get to work on your own voodoo collage. Post it here if you'd like.

Here's a poem to serve as inspiration.

Read Your Fate
Charles Simic

A world's disappearing.
Little street,
You were too narrow,
Too much in the shade already.

You had only one dog,
One lone child.
You hid your biggest mirror,
Your undressed lovers.

Someone carted them off
In an open truck.
They were still naked, travelling
On their sofa

Over a darkening plain,
Some unknown Kansas or Nebraska
With a storm brewing.
The woman opening a red umbrella

In the truck. The boy
And the dog running after them,
As if after a rooster
With its head chopped off.

1. a variety of magazines
2. poster board
3. glue sticks
4. scissors
5. Modge Podge or gel medium
6. medium size brush

1. tear or cut images and text from magazines that appeal to you until you are satisfied you have enough (suggestions: give yourself a time limit and don't try to force a theme)
2. set aside the magazines and clear the space
3. have images, text and glue sticks at the ready
4. quickly shuffle through your images and text to remember what you have
5. begin placing images and text (note: remember to work quickly)
6. affix with glue stick
7. paint a thin layer of Modge Podge or gel medium over the entire surface
8. allow to dry
9. pin to the wall
10. reflect and enjoy