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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Have I Shared With You

about our expanding family of crickets? Ever since I moved to Seattle in 1990, I've felt their absence. Is it because it's so sodden here? So cloudy? So hopelessly urban? It made no sense to me that the town where I grew up--Metuchen, N.J., 45 minutes by train from NYC--had crickets. We were lulled to sleep by the chirping--the stridulating?--of crickets. Yet here in the West, here in a place where you can gather wild blackberries from your backyard, there was not a single cricket to be found.

But then we started buying crickets for our son's pet leopard gecko. And then they started escaping from their cage. And now we have crickets, many chirping crickets. They live behind our refrigerator. They live in our basement. They live in our bedroom. Big crickets. Big, chirping crickets (which is why I know why Be careful what you ask for is a cliche).

And how do I feel about all this chirping? Mostly, I love it. Mostly they are a better sleep-inducer than Ambien or Sonata or booze. But it's getting a little out of control. Case in point: the other night I was walking through the kitchen and thought my shirt tag was stabbing me in the back. Nope, it was a cricket. Yuk!

I am visualizing myself going through the house and tracking down every cricket, mercilessly dumping each one into Mine Junior's cage, but I don't have the energy. Or, truth be told, I'd rather use the little bit of energy I have to work my way through the pile of books beside my bed. To wit:

Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food. Jessica Seinfeld
I know, I know, Jerry Seinfeld's WIFE wrote this book--how could I be endorsing it? And to boot, she has the nerve to trick her kids into eating their veggies by sneaking them into stuff like french toast and pizza. But after reading her introduction (in which she reveals all the good stuff in carrots, beets, squash, etc.), I am SOLD on this book. I mean, it's not really just for kids; my hubby and I could benefit from pureeing a little cauliflower into our muffins.

Uncentering the Earth: Copernicus and the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres. William T. Vollmann
Haven't started this one yet, but I am all jacked up on the history of astronomy these days, so this one fits the bill.

Big Bang: The Origin of the Universe. Simon Singh
Did you know that Einstein inserted this weird thingie called the cosmological constant into his equations so that he wouldn't have to reckon with an expanding universe? Also, have you ever thought about how outlandish this theory of the whole entire universe beginning from one giant explosion is? I mean, I think the Norse and the Maori do a much better job explaining things . . . but there ya go.

In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto. Michael Pollan
I need to finish this one, and soon. Why? Because I am teaching this book this fall in my research paper class. I plan to let students choose paper topics on anything to do with food. Doesn't that sound like fun?? I can't wait, actually.

Babyproofing Your Marriage. Stacie Cockrell, et al.
Damn, why didn't they write this one before I had my first kid? I needed this, I really did. I mean, the shit about keeping score (and why not to do it) and the need for men to do the nasty at least once a week: duh in hindsight, but who knew???

Several others, including The Crucible of Creation (about the rise of animals), and a rereading of Lee Upton's Undid in the Land of Undone (my favorite poetry book read of 2008).

But the crickets must be hunted down. All in time.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Dog Days

It must be the dog days--when the dog star rises in the morning sky (Is it the morning sky or the evening? Oh, please don't make me Google . . . ). The dog days: I've always liked the sound of that. I thought, when I first heard the expression as a girl, that it had to do with how warn out dogs get after a frolic in the steamy heat. But nope, it's about a STAR.

Speaking about stars (and planets, galaxies, Einstein's general theory of relativity, curvature, the nanosphere, Democritus, and the Navajo creation story) . . . I'm still unwinding from my 4-day, 40-hour oddessy into the world of Astrological Science. When I found out, for instance, that we'd traveled to Juniper (well, not exactly "us," but a spaceship with a probe), I had this sudden feeling of where the f*ck have I been the last fifteen years? I mean, how come I didn't know there's a spaceship right now headed for Mercury? Okay, I didn't subscribe to a newspaper or own a TV for most of my adult life, and then when I got both I also became a working parent . . . but still. I related all this and more to my hubby after one of my 11-hour days in my beachfront study, and hubby had good news: I would have forgotten it all by now anyway. Yes! He's right! I would have! Which is why I am having the time of my life learning all about what I've been missing. I now have more books on my shelf (too many for my satchel!) about the Big Bang, Copernicus, the Planets, Galileo, etc., than I even knew about a week ago.

And that's where I am right now: trying to figure out how I will read all of these books, teach my daughter how to ride a bike, and have time to take a swim in the Lake now and then. And do laundry, too, of course. Because I probably won't be getting back to my undisclosed island (except for, if I'm lucky, a couple of days) until next summer, if, if, if, they let me come by. Mercy!

But dang, it was a good week. And now I'm home, back to the usual stuff (dentist appointment, grocery shopping, breaking up fights), but I have to say I'm even happier than usual--a little too happy? Could that be possible? The hygenist said I was glowing, and I immediately panicked: could I be pregnant? How horrifying would that be?! (Don't worry--it's statistically impossible).

You can probably guess by now that this post is going nowhere fast. I don't have any books to recommend, unless you want to learn more about the Heavens. Happy dog days, everyone!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


First things first: you don't even want to KNOW where I am, what my view is like, or what birds I've heard, not to mention the doe and fawn I passed on the way to my study this morning at 6 am as I anticipated 11 hours of total quiet and solitude. 

Nope, I don't think so.  But nevertheless, here I am on my undisclosed island--a castaway among castaways. 

I'm mostly doing research for my next book of poems, but one of my fellow islanders is spending her time here scuba diving; she's checking up on the sea urchins (mostly their gonads), hoping that through her observations she can help to impose stricter limits on harvesting. 

There goes the ferry horn . . .

What am I researching? Mostly stuff about big vs. small. I didn't realize--or hadn't fully comprehended--that there are an infinite number of universes. Oh, and I found out what a micron is (.0001  centimeter). I've also been reading about gemstones and enjoying some vacation Bible school activity websites. 

To counter all this weightiness, I'm dipping into (right before my head starts  to spin) poetry 180, a grand collection of, you guessed it, 180 poems (one per day of school) aimed at high school students who find reading poetry akin to when "my brother has his foot on the back of my neck in the swimming pool." 

I mean, I like to be challenged, read a poem several times and still not get it (and never get it, cuz getting isn't the point), maybe do a little research about a painting or look up the word viaticum. But sometimes it's also nice to understand a poem on the first try. I'll even go so far as to agree with Collins that "clarity is the real risk in poetry." 

This isn't my first read-through, but my copy's been in storage for 4 1/2 years, so it might as well be a brand new book (though it now has that terrible old, musty basement smell--yuck!).  My favorites so far: Christina Pugh's "Rotary," Marc Petersen's "What I Would Do," Joseph Millar's "Telephone Repairman," and Lucia Perillo's "Skin." 

This is a great beach read--I kid you not. You might think summer is for Danielle Steele and Tom Clancy, but these are poems to savor with you toes in the sand, a cold lemonade in your beach chair cup holder, a bag of bing cherries (in your satchel, of course). 

Is that another float plane landing? Gawd, those things are noisy. 

While we're being all relaxed and summery, it's a good time to check out Poetry Net's August poet: Erika Meitner!

Time to go out on the patio and eat a few of those cherries. Hey, where'd my lemonade go? 

Happy reading!