Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Some New Year's Resolutions for 2009:
1)Write more
2)Exercise more
3)Complete some home projects (believe me, we have a list)
4)Keep "day job" at a sane level

Dean and I are going to go to the neighborhood get-together tonight (see below), and then turn in early. Who can stay up until midnight anymore? Around here, we go to bed when it is midnight in New York.


5th Annual Bradner Burn
Wednesday, December 31, 2008 - 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Bradner Gardens Park in southeast Seattle
29th Avenue South and South Grand Street

Throw something into the burn barrel.....
Bring your hopes and wishes for the New Year 2009 by writing them on old holiday cards, gift wrapping, cardboard, wood, etc. to throw into the burn barrel. Effigies are encouraged.

Banish the bad vibes of 2008 and bring on the good ones for 2009.....
Bring a noisemaker to ring in the new year. (Musical instruments, bells, gongs, pots and pans, whatever you can use to make a sound will work.)

Dress warmly since this is an outdoor event. Get ready to mingle with friends and neighbors at this family friendly event.


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Dinner for One

Apparently, watching this short skit is a New Year's Eve ritual for millions in Germany and England. Everyone howls at the repeated line "Same procedure as last year?" It's cute, but a bit dated. Check it out (only 11 minutes):

And a more recent rendition, in German, live on stage, done in drag:


Monday, December 29, 2008

It's a Christmas miracle!

Bristol Palin, 18, gave birth to Tripp Easton Mitchell Johnston on Saturday, People magazine reported online. He weighed 7 pounds, 4 ounces. Colleen Jones, the sister of Bristol's grandmother, told the magazine that "the baby is fine and Bristol is doing well."
The governor's office said it would not release information because it considers the baby's birth a private, family matter. Palin family members, hospital employees and spokespeople for the governor's former running mate, John McCain, either would not confirm the birth or did not return messages from The Associated Press.
The father is Levi Johnston, a former hockey player at Alaska's Wasilla High School.
This was one of the more interesting "Top Ten" lists out there:With political campaigns dominating so much of the year, it's not surprising that even a dog got into the action. A yellow Labrador retriever named Willie Bean Roscoe P. Coltrane ran for mayor of an Alabama town. And he was only one of the animals making headlines in '08 -– from a snake that swallowed a family pet in front of two horrified children to a loyal dog that remained by her master's side for weeks after his death. See 2008 animal stories and vote for your favorite.


Poor Detroit. First the auto-makers financial crisis and now this: the Lions are 0-16.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

One of my favorite Christmas songs. Can you believe it was written by Dolly Parton?! (or at least sung by her in Best Little Whorehouse in Texas) Still, my favorite version was by the Seattle Men's Chorus, during their Christmas concerts back in the late 80's-early 90's, at the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis (which added a whole 'nother layer to the lyrics). We have it on their CD titled "Snowbound." It is just such a melancholy, but hopeful song. I love it:

Hard Candy Christmas

Hey, maybe i'll dye my hair
Maybe i'll move somewhere
Maybe i'll get a car
Maybe i'll drive so far
They'll all lose track
Me, i'll bounce right back

Maybe i'll sleep real late
Maybe i'll lose some weight
Maybe i'll clear my junk
Maybe i'll just get drunk on apple wine
Me, i'll be just

Fine and dandy
Lord it's like a hard candy christmas
I'm barely getting through tomorrow
But still i won't let
Sorrow bring me way down

I'll be fine and dandy
Lord it's like a hard candy christmas
I'm barely getting through tomorrow
But still i won't let
Sorrow get me way down

Hey, maybe i'll learn to sew
Maybe i'll just lie low
Maybe i'll hit the bars
Maybe i'll count the stars until dawn
Me, i will go on
. . .


Friday, December 26, 2008

Still on call, and in clinic today. But at least the snow has stopped for now. I may try to go chainless.

Here's a poem from today's Poetry Daily. I don't know who Gunter Eich is (I know, I could Google it . . .), but it doesn't matter. I love this poem.

Günter Eich Apocrypha

A pretty girl asks
for my autograph,
delighted! Except
it's her cigarette
she wants signed,

then lighted. Think about it.
I do. And am
for a moment
the happiest man
that I have ever known—

I have seen my end
and it is someone else's
body, breath
and lovely

--Franz Wright


Got this link from Jilly
U.K. embraces Canadian's book about vowels
"Enfettered, these sentences repress free speech. The text deletes selected letters."

You might recognize this as the opening of "Chapter E" in Christian Bök's Eunoia, an experimental poetic exercise built on five sections in which either a, e, i, o or u is exclusively employed.

Eunoia – which means "beautiful thinking" and is the shortest English word to include all five vowels – became an unlikely hit in Canada after its 2001 publication by Toronto-based independent Coach House Books. The book is in its 21st printing here, having sold more than 20,000 copies, an extraordinary feat for a poetry collection. It also won the 2002 Griffin Poetry Prize.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Holidays!

It is snowing again in Seattle today, so we really did get a "White Christmas." Though it is really more of a slush Christmas at this point.

I'm still on call and had a slew of newborns to see this AM: six in all, with another on the way later today. It makes for a busy morning, but I really do love seeing the babies. The only problem: getting out of my driveway and our side street. My tires were spinning and I was swerving and rooster-tailing like I was in a little motor boat. Even with chains. Once you get to the main roads, it's clear. But the side streets (and hills) are still quite dangerous.


Thank you everybody for the emails and messages about "Oniomania" on The Writer's Almanac yesterday. It really means a lot to me. It is amazing the wide reach that this radio show has! People who usually do not even think of poetry at all, will hear a poem on this show, and be moved enough to send a message, or buy a book.


Santa brought Dean and I just what we wanted: a Food Saver! We had seen one at my sister's house at Thanksgiving, and just loved what you could do with leftovers and with with storing seafood and other meats and veggies. I know: tres domestique.

We missed meeting with family last night for the traditional Christmas Eve gathering, due to the bad weather. Tonight we are meeting our dear old friends K & B at the new Four Seasons downtown, for a lovely Christmas dinner. After being trapped by on call and the weather the past few days, I am so looking forward to this!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

From today's American Life in Poetry column. I love this poem:


I made up a story for myself once,
That each glove I lost
Was sent to my father in prison

That's all it would take for him
To chart my growth without pictures
Without words or visits,

Only colors and design,
Texture; it was ok then
For skin to chafe and ash,

To imagine him
Trying on a glove,
Stretching it out

My open palm closing
And disappearing
In his fist.

--Jose Angel Araguz

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 reprinted from Rattle, Vol. 13, no. 2, Winter 2007, by permission of Jose Angel Araguz.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

I made it into the hospital fairly easily this morning. Most of the main streets had been sanded or plowed. And my little Honda with front wheel drive and chains just plowed right through. It was nice that the streets were pretty much empty of any traffic. Sounds like a lot of staff just slept overnight at the hospital, rather than go home and come back. Not a bad idea.

It has been snowing most of the day today. The Seahawks played their final game of the season in the snow. What a hoot to watch on TV. And we won!

We have over a foot of snow now at our house. I can't remember the last time we have had this much snow. And the forecast is for more through the night. My oh my.
Here is a pic of our front deck table. Wanna come over? We're having a big snow pie for dinner. We'll just drizzle it with chocolate and strawberries and dig in, face first.
Mark D. posted a list of poetry books he loved in 2008. Here is my list:

Favorite Poetry Books of 2008

These are in no particular order (I have blogged about many of them here over the past year). I am sure there are many wonderful books I've missed. Please let me know if there are some books you enjoyed that I should consider?

Unmentionables, Beth Ann Fennelly
The One Strand River, Richard Kenney
Now You're the Enemey, James Allen Hall
Elegy, Mary Jo Bang
Boy, Patrick Phillips
Anna, washing, Ted Genoways
National Anthem, Kevin Prufer
God Particles, Thomas Lux
My Index of Slightly Horrifying Knowledge, Paul Guest
Burn and Dodge, Sharon Dolin
An Aquarium, Jeffrey Yang
Rising, Falling, Hovering, CD Wright
The Earth in the Attic, Fady Joudah
Sleeping It Off in Rapid City, Frederick Seidel
Failure, Philip Schultz
Meaning a Cloud, JW Marshall
The Extremities, Timothy Kelly
Cadaver Dogs, Rebecca Loudon
Want, Rick Barot
Same Life, Maureen N. McLane
Behind My Eyes Li-Young Lee

Saturday, December 20, 2008

I heard about this first from Kelli.
My oh my! Be careful out there! Glad no one was seriously injured.


And with a new storm coming in tonight . . .


There is a great "slide show" of the images here (no pun intended).

Friday, December 19, 2008

Snow Week or Christmas Comes Early?

Looks like we are going to have a white Christmas here in Seattle. We are socked in with snow here in south Seattle, the clinic where I work is closed, no one is out driving in the neighborhoods. It's quiet, calm, COLD, and beautiful.

The weather report is for more snow and freezing temps coming through Christmas. Looks like our "Snow Day" might be turning into a "Snow Week?" Only problem: I am on call 24 hours/day for the next 8 days, starting today, so I am gonna have to strap on those tire chains and wheel the Honda (it has front wheel drive and actually does quite well in the snow) out of the garage and to the hospital each day (and to clinic if we are open). HO-HO-HO!


And along with this wintry mix, some early poetry "gifts" have been coming in the mail this week:
My poem "Anagrammer" has been translated into Italian (it's fascinating how they made the anagrams work in a different language) and is appearing in a literary magazine there (I'll send a link when my copy arrives in the mail).

The latest issue of New England Review arrived yesterday, with my two poems "Autopsy" and "Transplant." I've just started reading the issue, but so far there are delightful poems from Sarah Murphy ("The Loose Ends, the Loopholes, the Uncounted Loot" is wonderful!), DA Powell, Mark Bibbins, Paisley Rekdahl, and others. Thanks again to C Dale for giving these poems a home.

I've just heard that my poem "Oniomania" will be appearing on The Writer's Almanac on Christmas Eve, read by Garrison Keillor. I am tickled pink about this, and think it's an interesting choice as the poem is about compulsive/addictive shopping (among other things).


PS: When it snows it pours? Just received the Northwind Anthology, with my poem "Broken Orbits." It collects poems from the Northwind reading series and includes work from Kathryn Hunt, Kelli Agodon, Jeannine Hall Gailey, Holly Hughes, Rebecca Loudon, Joannie Stangeland, Stan Rubin, Judith Kitchen, Mike O'Connor, and others.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

We woke up to booms of snow thunder and snow lightening early this morning. I have never seen or heard of this before (apparently it is pretty rare). It was an incredibly loud and long rumble, and really strange to hear amidst the snowfall. At first I thought it was a transformer exploding, or a plane crashing. Thank goodness it was just the pretty white stuff falling.


From Wikipedia:
Thundersnow also known as a winter thunderstorm or a thunder snowstorm is a rare thunderstorm with snow falling as the primary precipitation instead of rain. It commonly falls in regions of strong upward motion within the cold sector of extratropical cyclones between autumn and spring when surface temperatures are most likely to be near or below freezing. Variations exist, such as thundersleet, where the precipitation consists of sleet rather than snow.


Hmmmm "Snow Thunder" "Thunder Snow" Perhaps a poem title here?


Monday, December 15, 2008

Our Size 10 Idiot

This story is all over the Internet. But it is just too full of irony and poetic justice not to post.

Man Throws Two Shoes at Bush in Iraq
"This is a farewell kiss, you dog!" shouted the protester in Arabic, later identified as Muntadar al-Zeidi, a correspondent for Al-Baghdadia television, an Iraqi-owned station based in Cairo, Egypt.
Bush ducked both shoes as they whizzed past his head and landed with a thud against the wall behind him.
"It was a size 10," Bush joked later.

Bush's comment, of course, shows that he has no realization of the culture that he is dealing with. You do not even show the bottoms of your shoes to someone, unless it is to insult them. It is like rubbing the other person's nose in filth, in shit. And throwing your shoes at someone is the ultimate sign of contempt. But of course, Bush just tries to laugh it off. Like the complete insensate limb he is.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Snow Day!
My oh my it is cold, and white and crisp outside.
D & I knew the storm was coming, spent the day putting up our holiday decorations indoors, and cooked a big pot of potato leek soup. We have an artificial tree (very PC) some icicle lights and some tin stars for the doors. I think it all looks lovely, esp with the new snow. I have a funeral to go to today, of a dear patient of mine who died earlier in the week. Not looking forward to driving in the ice, but I really want to be there, or at least make an appearance.


The Snowman

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

--Wallace Stevens


Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

--Robert Frost


I've never thought of it before but, looked at together, these poems are really actually very similar, aren't they? Though Frost and Stevens were very different poets, aesthetically, I think they have arrived at pretty much the same artistic-philosophical-spiritual place in these poems.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Here's a mish-mash of photos from PV.

It's good to be home again, but not good to hear today's weather report: high winds, rain, possibly freezing overnight, and snow. Ah well . . . we'll just have to hold these memories as we are sloshing through.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Only one more day in PV. It is going by so fast!

Went to Le Bistro on the Rio Cuale island for our anniversary dinner. Cocktails, a yummy cream of spinach and scallop soup, Caesar salad, and scampi with linguine. A small jazz trio performing: piano, drums, voice (does the singer make it a trio?). Walking back along the Malecon after dinner, a huge party scene, the procession for the Virgin of Guadalupe had just ended and the streets were packed with revelers, a mix of locals and tourists. Walked by a disco bar with a giant Alice in Wonderland figure, about two stories high, standing in the doorway, very lifelike, with a scary yet inviting look on her face, as if one had entered another dimension ("one pill makes you larger, and one pill makes you small") .

My beach reading has been a mix of poetry, prose and magazines. Sharon Dolin's Burn and Dodge (the title comes from the photography terms for adding more or less light to the exposure), Paul Guest's My Index of Slightly Horrifying Knowledge (which is just a hoot for beach reading, several passersby gave the cover title a double-take), and James Hamilton-Paterson's novel Rancid Pansies, the title of which is, of course, an anagram of Princess Diana. It's a wonderful novel, very campy and literate and funny and dark all at once. I have just loved reading it and now want to find everything else he has written (apparently he has several other novels in the series, and also two books of poems!?). The story is about Gerry Samper, a gay Englishman, whose villa in Italy falls off the side of a cliff during an earthquake in the middle of his 50th birthday party. All of the guests escape unharmed because they happened to be outside at the time. Gerry makes an off-hand joke to a rescuing helicopter pilot that the ghost of Princess Diana had warned them all to flee the house seconds before the earthquake, and through many twists and turns of fate his joke becomes local legend, spawning a Diana Cult at the site of his former house. It's all hysterically funny and over the top, with anagrams and satirical jabs at The DaVinci Code and awful silly cuisine ("Mice Krispies") and more. Highly recommended beach reading!!


We are off to Old Town and perhaps a tour of homes in Gringo Gulch. Dinner perhaps somewhere in the Olas Altas area. Then home tomorrow. Alas. The only trouble with going on vacation is having to come back from vacation.


Saturday, December 06, 2008

Having a great time in PV. I haven't worn socks in almost a week. Always a sign of a good vacation. This town has really changed since we were here last, nearly 20 years ago. A lot of new building everywhere: hotels, high rise condos, houses up and down the hillsides, etc. The narrow cobblestone streets are jam-packed with cars. The place we are staying is just north of town, and thankfully quiet, with a nice sandy beach. We've been pretty lazy, lounging on beach chairs or in the canopy bed, reading, and watching the ocean. Yesterday we went south of town and up into the jungle to see the new botanical gardens (just opened in 2004, and still under construction, so to speak). What a trip taking the bus back to town, as the driver with his cracked windshield and crucifix affixed to the dashboard careened down the mountainside at breakneck speed. Last night we went to the Zona Romantica and saw a show: Forever Patsy Cline, at the Santa Barbara Theater. It was the story of her and her number one fan, Louise, told in song. Sort of a funky stage presentation, but the singing was just amazing. "Crazy," of course, was the encore. Today may be a spa day? I have no idea what that would entail. But if it has the word Brazilian in it I am going to run screaming like a schoolgirl.


Tuesday, December 02, 2008

I am looking forward to getting some R-W-R (reading, writing, and relaxing) done here:

See ya when I get back!