January 2007 Archives

Difficult, Important Questions

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OK, the thing is, realistically, barring illness or accident, I have 30 years of fairly sensible, satisfactory consciousness left to me. If I'm lucky, I have 40 years. And if I'm really lucky, like my awesome redheaded great-aunt Stella, I have 50 years of consciousness left to me. Fifty years in which I can (like Aunt Stella did, even when she was 90 years old) drive myself to my hair appointments or the grocery store. Fifty years before I start weeping and begging god to let me die because the pain from the horrible terminal illness I've got is worse than the thought of eternal unconsciousness or even never-ending suffering in hell. (Stella, the star, the beautiful, upright, generous devout Mormon I will admire till I die myself, succumbed to a ghastly, grisly struggle with esophageal cancer the day after Easter 1994, at which point she was 93, almost as old as the twentieth century, having greeted the world a few months after it did. Before she died, she was weeping in agony of spirit and body, wondering, "Why won't God let me die? Am I not good enough for him to let me into heaven?")

So, what the fuck am I doing with the consciousness I've got left? Whether it's 30 years or 50 years, what am I doing with it? How am I going to spend it? I like you all quite a lot, really I do; but I just got a new Frank Sinatra cd (it's playing as I type) and what is a better use of my time, really: writing blog entries about eight people will read, or listening to Frank, thoroughly, carefully, devotedly?

The Rejected Semi-Finalist

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I haven't posted a poem in, let's see, nine months, so I guess it's about time. Besides, there's stuff going on in my life poetry-wise: Chanson posted this cartoon from Matt Groening about questions poets don't like to be asked; last week I was notified that my collection of poetry is one of 26 semi-finalists (out of over 1000 books submitted) in a very prestigious first-book contest (the prize being $5,000 and publication, so of course I'm planning to win it); and I got this funky rejection letter yesterday that reads

Dear Holly,

We were fascinated by these poems, and drawn to them, particularly to _______, but the decision finally went again using anything from this batch. Do send us more by and by.

Of course I'd rather read that "we love all these poems and will print every last one of them," but being told my work is fascinating is better than other responses I've gotten, such as "interesting subject matter but language is too ornate" (from a journal with a very ornate title) or "too self-satisfied for our taste" (from the most self-satisfied journal I've ever seen).

It's a Date

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You know how people make yummy treats and share them at Christmas time? This recipe for date caramels was the best such treat I've encountered in a long, long time. I made a batch a few weeks ago and ate the whole thing myself--it stores well enough that you can do that, just eat all the candy yourself over a week or two.

In large saucepan, mix together

3/4 cups butter
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups sugar
1 cup chopped dates

Bring to boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and cook ten minutes at low boil, stirring constantly to avoid scorching. Remove from heat and stir in

1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup coconut
1 tsp vanilla

Pour into buttered 9x9 glass baking dish. Sprinkle more coconut on top.

What to Do with a Bored Cat

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The other day a visitor said to me, as my cat sauntered by, "At least cats don't get bored, do they."

This person has a dog, not a cat. Obviously. Because anyone with a cat knows they do indeed get really bored--and a bored cat is a nasty, nasty creature to be around.

My cat is pretty damn bored right now. She's not an outdoor cat, though I'm lucky enough to have a screened porch she likes to hang out on--in the summer. I can't coax her outside at all right now, and she seems to blame me for the fact that it's snowing outside.

To keep her from going out of her mind with boredom and driving me out of my mind in the process, I play this game with her, where I throw cat toys up or down the stairs, and she chases them. Here she is waiting for me to throw a cat toy for her to chase.

Dinah_waiting.jpg.jpg

But sometimes she gets tired of running up and down the stairs, and decides she just wants to let me throw them to her so she can bat them away, in which case she adopts this pose:

Dinah_cute.jpg.jpg

And sometimes I'll throw them too far, so she'll have to reach behind her, like this:

Dinah_reach.jpg.jpg

And sometimes, she'll catch the toy and attack it fiercely, in which case she looks like this!

Dinah_fierce.jpg.jpg


Made in Sheffield

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Having discussed British television in my last two entries, I figured I might as well continue the trend by telling you about something else I watched recently thanks to Netflix: a documentary called Made in Sheffield about the music that developed there in the 70s and early 80s.

As I mentioned last week, one of the things I did while visiting my family was watch youtube videos with my siblings. I insisted that both my brother and sister show their children the video to the 1984 version of Do They Know It's Christmas? and tell them about its historical and musical significance, because as I mentioned in my Christmas meme, it's one of my very favorite Christmas songs.... Anyway, my brother and I wanted to figure out who one particular singer was, and in order to do that, we had to do some internet research.

Turns out the guy in question was Paul Weller of The Jam and Style Council.... I own CDs by each band but I didn't recognize him because he looks nothing like that now, hasn't looked like that for a very long time. Anyway, in the process of finding that out, I came across a reference to said documentary.

To the Manor Born

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As I discussed ever so long ago, I love Netflix, and I love it more as time goes by. Not only is it really convenient and easy, but whatever software they use for making recommendations is actually pretty good. Not only does it recommend popular, current stuff I might not have gotten around to adding to my queue without a little prodding, but it also manages to recommend older, more obscure stuff I might never have heard of any other way.

One such example is a television series I recently finished watching, To the Manor Born. It was recommended to me because I had just finished watching a bunch of British period pieces--the various renditions of the life of Elizabeth Tudor, the really fabulous adaptation of Bleak House. I read the blurb of TtMB: recent widow Audrey fforbes-Hamilton (played by Penelope Keith, and no, that is not a typo in fforbes) is forced to sell Grantleigh Manor, the estate where her family has lived for 400 years, when she discovers that her husband's death has left her bankrupt. The estate is purchased by one Mr. Richard De Vere (played by Peter Bowles), a dashing self-made millionaire (he runs a grocery store empire), social climber, and (gasp!) foreigner: although he can pass as English, the truth of the matter is that his parents were refugees who left Czechoslovakia at the beginning of World War II. Although she has to leave the manor, Audrey cannot leave her old way of life, despite the presence of a new landlord.

And I thought it sounded interesting enough and I ordered it.

The BBC Loves the C-Word Too

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Anyone who's read this blog for any length of time knows that I'm a fan of the c-word as an actual term for female genitalia. Now I learn that the BBC is planning a documentary on why the word has become more popular, entitled, appropriatel enough, "I Love the C-Word." Plenty of people are outraged, but I'm quite pleased--unless, of course, the focus is all on why the word is such an effective insult. I just hope they have some sort of on-line broadcast so I can actually watch the program, since I don't live in England.

Nurse, I Spy Gypsies--Run!

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One of the things I did while visiting my family is trade favorite youtube videos with my siblings. My brother introduced me to this video from Weird Al. Entitled "Bob," it consists entirely of palindromes, and it freakin' cracks me up everytime I watch it.

My Space and Everyone Else's

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Yeah, I'm back--back in Pennsylvania, back in the blogosphere. I've been away for a long time but I had stuff to do--some of it important, some of it pleasant, some of it not.

I've found it hard to start blogging again, not because I haven't missed it--I have, and some of you have been nice enough to tell me you've missed me too--but you know how it goes when you get out of the habit: you lose the rhythm and it seems marvelous and incomprehensible that people can come up with something to say almost every day, and that moreover, I was one of them! But I'm going to try to pick it up again.

As a way of easing myself back in, here's something I first drafted months ago in a conversation with a friend about public/private space.

I guess my relation to place is probably different from many people's, because I grew up someplace rural, and aside from those eight years in Iowa, I have spent most of my time in the west, where space is just dealt with differently, in part because it looks and feels different: the dry air means the sky is wider and feels further away, even when buildings press close.

I need wide open vistas, I need them, in ways other people need a lot of social interaction. I can feel a touch claustrophobic in places that might make others feel they're lost in some endless barren terrain. I'm not saying I can't function in some urban setting, but my skin starts to crawl and my head feels crowded if I don't get a dose of a horizon bereft of buildings from time to time (John Ruskin wrote, "It does not need much to humiliate a mountain; a hut will sometimes do it" though I think the very expensive homes in Sedona do a decent job of humiliating that landscape too) and I prefer to commune with said horizon on my own. Nothing ruins a nice view like someone else's head. I am not so rugged and woodsy that I have to go hiking in someplace remote and inaccessible--I like well established trails just fine--but the idea of barbequing in a crowded picnic area or swimming on a crowded beach holds little appeal for me.

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This page is an archive of entries from January 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

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