Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Today is a waiting room. I'm waiting on an appointment, with whom I'm not too sure. Well--that is, this expectant feeling can be chalked up to: a reply to a request for some advice that will lead to radical financial changes; a reply from IT saying they're coming to fix my monitor that is determined to display everything as if it were Super Mario Bros, circa 1989; an extra pair of hands to help me over the next step in this project; a student worker so that I have someone else to talk to. All of these things may or may not happen today, so I'll meet them again when I walk through this door tomorrow. Known waiting, known response.

At home, I'll walk into another waiting room. But there I'm less certain of what it will be for. For a phone call? A half-finished project or a half-read book? Enlightenment? Visitors? The exact dinner I want? My intuition--the indwelling of the Holy Spirit?--insists on "Wait. Wait." Wait? When I want to run on and meet whatever is coming. When I know I'm not, mysteriously, equipped for it.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Migraine Puts on Her Happy Face

Today has just about been too much. My patience, my understanding, my tolerance, my sanity. At the breaking point. What is wrong with me? Tonight, I'm going to church, and I'm going to read stories to some precious little 3 and 4 yo souls, and we're going to sing about how much God loves us. The end.

Monday, August 9, 2010

One day, I'll be able to put both of my hands around all of this. I'll be able to lift it up as one piece, set it aside, and reveal the world that was always happening underneath.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

These shall be mine, and I will call them manna.

Spoiler Alert: Cupcakes are now being served at people's weddings as the cool thing to do.

Last winter, two friends of mine got married in an event that was low on frills and rich in love. Being generally behind the rest of the world when it comes to the wedding scene, I found that cupcakes are "the thing" these days, but this was my first time to see it in action. And I was...hm. Well. Cupcakes present many benefits that a traditional cake doesn't, namely, you don't have to wrangle up someone to "honor" by asking them to "serve" it. You can save valuable time by not having to "train" someone on how to exactly put 8 layers of off-center hearts onto 450 plates with equality. And, and! They asked our minister's wife to make them. I had heard tell of Becky's raspberry mint cupcakes, but it just didn't sound right. Since February 2009, I've been dreaming of them. I finally decided 'twas time to locate a recipe.

I chose this one from The Cupcake Blog. I suggest you make them as well. Every time someone makes these, an angel gets its wings.

Win Some: Oh my word. My craving has been satisfied. The basic vanilla cupcake shall forevermore be the starter for all my cupcake efforts.
Learn Some: Why in the world does this involve gelatin in any form? Imagine jello mixed with whipped cream, and what do you have? That's right: elementary school cafeteria. Won't. Do. That. Again. Oh. And I'll chop the mint finer.

A few photos for your enjoymentwill be forthcoming. I call them food porn.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

My new personal theme song

In homage to The Year of the Thyroid's passing and The Year of the B12 Deficiency's inauguration, I play for you now The Rolling Stones. Let the injections begin!

In sleepier news, I'm reading a lot. Finished all of the Stieg Larsson books. Reviews posted soon at Think Journal.


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sinks, while floating

Transcendence comes walking, galumphing, swimming. It whispers, screams, stands silent. It's red, purple, grey. It is sandy, silky, sickly, robust. It sinks while floating. Today we sang a song in church that had that feeling. The line was "Lest I forget thy love for me..." The altos ascend in pitch while every other part descends. Rare, that approach. But, oh, so right.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Lectio Divina

One of the most intimate scenes I've read in a novel happened in Grapes of Wrath. Ma Joad--the pillar of the Joad family in increasingly bleak circumstances--calls her daughter to help her with a task. She calls out the daughter's name "Rose of Sharon" and then repeats it over and over to herself under her breath, "enjoying the feel of it in her mouth." I've often felt a need to read quickly over that passage, as it isn't meant for the 3rd person omniscient narrator, let alone the unworthy reader.

I enjoyed Matt's Lectio Divina lesson at church last night. Lectio Divina is fancy Latin for purposeful meditation of scripture, involving prayer, silence, meditation, and memorization. I've been doing a lot of reciting to myself these days, and this was a way to focus that memorization and meditation on scripture, which I do less often than I do with other writings.

"I love you. Every atom of your flesh is as dear to me as my own. Your mind is my treasure, and if it were broken, would be my treasure still."--from Jane Eyre

"Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, protects all things."--I Corinthians 13:6

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." --Matthew 7:12

"For his withdrawal would have been a flight, his deliverance an accident, his reward dishonor, his future perhaps damnation. Then he would have borne witness, not to his faith or to God's mercy, but to how dreadful was the journey to the mountain in Moriah."--Kierkegaard's Fear & Trembling

Thursday, June 17, 2010


I live in one. My dear, dear friend Andrea showed up in this hood yesterday afternoon, demanding food and shelter. Obligingly, I whipped up this sublime curry and fed it to her. My endearing, tiny apartment doesn't have a dishwasher, so I was hurriedly trying to keep up with the dirty cookware as it came off the stove. Looking out the over-the-sink windows, a squirrel appeared to be running across the backyard. Really, it was a tiny tabby-striped kitty frolicking in very tall grass. Precious! I've seen the mama cat before, thinking she was a sibling of my dearly departed Beezus. Beezus is an uncle!

I went out in the cool of the morning to water the tomatoes I didn't water yesterday. I went out through the kitchen door, seeing as how Andrea was sleeping on the couch. Something smelled funny, but Thursday is trash day, so I ignored it...until I saw the furry tail sticking up around the front porch steps. A smashed, maggotty squirrel lay dead on the steps. Mama and Baby Cat huddled sleeping in the porch corner, all of my flowerpots were turned over, and a beautiful tiny bird with tufted hair on his ears was perched in the tomato container, guarding the eggshells I sprinkled on the plant to keep slugs away.

I feel ridiculously flattered that they like my house, too.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Metablogging. I does it.

I often think of Blogspot the way I think (and most people think) about Windows/PCs. Functional, reliable, not so fancy. Could be a little snazzier. So today, searching for a little refresher for the ol' Inner Monologue, I found this layout. Summery, reminds of some good moments in the meadows of West TN. Way to go, Blogger.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

To Dice a More Perfect Onion

Yesterday was Evaluation Day. Only 3 of 14 students responded, leaving me with one good, one average, and one bad eval. (I'm pretty sure who that one was, and he wasn't such a peach of a student.) I'm certain I can take away from this that the other 11 were satisfied/neutral enough not to feel the need to bleed all over me. Combine that with a big ball of internal rawr, a non-stop three week traveling schedule, and the annual let's-tally-how-much-work-you-did-accomplish v. let's-tally-how-much-you-should-have-accomplished reckoning and I morphed into one roiling, seething mass of primordial elements, a la The Blob.

I leap and glide and slip and slide my way home only to realize that I have a random smattering of groceries to pull into a cohesive, vaguely-healthy dinner. (Dieting--more later.) I have onions. This dinner is saved. My teaching skills may be questionable, but by golly, I can dice an onion. I learned this awesome trick from the Chinese cook on tv. Um...Simply Ming. (It's amazing what you can learn when PBS is coming through in any useful way.)

Slice one end of the onion off, and remove the papery skin layer. Don't cut off the other end. Make four or five slices across the onion in three directions, and voila! A beautifully cubic dice of onion. A dice so beautiful, so translucently pungent, so crisply caramelizing, such a supporter of the chickpeas and less of a competitor. The primordial ooze began slowly to retreat in the face of such brilliance. To question its ability to stand in the face of such superiority.

Monday, May 10, 2010


One of my super incredible, nerdy student workers got her dream internship today at Historic New England. I like to think I had a little hand in that. So proud of her hard work!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

My work blog got picked up by speaktopower.org, topsy.com, and Curator Journal. So, you know. Yay me!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

An update on TN museums in the wake of flooding


This is a link to my work blog, "The Archives Weekly." I'm keeping a running list of what I can find out about museums and archives in the flooded areas of Middle and West TN. Please feel free to update by commenting or contacting me directly.

Here's the latest from Country Music Hall of Fame:

Monday, May 3, 2010

Mea Culpa?

Spring is here, and without a couple of weekend tornado rallies, it wouldn't be West TN. So when I said the end was near...I didn't really mean to invite the apocalypse (which is wet, not snowy. At least then we didn't rescue people using boats, and we didn't keep running for cover every three hours). Was really looking forward to Allison's gathering in the sun. I guess she and I can trade declamations even without the trees.

Despite some flooding, all is well in Chester County. Parts of Tipton, Madison and Gibson Counties experienced severe flooding and the Navy got flooded out in Shelby County. The Navy. Got flooded out. Mom and Dad slept through the whole thing. Apparently, tornado warnings are routinely ignored by Baptist East. Which is probably practical.

A beautiful sunny day welcomed and beloved by all.
Listening to: birds.

Friday, April 30, 2010

What a month, or, the end is near.

I love pay day. I feel grown up, responsible, rich. Until tomorrow. Tomorrow begins a new month. Not a month dedicated to poetry. I hope you've gotten a little taste of rhythm, imagery, cadence, and wordplay in your life this month.

Money ~Howard Simon







Lots of writing about tourism in Chester County (there has to be a prize for the number of forked roads a county can have).
TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Lots of teaching and grading about primary sources. (Listen to this one!)
You Begin ~Margaret Atwood
You begin this way:
this is your hand,
this is your eye,
that is a fish, blue and flat
on the paper, almost
the shape of an eye.
This is your mouth, this is an O
or a moon, whichever
you like. This is yellow.

Outside the window
is the rain, green
because it is summer, and beyond that
the trees and then the world,
which is round and has only
the colors of these nine crayons.

This is the world, which is fuller
and more difficult to learn than I have said.
You are right to smudge it that way
with the red and then
the orange: the world burns.

Once you have learned these words
you will learn that there are more
words than you can ever learn.
The word hand floats above your hand
like a small cloud over a lake.
The word hand anchors
your hand to this table,
your hand is a warm stone
I hold between two words.

This is your hand, these are my hands, this is the world,
which is round but not flat and has more colors
than we can see.

It begins, it has an end,
this is what you will
come back to, this is your hand.

Lots of time spent in the hospital or on the phone worrying about a sick parent (who will be fine, thankfully!).
Hymn to God, My God, in my Sickness ~John Donne

Since I am coming to that holy room,
Where, with thy choir of saints for evermore,
I shall be made thy music; as I come
I tune the instrument here at the door,
And what I must do then, think here before.

Whilst my physicians by their love are grown
Cosmographers, and I their map, who lie
Flat on this bed, that by them may be shown
That this is my south-west discovery,
Per fretum febris, by these straits to die,

I joy, that in these straits I see my west;
For, though their currents yield return to none,
What shall my west hurt me? As west and east
In all flat maps (and I am one) are one,
So death doth touch the resurrection.

Is the Pacific Sea my home? Or are
The eastern riches? Is Jerusalem?
Anyan, and Magellan, and Gibraltar,
All straits, and none but straits, are ways to them,
Whether where Japhet dwelt, or Cham, or Shem.

We think that Paradise and Calvary,
Christ's cross, and Adam's tree, stood in one place;
Look, Lord, and find both Adams met in me;
As the first Adam's sweat surrounds my face,
May the last Adam's blood my soul embrace.

So, in his purple wrapp'd, receive me, Lord;
By these his thorns, give me his other crown;
And as to others' souls I preach'd thy word,
Be this my text, my sermon to mine own:
"Therefore that he may raise, the Lord throws down."

And tomorrow, a tea party.
The Tea Party ~Jessica Nelson North

I had a little tea party
This afternoon at three.
'Twas very small-
Three guest in all-
Just I, myself and me.
Myself ate all the sandwiches,
While I drank up the tea;
'Twas also I who ate the pie
And passed the cake to me.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Be Warm Begins! #2

Our first meet-up went really well at Besso's last night! Yes, it was made clear to me that, again, I have chosen the most labor intensive way to do things. But in the end, we all agreed to be responsible for one area--like scarves or washcloths--and then pool them all together at the beginning of the fall and see what else we might need or how best to distribute. I took one for the team and agreed to see what could be accomplished in the way of socks. So, I bought my first pair of double pointed needles and sock yarn last night. The needles are shiny and purple and the yarn is soft and white. Think baby blanket soft and white. Sigh of ineffable satisfaction.

Meet ups will be twice monthly in Henderson or in Jackson, alternately. And if you can come, you can come. Soooooo excited!! I can taste it! Some friends here who have friends amongst the homeless of Memphis keep relaying stories to me about how much these folks suffered with the winter cold, especially in want of hats. Maybe, just maybe, we can make a little difference in that this winter?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Venue Change

Be Warm Meet UP has changed from Green Frog in Jackson to Besso's in Henderson. A lot of our Jackson folks couldn't make it! Also congratulations to Leah, on the birth of Clara Elizabeth--four weeks ahead of schedule! Babies are blessings.

I found some fun baby quotes, that I think Leah and Allen would like:
"The old Irish when immersing a babe at baptism left out the right arm so that it would remain pagan for good fighting."

"It is the nature of babies to be in bliss."--Deepak Chopra

"A baby is God's opinion that life should go on."--Carl Sandburg

"Raising a baby is part joy and part guerilla warfare."--Ed Asner.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Those great goddesses of peace

Back in ye olde days, I worked as a bridal consultant. Zipping and pinning and steaming, I could, movie-like, anticipate the litany of the remarks a bride or her mother would make: "This will be the happiest day of my life. Today is the day we love each other the most. Today my family means the most to me. Today I love him the most. This is the best time of our lives. The wedding has to be the most perfect day of my life." The air was palpable with the apex of someone's life: the climax in the narrative of their life. I could taste it, and it was bittersweet. I knew beyond knowing that the day had come to resign when I told a bride I had vowed to let my life operate on a ten-best principle.

Of course, accepting a ten-best principle means also adopting a ten-worst principle. On February 13, 2001, on June 24, 2001, on September 11, 2001 on March 20, 2003, on April 17, 2004, on February 16, 2007, on June 1, 2009, on January 30, 2010--I cracked open my well-read copy of The Colossus and Other Poems and reread "Lorelei." So often--I should have it memorized. I don't except the closing line--"Stone, stone. Ferry me down there." Did Plath have a death wish or a peace wish? Probably both. Hearing this expression of the agony, the wish for peace, well. Helps. I wish it had helped Sylvia.

It is no night to drown in:
A full moon, river lapsing
Black beneath bland mirror-sheen,

The blue water-mists dropping
Scrim after scrim like fishnets
Though fishermen are sleeping,

The massive castle turrets
Doubling themselves in a glass
All stillness. Yet these shapes float

Up toward me, troubling the face
Of quiet. From the nadir
They rise, their limbs ponderous

With richness, hair heavier
Than sculptured marble. They sing
Of a world more full and clear

Than can be. Sisters, your song
Bears a burden too weighty
For the whorled ear's listening

Here, in a well-steered country,
Under a balanced ruler.
Deranging by harmony

Beyond the mundane order,
Your voices lay siege. You lodge
On the pitched reefs of nightmare,

Promising sure harborage;
By day, descant from borders
Of hebetude, from the ledge

Also of high windows. Worse
Even than your maddening
Song, your silence. At the source

Of your ice-hearted calling --
Drunkenness of the great depths.
O river, I see drifting

Deep in your flux of silver
Those great goddesses of peace.
Stone, stone, ferry me down there.

Listening to Ray Lamontagne

Monday, April 19, 2010

Be Warm Begins!

Rosalind Russell in The Women. During this scene, Russell ceaselessly knits as she uncovers that her estranged cousin's ex-husband's mistress-turned-wife is now the mistress-turned-fiancee of the husband of the Contess DeLave, whom she met at the Dude Ranch-Home-For-Divorcing-Wives. They've lost their equilibrium.

Be Warm meets up Thursday at 7:00 at Green Frog Coffee at E. Baltimore Street, Jackson. We're meeting to decide how we want to go about clothing the homeless and needy in our area through our humble needles and a few balls of yarn. (Few balls--giggle.)

Mother by Prabha Raj
Watch her, as she
Sits and knits.

As pair of needles
Criss cross,
I see her thoughts
Setting her wrinkles
To play.

The moment she completes
The picking of stitches,
Her wrinkles
Erase out.

I call it
The juxtaposition of
Mind and sentiment.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A favorite

My heart, being hungry, feeds on food
The fat of heart despise
Beauty where beauty never stood
And sweet where no sweet lies
I gather to my querulous need
Having a growing heart to feed.

It may be, when my heart is dull,
Having attained its girth
I shall not find so beautiful
The meager shapes of earth
Nor linger in the rain to mark
The smell of tansy through the dark

~Edna St. Vincent Millay

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

National Poetry Month: Captain Obvious edition

The President is dead, murdered. Four years of civil war, one family trauma after another, the freaky dream in which he arrived late at his own funeral. Rarely do we see politicians carry their internal strife so clearly on their faces. Walt Whitman thought so too when he penned "O Captain, My Captain." As usual, this poem leaves me with a catch in breath at the speaker's anguish. Rereading this poem recently, I was surprised at the line, "Hear Captain, Dear Father!" For me this poem has often evoked the image of a child staggered by his father's mortality. I just didn't remember the line being in there.

O CAPTAIN! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills;
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head;
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won;
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!

But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

Listening to The Decemberists "Sons & Daughters"

Monday, April 12, 2010

Dirt, or, How I Spent My Weekend.

My sisters and I congregated at Nicole's house this weekend for a little digging in the dirt. Each spring, Nicole's gardening plans expand a little more, and this year it involved the planting of trees. Lo, these many trips to Lowe's and back, and a few psuedo-arguments later, a bing sweet cherry is safely transplanted triangularly between the driveway and the front walk. The real challenge--besides getting two people to listen whilst one person talked--was managing the overhead electric lines. Apparently the city thinks it best for lines to run directly over the middle of your front lawn, and not down on the edge along the street. Deep power lines call for short trees. But at the end of the day, we planted a beautiful tree that will have REAL fruit growing on it! We also planted dahlia, fuschia, Mediterranean heather and grasses, started a compost pile, and dug up some ugly old bushes. Yay for spring time!

All this potential for beauty around us made me realize that, in short, I've been limiting my vision to it. Having responsibilities and no money should require that I take time to sit on my front porch and read a book and identify cloud shapes, not the opposite. Why would I do this? Well, the answer is probably one that most adults would give. But I am going to do it--be open to all my surroundings instead of living with blinders on.

Wordsworth is SO NOT my favorite poet. But my favorite English professor loved this poem, and it seems like such an apropos poem for this weekend.


I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced, but they
Out-did the sparkling leaves in glee;
A poet could not be but gay,
In such a jocund company!
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Songs are kinda like poems, right? I mean, they rhyme.

I've got reservations
About so many things
But not about you.
Not about you.

~the incomparable Wilco

I see I used the word "incomparable". (I left this post and came back to it about 20 minutes later.) In a moment of silliness I used it. It's the word you throw out when you need to throw a word about a band, an artist, something that moves you. It would be insufferably prideful or at least blindly fallacious to say anything is incomparable. For example, the weather today, albeit blessedly invigorating, I could compare to every other Easter Sunday I've lived through (if I could remember them). My memory is quite faulty these days--purposefully and accidentally. I own it, as I own the names of two people who aren't comparable (certainly not to each other), and of them I was thinking when this song came on.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

We're taking requests

Observation: Riding in a car as the only woman with three men makes for a rather quiet car ride. Yesterday, I took a group of students to visit the Disciples of Christ Historical Society and the Belle Meade Plantation in Nashville. Eventually, one student and I struck up a terrific conversation about books, eras of history we like, what we really think of Cormac McCarthy, etc. It was that kind of conversation that my college experience was built on. I think--no, I'll admit it--I did have a tremendous crush on the student when the trip was over. Afterward...well...I did mull over the ramifications of the absence of a teacher/student dating policy at this university. That's all I'm saying.

Tomorrow begins National Poetry Month. We decided that although we have often been moved by poets and their words, narrative is where it's at for us. Poetry too often harnesses the elegance and beauty of the narrative process without its structure and forms. The beauty but not the story. If, as Wordsworth says, poetry is the overflow of powerful feeling recalled in a moment of tranquility...I could do with a little more of the backstory.

What are your favorite poems, poets, and backstories? That's what I want to explore for April. I'm taking requests. Have a poem you like and want to know a little more about? Let me know.

Listening to traffic, steps on the stairs, typing, The Best of Leonard Cohen

Monday, March 29, 2010

RIP Beezus Smudge

You was always an angel in our eyes. ~The tombstone of a young girl in a local cemetery.

A little more about the Kibs. Beezus was one year old, an insistent stray who kept darting in my kitchen door every time it opened. I have yet to assign the proper gender pronoun to him. I'm pretty sure he was a him. Beezus was sweet, never getting quite as much cuddling as he wanted. If I were his cat-wife, I would laud his skills as a provider. As a human, I can appreciate that the moles and squirrels left dead at my doorstep were touching, if bloody, reminders that he loved me. In a year that saw two of the most important people in my life come and go (and come and go), it was a blessing to know he saw my home as his home. As I had to remind myself on the day I stepped, barefooted, on a sharp and bloody beak. (No, not a dead bird. Just a dead beak.) Rachel so graciously did the honors of picking his body up off the street, whilst I dug the grave.

We planted him with the daffodils. He sleeps in the sunbeams of heaven and frolics with the cats of yore.

Listening to Kathleen Edwards, "Asking for Flowers."

Monday, March 22, 2010

I'm a joiner

I was gifted with the opportunity to update my CV recently. Groan with me, now.

It occurred to me that I've paid a lot of dues, when it comes to my chosen profession. And that's okay. I loooove what I do for a living.

Now, just maybe, it's time for me to do something else. A couple of me-things. The 20s are so much about just figuring out which way is up in the world, and how to get on that incline. But I'm 31, now. Now I want to figure out what is to the left and right of me...before I get stuck in the middle. With or without you.

And two big, huge, wonderful happymaking things have happened! One, I started a group for fiber artists at two local churches called "Be Warm". We knit and crochet items for the homeless to be distributed through our churches. We're just in the starting phase. You'll hear more about it as we go. (If you are a knitter or crocheter, and are looking for a way to get involved in this much-needed work, just drop me a comment! You will be appreciated!)

Two, I joined the West TN Outdoors Club. I need to meet people outside of my work/church life. And I need to hike. The feeling of striding along powerfully on my own two legs, arms swinging, climbing up and over and around, navigating overflowing riverbanks, staring down that hill and laughing at it from the top. Yeah, I'm pretty psyched. If you live in the area, and want a cool group of people to hang outside with, come!

Listening to Patty Griffin, "Virgen de Guadalupe"

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Tammy Donna

The washing machine has been named Tammy Donna. It was inspired by a woman on the news last night, who has worked in a hotel laundry, and is now in jail for bad checks. She works multiple jobs trying to feed two children and get her life back on track. The machine, likewise, is not a quitter. Like Tammy, it's pretty battered around the edges--lots of nicks and scrapes and dents-- and much has been asked and will be asked of it. But it's done 8 consecutive loads of laundry with nary a squeak nor a shudder. And, it doesn't walk across my kitchen.

Tammy Donna, welcome home.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Metablog Monday

How could I not have a label for coffee? Added.

You might have noticed I added a logo for an organization, "Just Love Coffee." Should you desire to explore their website, you will also observe that clicking on the logo takes you to a "storefront" page for the Osburns. This kind, creative, loving, stable, neat family is part of my church family. Oliver, the youngest, is in my Wednesday night Bible class. He can sing the words to all the songs now, and make the arm motions. When I tell them that "God did" or "God made" he tilts his head down, cuts his eyes to the side, and says, "Aaaaaand Jesus." I swear, he even once put his hand on his hip while saying this. Ellis, the oldest, made me lip balm for Christmas last year. Julie's Etsy shop has all sorts of warm, colorful happymakers. Wade says a mean prayer. Just an all-around great family.

Now for the link. A couple in Nashville adopted two daughters from Ethiopia. Mr. Couple (name? sorry) grew up around his father's coffee-importing business. In studying Ethiopian culture to help understand their children and the adoption process, Mr. Couple knew that the strong role coffee has played in Ethopia, its relatively cheap availability, partnered with Americans' love affair with delicious, rich, exotic coffees, and families facing significant adoption-related expenses: Win-win-win.

These delicious, fair-trade, organic coffees are purchased by the pound. You can sign up for a one-time sale, a 1lb/month year-long "coffee club", or even a 2lb/month year-long coffee club! You probably got there already: About 45% of the profits from any type of purchase goes back to the Osburns to help raise a little money for the newest family member to come home safely

More-than-awesome coffee (sign up for Ethiopian Sidamo and Sumatran) and a more-more-than-awesome-and-deserving family and one very lucky little kid? Bliss you can sip on.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Yarn love

Knitting makes me happy. It's also a way to solve other people's problems. More on that in the future. For now, have a swell weekend. A friend put this in her blog once, and I've been thinking today is the type of day that was made for this song:

She blew me away in concert with Ray Lamontagne at the Ryman Auditorium. Her voice is very...frosty. In a shimmery, silvery way.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

My family...sigh

Are awesome! My brother just found me a washing machine for a ridiculously low price, and is hauling it over to me tomorrow. (Which is a hint, of course, for him to haul it over to me tomorrow!) It's a little scuffed, but smaller than my Carter-era Gigantor! And it's white. Believe me, the hours spent being annoyed by the white stove next to the beige washer have been...well, superficial. I make it up to myself by saying that the white machine will set off the green of Layla's fingerpaintings better. Whew, better. I feel the need to name it Betty. We'll see it when it arrives.

Monday, March 8, 2010

But I have to tell you this first.

For the last several nights, I've been having horror-show-proportion dreams.

Last night, I dreamed that I was with a friend and her mom wedding dress shopping. With us was a toddler who could barely walk, but we had no stroller or other type of carrier. The child kept falling into potholes, or entangling himself, or being dragged off by strangers. His mother would just leave him alone in whatever quandary he was in, until he figured out how to help himself. Out of desperation I would step in and rescue the child, usually waiting till the last possible moment, thinking surely the child's mother would do something. The grandmother was clueless, floating along in a sea of oblivion, wondering aloud if the sleeves on that one mother's-gown were too puffy, or too lacy. I felt so bad for the child, yet so impotent to help him. At one point, we were all standing around the parking lot of a dreary strip mall, when I heard crying, and looked up to see the mother walking away saying, "You didn't give me your arm. I told you to give me your arm." I couldn't see any sign of the child, so I kneeled down and started stroking a wet, oily patch of pavement, saying "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. When she walks away, I'll help. But where are you?" I turned to see a pothole that had formed around a manhole cover. I peeked in, and sure enough, the baby was lying in the hole with one ear and the side of his head exposed. He was face down in thick mud. I reached for his arm, but he jerked it away from me. I let him drown.


Listening to Leonard Cohen, "Suzanne"

Sunday, March 7, 2010

I'm probably going to take a little break from LftAI for a little while. Working out some other ideas for the other three blogs! You can catch up at:

Listening to: traffic, birds, laughter, steps

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Hi, kids.

Facebook is temporarily deactivated. If you need me, you probably know how else to contact me. Twitter, email and blog are still active.

Later. Go check out this great eschatalogical harbinger of awesomeness: http://www.loveinstereo.com/

Listening to Jeff Buckley's "You & I"

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Two days in

to the post-funk, and life is busssssssy! The class I teach is improving weekly, and I'm beginning to see some real strengths come out in my students. Today, one kid raised the issue of historiography in the 1930s, and another one actually knew what he was talking about. Also, another one used the term "interiority." I don't only love smart kids, but yeah, I love smart kids.

But I don't love this new slate of responsibilities I couldn't say no to for the Historical Society. More on these folks, later. I'm too shell-shocked from the experience to formulate much. If you are of the praying sort, let me just go ahead and say...get started.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The end

I've scheduled the end of the life-funk to coincide with the end of February. Watch out, March!

So Layla and I had a parade in which she dressed up as a unicorn, and I dressed up as a lion. Metaphorically, be it understood. My costume consisted of a penguin costume hanging from my head and I roared a lot. Instead of a crown, we fought for the green hole-plugger stick from Starbucks. It makes a great baton for a parade marshall.

Tom reminded me of this song, which I used to have memorized. The Adamses had a silly childhood. I was always afraid of the Unicorn. The Lion looks like a lion and has a human face. The Unicorn looks medicated, and he has cloven hooves. I feel a dark underbelly of bloated evil hidden by a shiny costume. However, I'm super excited about the new movie, in which every dark underbelly of bloated evil will be artfully done. And have Johnny Depp.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sing with me now:

"And if you're only half way up....you're neither up nor down!"

Slap a label on me

See, I've been confronted with this problem. The problem of putting a label on, and campaigning on behalf of that label. Despite my visceral drawback from categorical appropriations of human beings, I wonder if the thing to do here is step in. Step waaay on in.

A group of friends and I were talking about some students we have taught here, and how their work is often dissatisfying to us as instructors because of their lack of clarity. Their inability to distill their thinking into clear statements of belief or rejection. Ahhh...college years. Chasing one thought and then another because they all sound so right. Not yet possessing quite enough self-actualization to realize that we can call out the inaccuracies of someone else's thinking, or otherwise just acknowledge that we aren't bound to embrace the so-called experts' conclusions. Not having enough mental space to let the answers begin making themselves.

Hence--labels. Labels require you to embrace the school of thought the "experts" have stitched together. One particular label--Democrat--I am not ready to embrace. I have plenty of liberal leanings, I suppose, but I see the vagaries of accepting "Democrat" as my political identity. Since 2001, I have eaten politics like dinner. At times, the Republicans have made as much sense to me as the Democrats, but sure as soon as I get going, then I like the look of libertarianism. Then my smart voice chimes in and says but libertarianism is so worthless, like the Tea Party. But fiscal conservatism looks like a good idea so maybe...But then again, conservatism means people without health care or education...but then if people can't take personal responsibility for their own care...

Well sometimes you have to create space and sometimes you have to eliminate space to see the conclusion. Plus, I really want to stop swallowing my tail. I was approached to be "team captain" for the county I live in and conduct campaign activities for a candidate who is trying to unseat an incumbent representative. I don't have to be a card-carrying member of this party. Apparently a desire to see the incumbent unseated is enough qualification. The new guy looks pretty good, and I think he will wage a worthy campaign. But if I do the job, which looks interesting, then do I take on this label? What if he does something for which I am ashamed later? What will that say about me? What will I learn by stepping in?

Listening to: Alejandro Escovedo, "Rosalie"

Friday, February 12, 2010

Formspring post #1

What do you want to give the world?

I've never posed this question to myself. So...this is a 24-hour pass at it. When I know I've made the right decision, I depend on two key indicators to confirm that. One, my gut. If it doesn't clench then it means my body has accepted my decision and won't fight it. Two, my mind. The double-think lays down and goes to sleep. When I thought through the answer to this question, both of these checkpoints signaled their acceptance. I slept well last night.

What would I like to give the world? Add recognition and acceptance, subtract unqualified tolerance, skim off a little nostalgia, multiply by dignity, and round up to the nearest affirmation.

Professionally, I get to do this every day. A plaque on the wall of my grad school department read, "Within these hallowed halls are the future stewards of our national and cultural heritage." I go to work and take care of the material and archival evidence that human beings lived, worked, aspired, failed, loved, and fought. I devise and implement organizational systems that will keep historical information relevant, accessible, and complete. I tell stories. All day long, I tell stories. And I love to tell stories. I often wish I could have a spot on the evening news, reading a story. I would read the story Sarah Carlyle tells her Uncle George about her "dear Mamma's" passing and how she feels about taking on the management of her father's house at age 12, "which is, as yet, too much for me." We would talk about two male college students trying to heft a rather overweight (but beautiful, I am assured) woman through a window to escape the college president who was pursuing them after some infraction.

Okay, I would pretty much invent StoryCorps.

I've been thinking a lot lately about losing and gaining people. What it means to have someone in your life and then for them to be gone. Doesn't matter how, the result is often the same. Your routines alter, and you cast about looking for someone else to be "the one solid the spaces lean on. " When we are gone, where are we? Let's face it. No one really knows. When we add people, where do we put them? Do we make new spaces and categories, or can we fit them into old molds?

Museums get to do a little something about that, true. But what do I want to do about it in my non-work life? Look people in the eyes, acknowledge when they serve me in some way, and treat their contributions to my life with the respect that created beings ought to have for one another.

It pleases me that I don't know who asked this question. It frees me from manipulating the answer. I would give this to you, Asker, as I would to you, Reader.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Thinking out all the ramifications of this

It's one thing for the boat to be in the water. It's another thing for the water to be in the boat. Amen?

Friday, February 5, 2010

JL Gerhardt is a good writer, and a better thinker. I recommend this post of hers:

My niece has learned a new song about the Fruits of the Spirit:
The fruit of the spirit's not a kiwi.
The fruit of the spirit's not a kiwi.
So if you wanna be a kiwi, you better hear it.
You can't be a fruit of the spirit.

The fruits of the spirit are:
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control
The fruits of the spirit are:
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.

I told Layla that I was proud of her for knowing them and for being able to count them all on her fingers. And then I went home before I started crying.

Lately, I'm the kiwi.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I am heartily sick of dim lights and night time. I want bright lights, bracing winds. To be awake all the time and never sleep. To be bold and daring, chiseled, with wings and a voice that would raise the dead. To be thinking and talking. To be talked to and questioned. To be interested and interesting, in the present, able to measure the past and carry it with me. Able to charge into the future.

I can't do that under these circumstances. Fortunately, these circumstances have come to an end, which is the real meaning of the dream I had last night.

Friday, January 29, 2010

This was one hour ago.

This was thirty minutes ago.

I think I may head over to Peggy's and sit in her picture window.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Birthday Cards

Layla says: "Aun Terin, I made you a birthday card. Open it and read it!"
Inside of the card, it says: "Aunt Erin, I made you a birthday card."

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Me, in a music store and Last Night

Walk in. Stand in the doorway like some giant gap-mouthed obstacle and get my bearings. Then dive in. I float from sorter to sorter, gathering everything that looks good to me until my hands overflow, and I am forced to actually absorb the sheer fact of cds in my hand. I begin to weed them out, first putting back the clearly impulse selections. Next goes the ones I think will be one-album wonders. Eventually, I'm down to two types: the cds I need to fill crucial gaps in a collection or the ones I need to replace old, scratched cds. A couple of weeks ago with Erin at Louisville's Ear X-tacy, I followed the standard pattern, except for standing in the doorway. (Someone else was trying to get out.) I picked up some Gillian Welch, some My Morning Jacket, maybe a Wilco. They didn't have any new Lucinda Williams. And then my eye fell on Leonard Cohen.

Apparently I've been a fan of LC for sometime, mostly unawares. The first time I heard Jeff Buckley's version of "Hallelujah", I had to pull over to the side of the road. I could not speak. I remember staring at this same plant for quite some time until the song was over. I played it through once more and then got back on the road. Even now, whenever I hear this song, I have to stop what I'm doing, listen, process, before I can continue. I bought two incredible CDs that I've been listening to non-stop since, "The Future" and "the Best of Leonard Cohen."

2009 was tough, for some obvious and intensely personal reasons. And despite whatever changes 2010 brings about, the year will be different because I will be different. I will be less critical of myself, banishing "should" and "sorry" from my vocabulary. I will excuse myself from those relationships where tyranny has raised its head. I will be more in the moment with those around me, and foster relationships that are going to be incredible. I can see it now. I will say goodbye to past relationships I am sorry to see go, mostly because of how they ended. I will remove should and sorry from my vocabulary unless I really am sorry, about things that I should be sorry about. (And these resolves don't fit that distinction.) I will succumb to the ebb and flow of the universe with a little more grace than I have heretofore exhibited, with a little less of a sense of personal wrong. I'm going to stop now.

Of course, it all comes with a prayer...


Monday, January 4, 2010

Better give your heart to God...

because your ass is going someplace else. Let's start there.

The Adams Family Christmas Extravaganza was pretty awesome and this quote from a visitor to the snack-stand-of-fun sums it up well. We served a lot of people--no one counted--and generated lots of cheer. Enjoy the pictures. Layla spoke Spanish to a little girl who was driving with her family from Pennsylvania to Mexico. We were prayed over, thanked effusively by a grandma from Jersey, lectured on the benefits of working Alaska for only 6 months of the year, and bemused by the trucker who hauled nuclear waste and other chemical products between government facilities all over the US. He has been shot and he has shot folks, folks. I could tell you his name and trucking outfit, but I won't. I won't sleep well at night.

The trucker's statement was born from a discussion on the nature of the work he does and the extent of training he has undergone and the protocol he has to follow. Everyday, tractor trailers across the US are hauling teddy bears, running shoes, cars, and nuclear waste. I guess what I"m saying is we all have a job to do, and a role to fill, and some of them will kill you.

The holiday season had serious ups and downs, but I'm going to take this event away as my Christmas memory for 2009.

Layla is silly.

Mom and Layla advertising the wares.

Family driving from Jersey to OKC.

The goods. And the grandma.

Rachel--useful in her own way.