O if I were Scotland I would turn my back

The subject line's from Adrian Mitchell's "After the Third Election of Thatcher," which continues:

. . . and climb on my horse and ride away
And if I were Wales I would turn my back
And climb on my horse and ride away . . .

This is in the collection Blue Coffee: Poems, 1985 - 1996, which has this opposite the table of contents:


None of the work in this or any other of my books is to be used in connection with any examination whatsoever. Reduce the size of classes in State schools to twelve and I might reconsider.

Today's household misadventure was a result of following directions: the recipe said to use a food processor to pulverize ginger in boiling water. Ow. I'm irritated not only at the mess, but by the fact that I'd already experienced this mishap before, when attempting to puree soup. On a less grouchy note, I have used up the aging ginger in the fridge, and there will be ginger-orange jello soon.

The rain let up now and then a few times today. I took breaks from the Scottish show to tug at weeds, thin out mallows, and tie up stems, as one of the "Sky's the Limit" rose bushes has become a rose sprawl. It is also producing red instead of yellow flowers this year.

Also entertaining: the Christmas cactus closest to the cyclamen now has a new bud.

My recent bathtub reading included the October 2001 issue of Sculpture, which included Anne Barclay Morgan's interview of Westen Charles. The installation that interested me most was Retirement. The artist provided some background:

from SCULPTURE, October 2001

I tossed the magazine into recycling after I was done . . . and then dug it out a day or three later, wanting to reread the description after seeing Patty Seyburn's Ode to John Hinkles, Junior and Senior, which begins:

A man filled the thumb hole of his favorite
bowling ball with his father’s ashes,
then bowled a perfect game.
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everybody here has seams and scars

The subject line is from Vienna Teng's "Level Up." I've been rewatching the video with new appreciation, now that I've spent more time practicing combinations within the past five years than during the previous forty-five. (I have not become good at combinations, but neither am I trying to be Xin Ying or So Young An or Masazumi Chaya. I am aiming to become the healthiest I've ever been . . . )

Given that Teng and her partner aren't professional dancers, the choreography in the opening minute really impresses me now. The sequence between 0:57 and 1:03 has always made me catch my breath.

I was thinking about Vienna because I first saw Alex Wong and Ben Sollee perform with her at the Belcourt. Alex, in turn, has recently introduced me to an array of performers and artists I'll be paying closer attention to (and have, in some cases, put on my next Bandcamp Friday list): Ruby Ibarra, Rotana (a Saudi-born artist whose songs on Sunday included one about self-pleasure), MILCK, and Surrija.

My favorite Surrija track so far is "Sylvette," which is ironic, because I spent dozens of hours this past year wrangling content about Picasso (becoming a Françoise Gilot fan along the way, as well as ever more firmly Team Braque), and not once did Lydia Corbett ever come up.

The past few days have been rife with derp -- sunfried tomato seedlings, pizza sticking like tar to its pan, and other mishaps -- but I managed to deliver some thises and thatses, and also didn't get killed riding my bike to the East Nashville Farmers Market (I rewarded myself with a tangerine popsicle when I got there).

Then there are the guys in another league:
16th Street, Sunday afternoon

(The dude cruised up at least a block on just the back wheel. His buddy behind me cheerily bellowed "Awww yeah" when I snapped the pic.)

Elsewhere, in other negotiations with movement, there's a virtual formal ball for English country dancers next week. The band's recordings include "Ransom Note," which I'm going to hope is on the program because the tune is so beautiful, and I have a lovely memory of whirling around to it in Decatur two Septembers ago.

Vicki Swan was kind enough to invite me to join the dance mosaic she compiled for "Bonnie at Morn." I'm in the third tile up from the lower left corner:

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floofs, fuchsia, photinia . . .

Saturday had a number of "I am the daughter of my ancestors" moments -- those instances where being extra wasn't in the game plan, but putting the kitchen trash and recycling bins (and a couple of plastic hampers as well) on the driveway to get a free pre-scrubbing soak in the rain, that happened. There was also vacuuming the floor of the trash drawer and freezer, and studying date and time units in Mandarin, as well as the more routine using up of aging ingredients/leftovers, plus some saving of styrofoam trays to use as plant saucers.

The outdoor plants survived this week's plunge in temperature. I wrapped one of my mother's skirts around the Jacob's ladder and draped t-shirts over the parsley and chives. The photinia is in bloom, as is a neighbor's honeysuckle. The first round of mallow and zinnia seedlings are far enough along for thinning; I extended the patch today, emptying out the soup container where I'd kept the mallow pods. Most of my energy, though, went toward weeding around the rosebushes, and scattering garlic scraps around them.

chocolate cherry tomato seedlings chocolate cherry tomato seedlings

I started all the chocolate cherry tomato plants at the same time, but as these snapshots illustrate, the seedlings are growing at distinctly different rates. I didn't track if/when or how often I moved the plants between shelf/counter/floor and yard, but the ones furthest along likely spent the most time on the sunroom shelf.

floof plant

Spending money on a non-utilitarian plant would have been out of character among the ancestors, but the Floof basket is earning its keep as entertainment. (It's generally known as a chenille plant, but the BYM greets it as "Floof!" every time he catches sight of it.) The fuchsia, too:


A show I am working on calls fuchsias "disordered." I raised my eyebrows at that claim, but hey, maybe Scottish flowers are more punk? (Or the SME more genteel. . . .) This entry was originally posted at

not Congress, lobster, love, luau . . .

[The subject line's from Gwendolyn Brooks, "Boy Breaking Glass." Because.]

My culinary mode the past two days could probably be classified as Southern Weird. Lunch yesterday was green tomato and okra soup, seasoned with leftover Easter ham. And breakfast was a 5M sandwich - mortadella, Muenster, and mint with mayo and mustard. I also cooked three pounds of bacon. Any fool who wants to insist that I'm not Southern or American can stuff it.

Harvesting the mint reminded me that I had no idea what had happened to the Kentucky Derby field since January. So I checked in here and there, and for you hunch bettors, the longshots in the field include a bay colt named Midnight Bourbon and a gray colt named Soup and Sandwich. (And they even shared a recent headline because they worked out the same morning . . .)

Tonight's English country dance gathering featured beautiful playing by Dave Wiesler. And speaking of ECD, I'm in the leftmost file in this mosaic a UK nyckelharpist assembled earlier this month:

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    Big Country, "Wonderland"
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mushily powerful

roasted garlic

Don't tell the BYM, because he already thinks my garlic intake verges on chemical warfare . . . but there is a lot of garlic in our fridge right now. I pickled around a quart and a half earlier this month after bringing home a bag from the 99-cent produce shelf, and today I roasted 11 heads as a favor for a friend of a friend.

After pelting out of the house for an appointment this morning, I gave thanks to Past Me for the leftover coffee she'd poured into jars last week. Present Me notes that the water left over from soaking dried mushrooms looks a lot like leftover coffee, and that it would be wise to revive my habit of labeling jars.

I am exceedingly late to both the Tom Hiddleston and Letters Live parties, but y'all, this reading of Gerald Durrell's letter to Lee McGeorge is something else. (At YouTube, the comments for this clip include a copy of the letter.)

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    Chemcal Brothers, "Wide Open"
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#ShowYourself and other voicings

First, a signal boost for the next two weekends:


I first saw Alex Wong perform when he toured with Vienna Teng as her percussionist. He moved to Nashville a few years later, and I've since been to his house for food (an earlier edition of Angelhouse Family Dinners) and music. He's now raising funds for AAPI justice/assistance orgs through a virtual tour, and the first four sessions were terrific (including a beautifully filmed capoeira duet to Bob Dylan's "Boots of Spanish Leather"). The lineup for this weekend includes a book artist, poet Ciona Rouse (who was terrific in Nick Cave: Feat. Nashville a few years ago), and Kentucky cellist Ben Sollee (whom, come to think of it, I also first heard via a Vienna Teng tour, and whose "Bury Me With My Car" had me doubled over laughing during that session).

Life hurtles on. Many people hurting. Many platters spinning. Many postcards to write.

This week I've edited in both French and English, next week will include some Spanish translation, and I'm blasting Gaelic punk as I power through some of the prep for the museum's next big show.

I caught most of last night's White Sox no-hitter against Cleveland, which was fun.

The chenille basket is definitely doing better outdoors, especially since I've been making a point of putting in full sun for the recommended 4 to 6 hours. All the kale plants may have come home or come down with something bacterial; the roses may have not one disease but two, but are also putting forth lots of clean leaves and buds, so I swore and snipped and sprayed yesterday and am opting to be optimistic. The irises are spectacular. I need to clear ground for the tomatoes and other starters from my church's herb fair, and some zinnia seedlings are emerging in a patch I've started in the back yard. Indoors, the Paula Jane fuchsia is gorgeous, most of the chocolate cherry tomato seedlings are doing well, and there is a lopsided bloom on the never-quite-healthy miniature rosebush.

I went on a Poshmark tear earlier this week (splurging on five cute dresses for $58 total) and picked up my two new pairs of glasses (sun and standard). The latter torched my FSA but were definitely overdue. One of the Poshmark bundles I've been rolling my eyes at the hot takes on various platforms about upcoming fashion trends. Some of us who wear ratty pjs all day when no one's watching AND don heels and bling when we feel like turning heads do so with no one's permission and nary a pang of existential torment. FFS.

One of the Poshmark bundles included hearts and other shapes cut out of a variety of publications, including The Hobbit; a multilingual census or healthcare help line handout; a twentieth-century novel involving typewriters, trains, and failed love; a handwritten flyer seeking a renter; and a Phinney Center newsletter. I don't quite know what (if anything) to make of it, but it certainly raised the week's surrealism quotient. This entry was originally posted at
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    Dropkick Murphys, "I'm Shipping Up to Boston"

calls for entries

Due by noon EDT on Monday 5 April: NPR is collaging a poem about anti-Asian racism, with lines from submitted list poems:

(A short poem mentioned in the call is Emily Jungmin Moon's "Between Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice, Today," which is worth your time.)

Due by Saturday 10 April: short poems (20 lines max) or prose inspired by Untitled (Brooklyn), a painting by Meghan Keene:
There is a $3 fee.

Easter lunch with the in-laws featured ham with raisin sauce, brie on jalapeno cheese crackers, and other goodies. I brought two sparkling wines. I admit to picking up the Carolina Gatti Ratatuja mainly because the label amused me (see, but it also turned out to be interesting, in a less filtered, more flavor way.

My plans for the afternoon had included a virtual dance party and some soil prep, but I instead sacked out for four hours, and in a minute I'm going to heed my body's call for yet more sleep instead of staying up with proofs and spreadsheets. But I did fit in a bit of twirling on my own before my tomato salad and tulsi tea:

Why yes, trying to remember combinations is like patting one's head and belly at the same time . . .

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    Dick Gaughan singing "Scots Wha Hae"
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    , ,

yearning upon yearning

One year in, I dance with imaginary partners and corners maybe once every 1.5 weeks. There are virtual contra and English country dances, concerts, classes, and presentations pretty much every day of the week, along with offerings from my early music and editing and public health circles. There isn't time for even a tenth of what I'd like to sample, never mind dive deeper into. (In other news, it's a day ending in "y" . . .)

Dancing alone also triggers unhappy memories of being a wallflower, and an envy of people whose partners enjoy waltzing and pousette-ing. It balances out: I literally doze off on motorcycles, which makes me less fun than our friends who are into them. I wouldn't want anyone else as my housemate, but my fantasy wishlist does include a dance spouse (along with a double manual harpsichord, a Citroen, an all-expenses-paid month in Barcelona, and the Bottega Veneta shearling coat I petted in San Francisco back in 2017).

On the flip side, drilling waltz steps was on my at-home list anyhow, practicing waltz holds tones the arms, and going through the figures revives happy memories as well, such as teaching "Volpony" during a Monday night class, being perfectly in sync with partners (and in demand) at past balls, and improvising a dance with another actor during last year's photo shoot for Grand Magnolia. ("Ah, Theater!" he declaimed afterward. "Where you gaze with all your heart into another person's soul -- and then move on . . .")

Anyway, one of the dances on tonight's NCD program was "Volpony." I felt an urge to double-check the source while Cathy was teaching (having mentally misfiled it under Molière instead of Jonson) and found it opposite "Wa Is Me, What Mun I Do":

Volpony & Wa Is Me What Mun I Do

These are two of the achingly loveliest tunes in the ECD canon. Some I get tired of, and some I have never liked (I'm with the minority that cannot abide "Softly Good Tummas"), but my heart lifts when I see these on a program:

(this recording doesn't quite capture the yearning I hear in Purcell's music, but will at least give you a glimpse of real social dancing, with elegance and errors in abundance)

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    Bare Necessities, "New Beginning"
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as radiant as a bridge

The subject line is from Abbie Huston Evans's "To E.D. in July," which Mary featured at Vary the Line a couple of years ago. I posted a new entry there a few days ago, about a 16th-century Chinese poet responding to a bitter 11th-century quatrain about idiocracy.

What is radiant, and available to you until 6 p.m. CDT on March 30: the Ailey All-Access video (10 minutes long) of Judith Jamison's A Case of You. So good. So gorgeous . . .

And then, if you're in the mood to dwell with the song a while longer, there's Leanne Shapton's Joni Mitchell grocery list . . .

And when I meant to blog the Shapton piece, a season or two ago, this was on my mental turntable as well:

And, as long as I'm missing Live from Here, here's what came to mind when WNXP played the original "Waltz #2" yesterday afternoon:

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prints tantalize my soap

[The subject line is from June Jordan's It's Hard to Keep a Clean Shirt Clean.]

It's a sunny Saturday morning, the sky is a beautiful blue, and the forecast for this afternoon is in the 50s, with the wind below 10 knots per hour. But I have seven chapters and a fifty-page bibliography to finetune for a volume editor and image manager before the end of the day, and a dozen-plus other files to power through before the start of Monday.

Younger Me would mutter "Tae hell wi' y'all!" and hop on the paddleboard and string the kite anyway, and then grind through the lot overnight. Current Me is cranking up Rameau, Monteverdi, and Anderson .Paak and getting on with it -- after I placate my peasant brain by dealing with a bundle of limp carrots. I combined some of the greens with asparagus this morning to go with scrambled eggs . . .

carrot greens, asparagus and eggs

. . . and the roots are in the slow cooker with other ingredients for beef stew. It feels good to have the wherewithal to make things happen, even when they weren't in our plans when we got out of bed a few hours ago.

This week I also baked a chocolate soufflé (because this past Sunday was National Chocolate Soufflé Day, which I used as my prompt for Day 28 at the Tupelo 30/30 challenage) and two loaves of cranberry bread (because I'd ordered a bag from Misfits Market with a vague idea of making relish, but then hadn't followed through with picking up related ingredients when I went to the store). I picked up our monthly Chinese feast from Lucky Bamboo on Monday, and dumped cheese (blue, American, pizza blend . . .) on various leftovers and vegetables for lunch, dinner, and snacks. The BYM resorts to frozen meals when I don't feel up to cooking, and one night brought home a mushroom pizza from Smith & Lentz that rated an awww yeah when he reheated what was left the next day.

In other happenings, our larger hellebore is blooming beautifully (the smaller one probably needs another year or two . . .), and indoors some of the Christmas cacti and cyclamen are still producing buds and flowers. The aloe plant I'd brought home from Downtown Pres in 2019 was again in need of repotting, so that happened as well:


row of aloe This entry was originally posted at
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    Anderson .Paak, "Lockdown"
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