Friday, January 23, 2015

A History Over Dinner


We bought rings
in Provincetown—
sculpted rings of
two women entwined,
lovers in love.
Today we celebrated
over a dinner of shrimp,
and thin curled onion rings
recalling events as if
they were new—
thirty-two years
of memories,
of love’s history—
how blessed

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Possibilities

In a winter of scant snow the possibility of a storm two days away sends our meteorologists into paroxysms of delight. They engage in possibilities. If the storm tracks here, or here, or further east or further west then this is a possibility. Nothing can be certain.

Certainty, as defined by the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “is an epistemic property of beliefs”. And epistemology, as defined by the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “is concerned with the nature, sources and limits of knowledge”.

Back in 2010, the New York Times quoted a conservative libertarian concerned with the movement of some conservatives, as well as several publications and news channels, toward a narrow mindedness and inability to see any other possibility save for their own view. He accused them of epistemic closure. He accused the lot of “willful ignorance” and propaganda.

Our weather analysts can’t be accused of certainty. They rely on advanced technology and are willing to alter their forecasts, but they occasionally indulge in inflated possibilities.

Yet, I listen for the highs and lows. I believe them when they suggest running a trickle of water because the temperature will dip. I listen when they say Northeaster and buy a bag of chips.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Upon Rereading Fairy Tales

shadows turn
harmless limbs
into talons
ogres
run about
witches
cackle
and I am
once again
seven years old

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A New World

Going cold turkey away from wheat means that instead of succulent, crusty, aromatic bread, i'm eating slices of heavy pumpernickel. My bread of choice.

At first I found myself losing half the bread in the toaster and then being glad that some crumbled when I tried to remove it from its slot. But then I became more adept at lowering each half slice into the toaster. I knew I had converted when I said, after eating a half slice with avocado and cheese, " This bread is delicious."

I'm infatuated with a dainty sized slice of pumpernickel that I probably never even gave a second look three weeks ago.

Now to cook up steel cut oatmeal and rice pasta.

Monday, January 19, 2015

To Be A Fan

Yesterday it rained ; it remained dank and gray all day. A perfect day to be home with two championship football games to watch. But watching the games means more than simply sitting on a chair glued to the television.

Chips, dip, carrot sticks, shrimp, roasted vegetables, and a healthy homemade desset are the necessities of the game. I loved the drama of the first match-up. It played out as if scripted for Hollywood. Angst, on my part, wasn't part of my watching experience. My team didn't play until later.

I wanted the Patriots to win decisively, lots of points, and a drubbing for the other team. My killer instincts went into high gear. This is not the schoolyard where you want the loser to feel good. Pile on the points, keep adding to the score.

When the other team lost the ball, fumbled,or made a mental error, I pumped a fist in the air and hooted.

Being a fan isn't for the faint hearted, or the softie, or the mealey mouthed. I applauded every point, every takeaway, every tackle, until I knew with certainty that the game belonged to the Patriots.

Now it's time to plan my menu for the Super Bowl. Perhaps add a few more shrimp.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Now

Falling on the ice, slipping and bumping my way down several stairs, until I unceremoniously came to a halt. Feet splayed out. Hands still clinging to two bags of groceries, a tote bag slung over my shoulder and filled with books, I remained still for a few moments.

What had hit the hard corners of the stairs? Everything moved the way it had when I first stepped on the hidden ice-

Lucky. Nothing broke. Makes one wonder about the quickness of time. I was fortunate. So give thanks for being lucky. No broken bones. My head is still intact. One small scrape on one finger.

It makes me wonder about the way things happen in split seconds. Lives change in split seconds. What we have is now--

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Words are Dangerous

Careful of what you read.
Too much reading affects what you eat.
Don't eat wheat.
Check the glycemic index for whatever you consume.
And avoid sugar.
Read all labels.
Stay away from rice because of arsenic.
And while almond milk is good for you,
beware of non-organic almond milk.

Don't cook in an aluminum vessel.
Use parchment paper.

Stop reading.


Friday, January 16, 2015

How to Pick One

Call it an obsession or call it something spurred on by the winter cold, but we love to see a number of the films nominated for the Oscars. Usually we only select the best Picture nominees. Since we rarely attend the movies save for cold weather, we binge on the movies at this time of year.

In the past week we've seen four movies-- Imitation Game, Whiplash, Selma, and Birdman. The week before we viewed Wild. This is true binge watching. We rated movie theaters as well as the films.

One movie theater had a sign warning patrons of the frigid temperatures in three of their studios. It seems that the boiler needed some repairs. We were in one of two heated theaters and the heat, sporadic at best, alternated between blowing cold air and then warm air. Eventually, I threw my coat over my shoulders and raised the collar to protect one ear from the blast of cold air that spewed out of the vent whenever the heat stopped.

One movie theater had installed new leather chairs, actually I imagine it was ersatz leather. The chairs I believe were not meant for people who might be considered short. My feet hung like two protuberances, hovering in mid-air and unable to reach the ground.

One movie theater had installed air hand driers in the bathrooms. While I didn't expect a blast of hot or even warm air, I didn't anticipate a high velocity burst of intensely cold air on my wet hands. Hands washed in ice cold water.

In one theater the seats fit, the temperature hovered between too hot and too cold, a pleasant balance. But here we had to pay to park.

As for the movies-- all excellent.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

News

I recently subscribed to the digital edition of the Washington Post because I wanted to be aware of the tomfoolery in our government. In less that two weeks I am astounded by the bickering, infighting, small mindedness, and lack of any ability to work together.

The GOP will be fascinating to watch as the conservatives vie for the upper hand and the moderates beat up on each other.

Who is in and who is out? What will the court do? And who wants what from whom?

Why, I ask myself, do I desire to read about a dysfunctional group? That's a good question, but I still have hope. Who knows Warren may push aside, gently of course, Clinton. Or I can observe Warren taking on the big boys.

The democrats are also skewered when that action is necessary.

All in all it was a wise purchase.It satisfies my desire to eavesdrop on the government. And the puzzle is also quite good.

I do like The Globe for their local news, sports, and puzzle. Also where else can I find out where to eat?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Collecting

I've discovered a new Nordic mystery writer.

Every time I select a mystery to read or even a thriller, I am reminded of my collection of the best mysteries ever written-- according to Howard Haycraft's list. This list was published in 1941.

Why pick an old outdated list ? Many of the authors were unknown to me. My local library stocked few of the books. The books represented a treasure hunt in used book stores.

I don't mean the well-shelved first edition type of bookstore. My forays into this quest took place in dusty dimly lit used book havens. Some of the stores stored many of their books in cartons on the floor.

My checklist, like a birders list, required a willingness to travel to used bookstores in far flung places. Many of the books I found had yellow edged pages and a musty smell.

It is the quest that mattered because I didn't like many of the books -- too dated.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Not on the Same Page

I'm not a movie critic, but occasionally I read a review and wonder if I watched the same film. Dull becomes a scene laden with unspoken angst certain to move the viewer into a closeness with the character who is acting as if in slow motion.

The banal is lifted up by virtue of a slick pen and melliflous verbiage. Cinematography is applauded for long takes which weary the viewer by the amount of time the camera pans the dark clouds inching across the screen.

While the critic applauds his erudite appraisal, I am left wondering about my capacity to appreciate the movie.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Moxie

Suppose—one of my favorite games—suppose you threw out all the paraphenella of your conventional life, all strings and tethers, all familiar places and stepped out into strangeness?

Suppose you listened to a savvy carnival barker and entered the House of Mirrors where you watched yourself become elongated or shortened, where your mouth stretched and neck developed folds and folds of flesh?

Suppose your language died and you only understood the play of your hands and fingers?

Suppose you were Abraham called to leave the places you knew—corner store, coffee shop where they baked raspberry scones every morning, the emporium of curious relics from the decades of your childhood?

Suppose you were called to leave everything and go to an unnamed place—a spot of geography that hadn't even been whispered?

Abraham had guts. Call it what you want—as far as I'm concerned he had gumption.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Hesed

Ever meet someone who had a conversion experience? Did it happen suddenly? Did they have a vision? Did it happen slowly, just one thing after another until everything aligned?

Did they seek the conversion or did it just occur?

This isn't an intellectual exercise. I knew a minister who told a group that his conversion occurred on a bus. It was a rainy evening and he looked outside and for the briefest of moments saw " a bright light, a blinding light"  and " the outline of Jesus."

" Perhaps, " he added, " it was just the neon lights and the reflection in the wet street."

He chose to believe that what he saw, even if it was a reflection. It had gravitas.

Conversion-- and then what? How do you follow? How do I follow?

I pick up the newspaper everyday and read of people who have had conversion experiences and became fanatic followers. I'm afraid of fanatics, no matter what or who they follow.

True followers, I believe, display hesed. There's no real translation from the Hebrew. When people try for an English translation they often say it is loving kindness.

"Hesed is not primarily something people “feel.”  It is something people DO for other people who have no claim on them."

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Rituals

Being a football fan isn't easy. First, the carrots, celery, green pepper need to be sliced into strips appropriate for dip. Will it be red pepper dip or guacamole dip?  Then the decision about chips. Baked if they can be found, if not at least no saturated fat, not too much sodium and no chemicals.

Cook dinner beforehand so that no football time is missed. Cold chicken will do.
What to drink? Water?  Wine? Beer? How about tea and latte?

Keep an even edge even if my team is losing. Don't fret. Keep my fingers crossed. Breathe.

We dipped the carrots, celery, green pepper into red pepper hummus , snacked on beet chips, ate sliced mustard and Amaranth crusted chicken, and drank tea.

My team was down two touchdowns not once, but twice. I kept my fingers crossed. They recouped the first two touchdowns and then it happened again-- down two touchdowns.

I'm not a believer in omens. I don't have prescribed ways of doing things, but I recognize when certain things shouldn't be changed or the equilibrium of the universe will be altered. So I remained in the same seat, didn't move, save to applaud and holler when we rolled back and took the lead.

They won in an anxiety filled game. All over New England folks allowed themselves to breathe, washed dishes, ate leftovers and began to think of next week.

What opponent? Which match-up? Better watch the game tomorrow.

 Slice up veggies....

Friday, January 09, 2015

Younger Days

How can this happen?  Joan Baez celebrates her 74th birthday today. Iconic legends don't age in my memory. I recall hearing her sing at Wolf Trap--  barefoot, belting out anti- war songs. And there were other concerts, more protest songs, and words that told the story of that generation.

How can she be 74? She may not hit the high notes the way she did in the 60s and 70s, but she's still filled with fire.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Chilly

They predicted record breaking cold and wind chills that cause frostbite on exposed skin in ten minutes. Schools either closed or opened two hours late.

Our weather is tame compared to other areas of the country. Our cold spells must be laughable to diehards from Caribou, Maine where they also get over 100 inches of snow each winter. I know this sounds odd, but I’m rather proud of New England for having one place that is in the top five.

Number four on the list is Jackson, Wyoming. Now I was in Jackson in July and the weather was delightful. I guess I missed one of the 39 days that was sub-zero or the first late August freeze.

Next comes Gunnison, Colorado where you may experience a frost any day of the week. I worked with someone who owned a cabin in the mountains near Gunnison. Their cabin was fitted out for rustic—she and her family carried everything up to the cabin. Once all supplies arrived they didn’t go down until it was time to move.

International Falls. Minnesota is the second coldest city. It’s fondly called The Icebox of the Nation. During an average year a freeze may be  experienced , or endured,197 days.

Barrow, Alasks is the only one of the five places with a smaller population than 5000. It  has 500 hardy souls who call Barrow home. Add that to the cold sixty days when the sun doesn’t shine. Dating back to 1922 there have been five days of temperatures warmer than 75 degrees.

So how can I complain? I can always jump in the car and drive to Caribou to learn about real cold, unremitting cold, cold that wraps its arms around your legs and doesn’t let go.

When I woke up this morning the outdoor thermometer didn’t budge beyond minus ten degrees. As time moved forward the red marker went higher until at 1:00pm it reached 15 degrees. I never want to be in the company of places that pride themselves on adjusting to frigid weather. We can meet in the summer.


Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Too Hard

I resolve to get up as soon as the alarm
repeats the same staccato plea, not to waiver,
not to plan what to cook for dinner, or whether
the meteorologist’s forecast for a wind chill factor
of minus thirty  means I need to find the scarf I put away
last winter. I resolve to jump up and not be bound
by irrelevant thoughts of summer days,
frozen treats, and the first lobstah of summer.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

A Feast of Definitions

The star with my  word honesty is tacked to my cork board. It's the word I randomly selected after the service at church this past Sunday. The word I'm to contemplate, learn from, dance with in 2015.

Imagine—honesty is a southeastern plant with fragrant purple flowers and "silver-white seedpods" which are often used for indoor decorative arrangements. Honesty is also known as the money plant, silver dollar, satinpod and lunaria annua.

And to think I equated the word with a list of synonyms that ranged from artlessness to virtuous ( I couldn't find any synonyms from w—z).

Realizing that my word for the year has two meanings opens up a plethora of possibilities.

Should I send away for seed catalogs?
Should I pay more attention to the stock market?
Should I take a flower arranging class?

Monday, January 05, 2015

Story of Self

In a recent article about the writing of memoir the word omphaloskepsis appeared. It seems that some critics of the genre throw the term about when they want to criticize writers who spend too much time "navel gazing"—or describing in minute detail all their trials and tribulations.

Is the writer meditating on life or obsessed with one's own persona?

Memoirs draw people. The good memoir allows the reader a glimpse of a particular time, place, situation, and yet it also expands to allow the reader to see the general in the particular.

In the last two months I know two people who wrote memoirs. Why? What do they want to say about their landscape? I think it must be more than an "and then" story.



Sunday, January 04, 2015

My Word for 2015

Each Epiphany service- for the last three years-, after the hymns are sung, the pageant acted out, the blessings given, the participation in communion, we select a star. A word is written on each star, but the words are placed face down in a basket.

 The rules, according to the minister, " The large stars are for the children and the smaller stars for the adults. Don't look at your word and put it back because you don't like it or you don't see it as apt. It may tell you something in a week, or month, or a year. Give the Holy Spirit a chance to work."

In 2013 my word was release. In 2014 my word was connect. And for 2015 my word is honesty. I immediately recognized an affinity with release, connected with connect, but now wonder about honesty. I don't cheat on my taxes, pay traffic fines immediately, tell the clerk if I receive the incorrect change in my favor, and don't cheat when playing Scrabble.

This is an edgy word. Where will it lead? I'm ready for the ride.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Poems that Chaff


Adrienne Rich:

"There's a lot of what I would call comfortable poetry around. But then there is all this other stuff going on -- which is wilder, which is bristling; it's juicier, it's everything that you would want. And it's not comfortable. That's the kind of poetry that interests me -- a field of energy. It's intellectual and moral and political and sexual and sensual -- all of that fermenting together. It can speak to people who have themselves felt like monsters and say: you are not alone, this is not monstrous. It can disturb and enrapture."

Michael Klein "A Rich Life: Adrienne Rich on Poetry,
Politics, and Personal Revelation"
Boston Phoenix (June 1999)

It seems to me that once upon a time I wrote poetry that wasn't always comfortable. It chaffed and itched. It asked questions. It forced me to walk on edges.

Not all of Rich's early poems speak from that place, but in time she realized that many people gave up the edge for the comfort of a middle place where the cracks and fissures weren't pronounced, where people didn't raise an eyebrow or wonder why you wrote poetry that made people vibrate or turn away.

I think that the place we stand right now requires the type of poetry that disturbs, that causes people to stop and think, to feel deeply.

I can still recall lines of war poetry I read, but once, years ago. Those poems provoked and prodded, caused discomfort. They weren't written to be comfortable.

I can never forget two lines from Randall Jarrell's poem "The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner". In the poem a World War ll gunner in an American bomber plane writes about his death.

I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.
When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.

That last line is indelible.

So what happened? Did I become too conventional, too comfortable with conformity?

I must practice being outrageous.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Over the Top

Whatever happened to the corner grocery store? Today we made a trip to Wegmans where scores of people roamed throughout the store-- most with heavy duty carts-- ready to haul away everything. Everything is over the top. Aisles and aisles of food.

I found the size of the store , 185,000 square feet, overwhelming, confusing, and intimidating. Perhaps I was struck by the disconnect between the amount of food and the numbers of people who barely have enough money to buy food.

Which brought to mind those folks who argue against raising the minimum wage to a decent level.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

New Year's Resolution

In 2013 the word Selfie made it into the dictionary. It's now a legitimate word, a phenomenon that could only happen after technology gave us the forward looking camera.

In earlier times you needed some artistic talent to create a realistic self- portrait. Hand drawn or painted portraits were the ancestors of selfies.

There's a glitch if you are short, or have short arms. My face takes up too much of the screen and appears distorted. So when I spotted a telescoping wand that holds the phone, and the price was right, I bought the gadget.

My first selfies included my outstretched arm. After considerable practice my photos appeared a bit more natural. However, my expression looked pained as I endeavored to keep a smile on my face while the self- timer flashed descending numbers on the screen.

Occasionally the camera slipped and rotated either partially or completely upside down. Those selfies suffered more distortion than my wandless photos.

More practice and tightening the gizmo took care of the slippage.

Now I read that using a telescopic wand to hold my I Phone is the sign of a tourist, novice, or just plain artless, or bush- league.

I am in the process of researching female mannequin hands.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Only Hours Away

soon
the day turns
and another year
nudges the previous year
into the place of reminiscing,
what happened during those days,
those we mourn, those we celebrate,
what we'll miss, and what we continue to hope for

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

What Will They Be?

It's that time of year--resolutions, goals. It's also the time to look back and see if you managed to attain those 2014 goals.

I drag my feet when it comes to setting goals. Don't want to disappoint myself. Besides I find that goals that arise organically work best.

Perhaps I'll designate 2015 as the year I'm open to the universe setting goals for me.