Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Flipflop joy

I bought these flipflops 18 years ago, before tenting my way around the Southwest for most of a summer, rightly predicting I'd encounter every manner of showers except a clean ones. I've brought them with me to Santa Fe for the third time now as I attend the Glen Workshop, held on the lovely campus of St. John's College. You got it: dorm showers. But the trip here is in its way like that glorious summer of wanderlust--a sustained dose of wild beauty, although in more ways than open road and dramatic landscapes. In this gathering, I'm saturated daily with the beauty and fire of art and words and music and ideas and community, as well as a landscape that particularly ignites my soul. Had I belief in previous incarnations, I am certain I must have been a desert rat. I am, again, so happy to be here.

The Big Dipper is hanging outside my balcony of my dorm room and down below, the lights of Santa Fe flicker against a backdrop of rolling mountains. Cricket chirps and distant bursts of laughter float up from somewhere on campus. Tomorrow morning, after trying to wrestle sleep from an overstimulated brain and lumpy pillow, I'll return to my drawing workshop with renowned artist, Barry Moser, and trace the human form, miraculous in its form and functionality, and be grateful I was granted an opposable thumb. It would be much less appealing to have to draw with claws. And I don't think my flipflops would fit.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


The days leading up to my annual trek to the Glen Workshop in Santa Fe delivered an extra portion of OMG! moments: Monday’s all nighter in the E/R coincided with fearsomely violent storms, heralded by lightning bolts so bright and close it seemed our tiny car ferried the roving bullseye of an electrified cosmic dartboard. Though the flashes ushered us the entire way to the hospital in the wee hours of the night, the flood engendering downpour did not ensue until I’d deposited my husband with bleeding foot and our two daughters at the E/R entrance and gone to park the car. I was held hostage there by an irrational fear of death by barbeque until the knowledge that I had our insurance card in my bag and necessary stitching would likely be withheld until I coughed up proof of coverage finally propelled me, through vast sheets of water and death voltages, wet as unspun laundry, inside, where we spent a chilled and sleepless night. When we arrived home at 4:30 in the morning, after stops for meds and an Egg McMuffin for the hapless victim of the jagged stone left on the deck stairs while trying to rescue our kitten from prowling raccoons, none of us could sleep due to the crashing cacaphony that raged outside till late morning.

Fearing the lawn seats I’d secured weeks ago for the Jonas Brothers rain or shine concert in St. Louis would be rained out, I got online and found some same day seats available under cover, for twice what I’d paid for lawn seating, but who’s going to tell a 10 year old, who’d been dreaming intensely of this event for months, that mom did not care to sit in a downpour for 3 hours (the forecast that morning predicted a 50% chance of more rain at 6 pm) watching a tween band through waterspotted binoculars. I wouldn’t have done that for the Monkees. So we left at 4 pm, making one quick detour to St. Charles in hopes of grabbing some Branston Pickle and Twigletts from the British Store which had closed 30 mins. before we got there, and by foregoing dinner, arrived at the Verizon Theater promptly at 6 when the gates opened. And thus began a night I’ll never forget, not that I could anyway, what with the hearing loss I sustained.

Have you ever been in a car with five or six excited little girls? Have you ever noticed how shrill their little shrieks and shouts become? Multiply that by 10,000 and turn up the amps full blast, then sit back and try to relax for the next three hours. Bliss.
My daughter owes me dearly.

At one point I truly feared for our lives, this before the line-up began and after a mass sustained shriek erupted from the sea of preteens. Apparently, the JBs were signing autographs. We rushed with everyone else (my daughter in full fan mode, not to be deprived) to see and were caught in such a shove and crush of frenzied, mouth foaming girls that I thought we suffocate or our brains would forced out our ears. Fortunately, most of the aggressors were under 100 lbs.; had this been a soccer game in Europe, we’d have surely lost our lives.

You’ve heard of soccer dads? Meet JB moms...fascist women patrolling the crowds issuing threats of ticket confiscation to small un-armbanded girls should they dare to crash the “meet and greet.” How were we to know about armbands? Those moms were worse than the yellow shirted security detail who stood idly by the barricade fence watching the bone crushing, lung collapsing, sweat running spectacle. How were we to exit the horde when we could not move our feet? Those moms somehow yanked us out. I guess I should excuse their disdain and be grateful.

We arrived home in the wee hours, again, ears ringing and heads throbbing, one happy 10 yr. old’s dream come true.
That behind us, the rest of the week was its own crush of getting work finished, packing, shopping, etc. Anything but the chance to catch up on sleep. Running back to the St. Louis airport and dispersing family members to England, Louisana and New Mexico. Then reading the local paper at my parents’ home in Texas on Friday that the Jonas Brothers have reportedly bought a home in the neighborhood adjoining the one where my parents’ live. OMG!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

"British are asked to save their leftovers"

Full English, originally uploaded by staple diet.

"Evoking an era of World War II austerity, British families are being urged to cut food waste and use leftovers in a nationwide effort to fight sharply rising global food prices," reports the St Louis Dispatch.

Did they really have to ask?

Um, yes.

Eleven years ago I married a Brit and seeing as I was marrying someone from the Motherland, I took for granted we'd have no significant cultural clashes to overcome. Calling an elevator a "lift," the TV a "telly," saying TO-MAH-TOES instead of TO-MAY-TOS and deeming something stupid "schtoopid when we checked our "shedule" struck me as charming. Going to "Hospital" instead of the hospital. Putting on your "swimming costume" instead of your bathing suit, etc. etc. Finding the same exact breakfast placed before you every day wherever you are in England. Realizing my husband was not necessarily rude, he was English. Whew.

I've since come to love Branston pickle, Jaffa cakes, Yorkshire pudding and Twigletts but still don't get the Marmite, Spaghettios or baked beans topped with fried eggs on toast thing. When he first arrived on our shores, my husband blissfully consumed his first serving of ribs at a summer picnic, chasing it down with an entire bucket of coleslaw, though he still can barely tolerate Mexican food (and what could be more American than that!)

However, for the last twelve years, I have endured duress, persecution, derision and harassment at the end of every meal we've eaten out at a restaurant. The source of contention? Doggie bags. I bring home the two or three extra meals left on my plate.
Brits don't DO doggie bags and look askance at those who do. They throw away the heaps of food left on their plates at American restaurants without a single twinge for the children starving in the third world country of your conscience.

Once, when Wayne and I had traveled to England and were staying with his aunt who had prepared us a full on English roast dinner (all that time! all that effort! all those pounds of the monetary sort!) my eyes bugged out when, after clearing the dishes, I watched the roast, the peas, the cooked carrots, all the doings, slide in gravy trails down plates tipped toward the bin. When Wayne's uncle arrived home from his hospital shift a couple of hours later he had to make himself a lousy sandwich while the lovely roast cooled amidst the potato peels. I was beyond speechless, I was sputtering. This did not compute. My English in-laws were equally apalled by my riffraff insistence on carting home every last crust of bread.

But now the British government itself is urging its citizens to use leftovers! You can eat the roast beef for lunch tomorrow. Think of the time you'll save, the effort, the Euros! The next thing you know we'll see parliament throw off those powered wigs and lug stacks of smelly stryofoam boxes home from the chip shop.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

"Nothing Occurs Here That Is Worthy of Remark"

In less than two weeks I'll be making my annual trek to The Glen Workshop in Santa Fe where, instead of taking my usual writing workshop, I'll be taking a drawing workshop with Barry Moser, hoping for some creative cross pollination. I've met some great folks in workshops over the last two summers, including poet Ned Balbo, whose work you can read online in the current issue of Unsplendid, including the poem "Nothing Occurs Here That Is Worthy of Remark" which is paired with the painting shown above. Ned shared work from this series of ekphrastics (poems that respond to works of art) last summer and I am pleased to see the fine job the journal did in featuring his Marco Polo series of poems generated from the enigmatic art of Nora Sturges. (I also highly recommend Ned's book Lives of the Sleepers, winner of the Ernest Sandeen Prize in Poetry.)

Monday, July 07, 2008

Will work for music

I have to thank Jenni for this tip (and some good music.) NoiseTrade will let you sample the music on any album they feature and then download the album for free if you'll do them the favor of forwarding the recommendation to three friends. Hopefully, you'll forward the music you think the three people you choose will enjoy so in the end it's a win win win situation. I'm enjoying Katie Herzig at the moment. Pass it on!

ArtRageous Fridays III

This is the third of the series of posters I designed for Columbia's quarterly artcrawl. The first poster appears here. The second poster appears here.One more in October will complete the set.