Thursday, July 31, 2008

72


I wonder when it is that our passion in life is indelibly imprinted upon us.

For me, I was seven or eight years old when I'd moved beyond "lady police officer" and "lawyer" as a chosen field (me and the law in my early years--I had a sense of fairness that seems to have slipped somewhat as I grow older) and decided this elusive title of "writer" was what I wanted for myself.

Now I sit and read novels, the smooth covers a comfort in my hands, and I think about the younger characters, their dreams.

I've thought a lot about this crossroads, so much that I'm sure everyone else is sick of reading about it--the word risk something obnoxious, to shrug at. (Here she goes again...) I confess I wonder if I've made the right choice in returning to school, but this little whispering isn't near the truth at all. My whole being knows it is the right choice; it's simply my own nervousness at the opinions of those around me that keeps me saying, "Oh, yes, the security, and oh, yes, retirement..." I don't mention the hot shame I might feel if I betrayed that large part of myself that has existed for twenty years now.

One day, I want to paint poems on converted barns. My own words, etched up permanently somewhere. I've always wanted that for myself. Not just the peace and joy that is the simple method of writing, but to have some measure of success with it. And certainly I'll never mean money in regards to success, since a poet rarely sees that sort of compensation. Instead, something that shows I belong somehow, that maybe these next three years are worth it for all the ones who are secret nay-sayers (oh blessed am I; while I do know about a few in secret, as we can't keep secrets these days, no one has openly proclaimed their thoughts as to the ridiculousness of this venture).

I want to stop telling people I'm getting a degree in poetry and say it in that voice, laugh it off, afraid already of what they might be thinking. Normal people don't do this. It's as if I'm trying to excuse myself before the opinion can be formed; I will tease myself about how I know this isn't career-advancing. (Ah, so what will you do with it after, then?) So much wincing.

My skin has never been terribly thick, no matter how much I may practice with heart bare to the elements. I need to keep remembering how important it is to do these things for ourselves. One day I'll have children, I hope, and I know much of my life will then be about sacrificing for them, and I will do so willingly, happily, but I also know I have to live a life of example. And I want my children to learn to take risks, to chase after those terrifyingly elusive dreams. It's only then that they'll have the chance to catch them.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

71


Dear You:

It is late and my eyes have been watering all day. I'm not sad or nostalgic or even allergic; it's a strange phenomenon. Perhaps residual sugar, leaking out the corners, wetting my lashes. Just to make sure I remember what my body thinks.

I have been thinking a lot about our one year wedding anniversary and how we let this summer go until it was too late, and that's OK, because for our anniversary, our trip, that crazed cross country camping adventure, has morphed into a grandmother-visit. I know it's strange, but to me, that feels perfectly romantic. To me, we are taking a sort of pilgrimage, a return to the land where love must have been born. Some day I'll be able to tell their story better than these poems about Alzheimer's, but until then, let us continue our own love story, see how the lake water reacts to one year of us, solidly turned over and officially linked.

They say the tradition for one year is to give the gift of paper. I wish I were clever enough to write you a beautiful poem and print it up on thick paper, use a letterpress to imprint those words I want to whisper to you again and again. But, I think, instead, we could burrow into ourselves and do this: for one year of marriage, we could write one another a love letter.

Do you remember those? Now love letters are holding hands beneath blankets while watching films, those trips we take with the dogs to Hay Creek, our limbs twining between the summer sheets, staying up late and having dinner under the stars. But before all that, we used to write to each other on lined notebook paper, we used to fold them into envelopes, we used to give them to each other surreptitiously, shyly, frightened the other might untuck those words and read them immediately, face frowning in disapproval.

But that's not how it went, was it?

It was a letter, after all, that caused your bravery that night, to call me up, ask if you could take me out to dinner, that stiff formality, a true first date.

I would read your letters again and again, read them until the paper became soft in my hands, the pencil lines blurred at the crease. I would carry them in my pocket, sometimes draw them out in front of friends, proud that your handwriting, crabbed and strange as it was, would be recognized, telling them something meaningful is going on. It was a courtship of words.

That's how it was for them, too. My grandparents. A proposal on a piece of paper, a sketch and the words Me and Red. To her, this meant a forever linking. And maybe, when I write these poems about keening and loss, the poems about grief and dementia, I am writing their love story. When she is gone too, their ashes will twine, buried in the current and the sand, keeping company with the stars.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

70: Shake Loose the Sugar


Yesterday and today: it's as if I cannot complete a thought. I start emails, find myself confused and lost in the middle of them, the sugar still floating around a little bit, the heat drawing me down.

My father emailed me a draft of my M.Ed thesis all marked up in red, his comments and suggestions increasing the page count by five. I used to email my literature analysis papers to him all the time as an undergraduate, the shuffle between our computers constant, his corrections and suggestions always in red, between my awkward black phrasings, my stumbling syntax. So now I face this vastness, this fifty three page monster, and I hope to have it completed, to send it off to my adviser, mow the lawn, clean the fridge.

Summers for teachers are so strange. For nine, ten months of the year, we are propelled through our days, weighed down by student essays and planning the next few days, spinning like a top. There's a strange lack of peripheral awareness during the school year, where certain obligations are thrust onto the empty spaces of the calendar: NEA weekend, holiday breaks. And then summer arrives, with a sort of smack into the wall momentum. We've made these lists, in the margins of our planning books or in our minds, turning them over, ranking by importance, and there is a bit of befuddlement. The alarm clock no longer rules the morning, we can read for pleasure, and our partners are somehow, strangely, still leaving for work in the mornings.

Sadly, I'm much better at getting things done when I have only small pockets of time as opposed to these long expanses. I'm not advocating for me to actually have some sort of occupation over the summer; some day, I keep hoping, I will be more productive in this free time. And I'm enjoying the near-book a day pattern I have going, the methodical pull of weeds, slowly discovering what's beneath the piles of paper in the second bedroom. But now, I look out the window at four o'clock, and I know the lawn is growing shaggier and there is still another month left before summer vacation is over, and I hope there is something at the other end that I have to show for it.

On to the thesis. Do you think I'll really, truly submit it tonight? Oh, I hope so.

Monday, July 28, 2008

69: I Like The Way He Rolls


Angie forwarded this on to me, and I had a good giggle over it, and thus, felt compelled to share it here. :)

68: Frequent Flier

So this morning, lucky me, I had both a cholesterol and a diabetes test. Yes, lots of needle sticks and peeing-in-a-cup, which, I believe, is the ideal way to start a week, don't you?

It turns out my body has given me something else to consider. Perhaps the thrill of the fibroadenoma was at an end, the cracked elbow of last summer, oh, and that bad sprain when we first moved into this house--perhaps all that had faded, and my body needed a new attention. My doctor believes I might have a mild case of polycystic ovary syndrome, and when I looked it up, I am relieved I don't have a full blown case, since this involves all kinds of embarrassing symptoms I feel compelled to announce I do not have. It's very common; in fact, one in ten women are supposed to have it at one point or another. Ryan joked about getting me one of those days of the week pill boxes, and I was amiable and didn't kick him in the shin, even if I wanted to.

Anyway, this lovely new polysyllabic disorder, as I refer to it in our house, has something to do with insulin also, which means I was the lucky recipient of that orange glass of yeech, also known as the glucose test (yes, seventy five grams of sugar in some nasty syrupy drink that I abhorred, but drank down like the brave little soldier that I am). Two hours of adjusting myself on the uncomfortable hospital chairs, watching others come in and drink cupful after cupful of delicious water, which I hadn't had in fifteen hours at this point, or anything else, save toothpaste and that nasty orange drink. Cruelty, I believe, is a main ingredient in the glucose test.

I wonder at my husband, this superman who hasn't had any issues, but in the past three years, how I've had all these minor maladies (among which are the charmingly rhyme-able: a sty in my eye and a cyst on my wrist) lined up, returning me to the confines of our hospital and family practice. I am familiar now with the smell as I walk in, with the cockeyed lines in the parking lot, with the faces behind the reception desk. Nothing life threatening or even inherently interesting, but enough to keep me coming back, returning for more. I wouldn't mind something that involved a cast or a baby, some kind of true totem, a little keepsake beyond the frequent flier miles or the handy shot glass with the logo chipping away. Proof of time well spent in that building.

I'm going to take a nap now, which everyone can frown at collectively in a disapproving way, but I have officially had a sugar crash, the air conditioning is not on in our house so the sogginess lulls me, and I've got forty pages to go in my book club book. I think that formula equals a settling in with a fluffy pillow and some clean sheets, don't you?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

67: Heather + Karl


Heather got married!

And when the priest talked about having a good marriage, I slid my hand into my husband's and squeezed tight.

And we danced. Well, I did. A wee bit.

Friday, July 25, 2008

66: The Love Affair of the Hawk and the Toyota

They're upstairs again, that dog singing chorus. I'm not sure what it is, each time, that draws them to the kitchen window, the baying one, the yipping one, the one along for the ride. Woods surround this house, so it is hard to see anything but the shifting of the leaves, the patch of lawn streaked with dog refuse and littered with tennis balls. I'm always curious--what is it that they see?

It's been nearly four days now, four days straight, mostly alone, spent in three general locations: outdoors (flinging said dog waste into said woods with a shovel or throwing said tennis balls around the yard, careful to avoid where I might have missed with the shovel), on the sofa (watching the British version of The Office on Netflix, as I have finished off the American version up-until-now, or reading; I am now on my third book or tempering the urge to fling my laptop across the room when I get those "Web Satellite Error"s, telling me a cloud has passed over and that nasty wheel that is supposed to signal patience turns and stills), or in bed (sleeping in those odd four or five hour shifts, until Penelope decides to lick my face in little nips or Zephyr jumps up and harumphs himself onto my head or where ever he feels compelled to plop and exist).

As you can see, it's time for human company.

My parents are actually on their way, my violin, essentially untouched since high school, coming along. I don't know what has compelled me to request this; I think I had a dream last night about orchestra class, confessing I had always wanted to play the cello or viola. I prefer to harmonize.

More likely, it has something to do with the ten year high school reunion that approaches, and I am steadfastly ignoring. My Facebook page (oh, here I am, admitting the use of Facebook when I am how old?) is filling up with those familiar names, some slightly changed, people I knew or vaguely remember, wondering if I am remembered too. I am tempted to write in the margins of the memory book, "Molly Sutton Kiefer is a trapeze artist. She is currently working on revising the Great American Novel and enjoys string theory, the color purple, and long walks on the Hudson." Seriously. My cookie cutter self isn't up to one paragraph summary with family portrait paper clipped to the side. I think the whole business is a little silly.

//

OK, so I went upstairs to see what the ruckus was about. Usually, nothing, though if it were my parents, I would want to release the four dogs to jump all over them. However, this is what I spotted on top of my car:



Sadly, my battery died before I could take more photos (lucky I got the one I did); I sat for near a half hour from the kitchen window, watching the hawk puff out its feathers, burrow against the warm hood, nesting, pecking, sometimes doing what looked to be a lewd mating dance. Phenomenal. Perhaps I will add kitchen window to my list of geography within these four days. (I would add walk about the neighborhood, but really, have you seen the combined tonnage?)

65


... The terror is
not losing you but having you before
you are lost. The terror is, loving you
this way, my body is gone, and the wind
carries my songs, until you are words, too.
-- David Baker, "Cardiognosis," Midwest Eclogue

Thursday, July 24, 2008

64: {A Million Little...} On Memoir



I read A Million Little Pieces long before the swelling--back when it was simply a Discover book, and the style was innovative, and it was one of the few books I enjoyed from the list my former bookstore put together.

James Frey came into said bookstore, before appearing on Oprah lists, but still big, just after his second (vibrantly pink) book came out. The brother of one of the managers at the store was in the same rehab center Frey had survived; the manager, who was much beloved by many employees, including me, was saddened but realistic. She wanted to meet the man who came out the other said, had lived to tell the tale, had related the bleak statistics, had overcome. And Frey was kind, spoke to her at length, signed books, signed one specifically to the brother with contact information, telling the brother, in that signature style, to stop fucking up, and departed. My manager cried.

To me, this will always endear Frey to my heart, so when folks came out with their arms swinging, angry at "being lied to" and the publisher turning tail and accepting returns on a book without a disclaimer, I was already on his side, my beliefs on the situation set aside.

But in truth, this is something we discussed in my creative non-fiction classes at university. Perhaps nothing as drastic, though, from what I understand, the falsehoods were not actually harmful to others, only adapted truths, huge hyperbole. To me, a story needs to be listened to, just as a poem does. In workshop, sometimes the best explanation is the only explanation: we employed a particular image or technique because that is what the poem told the writer of said poem to do. It doesn't mean it's always the right thing to do, but who gets to judge this? (Not Oprah, I don't think.)

Of course, we could then go on to discuss other memoirs, or even other histories: is the textbook you read when you were in school accurate? History is told by the winners, some people say.

I can be stupidly honest. But I also can shift the truth to suit the narrative. In poetry, we have that kind of freedom. Some people believe it's all based on fact, based on our lives, but we adapt, to strengthen, to tell a completely different tale. I can also be stupidly trusting, but I do know that memoir is always adapted. We cannot truly recreate the dialog from a decade ago, recall exactly the first kiss, the canned-worm feeling in our stomach. We embellish. I don't mind if I picked up an enjoyable narrative from a section marked "Biography" (which is not what the darn book was anyway, and a shop like Borders doesn't even have a biography/autobio/memoir section) or from a section marked "Fiction/Literature" (heck, why would Cornwall and Grisham get to reside in a section bannered half "Literature" anyway?).

I once spent a class period discussing this in the high school creative writing class I taught. Some were adamant on proper labels, others shrugged and said that wasn't the issue but that the message, the theme was more important.

This, years later, is still a topic of curious conversation. Laura and I sat in the back of MDB's car as we drove along the north shore, pondering the validity of such a response by a publisher or a woman whose name is a kind of brand, something to wield.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

63: Chaperone


Tonight I am reading Snow Falling on Cedars, that foggy cover so haunting and gorgeous. I think of that mysterious west coast, that border between Washington state and Canada, about the ocean and all its details: the eelgrass, the salmonberries, the ferns and the sea salt, the fishing culture. (Oh, to have a dog-less cabin there, a week or two, holed up, long walks, writing words in the sand, writing better words in my notebook, an escape, again.)

The past forty eight hours have been spent here, learning the culture of this patch of earth. The familiar: the screen door's easing, the buzz of bees from beneath the concrete porch, the pant-pant-pant of four happy dogs, the soggy tennis ball rolling away in the night. The rotation of dog food, of accepting one lick as appreciation, one nudge as irritation, the bells on the door as notification. (After knocking over a lamp--but no, not breaking it--the dogs have finally settled in, some are even snoring, for the night.)

I have spent much of my time either outdoors in the sun, throwing the same tennis ball again and again, until it gets lost in the woods, or camped out on the sofa, folded up in blankets, reading one novel or another. My thesis? Yes, I ought to finish that up, tie a ribbon on it, send it off.

But for now, I'm thinking about the way adjectives and adverbs are described as chaperones--how we ought to be brave about our nouns. Take this section, for example: "A few wind-whipped and decrepit Victorian mansions, remnants of a lost era of seagoing optimism, loomed out of the snowfall on the town's sporadic hills. Beyond them, cedars wove a steep mat of still green. The snow blurred from vision the clean contours of these cedar hills. The sea wind drove snowflakes steadily inland, hurling them against the fragrant trees, and the snow began to settle on the highest branches with gentle implacability."

You see? Some of this could be beautiful imagery, and it does smooth out. Of course, repetition that probably was not intentional ("The snow, the sea, the snow") does not aid in the clunkiness. This is something perhaps a poet who is guilty of this offense herself could only be acutely aware of (and ending sentences on prepositions, which I tend to accidentally wend my way into doing).

I've also been turning this over in my head: blogs are simply a series of first drafts, flawed. We worry poems into new shapes, sometimes gloriously new, sometimes overly new. But here, the writing is in the raw, there are a great many errors, sometimes painfully, painfully bad writing. I suppose part of me wanted to say Thanks for still reading, despite all the writing gaffs, but also just to say it, to point it out. It's like apologizing for your poem before workshop--of course it's rough, otherwise you wouldn't bring it to the table, but you still feel compelled to apologize somehow, and promise (because you hope it is true, and you secretly hope what you've got is still good anyway, but--): I can do better.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

62: Characters in the Present Tense



There are certain bits of media from childhood that we all love: The Dark Crystal, Fraggle Rock.

And, of course, working in the children's section at a bookstore brought me back to Sylvester (and his magic pebble), Eric Carle's magic kingdom, Grover as the monster at the end of the book.

I hadn't realized two media favorites were originally novels: The Princess Bride and The Neverending Story.

Using the frame tale as a vehicle, these films use the novel as point of entry, playing on the imagination of the audience, asking that question: How many times have you imagined yourself as a character within a book? I find it so interesting, these pieces of media, which begin with a book and open a whole fantastical world. Is there a term for this? What kind of literary device, more specific than a frame tale? There must be one... (I just learned that eclogue is a pastoral poem, often in dialog. How is it that these words can slip by me? Me, the one who hands out thick packets of lit terms to her honors students, foists Wednesday quizzes upon them.)

Oh, do you remember Muppet Babies? So much of that was about imagination's journeys. And The Magic School Bus Series, my most beloved books of childhood.

I hope that sense of wonder strings along for a good long while in my own children. I know I've just begun to regain my own. It comes in fits and starts, but I feel the drive to find out more.

Monday, July 21, 2008

61: Dreaming of Roland Barthes


OK, OK, I went, what, a month and a half? 365 is back. I missed it. This time, though, isn't give-or-take a few; one a day, my favorite, not always representative.

I have a recurring dream, one with variations: a visit to the university bookstore. It never looks as the U's does, but I'm always either searching for it or in it, browsing, looking for the next treasure. (I have had regular bookstore dreams too.) Last night's dream had me running my fingers along tilted books, the crook of my arm filling with Barthes and Borges. I took a peek at the shelves in creative writing, curious to see if the intro class had books at all. No, but Intro to Nonfiction had a clear plastic box with two coils of golden rope, much like thin tasseled rope for decorating curtains, and a twenty and eight ones folded into it. I was curious as to what writing exercise would come of it and why it cost sixty dollars to purchase.

It's afternoon, the new washing machine and dryer are turning my clothes over and over quietly, that new plastic smell filling the bathroom. I am packing for a week in Wisconsin, four dogs and me. My revised thesis being edited down to completion. The distance learning British Literature class that I have an incomplete in ready for conquering. I'm getting my ducks in a row, to use a cliche. It's almost a retreat, this dog sitting adventure.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

60: Kelly / Mama


Something I realized last night as I went through the yellow-hued photos from our trip to the northern climes of Minnesota: Kelly is a good mom. And not just to that little wiggler she's holding in her arms there. No, do you see the black and white pooch? And the man holding said pooch? She's a mama to all three of those ones. Oh, and the love that Richard and Kelly have for one another is incredibly true, incredibly sweet, and he has a good heart, which, to me, is the number-one-most-important-thing in a companion. But Richard is also the single most distractable person (aside from myself, of course) I've ever met, which, I think, brings out the mama in Kelly.

Above: an image of the family, as it is now, just before Christian turns one month, preparing to settle in for a family photograph. None of them turned out well (the photos, that is--the Nelsons are always gorgeous), but I loved this one for its expression of peace within chaos.

Speaking of peace within chaos, I am now winding down on my second draft of my M.Ed thesis. I'm hoping to turn in the final draft early this week, then start the paperwork to graduate. Weird.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

59: Bathing the Newborn


Bathing the New Born
by Sharon Olds

I love with an almost fearful love
to remember the first baths I gave him--
our second child, our first son--
I laid the little torso along
my left forearm, nape of the neck
in the crook of my elbow, hips nearly as
small as a least tern's hips
against my wrist, thigh held loosely
in the loop of thumb and forefinger,
the sign that means exactly right. I'd soap him,
the long, violet, cold feet,
the scrotum wrinkled as a waved whelk shell
so new it was flexible yet, the chest,
the hands, the clavicles, the throat, the gummy
furze of the scalp. When I got him too soapy he'd
slide in my grip like an armful of buttered
noodles, but I'd hold him not too tight,
I felt that I was good for him,
I'd tell him about his wonderful body
and the wonderful soap, and he'd look up at me,
one week old, his eyes still wide
and apprehensive. I love that time
when you croon and croon to them, you can see
the calm slowly entering them, you can
sense it in your clasping hand,
the little spine relaxing against
the muscle of your forearm, you feel the fear
leaving their bodies, he lay in the blue
oval plastic baby tub and
looked at me in wonder and began to
move his silky limbs at will in the water.

Friday, July 18, 2008

58: Happy Birthday, Angie! And Lane, Nearly!

To celebrate, we went on a wine dinner cruise on the St Croix, just around Stillwater, where Angie's husband Lane grew up. It was a ship full of women in sundresses, men wearing polos, swaying a bit more as the boat chugged along, plates full of rolls and cantaloupe. I tasted two wines, then filled my glass with iced water, giving myself the allusion of tasting along with the rest. The night cooled; we had the perfect spot--a table for six, outside, tucked beneath the stairs at the front of the boat, away from most everyone else with a wonderful view. In the end, as the boat pulled in, the breeze stilled, revealing that perfect full moon and its glamorous reflection in the river. Of course, the movement of the boat created the bumping trail below, and I love it for its imperfection.

57: More YouTubing



This we can blame on the much loved Blue Poppy. I hadn't seen it yet, and even if you have, you should watch it again. You'll smile, I promise.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

56: Pinball Thoughts

I'm so caffeine'd up right now, I am shocked I don't burst in cancer pustules on the spot. Have you ever had so much [Diet Coke] that your eyeballs feel as if they are swimming in your head? I'm reminding myself of those dinosaur books, the one with the wiggle eyes. I've decided it's entirely appropriate to have an Office marathon and snort and giggle into another bottle.

Indeed, the first draft of my painful M.Ed thesis has been written.


Storms are rolling around in the sky; we've had thunder and lightning in the morning. I am used to this as an evening affair, a shocking wake up call at four am, a stumbling about, slamming windows shut, our pajamas backwards, our dogs wiggling at this mid-night surprise.


I feel a need to thank Shari, who recommended Rebecca Solnit's Wanderlust to me. It begins:

"Where does it start? Muscles tense. One leg a pillar, holding the body upright between the earth and sky. The other a pendulum, swinging from behind. Heel touches down. The whole weight of the body rolls forward onto the ball of the foot. The big toe pushes off, and the delicately balanced weight of the body shifts again. The legs reverse position. It starts with a step and then another step and then another that adds up like taps on a drum to a rhythm, the rhythm of walking. The most obvious and the most obscure thing in the world, this walking that wanders so readily into religion, philosophy, landscape, urban policy, anatomy, allegory, and heartbreak."


Drawing my attention, in the news:
- Kay Ryan has been named U.S. Poet Laureate. I am woefully unfamiliar, but this will change soon.
- My own copy of the controversial New Yorker arrived this morning. I'm still woefully behind.

It's all about woe these days, isn't it? Or rather, how woefully I exist in a literary world.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

55: Nine Years

There's a seven year itch, but is there something for nine years? I can say this: it's been a good nine years.

Our first date was in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

No, let me back up a little from that. How We Met. That story is tangled: I was supposed to go away to college, but stayed behind for another relationship, which ended the day after my birthday in November of 1998. I was still living at home, miserable, fighting constantly with my mother, completely distanced from my father, and probably terrorizing my little sister. I was supposed to move in with my dear friend Mandy, but she backed out at the last minute, even after we had found a place, because she wasn't in the right financial place just yet. But! She found a replacement in the form of Bill, who worked in the store across from her in the mall, who did many naughty things that teenagers tend to do, but we were all desperate, so Bill took her place and we took over a lease with six months left. Those six months, my life changed. It was March when we moved in, freedom coursing through our veins. And in the summer, we gained another room mate, Eric, who was returning home for the summer from Milwaukee. The three of us were a strange set, but it was good. We were, after all, nineteen and ridiculously delirious with the potential we had, with the way life changes when you finally move away from home.

Ryan had his own set as well: He was supposed to attend UM-D that summer, was already signed up for courses and going with his college room mate to look at houses. He wasn't supposed to come home at all, not to stay anyway, but to visit. He didn't know why, even before we really fell for each other, he said he just felt compelled to come back, a bit of a panic, and he applied for Milwaukee. (Ah, fate.)

It was through Bill that I began to go to a place we called "Wiggins," after the street the duplex was on. In it, lived Steph and Heather and Kyle and Danno and a myriad of others, drifting in and out, their garage door always unlocked, their ashtrays always overflowing, beer cans always left out from the night before. I don't know what everyday life was like at Wiggins because each visit was different, with a different set of people, a different set of circumstances.

It was through Eric that Ryan began to come over. He was a frequenter of Wiggins as well, but he would never have come to our apartment if it weren't for the draw of Eric's guitar. My husband, you see, is an incredibly talented musician, and I could just be saying this, a devoted wife who admires so much in the man she has married, but I can also say the truth of the matter is, he didn't at first attract me because of his buoyant outgoing nature (he was, at the time, remarkably shy) or his dashing good looks (oh, he is handsome, and I love him, but he is certainly not a fashion plate nor does he care about such things). It was the draw of that guitar, the way he played it, the way I knew there was some connection between his heart, his hands, those strings. Remarkably shy and remarkably talented.

There was one night, some time in June, when I was dating one boy who did ridiculously dangerous things (naughty is one thing, harmfully scary is another, but I was lonely and made bad choices) and still in love with someone else, when Ryan and I sat together on a sofa and drank shots of tequila and he gave me a shoulder massage (so, so bold for a boy who is on the painful side of shy!) and we talked until the sun rose. I would say we fell in love, but who can fall in love when you are holding all that tequila in and you accidentally drank some beer that someone ashed in but it was funny so you weren't upset and all of a sudden you are having a conversation that lasts for hours and you don't know but want to ask: Could it be anybody or is this special?

I think we know the answer to that, years and years later. Special seems too common of a word, anyway. Is there some way to describe it that links it to the motion of the stars?

He took a job which had him working overnight, from ten at night until six in the morning, and you know me, I love to write--the written word sends me places--so I began writing him letters. He wrote me some too. I still have them in a box. I gave him a copy of The Bell Jar (my favorite book then, and he didn't run, which is really saying something) and a mixed tape of Ani Difranco, and he gave me a burned CD of his own music, and I would listen to it at night as I fell asleep, replaying my favorite parts, imaging him as he played, when we first met, that linkage of heart, hands, strings.

I don't know what I wrote to him in one of our letters, but after I gave it to him, after I felt exceptionally shy about it, he called me and asked if I would let him take me to dinner. A date. A date! I'd had things that would be considered dates before. My first was with a boy named Josh who made dinner with his friend Tony for me and another girl, whose mother picked me up in a minivan, who watched a movie with me, who was too shy to hold my hand. But suddenly, in the context of living on my own, of not having to ask permission for a later curfew, it was a date-date.

Our first date was in Green Bay, Wisconsin. We went to Z Harvest Cafe. He had a salad. I had an egg salad sandwich. We walked along the river. I wore a red dress. He wore a white button up shirt and khakis. He drove his father's car (which his sister now has in New Jersey, I believe). He had to look at an apartment in Milwaukee the next morning; he asked if I wanted to go there tonight. I said yes. We both packed jeans and white tshirts, toothpaste, clean underwear. We didn't know we would match the next morning. We watched Othello, and smoked cigarettes on the patio, three or four stories up on a street near the college. The apartment that would be his was across the way. He fell asleep on a fold out chair, drooled when he woke up. I slept (was it only an hour or two?) on the sofa. We were polite, sleeping together for the first time on our first date, on other sides of the room.

That was the first July 16th. The following night was a Stokens concert, which I had to leave early as I was going to Hawai'i with my family the next day. Our first date followed by six days of separation seemed cruel beyond measure. Each night, while I was in this magical land of afternoon rainstorms and pig crossing signs, I would listen to his music, not just to block out the concert of my parents snoring below us in the bunk beds, but to transport myself: heart, hands, strings.

It's funny how these things play out. I meant to go in to this post, talking about our engagement, about sycamore trees and Annie Dillard, but I wound up going back seven years from that. No itch, no. I had an awareness then, though, that feels eerie. We know things sometimes. I fell in love with this house I live in the first time we walked into it; my body literally buzzed. I know my love of the house convinced my husband that this is it too, but did it do the same when we met? Did my awareness that I was meeting the man I would marry propel us to marriage? Obviously not. It took seven years for him to ask. Were there darting bits of uncertainty in those years? Sure, perhaps. We never broke up, and, as far as I know, we never really got close. In those first few months, though, I knew. I don't believe that drove me to fall in love with him, but I did have that feeling that I could step back and observe. Which was beautiful, as there was no urgency to do the right thing. Whatever was natural was right.

That isn't to say relationships aren't work. This one, just like any other, is hard work, but we ebb together nicely, just as we flow too. I'm grateful for that.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

54: Under the Banner

In my in-box: notes from various graduate schools who have not (yet) taken me off their mailing lists, invitations for orientations to FSU, Alaska parking permits, housing in Boston--all these opportunities, these lives I could have had. My own, here, mundane, beautiful. Content and restless all at once. Is this normal? It's the anticipation that makes me jumpy, I think.


In reading, I've learned: Lobsters molt and both houseflies and lobsters taste with their feet. Also, 70-100 million years ago was a time referred to by botanists as "the great radiation," when flowering plants exploded, mainly due to the petal, which lures insect pollinators.

Some day, a show-down: books I wish to pass on (those 'little hairs', according to my husband) versus the library books (due that day, especially). A little wrestling. They're always wrestling. Which to read next...

Tomorrow Ryan and I celebrate nine years of being together. Nine years is so much and not enough; it's hard to imagine myself nine years from now, how much our lives will change.

Monday, July 14, 2008

53: Science Writing

"As for the Indians, evidence suggests that they often viewed Europeans with disdain. The Hurons, a chagrined missionary reported, thought the French possessed 'little intelligence in comparison to themselves.' Europeans, Indians said, were physically weak, sexually untrustworthy, atrociously ugly, and just plain dirty. (Spaniards, who seldom if every bathed, were amazed by the Aztec desire for personal cleanliness.) A Jesuit reported that the 'Savages' were disgusted by handkerchiefs: 'They say, we place what is unclean in a fine white piece of linen, and put it away in our pockets as something very precious, while they throw it upon the ground.' The Micmac scoffed at the notion of French superiority. If Christian civilization was so wonderful, why were its inhabitants leaving?"
-- Charles C Mann, "1491," The Best American Science Writing 2003, pg 41


Last week, I found myself thinking, on more than one occasion, that I was so glad for the path I chose, the realm of poetry, but if I had to do it over again, I would push myself into the sciences more. Like Chris, I love collecting bits and facts, though unlike Emily, I immediately forget it all.

Part of being "back" is plunging into the comfort of routine. Today: reading library books that are due this very day. Today, I am reading an anthology of science writing, the only year of the series I could find, and I am learning about surgical practice (rehearsal, really), about raising deaf children (I think of Wilt--both of his parents are/were deaf--one has passed away--did they hope he would be too?), and now I'm facing an article on Alzheimer's.

The chapbook manuscript I have been kneading these past few months, as many of you know, is about my grandfather, who passed away last December and was fully lost in this unknown world of dementia.

Mourning is a tricky thing. I have cried over my grandfather, over my grandmother now alone, but I'm not sure if my debt has been paid, so to speak. My friend Emily told me of how Anne Patchett spoke about grieving as a kind of debt to be paid--it can be all at once, it can be gradually. I don't know where I am in the process, and how much of me is at peace for that phrase, "a good, long life."

But I'm looking at this next article, and I've enjoyed all this learning I am doing, enjoyed revisiting topics I once studied in great detail (I was, after all, an American Indian studies minor--the above article was quite an interesting return to many debates in which I had an academic interest but no emotional stake). Maybe that is it: I can learn peripherally, when I don't have so much at stake. This next article would actually be the most helpful of all for me to read. It could be rich with material, with generative opportunities. I need to fill out the collection, to write more, to reduce the weaker poems and replace them with others. I need to approach from other angles.

I need to take a deep breath. I need to continue learning.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

52: Without


Title reminiscent of Donald Hall, but no, not that sort of loss. But I'll always think of poetry that way, of falling in love with an entire book, of Jane Kenyon.

But really, the news here is that I have finally murdered my third (and not last) digital camera. But this is an SLR, my constant companion, one that slows me down on all walks, so it will make a journey, once we test out a few theories (new battery?). I'm stumbling about with Ryan's point and shoot; today we walked up Barn Bluff, and I huffed and sighed and said, "I suppose I must learn to enjoy the world without making a photographic record of it." (Until then, I will resurrect old photographs for your pleasure. Above was just Friday night at Cloquet, outside MDB's cabin.)

Fortunately, my world has folded in on the written word, so I carried my writing notebook, jotted down a few thoughts on the "air piranhas" as my husband dubbed them, and I wrote quickly in the small lines as we jostled along the trails.

It is odd to be back in the humdrum of life after such a magical week.

We've planted more: honeysuckle and clamantis along the fence, some other bits (blue flowers and yellow) and the methodical shifting of mulching the peonies.

I discovered the nest empty, which broke my heart. I'm not sure where the eggs have gone, but I learned a bit about robins, and they could not have been born and been flight ready in those six days I was gone. In fact, my Canon's last picture before it truly refused to wake again was of that empty nest--my way of peeking in, as I am too short to see in without a stool. Nothing--not a bit of shell at the base of the tree, or any muss in the still-intact nest.

We are brewing again. Tonight, we bottled a witt; I felt as if I were milking a cow as I sat, splay-legged on a stool, the tube like an udder, filling brown bottle after brown bottle. I believe a blonde will begin the early stages of brewing tomorrow.

This is it. I'm back and still writing, and for that, I am grateful.

Friday, July 11, 2008

51: It's all so much.


This week has truly been a gift. And to end, a great storm in the woods. We read poetry in a circle with the rain waterfalling at the windows, and I have everyone's voice in my head, reciting, reciting.

I am ready for next year, I think. I hadn't known it before, but I know it now.

50: 58


This is a photograph of my father, taken exactly one year ago today, while he was enjoying a particularly lopsided German Chocolate cake I made him from scratch for his birthday.

Today, he turns fifty eight, and I am what feels like thousands of miles away from him (especially with this storm-laden cell phone reception), and I cannot bake him a cake. I can, however, enjoy the cake made to celebrate Split Rock's twenty fifth anniversary and pretend, when the poets and writers sing Happy Birthday, they are singing it for him. That is almost the same, but not really, not quite.

This man, as many of you know, is a treasure to me. He is my father and I absolutely adore him, and he's always been so good and so supportive of me in nearly (ah, see, it can't be always and never, those things are too dangerous to say) all the time. Which is good enough for me. Plus, he's very smart and quirky and those two qualities are some of my absolute most favorite qualities in a human being.

And tonight, a day after the tornado that hit ten miles or so from our town, a night that is full of the crackling of thunder, a night that is our last here at Cloquet, a night that will always be full of poetry--tonight is my father's fifty eighth year of life, and I will think of him as I walk in the woods, as the rain comes down, as he is rehearsing songs, swaying with his guitar, singing songs not so different from the ones he sang over two decades ago, singing me to sleep.

Happy birthday, Dad. You know I love you. xo

49: This Morning, Before Workshop, I Give You Dancing



Lyz called this to my attention, so all blame lies with her. It's a sweet video, if you have a few minutes.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

48: Longing


Longing is a strange thing. At dinner tonight, I was asked how my husband was doing, if we missed each other terribly. Despite our newlywed status, I wouldn't say we are needy with one another; if we miss each other, we pine quietly. I hadn't felt it though, that aching tug of the heart. (A tug, yes, but not aching, you see. Nothing so melodramatic.) I was/am perfectly content to continue on here, to be inspired, to write, to think of poetry and poets as the primary most important thing in this world. Our little world of eight, toddling through the woods.

But then we all closed our doors to our rooms in this dorm-esque cabin and that longing, that missing him simply walloped me. Perhaps it is because this is the first night we are on our own, floating about, some going into town in search of liquor, others going for evening strolls, and suddenly, I am completely alone with a spread of non-committed hours facing me. (Well, not entirely true, as we've got enough homework and writing exercises to keep us going through the night to the other end.) But the quiet of my room, I feel dejected peering at the stack of novels I brought to keep me busy gathering dust, the Netflix instant movie window long since closed... The momentum of the week and the exhaustion and these things just aren't enough.

I feel the compulsion to crowd myself into his arms. I want to nuzzle up against him, feel his arms around me, whisper lines of poems dancing through my head in his ear. Soon, soon.

47: In the Morning


This morning, there was no alarm, my battery dead. I rose at the sound of another pounding on the door, scrambled out of bed, and midway through my shower, the bleeping of the smoke alarm. I had only just soaped my hair (isn't that the way?) and decided I refused to wander out of the building with gloppy hair and clingingly damp pajama pants. It was only in my room of the cabin anyway; the steam from my shower, despite flung-open windows, had startled those bits of plastic into action. But the morning has begun, and now, post-lunch, it is time to finish my shower. Conditioner. Soap. A shower in two parts.

Yesterday was a glorious tour of this part of the northwoods: Knife River to Gooseberry Falls to the Split Rock Lighthouse to Duluth, where we met the poet Louis Jenkins and ate at the Lake Avenue Cafe. I am still percolating, a few tidbits wending their way into my notebook.

This morning we watched a video on Anna Akhmatova, one I had seen before in MDB's class titled The Poet in the World where I first learned of Neruda and Milosz and so many other poets I consider old standards now. After, we met up to discuss my evolving chapbook, which is still, for the most part, first drafts with a few tinkered half second drafts. I confessed my fear of moving past the first draft (I don't know which darlings to kill sometimes), and he gave me very solid suggestions on experimenting with stanza breaks and lineation. Muscularity too, though these are words echoing back to conversations with Eireann and Karen--but how to trim away the too much detail. I am swamped with so many things I ought to be doing (oh, M.Ed how I've begun to despise you), but all I can think of, at this very moment, is that I want to tinker, to break out something a bit larger than the putty knife.

There has been a bit of muttering, a bit of conversation about how poetry can be under-appreciated in this country--how in other countries, poets like Neruda and Akhmatova and the Polish poets can be jailed, can be ousted, can make such a huge difference. At their funerals, people flock; at their houses, inspiration is found. MDB spoke of how it is said ours is a country of greed, that our news comes from an urgent media. It was also brought up--the wee money, the sad publication, the feather-in-the-Grand-Canyon-echo it is. And we spoke of how we write what drives us, and we write because our heart tells us to. We write out of compulsion.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

46: Percolate

















Today was beautiful on many, many levels. And I would natter on about it for you, for me, but I am simply too exhausted and that pillow is beckoning me oh so sweetly. So as I said sleepily in the car on the way back to Cloquet: "I shall tuck it all away in the poetry part of my brain and let it percolate and report back to you tomorrow."

Let it be so.

45: Poetry Outside



Last night we went to Jay Cooke State Park. We brought a box of pie with us, a double row of four, forks tucked beneath paper napkins. We sat quietly rather than propelled ourselves down the forest path.

The love of being in the natural world unites so many of us, but when we get into it, we have so many different purposes. There are times when mileage counts, when the number of path tickers you pass is a sign of triumph. I do love to hike, even if I am not very good at it, and I love getting sweaty, knowing I will sleep long and hard.

But this is good too: settling onto the rocks, listening to the birds, the water rushing, the sounds unique to that very spot at that very moment. These are the things that belong to us, that we carry around with us in our hearts.

Today there is more of that. We are going to the place we in Minnesota call "the north shore." It's that leaning bit of Minnesota in the northeast, the place that contains so much beauty. We will see Split Rock Lighthouse and Gooseberry Falls--all new to me. We will drink it in. And ironically, the travel writers will stay right here, jealous of our field trip, busy doing assignments in the dim of the computer lab. Someone mentioned that our workshop isn't working as hard as the other--not in a regretful tone, but in an observational one--that this is good too. I pointed out that we have a swath of morning ahead of us, and it's up to us what we do with that time: we can work as hard as we want, or we can lie in bed and read, or we can wander in the woods. We can pound it out, we can revise and tinker. This is our time. And we workshop, which I love, and we write together, which I love even more, but he's also moving us about, giving us opportunities to let things stew in our minds, and giving us opportunity for inspiration. I know a perfect day for me would include a lot of experiencing--much wandering, maybe in a new place, somewhere quiet and beautiful, discovering new facts about this place, gathering up the nuts and berries of a poem, the little details that are pleasurable to roll about on the tongue. The writing can come later, or during, or whenever. But the experience. That is now.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

44: On Revision and Wildness


The French lilac is blooming behind the cabins and there are fresh peaches in the dining hall.

We workshopped one of my longer poems this afternoon and at the end, I asked MDB about revision. There are so many different sorts of writers--the kind that adore the first draft, that sort of burst of creativity and intimacy with the page as it comes out. And he mentioned that someone (Terry Tempest Williams?) was doing an interview on NPR and mentioned how she'd prefer to take a second job cleaning toilets at a bus station than write a first draft. My dear (and talented) friend Karen loves the process of tinkering with the poem; revision brings her comfort.

For me, I am afraid I will muck it all up. I love the idea of revision, but the actual act I feel so unsure of--as if my intuition is better at the first draft than it would be at the end. (Is there a switch that hasn't been turned on just yet?) So I asked for some advice. And I said I knew much of it was intuitive, much of it came from reading and letting that sit with you, letting the words turn over like smooth stones in your mind. I said I knew some of it needed to sit in a drawer through several seasons before time would allow enough distance.

My poems have sat for six months now. It's time to bring them to a new stage.

His suggestions: to record yourself reading the poem out loud and listen to it over and over again. I'd rather hear someone else read it as I despise the sound of my own voice, but I do so like that idea. To find the dead spots. He suggested writing it out as prose to see where we needed to work.

Sometimes a new draft without the old one handy is a good technique, though more often than not, I've come out with a wholly different poem--a new first draft with a new conundrum.

He said to us, "Try anything you can to shake up the poem to draw out its essential parts."

I like that--the idea of shaking up a poem. A poem cocktail.

We did an exercise to warm up where we wrote a series of I am phrases. We had to write one wonderful thing that happened recently (my husband holding a clover up because he thought I ought to take a photograph--those little moments, the ones where we share something like that, are always so good, so touching) and one rotten thing that happened recently (my parents' dog, Madison, who was a part of my teenagerhood in Green Bay, is continuing that sad process of aging and now has liver issues along with her arthritis). Then write them as I am statements:
- I am Ryan holding a clover bud up to the tree trunk for a photograph.
- I am sweet Madison's liver trouble.
- I am the way your limbs twine with my own.
- I am the language for sorrow.
- I am walking in the early morning woods.
Etcetera.

Once you have a string of these factual statements, break them in half and create new phrases:
- I am the language of sorrow, worrying over the subtlety of singing.
- I am sweet Madison in the early morning woods.
- I am finding ticks, the hidden peeping inside a tin drum.
- I am walking until you gather me up in your arms.
- I am replaying the memory of an always sound of laughter.
Etcetera

There's a lot of these exercises where you disconnect from that strange pull toward the rational, toward making sense. I remember an exercise he gave us that was a sheet of paper filled with words, mostly nouns and verbs. And we were to write poems stringing those words together as our eye dictates, perhaps adding preposition or a conjunction or changing the verb tense.

Your writing becomes a little bit more wild that way.

There's another exercise where he gives us poems in another language, preferably one we don't know. We are to "translate" those poems into English, so you are approximating, getting a feel for something completely bewildering.

I love collecting these writing exercises. I am the type who enjoys writing like that. I know others are very particular about their process: Sherry Quan Lee likes to write on unlined paper because it is more freeing; Sarah, my friend from Palm Beach, used to write in a tiny flip notebook, little phrases that popped into her mind; Karen prefers not to write in fancy notebooks as it feels a bit too daunting, as if perfection ought to come, and I remember she'd write on the backs of handouts in seminar; I am currently writing in a black faux-leather journal with teeny graph paper. We are particular about our writing instruments too. Carolyn Forche gave me a pen and told me, This is your poet's pen. I want you to write on your honeymoon with this pen.

I hope I am not boring my non-poet friends, the ones whose lives don't revolve around language in some way. For me, I feel as if I come alive at these retreats. Living, eating, breathing poetry, and in the woods. Oh, it is so perfect. Sure, I miss my husband, and I love him with a fierce love, but this week, thus far, has been such a gift, and I will come back to him with more determination and confidence, with so much buzzing in my head. And soon, this will become such a reality, the driving force. I loved teaching high school, and on my worst days, tolerated it, but I am most excited that I won't have distractions (as I might have in a low-res situation), that I will be able to drive myself forward, and if I fail, I cannot use the excuse that I did not try hard enough. No shrug of the shoulders.

43: Gratitude


Good morning, all. It has grown chilly and my one sweatshirt will stink by week's end, but I don't mind. I am in the woods and all else falls away except the beauty of the natural world and the beauty of the written (and spoken) word.

One of our assignments is to create an anthology of poetry (20-30 pieces) you love and to write an introduction to it. I've decided to sift through some favorites, find new ones, and thematically link them as poems of gratitude or small blessings. I'm intensely interested in capturing the small moments in life, but also in how we process joy in a difficult world.

I've only just begun, this morning, to collect, so it is small, and there are many ideas shooting around, but for now:

- "Lucky Life" by Gerald Stern (Thank you, Eireann)
- "A Blessing" by James Wright
- "Love Like Salt" by Lisel Mueller
- "Ode to Salt" by Pablo Neruda

Do you see how the path has begun to wind? The elementary odes of Neruda seem to be perfect for this, but I can't just roll about with Neruda, no matter how much I love that simplicity and celebration. I am thinking of "This is Just to Say" to then continue on that vein, the celebration of taste (O Taste and See, yes, Karen?). I suppose what I'm looking for are poems that simply turn away from that frustration and angst (Oh, "Bathing the Newborn" by Sharon Olds would be perfect) and focusing on the joy of the everyday.

So. Two things:
1/ Any suggestions are appreciated.
2/ If you would like me to email you a copy of said assignment when I am done, because the idea of poems on gratitude make you happy, leave a comment and I'll be sure to pass it along.

Happy morning, all. I'm going to go embrace another day of poetry, and, as always, report back. xo

Monday, July 7, 2008

42: Cloquet at Night


Tonight: poems read aloud, feeding the beast, the quiet of the forest around us. I brought Harry and Lisel.

So many bits in my notebook to share:

- The point of being a poet isn't to have an emotion but to get those emotions out into the world. (paraphrasing Valery, I believe)
- How do you know what to critique, to respond to? Part of it is knowing how to tweak--that intuition, as a composer, you know you want a trumpet sound as opposed to a flute, but it's also the familiarity you have with the poems that you love and the intimacy you gain in regular reading.
- In revision, in critique, ask yourself: Where are you most close with the poem? (And where do you lose that closeness?)
- Poetry has always played with hesitation and flow.
- Lose the dignity of the present version and play--try removing every other line, for example, changing tenses, rearranging lines and line breaks, start at the end and work to the beginning, etc.
- That beautiful quote of Michaelangelo about liberating the statue from inside the marble.
- Writing a poem is like getting from one bank to another by jumping from one moving boat to another (paraphrasing someone--).
- Faulkner: kill your darlings
- Henry James: woo the combinations
- MDB confessed to Merwin he was having some kind of anxiety and Merwin assured him he just hadn't yet found his myth.

I wish, at this hour, my brain were a bit more coherent so I could share with you my thoughts on all these fragments, these snippets I jotted down in the margins, some repeats of phrases I gathered in my less concentrated undergraduate years, some new moments for me. There's something about rediscovery that is akin to re-reading at just the right moment in time. When the world speaks to you, even when you are sleeping.

Tonight, I will dream of Frida Kahlo and the lace of treetops. I will dream of Norway pine and the slow crawl of ticks beneath plastic water cups. I will imagine myself exactly here, at this place, trying to take in every moment as I should. Tomorrow, I will wake early, I will go on a walk, I will write bits in my notebook, I will open myself up to the possibilities of the written word. And I will breathe this fresh air, carry it home with me, keep it close, in my pocket.

41: Cloquet Forestry Center


I arrived yesterday afternoon, the sun full and bright, the Boreal forest opening up: the colors of pine, stone, timber. I am in a cabin and have figured out this new fangled wireless thing (I'm only teasing; our home is wireless) and how to upload photographs onto an external hard drive. I'm listening to Norah Jones on Pandora and feel absolutely naughty, though in twenty minutes, I will be back outside, eating pasta underneath a timbered pavilion, poets flanking me, mosquitoes finding sweet spots.

It's my week away, my workshop in the woods. The title: The Work and Play of the Poem with Michael Dennis Browne, the professor who, half a dozen years ago, opened my eyes to the beauty and the shape of poetry, to the musicality of it, to the way it can burst in your heart like a lark's song.

I know I am in the perfect place when I can touch pinecones at my doorstep, when I write poetry on long walks, when my camera is the quiet one and words begin to surface. My eyes are drinking this wonder, my ears, my heart. I am learning to write again, after a half-year dormancy, and I am grateful.

PS: I have started a photoset on Flickr for this trip. You can follow the beauty here, though I must admit, I have been strangely still with my camera these first twenty four hours. I promise more soon. Soon.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

40: Bratwurst



For this week's local meal, we had bratwurst from Cannon Falls boiled in beer from New Ulm: diced onions, red pepper flakes, hot sauce. For this upcoming week, I will be eating off the land as well, for the catering through Split Rock is very eco-friendly and focused on local farming practices. I will sleep with the woods around me, good food, good company, good words.