Sunday, December 30, 2007

What Did You Do the Last Weekend of the Year?

A friend of mine got married! Another friend had a baby. Hard to top that.

Saturday afternoon, Dean and I cleaned out some of the basement storage and took three or four boxes of "stuff" to Goodwill. Then we went to Sears and bought more stuff (hehehe): new bathroom rugs, jeans, and who knows what else. The we went to Costco: the place was mobbed!

Then I found this very cool program for backing up your entire blog, comments and pics included, to your own hard drive. It's called HTTrack Website Copier. It's free and highly recommend it. I wanted to be able to save the whole three years worth of blogfiles. Who knows, maybe I'll make it into a little book.

We had friends over for dinner Saturday night. We had hummus and pita, cocktails, mussels, salad, seafood risotto, bread, and Marionberry pie with "rich-lite" vanilla bean ice cream for dessert. The we played this crazy old Italian card game called Briscola (I think it means Trump). What a great time we all had!

Today we fixed breakfast of bacon and eggs and hashbrowns and toast. Then we fixed the birdfeeder. Then we took a walk from Pioneer Square up the the Seattle Art Museum. Saw the Japan show and the Gaylen Hansen show. His art is fascinating: cartoonish, yes sophisticated. I think he is said to have taught Gary Larsen how to draw cows.

Then we walked back down to Pioneer Square and had lunch at Cafe Umbria. Then we went to Elliott Bay Books and I bought a new novel, The Night Train to Lisbon, that I had just read a review about in the Seattle Times. I read the first few chapters all huddled up on the living room sofa under a throw. I think it's going to be a good read.

Tonight we are going to a neighborhood dessert party. I think we are taking a Panatone and a bottle of wine.

I'm putting some final revisions on a couple of poems. At least I hope they are final.

I can't believe it's almost New Years. But with it coming on a Tuesday, and working both days on either side, it doesn't seem like much of a holiday this year. We'll probably go to the neighborhood burn in the afternoon, and have a quiet evening at home. And be in bed after the ball is dropped in New York (meaning 9pm here).

It makes me think of that old song "What Are You Doing New Years Eve?" Not the Barbara version, but the Ella version (my favorite).


Saturday, December 29, 2007

An ode to the meat eaters (myself included)

I've been reading Norman Dubie's new book and enjoying it a lot. Here is a poem, that was featured on today's Poetry Daily.

The Last Gold Raptors of Soma
for Joel & Laura

This winter equinox is different from any other—
it's not the lizard men
playing ping-pong through the trees, the lighter-than-air
balls red with sunset; their sleeves
dressed with the feathers of dead Medici falcons.

A cow looks nervously at its eye
reflected in the ice
that the farmer breaks, releasing
the rope in the tree
and its black anvil weight falling. . .

The cow now looks at its eye
reflected in water,
thinking this is its cruel nativity—
the farmer looking at its lame hind leg
thinking of his red-haired brother-in-law,
the local butcher.

The sensitive cow, Mirtle, now charges the winter pond.
She drowns. The poor cow's tail
still flagging the spaceships just
behind the reddening hill.

So, the sun's down, the ship's lights
are like obvious fat jewels. And
if we want to have commerce
with the lizard men in their blue suits,
then we must eat more of these slouching animals
and faster too.


Norman Dubie
from The Insomniac Liar of Topo
Copper Canyon Press

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Bhutto, ah Bhutto . . .

I can only hope that, God willing, peace and justice will come to Pakistan.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

How About a Shave?

Dean and I had a lovely Christmas Eve with family. One of my sisters hosted at her house, and there were about 30 of us. Great fun!

And then Xmas day it snowed! Very rare in Seattle. It didn't last, but it was beautiful to watch the big flakes coming down.

Christmas Day afternoon we went to see Sweeney Todd. What a sad, funny, gory, sweet movie! It has everything, a love story, great songs, humor, and blood. Helena Bonham Carter is off-the-hook funny in her role as Ms. Lovett, the meat pie maker. And Johnny Depp is perfectly cast as the vengeful mad barber. A must see!

A patient gave me a box of Red King Crab legs. Dean and I steamed some of them last night: they were amazingly sweet and succulent. Though it was kind of creepy stuffing these huge spider-like legs into the pot and covering them with a lid. Esp after Sweeney Todd. We mixed some of the meat with tomato sauce and tagliatelle pasta for dinner. Yum.

Hope your holidays have been grand.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Anagrammer, Scrabbling

Looks like somebody in the audience had a camera phone? From last Friday's Copper Canyon Press Open House reading.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Thursday, December 20, 2007

From this week's American Life in Poetry:

In the House of the Voice of Maria Callas

In the house of the voice of Maria Callas
We hear the baby's cries, and the after-supper
Rattle of silverware, and three clocks ticking
To different tunes, and ripe plums
Sleeping in their chipped bowl, and traffic sounds
Dissecting the avenues outside. We hear, like water
Pouring over time itself, the pure distillate arias
Of the numerous pampered queens who have reigned,
And the working girls who have suffered
The envious knives, and the breathless brides
With their horned helmets who have fallen in love
And gone crazy or fallen in love and died
On the grand stage at their appointed moments--
Who will sing of them now? Maria Callas is dead,
Although the full lips and the slanting eyes
And flared nostrils of her voice resurrect
Dramas we are able to imagine in this parlor
On evenings like this one, adding some color,
Adding some order. Of whom it was said:
She could imagine almost anything and give voice to it.


American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright (c) 2001 by Steve Orlen. Reprinted from "The Elephant's Child: New & Selected Poems 1978-2005," by Steve Orlen, published by Ausable Press, 2006, by permission of the author. First published in The Gettysburg Review. Introduction copyright (c) 2007 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Well, Gawl-lee!

Does anybody else notice the resemblance between Huckabee

and Gomer Pile (aka Jim Nabors?)

Can I get a Gawl-leee!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Concerning The Lottery

Dean told me about hearing this on The Writer's Almanac the other day. This short story has always haunted me. I did not know this background information, though. Wow.

"It's the birthday of novelist and short-story writer Shirley Jackson, (books by this author) born in San Francisco (1919), who married a Jewish man against her parents' wishes and went to live in a small town in Vermont where she developed a reputation for eccentricity. The local townspeople talked about her behind her back, calling her a Communist, a witch, an atheist, and a Jew. She felt as though everyone was watching her and judging her, and she began to dread leaving the house. And then one day she sat down and wrote a short story about a town where one resident is chosen by lottery each year to be stoned to death. She finished the story in two hours and sent it off to The New Yorker magazine, where it was published as "The Lottery" in 1948. The story generated more reader response than any other story in The New Yorker's history. Hundreds of readers wrote to the magazine, demanding to know what the story meant, or asking to cancel their subscriptions because they were so disturbed." (from the Writer's Almanac website)


Had a wonderful time at the Copper Canyon Press Open House last night. Dean and I drove up after work. The place was packed. Wonderful drinks and snacks. 20% off all books! A chance to touch in with the staff of CCP, old friends, and locals. Then, at the end of the evening, Matthew Zapruder and I gave a brief reading. The audience was great: knowledgeable and responsive and high energy. I think I gave one of my better readings. Enjoyed meeting Matthew again, and hearing him read. He and Dean had a great conversation about therapy. I meet a woman whose past husband was named Pereira, and we connected over the whole Portuguese diaspora thing. Small world.


I worked Saturday clinic today. And I am on call 24/7 for the rest of this week. I hope it is quiet. Fingers crossed.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Jim Bertolino has an interview here.

Kathleen Flenniken has an essay about Frank O'Hara here.

Rebecca Loudon continues to amaze us here.

C Dale's caption contest has some special guests here.

Monday, December 10, 2007

One Laptop Per Child

Give One, Get One. Extended until December 31st! Check it out here.

Turn Ho Ho Ho! into XO XO XO!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Catching up with Poetry Daily. I really enjoyed this one:

Patroclus Putting on the Armour of Achilles

How clumsy he is putting on the armour of another,
His friend's, perhaps remembering how they used to arm each other,
Fitting the metal tunics to one another's breast
And setting on each other's head the helmet's bristling crest.
Now for himself illicitly he foolishly performs
Secret ceremonial with that other's arms,
Borrowed, I say stolen, for they are not his own,
On the afternoon of battle, late, trembling, and alone.

Night terminal to fighting falls on the playing field
As to his arm he fastens the giant daedal shield.
A while the game continues, a little while the host
Lost on the obscure littoral, scattered and almost
Invisible, pursue the endless war with words
Jarring in the darkening air impassable to swords.

But when he steps forth from the tent where Achilles broods
Patroclus finds no foe at hand, surrounded by no gods.
Only the chill of evening strikes him to the bone
Like an arrow piercing where the armour fails to join,
And weakens his knees under the highly polished greaves.
Evening gentle elsewhere is loud on the shore, it grieves
It would seem for the deaths of heroes, their disobedient graves.

Daryl Hine

Recollected Poems, 1951-2004
Fitzhenry & Whiteside

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Back home, safe and dry.

We had a wonderful time in Cancun. We stayed at The Royal. The hotel was very plush, with champagne & cake and a rose-petal strewn bed & jacuzzi tub waiting for us in our room on arrival. It was one of those "all-inclusive" resorts, where all your meals, drinks, beach stuff, etc., is in the room fee. So you don't have to carry a wallet, just ask for a drink anytime and they bring it to you, or you sit down in one of the restaurants or cafes and order whatever you want. Great food, good service, and no bills! Tipping was optional, but we figured the staff deserved it, they really treated us well. Many of them looked Mayan, with dark hair, prominent forehead and nose. Beautiful people.

The pool was just the right temperature, and was surrounded by these lovely canopied "beds" with white curtains for shade and privacy, where you could sit, read, nap, take a dip in the pool, come back, read, sip a margarita, nap, read, etc. I loved it. My favorite part of the vacation.

It seemed there were a LOT of newlyweds and honeymooners there, as well as older couples. But only a few other gay couples, that we could see. Still we seemed to fit right in. The only weird thing was when a man, who was sitting with his wife at the next table at one of the outdoor restaurants, winced and turned away when we asked our waiter if he would take our picture, seemingly unable to bear that there was a gay couple nearby (. . . or was it that he couldn't bear the kitschiness of anybody asking for a picture? Who knows?)

We rented a car and drove to Tulum one of the days. Mexican freeways are a *trip.* The hotel warns you the police are on the lookout to ticket (and take bribes from) tourist drivers, so we were careful to drive the limit. But it kept changing! We'd be cruising at 100km, and suddenly the sign would say 60km, then 40km, then 80km, then 40km, then 100km, for seemingly no reason at all! Local drivers were weaving in and out of the lanes, speeding past us. And then there would be a speed table in the middle of the road, with no warning, and if you weren't careful you'd go over it too fast and bottom out the car. Sheesh.

But Tulum was amazing. High up on a cliff overlooking the Caribbean. Ancient stone temples and lookouts and hidden cenotes (underground cisterns of freshwater, eroded out of the limestone). Apparently it was a powerful trading post at one time. Now there are miles and miles of luxury condo developments in each direction along the coast from it, and it is mostly a tourist curiosity.

Our last night we had dinner at a little restaurant overlooking the water. A brothy soup of salmon and mussels and shrimps. A salad tied with cucumber strips into a little bouquet of lettuces. The sky full of stars. Waves crashing slowly on the shore. The lights of Cancun hotels in the distance. Mars rising in the northeast sky (or was it Venus?).

I'd definitely come back, but to stay for a longer time so we could explore more of the Yucatan, especially Chichen Itza and some of the bio-reserves.


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Spared from the Floods (so far)

Dean and I escaped Seattle just in time! Our flight was delayed about an hour Monday morning due to rain at the airport; we were afraid we would have to switch planes, or worse yet, miss our vacation. But we finally made it out and are now in lovely Cancun for the week. Looks like Seattle and most of Western WA is in the midst of a hundred year flood. Sorry folks back home! Really, I hope you all are safe. We will have an extra margarita just for you. (and you, and you, and you . . . ). I promise. XO

Saturday, December 01, 2007

OMG: it's snowing right now!

Movies, poems, rain

I went to see the new Coen brothers movie, No Country for Old Men, last night with my friend Craig. What an amazing movie. Javier Bardem is terrifying and menacing. Josh Brolin is a total hunk and a good actor and I wanna marry him (sorry Dean!). Tommy Lee Jones plays his usual lovable cowboy-cop self, with some silly three-part name like Ed Tom Bell. Woody Harrelson has a bit part that perhaps could have been made more.

Craig, who had read the novel years ago, said the movie was very faithful to it. The story takes a little while to get going, but once it does, it is riveting. There is a fair amount of violence if you are squeamish. But it does not revel in it. It's more about the collision of fate and chance, and the choices we make in a world that has spun out of control, where "You can't stop what's coming." I say this movie is a must-see. And it makes me want to read the novel, just to savor the wonderful dialogue.

Went out for drinks after at Il Fornaio. Closed the place down. What fun.


In other news, I had eight poems accepted the other day by Seattle's Gay City anthology. It's going to be a magazine of visual art, photography, poems, stories, that a local non-profit group is doing, aimed at promoting gay self esteem and reducing HIV transmission:

Gay City Health Project is a multicultural gay men's health organization and the premiere provider of HIV and STD testing in King County. Our mission is to promote gay and bisexual men's health and prevent HIV transmission by building community, fostering communication and nurturing self-esteem.

When they asked for poems I thought maybe they would take one or two. But I guess this is Seattle, so when it rains it pours! I am curious to see how they might link the poems to artwork, and to their mission statement.


Speaking of rain, we are due for a "Pineapple Express" today. Wind, rain, more wind, more rain, perhaps flooding, perhaps power outages. I just hope it's over by the time Dean and I get ready to fly out Monday.