Thursday, April 30, 2009

Down into the dirt

We have dandelions in our yard. Their fluffy white heads sway merrily in the breeze and new ones keep popping up out of thin air to join the party. It's the only party on our street, and I think that's what's drawing them to our house. A vicious circle.

I spent some time uprooting a couple along the house, and you would think I was trying to pull a log out of the ground. Innocent little plants, delicate leaves the size of my thumb, yet harboring thick, wormy roots that burrowed deep into the soil. Some of the tiny plants I uprooted had roots longer than the length of my hand. They dangled like worms.

Monday, April 27, 2009

I can't get out!

I was asked by a lady today how to get out of the library.

After the briefest of pauses (did I really hear that?) I told her.

Maybe I should have given her more complicated directions, sent her on a roundabout by way of the books on the 3rd and 4th floors, and a detour through the archives in the basement.

Too short

Thanks to my folks for putting up with a disordered house and even more disordered hosts. Hopefully, the next time will be more restful!

At least my library was partially up. Mom and Dad made frequent trips into that room, so it was nice to see it being used. Mom suggested setting up the library shelves in rows, rather than against the wall, for more of a library effect. I'd do it, just to see what it's like, if it weren't for the weight of books.

As always, their visits are too short.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

So much depends on...

The Red Wheelbarrow

So much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

besides the white

~William Carlos Williams

We bought a red wheelbarrow yesterday.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A new place

We've moved.

Our old place looks alien without our furniture. It's just a collection of empty rooms now. When we returned to pick up some boxes, after the movers had done their job hauling the heavy stuff, my heart lurched at the emptiness. I was homesick for that tiny 4 room apartment, with its solid wood doors and crown molding, proximity to Magee's Bakery, and view of the backyard that gave us occasional glimpses of the obese corgi (when we first saw it, we thought it was a pot-bellied pig) that lived beneath us.

Our new place is vast in comparison. I keep forgetting we have an upstairs. The eating area looks out onto the backyard and past that to the field bordering it. We have to seek each other out, rather than just call out. Pope doesn't know what to do with himself in all this space.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Marriage is never boring

While prattling on about how I'd like to get a few chickens and get some heirloom varieties of vegetables to start our garden in the back, I noticed Jon raising his eyebrows at me as he smiled that exasperating hidden smile of his.

"What?" I demanded.

He started off with a story from this morning, in which he overheard two female teachers in the copier room talking. One of them messed something up in the copier, and the other one, rather than saying, "I can fix it," instead said something soothing, "Yeah, that's happened to me, too. How frustrating." Whereas, Jon would have immediately zeroed in on how he could fix the problem, not wasting time on empathizing or affirming the other lady's feelings.

Jon continued, "So, I understand that you're just talking about chickens and veggies for the future, that you're not expecting to do it right away, but my brain is hardwired to immediately start thinking of what needs to be done in order to accomplish these things. And I can't do that. I'm experiencing cognitive dissonance."

Does anyone else have a spouse that says things like this?

Sunday, April 12, 2009


I've been trying to think of ways to verbalize why I'm so moved by Alvin Ailey's "Wade in the Water" sequence. It's almost like my experience reading R.S. Thomas' "Via Negativa"--how do you explain the way poetry reaches deep into you? I'm moved because I think of the African slaves in America and the small consolation they got from the Gospels, from the Exodus narrative. I'm moved because I think of the baptismal moment, that scary point of life where the initiate publicly declares her devotion to God. I'm moved because I think of the ecstatic joy that comes so briefly, so rarely, from those moments where one has an encounter with the 'Other'. This dance sums up all those experiences and spills it out in a blazing tangle of conflicting emotions, joy and sorrow, grief over the wrongs of history, exhilaration at being alive.

The song is based on one of many versions of the slave song. Here's one: "Wade in the Water." It's believed that this kind of song was a code of sorts that notified slaves trying to escape that they should take to water to flee their pursuers. To read a little more about Alvin Ailey's dance itself, look at pages 10 & 11 of the book Dancing Revelations, by Thomas F. DeFrantz.

In keeping with the joy exhibited by the initiates in the "Wade in the Water" dance, I wish a happy Easter to everyone. Here's an icon of the Anastasis, roughly translated as the "harrowing of hell." This is the image the Eastern Orthodox Christians associate with Easter, as compared with the images of the Crucifixion or the empty tombs that Western Christianity employs. Christ is shown in all his glory, standing on the shattered doors of Sheol, hell, or, more simply, the void of death. He is lifting Adam and Eve, the progenitors of the human race, out of death and into life. And the world was changed, for believer and unbeliever alike, for good and for worse. I would hope the good outweighs the bad, but there are plenty who would disagree. Here's a previous post of mine that some of you may appreciate.

Obsessions of a feline nature

This is Pope, who is fascinated with the ends of things (tip of the string is just barely out of the picture):

This is Bea, who is fascinated with the tops of things:

I don't have a picture of Mojo, who was fascinated with the insides of things.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Buses and tulips

Last weekend, Jon and I went to Asheville, North Carolina. Our friends have a cousin who owns a condo located in one of the many ritzy exclusive neighborhoods dotting the mountains around Asheville. Here is the view from the porch:

Jon and his buddy did some bike riding. I lounged around the condo with his wife and kids. Quite thoroughly relaxing. I knocked out a book while there, The Little Giant of Aberdeen County.

We went into Asheville twice. It's such an enjoyable little city, even if it tends towards being overwhelmingly trendy and enthusiastically hippie-ish in some enclaves. We stuck to the downtown area, near Haywood Street and Biltmore Avenue. There's tons of shops and interesting restaurants to check out. We ate at Salsa's, a Mexican Caribbean fusion place, and just about died from the deliciousness of the food. I got a wild mushroom enchilada, which came smothered in herbed goat cheese, accompanied with a spicy veggie/salsa mix (it was neither quite one nor the other), with a base of yummy black beans. Oh, if only Lexington had something similar!

We made sure to swing by Wall Street, which has some whimsical statues of cats and a rat. We didn't notice the rat until a passerby pointed it out, sneaking by on the other side of the balcony:

For dessert, we went to the Chocolate Lounge, where we each got liquid truffles, flavored with cayenne and cinnamon. After the first sip, we looked at each other and grinned. We knew we had made a good choice for dessert.

The second day we went to Asheville, Jon dropped me off and I walked around some more while he was off riding his bike close to Mt. Mitchell. I stopped in Woolworth Walk, thinking I would be politely interested in the arts and crafts exhibited therein. An hour later, I emerged, a little dazed by the incredible talent I saw. I memorized Susan Luke's name, planning to return and purchase one of her still-life paintings (the examples in the link aren't the best ones). When I saw the Double Decker Bus Cafe, I couldn't resist ducking in. The photo below is on the second floor.

This is the closest we got to the Biltmore Estate:

A very relaxing and pleasant weekend!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Jon in places

My series of Jon in restaurants in Asheville, North Carolina:

Malaprop's, bookstore

Salsa's, a Mexican Caribbean restaurant

Rosetta's Kitchen, a vegetarian restaurant

Chocolate Lounge, yummy chocolates

More photos from our trip can be found at my flickr. You'll have to dig through some other photos to get to them - can't figure out how to sort them.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

One house among the rest

Here's what we've signed our life away on.

Jon is already hard at work fixing the garage up for all his stuff. There's a spare room off the dining area, a converted porch that we're setting up as the library. We're also going to plot a garden in the back.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Wars long past

Daniel Waldo, a Revolutionary War veteran. This photograph was taken in 1864, when he was 101 years old.

Isn't it amazing what you can find on the internet?

Picture found here

Jon and his bike

I think Jon is determined to cover his face with scars, emblems of the hold his bike has on him. He and his friend went out for a short ride in the North Carolina mountains, and he missed a turn (didn't see it coming). Rather than go over the side of the road (which would have been quite a drop, considering what it was winding through), he forced the back wheel to lock up and promptly fell over.

Perhaps it's an art, a useful ability to have, to force your bike to "fall over". But it always seems that, no matter how hard you try, it's the face that bears the brunt of impact. In this case, as in the previous incident (the run-in with the van), his helmet strap cut into his chin.

We decided he didn't need stitches. Instead of a band-aid, we applied super-glue. Instead of a wound, it looks like he has a deformity, a cluster of cancerous skin cells.