Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Snow Watch

The possiblity of snow has this house very excited! I have been checking the weather forecasts online and on television every hour or so. I wonder what it's like in parts of the country where snow is a more regular occurence - like Illinois. I imagine they don't interview children there on the five o'clock news and ask them about what they might possibly do if it snows, like they do here. Or perhaps they do.

The term is so close to being over. I'm switching into high grading mode here - lots of essays to read. But then, it will be winter break, and no classes until early January!

Janine sent me an awesome poem today. It must be in the air this week - poems from Zanni, Janine and Cecelia. It makes me want to clear the decks and get busy!

I want to wake up in the morning to a backyard full of snow. I even mentioned it when I said grace tonight at the table - I prayed for snow! We don't say grace every night, but at least once or twice a week.

When I used to say grace growing up, we would all hold hands - and I do that now with my family. The only difference is when I was a kid, my sister would try to dig her nails into my hand so hard that I would scream out during grace. Most of the time I was very stoic and didn't make a sound.

I'm not sure why we used to do that to each other. But it's a nice memory.

Tuesday is fennel day

I decided to get adventurous with vegetables this evening and bought fennel, chard, celery root, eggplant and leeks. I ate some of them. I think the chard is definitely a soup kind of vegetable.

Took a walk with the dogs tonight. Since it's not yet December, the frequency of Christmas lights in people's yards is a little past the novelty stage. It's fun watching the progression from now until Christmas, as more and more yards add lights until the neighborhood becomes a frenzy of blue lights and inflatable things that get knocked over by the wind and look better in the Sunday ad insert anyway. And really, I don't think a six foot leering plastic snowman can really spread as much holiday cheer as a small shrub by the front door, covered with white lights.

There's no WAY that this is REALLY Laurel Snyder. Nobody looks that good after just having a baby. Yes, I'm fairly certain, she hired a model to play that part.

Joshua Clover and Joel Brouer review poetry in the New York Times. I smiled when I read Joshua's "Poetry often stands accused of being prose laid out funny".

Tomorrow my freshman composition students have to write an in-class essay, a rhetorical analysis.

Many geese overhead lately, making lots of noise. I wonder if they are trying to tell me something.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Monday is Zanni Day!

It's Monday and all I feel like doing is putting up Christmas decorations! Laura helped me put a pine garland on the railing in the living room, with red and gold ornaments. Very festive!

My friend Zanni had a poem accepted at the Iowa Review! I have a picture of Daneen and Zanni on my bulletin board - I will have to get her to autograph it when she's here at Christmas, now that she's going to be ... famous! The atc today is one I sent Zanni last week - except I added a little hand charm to it, after I scanned it.

Laura and I saw Jo Dee Messina in concert last night - we were in the sixth row! It was a great concert.

This is my last week of classes at one school, and the next to last week at the other. I scraped ice off my car last night at the Max station after the concert. I would like to stay home today and build a fire.

Michael has a new blog - check it out at Fortress 'Merica.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Thanksgiving Eve

I made two pies today. I'm making another one tomorrow. The pecan one I made today, sadly, burned.

I also made pumpkin bread with chocolate chips in it.

I bought a hat so I can walk in the cold. And black velvet Isaac Mizrahi pants. So now I"m stylin'!

I made this page today. It's pretty simple, but I'm just enjoying messing around with a bigger space than an atc. This is a cool site about altered books.

I was reading Lucie Brock Broido last night, and remembering once when Janine told me, "All I feel like doing is going home and reading Lucie Brock Broido".

If you are reading this I am thankful for you.

My daughter is sitting on the floor as I type this. I think I'm going to see if I can get her to watch "Pride and Prejudice" with me - the Colin Firth version I have on DVD. She was kind of curious about the one that's in theaters now, but I think the Colin Firth one is better.

Yay! She's agreed to watch it. More later.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Art Journal

Last night I started an art journal. I bought one of those basic black Strathmore sketchbooks (with my Michael's craft store 40% off coupon). I covered it with patterned paper and some other stuff, and then covered it with packing tape, which, as Michael reminded me, is a very easy way to laminate something! The cover is shown here!

Then on another page, I stamped my face and eye stamps all over a page, and wrote "Susan Denning" on all the faces and "my book" underneath the eyes.

Today I did this other page, also shown here, which is birds and Venus on top of a music background, and then a music transparency on top of that, attached with brads.

It's fun!

I have no more teaching this week. I think I may actually watch Oprah here in a few minutes. I haven't watched it since Mom was here this summer. It's about all I have energy for right now, although the dogs are hoping a walk happens! Yesterday on our walk there were four mallard ducks swimming in this big puddle that is at the edge of the field. The dogs startled them and they flew away. Also in the puddle - pumpkins. Just a few strays, left over from the pumpkin patch at Halloween. They looked sort of forlorn. Holidays are so fleeting.

And an albino squirrel was spotted yesterday by our far-flung correspondents in Central Oregon!

I am thinking when I go to revise the sonnets I will probably end up abandoning the rhyme scheme. But still fourteen lines. I am liking the whole "fourteen lines" thing.

Laura is at Max's school right now, demonstrating to some grade school kids how to make turkeys out of pinecones. I told her to bring one home.

Max made a turkey in preschool once, out of a flowerpot. I'm going to try to find it.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Am Not

... avoiding my papers! It's called a BREAK. So I can still be somewhat lucid in my comments.

Actually, the papers are interesting.

As it's nearing Thanksgiving, I will say that I am thankful that there is a large field near my house, so that even though I live in a 1970's suburb, it still has a pleasant semi-rural feel to it (at least when I'm directly in front of the field) and at this time of year I can still walk at dusk past the field where anywhere from fifty to hundred Canada geese gather, and with a scarf wrapped around my head pretend I am a Russian peasant Sasha, hurrying home through the dark with my dogs. (What are some good Russian names for dogs?)

I'm relatively sure my neighborhood look nothing like Russia - and yes I realize there are probably no Canadian Geese in Russia - but it's amazing what a scarf around one's head can inspire.

And there are the Greater White-Fronted Geese in Russia, and no I did not further delay going back to my papers in order to add this link after I'd written the rest of this posting!

My daughter went to a church overnight with a friend of hers last night. They carved a nativity scene out of SPAM. Is this a Lutheran thing?

My son watched a lot of football this weekend. And when I told him this afternoon, no more football games (at least not until tonight - right now he's watching the Chiefs game), he went outside and talked to himself while holding his football, and then came back inside and read the sports section. Today the Oregonian published the Civil War football game final score for every year since it started. I think Max read every score from every game, because he pointed out a typo to me in one of the years, and also pointed out two years - in the 1930's I believe - when the final score was tied at zero.

Okay I'm going back to the papers.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Saturday Already

Death Cab for Cutie was good. I have been listening to them a lot this week.

I've also been listening to WNYC-FM online. I heard "All Things Considered" at 2:00 p.m. today, three hours earlier then it plays here. But nothing I heard on All Things Considered seemed any more exciting, three hours earlier. A lot of political grandstanding these days about pulling out of Iraq. However, I like it when the radio guy announces the temperature in Central Park.

I have many student papers to grade this weekend - and I can only do them in batches of five or so, and then I have to stop and do something else (like this).

The bad sonnets are getting better. I'm going to pick a few to work on over Christmas break, and turn (hopefully) into not-so-bad sonnets.

I am enjoying Mark Yakich's Unrelated Individuals Forming a Group Waiting to Cross. And hooray, he will have poems in the next issue of Caffeine Destiny - in February sometime.

The paperwhites I've been forcing are starting to bloom in various locations around the house. I have been trying to keep myself from playing Christmas music, although today I found a photograph I'd taken of a Snoopy ornament on our tree one year. I put it on the refrigerator. Christmas before Thanksgiving is fun.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Jimmy's Talking Flute

I am one hour away from the Gilmore Girls - yes, it's Tuesday! I only watch it because my kids like it - really, that's the only reason. Really.

Tomorrow night I'm going to see Death Cab for Cutie with my sister!

On my NPR Pop Culture podcast they were talking about the DVD releases of Sid and Marty Croft's Saturday morning t.v. shows - like Lidsville and HR Pufnstuff. I don't know if I could stand to watch those shows again (although I did find a funny web site about a short lived "World of Sid and Marty Kroft" theme park, which opened and closed in Georgia in 1976). The NPR story said there were veiled drug references - the smoking mushrooms, the "lid" the PUFnstuff - well it was the '70's, but that seems a bit silly. And they are talking about the possibility of a big screen version of Pufnstuff. No. Just please, no.

If you are under thirty, the previous paragraph will mean nothing to you. Nor the title of tonight's posting.

I know On Beauty was nominated for the Booker Award, but I am skimming the end. I just don't care about any of the characters in it. And there's scenes with professors and students that are just, silly. Conversations unlike anything I've heard between professors and students.

I am, however, enjoying the Bride of Science. Ada hasn't really arrived yet, except for a brief reference to her in the beginning. Right now it's about Byron and Lady Byron and the catastrophe of their wedding.

The bad sonnet of yesterday had a line in it I actually liked.

Tonight after class was over I walked out of the library building and the sky was a deep Maxfield Parrish blue. And I heard geese overhead. The moon followed me all the way home.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

3:00 Sunday

It's 3:00 p.m. on Sunday and I'm not dressed yet! I talked to Janine for over an hour today and then started grading papers and getting ready for classes tomorrow.

Tonight we are going to see Pride and Prejudice, the play, in downtown Portland. First, dinner at Jake's Grill. I am looking forward to it.

I told Janine I missed being in workshop sometimes but I'm not going to join a new one until Zanni returns and Daneen graduates. I would rather work with people who I know - and whose work I know - already. Zanni send me some poems!

Max has been practicing his speech on Alaska for school. I think I know the beginning of it by heart:

Mush, mush! What do you think of when you hear those words? I think of Alaska, home of the midnight daylight.

Or something like that. He delivers it well.

I have a new table in my office - it's six feet long and I no longer have to grade papers on the floor or at the dining room table. Thanks to Michael! I also have a nice big space to work on collages (come on over to the dark side, Zanni - you'll love it!). I am going to make an altered board book over the holidays. Or just a board book, if I can't strip the surface off the kid's board book I have. I bought a copy of "Transparent Art" and it was very inspiring.

Janine is learning a lot. I think we probably won't live in the same town again, but I'm glad to know her.

I am going to write my bad sonnet for the day (it IS teaching me something - I know the rhyme scheme without having to think of it anymore...).

Then get ready for Elizabeth Bennet! (the entire text of Pride and Prejudice can be found here .

Friday, November 11, 2005


I made six ATC's today! I had fun with some embossing - you pour embossing powder onto an image right after you stamp it, while the ink is still wet. Then you pour all the powder off that hasn't stuck to the image. Then, you heat it over the toaster, and the embossing powder melts, and you have a raised, stamped image.

I am starting to want a bigger area to work on, maybe one of those "fat books" I've seen. I'm interested in altered books too. I bought the new issue of Somerset Studio, which was inspiring.

I'm listening to Rosemary Clooney, a CD Michael bought me last year that I haven't listened to much. Michael's playing poker tonight in North Portland. I still don't get what "the blind" is in poker. I told him he looked very intimidating in his all black outfit though!

It's nice to have a day off from teaching, to think about non-teaching things. I need to grade papers this weekend. Friday we discussed David Mamet's essay "The Rake".

Max and I went to the library today - he is enjoying "The Great Brain" series. I checked out a biography of Lord Byron's daughter, Ada Lovelace, called The Bride of Science. Lord Byron's wife did not want Ada to grow up to be a poet like her father, and she was immersed in science and mathematics at a very young age. I can't tell you any more about her because I haven't read much! I think it will be interesting, and something new to think about.

I was listening to podcasts today while I was making my atcs. Laurel Snyder had an interview with Richard Peabody, the editor of Gargoyle. They were talking about blogs, and it was kind of funny. Richard wonders who is reading all these blogs if there are so many of them. I also listened to the NPR Pop Culture podcast. They had a story on the saxophone - the woman said "the saxophone has had a tremendous impact on classical, jazz -" and other types of music. She lost me at classical. The saxophone's impact on classical music? I just don't buy it.

And last but not least, I made butternut squash soup today. It called for leeks and fresh ginger - but I didn't have any fresh ginger so I used a few teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice, and I was quite pleased with the results! Kids wouldn't eat it, of course, but still.

I am going to try to write (a sonnet? we'll see) tonight after the kids go to bed ... But right now, Laura wants the computer. And Max is very excited about the Blazers game - right now, they are up by three!

My mother and I laughed on the phone today. That was funny. Is that laundry folded, Mom?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


Driving my own car again. It is nice to be reunited with my car's cd player. I have been listening to a lot of Tori Amos lately.

So, my thought is, if people can write a novel in a month - no doubt, a very very bad novel, why not try writing a sonnet a day? If you weren't trying to do it well, I mean. Just trying to write one a day. A rhyme scheme but not necessarily iambic. Would you learn something from it, or would it just be silliness? I wrote one today - and it's truly awful, but that wasn't the point. I was just trying to write within the rhyme scheme of ABBA ABBA CCD CCD. I will write another bad one tomorrow. And see what happens...

I received these cool Shakespeare's women transperencies and mythological goddesses transparencies. I am going to have fun with them Friday!

Classes were fun today. We talked about how writers can convey emotion. I have discovered, however, that many of my students do not like reading David Sedaris. They think he's boring. That cracks me up.

Michael and I are going to see Pride and Prejudice this weekend - the play. I'm looking forward to it.

I've taken a break from the Zadie Smith to read Kira-Kira. My daughter just finished it - I read some of it to her, but she finished it the other night, and told me I should read it. I am enjoying it - it's about two Japanese girls growing up in Georgia in the 1950's.

Mondays and Tuesdays are hectic hectic, then Wednesday rolls around and the week gets a lot easier. Especially when there's no school Friday.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

New Dress!

I was so inspired by the lovely Zanni's new dress that I got one too! What do you think?

My car is in the shop, so I've been driving a white Mercedes with a US Navy decal on the back. I feel quite regal, although a little less flexible, behind the wheel of such a classic car. I do think drivers hesitate when they see me coming!

Karen Volkman has some awesome sonnets up at The Boston Review.

There was frost on the ground this morning; the rainwater on top of our hot tub was frozen! My daughter is looking for her gloves.

Yesterday was long, but classes felt somewhat successful. But the most fun I had yesterday was watching Shaun of the Dead, a British spoof on the whole dead coming back as zombies thing. Watching the zombies hobble around London, I was somehow reminded of the rioting by the very much alive French citizens.

No classes Friday - for my kids or me!

Sunday, November 06, 2005


A very wet weekend! My son's team played their last football game of the season, in the pouring rain. Unfortunately, they lost. My daughter's soccer team played their last game as well. It wasn't raining. Unfortunately, they also lost.

I finished planting all the bulbs. Now the only thing left to do is wait for spring.

My daughter and I saw "Elizabethtown" last night. It wasn't as bad as some critics might lead one to believe.

The new Caffeine Destiny is up, with Gillian Conoley, Laura Mullen, Betsy Wheeler, Michael Quattrone, and Scott Malby.

Hey, I found out this weekend I was nominated for a Pushcart Prize!

This posting is very "one sentence per paragraph" - ish. I will no doubt have more to say as the week progresses. If not, I will find someone who does and quote them here.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


It is a truth universally acknowledged that if you go trick or treating and acquire a large amount of candy, and if you have a little brother, who also went trick or treating but either a) acquired considerably less candy than you and/or, b) ate most of his candy the morning after Halloween, you will inevitably have some of your candy stolen by aforementioned little brother.

Also, if you claim to have more candy stolen than was actually taken you could end up, after re-distribution, with more candy than you had before, but only if your mother feels sorry for you, and only if your brother is not smart enough to point out to your mother that you are just CLAIMING to have more stolen from you than was actually taken, in an attempt to garner more sympathy and more candy.

And if your house is in dire need of vacuuming and the kitchen table is cluttered with groceries that have been unloaded from the car but not yet properly put away, your mother may be less amused by the situation than she might be otherwise, but if she acknowledges the inevitably of the crime (only to herself, of course, and her devoted readers - to acknowledge it to you and your brother would invite unending rage and a more prolonged ending to the tears that both you and your brother have called upon, you to express your moral outrage at having the candy taken from you that you worked so hard to acquire, coming in from trick or treating to eat a piece of pizza, and then returning out into the cold night to trick or treat some MORE, your devotion to candy being yes, that profound, yes, that entire, and your brother to express equal outrage at being accused of taking much much more than was actually taken, because he only took "like one bag of M&M's") it might provide her with some amusement, two days after Halloween, on a Wednesday that feels very much like it should be a Friday.