Saturday, December 31, 2005

Awfully Serious Caffeine

I changed my template for the New Year and then realized it is the same template that Alison at Awfully Serious uses. So maybe I should change it to something else ...

I made sushi for New Year's Eve. My house is pretty clean.

I got an email today that my poem, "Prayer", from Redactions was featured on Verse Daily on Christmas.

I love to make New Year's resolutions. I may post some of them.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

High Society

It's 2:30 and I'm still in my bathrobe. No, I'm not sick. I've been working all day setting up an online class for next term. It is slow going but I think I'm making progress. But the holiday slacking off is drawing to a close, I fear.

This morning I watched about an hour of High Society, a movie from 1956 with Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra, and Bing Crosby. Music by Cole Porter. I recommend it.

Today's collage is from an ATC swap I'm participating in. The theme is "birds" so how could I refuse? I made six and I will get five back, in mid-January. The last time I participated in a swap I didn't receive any cards that I liked as much as the ones I'd sent out - I don't know if that means I'm an egomaniac or what.

I organized my office last night. I decided alphabetizing the poetry books would be more of an exercise in procrastination than anything else, so I just grouped them all together. It was interesting to come across the books of poetry I bought this year, thinking I just had to have them. I think "The Clerk's Tale" by Spencer Reece and "Profane Halo" by Gillian Conoley were probably the ones I read the most from. I was reading some of Tessa Rumsey's "The Return Message" last night and I am going to spend some more time with it. I really think you have to own a book of poetry for a few years until you really get to know it well.

It's been a while since I read a really great novel. I started "On Beauty" this summer because everyone raved about it, but really, I found it rather dull. I didn't finish it. I've almost finished "Dad Sad He Saw You at the Mall", by Ken Sparling, which has bad reviews on Amazon. I like it though - the narrative is very disjointed, but it works for me. I think the last good book of fiction I read and finished was The Girl with the Pearl Earring.

We are having a New Year's eve party, so come over! And Monday I believe I'm having breakfast with Zanni, Daneen and Michele. Zanni and I can have a contest to see who will blog about it first.

I am going to go run three miles now.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Boxing Day

Listening to Mozart on WNYC-FM. More Mozart in 2006, please.

Max said today, "the day after Christmas is the happiest day of the year."

It can now be told - I'm into knitting! Couldn't mention this before since I was knitting a scarf for Michael for Christmas. I don't know how much knitting 2006 will bring, once the term begins. And will I ever progress beyond the simple scarf?

I bought new running shoes today at the mall. It has been quite a few years since I went to the mall the day after Christmas, and it will be many years before I do that again. It is the unfortunate truth that out in the world beyond my cozy house, it is no longer Christmas. People are trudging through the mall looking decidely un-Yule like.

So I was pleased to return home and find it's still Christmas. The tree is still up, the carols are still playing, and Christmas candles are still burning.

Michael gave me diamond earrings for Christmas and I think I won't ever take them off.

I am reading Alan Alda's memoir, "Never Have Your Dog Stuffed." It is engaging and a very quick read - I started it this morning and I think I should finish it by tomorrow morning. A good choice for a holiday read!

Janine sent me some awesome poems. I started a longer poem today, "Blueprint". I like it. I finished three of the sonnets last week.

My four-year old niece insisted the stuffed pink horses I gave her for Christmas were unicorns. I asked her how she could tell they were unicorns. She said "because they have fur." I said, "don't horses have fur?" She said, "unicorns have MORE fur than horses."

Of course.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 19, 2005

I am Erica Kane

Someone is trying to prove Adam Chandler is crazy so they can take control of his business or something and some stuffy distinguished gentleman is telling Erica he's in love with her, but Erica doesn't trust him and is telling Tad Martin to please continue his surveillance of this man.

I have no idea what's going on in Pine Valley, but I try to watch at least a few episodes of All My Children while I'm on Christmas vacation. It's a tradition! And I'm so thrilled, I took the Which All My Children Babe Are You Most Like quiz, and the results said I'm most like Erica. Of course!

Kids had the day off from school but I think they'll have school tomorrow - I hope so, I have shopping to do. Laura wrapped lots of presents today. Some of the lights are off on the tree. My bed is unmade, but I did 45 minutes of Tae-Bo today - much to the dog's chagrin (no walk no walk ruff ruff we are going to sleep some more ruff ruff)

I made cookies today for the kid's teachers. Russian teacakes, very easy. Cream a cup of butter with half cup of powdered sugar. Add half a teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of vanilla and two and one fourth cups of flour. Roll into balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Cook at 375 degrees for about ten minutes. Then you roll them in powdered sugar when they're done. Very good and very easy.

I need to start class planning for next term but I'm putting it off. Next week!

Cecelia sent me Laton Carter's Leaving, which won the Oregon Book Award for poetry this year. I'm enjoying it - it reminds me a bit of Doreen Gildroy, who I've mentioned here before. Here's some lines from one of my favorite poems in the book, "Between":
It doesn't consume me. Or if it does, not
entirely. As much as I'd like it, I'm
not outside myself: where she sees me.

Self-consciousness, alone, protracted,
is eventually a form of vanity. I want seeing into things
not to dislocate me. And it's that: want.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Christmas is Coming

I got poems back today from a magazine that has had them since June. But they asked to see more - and you know, I really think they meant it. So I will send them more.

Slowly getting Christmas cards out. I read today that in the 19th century, the British post office used to deliver cards on Christmas morning. I wonder if that's true. Also, postman in Victorian England were called "robins" because their uniforms were red.

There's just no way around it, Christmas is rapidly approaching. A week from tomorrow is Christmas Eve!

However, I just vacuumed the upstairs so I'm feeling like everything's under control. Amazing what a little vacuuming can do.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Bohemian Like You

Max has just informed me it's 28 degrees outside. I believe him. I'm going for a walk with the dogs right after he leaves.

We saw the Dandy Warhols last night at the Wonder Ballroom. They were great! I'm glad we went. I have to say I think I liked their concert better than Death Cab for Cutie's, even though Courtney seemed to get a little too wrapped up in the droning sound his guitar can make at the end of certain songs. I am putting them on my Ipod so I can listen to them on my walk. I like bands who are aware of the fact that they are putting on a show! Performers. I didn't buy a t-shirt but now I'm wishing I had. Now I want to see Dig!, the film about the Dandys and another band.

I believe I saw Jonathan Nicholas from the Oregonian at the show last night, so I'm going to email and say, was that you? Was he there because he loves the Dandys and has posters of them all over his office? Or was he on assignment? What is his favorite Dandys song? I'm thinking maybe "Bohemian Like You" - hey Jonathan, ME TOO!

I revised one of my sonnets yesterday, but now it's stuck at twelve lines. I wrote another one really fast yesterday. I am going to try to have a set of seven done by the time the semester starts again - January 9. I want to send them out, I've decided, but they have a ways to go.

Enrollment seems to be going up in all my classes for next term. This is a good thing. Next term I will be teaching more classes for the second or third time than ever before - meaning there is only one class that is entirely new to me. The others I have taught before and I think that will make for a better time for all of us.

Laura and I are going caroling with her Girl Scout troup this evening, at a retirement center. I will try to get Max to go with us.

I want to learn Latin. Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum viditur.

Okay, I told myself last night I was going to walk every day of winter break from here on out. So off I go, into the freezing cold. If you don't hear from me, come look for me. I promise I won't try to lick any frozen flagpoles.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Wonderful Life

We saw the one-man performance of It's a Wonderful Life last night. Mark Setlock was fantastic, and the set was great - all of the key locations from the movie on one stage. Dinner afterwards and then dessert at Papa Hayden's. A lovely time!

I bought a pair of three inch black high heels last night - the highest heels I think I've ever worn! I feel very glamorous and a little Anne Sexton-ish in them. A little hard to walk in, but worth it when you're out on the town! (and don't have to walk very far).

Max lost the first three games he played in the chess tournament - but he was playing against middle-schoolers (who obviously know the game of chess a little better than Max's mother). Then he decided to play in the "Intermediate" category, rather than "Advanced", and he won the next four games. I have never been in a school cafeteria while fifteen chess games were being played at the same time.

I worked on some sonnets this weekend, and decided I don't want to write a crown of sonnets, because the last line of one sonnet becomes the first line of the next, which sets up the rhyme scheme, and I don't want the rhyme scheme dictated that way. However, I'm taking the number seven from the crown, and I'm going to write a seven sonnet sequence. Most lines in my sonnets are ten syllables, but they're not iambic. Yesterday I checked out the Penguin Book of the Sonnet from the library. I couldn't figure out at first where I had gotten the rhyme scheme from, but now I see that mine are French sonnets. Mais oui! I realize I may decide to abandon the rhyme scheme entirely at some point, but I'm not ready to do that just yet.

Laura and I walked three miles with the dogs yesterday. I have no excuse not to walk three miles again this morning - I have the time. But I am drinking coffee out of my Charlie Brown Christmas mug, and thinking of things I might do instead.

Friday, December 09, 2005


Tomorrow it's two weeks until Christmas eve, so I'm glad I got some shopping done today.

I also made some Christmas cards - made color copies of ATCs on nice paper and they came out quite nice I think!

Max has a chess tournament tomorrow - a practice tournament. He beats me at chess about 90% of the time. I wonder if this is an indicator of how well he will do tomorrow? Or am I just an incredibly horrible chess player?

I had coffee with Daneen and talked to Janine on the phone. Janine says it snowed all day yesterday in Iowa City. I want snow here! Janine is far away but - like all real friends in their absence - she is always with me.

Daneen said I should write a crown of sonnets, since I've been writing sonnets. A crown! It sounds kind of tricky but I may just try it in January. Then it could be a January tradition? I have been working on a poem that is not a sonnet.

Daneen was nominated for a Pushcart prize too, so we congratulated ourselves.

Janine told me about Like Wind Loves a Window, a book by Andrea Baker. She says she loves it. I'm going to look for a copy. Words and images together - now how could that be bad?

I learned today my mother's favorite animal is a polar bear. Polar bears are one of my favorites too! Who knew?

It's 9:30, probably too late to make Christmas cookies. But it's exactly what I feel like doing.

Maybe tomorrow.

We are getting our tree tomorrow. And maybe a small one for downstairs. Two trees! Who knew?

Line from an Andrea Baker poem, found here:

We are damp with life at the edges of our own enclosure


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Christmas Carols

When I was a kid, we had a Simon and Garfunkel record that had a song on it called "Seven O'Clock News/Silent Night". Simon and Garfunkel sang "Silent Night", while an anchorman read the news - it was the 60's, so the news was about Martin Luther King, and the Vietnam war, and Richard Speck, the man who murdered nine nurses in Chicago in 1966. I always found the juxtaposition of the two tracks - the news and a Christmas carol - chilling.

And I've discovered a new, 21st century take on it. Open your iTunes and start playing Christmas music. Then open your Internet browser and read Drudge Report or CNN or MSNBC or another news site, while the Christmas music plays. Do it now, then come back ....

.... weird, isn't it? It's great if you just need a break from all the holiday cheer and want to freak yourself out a little. Pretty sobering. I'm trying to find the perfect song/news story combination. Listening to Tony Bennet sing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" while reading about the man who was shot in the Atlanta airport was especially sad.


Tonight after I picked Laura up from Girl Scouts we drove around a little and looked at Christmas lights.

I recycled a lot of paper tonight. It's amazing the amount of paper a writing class generates, every term. Handouts and rough drafts and quizzes oh my.

It's very very cold out, but I think the dogs may actually become depressed if they don't have a walk soon. I don't know how I'll be able to tell if they're depressed, because all they do is sleep anyway. But I am beginning to sense the reproach in the way they sleep, especially when they lie right in front of my office door so it's hard not to trip over them. It seems to say, we would be enjoying this sleep a lot more if someone had taken a mere fifteen minutes out of her day - we're not asking for a three mile walk, we know it's cold, we know you're busy - to walk us.

So off I go.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

No More Classes

Last class met tonight. Now it's just finishing up the grading. Term is breathing its last breaths, oh almost over yes.

Dogs are coming in and out of my office, panting and looking around, circling the room, looking anxious. They do this when they haven't had a walk in a few days. They wonder, will it be tonight? Yes it's cold, but it's been two days! Take pity on us! We're dogs, what else do we have to live for?

I think I need bifocals. Reading while wearing my contacts has become rather difficult. But I could be imagining things.

I checked out a bunch of poetry books at the library today, including Olena Kalytiak Davis, Bin Ramke, Joshua Beckman, and Terese Svoboda. All but the Svoboda I've read before. And Kenneth Burke's Philosophy of Literary Form, which I know I will not read cover to cover but will perhaps peruse. Yes.

Max needs the computer to look up ESPN stats.

Here's a little Svoboda for you - whoever you are, reading this - from her poem "Pilgrim's Progress":
You run toward a light,
a cartoon idea?
Running forces its burning,
fuels its whiteness.

Such light capitalizes:
All Good as in a cafe.
Each lifted sole
is a moon left on.

Sunday, December 04, 2005


Today I'm responding to the rough drafts of research papers by my upper-division students. They are interesting papers, but I am looking forward to sitting and reading something that I don't have to quickly formulate an opinion on, for the purpose of providing "feedback" to the writer.

The craft fair was fun. I bought some soap. Lots of crafty stuff that seems slightly overpriced, but nice to look at. I can't imagine those crafters support themselves with their wares. I wonder what their day jobs are.

Laura and I went to a toy store. I bought a present for my niece, who is 4. It's pink!

I wrote yet another draft of a poem.

The best way to listen to Christmas music is to load all your 134 Christmas songs onto your ipod, and then press "shuffle songs", so Christmas songs are interspersed with all your other music on your ipod. It keeps you from going crazy with the Christmas music. But you still get to enjoy it. Like this:
Bob Dylan song
Iron and Wine song
Jo Dee Messina song
Shins song
Decemberists song
Stan Getz song
Beck song

It's great!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

First December Posting - Rabbit Rabbit

I never remember to say "rabbit rabbit" on the first day of the month. But I know it's good luck.

I have finished reading all of the essays for one of my classes. Tomorrow I move on to rough drafts of research essays for another class. But the end is in sight.

Tonight Michael and I are going to watch "Persuasion". Tomorrow Laura and I are going to Riches at Rimsky's, which promises lots of crafts by local women artists. I may not buy anything, but I like the Rimsky-Korsakoffee house, and sometimes craft fairs are fun!

I have downloaded all of my Christmas music on to my IPOD, exactly 134 songs. I like the song "Love's What You're Getting for Christmas" by Bobby Sherman, just for its nostalgic appeal. When I was a kid we had a compiliation of Christmas music, that I believe was put out by a gas station chain, and that song was on it. I think I've mentioned childhood memories a few times lately - it must be something about the holiday season.

I am very eager to read something that is not a student essay. However, I have discovered that requiring freshman comp. students to use semi-colons and dashes and colons in an essay actually does give their writing more sophistication. It's like making someone write a sestina - interesting things happen! So, even in freshman composition, form shapes content.

Right now I'm burning votive candles and listening to Cecelia Bartoli sing something from Don Giovanni.

Should I ask for the collected letters of Robert Lowell for Christmas? Or would I not find his letters all that interesting? I don't read him much anymore, but I like reading poet's letters. A.K. Weatherhead, my favorite English professor from my undergraduate days, always had great stories about Robert Lowell. And I can still remember the way Weatherhead would recite the last line of Lowell's "Skunk Hour": "and will not scare." I have the letters of Elizabeth Bishop, but I've only read parts of them. I've read all of Anne Sexton : A Self-Portrait in Letters, more than once. I think I almost like her letters better than her poetry.

Okay I just found this excerpt from a letter Lowell wrote to Ezra Pound, and yes I believe I do want to read more:
I am 19, a freshman at Harvard, and some relation, I don't know what, to Amy Lowell. All my life I have been eccentric according to normal standards. I had violent passions for various pursuits usually taking the form of collecting: tools; names of birds; marbles; catching butterflies, snakes, turtles etc; buying books on Napoleon. None of this led anywhere, I was more interested in collecting large numbers than in developing them. I caught over thirty turtles and put them in a well where they died of insufficient feeding. I won more agates and marbles than anyone in school, and gradually amassed hundreds of soldiers; finally leaving them to clutter up unreachable shelves. I could identify scores of birds, at first on charts, later it led me into nature. Sometime overcome by the collecting mania I would steal things I wanted.

Good stuff.

Next week new poems will be finished - I can feel it in the air.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

No Snow, Band Concert

I decided I really didn't like yesterday's atc so I took it down... I need to make some more.

Also need to finish some poems - have too many drafts lying around.

However ... NO SNOW. It was just a cruel joke on the part of the newscasters. It was a slow news day, they were tired of talking about Iraq, someone got the idea in the Wednesday morning staff meeting: "let's tell everyone it's going to snow!". Flurry of newsroom activity. Sending reporters to distant suburbs - or at least, convincing the viewers that's where they were. I imagine all of them were standing in the parking lot of the news station, looking bundled up and chilly, when really they'd just stepped out for a smoke break and someone handed them a microphone - "pretend like it's freezing!"

I will not be so trusting next time. I'll believe there's going to be snow when I see it on my lawn.

Laura has a band concert tonight - her first. She looked sweet in her white blouse and black skirt. It reminded me of when my mother used to have concerts. The same outfit. I know this could only happen in a totalatarian state, but wouldn't it be cool if everyone wore black and white, all the time? Everyone.

More of my students know the flight number of the plane that went down on the T.V. show LOST than who Bush's Secretary of State is. How do I know this? We played a game today (next to last day of class, remember - besides, it was educational!) The questions were all grammar and punctuation related, except the trivia questions which teams had to answer correctly in order to gain control of the game (I won't go into the rules, because I made them up in about 5 minutes). Students got very excited! They acted very offended when I asked them where Bing Crosby was born (Tacoma!). They didn't know who he was.

They also didn't know who Bush's Chief of Staff is. But they could name all five of the Spice Girls.

I am going to miss my students.