Sunday, October 29, 2006

What Bears Talk About When They Aren't Talking About Love

[note: for some reason, this entry never posted when I tried to put it up, so I'm re-posting it]

Part of a morning conversation with Randy this weekend went something like this:

R: Do you remember that Mexican place in the Heights?
me: In the Heights? Not in Montrose?
R: No, not Montrose.
me: Not La Jalisciense?
R: No, that was in Montrose. This place had big arched windows.
me: Oh, that was on Montrose and--what's that street, down from the leather bar. But that window looked out onto a fence.
R: No, this was up near the Heights.
me: Not in the Heights? Did we ever eat in the Heights? There was that sandwich place; they had open mic nights, wasn't that connected to an antique shop?
R: No, this was a Mexican restaurant. You went there all the time. When David's family came, remember they wanted to go there because you had gone there before.
me: That's the place in Montrose. With the big window. I remember their margaritas.
R: Maybe it's not in the Heights. Remember where those five roads come together?
me: Five Points, yeah.
R: It was close to that.
me: I remember LaJa. And that place on the corner,what was it, La Mexicana? And the blue-painted place by your apartment where we'd get tacos de carne guisada. Oh wait, do you mean Ninfa's?
R: No, not Ninfa's, Ninfa's was on Bissonnet.
me: Well there was an "old" Ninfa's, David and I ate there maybe once, I remember the murals on the wall, it was small. . . I don't think that was in the Heights. Was it on West Gray maybe?
R: Okay it wasn't really the Heights. You drove over like you were going to the Heights, and then you made a left, it was down that way. They had a really slow waiter. You could sit outside. And David's family wanted to eat there.
me: I remember El Pavo Real. . .
R: What?
me: They changed the name--just down Irvington--
R: --to Teotihuacan.
me: --to Teotihuacan, yeah. And the place just down the street from that, with the blue margaritas.
R: And Taco Cabana.
me: Wait, you turned left at Five Points?
R: Yes, and--
me: and then straight down, and it was close to Whataburger where that cop car almost smashed into us late that night--
R: --doing like a hundred miles an hour, yeah--
me: Spanish Flower!
R: That's it.
me: We ate there all the time. They installed a tortilla machine in the corner.
R: That's it. Spanish Flower.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Just heard from my old pal Brent Goodman in Wisconsin: he has a blog and you can find it here. Brent's fine chapbook, Wrong Horoscope, won the Frank O'Hara Prize in 1999. It's gonna be so good to catch up. Next week. After I meet a huge Monday deadline.

* * * * *
Philip Roth Resident Beth Martinelli is giving a Writers-at-Work talk tomorrow, October 20, at 12 noon here at the Writing Center. I don't know Beth's poetry, but that's what's so sweet about her gig: she's here all semester to write, write, write. The Roth Rez alternates each year between poets and fiction writers. The next deadline is February 24; get application info here.

* * * * *
Nels Highberg, a friend from waaaaaay back (we were undergrads together in Houston), is coming for the weekend; he'll be presenting at the Patient Symposium here at Bucknell. Nels blogs here.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Fall break

Fall break starts today: an odd, but much-appreciated, four-day weekend, and the weather concurred: breezy and cold today--leaves flying everywhere. We're not going anywhere special, but I totally plan to sleep late every day.

* * * * *
One of my students used the word narcissistically in a poem yesterday: it just looked wrong. Spelled wrong. Too many s's. We were looking at some poems on her laptop, and she backspaced the -ally off the word: narcissistic. Which is a word, of course, and which, oddly, looks fine. Later (tonight) I looked it up in the dictionary, and the book opened to monorchid. Which I should have figured out, because I do know what orchis means in Greek.

No, I'm not telling you. Go look it up. In an actual dictionary. With pages. And let me know what word catches your attention along the way.

* * * * *
Oh--and another student (different class) this week used the word filching in a poem to describe the grasping gesture made by a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Which prompted another student to ask if she knew that it referred to a sexual practice. Of course he meant felching. Ahem. And we moved quickly on.

* * * * *
In last night's "common hour," we had a hatha yoga instructor who lead us through stretching, breath exercises, a few specific positions, and a guided meditation. I felt absolutely wonderful walking home after. Told Randy that we need to find a yoga class.

* * * * *
Local temps dropped below 30 last night. I was delighted to see this morning that the pineapple sage was still intact. It's covered with buds: they dip in a kind of tight braid, and then lift as the larger buds open: tubular red blossoms, extraordinarily sweet (yes, you can eat them). I'm hoping that we can avoid frost damage for a couple more weeks; it's a race every fall to see whether this plant will have time to bloom.

* * * * *
Oh--just noticed that Ben Grossberg has a poem on
Verse Daily today: "Stepping on the Dog." Which I just mentioned to Randy, who quipped: "I knew that dog wasn't right."


Monday, October 09, 2006

Condee backs out

Got a campus-wide e-mail this morning: she's canceled her campus visit. I'm lowering the Hair Alert to Level Yellow: pit crew, go home, but keep those brushes and styling products handy. . .

* * * * *
I just uncapped a bottle of water (that's been on my desk for about a week) and glugged down half of it before getting the distinct sensation that I was swallowing a teensy piece of plastic. A fleck of something that just did not feel right. So I washed it down with the rest of the bottle.

* * * * *
It's midterm week. I'm not as fried as I expected to be.

* * * * *
The incomparable Cornelius Eady comes to campus tomorrow: he's reading at Bucknell Hall tomorrow night at seven, and givinga Q-&-A at noon Wednesday in the Smith Library (English building). Can't wait. Here's a fun poem from The Gathering of My Name (Carnegie Mellon, 1991):

Living with Genius

It’s sundown, and we
Find Gertrude Stein sitting
In her parlor at the
Piano. She’s about
To give Alice B. Toklas
The night off. Gertrude
Wants to see if
A piano
Can imitate a violet. Gertrude
Wants to be alone
When she does this, suspecting
That what she wants to do

Is insane. The sun
Sets and Alice
Starts to worry
About her boss; what is
This shit about violets,
Violets, violets,
Anyway? Gertrude
Demands a glass of whiskey,
The shade drawn and all
The lights turned off. With
Pleasure, you old
Coot, Alice thinks
To herself. She does
As she’s told and
Goes to bed.

Sits in the dark
All night.

In the morning
She starts thinking
About roses.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Falling Bush cracks me up

Oh god, this is more fun than making your own voodoo dolls: fallingbush.

Last of the basil

Yesterday was sunny and gorgeous, so I decided to harvest the basil and make a mega-batch of pesto. We filled a huge basket--clipping the plants roughly in half, so there's even more to harvest, but I ran low on garlic and olive oil and had to stop after one basketful. Picked off the leaves, washed them in the salad spinner, then tossed them into a cotton pillow case to blot them dry--it worked! I made several batches, spooning each one into a separate ziplock bag, pressing out all the air, smoothing each bag flat in the bottom of the freezer. Once frozen, they stack neatly in the door.

And I saved a big batch for dinner--chicken with pasta & fresh pesto. Delicious.

I wish I had room to grow basil indoors over the winter. Should have started some "spicy globe" plants in pots last month. I wonder how they'd fare on a sunny windowsill?

Clipped cuttings this morning from several coleus plants: these root in jars of water on the kitchen windowsill, and with any luck I can keep them alive all winter to have a head start next spring--some of the coleus in our garden has been propagated this way for three or four years now--same plant, new cuttings, year after year.

And this is the time of year when I filch coleus cuttings from the neighborhood. Temperature has been dropping into the low 40s, maybe upper 30s the other night, so the plants won't last much longer outdoors. I mentioned this once to a visiting poet as I drove her back to her B&B--it was late September and I had noticed a beautiful leafy coleus plant in the window box--and she exclaimed: "But that's green theft!" Very affronted, she was. (Yes, dear, it is, but in two days it will be frozen mush, and this way a small bit of that lovely plant gets a chance at making it through the winter.)

I could ask permission, I guess. --Nahhh.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Re-reading Amy Gerstler's The True Bride, and falling in love with her poems all over again. I've been donating more books to the poetry library--a good way to really decide which poets I "need" to have on hand. Gerstler stays on the island.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


I've been busy. It's no excuse for avoiding my public. Do I have a public? How many persons do I need to constitute a public?

* * * * *
Condoleezza Rice is coming to Bucknell next week. On Friday the 13th, no less. One must register online to receive an admission ticket, one per person; members of the public need to register in lottery fashion to be eligible for a limited number of randomly-drawn tickets. The event will be simulcast in the chemistry auditorium. . .

I am thinking about getting a ticket. I am thinking about rushing the stage and giving our Secretary of State a decent haircut.

Okay, I don't really know how to cut hair. But if I did. . .

* * * * *
When Deirdre was in Macedonia for the Struga Festival (surreal gig), she met an interesting Macedonian poet and encouraged him to send her some work. Which I eagerly asked to see. Which excited me very much when I read it. Which excited all the editors at last week's meeting. I'm truly delighted to say we're going to publish five poems by Nikola Madzirov in our 30th anniversary issue.

* * * * *
My sister was in a coworker's car the other day--this was somewhere in Ohio or Indiana, I didn't ask--when they noticed a big gob of black limos taking up half the freeway, trailed by a helicopter. It was Dubya's motorcade. Sis, thinking fast, yells to her friend Get in the fast lane! (I didn't even know you could do this with The Motorcade). As their car pulls alongside Dubya's limo, my sister leans halfway out the window, arm extended, waving an emphatic single-finger salute in a circular motion at the Big Cheesy. She fucking flipped the bird at the President.

You go, Sis.

Here in central PA, when Dick (Cheney, but he'll always be just Dick to me) came to town, the Secret Service hauled off a woman (a white-haired sixty-something-year-old woman) and interrogated her for hours, simply because she had held up a protest sign.

As the old bumper sticker goes, I love my country but I fear my government.

* * * * *
We cleaned up the terrarium this weekend and got Randy a couple of pitcher plants--wee ones--to see how they go. He wants to find some sundews as well.

We put the laundry room storm windows back in, always a sign that fall is definitely here. I've been taking cuttings, repotting some plants to bring inside, giving others away. I'm hoping that we won't have frost for a few more weeks: the pineapple sage is covered with buds, but needs at least two weeks before it will bloom. I plant one every year--they're not hardy this far north--and if we're lucky, they're completely covered by mid-October with bright red tubular blossoms. I've even seen late-season hummingbirds checking them out. So neat.