Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Soupy Things

Okay. So I need a halibut carcass. What else is new? Every recipe in The Soup Peddler's Slow & Difficult Soups has a couple of ingredients I can't lay my hands on at the present time. The recipes themselves are not too difficult, but I have no fish monger or any halibut carcasses hanging around. I'm going to keep searching. The Alaskan Salmon Chowder sounds excellent. The Finlander even bought me a real, honest to goodness, blue enameled cast iron soup pot to aid me in my culinary schemes. The manufacturer's advertisement for the pot promises that great things will come from cooking with their wares. The soup pot looks a little depressed, however, sitting empty on the stove . I'm going to cook some hot apple cider in it today just to show it it's not my fault. I really can make a few simple things.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Refraction Two

How important is it for the reader of a poem to understand the writer’s intent? Darned if I know. Poetry is driving me crazy. I think I should stick to prose. Prosaically speaking, this is what I want to say:

My son Tom pulled me up out of Indiana for an evening of dinner and jazz in Kalamazoo. He still comes home most weekends. He makes breakfast, wrestles the dogs, does his laundry. His presence bends the light in every room.

We wanted to hear the jazz pianist/composer Lyle Mays play at the Union, but before Mays took the stage, if he ever did, I had to make my way back home. From across the room Mays, with his hair pulled back in a ponytail, looked a little like the late-bassist Jaco Pastorius. Both artists played with The Pat Metheny Group. Maybe the connection has clouded my view. I've looked for a decent Mays video on YouTube, but haven't come up with anything. While looking for Mays I came across some beautiful Jaco footage, at least to my eyes. Here’s a link to Jaco playing Portrait of Tracy, which is musical poetry, I think. Keep in mind that everything you are hearing is coming from a bass guitar. Portrait of Tracy.

Listening to Jaco play Portrait of Tracy you get a glimpse of the feelings behind the notes, but you don't get to see the exact picture. So, is this the idea behind some poetry? Maybe. I just don't know.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


For the first time in forever I won't be at home on my doorstep passing out candy on Halloween. I'll be at class, wearing my student face, wishing I was home. Halloween is a tradition, a chance to see every little face in my neighborhood, and the big faces, too. Oh, well. My husband and daughter are going to to do the honors of passing out candy to the parade of faces that float by. As for me, there is always next year.

I will not be denied the Halloween movies, however. Sunday night we watched Tim Burton's The Corpse Bride. I love the statements that man makes with color. I want to watch Alfred Hitchcock's The Trouble With Harry, but my family has taken my NetFlix privileges away. Something about keeping movies for three weeks and never watching them. I'm hoping they'll get it for me, but you never know. They say I should try something new for a change. I'm not sure I trust them. After all, they're the ones who showed me YouTube.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Scientific Relationships

I'm no whiz at science, but I love Daniel Goleman's books that explore different kinds of intelligence and the inner workings of the brain. A few years ago I was impressed by his book Emotional Intelligence. He has a new book out, Social Intelligence The New Science of Human Relationships. You can get some decent info on the book from last week's Newsweek and today's NPR's Talk of the Nation. It sounds like he has some interesting things to say about empathy, touch, the gaze, developing rapport, what happens in our brains when we connect with someone... He talks about the ability to cope with continuing stress and even DNA changes. It's on my list of things to read.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Creeping Things

There is a creeping suspicion that I have turned to the dark side. Relax. It’s not quite that bad. I’ve just been peeling some old skin away. Snake skin? Maybe. We’ll have to wait and see. I’m reevaluating old stories, seeing what I should keep, what I should toss away.

The guy on NPR today talked about “the creeping force of realism.” Finally. Thank God. Is that the sun I see? Should I wear sun block? Even the poets are flinging realism around, clean, hard, beautiful punches. It feels like life is at last overpowering the creeping death that has been infecting everything.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Collected Thoughts

Thanks for this, Dan. I'll be praying for your eternal soul.


Will I go to hell for thinking of Bugs Bunny while listening to Tchaikovsky? What should I think about while listening to Tchaikovsky?

The cookbook came: The Soup Peddler's Slow & Difficult Soups, something about fast food and the devolution of the human soul.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Sea of Clouds

We drove under, through and over this sea of clouds in the Smokies. Living in northern Indiana I sometimes forget that life exists above the clouds. Every once in a while it's a good idea to reacquaint myself with the idea that there are higher and lower elevations than my front door.

Monday, October 16, 2006


the dog
his laundry
the light
in every room

Mingus Mill

At the end of the day, exhausted, we came to the Mingus Mill. Sorry, T, not Charles Mingus. It was much more peaceful, much more serene. I considered taking a nap under the trees, but the people...

They still grind flour at the mill, but the stuff they sell is from elsewhere. Health Department rules...

Friday, October 13, 2006


There’s a message on my answering machine. The man is too good. He knows just when to call, just what to say. Face-to-face isn’t necessary. A message will do. My coat is still zipped, my hands are still numb when I push “play.”

“This is Bob. I was wondering if you needed a load of wood. I thought I’d call you first before I asked around.”

In August I noticed we still had half a rack of wood. I was even thinking we could maybe get by through the whole winter that way. But Bob doesn’t call me in August. He calls me in October on the first snowy day. So I’m dialing his number, ordering a full load of wood, definitely more than I need. The man has timing is all I can say.

All the World's a Stage

But if you'd rather kick back and stay in the audience, that's okay, too. Just don't snore. That's rude. Here's my totally biased opinion of a few people worth watching this weekend :

Emily Laudeman is down in Nappanee, Indiana at the Round Barn in Fiddler on the Roof. This might be your last chance to catch her at the Round Barn before she flies away.

Rebecca Waring-Crane is at the Firehouse (South Bend Civic Theater, Indiana) this weekend in Light Up The Sky. I have a feeling we'll be hearing more from her as time rolls by.

Tom Keranen will be at the Miller Auditorium in Kalamazoo, Michigan on Sunday, doing some sort of classical Tchaikovsky thing. Okay, it's not jazz. But it's Tom. What can I say?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Northern Thoughts

The snow is extremely early. My son, the Man-Child, is in Kalamazoo. My son's winter coat is in Indiana. I can go to the closet and look at this coat that I bought him last year in anticipation of Kalamazoo. There is nothing more I can do until Sunday, when I will see his face and hear his music once again. I will think warm thoughts, however. Is this how men become men, by their mothers leaving them out in the cold? I don't like it. No. I don't like it one bit.

So, until Sunday, I will read. Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis once again is calling my name. It has snow and spiders and all sorts of things. It deserves a thorough re-read.

Falling Waters

(For Jesus & Jennifer) The yurt link:


They have better pictures than I took.

Another View

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Upward and Onward

Live Cow

For Jesus. This cow was dead the first time we passed it. Or at least it appeared that way. So I picked up a buckeye I found on the ground and put it in my pocket to remember that I saw a dead cow along the way. I didn't want a dead cow picture, but just a reminder that I'm going to see dead cows occasionally along my way. Then we came back and the cow wasn't dead. Gene opined that it looked like it couldn't stand up. I agreed. We started to walk away. I turned around for one last look and the cow was trotting away. I kept the buckeye in my pocket to remind myself I know nothing about cows.

Mountain View

Southern Comfort

We slid down south for some southern comfort. The air settles a little more unpredictably than it does in more northern climes. We met an historian who had been traveling around, living out of his red panel truck for the past 18 years. He had a new companion, a white rabbit, who was living with him. Another historian, a young guy on the far side of stoned, showed us how to make fire with flint and straw. He also could demonstrate tomahawk throwing, but watching him make the fire was enough.

Further down the road we came to mountains and a good deal of fog. We climbed up and over the mountains and under, over and through the fog. Maybe the fog is called clouds. I don’t know. I thought of a man who keeps telling me to walk in the direction I intend to go. He lives in Indiana. Perhaps he hasn’t been to the mountains.

At night we slept on a hill above a pond in a grove of trees. There was a herd of elk roaming a valley outside of an old Methodist church. A few people brought potluck. The outhouse there wasn’t too good. There was an old schoolhouse in the valley. Another house pulled me back 35 years. They say the form of the house is called a dog trot. A hallway runs right down the center of it and it is open to the world at both ends. A dog could trot right through it. My aunt, long dead, told me to use the bedpan if I had to pee in the middle of the night. Rattlesnakes came up on the dog trot and getting to the outhouse wasn’t worth my while. We didn’t see any rattlesnakes. There were lots of dogs.

We took the back roads on the way back north. The farmers were all out harvesting, scattering tobacco on the roadsides, hanging it to dry in open black barns. A large orange harvest moon, a sliver past full, kept watch over us as we made our way back home, becoming paler and more distant the further north we drove.

Cataloochee Valley

Elk don't really care about rain. This guy is part of a herd of 25 that was reintroduced into the Smokies in 2001. It was really cool to see him just sitting around in the wild. He might even be the guy who left a huge pile of elk shit up the hill in the cemetery that the Finlander stepped in. Apparently elk hang out in cemeteries, too.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Mr. Venus' Plan

Mr. Venus could only repeat that it was his fixed intention to betake himself to the paths of science, and to walk in the same all the days of his life; not dropping down upon his fellow creatures until they were deceased, and then only to articulate them to the best of his humble ability.

Charles Dickens, Our Mutual Friend

Benign Little Addiction

The Finlander’s benign little addiction takes some odd turns. He’s crouching behind a mausoleum at the back side of a cemetery, somewhere in southern Indiana, plugging his electric hot pot full of cemetery water into an unguarded power outlet. I’m in front of the mausoleum, making sandwiches on the trunk of the car, pouring his home-roasted coffee beans from a baggie into a small, hand-crank coffee grinder, grinding away. I’m a little nervous about what he’s doing back there. I don’t mind stealing stories from the dead, but their electricity is another thing. Plus, the caretaker’s house is there in full view. I tell him the water is hot enough. I want him to unplug the darn thing before we get caught and carted off to jail. He doesn’t look worried, but he unplugs the hot pot and brings it up to the trunk of the car. I’ve got the ground beans waiting in this Swiss press thing he uses to make the brew. We eat our sandwiches while the coffee steeps, then we pour the coffee into our mugs and slide out of the cemetery, down the road. I wait until the cemetery is a few miles behind us before bring the cup to my lips. I’m forced to admit it was worth it; it was an awesome cup of Jo.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Mr. Venus

I’m drawn to Mr. Venus, Charles Dickens’ articulator of bones. I won’t go so far to say it’s love at first sight, that place is reserved for my children. There is no question what I felt when I saw those two for the first time. But that's another matter indeed. Still, the feeling for Mr. Venus is strong He and I partake of a certain communion that cannot be denied.

Mr. Venus is in dire straights, stuck between love of his work, articulating bones, and love of a living, breathing creature, who shuns his advances. She doesn’t "want to be seen in that boney light.” Oh, Mr. Venus, don’t I know? For what is a writer but an articulator of bones? We steal pieces from the living; we scrounge around in graveyards appropriating pieces from the dead.

I was shocked one day to see a woman I had scavenged eating lunch at a restaurant. She looked amazingly well. Her hair was purple. Her fingers glittered with a variety of rings. She was remarried. And all this after I had borrowed her husband, appropriated her senseless legs. She didn’t seem to miss the items I had stolen, but she probably wouldn’t have greeted my so kindly if she knew.

Oh, Mr. Venus, why are we so in love with the work that we do? Why do we go into graveyards with pencils and shovels to see what we can dig up to fit into our latest schemes? Will our lovers ever forgive us for our thieving ways, for seeing things as we do?

Sex? No Way! Way!

I still haven't had time to wrestle the computer to the ground and make it show links! Jesus (that's Hey Zeus) is opening up a great conversation. Check it out and maybe even join in: http://indianajesus.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Sky is Falling

In which Chicken Little, smelling smoke, romantically imagines herself a moth or even a phoenix, only to awake and find herself an ordinary fowl roasting on the grill. Thinking quickly, she abandons her field guides and invests in cookbooks.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Political Views

Once, twice, three times, maybe. But four times is enough to piss me off.

Chris Chocola must be very far behind in the polls. Four times in the past two weeks a “survey” company (MPA or maybe NPA, not quite sure, can’t find them on the web, blah, blah, blah, blah) has tried to push my vote into his court. “Would it influence your vote if you knew Joe Donnelly…”

The Finlander tells me they’re Push Polls, not surveys at all. Duh – nice to know their name, though. I keep telling them, in rather stern terms, that they’re wasting my/their time. Their candidate is toast. I just hope it’s costing Chocola a lot of money to harass me in this way. And come November...

The question is: why do I have to blog about this? Why doesn’t the legitimate news media cover it? Duh. Again.

Sunday, October 01, 2006


The Finlander and I just celebrated anniversary 21. He’s sitting on the couch with his laptop, ordering green coffee beans from Ethiopia, wondering if the computer battery is one of those that is going to explode. He catches my eye and says, “I like our house.” He’s not talking about our house, but I know what he means. Our house is a fixer-upper. We no sooner start one project than another one rears its ugly head. Still, in the midst of this, he likes our house.

I’m guilty of forgetting that moment by moment, word by word, silence by silence we are building the houses in which we live. I would have liked to have inherited a nice house in the country with a large orchard full of pear and apple trees, some grape vines to make jelly and wine from, a barn, a few chickens, maybe a peacock or two, and a big front porch where I could read a good book and drink sweet tea. I would have liked to have assurances that the things we hold on our laps are not going to explode while we are innocently ordering coffee beans. But there are no assurances, no inheritances. Instead, moment by moment, word by word, silence by silence, I’m creating the place where, explosions or no, I have no choice but to live.