April 2021




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Apr. 17th, 2021

mushily powerful

roasted garlic

Don't tell the BYM, because he already thinks my garlic intake verges on chemical warfare . . . but there is a lot of garlic in our fridge right now. I pickled around a quart and a half earlier this month after bringing home a bag from the 99-cent produce shelf, and today I roasted 11 heads as a favor for a friend of a friend.

After pelting out of the house for an appointment this morning, I gave thanks to Past Me for the leftover coffee she'd poured into jars last week. Present Me notes that the water left over from soaking dried mushrooms looks a lot like leftover coffee, and that it would be wise to revive my habit of labeling jars.

I am exceedingly late to both the Tom Hiddleston and Letters Live parties, but y'all, this reading of Gerald Durrell's letter to Lee McGeorge is something else. (At YouTube, the comments for this clip include a copy of the letter.)

This entry was originally posted at https://zirconium.dreamwidth.org/174561.html.
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Apr. 15th, 2021

#ShowYourself and other voicings

First, a signal boost for the next two weekends:


I first saw Alex Wong perform when he toured with Vienna Teng as her percussionist. He moved to Nashville a few years later, and I've since been to his house for food (an earlier edition of Angelhouse Family Dinners) and music. He's now raising funds for AAPI justice/assistance orgs through a virtual tour, and the first four sessions were terrific (including a beautifully filmed capoeira duet to Bob Dylan's "Boots of Spanish Leather"). The lineup for this weekend includes a book artist, poet Ciona Rouse (who was terrific in Nick Cave: Feat. Nashville a few years ago), and Kentucky cellist Ben Sollee (whom, come to think of it, I also first heard via a Vienna Teng tour, and whose "Bury Me With My Car" had me doubled over laughing during that session).

Life hurtles on. Many people hurting. Many platters spinning. Many postcards to write.

This week I've edited in both French and English, next week will include some Spanish translation, and I'm blasting Gaelic punk as I power through some of the prep for the museum's next big show.

I caught most of last night's White Sox no-hitter against Cleveland, which was fun.

The chenille basket is definitely doing better outdoors, especially since I've been making a point of putting in full sun for the recommended 4 to 6 hours. All the kale plants may have come home or come down with something bacterial; the roses may have not one disease but two, but are also putting forth lots of clean leaves and buds, so I swore and snipped and sprayed yesterday and am opting to be optimistic. The irises are spectacular. I need to clear ground for the tomatoes and other starters from my church's herb fair, and some zinnia seedlings are emerging in a patch I've started in the back yard. Indoors, the Paula Jane fuchsia is gorgeous, most of the chocolate cherry tomato seedlings are doing well, and there is a lopsided bloom on the never-quite-healthy miniature rosebush.

I went on a Poshmark tear earlier this week (splurging on five cute dresses for $58 total) and picked up my two new pairs of glasses (sun and standard). The latter torched my FSA but were definitely overdue. One of the Poshmark bundles I've been rolling my eyes at the hot takes on various platforms about upcoming fashion trends. Some of us who wear ratty pjs all day when no one's watching AND don heels and bling when we feel like turning heads do so with no one's permission and nary a pang of existential torment. FFS.

One of the Poshmark bundles included hearts and other shapes cut out of a variety of publications, including The Hobbit; a multilingual census or healthcare help line handout; a twentieth-century novel involving typewriters, trains, and failed love; a handwritten flyer seeking a renter; and a Phinney Center newsletter. I don't quite know what (if anything) to make of it, but it certainly raised the week's surrealism quotient. This entry was originally posted at https://zirconium.dreamwidth.org/174087.html.

Apr. 4th, 2021

calls for entries

Due by noon EDT on Monday 5 April: NPR is collaging a poem about anti-Asian racism, with lines from submitted list poems: https://www.npr.org/2021/03/31/981147280/poetry-challenge-create-a-list-poem-that-grapples-with-rise-of-anti-asian-racism?mc_cid=11f49db1e3&mc_eid=2302726d91

(A short poem mentioned in the call is Emily Jungmin Moon's "Between Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice, Today," which is worth your time.)

Due by Saturday 10 April: short poems (20 lines max) or prose inspired by Untitled (Brooklyn), a painting by Meghan Keene: https://broadsidedpress.org/2021switcheroo/
There is a $3 fee.

Easter lunch with the in-laws featured ham with raisin sauce, brie on jalapeno cheese crackers, and other goodies. I brought two sparkling wines. I admit to picking up the Carolina Gatti Ratatuja mainly because the label amused me (see https://www.wine-searcher.com/find/carolina+gatti+ratatuja+pet+nat+veneto+italy), but it also turned out to be interesting, in a less filtered, more flavor way.

My plans for the afternoon had included a virtual dance party and some soil prep, but I instead sacked out for four hours, and in a minute I'm going to heed my body's call for yet more sleep instead of staying up with proofs and spreadsheets. But I did fit in a bit of twirling on my own before my tomato salad and tulsi tea:

Why yes, trying to remember combinations is like patting one's head and belly at the same time . . .

Whee! This entry was originally posted at https://zirconium.dreamwidth.org/173874.html.
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Mar. 29th, 2021

yearning upon yearning

One year in, I dance with imaginary partners and corners maybe once every 1.5 weeks. There are virtual contra and English country dances, concerts, classes, and presentations pretty much every day of the week, along with offerings from my early music and editing and public health circles. There isn't time for even a tenth of what I'd like to sample, never mind dive deeper into. (In other news, it's a day ending in "y" . . .)

Dancing alone also triggers unhappy memories of being a wallflower, and an envy of people whose partners enjoy waltzing and pousette-ing. It balances out: I literally doze off on motorcycles, which makes me less fun than our friends who are into them. I wouldn't want anyone else as my housemate, but my fantasy wishlist does include a dance spouse (along with a double manual harpsichord, a Citroen, an all-expenses-paid month in Barcelona, and the Bottega Veneta shearling coat I petted in San Francisco back in 2017).

On the flip side, drilling waltz steps was on my at-home list anyhow, practicing waltz holds tones the arms, and going through the figures revives happy memories as well, such as teaching "Volpony" during a Monday night class, being perfectly in sync with partners (and in demand) at past balls, and improvising a dance with another actor during last year's photo shoot for Grand Magnolia. ("Ah, Theater!" he declaimed afterward. "Where you gaze with all your heart into another person's soul -- and then move on . . .")

Anyway, one of the dances on tonight's NCD program was "Volpony." I felt an urge to double-check the source while Cathy was teaching (having mentally misfiled it under Molière instead of Jonson) and found it opposite "Wa Is Me, What Mun I Do":

Volpony & Wa Is Me What Mun I Do

These are two of the achingly loveliest tunes in the ECD canon. Some I get tired of, and some I have never liked (I'm with the minority that cannot abide "Softly Good Tummas"), but my heart lifts when I see these on a program:

(this recording doesn't quite capture the yearning I hear in Purcell's music, but will at least give you a glimpse of real social dancing, with elegance and errors in abundance)

This entry was originally posted at https://zirconium.dreamwidth.org/173811.html.
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Mar. 24th, 2021

as radiant as a bridge

The subject line is from Abbie Huston Evans's "To E.D. in July," which Mary featured at Vary the Line a couple of years ago. I posted a new entry there a few days ago, about a 16th-century Chinese poet responding to a bitter 11th-century quatrain about idiocracy.

What is radiant, and available to you until 6 p.m. CDT on March 30: the Ailey All-Access video (10 minutes long) of Judith Jamison's A Case of You. So good. So gorgeous . . .

And then, if you're in the mood to dwell with the song a while longer, there's Leanne Shapton's Joni Mitchell grocery list . . .

And when I meant to blog the Shapton piece, a season or two ago, this was on my mental turntable as well:

And, as long as I'm missing Live from Here, here's what came to mind when WNXP played the original "Waltz #2" yesterday afternoon:

This entry was originally posted at https://zirconium.dreamwidth.org/173464.html.
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Mar. 19th, 2021

New leaves are like eyebrows

The subject line's from a Willow Branch Song by Ch'ien Ch'ien-yi (1582 - 1664; translated by Irving Yucheng Lo). The full verse:

A crescent moon hangs on the tip of the willows,
New leaves are like eyebrows, the moon's like a hook.
Wait till the moon is round and reflected in a mirror
To lift from my eyebrows ten thousand layers of grief.

I generally try not to be around people the week of St. Patrick's Day. It's the anniversary of my mother's death, and today is the anniversary of Mama Nancy's death, plus even years outside of pandemics it's mid-term and not-quite-close-enough-to-the-end-of-the-quarter and almost everyone is so tired of winter and more than a little frayed.

Taking the whole week off wasn't feasible this year; to stay logged off on Wednesday, I worked until 4 a.m. that morning, and I'll be marking 40+ pages of proofs this weekend as well. But it did feel good and right to do some deep cleaning that afternoon, which included tossing out scraps of paper with topics I'd meant to blog about, but the moment(um) had faded (George Clooney's love of writing/receiving letters, contemporary songs about dementia/memory loss, the Megan Rapinoe/Sue Bird feature in GQ . . .).

Nashville journalist Natasha Senjanovic has an invitation for y'all:

You can hear me talking about bao and Duolingo and reading "Climb" at https://www.bestofpossibleworlds.com/audio.

Also recently published: "Truth and Dare," at Autumn Sky.

Finally - written ten years ago, and published the following spring:
On Embodying an Asian Fantasy

Measured Extravagance is out of print, but if you'd like a copy, send me proof of a donation ($6 or more) to NAPAWF, Tupelo Pres, or Postcards to Voters, and I'll beam a PDF to you.
This entry was originally posted at https://zirconium.dreamwidth.org/173113.html.

Mar. 6th, 2021

prints tantalize my soap

[The subject line is from June Jordan's It's Hard to Keep a Clean Shirt Clean.]

It's a sunny Saturday morning, the sky is a beautiful blue, and the forecast for this afternoon is in the 50s, with the wind below 10 knots per hour. But I have seven chapters and a fifty-page bibliography to finetune for a volume editor and image manager before the end of the day, and a dozen-plus other files to power through before the start of Monday.

Younger Me would mutter "Tae hell wi' y'all!" and hop on the paddleboard and string the kite anyway, and then grind through the lot overnight. Current Me is cranking up Rameau, Monteverdi, and Anderson .Paak and getting on with it -- after I placate my peasant brain by dealing with a bundle of limp carrots. I combined some of the greens with asparagus this morning to go with scrambled eggs . . .

carrot greens, asparagus and eggs

. . . and the roots are in the slow cooker with other ingredients for beef stew. It feels good to have the wherewithal to make things happen, even when they weren't in our plans when we got out of bed a few hours ago.

This week I also baked a chocolate soufflé (because this past Sunday was National Chocolate Soufflé Day, which I used as my prompt for Day 28 at the Tupelo 30/30 challenage) and two loaves of cranberry bread (because I'd ordered a bag from Misfits Market with a vague idea of making relish, but then hadn't followed through with picking up related ingredients when I went to the store). I picked up our monthly Chinese feast from Lucky Bamboo on Monday, and dumped cheese (blue, American, pizza blend . . .) on various leftovers and vegetables for lunch, dinner, and snacks. The BYM resorts to frozen meals when I don't feel up to cooking, and one night brought home a mushroom pizza from Smith & Lentz that rated an awww yeah when he reheated what was left the next day.

In other happenings, our larger hellebore is blooming beautifully (the smaller one probably needs another year or two . . .), and indoors some of the Christmas cacti and cyclamen are still producing buds and flowers. The aloe plant I'd brought home from Downtown Pres in 2019 was again in need of repotting, so that happened as well:


row of aloe This entry was originally posted at https://zirconium.dreamwidth.org/172854.html.
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Feb. 27th, 2021

I've seen the dark side too

My YouTube feed just showed me the Josh Groban/Helene Fischer cover of "I'll Stand by You," a song that's inextricably tied to Snupin fandom for me (though, given how into hurt/comfort I was before I ever knew of fandom, yes, it pretty much belongs on any soundtrack . . .). I like Josh, but it isn't doing it for me -- like the Génération Goldman cover of "Là-Bas," it has a produced gloss that doesn't serve the song. This is more my speed:

Earlier today, I managed to talk myself out of splurging on a raised bed kit. (25% off is still 75% too much for my current bandwidth. I still have straw from three or four years ago to spread . . .) Today's docket includes writing a number of thank-you and get-well and GOTV cards, working on a catalogue about medieval Italian manuscripts, and drafting my last public Tupelo poem (my sponsors will be getting two more via email). I've been using holidays to keep the well primed, so tomorrow's poem could involve tooth fairies and small change, though right now I'm thinking more about scouse and soufflés. This entry was originally posted at https://bronze-ribbons.dreamwidth.org/420926.html. I see comments at DW, IJ, and LJ (when notifications are working, anyway), but not on feeds.

Feb. 23rd, 2021

birds and flowers bringing

So, between allergies and scratches and figurative kicks in the teeth and waking up hung over (which seemed profoundly unfair because it was one flute of prosecco during a retirement-party Zoom and one flute of vermouth after dinner, but apparently that's one digestif too many for my metabolism these days) and nearly putting antibiotic ointment instead of toothpaste on my brush -- well. Hello, dregs of February.

But I slogged through this, that, and more, so some deliverables got delivered, some reportables got reported, the house is cleaner, and I pulled together a lemon-rosemary-olive-panko-parmesan-macaroni thing for dinner. It was mild enough today to walk to the Little Free Library in sandals. There have also been three rabbit holes: One was the lore surrounding St. Matthias, in the course of pulling together twelve lines for tomorrow's Tupelo poem; I was also intrigued by the why and wherefore of coppices, but that didn't make it into the draft. (Today's contribution was 14 lines of dog-gerel, so to speak . . .)

The second was triggered by Sam's Tumblr post on Sargent's depiction of Robert Louis and Fanny Stevenson. What an intricate household that was. I did not know that Fanny and her daughter Isobel were both cougars (with the same writer-illustrator).

I have not watched this video of "Let Beauty Awake" in full yet, but even a few seconds . . .

The last is a current memory-melody worm: there's a Swedish cradle song in a 1957 textbook called Singing in Harmony that one of my elementary schools discarded when I was a kid. (The Commonwealth of Kentucky Public Instruction stamp inside the front cover has a line where one was supposed to indicate "White" or "Colored" . . .) The setting is similar to some Beethoven art-songs I'm fond of; the next-to-last measure particularly gets me, and I've played it several times today:

birds and flowers singing

Last night I looked up the composer and lyricist. There doesn't seem to be much online about W. Th. Söderberg (though the song got around enough to merit sheet music for mandolin and guitar -- published in Seattle . . .), but the author of the English words, one "Auber Forestier," turns out to have been the formidable Aubertine Woodward Moore, whose many roles included serving as music director of the First Unitarian Society of Madison, Wisconsin. (For some other day: she apparently gave Whitman season tickets she couldn't use and may have been on a first-name basis with Alcotts and Emersons and fiddlin' Bulls . . .) This entry was originally posted at https://zirconium.dreamwidth.org/172559.html.

Feb. 21st, 2021


Some things I miss:
  • dancing, including waltzing and being dipped

  • locking in tight harmonies with other singers

  • trying new-to-me bars and eavesdropping on / chatting with whomever at them

  • spur-of-the-moment visits to Cheekwood

  • hell, unplanned all-the-things

  • printing proofs without having to assess whether putting my personal printer through it is worth the expense/time/wear-and-tear

  • swimming

  • striding around downtown in tailored dresses and heels

  • Asheville, Philadelphia, and the Triangle

  • buying just enough meat and produce for a few days

  • ocean kayaking being a near prospect

  • same with the show I was cast in more than a year ago

  • Some things I have been enjoying:
  • working through the winter in pj bottoms and sheep slippers instead of tights and boots

  • making cards to send to voters and others

  • nattering with the BYM about horse categorization, Trixie Belden, and other nonsense

  • getting a better handle on passé composé (and becoming legendary in the process, ha!)

  • trying new-to-me recipes, including Fannie Farmer's Swedish bread

  • Swedish bread

  • needing less than one tank of gas per month

  • the Vagabond Tabby's Mother of Crows soap

  • the Christmas cacti and cyclamen, which are still producing blooms

  • shiny Innovation stamps

  • Some recent poems, at the 30/30 project:

  • "Tilting at Mushrooms," about Lowell labor organizer (and later Philadelphian) Sarah Bagley

  • "Clear," about languages I don't even remotely have a grip on

  • "Bounce," in memory of a choreographer and a theatre techie

  • "Tug," because I'm in Asheville and/or Princeton/Philadelphia most Februaries

  • "Twenty Seconds," prompted by a German pig-farming regulation

  • "Lightening Up," because Shrove Tuesday was nigh

  • "The Ides of February," because it was more interesting reading about Romans than trying to come up with something related to historical or festive events tied to the 15th

  • "As Cowards Remain, So Dumb and Grayer Gray," because I wanted to write something metrical, and Emily Dickinson's valentines are demented
  • This entry was originally posted at https://zirconium.dreamwidth.org/172413.html.

    Feb. 13th, 2021

    Tell Luna, tea is waiting

    Today is crowded with overlapping possibilities. Newark Museum's virtual Carnival Celebration runs all day, with the samba/capoeira session at the same time as Iowa's English country dance gathering. Says You's Kisses and Quips show was on my calendar for a long time, but my church's cabaret for Habitat for Humanity streams at the same time. Plus, there's tomorrow's Tuupelo poem to draft, doing enough Chinese/Welsh/Spanish/French to stay in Duolingo's Diamond League, putting ten postcards to voters in the mail, doing something about the butternut squash I roasted two or three nights ago before the next Misfits Market box arrives . . .

    This week had a lot of crud. I'm trying not to brood about the things I cannot change, but I am reminded of other bloggers greeting February with EVERYBODY BRACE NOW There's something about the months before the equinoxes that make them feel like a long haul, even though in my case they also feature the birthdays of some of my favorite people. And fatigue with both the pandemic and the equally unrelenting and life-threatening banality of evil is also a thing. It took me five times as long to get to things I normally enjoy dispatching with ease, and some things that would literally make me feel better (working out, dancing, ironing . . .) keep getting shafted because it's easier to stay in the rocking chair for one more Duolingo/Mimo/Earpeggio lesson.

    Anyhow, I do like the Befruary take on this gloomy gray stretch of the season, and I did my metal-dawg / Taurus-with-Virgo-rising thing and herded/hauled my mental sheeps to meadow and market. New poems up at Tupelo:

    Day 6: "More than a Single Bound" (prompted by a motorcycle stunt)
    Day 7: "Gazing at Tennessine" (prompted by Periodic Table Day)
    Day 8: "Free As . . ." (prompted by National Kite-Flying Day)
    Day 9: "Sweet Spot" (prompted by the Feast of St. Apollonia, patron saint of toothache sufferers)
    Day 10: "Imperfect Fragment" (prompted by Edmond Halley)
    Day 11: "Gathering Up All the Fragments" (prompted by Lydia Maria Child)
    Day 12: "A Foot-Long Tongue" (prompted by Charles Darwin)
    Day 13 (up later today): "Through a Screen, Darkly" (prompted by Absalom Jones, a Black Episcopalian priest and essential healthcare provider during a yellow fever epidemic)

    The "someday" reading list is getting new titles added to it pretty much every day. There's an orchid display at Cheekwood this month; with Darwin's Contrivance by which British and Foreign Orchids . . . now in my Google library, I'd be keen to see it, but it's indoors, so I'll have to content myself with old photos instead, like these:

    Shih Hua Girl "Stones River" Taida Little Green orchid Me and the orchid tree Cattleya intermedia

    Ironically, as a household, we are not hugely into holidays. My belle-mère and closest cousin are by far more into (and better at) decorating; I mailed a Valentine to the BYM last year mainly to yank his chain (it was an adorable design, but it also had glitter); there have often been professional and/or performance obligations that had me on duty instead of at gatherings. That said, I'm weak for stickers and ribbons (even though they too often leave the ironing board and cutting mat weeks or even years after the festival they were originally purchased for), and every third year or so I work up the energy to donate something related to Lunar New Year to the church auction. This year's donation wasn't directly tied to LNY, but the winners of the bao subscription were easily gracious about me wanting to skip January, so I expanded yesterday's delivery of shrimp bao to include Taiwanese tea eggs, radish cake, and pineapple-ginger bubble tea:

    Ginger-pineapple bubble tea Ginger-pineapple bubble tea

    The photos show my second take at mixing the tea; the first batch tasted fine but looked revolting. "Failing better" is definitely a thing here. ;)

    [The subject line is from a valentine by Emily Dickinson that may be the most daft thing (outside of political/medical misinformation or art historical polemics, natch) I read this week.)] This entry was originally posted at https://zirconium.dreamwidth.org/172060.html.

    Feb. 5th, 2021

    some things that didn't make it into this week's poems

    How the Turkish Liberace could be a cousin of Mr. Heat Miser.

    Betty White as Liberace's beard.

    "Busterkeys" as one of Liberace's names.

    The lemon-anchovy sauce also included radishes:
    homemade pasta

    The feast of St. Dorothea/Dorothy, patron saint of gardeners.

    That St. Dorothea is no longer on the General Roman Calendar because of a dearth of historical evidence for her deeds.

    Guy Mollet getting pelted with tomatoes in Algiers.

    The HMS Beagle.

    The first Olympic dogsled race.

    The founding of Magnum Photos.

    Bottle opener patents.

    Deflated bears and elves (or was that a penguin? *squints*):
    Lockeland Springs, 1.31.2021

    Possibilities for Sunday's poem currently include:
    Ballet Day
    National Fettuccine Alfredo Day
    National Periodic Table Day
    Popcorn Day
    Rose Day
    National Burn Awareness Week

    Poems published so far (all at https://www.tupelopress.org/the-30-30-project-february-2021/):
    "Getting Close to Venus"
    "Shepherd on a Narrow Bridge"
    "Not Done, and Not Doing Things Over"
    "Observing the Holidays" This entry was originally posted at https://zirconium.dreamwidth.org/171957.html.

    Jan. 23rd, 2021

    9 reasons I enjoy Jackie Lau's #AsianRomCom books

    https://jackielaubooks.com/ The Ultimate Pi Day Party is currently free, and the Nashville Public Library has some of her titles.

    1. The settings include small-town and urban Canada, and coping with a wide variety of parents, siblings, and friends . . .
    2. . . . some of them refreshingly and hilariously down-to-earth, and others exasperatingly "why can't you be more like _____," which is a dynamic I totally feel from multiple angles. I have cried with relief when people step up for protagonists who disappoint their parents by not having a "real" job.
    3. That said, there are a quite a few scientists and CEOs in the mix. They're often driven and/or grumpy. I can relate to that too. (One geologist wears a has a "Schist Happens" shirt mug.)
    4. Abortion is discussed as the right choice for characters who had them. More on that by Emmalita. #RomanceForRoe
    5. There's a lot of good food. Including mooncake ice cream.
    6. There are brutally honest little girls (often nieces) who know what they want. One five-year-old is a food snob who "has a better chance of enjoying blue cheese and Kalamata olives than pepperoni pizza" and delightedly samples (and critiques) "the green tea-strawberry, the passionfruit, the black sesame, [and] the matcha cheesecake" flavors at the shop her anti-ice cream uncle takes her to (observing that the place looks like a unicorn threw up in it) but also names a unicorn "Havarti Sparkles." Another corrects her uncle on the pronunciation of dinosaur names. Another really digs venomous spiders, which her uncle can't stand . . .
    7. Several protagonists don't speak Mandarin/Cantonese well, if at all. I feel seen, both in terms of the awkward situations they find themselves in and the recurring frustration of being expected to be good at / comfortable with something one has zero natural facility for. (Not incidentally, I tested out of a half-dozen levels of Spanish Duolingo last night, but my next super-basic, hint-heavy Mandarin lesson may require a full glass of verdejo for me to chill out enough to get on with it.)
    8. Love doesn't magically cure clinical depression or other chronic/recurring conditions, and it was horrible-great when one of the heroines starts yelling about how infuriating is when people insist or imply you haven't tried hard enough or spent enough on finding a solution while knowing fuck-all about every last exhausting potential treatment you've already tried or considered.
    9. There's plenty of humor and sass, from friends and siblings (and sometimes parents) who take the heroine or hero's goals seriously but not their taste in clothing or pizza or beer.

    [My previous mention of Jackie Lau's books.]

    In addition to reading Lau's two most recent books, I also binged on some picture and chapter books this week, including:

  • Most of the Princess in Black series by Shannon Hale, Dean Hale, and LeUyen Pham

  • Real Cowboys by Kate Hoefler, which will be featured trilingually (English, Spanish, ASL) later this year as a storytime video produced by my colleagues.

  • Jules vs. the Ocean by Jesse Sima
  • This entry was originally posted at https://zirconium.dreamwidth.org/171655.html.

    Jan. 21st, 2021

    the work continues

    Worst legislature in the nation shouldn't be a contest, but goddamn if Tennessee doesn't keep stepping up to that plate. The latest is an attempt to penalize Nashville and Memphis public schools for remaining virtual.

    This is also where Nashville is at:

    This entry was originally posted at https://zirconium.dreamwidth.org/171452.html.

    Jan. 16th, 2021

    unpacking Misfits Market shipment 1

    There are several terrific Beths in my life. My honorary aunt Beth in North Carolina is a public health physician and film professor whose pack of dogs include a very fluffy Rafa (named after Nadal). Here's me holding Harvey (named after the rabbit) a few years ago:

    Harvey and me

    Another, whom I'll refer to as Danish Beth, was active on Diaryland back in the early oughts. I'm hazy on how we initially connected, but we had a fine time in Boston on a couple of occasions, and we still exchange holiday cards.

    The one I'll call Miss Beth is a Mississippian who doesn't suffer fools and put soup in our freezer when the BYM was convalescing from a bad encounter with a Dodge Journey. Early in the pandemic (March 14), a meme making the rounds said, "You’re stuck in quarantine for 14 days with the third person who pops up when you type @. Who are you quarantined with, and will both of you make it out alive?" My response was that Miss Beth and I would do just fine -- I wouldn't have to tell her, "Shut up for the next three hours, I'm making/fixing things" because she'd be doing the same, with breaks for soup and bourbon, and she replied with "you'd let me nap!"

    So when Miss Beth had good things to say about Misfits Market, I hit her up for a referral code (25% discount for her and me) and signed up for a subscription. I selected what I wanted for the box Sunday night, and this is what arrived on my porch this morning:

    Misfits Market #1 Misfits Market #1

    Misfits Market #1

    My base subscription is the "mischief" box every other week ($22 + tax + $5.50 shipping). These items were covered by the base (10 selections from around 20 options)

    Purple Top Turnips
    Fuji Apples
    Sweet Potatoes
    Yellow Summer Squash
    Butternut Squash
    Red Radishes, Bunched
    Kent Mango
    Green D'anjou Pears
    Yellow Potatoes
    Russet Potatoes

    I requested these items as well, for an additional $24.09:

    Organic Watermelon Radish
    Earth Greens Organic Baby Spinach, 5 Oz
    Organic Meyer Lemons, 2 Ct
    Organic Broccolini
    Organic Blackberries, 6 Oz
    Sunions Organic Tearless Sweet Onions, 2 Ct
    Garden of Eatin' Sesame Blues Tortilla Chips, 5.5 Oz
    Organic Blueberries, 6 Oz
    Organic Honeycrisp Apples, 3 Ct
    Element Farms Pea Shoots, 3.2 Oz
    Organic Portobello Caps, 6 Oz

    I'm satisfied with most of the items. They substituted arugula for the broccolini; I'm finicky enough about bruised salad leaves that I wouldn't have picked that bunch, but I think I can get maybe three salads out of it regardless. The other items that were more bruised or softer than I care for were the eggplant, the apples, and one of the Meyer lemons (and the radish leaves also went straight into the compost bowl), so I'll be using those up first. I'm not too worried about the "tamper proof" spinach clamshell arriving with the film loose in one corner (things were pretty loose in the box, and a good jolt by a squash could have caused the damage), but that's a consideration if you're fastidious about that kind of thing. (I would be pickier inside a supermarket, but that goes for pretty much everything.)

    It won't replace all my produce shopping, but it will eliminate a chunk of time in chain grocery stores, which will help me manage both my temper (there is almost always a price discrepancy or five, and I'm enough of my mother's daughter that it's a mighty struggle to let those slide, even when I realize the saner option these days would be to head on out rather than arguing about 50 cents) and my contact with strangers (which, with a superspreader strain projected to become dominant by spring . . . *grits teeth, reaches for knife and pen*).

    [Should you want to give Misfits Market a try, here's my referral code: COOKWME-TH9FUJ] This entry was originally posted at https://zirconium.dreamwidth.org/171246.html.

    Jan. 4th, 2021

    2021 so far

    1 new poetry challenge: https://tupelopress.networkforgood.com/projects/120791-peg-duthie-s-fundraiser

    1 flashfic rejection

    far too much coughing

    1 upcoming choral project (if I ever stop coughing)

    4 jars of honey drops

    20 hours in the work saddle (already)

    1 power outage (20 minutes before my first scheduled meeting with my new intern. The day was . . . hectic.)

    1 new client (yay referrals!)

    1 old toothbrush wielded against appliance scuzz

    4 incoming holiday cards

    2 half-pints of beer

    2 days above 60 F

    Frost on my windshield today

    A pot of miniature roses

    [edited 1.16 to remove stray periods] This entry was originally posted at https://zirconium.dreamwidth.org/170333.html.

    Jan. 1st, 2021


    Well. The past week included more collisions than I would have cared for with figurative handbaskets and pavers, but I managed to get to bed within an hour of either side of midnight most nights. (The exception was the night before nochevieja, when filing all the FSA paperwork and herding Picasso ducks to the designer kept the candles burning past 3:30 a.m.) Yesterday I closed my work laptop by 5:30 p.m. (in time to catch Ailey's Revelations Through the Decades while the streaming window was open) and my personal laptop by 11:45 p.m. (with a promise to myself to refrain from checking social media until after noon today, which I kept).

    This current round of reflux has been enough of a nuisance for me to dial back on citrus and other trigger foods for a while. I'd bought a sale bag of grapefruits before deciding this needed to happen. Fortunately, I now have water-bath canning in my culinary toolbox:


    I also prepared a batch of pickled clementines two days ago. One of the jars didn't seal properly, though, resulting in orange syrup splattering across my counter yesterday morning. (At least I tested it before delivering it to the recipient!) So far, the seals on the jars of tomatoes I canned back in October-November have definitely done their job; I usually have to pry them off with a knife, and the jar I used in Wednesday's oxtail stew was no exception.

    For Thursday, the BYM picked up ribs and beer from Various Artists Brewing. A week earlier, I'd picked up a Feast of Seven Fishes from Nicky's Coal Fired. It ended up covering both Christmas lunch and dinner, plus a cannoli nightcap on Boxing Day and a risotto break the following week. I'm dreaming about re-creating the baked clams, and getting the pasta again. (The octopus in the seafood salad was also outstanding, but that's one I'll leave to the professionals.)

    Christmas Eve also included a Zoom service and social hour hosted by my church.

    I heard the bells on Christmas Day

    I'd contributed tracks to three of the carols, and the video for a modern setting of "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" (way less lugubrious than the traditional Calkin hymn!) was created by Trigg. I had been on the fence about catching the service (I worked fifteen minutes into it), but I was especially glad that I had done so when I saw the reactions in the chat as the segment aired. It's archived on YouTube (the carol starts at 42:27):

    In other news (behind cut-tag for profanity) )

    Christmas itself was marvelous. Like today, I jettisoned my extensive to-do list in favor of a long nap, and I have no regrets. (Aiming for much more sleep in 2021 is definitely going to be a thing here.) Because of the title of this entry, I will note that the bounty included apricot preserves from American Spoon (all the more delightful because I had talked myself out of ordering from them just a day or two earlier). Because of the title of this blog, I feel compelled to celebrate here the most over-the-top present I opened that morning:

    Zirconium bar and cherry stand

    That's a bar of zirconium, y'all. Carefully machined, sanded, and polished by my friend Bill, with its own fitted cherry stand. I've done enough wood- and metalwork to have an idea of how long it took (augmented by conversations with and messages from Bill this year about his adventures in acquiring and working with other elements. He had particularly sulfurous comments about antimony . . .). I can't stop admiring it. :)

    2020 ended with the BYM turning in an hour before midnight. I wasn't making a point of staying up (I'm usually the one dozing off before the guitar falls) but there had been a poem I had been trying to write all month, so I buckled down to fleshing it out and hit the Submittable button forty minutes before midnight (and again at twenty minutes 'til for another packet). Then I put away laundry while peeking at the lights still up on my street and on Holly. A year ago the ones on Holly would not have been visible because of trees the tornado knocked down.

    Tonight's dinner is leftover rice with black-eyed peas and Chinese sausage, with sparkling wine. It reached 74 F in parts of Nashville today, so I spent part of the afternoon cutting spotted leaves off the rosebushes, and tomorrow I'll spray them.

    Friends, here's to a year with an abundance of roses and other rewards. And, if you aren't blogging or tweeting about your goings-on, drop me a line on what you are seeing, hearing, tasting, or considering? Message me for my address if you'd rather send (and get) a (post)card. :) This entry was originally posted at https://zirconium.dreamwidth.org/170220.html.

    Dec. 19th, 2020

    Hark! How the birds new songs are making

    Today's subject line comes from "Shepherds! shake off your drowsy sleep," where the second line invariably makes me giggle and the tune (Besançon) is the same as the one designated for the Advent carol "People, look east."

    I am moving through today more slowly than I planned or expected, and I am okay with that. I have a cough -- most likely from reflux -- that has been severe enough to keep me off this week's singing/recording projects. I worked 53 hours this week to make sure our next exhibition opens on time, signing off on almost all the proofs at the end of an 11-hour day and missing an online happy hour en route. I continue to be enraged by traitors and covidiots, and Autumn Sky published my poem about zombie minks last week ("Uncontained").

    I like to think that as I get older, I at least get a shade less stupid. More able to admire something tantalizingly shiny or plush while at the same time recognizing "not the right thing for me right now" or even "not for me ever," be it a dance workshop in January or the many amazing music/theatre presentations streaming this month. What's already on the laptop, let alone in the house, could occupy me spiritually and possibly even profitably for years.

    . . . and yes, I realize that this has been the theme of virtually every blog entry I've managed to post (and many of the cards/letters I put in the mail) the past umpteen years. What can I say? It's who I am -- and this year, of course, has exacerbated my ever-present awareness of how limited our time is on Earth. My dad died when he was 58, after literally decades of my parents warning me about our family's poor health history. He and most of his nine siblings succumbed to cancer before I turned thirty.

    It turns out the charity we specified in my aunt's obituary doesn't have a field for memorial designations on its web form, and my cousin is fine with Restaurant Opportunities Centers United as an alternative. So that was one needle moved. To my delight, a longtime mainly-online friend (our in-person meetings have included a regatta and a bachelorette party, but for 20+ years, it's been mainly mailing lists and blogs and emails, initially sparked by our mutual interest in Dorothy L. Sayers) donated to the Jewish Liberation Fund in my honor for Hanukkah. I used more oil in one night than I usually pour all month to deep-fry falafel. It wasn't a particular success, but the BYM approved of my riffs on Tavern's kale salad (which I learned to make at home mainly by adapting Nigella Lawson's similar recipe for spinach salad with pinenuts and sultanas). I have pulled together the ingredients for making bourbon balls, but somehow we have like three bags of boba instead of the powdered sugar I thought was still on one of those shelves. Derp.

    Still, holiday observances and preparations will continue. We do not have a tree, but one of the sunroom residents is servng admirably as a Christmoose:
    Christmoose . . .

    I have been rereading parts of Stephanie Laurens's Osbaldestone series, and also Jackie Lau's One Bed for Christmas (the latter because another woman I met via the Sayers list just received a T-Rex costume, which happens to be a Thing in that story).

    There's more to write - here, in cards, for submissions, and elsewhere. My tulsi-galangal experiment turned out okay, and the mason jar of lemon-juniper infused vodka smells pleasantly potent. There is an Ailey groove to get back into (thank you Universe and friends for the nudges in that direction). But the next business at hand is a nap. Pacing matters. :) This entry was originally posted at https://zirconium.dreamwidth.org/169894.html.

    Dec. 8th, 2020

    overlapping bones

    This sample showed up in today's deliveriites:

    sample from the Vagabond Tabby

    (I'd ordered some gifts from her this year, including several bags of Wicked Girls Saving Ourselves salts.)

    In a somewhat related observation, it's been lovely to see recent kudos for drabbles and fics I wrote years ago, across fandoms -- TDIR, HP, FAKE, Wimsey, and Laurens-Hamilton (posted, we'll note, years before Hamilton hit Broadway, because I became obsessed with John Laurens back when Batman portrayed him in a miniseries about George Washington) among them. Some things have held up reasonably well (it was nice to revisit my own memories of London while rereading Other Work for Us To Do [TDIR, Will/Bran]); others now carry the sting of disappointment (in JKR, in Rahm, in men's tennis . . .). I still have all the reference notes and books I collected in the course of starting "Not as Dumb," but knowing what we do now about police corruption and brutality, I don't think I'll ever regain the need-to-write that had me attempting to tell that story in the first place.

    Which of course means disappointing other people in turn. Not that the stakes are anywhere near alike, but the passage in Bujold's Civil Campaign where two characters talk about broken vows and surviving -- yeah, that resonates a lot. It's something I circle around in my poetry sometimes. (And if you're wondering what's new in that realm, Autumn Sky has published some pieces recently.)

    On a domestic note:

    The BYM: *gives me a look*
    Me: What?
    BYM: I don't know. You look like you're wondering about whether you're going to have to kick someone's ass.
    Me: Hmm. That's my default state, isn't it.
    BYM: "Resting Worried-You're-Going-To-Have-To-Kick-Someone's-Ass Face?"
    Me: Ayup.
    BYM: Hmm.
    Me: *starts transcribing conversation*
    BYM: *tries to peer over top of my laptop screen from other side of kitchen counter*
    BYM: *ambles over to my side and grins into my shoulder when he sees that I am indeed reporting this* This entry was originally posted at https://bronze-ribbons.dreamwidth.org/420786.html. I see comments at DW, IJ, and LJ (when notifications are working, anyway), but not on feeds.

    Dec. 1st, 2020

    "Monteverdi? No one ever sings Monteverdi for me!"

    - Thomas Peck [NYT obit], responding delightedly to my first selection for my Grant Park Symphony Chorus audition

    Grant Park Symphony Chorus

    Living Bread

    Eleven years later, I'm rehearsing Monteverdi,
    Byrd and Palestrina, taking care to ingest the texts
    so that, in singing "panis vivus"
    my mouth will be rich with the wonder therein.
    Eleven years later, I'm not the musician
    (not yet) you thought I could become, but what I have managed
    to keep comes in part from the whispers and the rants
    you hurled at the chorus that hot and lively summer.
    Eleven years later, I've even less in confidence
    yet sing with far more knowledge, burdened with the silence
    of doors I shut precipitately, courses scuttled in haste--
    nothing fatal, nothing even truly wasted--
    but struggling afresh with pitch and recollecting your kindness,
    I promise anew to my future and your ghost:
    my voice being made for psalms and stories of love,
    I could not choose the substance of the gift
    but I can shape it.

    (First posted on World AIDS Day 2002. Still true.) This entry was originally posted at https://zirconium.dreamwidth.org/169238.html.

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