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kissing sardines

Hello to y'all and to 2020. Today's subject line refers to the Great Sardine and Maple Leaf Drop, a fine collaboration between Canada and the United States mentioned in a public radio roundup of Things Dropped yesterday.

I didn't kiss anything at midnight, truth be told. I was asleep, plus the Beautiful Young Man came home from Minnesota with a cold. I had a great time at the gym yesterday once I got myself there: although I woke up in time for the first class I'd intended to hit, I didn't get myself to the Y until the second class was already underway (and still managed to forget my shirt -- but, for a change, I wasn't the only woman dancing in just her bra, and it beats the time I had to improvise a skirt out of my cardigan because I'd left my shorts at the office). It felt good knowing some of the routines well enough to really get down, and the instructor (who gave birth just three weeks ago, and looks fan-freaking-tastic) high-fived me after I bounced up from a floor twerk. (And here you thought "get down" was merely a turn of phrase. ;) )

New Year's Eve 2019

I had half the gym to myself for a good ten minutes after class, and a hoop to myself for twenty minutes beyond that. I'm terrible at el baloncesto -- especially when I try to shoot left-handed, which I worked on for a while yesterday -- but it's still fun even when I'm bricking 19 shots out of 20. I like the sound and feel of the ball hitting the floor and landing in my hands. (The opening poem in my book is "Practicing Jump Shots with William Shakespeare." The girl may not get to the court often, but it's definitely part of her (hi)story.)

cropped pepper seedling IMG_4879 IMG_4882

Speaking of past publications, one might think that someone with a poem about thinning seedlings would have zero hesitation about culling Christmas pepper sprouts from an overcrowded pot. One would be wrong. It's a wonder that anything ever gets done around here.

The red raincoat I wore for that author photo (taken on the same trip as the photo in today's icon, if you're reading this on Dreamwidth) is one I purchased from a bookshop in New Orleans's Faubourg Marigny neighborhood umpteen years ago, possibly during a holiday visit. With green/blue streaks in my hair since 2010, I haven't worn that coat much (until this week, the last time may have been last year's Santa paddle), so I had put it in the "donate" pile earlier this fall. But then Jane Fonda's red coat showed up in my feed, and then Louisville was picked for the Music City Bowl, for which I had tickets (thanks to MCB's sponsorship of the Dragon Boat Festival and to my donors, whose generosity added up to my being the top fundraiser on my team).

Y'all. I haven't worn so much Cardinal red in forever (earrings, scarf, lipstick -- the works). The seats were fantastic -- behind the endzone, four rows back, aisle. The BYM was decidedly uninterested, so my date was another mouthy Southern gal who brought over a bottle of Huling Station Very Small Batch bourbon. For appetizers, I opened the Zingerman's pimento cheese friends had sent, and also the jar of garlic I had pickled last month. I fried maifun noodles with cabbage, mushrooms, and carrots for the main course (my friend was fascinated with the resemblance of the sesame oil bottle to Mrs. Butterworth's), and for dessert we had red bean mochi.

It's a good thing we did the pre-game thing, because the adult beverage options at Nissan Stadium are ... limited. My friend bought a Miller Lite for me during one of her trips to concessions, and all I can say is, why squander 96 calories on something with little flavor and zero buzz. My friend is not a fan of JD and that was the only bourbon on offer. But my hot cocoa hit the spot, and the bbq nachos were OK, and more important, we had fun taking in the whole scene. Two friends from high school with whom I'm still in touch are Louisville grads, and some of my favorite dance partners live there now, so I definitely had a preference, but not enough to feel distraught when Louisville's defense wasn't gelling during the first quarter. The crowd around us was mixed -- some hyped-up State and Cards fans, but also a row of local bros behind us who were just rooting for their bets (at least $500 on overs), so their cheering was wholly dependent on who was about to score. My friend and I agreed that they managed to stay on the right side of hilarious vs. obnoxious, but they were definitely on the line. State's cheerleaders were more on point uniform-wise than U of L's (the short-shorts and Minnie-Mouse-ish bows did not work); U of L's band (especially the announcer) had the more polished half-time presentation; State's flag runs were more impressive; Cards fans were louder (and not just because the Cards got their game going second quarter). Louisville's angry bird mascot is aesthetically more appealing than State's jowly dawg, although my friend spotted the real pup during one of her walks around.

In short: bad football, good time.

I'd prepped some bourbon balls for the party we ended up skipping yesterday because the BYM was snuffling (and even if he hadn't been, I had fallen asleep in the bathtub during my afternoon soak, so I changed right into pjs and my Grouse Grind t-shirt instead of going-out clothes). I'd like to curb some of my tendency to over-prep this next year, but it isn't a resolution because there are plenty of situations on the other end of the seesaw where I would do well to level up my prep. The issue is about calibrating the amount of prep to the expected ROI, and the mix includes acknowledging that I over-research things like hotel options because that's another-potato-chip quick and easy vs. really digging into an aria or a not-yet-finished poem because that's never quick or easy.

paperwhite blooms

Anyhow, the BYM and I split a 2016 bottle of TRBLMKR during the evening, and I went to bed after a couple of Spanish lessons and a few chapters on sea kayaking. The plan for this morning had been to hit the gym for three hours (i.e., two classes, with a reading or rowing break between) but my shoulder is doing its occasional freezing-up thing, so instead I fried pancakes, eggs, and bacon, and I'm going to repot some plants now (including the very cramped aloe vera plant I picked up from Downtown Pres, which the BYM suggested sticking an octopus head on because its fronds looked to him like tentacles...). I could also just open a Yazoo Cinnamon Milk Stout or Blackstone Dark Matter IPA and then take an extended nap in the hammock. I do like this actually having the holiday off.

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scrapping along

Repeatedly staying up past 2 a.m. to meet deadlines exacts a price, which made itself known earlier today in my absent-mindedly tossing good pepper morsels into the compost pot instead of the to-be-pickled bowl, and not feeling up to fishing them out. It is okay. It was a 99-cent bag of already-iffy capiscum annuums, some far gone enough that the bag was leaving a liquid trail when I moved it around the kitchen counter, so I have now dealt with it, resulting in two jars (2 1/2 cups) of quick-pickled good bits; a colleague handed me a clementine on her way out the door on Friday, so the peel from that is also in this batch, along with the last of the Russian honey another friend gave to me last December. I boiled more brine than necessary after adding two more honey-jar-fuls of water and vinegar to the pot (having prepared not quite enough for the two mason jars), so I have now also pickled some of the clementines I already had on hand.

The carrot greens have been chopped up, with the bulk put into the freezer. I stir-fried some with this morning's eggs and this afternoon's pork chop:

The copper pan erupted into a chef's-hat-sized crown of flame when I was heating oil for the pork, but two lids tamed it before it woke the alarm.

I have detached the radishes from the sludge of dirt + greenery their tops had become.

I am also working on assorted notes to put into the mail. General announcement: if you haven't received a thank-you note from me by Lunar New Year for something sent this season, either it or my response were probably misdelivered, so let me know that you were thinking of and/or expecting to hear from me and we'll consider it a sacrifice to the transportation gods. I have heard horror stories from other friends about UPS (driver claimed that no one was home to receive an expedited package when they didn't even bother knocking) and FedEx (driver forged signature), and my neighborhood post office failed to scan a package with a two-day Priority Mail label for three days. Not to mention packages and missives intended for at least three different neighbors ending up on my porch, so who knows what the hell hasn't reached me.

On a more cheerful note, one of the cards was to two top-tier musicians who apparently live on my block (which means there's at least three, as there's also a virtuoso regularly practicing an instrument they don't play). No, I'm not going to disturb them, but I'd be lying if I claimed I wasn't delighted about finding out. I saw one of them at the Ryman! I've probably said hi to them without recognizing them while tugging at weeds or picking up stray candy wrappers! (There are almost certainly other semi-famous people I've said hi to in similar circumstances. Considering how scruffy the neighborhood was when we moved in, I am astounded in both happy and horrified ways at the B&B down the street being able to charge $225-600/night. [Molly, it's the same house but different owners/concept as the place for whom we pretended to be wedding guests.])

Speaking of fame, I have learned that the Asian woman for whom I am regularly mistaken is now the chief content officer for Alaska Public Media. I wonder if me being asked if I'm her will ever actually stop.

I have put two cracked plates into the bin. I have used my gardening shears to cut open a mini-bottle of lotion. (Winter itch, y'all.) Aquaphor's spray lotion felt chilly when I tried it this morning, so maybe it goes into the gym bag. I am 0 for 2 on obtaining straight answers on how my gym plans to handle my membership after my current plan expires on the 28th, but I am persistent, and I can always ride my bike, fight old rosebushes (there are dozens to dig out from a friend's hillside, and speaking of stubborn, those m___ers are HARD to remove from where they are currently entrenched), work on getting through Day 1 of the Splits app on my phone (heron pose and I are not on speaking terms yet), and crank up Yandel. Also, temperatures are supposed to climb back to nearly 70 F on Christmas Day, and the BYM has created monogram and name decals for my paddleboard, so Louise and I have a date.

The past week alone had a lot. A significant number of people in my circles are grieving and/or struggling in other ways. A company I've trusted for more than twenty years may have lost my business. The Dr. Pepper I drank this afternoon did not banish my headache. I dreamt last night about dancers I'm unlikely to see before February at the earliest, and quite possibly never again in some cases (because accidents, aging, and other mayhem are all too likely to claim some of them before our paths intersect again). Going through old address books in the course of writing holiday cards has a way of stirring up ghosts. I read an obituary just this morning for a woman I had dinner with twenty-odd years ago. I shot like thirty baskets yesterday before finally making one.

But: I borrowed Death Wins a Goldfish from the library, and the BYM was chuckling at some of the pages and then started analyzing the artist's depiction of a motorcycle ("That looks like part of... but what the hell is that supposed to be from...?"), which I'm still giggling about days later. I get to meet a friend's baby in two days. I reached Amethyst League in Duolingo. I finished my first new longer-than-a-haiku poem since August. I saw both Cats (sneak preview courtesy of Dance FTW!) and It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood last Tuesday, the latter with a late-night beer. I do like being a grown-up, even during the stretches when it takes all my determination to get on with any of the things I actually want to get done. One breath at a time. One half-line at a time. One comforter laundered. One envelope addressed. One spatula washed. One shirt ironed. And on.

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it being December 1...

...a friend or associate of a former classmate tweeted a video of harpsichordist Scott Ross, who died of AIDS-related pneumonia 30 years ago.

There is a recording on YouTube of Ross playing the Gigue from Rameau's "First Book of Keyboard Pieces," which happens to be what I played most often on the harpsichords around Connecticut College back in July.

This morning I sang a solo about God having countless names and faces, and slid a stone into our water communion bowl in memory of Thomas Peck.

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domestic progress

first bloom

The first blossom among the Christmas cacti in my house has popped open, and the many buds on the other older plants make my heart glad (as do the rubber duckies keeping company with the ones by the bathtub).

A mild flare of optimism: preparing to throw out an old, irreparably stained fitted sheet.
(Though I admit to retrieving it a few minutes later to use as a dropcloth for the next round of wall-painting.)

Kitchen notes:
  • Cooked Southern Living's savory corn pudding for a potluck. It received great reviews.

  • Refilled the baking powder container with a homemade batch this morning.
  • Made turkey stock in the crockpot and then used some of it to prepare black beans.

  • Baba ghannouj ... with apple cider vinegar instead of lemon juice, because I'd forgotten that we threw out the admittedly-past-its-expiration-date bottle of lj when the fridge failed a few weeks ago.

  • Meatloaf (with mushrooms as part of the filler) last night, meatloaf sandwiches tonight.

  • Decluttering:
  • 100 Games of Solitaire is going to a Free Library, because I haven't opened the book since plucking it from a freebie pile some years ago -- because, let's get real, any time I could spare for learning new solitaire riffs is going to be spent on dopamine hits via Duolingo if the wifi is working, crocheting if it's not, or relearning poker hands if for some reason I really feel like communing with a deck of cards.

  • My church will be hosting a Trans, Gender Queer, and Non-Binary (TGQNB) clothing swap in March and has started to collect "gently used clothes and shoes in good repair in all adult and teen sizes and appropriate
    for all gender expressions." See page 25 of the December newsletter for details.

  • Nearly broke a screwdriver dismantling the frame on my Dufy print (it fell behind the piano a year or so ago, cracking the glass), but the deed is done and the screwdriver back in its drawer.

  • Reading:
  • The March/April 2014 issue of English Home, which includes this bit from an interview with Honor Blackman ("best known for playing Cathy Gale in The Avengers and as Bond girl Pussy Galore"):

    Niki Browes: How house-proud are you?
    Honor Blackman: I'm looking round my house and the carpets need to be cleaned and the sofa re-sprung. It looks like a pigsty at the moment for the simple reason that I've been doing my tax return. There are papers everywhere.

  • The December/January issue of Garden & Gun, which includes a fun profile of One Flew South (a bar in the Atlanta airport that happens to be a big reason the BYM and I try to schedule connecting flights through Atlanta), and also this choice morsel in "Talk of the South":

    Q: Eighteenth-century Georgia was really just King George's penal colony, right?
    Guy Martin: ...Emptying jails made for excellent colonial business -- the British Caribbean, New Zealand, Australia, and the Raj's India became places of the second chance. Teasing our brethren of the thirteenth colony about their jailbird roots remains the best kind of Southern sport, but down at the core, as Americans, every immigrant to the promised land comes from one sort of jail or another.

  • I borrowed from the library a book on many ways to incorporate avocados into many kinds of dishes and drinks, and ... I cannot get into it. That I have long regarded avocados as treats rather than staples is about 85% of it, and attempting to like an avotini about four years ago went nowhere.

  • Kelly Bowen's "The Lady in Red," published as a bonus story within Grace Burrowes's Forever and a Duke

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    cat-alogue - some recent reading

    Love and Other Perils - two Regency novellas, "Lieutenant Mayhew's Catastrophes" by Emily Larkin and "Kisses and Catnip" by Grace Burrowes. The heroine of "Kisses and Catnip" appeared as a supporting character in an earlier story by Burrowes, and I was happy to see her find her happy-ever-after with a scientist (a recurring trope in Burrowes's books -- I reread "Duchess in the Wild" and parts of The Jaded Gentlemen [Axel being a rose-obsessed botanist] during the same escapism binge). There are three significant kittens in the Larkin, and assorted moggies in "Kisses and Catnip," including two fellas named Lucifer and Beelzebub.

    What's the Time, Mr. Wolf?</em> by Debi Gliori


    Agatha's Feather Bed by Carmen Agra Deedy and Laura L. Seeley. The story centers on Agatha's interactions with a flock of geese, but there's at least one cat in practically every frame, and the occasional badass sheep looking in...

    illo from AGATHA'S FEATHER BED

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    I wanna burn all the cities to the ground

    Not really, of course - I love cities with the fervor of a bluestocking who grew up in a county without a public library. That said, I have belatedly come across Emma Stone's lip-sync of Blues Traveler's "Hook" (starts at 1:55 in this video: and, yeah. (And her take on "All I Do Is Win" starts at 5:40.)

    I've been binge-watching Lip Sync Battle clips. The gateway was Tom Holland's Umbrella. Other favorites:

    The Rock: Shake It Off
    The reactions to Matt Iseman channeling Cher (1:42)
    Julianne Hough: I Just Had Sex
    Taye Diggs: Let Me Love You
    Big Bird: I Gotta Feeling (I don't even like that song...)
    Lupita Nyong'o: Bailando

    Part of the fun has been finding out the names/performers of songs I first encountered at the Y, including Booty, Low, Fireball, Gasolina, and "M.I.L.F. $" (and it is also funny that some of the raunchiest songs I know are being taught by unapologetically devout Christian women. They are good teachers, and I am more than a little torn about one of the classes being in conflict with English country dancing).

    Speaking of Not Really Safe for Work content, I dove into Deadspin's "Why Your Team Sucks: 2019 Tennessee Titans" this afternoon. The Titans were leading 17-13 in the 4th quarter when I opened the tab ... and ended up losing 19-17. Ooof. I love my city, but some of the vicious jabs directed at it are called for. (I'm nodding especially at "full of racists feigning as libertarians." The language of my tweeps turned a particularly vehement shade of blue on Friday when our new mayor-elect declared that "Nashville cannot and will not be a Sanctuary City.")

    Also, Deadspin gives every team in the NFL the treatment. I am looking forward to pairing some of the others with a bourbon or beer some other rest day. (These days I seem to be most invested in are the Titans, the Eagles, and the Bears, in that order. Then there's the teams-friends-care-about-that-aren't-the-Patriots-or-Steelers-or-Packers tier, featuring the Lions, the Saints, the Panthers, the Browns, and the Vikings. Then there's the teams-I-may-add-to-this-list-even-if-they're-the-Patriots-Steelers-or-Packers corner, where I'll be paying attention to whomever has the cojones to hire Ryan Russell or Kaep.

    Before returning Good Trouble: Lessons from the Civil Rights Playbook to the library, I snapped some hasty last-night shots to share with y'all bit by bit over the next few weeks. (The link will take you to the publisher's page, which contains a better-quality sample of the artwork.) The author is donating all proceeds to The Center for Popular Democracy.

    Today's glimpse:

    "...if you wonder what you would've done if you were alive during the civil rights movement, remember one thing: YOU ARE."

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    Taking the shield of faith

    Since last night, I've been living with the urge to howl holy hell at North Carolina.

    What has helped: cranking up the volume on my car stereo and singing along as it plays "Stand" over and over. (That chorus!)

    The Nashville Public Library is ordering copies of Good Trouble for its collection.

    Team Tug of Warhol (War-HAUL!) was not victorious, but we were valiant, and apparently provided a good deal of entertainment for our colleagues back at the ranch via Facebook Live (as well as those who joined us at the park, where it was 91 freaking F at noon).

    It's been an intense day. I dreamt at length about my late honorary mama and her family last night. I was up at 6:30 a.m. for an early meeting. A training session for our upcoming Native Women Artists exhibition included a viewing of The Indian Problem, which -- god _____, Tennessee. Gdi, North Carolina. I followed church class with ten minutes on the erg at the Y. I'm looking at the Road Scholar catalogue that just arrived -- Honorary Mama had suggested doing one of their trips together, and while that never happened, there's at least one that another honorary relative might be up for.

    But first, bath and bed. And reinforcing that figurative breastplate.

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    "I have not seen a polar bear twerk before."

    Today's subject line is from the emcee of the drummers' dance-off during today's dragon boat festival, when the Coca-Cola team mascot got down. Supergirl (a gorgeous African American woman in red stiletto knee-high boots, who was later seen catching footballs in them) and Animal also showed up.

    My team finished first in its first heat (1:21.571), which put us at 12th overall. I ended up pinch-paddling for another team (Nashville Veterinary Specialists), sitting in the last row on the left side (exactly opposite to my position in the TSRA boat) ... and ended up sliding off my seat halfway through the race when I leaned forward an notch too far. Despite that mishap, and the team being a hodgepodge to begin with (at least 6 of us were from other teams), that boat finished in 1:21.995, putting it in 13th overall even though it was 4th (= last) in its heat.

    Dragon Boat results
    Vanderbilt failed to show up, hence their time of 5:55 (assigned to 3 teams out of the 35).

    During the second round, TSRA finished 3rd out of 4, with a time of 1:23.494, which had us in 6th place after 4 heats. (The app has failed to update since then, and some of the more competitive teams were in later heats.) Most of the team members had hoped and assumed that we would finish no better than 13th (apparently the top 12 and worst 4 still on site compete in a final round; something something football, and how Southern is that?), and they were gone by the time I returned from the marshaling area. (I had planned on helping the vets again, but they didn't show up for their scheduled heat, so I shrugged at the volunteers, who shrugged back; one loped off to inform the announcer, and I ambled over to the spectators' area. Apparently the vets sorted themselves out in time to compete 2 or 3 heats later, and there wasn't another call for help, so I bid farewell to the two other TSRA rowers still there and headed to Bates Nursery (today was the last day to use a 50% discount, so my own "if I end up leaving by 3" plan was to go look at their hellebores and ferns. But it would've been nice to spend more time on the water, and if I do this again I will plan on staying closer to the staging area so that I can answer more calls for help. The neuroscientist in a tutu who bought lunch for me -- I'd given her a ride last night -- also did an extra race as well; it's apparently a recurring thing.)

    Also enjoyed at the festival: matcha bubble tea and some fine tunes (I can't Umbrella like Tom Holland, but I was happy to hear it anyway. And also a nicely roughed-up mix of "Someone that I Used To Know"). I resisted the temptation of $5 t-shirts (hello, hellebore!). It was good to be outside. And now it's time to put in more time at the piano.

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