Sunday, November 29, 2009

Making Things Others Probably Won't Buy

is not futile.

There is this joy: remembering the picture-taking; centering and affixing the photographs on the cards; folding and creasing them; aligning them along my dining table. Should no one want the cards, I will use them myself and enjoy them over and over and over again.Meanwhile, like all good company, they converse and entertain, shining in lamplit dark.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Welcome Visit

An eighth-grader when I taught her, Amelie is a professional woman now, just as lovely and lovable as she was that long time ago when we shared a classroom. Over eggs and coffee, we chatted easily about books and the news, her classmates and family, her professional and personal life.

Once I taught in a girls' school, and the girls return to memory often and sometimes in person. Their visits are always welcome.

Monday, November 23, 2009


Images, Technology, and Music: The Ballets Suedois and Les maries ...Robley Munger Hood's dissertation, "The Ballets Su├ędois: Modernism and the Painterly Stage," convincingly argues that the company was a "kind of ...

Searching the Internet for something quite different the other day, I came upon the above reference.
The shock of recognition was immediate, and my surprise even greater. Someone has actually read my dissertation and apparently had something complimentary to say about it. When I followed the link above, I discovered that the writer's article was published in The Musical Quarterly, for which I'd have to pay a fee if I wanted to read the rest of her comment.

Over the past several days, I have had other Internet lagniappes: communication with a distant over-the-sheets cousin about our ancestors and emails with another person who shares my unusual first name. I have enjoyed both virtual connections more than I might have expected and look forward to more of the same.

Plenty of folks complain about the depersonalization and isolation brought on by the Internet. My experience has been the opposite. I have been connected to relatives and possible relatives (a descendant of slaves with a family name), to former students in their 50s and still in their teens, and to friendly (carefully selected) strangers. Now, I have even been reconnected -- however marginally -- to the persona and scholar I once was.

How these unexpected miracles cheer me!

Image to follow when Blogger is working correctly.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Joe Obama

Though not usually a fan of lap dogs, I am smitten with Joe, the wiggle-worm, who squirms and shakes and scampers his way up the steps each day at The Lemon Fair when he and his human companion replace me for the afternoon. Who wouldn't be charmed by this enthusiastic bundle of fur with happy smile, sharp underbite, pink tongue, long silky hair, and trusting eyes?

Friday, November 20, 2009

That Light

is magic.

It's not Oxford, but on a late fall afternoon, it'll do.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Gossips in the Corner

look friendly from a distance but stink up close. Familiarity, even with ladybugs, breeds contempt.
Tomorrow, they're taking a little trip.

Outside, in dustbin.

Then let them do their deeds all they want -- somewhere else.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The True Bug

"What is that?" she said, entering the shop.

"A bug," her granddaughter responded.

I had to look.

Sure enough: a true bug.Armored, triangular-headed, leaf-footed, his wings camouflaged and folded tightly along the back, this prehistoric monster of a bug (at least an inch and a half long) almost sprinted up the screen to the top of the door. Before I could get a well focused shot, he shot straight up like a helicopter or the golden snitch in quidditch. I watched him soar across the street, gaining altitutude, until finally losing him as he buzzed above the bank. I found him online: species Acanthocephala declivis.

I read what I found, but I prefer what my entomologist friend emailed:

They are true bugs. Hemipterans (which means that 1/2 of their wings are sclerotized, and half membranous), and subgroup Coreidae. They have sucking mouthparts. All those homologous mouthparts that you saw in the grasshopper are modified in these bugs to make a straw-like mouth for piercing and sucking. Incomplete metamorphosis, because the young nymphs look like miniature adults, without wings.

I call them leaf-footed bugs, but they are surely close to the photo you sent.

Assassin bugs are in this group. Also kissing bugs. Kissing bugs carry Chagas' disease, a blood parasite that lodges in the heart. Darwin described being bitten by a kissing bug (so-called because they bite around the lips and nose), and some medical historians think that he had Chagas' disease. Kissing bugs live as commensals in wood-rat nests. As a graduate student, I excavated wood rat nests and found quite a few. Darwin or wood rat, it doesn't matter.

Who wouldn't love the ugly bug!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

After Grading

I need this. The loud silence of water, breeze, birds.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Ginkgo

is so old that dinosaurs knew them and they're so long lived 40 generations of one family might not outlive one specimen. Some call it a maidenhair tree, says the "Ancient Chinese . . . describe[d] the tree as ya-chio-tu , meaning a tree with leaves like a duck's foot," and Buddhists believe it's sacred. As for me, the splayed and split leaf looks like a pleated fabric fan, yellowed with age and gentle use, strewn or dropped on purpose for another to pick up and admire.
And today, that's eactly what I did.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Floor Dance

Lagniappe = crystals, late afternoon, old wooden floor, walking = dance.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lunch and Laughter

Some days, it's possible to need something without knowing it's needed it till you get it.

Like today, for instance.

Friends Jay and Sandy drove up for lunch and laughter. Camera-shy, they let me snap their feet.
Notice where their toes meet: a heart-shaped leaf, vibrant like their visit.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


In Fackler, Alabama, Crow Mountain Orchard grows all kinds of wonderful fruit, including apples. A Sunday drive with Boo past the Walls of Jericho and through miles of beautiful forest culminated in a sip of delicious cider, a pleasurable browse of apples (Fuji, Mutsu, Red Delicious, Granny Smith, McIntosh, Golden Delicious, Winesap), and two half pecks -- one of Jonathans and the other of Cumberland Spurs, their own original apple.Not satisfied with just eating the fruit, I decided to make my first-ever apple pie. Well, I tried. Much of it spilled over the cookie sheet onto the bottom of the over or onto the sheet. I let it get too brown, but I shall eat it anyway. The point is that I scouted out the apples; peeled, cored, and sliced them; and attempted the pie.Next time, I'll know better, and there will definitely be a next time.Maybe . . . tomorrow?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Another Birthday

As a boy, my nephew, the live wire, squiggled and wiggled, tackled and ran, butted and spun. Even when he "read," he turned the book round and round and round. He called it "turning the pages." Today, on turning 40, he stills flicks pages when he reads. Otherwise he channels his energy into family, work, friends, and bicycling or running.

It's hard to believe the boy with the large head and flailing hair is the man who can now call himself middle-aged.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Emily Dickinson

On the website of the American Academy of Poets, Emily Dickinson's biography includes this: "Upon her death, Dickinson's family discovered 40 handbound volumes of nearly 1800 of her poems, or 'fascicles' as they are sometimes called. These booklets were made by folding and sewing five or six sheets of stationery paper and copying what seem to be final versions of poems in an order that many critics believe to be more than chronological."How fitting, then, the folded muslin arms of the found sculpture in a Cowan storefront. This Dickinson -- mesh, metal, and cloth -- stares out of the empty shop window, a study in plainness and loneliness, like the real one holed up in near silence in her father's house, where she wrote and stored away her poems.

Instead of storing poems in a trunk, this Emily writes them in the viewer's eyes.

Saturday, November 7, 2009


Jere has rescued me many times.

During an especially bitter winter, in an old and drafty house, with a heating system involving gas and a tank totally foreign to me, I called him for help. He came, took the temp inside, hovering only a bit above freezing, investigated the tank, and announced there was no gas. He walked home across the street and came back, with space heaters and an invitation to come on over.

Another time, when a squirrel ran under my tires and I felt the thump of death, I called him, crying. I drove a block out of my way for a week just so I wouldn't see the corpse between our houses. I hadn't needed to make my detour. Jere had removed the squirrel immediately after I called.

He and his wife drove me to the vet one Sunday evening with my dying cat, comforted me when I sobbed, and buried her the next day in their garden because I had to leave town at 4:30 in the morning. They said a few words, sang a hymn, and placed flowers and a stone rabbit above her little body.

Just this past Saturday, he rescued me again when my car stopped on the Interstate, where I stood, nervously for an hour, before his arrival. He called a tow truck and gave me much-needed auto advice and let me rail and cry. He later said he knew I'd get over it.

This is Jere the next morning, enjoying his daily routine. His smile says it all. He's a mensch.

And I love him.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Redness of the Blueberry Leaf

The blueberry leaves, red now with the fire of fall, sing of Dylan Thomas. Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And so the blueberry rages and so the blueberry will be reborn in spring.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Bug's Life

I shot beautiful dotted green bugs, racing along hairy plant stalks or snoozing in sun-lit yellow petals or eating their way through purple flowers.

"What are they doing?" I asked my friend Jill.

She laughed.

I said, "You're the bug expert!"

She laughed again. "Procreation,
food, basic needs."

My basic needs are so much more complicated that some days a bug's life looks pretty good.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Snap, Crackle, Pop

Better than cereal, the snap, crackle, and pop of fall.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Into the Woods

Days of long shadows
now when
with limb, leaf,
trunks, I fall
into gold.

Monday, November 2, 2009

What's White Isn't Always

Sunday morning, in a friend's garden, under intense November sun, a white skipper floated from plant to plant, just ahead of my shadow. In air, winking white; spread-winged at rest, brown dotted; close up, hairily olive -- the skipper sank into blossom after blossom, and into my lens.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Day of Windy Leaves

Listen and see Green's View in fall.