August 2020




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Aug. 1st, 2020

bonus poppies

We have a huge pit in our back yard that used to contain the root ball of a tree, before the March tornado knocked the tree over:

view into one neighbor's yard

It's serving as the site of assorted weeds and wildflowers this summer. I had some old seeds that I didn't want to dedicate proper garden or container space to, so I scattered them into the pit, including a packet of poppy seeds that I vaguely recall receiving at a museum event in 2017. It was the right call: I enjoyed the few flowers I happened to see, but they weren't vibrant or numerous enough to have warranted more effort.

All the seed sheets I finally planted this year (one from a magazine, one from a condolence card, and one the card on which a gift bracelet had been mounted) have been a bust. I might start marigolds in the planter where I'd stuck the bits of bracelet-card.

A butterfly was feeding at length on the zinnias today, and I spotted a grasshopper on them yesterday. Party time!

There's so much going on. I'm about to go fall asleep in the bathtub for the second time today, so here are just two of the highlights:

Recordings from last Saturday's masterclass are now on Vimeo (I sang alto in the quartet). The full webinar (2 hours) is at, and excerpts of just the class (27 minutes -- about a third of the taping) are at

Mary Alexandra Agner's "Slipper and Shard" was published by Gingerbread House at the end of July. The line that sparked her take can be found at This entry was originally posted at

Jul. 24th, 2020

Rain falls on the faces of my friends

The subject line is from Yehuda Amichai, whose poem "God Full of Mercy" is among those I bookmarked in Into English, which I finally returned to the library this morning. The book was recommended by Marissa Lingen earlier year, and I posted about it Monday morning and yesterday night at Vary the Line.

Reading Robert Alter's compilation of Amichai poems would fit my mood right now, but I'm not ready to borrow print books from the library, so it will go on my someday list. It's not as if there isn't plenty to read and do in and to this house. I am almost-put-my-phone-in-the-washer tired, I will be working this weekend on tasks I'd hoped to go yard on a week ago, I didn't make time for the three e-books the library will reclaim today, I missed a meetup with Asheville dancers because my shift went past twelve hours, and both my workout and mindful eating practices went to hell.

But! And! I met a bunch of deadlines and planted more tomatoes, and sowed seeds for basil and cornflowers, and poured two bags of cedar mulch around the roses. I have a fresh stack of postcards. And I did in fact remember to look at the moon tonight (as well as smelling and sipping good coffee all week). This entry was originally posted at

Jul. 21st, 2020

I've always wanted brook trout / for breakfast

The subject line, which I typed into this window two days ago, is from Raymond Carver's "Looking for Work." It incurred a sudden jones for pan-fried fish, which I hadn't planned on cooking, and the canned tuna in the pantry wasn't going to address that, nor the tofu-fish cakes in the freezer, and moaning about bar-crowding putzes wasn't going to make me feel better, so I closed my laptop and wrote postcards instead.

Had I started this entry this morning, the subject line probably would have been "The letter A was once an inverted cow's head," from Arthur Sze's "Water Calligraphy" (username=okrablossom, there's zucchini in there as well, albeit as in a frittata rather than as frites). I just posted some notes about Sze (and other translators) over at Vary the Line.

On Saturday afternoon, I ate at a restaurant for the first time since March 13 -- a fried "chicken" sandwich with fries, washed down with a sorrel drink and ginger beer, at Vege-licious, a vegan soul food joint adjacent to Fisk University. The three of us spread out across two picnic tables behind the restaurant. (The heat index had reached 102 F by that point, so there was no competition for the seats -- there was a steady stream of takeout traffic, but only one other group of diners, at the opposite end of the large tent.) This was after a taping at Hadley Park for this event (co-sponsored by NMAAM, FUUN, and the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Huntsville):


I sing alto in the quartet; it was our first time singing together as a quartet, and the soprano's first time singing one-to-a-part ever. We did well, all things considered, and Patrick is well worth listening to. Register at to view the webinar this Saturday.

tomato cutting

This may be the year I learn to can vegetables, as there are now forty tomato plants in place in the yard, and another dozen or so waiting for me to clear ground, and a handful of cuttings from the starters that looked too far gone to tend to further.

I have coaxed some vetch into sprouting on a formerly barren strip next to the porch. The balloon flowers are fantastic right now, the zinnias are admired by passers-by, and I'm harvesting a few peppers each night. This entry was originally posted at

Jul. 7th, 2020


This word showed up in my Spanish progress test today. Its dictionary definitions include "jigsaw puzzle," "something complicated," "problem," and "headache." I am delighted by this word.

Two years ago today:

2018.07.07 sup warrior
Warrior pose on paddleboard

I was on that lake probably 3-5 times most weeks that summer, being determined to make the most of my Locals Unlimited pass with Nashville Paddle Company. I'd like to get back to being on the water that often, but first I need to regain my workout groove. I was feeling the burn during tonight's light effort, both from the arms routine and from sweat stinging raw skin. But my foot is no longer twanging, so resting it was the right call.

A recurring theme the past two days has been letters between women. During yesterday's lively NMWA happy hour in honor of Frida Kahlo, her letter to Georgia O'Keeffe sparked some interest. And, a friend on Twitter shared Jodie Comer's marvelous recitation of a letter from Vita Sackville-West to Virginia Woolf. This entry was originally posted at

Jul. 6th, 2020


Oberlin's Baroque Performance Institute posted some lovely clips from the archives to SoundCloud last month. I especially enjoyed the "Chamber Bach" concert, which included Wilhelm Friedemann Bach's Concerto a duoi cembali concertanti, F10 (a double harpsichord showpiece), and the real find was what happened to be next in the queue - Trio Rosa Mundi's rendition of Anthoine Boesset's "Je voudrais bien ô Cloris," which in turn sent me down a rabbit-hole with future distractions such as the 1629 French Court Aires with Their Ditties Englished by one Edward Filmer, as well as Wikipedia's mention of an entire festschrift chapter devoted to the song's "notational and performance problems." Maybe. My nerdiness only goes so far, and I have a history of falling asleep while others happily truffle around for author-composer-choreographer intent for hours, but I'm enough in love with this piece that I tracked it down at the IMSLP (where Book 6 of Boesset's many court songs is archived under Bataille, who arranged the lute parts):

boesset cloris

Anyhow . . . my workspace is lit in such a way that SoundCloud's "upgrade" menu label looks like "upgrace" during the afternoon, which is an almost-word I'd like to play with more some other time. It came to mind as I patted dirt around some of the tomato plants as night fell, having cleared enough room for two A. J. Reds, three Celebritys, and one Mary Huddleston. Some of the vines have tiny yellow flowers, and there are tiny white flowers on some of the pepper plants; the more mature ones seem bushier than their predecessors. There's one mallow (aka French hollyhock) that's putting out a blossom every few days, new buds on the Sky's the Limit rosebush, and the start of a really nice cluster of balloonflowers. The fireflies were out in force as I detangled vines, and there was a loud extended ruckus among the owls next door and some other critters a few minutes after midnight. I hope it didn't involve the bunny the BYM has been saying hi to almost every evening. This entry was originally posted at

Jul. 4th, 2020

so many cows

I did not have bovines on my mind at the start of the holiday weekend, but when Here & Now's segment on Hawaiian cowboys streamed from my car radio on my drive home from Bates Nursery, I figured I was being steer-ed both to borrow the book (Aloha Rodeo) from the library and acknowledge the moo-vement of the critters through multiple realms of my life, including my Thursday-Friday binge-read through a fistful of "Texas Cattleman's Club" Harlequins (I don't remember how the November 2014 boxed set landed in my queue, but I'm guessing the dude in a suit cuddling a cat for Sheltered by a Millionaire might've caught my eye). Even Duolingo is in on the theme:

Read more... ) This entry was originally posted at

Jun. 28th, 2020


The Trumpian lie . . . is the power lie, or the bully lie. It is the lie of the bigger kid who took your hat and is wearing it—while denying that he took it. There is no defense against this lie because the point of the lie is to assert power, to show “I can say what I want when I want to.” The power lie conjures a different reality and demands that you choose between your experience and the bully’s demands: Are you going to insist that you are wet from the rain or give in and say that the sun is shining? . . .

Read more... )

Gessen, Masha. Surviving Autocracy (pp. 106 - 11). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. This entry was originally posted at

Jun. 21st, 2020

recent reading

Last week's work week started with strategizing on Sunday and didn't end until 3 a.m. Saturday, with distance choir and chores and a weird foot cramp in the mix, so I was not surprised when brain and body noped out of my plans in favor of binge-reading, starting with a revisit of Jackie Lau's Pregnant by the Playboy (which did at least nudge me into a couple of Mandarin Duolingo lessons), followed by her Big Surprise for Valentine's Day (whose Chinese-Canadian heroine works for the Stratford Festival). Early on, she's at a bar with a dancer and a costume designer . . .

A white dude in a trucker hat approached their table. It was clear who his eyes were on: Gloria.

“You Japanese or Chinese?”

“I’m Canadian, you punk,” Gloria said.

“Hey. All I did was ask you a question. Can I buy you a drink?”

“Nah, I got a girlfriend.” The guy smirked. “And she owns a boxing gym, so I’d watch it if I were you.”

The guy eventually returned to his table of dude-bros at the front of the bar.

“Bet he has some kind of strange Asian fetish.” Gloria shook her head. “Probably thought I’d be sweet and submissive.”

“Pretty sure you’re right,” Amber agreed.

“I love being able to truthfully say that my girlfriend owns a boxing gym. I’ll keep saying it even after we break up.”

After that, it was on to the Rebekah Weatherspoon books in my library queue, including Rafe (mouthy women and inked cookie-baking nanny on a Ducati), Xeni (hex-throwing side character from Rafe gets it on with bisexual cook who plays seventeen instruments, including jazz bagpipes) and Better off Red (vampire lesbian sorority with Asian president). And then Megan Matthews's Boys of RDA series.

In the family-appropriate stack, there's been Yuyi Morales's Dreamers (Nashville Public Library's 2020 citywide read) and Ben Franklin and the Magic Squares, a paragraph book by Frank Murphy and illustrator Richard Walz. The latter features a squirrel wearing a tricorn hat on almost every spread -- and the final item in the Author's Note mentions that Franklin "really did have a pet squirrel named Skugg." This entry was originally posted at
Tags: ,

Jun. 14th, 2020

mistrust our measures

Today's subject line comes from this weekend's Live from Here broadcast, in a reading by Lulu Miller, I think around 1 hour and 40 minutes in.

Today's photo is of a jar full of stars -- a birthday gift recently delivered to me:
jar of stars

I do not like having to multitask as often as I do, but being able to fry bacon and mushrooms while attending my church's congregational meeting is a plus, especially as it trundles through its second hour. The meeting started with an exceptionally good tutorial, and I've been jotting down Zoom navigation tips from other members (new to me: to change your name within the Participants list while in a meeting, put the cursor over your name and click "More ->").

The frying is for a quiche I'm pulling together, since there were carrot and kohlrabi tops from last week's market bag. In looking up how to prepare kohlrabi, I ended up giggling at this bit from Martha Rose Shulman [NYT]:

Every time I work with kohlrabi I wonder why I don’t buy it more often.

If you receive it in your CSA basket and you’ve never worked with it before, you may find the thick-skinned vegetable puzzling, maybe even daunting. As the nutritionist Jonny Bowden describes it in his book The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, kohlrabi “looks like a cross between an octopus and a space capsule.” That’s true, especially if the greens are still attached. If they’re not, it just looks like a space capsule.

As I told a friend last night, I'd like fewer bugs (both literal and figurative) and more sleep. I'm saying "no" and "later" to various projects to make the more sleep possible, but the docket still overfloweth. The congregation meeting hit the two-hour mark right before the chalice extinguishing. Up next, in my Franklin-Covey-ish blocks:

  • finish assembling the quiche (with a substitute for the heavy cream we don't have on hand)

  • prep for Monday presentation to interns

  • mark edits to wills/directives

  • attend an online birthday celebration

  • write Postcards to Voters

  • participate in a CalTwerk or Limon workout

  • do enough Duolingo to stay in Diamond League

  • log into an SFEMS workshop (aka getting my butt kicked in both theory and sight-singing to get better at both)

  • laundry

  • [B]
  • pick up batteries, mayonnaise, and other sundries

  • whale through more work

  • collect library holds

  • financial housekeeping

  • yardwork

  • some personal correspondence

  • [C] (aka not tonight but this week)
  • finish three library books, with a Vary the Line post related to the one on translation

  • yet more paper slinging and filing

  • research for a nonprofit task force

  • dance homework

  • start learning The Armed Man for Stay At Home Choir. First UU's choir sang it 11 years ago for Music Sunday, but I remember very little about it and may well have jumped in on soprano or tenor instead of alto.

  • continue working on the pieces already assigned to me

  • more cards and notes, including to some addresses on the Americans of Conscience list

  • figure out what to plant in the straw bale
  • :


    [D] (aka things I might not have time for but may do anyway if I get too crispy around the edges)
  • watch Stratford's Love's Labor Lost

  • improve the peanut-butter-whisky + coffee slushies I started mixing last week. I totally admit that I bought the bottle because of the label. (Netting an appalled look from the BYM was merely a bonus.)

  • Signal boosts:
    The Okra Project
    Wiggle Room (disclosure: a friend is on their team)
    The SIJS (Special Immigrant Juvenile Status) Project (disclosure: a friend runs this)

    Onward, y'all. Stay safe (within what's feasible, especially considering the demands made by both the rest of society and our individual souls) and keep in touch. This entry was originally posted at

    Jun. 12th, 2020

    Fortuitous timing: started playing Milk Street's June 12 podcast a few minutes ago, with plans to broil a steak in about 15 minutes, and lo, Kimball's interviewing Meathead Goldwyn...

    I am at 57 hours and counting work-wise, plus proofreading legal docs, plus a barrow-load of dance and music homework, correspondence (political and personal), plus -- oh, you know, the usual melange of usual and unusual. I was pleased to realize that the prowling noises that had me sitting up shrieking in bed last week were actually branches of crepe myrtle scraping against my roof. The buds salvaged from the Sky's the Limit bush are opening up inside the teacup on my desk. . . .


    . . . and the straw bale I'm conditioning for veggies has sprouted mushrooms. . . .


    I won't be brave enough to try those, but there are two types of mushrooms in my fridge, and a steak to season now. Onward! This entry was originally posted at

    Jun. 8th, 2020

    heart in the weeds

    Literally. As in, this turned up when I tugged at a mess of dead and live plant matter (tangled with curls of dried paint and mulch from two or three seasons ago) near the roses:


    Once I get that corner cleaned up, I plan to sow mallows there, or zinnias, or marigolds (Rae sent packets of the latter two for my birthday). The Lenten rose (aka hellebore) looks great, and I'll be asking my mom-in-law for more after I finish reading the Emily Carr catalogue I borrowed from her more than a year ago. The fireflies are out, the peppers have started to fruit, and the zinnias are about to pop:

    zinnia about to pop

    I missed this morning's workout with José both because of imminent deadlines and because my ankles were still twanging a bit from Saturday's samba and CalTwerk double. From the livechat:

    YoFit: How r u peg?
    Me: the usual: sheltering in place and tryna save the republic. and you?
    YoFit: Gurlll SAME.

    There will never be enough hours in the day. Some mornings I roll out of bed and steamroll through work and working out and homework in t-shirts and pajama bottoms. Today I put on a corporate-appropriate dress and worked, twerked, and weeded in it (though I did shed the accessories before grabbing my weights). I have it together in some respects, but I also sent this warning before a meeting:

    Me: Hey, if you see me choking on my coffee, it's because I spilled Slap Ya Mama in it while prepping dinner. #TeamHotMess
    Boss: That's quite the flavor profile.

    Harvested: some mint, some spinach, and a bowlful of vetch pods, the last in hopes of beautifying more of the yard with thatches like this one:

    vetch This entry was originally posted at

    May. 2nd, 2020

    with friends + benevolent strangers


    [personal profile] athenais's mention of homemade pizza guided me tonight when dinner plans changed. The BYM didn't have time for the ribs he'd brought home from Various Artists Brewing, so he heated up a frozen cashew chicken bowl while I continued frowning at Duolingo.

    When I was ready to deal with dinner for myself, I looked at the greens I'd harvested from the yard this afternoon (goosegrass, mock strawberries (including berries and a yellow blossom), and radish tops) and remembered that the goosegrass had tasted like straw when baked on a pizza, so I instead looked for recipes for creamy green soup, and used the one by Gena Hamshaw as a starting point: sauteed maybe a 1/4 cup chopped onion with maybe a tablespoon of chopped ginger, and then dumped in the greens (around 2 or 3 cups?). After a few minutes, I added some chicken bouillon powder and two cups of water and let it simmer for a while. I stuck a Bob Evans tub of mashed potatoes into the microwave and then scooped half of it into the soup pot. Pureed it all with an immersion blender and poured in into a mason jar for tomorrow or Monday.

    The pizza: ready-to-bake crust from Kroger, with leftover pasta sauce on one half and goosegrass pesto on the other. I sprinkled parmesan-mozzarella on the tomato side and added onion and bacon to both. I continued nursing the Hi-Wire Belgian Stout I'd opened before heading into the yard.

    The notecard I put in the mail to [personal profile] mrissa today featured Kenneth Koch's "Spring," which lists both pizza and beer among the season's joys. When I got tired of weeding, I sat on the porch with a copy of Into English: Poems, Translations, Commentaries, a book I'd heard about from Marissa back in January. I also read Emily Makowski's profile of Joanne Chory, the geneticist who has dedicated much of her life to studying how plants interact with light -- or, as marymary put it, "how plants can grow in the dark."

    Some of the mint had hopped the original border of the bed it's in, so I moved the rocks and pail to enclose where the mint is now. I am not paying as much attention to either horse racing or tennis as I used to, but I still poke my head into TalkAboutTennis now and then, and one of my favorite people there owns 1% of three two-year-old horsies trained by Saffie Joseph Jr. (jockey Paco Lopez) at Gulfstream Park: Bold Article (filly), Tiz the Dude (colt), and Run Brother Run (colt). Tiz the Dude is descended from Tiznow, whose Wikipedia page was a hoot to visit, as it included observations like these:

    Tiznow is known as a quirky horse. Especially towards the end of his career, he was sometimes reluctant to work in the mornings, including one occasion before the 2001 Breeders' Cup where he spent 40 minutes resisting jockey Chris McCarron's urging to break into a gallop. In the WinStar stallion barn, Tiznow learned how to unlatch his door to let himself out into the main hall. He does not like the feel of concrete on his feet and will adjust his steps so he doesn’t have to walk over it. Tiznow also does not like cold weather and is usually kept inside if the temperature goes below freezing. "He's a California horse all the way," said Amy Nave, a bloodstock assistant at WinStar.

    Horses named Roddick and Nadal have recently won races, and that's added to the fun.

    One year ago, I was working at times literally around the clock to clear the decks so that I could attend a wedding in Cancún without dragging my laptop along. This afternoon, I grabbed the fan from that wedding when it came time to practice ballroom moves. (Other classes this week: 2 Zumba, 2 samba, 1 Danzatone, 1 hip-hop. We are finding a rhythm, so to speak...) Next week I will paint my face (assuming I don't meet with another mishap like this morning, when I gave myself a spot burn from flying pancake batter) and wear something more videogenic than the oversize housedress I didn't change out of today. I did put on heels -- something I hadn't done since March 13, the last day I was at the office. (That said, did I resort to dry shampoo and eyeshadow when prepping for my third video meeting yesterday? You bet.)

    At Wednesday night's virtual chamber choir gathering, we opted to dance to "Turn the World Around" instead of the sing-together-with-all-mics-muted thing.

    This week's mail included both the here's-what's-new kind and the early-birthday-greetings variety. It all delights me. I kept Rae's package on the dining table all week so that its shiny good wishes and promises (embodied in the marigold and zinnia seeds) were within my line of sight whenever I walked toward the front yard:

    package from Rae This entry was originally posted at

    Apr. 26th, 2020

    dry and dormant

    Seed inventory, page 1

    Some of the containers

    It was chilly and windy today, and I still didn't feel like focusing on anything requiring precision, but I addressed 53 postcards, updated my gardening journal (with some receipts from 2016), and cooked 3 meals: for breakfast, pancakes. For lunch, a riff on chile rellenos, using Anaheim peppers and leftover bulgur-carrot mush. The mush was fortified with red pepper flakes and parmesan powder from a long-ago pizza order.


    For dinner, last night's chicken, re-roasted with the remaining hunk of zucchini and fingerling potatoes. I had half a sample of packet of Forward seasoning in the spice bin, so I used it on the veggies. (I am not a huge fan of paprika on potatoes, but hunting for the coriander yesterday reminded me of how much my pantry is out of whack: I am down to two bay leaves and not even a doll's thimbleful of cinnamon, but the bbq rubs, steak blends, hot sauces, and bags of paprika would fill a basket, and I should bake something with nutmeg and/or mace soon, since it's now clear that my day-to-day cooking rarely involves those flavors. It's a pleasant problem to have . . .) This entry was originally posted at
    Tags: ,

    Apr. 25th, 2020

    grindin' on

    grindin' on

    After dedicating 60+ hours to the museum this week, compounded by 3 days of missed workouts, I did not try to persuade brain or body into executing any should-dos today, other than a few maintenance rounds of Duolingo (Day 169) and dealing with food on the edge of going bad. So, for breakfast, a bruised and nicked Envy apple got paired with Kunik cheese (from a box received last month). Lunch included the last of the chocolate pudding I made ten days ago.

    Late in the afternoon, I split the package of ten chicken drumsticks from last week's K&S run into two batches: one is marinating in the spice paste from Jody Adams's recipe for Roasted Rock Cornish Game Hens with North African Flavors (in In the Hands of a Chef), and the other I cooked tonight in a variation of Adams's Ginger-Turmeric Chicken with Lime Yogurt and Coconut Rice. We have only green onions on hand, so I used the white bits for tonight's dinner and put the green bits into my jar of shrimp stock. I did not bother with chicken stock or cilantro, but a limp crown of broccoli had reproached me all week from its shelf, so it got added to the roasting pan. The result looked and tasted fine (though I gather from the BYM that the coconut rice is the real keeper):

    ginger turmeric chicken

    Discovering that Jody and Ken had revived their blog (their last pre-pandemic post had been in 2015) was a pleasant surprise. I've also been vegging with a slew of Grub Street Diet entries, which I came across while looking up discussions of Jody's Soupe de Poisson. I really like Margalit Cutler's illustrations, and the people interviewed say relatable things like "I am always doing something, it’s just rarely the thing I most need to be doing" (Julia Turshen) and "cut fruit is Asian parents’ love language" (Priya Krishna). [The day/week-in-the-life genre is a species of Pegnip, I guess, even when I think the metrics are nonsensical (cf. Philly's Sweat Diaries, where the accounting of money spend rarely factors in food already on hand).]

    Also from the "Back after a long break" Department: David Handler took like 20 years off between Book 8 and Book 9 of his Stewart Hoag series, and has since produced 3 novels and a short story I didn't know about until recently. So those are part of the escapism party pack, along with dance videos, such as this performance by the Still River Sword troupe.

    Speaking of performing, I appeared in a balcony scene Thursday night (it starts at around 59:30, with at least two cats and some verrrrry Southern accents in the mix). This week's mayhem also included pitcherfuls of wintermelon-rum-campari slushies and sober-yet-daft conversations about chive reproduction (occasioned by the below salad). Dull doesn't stand a chance around here.


    This entry was originally posted at

    Apr. 22nd, 2020


    3 hours of sleep

    15-hour shift

    dinner at 11:30 p.m. (leftovers: wild Minnesota rice mixed with brown Thai rice; a quarter pound of shrimp with heads on; mayonnaise)

    3+ wintermelon-rum slushies

    wintermelon-rum slushie

    (The glass was a gift from my big brother and his husband.)

    1 amused and sympathetic spouse

    1 power outage

    1 professional performance gig in limbo

    2 refunds expected

    1/4 radish cake remaining. The source radish was so big (3+ pounds) that the BYM jumped back a foot when he opened the fridge:

    radish radish

    1 emotional hangover from Monday's spate of correspondence and quasi-poetry blogging

    2 fresh Christmas cactus blooms

    1 workout with José skipped (too much work + twanging shoulder)

    a half-dozen spotted rose leaves pinched

    1 horoscope side-eyed

    3 Zoom backgrounds tested

    1 joke about my fat/big head suppressed

    1 board invitation declined

    95 XP points in Duolingo

    4 red bean paste buns consumed for breakfast, before 7 a.m.

    1 hot bath awaiting me

    This entry was originally posted at

    Apr. 20th, 2020

    No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible.

    [Today's subject line quotes Stanislaw Jerzy Lee. I forget where I first encountered it.]

    A morsel of lagniappe: working at home all day means I get to see these tiny starry flowers when they are open. They close up as night falls, which means I'd previously seen them only as buds.


    Our governor says the safer-at-home order will expire on April 30. For those of you tracking my dithering about the Y: if the centers reopen on May 1, that will be the last straw for this camel. I will cancel my membership faster than you can chant "To the left, to the left..."

    For those of you not on my Twitter TL: bacon coffee jam, y'all! (And other uses for coffee dregs and grounds) (via the newsletter)

    This entry was originally posted at

    Apr. 15th, 2020


    Via [personal profile] kirbyfest, [personal profile] kass, [personal profile] antisoppist, and others...

    1. Are you an Essential Worker?


    2. How many drinks have you had since the quarantine started?

    1 bottle of chardonnay
    5/6 bottle of Bordeaux
    2 beers
    1/3 bottle of Louisa's Liqueur ("Louisa Nelson was a woman of remarkable strength and character. . . .")

    3. If you have kids... Are they driving you nuts? n/a

    4. What new hobby have you taken up during this?

    There still aren't enough hours in the day.

    5. How many grocery runs have you done?

    5? If counting from around the Ides of March. We are down to one scant cup of soy sauce and no mirin, and I ate the last apple this morning, so I cannot put off donning the face mask much longer.

    6. What are you spending your stimulus check on?

    It will be split between part of a mortgage payment and the fee charged by our new estate lawyer to get our wills and directives updated. (See #15.)

    7. Do you have any special occasions that you will miss during this quarantine?

    The plans canceled so far through July would fill a whole entry.

    My birthday is next month, and I hadn't planned to host a party anyhow (because of rehearsals for Grand Magnolia), but I'm still thinking of ordering an almond cake from Sweet 16th, even though I might end up freezing 3/4 of it.

    8. Are you keeping your housework done?

    I'm able to tackle more of it because I'm home all day (and because I'm less okay with all the dust and grime now that I am), but done? Cue fit of derisive laughter.

    9a. What movie have you watched during this quarantine?

    Saw You Gave Me a Song: The Life and Music of Alice Gerrard Monday night, courtesy of the Southern Circuit Film Festival.

    9b. What are you reading right now?

    Good Omens and The Graham Kerr [aka the Galloping Gourmet] Cookbook

    9c. What video game are you playing?

    I consider Duolingo a video game. Diamond League, my dudes!

    10. What are you streaming with?

    YouTube/DailyMotion/Vevo, Spotify, and Hoopla (thank you, Nashville Public Library)

    11. 9 months from now is there any chance of you having a baby? Oh hell no.

    12. What's your go-to quarantine meal?

    Fried rice, with ketchup and a scrambled egg added to whatever odd tasty bits can be scrounged from the fridge and the yard.

    13. Is this whole situation making you paranoid?

    It's not paranoia if they're really out to get you.

    14. Has your internet gone out on you during this time?

    It's periodically flaky, especially when I'm juggling both home and work connections.

    15. What month do you predict this all ends?

    "All" being the pandemic, or broad "safer at home" measures? Being deeply cynical, I suspect social restrictions here in the South might ease up by summer solstice or even earlier -- resulting in the curve roaring up three or four or even more times before people truly finally register (if indeed they ever do) that it's not going to end until enough of us cooperate with scientific realities and enough policymakers get their heads out of their asses for an effective vaccine not only to be developed but manufactured and distributed in sufficient quantity to inoculate the general population regardless of socioeconomic means. Which I'm guessing will be more than 18 months out, and given how such things often take far longer than hoped for, it would not surprise me if it takes 36.

    All that said, I'm still mulling over whether to continue my membership at the Y. I'm leaning towards no, because I imagine that I will feel for a long time like I'm unnecessarily tempting fate every time I use the pool or sauna or shared equipment, and it's going to feel less safe walking alone across downtown given how many more people are now in dire straits. But I am so much better about pushing myself when I'm a regular at their classes. I am also admittedly reluctant to cancel since I would have to pay a new joining fee if I ever wanted to return, and I wouldn't get the discounted rate I have now, and who knows what their offerings will be once things get back to some pretense of normal. But that is bad math on my part -- the new fee would likely not exceed two months of what I pay now, and the full rate not exceed the total otherwise wasted on two or three years of minimal use. And moreover, pressuring myself to resume going to the Y before I truly feel safe there because it's paid for is the sort of daft thing my brain doesn't need to be doing to me.

    (So, yay meme for nudging me into spelling all this out instead of the half-baked dithering I'd applied to the situation thus far.)

    16. First thing you're gonna do when you get off quarantine?

    Get a haircut and a massage. (Yes, there are people I miss, but it's not like I saw them every week or every month pre-pandemic, and I'm not a hug-my-colleagues gal.)

    17. Where do you wish you were right now?

    I was supposed to be sea-kayaking near Charleston right around now. (Though I'm also side-eyeing the hotel's email, sent last week: "We thought you would have rebooked by now...")

    18. What free-from-quarantine activity are you missing the most?

    Swimming laps and English country dancing and waltzing. And right now I don't know if I will return to any of those after the pandemic ends, although in English maybe it will become okay to wear gloves outside of formals.

    (I mean, I probably will. I can be as stupid as many people when it comes to disregarding risk because the prospect of missing out becomes too much to bear. But I also don't lack for other diversions -- or, for that matter, obligations. And there's also working to help save the republic . . . )

    (Not incidentally, my stats as of Monday: More than 1300 postcards sent since mid-2017, including 123 for Jill Karofsky (Wisconsin Supreme Court). Plus additional cards sent in response to recommendations from Americans of Conscience, plus some self-initiated messages and calls in reaction to other feeds and sources.)

    19. Have you run out of toilet paper and hand sanitizer?

    No, although the current stash of TP is on the scratchier side than what we usually keep on hand.

    20. Do you have enough food to last a month?

    No. I like fresh produce and meat (and general variety) too much (just ask my friends in Detroit who had to put up with me craving salad when we were hitting dive bars). Although I also have trouble resisting sales, which is ironically why we have a good supply of paper towels and wipes (both purchased pre-lockdowns), along with three boxes of Hamburger Helper, a huge bag of tulsi leaves, and other testaments to past bouts of impulsiveness and ridiculousness.

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    Apr. 11th, 2020

    my current fandom project

    Over the next month or so, I will be recording scenes from Superstition_hockey's Bells/Hayes arc and posting them at, including comment-fics from HawkeyeState that deserves a wider audience.

    I'm not doing them in order (uninhibited as I am, trying to record other people's sex scenes with the BYM within earshot does cramp my style), and it would behoove you to become familiar with the series beforehand in any case. Start with

    And if hockey/surfing/feminist-bro slash fic is just never gonna be your thing, it's perhaps worth noting that I fell into that fandom via [personal profile] lomedet, whose tweet tonight also clued me into #SaturdayNightSeder, which delighted me on many levels, including these:

    Highlights for me included:

    * (as described by Lion Saltzman): "Ben Platt singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow as Judith Light talking about Jews escaping to America and the song being composed by Jewish refugees, and about the Wizard of Oz coming out less than two months after Kristallnacht."
    * Henry Winkler talking about Moses interspersed with Billy Porter singing "Go Down Moses"
    * Debra Messing and Richard Kind telling the Passover story. Funny-schticky in parts 1 and 2, and then genuinely moving in Part 3 -- the parting of the Red Sea has never seemed so real to me
    * Harvey Fierstein riffing on "Next year in Jerusalem" and asking why we couldn't have taken over Berlin instead.

    Cast includes Idina Menzel, Josh Groban, Bette Midler (as Elijah!), Stephen Schwartz, Jason Alexander, and what seemed like dozens of other Broadway stars.

    This entry was originally posted at I see comments at DW, IJ, and LJ (when notifications are working, anyway), but not on feeds.

    Apr. 9th, 2020

    gardening after sundown

    Sometimes the urge to keep going wins out. Sowing green beans was on this week's list, and there was a pot's worth of outdoor mix left in the bag, so. Before that, I'd cleaned up and around the rose bushes, added topsoil to the mint patch, accidentally harvested some wild chives, and transplanted more of the Prairie Fire seedlings.

    Yesterday, I'd deliberately harvested some gooseweed, turning it into a blenderful of pesto after picking out the bugs.

    gooseweed gooseweed

    I learned that it was edible while chatting with my boss, who's been foraging with her family; she referred to the plant as "cleavers," to which I responded, "Bzuh? Whazzat? ... Oh!" Making chimichurri and steamed buns with it is also on my list. As I told another friend, the Taiwanese peasant (me) and Memphis hippie (her) effect has kicked in.

    Our fridge did a thing where it froze a bunch of things in spite of the temperature gauge claiming otherwise, so instead of devoting half a cabbage to slaw, I stuck the whole thing in a pot and then rolled/sandwiched the leaves around the bean-and-bulgur mess I'd slow-cooked earlier this week (doctored with eggs and breadcrumbs, with enough left over for a cabbage-loaf):

    cabbage rolls

    The rest of the pepper seedlings and the kalanchoe cuttings have been transplanted. I found an old packet of microgreen mix that I've scattered across the surface of a half-dozen pots. There are some more patches of chives in the yard I managed to leave intact, in hopes of snipping at them next week.

    Someday I'll work up the energy to build an asparagus bed. It was my parents' most successful crop in all their years of gardening. That, and the daffodils that came back year after year for decades.

    The spinach has sprouted. I think there may be some zinnia and pepper action by the front walk, but since I didn't label things properly I'm just going to leave it all alone until I can tell what's what. (Photinia leaves are piling on top of the stretch closest to our east neighbor anyhow.) There are a couple of stalks of something that might be pretty about to unfurl in the front yard, and against the ruined fence to the west, some tiny white blossoms can be glimpsed amid all the green and brown:


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    Apr. 4th, 2020

    more meme-ing

    I rarely enlist the BYM on my projects, in part because of hereditary pigheadedness on both sides and in part because I want my asks to carry sufficient weight (like updating our wills and directives *sigh*), but could I resist the #MuseumFromHome excuse to re-create Giovanni Bologna's River God? Of course not -- especially since after (very predictably) rolling his eyes, he (also very predictably) proceeded to fix the composition like a champ.

    In an Ackland Art Museum catalogue:
    Giovanni Bologna's RIVER GOD

    Chez nous:
    Me as Bologna's RIVER GOD

    In other foolery, I am delighted to see my friend Bill (a global epidemiologist who used to work in Chicago) retweeting artsy riffs on Mayor Lightfoot telling people to stay home:

    Today's original plan had included yardwork and dance classes, but I sacked it when I didn't end up sacking out long enough overnight, in spite of hitting the hay well before midnight. I did take a stab at cleaning my laptop (almost literally, lifting out like a cat's worth of fuzz and crumbs with toothpicks while half-hysterically muttering jokes to myself about chametz), which (also predictably) has munged something up with my arrow keys, but at least the board as a whole is less disgusting now.

    I also tossed assorted sheaves of magazines and clippings with new realism goggles on: recipes containing reflux triggers, cosmetics reviews (so many seasons ago that the products may not even be on offer anymore), travel advice (because who the hell knows what will reopen, or when) . . .

    plantable page

    Last year was so nuts that I hadn't actually opened the April/May 2019 issue of Garden & Gun until now. It contains a plantable page of mind that I shall plunk into the front yard. The roses are spotty. Nothing else looks okay except the mint and the radish seedlings, but the violets continue to be abundant, with a few buttercups here and there.

    Indoors, the Christmas cactus is providing some pre-Palm Sunday pleasure. It is next to the aloe plant I picked up at the Presbyterian waffle shop last Noel, which has plumped up nicely under my care.

    Christmas cactus on eve of Palm Sunday Christmas cactus on eve of Palm Sunday

    There are also pepper seedlings ready to transplant. There's plenty to do (including a massive report to proofread, Sabbath notwithstanding, hence my being determined to rest the past 24 hours).

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