Category Archives: writing

Bought a breast

We just learned that my brother-in-law was exposed to Covid on Saturday, so we are waiting to hear the results of his test. Fingers crossed, he’s okay.

On a more minor note, we’d been planning to have Thanksgiving dinner at their place.

All this by way of saying, I just got back from the grocery store. Rather than get a small bird for $32, I bought a hefty breast for under ten. When I got home, husband immediately lamented the absence of dark meat. True enough, and there will be no glorious leftovers for sandwiches or fettuccine but hey, I’m the cook around here and I went for simplicity.

After reading a restaurant review over at Donald McKenzie’s blog, diningwithdonald, I got a hankering for roasted cauliflower with a tahini sauce, so I bought the ingredients for some version of that as well. I’ll report back.

Mostly though today I am mildly obsessing about commas. My friend recommended the book, Eats, Shoots & Leaves for assistance. Thank you, Dan Preston! I’ve just started it and it is hilarious. Who knew?

I am more than halfway through my novel’s professionally-provided edits and I can’t tell you how many changes concern hyphens, commas, and dashes. It’s a little embarrassing but also eye-opening.

In other news, a Tarot deck arrived, one that I ordered so long ago I’d forgotten about it. The American Renaissance Tarot. Can’t wait to explore.

Also, a friend gave me an old jacket made of silk kimono scraps. I’m currently saying NO to most offers of this kind but made an exception for this. Thank you, Sue!

Lastly, a quilt I made K years back has needed repair. Some of the thinner cottons disintegrated. Appliqué is the way to go here.

The 22nd

Finn likes my heating pad almost as much as I do.

New manuscript, old manuscript, notes on both, laptop repository. It’s slow going. But at least it’s going. My consultant chisels here, there, making the form clearer, not unlike a sculptor working in stone. It’s pretty exciting, though also daunting because it turns out I don’t know jack shit about comma-usage.

Notre Dame + PCC image + paper collage + iPhone scribbles

The temperature is supposed to drop down to 29 degrees tonight. You’d be amazed at how many leaves are still in the trees.

PCC image + photo of bulletin board in my studio

Among the many upsetting manifestations of red wing lunacy and racism lately, today of all days it feels particularly awful that QAnon followers still gather in Dealey Plaza. People of a certain age remember exactly where they were when John F. Kennedy was shot. Where were you?

I was six (earlier I’d written eight! Fell asleep thinking wait, that’s not right). My mother was ironing and crying in front of the television. My brother’s birthday party was cancelled.

Incoming edits this week

And hallelujah! Will be watching for the Fed Ex truck eagerly. Consultant is sending marked up pages — 200 to start. Very old school.

For editing, honestly, I prefer working on paper.

Attended an Amherst Writers and Artists Northeast Chapter meeting yesterday which was great (writers from Maine, NYC, upstate NY, Connecticut, and Massachusetts), but it means today feels like Saturday and it’s not.

Found a yummy looking recipe for roasted pumpkin wedges. Gonna give it a whirl. The same cookbook inspired breaded and fried leeks last night. The leeks didn’t hold together quite well enough but they were tasty.

I’ll report back on the pumpkin.

Update.

Well, I didn’t like them. Maybe you shouldn’t use a pumpkin that’s been sitting on your stoop for a couple of weeks.? The flesh was stringy and bland. K thought they were good, but my feeling was: I can think of better ways to eat bread crumbs and Parmesan.

And I did! Added an egg to the leftover cheesy grits from last night and coated them with what was left of the herb, bread crumb, garlic/herb mixture. Delicious! A crusty exterior with a smooth creamy inside. Yum.

PS I made a Tarot pouch this afternoon from the sleeve of an old jacket — big enough for the Voyager deck.

Joy Harjo and Ted Lasso — what?

We are still America.
We know the rumors of our demise.
We spit them out.
They die soon. 
U.S. Poet Laureate, Joy Harjo

I gave this Harjo quote to my writing friends on Tuesday as a prompt. Below is my response. If you haven’t watched Ted Lasso, perhaps don’t bother because it’s a lot about that show. Also, if you haven’t finished Season TWO — warning! There are spoilers!

*   *   *

“To face a crowd,” she instructs, “lift your arms while breathing in.” She demonstrates. “Make yourself big!” The statuesque club-owner talking to the littlest of the coaches. When he tries, he finds the technique useless. He cannot make himself bigger. Instead, he spits at the mirror. Somehow, that works. Spit, plus an e, equals spite, we soon learn.

All the happy transformations and  mini-redemptions, which are sometimes big redemptions, somehow are lost on Nate the Great, the littlest coach. He turns into Nate the Snape. It doesn’t matter that his burning resentments are misplaced — clearly father-induced — they flare into betrayal anyway. He digs himself into a hole so deep that no rope ladder of apology can help him exit.

But we know, we wise viewers, that our hero, head coach Lasso, previously portrayed as being able to bridge every chasm with folksy stories, genuine humility, and a radical capacity to apologize, doesn’t try very hard at the critical moment with Nate, now does he?

And, pshaw, when the final scene of Season Two shows Nate formerly the Great on the sidelines of the nemesis team, we know the failure was a gimmick and it disappoints as gimmicks always do.

Nevertheless, we look to Lasso, a man of the moment, somehow. If only there were stories appealing enough, humility genuine enough, and apologies transformative enough to bridge the flaming chasm that divides America. I don’t think there are. We’re at Stage Nine or Ten on the way to tyranny, the stage where truth no longer matters. Post truth is pre-fascism. It comes after the stage of simplistically and hatefully vilifying the other. Lock her Up! Build the Wall! As one pundit put it, we’re not debating the efficacy of vaccines or masks, we’re debating whether truth matters or not.

So before trying to spit out the notion that we are in free-fall decline, I must first spit on epic, destructive stupidity. SPIT. Yes, it’s the racism, stupid, but it’s also the stupidity, stupid! I must spit on greedy corporatism infecting governance. SPIT. On lying. And more lying. I mean Satan-level lying. SPIT. And on stupidity again — willful stupidity, as in I did my own research on Facebook, and corrupt stupidity as in a climate-crisis denier opining in Congress, ain’t it better for agriculture if it’s warm? Yuck. Yuck. SPIT.

The rumors of our demise are so well-founded, how do I spit them away?

Magic not saliva might be required. A national exorcism. Starting with the Former Liar in Chief followed by Fox News, which leads me to note, by the way, that the step on the road to tyranny about the state taking over the levers of the press would not be required on our path to damnation, not as long as idiots like Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham drip nightly poison to huge adoring crowds.

We are still America. Still riven by race. Still tainted by the original sins of genocide and slavery. Our exceptionalism always dwelt in pools of blood and now it also depends on the masses being ignorant. George Carlin knew as much decades ago when he joked, they WANT you to be uneducated.

List of the vilified: intelligence, climate science, disease science, science, science, science, eloquence, the separation of church and state, women, women, women, especially women in positions of power.

Therefore, I can only spit on the rumors of our demise as a supreme act of faith.

An act of faith.
An act of faith.

If only Paul Bunyan could come back as Ted Lasso and stomp from state to state applying his special brand of seeing the other, meeting the other, transforming the other. Not, certainly not, Mitt Romney in the signature cardigan and a plastered-on mustache which, by the way made him look more like Hitler than the humble coach, kneeling in a sickening gimmick, making an offering to the flourescent-pink-garbed Sinema.

SHE’s spitting on America.

Can I spit back before exorcizing the sense of inevitable demise of our Republic?

An act of faith. Into the ground my weary disdain, my frothy pessimism. Pattoowie.

 

new recording 16

Recording, if it works, gawd I’m a dolt — is four minutes forty six seconds.

Scene Post Rebellion — 1739

Angel Oak, SC : My photo run thru Prisma filter

From the drafts file. July 2020. A deleted chapter followed by two paragraphs about the news.

Place: west of Wappoo Plantation, South Carolina where Eliza Lucas lived before she married Charles Pinckney in 1744.

Time: October 1739. Roughly a month after the rebellion later known as the Stono Slave Rebellion, named for the river running through the landscape of fervent hope and violent loss.

Character: Mo. An enslaved man from Wappoo.

This chapter is duplicative of others so won’t be included in my novel, whose working title has gone from Blood and Indigo to The Weight of Cloth. I often write a scene six different ways before landing on a keeper and even then, might make major changes. I don’t think this is unusual.

He stood at the crossroads ashy with fatigue. Was he even still alive? Time had gone wonky. Nights sleeping in the scrub, days making a meandering path, first away, and now back. Back to what? The rebellion had really happened, hadn’t it? It wasn’t just a fever dream of freedom? Mo remembered the weight of Commissioner Gibbs’s head in his hands. He looked down at his tunic, saw the confirming blood there. What had happened to those who hadn’t melted away into the shadows like he had? He did not know, but had a hunch. He had a hunch that most of those brave rebels were dead and not just because hounds are ruthless and native trackers precise, but because sometimes at dawn or as the sunset and the clouds bruised purple, he felt their spirits like butterfly wings on his cheek or shoulder. They wandered still, in other words, still seeking a way out of bondage but without a body to hold them back anymore.

Mo was rail thin. There were hickory nuts this time of year and bracken ferns, sour plums, but not much else. He’d gone from a wild and ferocious hunger that left no room for other thoughts, not even of Binah’s sly smile, to having no hunger at all, the thought of hominy nearly enough to make him wretch.

That dawn, something about the way the wind spoke to him through the chestnut trees told him that it was at last time to return home, if he could call it that.

*. *. *.

July 2020. I know I promised a rant, but one that wrestles with how to speak up as a white person, and when, and what that might sound like just cannot be published the day after George Floyd’s memorial.

I watched much of the eulogy by Reverend Al Sharpton yesterday — did you? Powerfully moving, as was Kamala Harris’s seven minute statement to the Senate about Rand Paul’s idiotic attempt to limit her and Cory Gardner and Tim Scott’s bill to make lynching a federal crime.

SoulCollage card c. Trayvon Martin’s death in 2012