Longing, we say, because desire is full
of endless distances.”

27 February 2011

Letters from the Outside, #35

The quality of light changes. Small home improvements require a shift in the Aloes, these previously mentioned krakens that contort and rise, spined succulent arms reaching everywhere get a sponge bath and two get a repot and my poor wan rubber fig I wash the winters dust from its broad grooved leaves and then the Monstera frond that just may have taken rooting. I see the Purple Queen requires airspace and legroom in far greater quantities than shes been afforded.  I realize ive always lived in houses that had this one odd space, some little room or enclave that indicated either poor planning or the need to satisfy some esoteric purpose ever ungrokked by me. This is where we keep the Wall of Books, the majority of Aloes, and the Norton. This space also includes the fabric stash and craft supplies, a Gibson and the AT-AT Walker. But Blessed Be its getting a floor.

Last tuesday in february with the light changing good and strong in the clear and definite cold, single digits and later afternoons. The Mugwort seedling started last spring is still with us, grown a bit leggy, I do that mindless cut-off-and-stick-in propagation thing with it, having faith it knows what it wants to do. Hopefully itll only spend a few days in limp convalescence and then start to take. A lot of repotting to do. Ive had some of these plants so long, the dirt they stand in is deplete, and the new sproutlings need either definitive division and/or more room. The seeds came, and I bought one of those lots-of-baby-spinach containers with the hinged lid to start my seedlings in. there are a lot of seeds im using from last year, and those orange flesh honeydew seeds I saved. Something like that would benefit from being started now, maybe. Maybe mid march.

The Italian Flatleaf I could probably start now, they take something like three weeks to sprout. I could also get my marigolds going. The breeds I buy from Seeds of Change grow into these enormous shrubs, my Cempoalxochitl, and the Red Matamorphs, heady-scented three-foot plants round the perimeter, im thinking. More Peacevines, ill always grow Peacevines, their lovely transition coloring, all sweet and red at the end, traveling through orange and yellow and green back toward the stalk were training this year like grapevine. Plum Purple radish and Pronto beets, I ate a plate of summer canned beets with salt and yogurt a day or so ago and it was lovely. My Tarahumara and those doublepetaled Supermane sunflowers, and im curious to see how last years sunflowers reseed. Shell peas which would be cool to can but I havent learned to grow them that well yet. Bountiful bush beans, Calendula, Kurota carrots.

A new breed of tomato to try this year, Martian , Giant. The deeply ruffled ones are transcendent eaters but an enormous amount of work to can. Spinach and Sweetcorn and those lovely little Farao Cabbages eaten early steamed with salt and butter. I wonder about blight this year, about What I Can Do. I think about actually harvesting the Tulsi and drying it for tea. The Comfrey will still be coming up at the end of this years growing season, but ill keep at it, itll be in with the beans this year, the tomatoes moving toward the corn and the corn over to where the beans had been. Lettuce and greens. My Cleomes, and the spread of perennials. Hollyhocks. My little Apple Trees, maybe this year even blossoming.

The sunlights so much stronger, it offsets even the cost of this coldwater wind that blows south down the valley. Theres really no sense in starting seeds until at the very cusp of April. So ill dig around the houseplants, repot and dust-off and get my seedling operation organized. I fiddled around and turned one of those hanging wire kitchen basket things into a planter, Ivy and two Spiders and a Strawberry Begonia that im hoping will take and eventually send out those daughter filaments now that its suspended in a greater space; all three descending in tiers that leap and twine, pendant propagations and living visual interest...i realize im not as comfortable as I could be in a room without houseplants. Its that deep, peaceful Presence I find out of doors, inside. Not quite as resonant, not the same key, but an intelligence that exists at a different frequency, the waves occasionally intersecting, the atmospheric symbiosis, the flowers. Theyre calling for eight inches of snow and the four-dollar gallon. The news of the world is revolution. I made coffee cake and a roast chicken, drank a little red wine and listened to old Allman Brothers. Friday its a good-fashioned snowing, heavy and fast that wins paper over rock over the road laid down between the high open ground of coming tall summer grasses and corn and youve got dogs and black coffee and books and yarn and Love and home. We miss you.

22 February 2011

Letters from the Outside, #34

Cold and I listen to Pascal Comelade. low pressure system fills the house with smoke, everything smoulders, im looking forward to cured stovewood burning hot and bright and clean. I walk to the post office in arctic sunlight, stew in the slowcooker, bread rising on the woodstove. I send tithonia, calendula and delphinium seeds to my friend Zuzu. Cowboy and I are looking forward to this years garden. Each year its a new adventure in the Old Earth. Spring is coming in, the moon waxes. Four face cords and ive been stacking and even an hour of it makes my hands weak and faraway, a roving bite along the high hogback of my pelvic bone. The mud is coming, blood of Spring. My offering, my utmost Equanimity in this house of four-leggeds and shoes. The fingers itch for digging, the salt smell of the Waking Earth. Peas foraged, the heady gift for weeding beneath the lavender and sage. Speckled early lettuce. One fine radish, with salt and butter. The flowers. The sitting in the shade of the steady maple, watching the flowers and the butterflies and the birds. The sibilance of those tall cottonwoods, or whatever they are, my treehouse dreams. Bare feet in the grass. I understand a temperate climate. The faithful changes Life Death Rebirth brings. A wheel turning behind a painted veil. Knitting that rabbit, but I can sense the waxing year turning my comfort and industry toward the Earth.

Amid eggshells and wooden spoons I eat the bits of pear that didnt make it into the nutmeg muffins at the moment baking behind me while I read about the JFK inauguration ball in Vanity Fair. Entirely readable and lots of little portals like I like...”Arthur Krock – the Times columnist who had first come to Washington to cover the administration of William Howard Taft – had persuaded an adventurer in a Volkswagen to drive up onto the sidewalk and drive him a short distance to the Metropolitan Club.” A centerfold spread of black-and-white candid photos of Tony Curtis, Milton Berle, Frank Sinatra putting on his socks, later embracing Ella Fitzgerald in her gold ring and cloche. Jimmy Durante. A very smooth Nat King Cole. So theres dishes to do. The day goes. Nonetheless this false thaw, one little bird venturing a few sweet sliding notes, the sound of the creek rushing, the hum of the pump. I adhere rather loosely to the idea of eating in season, and try never to eat a tomato I dont grow, but this 37 degree heatwave has me craving something you cant exhume from a root cellar. Friday was fifty and as many miles an hour the wind would blow, roaring around the houses and pushing us toward the centerline, fierce weather on the full moon, wise and gentle bend of the oaks, and the maple held. The plowed fields dark and saturated in their first exposure. Saturday morning five new inches of snow on the woodpile. I find a blue marble in the doorway of the laundromat where I went to wash the counterpane and encounter the man who helped ferry folk across the creekbed at our wedding. He talks horses. We are both wearing gumboots and dirty jeans, funny hats crafted from natural fibers. I see my first mink, sleek and lithe on the ice of the boatlaunch.

 Most of us, I believe, view the world, and our lives in it, through one dominant lens. For the ferryman, its Time. For me, its Space. Its more Where, than When. Pearl Street, The White House, The Farm. I wanted to study how geography affects religion when I got into college. What does it say that my Wish is the Woods? Blue light and night rising up from the floor, the stones and moss and water and the one scent that has always carried with it the key to my only fleeting peace. Evergreen and loam and creekwater. Apparitions on the gullyrises. Birdsong. Being out in the world is always an adventure I manage best in little chapters, Cowboy and I and the sincere heart and the schtick of it all, being honest about the inanity, and discovering that there can be times when you ask a quiet room full of strangers “is this diana ross?” and someone answers “its gloria gaynor.” I put myself down three times in that little room that seemed like some Delphic lair with the hypnotic incantations and the shifting lenses and three remarkably palpable silences met my denials with a sort of sledge effect, making it clear that the nature of those remarks would meet with no purchase, an impenetrable deflection. This was a quantum leap on the road to my recovery. And this is why the World of Man is only digestible for me in little bites, each one dense as the moon, each interior its own culture, each person the product of infinite historical variables, emitting and absorbing Illumination, each one a messenger, a reflection, and this significance carries a weight, grainsacks or kindling to be ported, sorted, and brought through to bread, or fire.

17 February 2011

upcoming pilgrimage to be asperged in the sweat of my lord and saviour.

11 February 2011

the friday song.

08 February 2011

Letters from the Outside, #33

I should accomplish a thousand things but for inertia. Its not torpor so much as this unusually welcome stillness from which happiness and calm emerge dewy and beautiful, rising up from the deep of sitting still. So right now im okay, not trying to expunge or redeem, just firewood and dogs and a little knitting. First of February we should be burning the Yule Tree any time now, Zuzu says theres daffodils coming up south of the Mason Dixon Line. These hinterlands just get deeper snow, snow such a weird space thing, fractal and numbing, frozen and uniting. Late january was a Wyeth, old barns and winter pasture and crows. Today I can feel the seed splitting, cracks letting the Light through, grass through the callous of concrete, heady purple flowers from a little brown bulb. Laundry billowed on the line and the smell of lilac.  Seeds in the ground, bare feet on the lawn. the dogs full of their dogness, so much to roll in.  But for now I crave carbs and sleep and sitting in a dark room drinking scotch and smoking cigarettes and listening to Steve Earle sing My Old Friend the Blues.

Theres a huge wasps nest the fall uncovered at the end of a maple growing through a lilac next to the shed. I have seen products for sale that look like wasps nests and you hang them from where you dont want wasps because wasps are territorial and wandering wasps dont want no trouble from no Big Ol' Wasp Metropolis. But what if you used an actual nest? I keep thinking the wasps would know the dead prophylactic for what it was;  sense no hum nor smell of life within its hexagonal city gates, tune in the presence of a dead metropolis, a sleeping Auroral kingdom, as sure as wed feel the hollow in our bones driving into some post-apocalyptic town. Does the vended grey bag give off some warning smell?  or is it simply close enough?  Does the wasp have an opportunity to Consider the situation, or is it so well programmed that a flicker through thumbnail sketches proclaims it not risk-efficient?

So strange this land ive landed in, so many quickly shifting geographies for the Hill Pilgrim, and now this clouds of cotton time, this february, whose snow-washed corn stubble turns to bright july rivers of sweet bearded wheat driving north in the afternoon light which every day now lasts a little longer.

Things fall to the bottom, and things rise to the top. I can feel the press of panic against the back of my breastbone but the meds are a broomstick wedged to keep the door shut. I read that to fend off the undead it is energy better spent to dig a moat than to board a window. But the itch of anxiety is scratched with the beating and banging of hammer and nail. Digging a hole, all one imagines is lying down in it.

Blue Jays, everything about them intense and inciting, hang upside down from the fruit and seed feeder. The cats who watch the goldfinch at the thistle knock my Kali and Ganesh over, shuffle my laminated Mary prayer back behind the gilted Icon.  the blue Phoenix potshard T. found in the creek slides into the Star of Horus, rattling the rhinestones in Zuzus nano-gourd ornament. The Lords attention is turned away from The Lady. The birdfeeders are a life well spent for the plush sister kitten cats, who prefer to watch beautiful prey from inside atop the toaster (which I only recently thought to tarp with a tea towel) rather than from some frozen vantage, uncertain of success and so far away from the feathers and the eyes. Its the game on widescreen for them, and nobody gets hurt, no slidey-necked titmice to return to the earth under a hill of stoveash which is ones only reasonable option here in february but ive been fortunate in that regard and so far, since this summer, have only dealt in voles and barnmice, which the Mama Cat must be sternly convinced not to bring in for fun and provision. She has no time for television, even if its a reality show.  shes out smelling for heartbeats along the banks of the creek, travelling up through the culvert pipe under the road and into the world of the hill the sun sinks behind.  the one male goes off in the other direction, solitary panther patrols up i imagine toward the main feeder for the lake, but who knows what woman hes enchanted to feed him wet suppy from the back stoop as a tithe toward his company. he must consider me, for i never do smell it on his breath.  

I found the hat, the style ive been looking for to eventually turn-out in alpaca. Its a chullo, and theyre from the Peruvian and Bolivian areas of the Andes mountain range. Doing a little research, I found that the chullo is traditionally made from alpaca yarn. So there you go. Theres several folks in the area who peddle the stuff, and im looking forward to turning out a fine woolen winter hat just in time for spring.

Ive been baking and baking, mainly muffins since Cowboy requested “something without chocolate chips in it.” Apple muffins, banana muffins, and today, cheddar jalapeno cornmeal muffins. After that though, im baking brownies and getting ready for the next granddaughter project, a brown knit rabbit with a deep emerald pinafore and little black shoes. Itll be my first knit creature, just as this last blanket was my first foray into fancy knitting, which turned out better than i expected and wrapped in a brown paper bag. I cannot believe you will not be over the creek this springtime, tending your apple trees.  sneezing. 
We Love You.

07 February 2011

Pascal Comelade
"Promenade des Schizophrenes"

from within, not from without
again, for all of us.

We'll drive until the gas is gone
Then walk until our feet our torn
Crawl until we feed the soil
Film the whole thing.

It's all business in the left hand lane
Drive there and then drive back again
Escape can't be the only way
To escape

So I've gotten used to coffee sweats
Still getting used to road regrets
Hell I took you up on all your threats
To leave.
 It's a shame... It's a crying shame.
Them's the breaks.
And ain't it always the way
That takes you back to from where it is you came.

Robby like's his country tune
It's never been the lens that I see through
But I guess driving for a week or two
Puts words in your mouth.

So find Dodge and then get out of it
It's about as country as I can get
See you ain't living till you're living it
You’re not dead till you die

But watch out for the paraphrase
Cause they will crown you then they will take your legs
See the cost is more than what you get paid
But do it anyway.

It's a shame... It's a crying shame.
Them's the breaks.
And ain't it always the way
That takes you back to from where it is you came.

06 February 2011

its the birthday of Michael Pollan

"A lawn is nature under totalitarian rule."

04 February 2011

beautiful cooking frenchmen,small, agile motorcycles, and a concertina.


03 February 2011

its the birthday of Gertrude Stein

Kiss my lips. She did.
Kiss my lips again she did.
Kiss my lips over and over and over again she did.
I have feathers.
Gentle fishes.
Do you think about apricots. We find them very beautiful. It is not alone their color it is their seeds that charm us. We find it a change.
Lifting belly is so strange.
I came to speak about it.
Selected raisins well their grapes grapes are good.
Change your name.
Question and garden.
It's raining. Don't speak about it.
My baby is a dumpling. I want to tell her something. Wax candles. We have bought a great many wax candles. Some are decorated. They have not been lighted.
I do not mention roses.
Question and butter.
I find the butter very good.
Lifting belly is so kind.
Lifting belly fattily.
Doesn't that astonish you.
You did want me.
Say it again.
Lifting beside belly.
Lifting lindly belly.
Sing to me I say.
Some are wives not heroes.
Lifting belly merely.
Sing to me I say.
Lifting belly. A reflection.
Lifting belly adjoibs more prizes.
Fit to be.
I have fit on a hat.
Have you.
What did you say to excuse me. Difficult paper and scattered.
Lifting belly is so kind.

01 February 2011

its the birthday of Langston Hughes.

"Then it was that books began to happen to me, and I began to believe in nothing but books and the wonderful world in books where if people suffered, they suffered in beautiful language, not in monosyllables, as we did in Kansas."
februarys song.

its the birthday of Galway Kinnell

The bud
stands for all things,
even those things that don't flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;
as St. Francis
put his hand on the creased forehead
of the sow, and told her in words and in touch
blessings of earth on the sow, and the sow
began remembering all down her thick length,
from the earthen snout all the way
through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of
the tail,
from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine
down through the great broken heart
to the blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering
from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking
and blowing beneath them:
the long, perfect loveliness of sow.

"And if the question were asked: What is more real, the mundane or the sublime? most would hesitate before they gave an answer. On the one side, details: say, the aftermath of a breakfast, dirty chipped plates in the sink, their rims encrusted with egg yolk. Against this, the unnameable: small aching heart with boasts, what can you know? Outside the cage of everything we ever heard or saw, beyond, outside, above, there lies the real, hiding as long as we shall live, there stretch and trail the millions of names of God burning across the eons. When all through this our end will come before we even know the names of us.

For many the egg yolk prevails." -L.M.

"Love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is done well."

"The perfection of the Absolute where all Becoming stops and pure Being, immutable, timeless, unchanging, hangs forever like a ripe peach upon the bough." -E.A.

"...and the whole incident was incredibly frazzling and angst-rod and filled almost a whole mead notebook and is here recounted in only its barest psycho-skeletal outline." -D.F.W.

"At the top of the mountain, we are all snow leopards." -H.S.T.

"Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live." -D.T.
"Cometh a voice: My children, hear; From the crowded street and the close-packed mart I call you back with my message clear, back to my lap and my loving heart. Long have ye left me, journeying on by range and river and grassy plain, to the teeming towns where the rest have gone - come back, come back to my arms again. So shall ye lose the foolish needs that gnaw your souls; and my touch shall serve to heal the fretted nerve. Treading the turf that ye once loved well, instead of the stones of the city's street, ye shall hear nor din nor drunken yell, but the wind that croons in the ripening wheat. I that am old have seen long since ruin of palaces made with hands for the soldier-king and the priest and prince whose cities crumble in desert sands. But still the furrow in many a clime yields softly under the ploughman's feet; still there is seeding and harvest time, and the wind still croons in the ripening wheat. The works of man are but little worth; for a time they stand, for a space endure; but turn once more to your mother - Earth, my gifts are gracious, my works are sure. Instead of the strife and pain I give you peace, with its blessing sweet. Come back, come back to my arms again, for the wind still croons in the ripening wheat."
-John Sandes, The Earth-Mother (excerpt, 1918)