Sunday, April 29, 2012

birds in puddles

This is real. This exists in real life.

2. Received some excellent mail from Anna D. on Friday containing 22 Mockingjay tattoos.

3. Birds bathing in puddles.

4. You know when someone asks you to vote for them on some site for some competition, but it requires making an account, which means that you regularly get spam from reader's digest or some nonsense? Good news! You can vote for my cousin Janice in just one click without giving up any of your information or inbox space. You can vote once a day!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

anything otter related

1. Photos from the subway of the 1940's by Stanley Kubrick.

2. Obama slow jamming the news on Jimmy Kimmel.

3. Look closely. This is actually a diorama by Lori Nix.

4. A large percentage of people who come upon this blog via google are actually searching for otters. Baby otter, otters holding hands, otters for sale.

5. Artichokes. They were on sale at Wegman's recently and I took full advantage. There are lots of ways to eat artichokes, but growing up we always just steamed them and dipped it in melted butter with lemon. I enjoy this painstakingly detailed description of how to cook and eat them as well.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

whatever leads to joy

April Is (a tumblr posting a poem a day for the month of April, National Poetry month).
Last Friday I thought about posting something for Bill, but I got distracted and didn't. Today I was looking at the poem a day poems and saw that the one below was posted on Friday, Bill's birthday. Freaky shit.
Happy belated birthday Bill. Your life is still a reminder to be as joyful and ridiculous as I can be.

My Dead Friends

 I have begun,
when I’m weary and can’t decide an answer to a bewildering question

to ask my dead friends for their opinion
and the answer is often immediate and clear.

Should I take the job? Move to the city? Should I try to conceive a child
in my middle age?

They stand in unison shaking their heads and smiling—whatever leads
to joy, they always answer,

to more life and less worry. I look into the vase where Billy’s ashes were —
it’s green in there, a green vase,

and I ask Billy if I should return the difficult phone call, and he says, yes.
Billy’s already gone through the frightening door,

whatever he says I’ll do.  

- Marie Howe

Sunday, April 22, 2012

afresh, afresh, afresh

I'm very pleased that the leaves are coming out on the trees, in spite of the allergic reactions that come with them. One thing that was nice about bare trees, though, was being able to see Cayuga Lake from my bedroom window. Goodbye, Cayuga. Hello, beautiful walls of green.

The Trees
The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.
Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too,
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.
Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In fullgrown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.
- Philip Larkin

Saturday, April 21, 2012

"Be care-eh-ful, girls"

1. Yesterday I went to Salvation Army, which always makes my day. There is just every kind of person in Salvation Army, and the one in Ithaca plays good music. I got four shirts, one pair of pants, and a salad dressing container for $12.

2. In case you haven't been following Caine's Arcade, a lot of stuff has been happening. They've set up a fund for his education (not just college, but anything he might need before that, like tutors or special classes), and folks have donated $180,000! The New York Times finally got on the ball and wrote a story about it. Caine visited a NASA scientist who built cardboard rockets when he was a kid.

3. North Carolina's High Country United States of Christ, and their campaign against an amendment banning same-sex marriage. Along with these Ministers, "Traditional" families are part of the campaign to combat the amendment.

4. Last night I was at a bar with some friends, and noticed that this man in a black jacket had stationed himself near where we were sitting. When I talked to him briefly, he had a strong Russian accent. He interacted minimally with the ladies in our group, and I didn't think much of it.  Then, this dancing dude tried to approach my friend, BOOM! there came Russian stranger out of nowhere! "No no no, you don't talk to her," he said. Words were exchanged, dancing guy went back to dancing, Russian stranger went back to sitting near us and not saying anything. He was our guardian! Later on he told us he was leaving, and we decided to give him a group hug to thank him for looking out for us. He happily shared the hug, said "Be care-eh-ful, girls," and left. 

 Some of them are a little photo-shoppey for my taste, but in general they are awesome. You can see a bunch more (less dramatic) pictures on his blog

6. Okay, as may be evident, I've been spending a lot of time recently focusing on my spiritual life. It's not a crisis of faith or anything, just a time when a lot of things happened at once and I've been trying to figure out what it's all been about. But I was talking to Chez about it, and she said "I don't know that we're given things to figure them out."
Game changer. 
Figuring things out is pretty much what I do. It's my approach to everything - if I think about, or discern about, this thing enough, I'll figure it out. But maybe that's not always the thing that needs doing. Maybe it will make sense in time, but also (and this is the scariest part), maybe it won't. 

This is another song that I had as part of my College Meeting for Worship. Chez sang it, incidentally. It worked really well with the subject of my talk - which involved the story of important female figures in my mom's life appearing to her when she needed reassuring. Now I'm wondering if the "there will be an answer" is too assumptive. My faith leads me to believe that there is an answer, and maybe in order to be truly faithful I have to accept that I might not ever know it. 

When I find myself in times of trouble
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
And in my hour of darkness
She is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
Let it be, let it be.
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.

And when the broken hearted people
Living in the world agree,
There will be an answer, let it be.
For though they may be parted there is
Still a chance that they will see
There will be an answer, let it be.
Let it be, let it be. Yeah
There will be an answer, let it be.

And when the night is cloudy,
There is still a light that shines on me,
Shine on until tomorrow, let it be.
I wake up to the sound of music
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
Let it be, let it be.
There will be an answer, let it be.
Let it be, let it be,
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

Thursday, April 19, 2012

what a job

Me: I'm going to go wake up Baby. He's been asleep for three hours and we're supposed to go to the Science Center.
Emma: What a job, man. What a job.
We pretty much didn't leave the water table.

3. Roy Staab! No known relation, I just found out about him today. 

No big deal, just an otter praying.
5. Okay, as promised, here is a little more awkward bearing of my soul. I hope you appreciate how much effort this takes and what a dork I feel like. 

When I was in my fourth year at Earlham, I was asked to lead College Meeting for worship. This meant preparing what was basically a sermon, choosing hymns to sing, passages to be read, and talking about theology/belief in front of whoever showed up. Horrifying. The topic of the semester was something like "Belief and Reason," and I talked about how my mom believes in ghosts but not God. I basically told everyone there how I conceptualized God, and it was damn tricky. If you're interested in reading what I shared, I will happily e-mail it to you. 

Anyway, another really tricky part was choosing hymns. I was raised liberal unprogrammed Quaker, I don't know many hymns. Chez recommended "His Eye is On the Sparrow." So we sang it. And I really like it. Like "Never Quite Free" by the Mountain Goats, I see it as being about feeling safe and loved in spite of everything - being empowered to live a happy and fulfilled life as best you can, because God's love is ever present and unconditional. 

His Eye Is On the Sparrow 
Civilla D. Martin

  1. Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,
    Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heav’n and home,
    When Jesus is my portion? My constant Friend is He:
    His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
    His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
    • Refrain:
      I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free,
      For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
  2. “Let not your heart be troubled,” His tender word I hear,
    And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears;
    Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see;
    His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
    His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.
  3. Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise,
    When songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies,
    I draw the closer to Him, from care He sets me free;
    His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
    His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

Monday, April 16, 2012

believe in sheltering skies and stable earth beneath

1. 21 Cats Imitating Art. Not all of these are very good, so in order to save you some time, here are the best ones:

2. 60 Minutes' story "Joy in the Congo: a Musical Miracle." Try to ignore the condescension in the way it's framed, there's a beautiful story there. 

After a Month of Rain

Everything I thought I wanted
is right here,
particularly when the sun
is making such a comeback,

and the lilac engorged
with purple has recovered
from its severe pruning,
and you will be back soon

to dispel whatever it is
that overtakes me like leaf blight,
even on a day like this. I can still
hear remnants of the rain

in the swollen stream
behind the house, in the faint
dripping under the eaves,
persistent as memory.

And all the things I didn’t think
I wanted, cut like the lilac back
to the root, push up again
from underground.

- Linda Pastan

3. I saw a Northern Flicker today. It was beautiful! I backed up the car so that I could look at it again.

3. I'm about to go out on a limb here, so bear with me. A series of recent events have led me to think more carefully about what I believe (in terms of God, fate, souls, kindness, faith, etc), and also about how I express that to other people. I don't, really. A lot of my closest friends don't know what I believe about God, and I don't really know what they believe. I'm not going to turn this into a God Blog, but I might start trying to integrate more faith-related stuff. Because, dear readers, I like God.  Phew! I said it. 
As part of this new initiative, I'm going to try to share a song or poem that reflects my spiritual beliefs in some way with every post. You can always skip over it if it doesn't interest you. 
Today, I bring you "Never Quite Free" by the Mountain Goats. I've heard that John Darnielle is puzzled by everyone saying how comforting/inspiring the song is, because he intended it to be about how you can never escape some things. And I can't argue with him, because, well, he wrote the song, BUT what the song means to me is that despite the inescapability of some things, there is always hope. To me, it's about giving yourself permission to move on. Cheesy yes, but also one of my favorite songs of all time. 

It's so good to learn that right outside your window
There's only friendly fields and open roads
And you'll sleep better when you think you've stepped back from the brink
And found some peace inside yourself; lay down your heavy load

It gets alright
to dream at night
Believe in solid skies and slate blue earth below
But when you see him, you'll know

It's okay to find the faith to saunter forward
There's no fear of shadows spreading where you stand
And you'll breathe easier just knowing that the worst is all behind you
And the waves that tossed the raft all night have set you on dry land

It gets okay
to praise the day
Believe in sheltering skies and stable earth beneath
But hear his breath come through his teeth

Walk by faith
Tell no one what you've seen

It's so good to learn that from right here the view goes on forever
And you'll never want for comfort, and you'll never be alone
See the sunset turning red, let all be quiet in your head
And look about, all the stars are coming out

They shine like steel swords
Wish me well where I go
But when you see me, you'll know

Sunday, April 15, 2012

but that's all

Thanks to Sarah C-M for posting this on Facebook:

“You don’t have to get a job that makes others feel comfortable about what they perceive as your success. You don’t have to explain what you plan to do with your life. You don’t have to justify your education by demonstrating its financial rewards. You don’t have to maintain an impeccable credit score. Anyone who expects you to do any of those things has no sense of history or economics or science or the arts. You have to pay your own electric bill. You have to be kind. You have to give it all you got. You have to find people who love you truly and love them back with the same truth.
But that’s all.”
- Dear Sugar (the advice column at The Rumpus)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Notes on Visiting my Parents

Willie, the obese cat, and the gargling/snorting noises he makes while cleaning his own belly.
Me: The check engine light is on again in my car, but dad said we don't worry about that.
Mom: (calls to dad in the next room) HELEN SAYS THE CHECK ENGINE LIGHT IS ON AGAIN!
Dad: We don't worry about that.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

when in doubt, dad

This is gonna sound super cheesy, but I feel like one of the luckiest people in the world based merely on the fact that most people on this planet won't get to meet my dad. But I get to see him all the time. Also, he doesn't read my blog, so he cannot protest my posting pictures of him. Please don't ruin this for us all by telling him he is a regular feature of this here weblog (that means you, mom).

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Caine's Arcade

1. If you have the kind of internet that lets you watch videos, watch this one. I'm so serious. If you don't have the kind of internet that lets you watch videos, go to the site anyway and read the story & look at the pictures, then bookmark it and watch the video when you get the chance. I've watched it twice today already and happy-cried both times. 

2. Today, Baby kept on picking up these Easter bunny ears leftover from the weekend. When I put them on him, he would immediately pull them off. But when I wasn't looking, he would try to put them back on, balancing them precariously on top of his head.

3. Katniss Everdeen, a New Type of Woman Warrior


5. Recently released albums that you should be aware of:
- My Head is An Animal by Of Monsters and Men (only recently released in the USA, but you've probably heard their single "Little Talks")
- The Lumineers, self titled album


Ghost Elephants

In the elephant field
tall green ghost elephants
with your cargo of summer leaves

at night I heard you breathing at the window

Don’t you ever think I’m not crying
since you’re away from me
Don’t ever think I went free

At first the goodbye had a lilt to it—
maybe just a couple of months—
but it was a beheading.

Ghost elephant,
reach down,
cross me over—

- Jean Valentine

Monday, April 9, 2012

the bone luminous

1. When I was in the South, we went to Mississippi to go to the Walter Anderson Museum. Walter Anderson is known for his depictions of plants, animals, and scenery specific to the Gulf Shore. My grandparents were friends with Walter, and my mom grew up playing with his kids. 

2. Remember when I started that list, "Rules For My Own Damn Self?" Here are some more rules.

23. Re-examine the roots of your beliefs and assumptions on a regular basis.
24. If someone challenges your beliefs or assumptions, try to see it as a chance to find more clarity.
25. Don't apologize for your emotions. 
26. Don't apologize for needing sleep, food, self-space, or to pee. Don't take it personally when other people need sleep, food, self-space, or to pee.
27. Make things.
29. Eat at least one naturally green thing with every meal.
30. Where you are going is almost never so important that it's worth getting a ticket or endangering yourself/others. Drive safely.

I am so proud to call this person my platonic electronic life partner.

5.  You can expect a lot of poetry this month. Deal with it. 

The Soul Bone
Susan Wood

Once I said I didn’t have a spiritual bone 
in my body and meant by that 
I didn’t want to think of death, 
as though any bone in us 
could escape it. Maybe 
I was afraid of what I couldn’t know 
for certain, a thud like the slamming 
of a coffin lid, as final and inexplicable 
as that. What was the soul anyway, 
I wondered, but a homonym for loneliness? 
Now, in late middle age, or more, I like to imagine it, 
the spirit, the soul bone, as though it were hidden 
somewhere inside my body, white as a tooth 
that falls from a child’s mouth, a dove, 
the cloud it can fly through. Like bones, 
it persists. Little knot of self, stubborn 
as wildflowers in a Chilmark field in autumn, 
the white ones they call boneset, for healing, 
or the others, pearly everlasting. 
The rabbis of the Midrash believed in the bone 
and called it the luz, just like the Spanish word 
for light, the size of a chickpea or an almond, 
depending on which rabbi was telling the story, 
found, they said, at the top of the spine or the base, 
depending. No one’s ever seen it, of course, 
but sometimes at night I imagine I can feel it, 
shining its light through my body, the bone 
luminous, glowing in the dark. Sometimes, 
if you listen, you might even hear that light 
deep inside me, humming its brave little song.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

in the unshapen

The Way never does anything,
and everything gets done.
If those in power could hold the Way,
the ten thousand things
would look after themselves.
If even so they tried to act,
I'd quiet them with the nameless,
the natural.

In the unnamed, in the unshapen,
is not wanting.
In not wanting is stillness.
In stillness all under heaven rests.

- Lao Tzu, from "Tao Te Ching: A Book About the Way and the Power of the Way," a New English Version by Ursula K. Le Guin

"I Be Your Water" by Sweet Honey in the Rock, lyrics here.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Inadvertently Teaches World How To Spell 'Ridiculously'

1. Ridiculously photogenic guy goes viral. 
From the article:
And as with any good meme, the photo has quickly spawned a number of altered versions of the original photograph, with users adding their own text, such as, "Goes For Run: Inadvertently Teaches World How To Spell 'Ridiculously,'" and "Photobombs Wedding Picture: Nobody Minds." And maybe the best one yet, "Picture Gets Put Up As Employee Of The Month: For A Company That He Doesn't Work For."

2. Yesterday was the 44th anniversary of Martin Luther King Junior's assassination. Here is Michael Skolnik's piece "From Martin to Martin: Hoodies Up on the Mountaintop." If you are able to, scroll down to the bottom and listen to Skolnik's reading. 

3. Readers, I have a story to tell you about horrifying Easter Bunny costumes. The year was 2009, and I was living in Derry, Northern Ireland for my semester abroad. My placement was at a shelter for battered women, and one day I was helping out in the creche (what they called the day care). They happened to be having an Easter Party that day, and upon my arrival, one of the women in charge started excitedly talking about the Easter Bunny (it's hard to understand Derry accents, even more so when the speaker is excited). Before I knew it I was in a closet putting on a HORRIFYING costume. To make matters worse, they didn't have rabbit feet, so they decided to make me wear these gigantic pink gruesome rubber human feet. 
Like these, except pink.
The kids were upset enough by my costume (some cried), and when I tried to comfort them, a  look of deeper puzzlement and disappointment crossed their faces: the Easter Bunny was American. Poor kids. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

here we go mistaking clouds for mountains

1. A teenager, and his mom's, response to "I'm Christian, Unless You're Gay." Read it. I mean it. This is also an example of how a brave teacher can make a real difference in a student's life. The article doesn't talk about the teacher specifically, but they put their job on the line to challenge their students, and ended up giving one of them the strength to come out - and gave the mother a resource to begin to process and accept it.

2. Brother Ali on the nation's response to Trayvon Martin's murder. Another worth while read.
"The reality is that we have a system in place that keeps going, and we are the only ones who can demand for it to be different."


4. Can you imagine being able to do this? I would never do anything but paint. More by Agnes-Cecile.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


3 minutes into this stand up show Ellen does an interpretive dance of her coming out experience.

Monday, April 2, 2012


1. A f/Friend and fellow Earlhamite, Micah, has recently been posting heteronormative puns on facebook. Because not all of you have the pleasure of seeing them yourselves, here is what he's come up with so far:
The only reason you can think of that two dudes would share a sleeping bag is to keep from freezing to death? That's hetero-warm-ative!
Your bro tells you he just got some sweet action and you assume it was with a chick? That's hetero-score-mative!
Refusing to interpret any of your culture's myths as stories about queer relationships or queer sexuality? That's hetero-lore-mative!
Assuming that a man and a woman wearing matching pullovers are a couple, but two women wearing matching pullovers are just BFFs? That's sweater-onormative!
Another horror movie about an awkward guy who becomes a serial killer and gets revenge on all the girls who rejected him by gruesomely murdering them? That's hetero-gore-mative!
Explaining why lightning strikes by describing attraction between different electrical charges, then drawing a metaphor to sexual attraction between different genders? That's hetero-storm-ative!
Assigning college students to same-sex roommates on the assumption they won't be attracted to each other? That's hetero-dorm-ative!


3. It's long, but this is a worth reading article about the murder of Trayvon Martin. The article aims not to provide commentary, but a picture of what went down, who was involved, and the specific context of the event.


Sunday, April 1, 2012

April Showers and Sunday Naps

APRIL! My month-long birthday celebration had a wonderful conclusion, with Maggie flying in from Kentucky, and Isa coming up on the bus from NYC. In April, I will attempt to make up for my lack of posting during March. Here goes.

1. Maggie, Isa, and I went to have breakfast at the Diner that I used to waitress at, and my old boss said all of our food was on the house.

2. Another wine tasting tour! This time I was the designated driver, which meant that I got tasty grape juice, and was thoroughly entertained by Maggie and Isa.

3. Crepes! On Saturday we made crepes - some with spinach, asparagus, cheese, and balsamic vinegar, and some with nutella and strawberries. Wonderful.

4. You don't need to speak the language to laugh at this.

5. Incredibly creative and sweet idea: making plush toys for kids based on their own drawings: Child's Own Studio.