Why are you whistling?

28 04 2010


I looked this up because of its mention in Barbara Kingsolver’s marvelous essay in High Tide in Tuscon


Coconut connection

21 09 2009

A week or so ago there was a spot on the radio about the latest thing – bottled coconut water. Two companies fiercely competing for shelf space in NYC.

This summer we bought a coconut – it was Robin’s choice, actually (“any fruit you want”, I said). We shared the liquid amongst ourselves. Like so many things in life, it came as happiness and sadness. It was fun to see how much was in there, and the taste was sweet and unusual. It was a nice memory for me, remembering the few times we had them as a kid, my father showing me how to strike a Phillips screwdriver into one of the three depressions in the skin, telling me of collecting coconuts along the street in San Diego. Everyone was savoring their individual servings when tragedy struck, a small puddle on the driveway had just been in James’ glass. Small things loom big in a child’s life, and he could barely keep from sobbing. Even after we all shared some of ours with him, he was still sad; it made it all seem more real. The white meat inside, so surprising, was less of a hit.

The same day as the radio spot, I looked for anything on the web about my friend Melanie Faith’s poetry chapbook. I found a review, which reviewed several works, including Paul Hostovsky’s Bending the Notes, which has this poem as its first

Bear with me I
want to tell you
something about
it’s hard to get at
but the thing is
I wasn’t looking
I was looking
somewhere else
when my son found it
in the fruit section
and came running
holding it out
in his small hands
asking me what
it was and could we
keep it it only
cost 99 cents
hairy and brown
hard as a rock
and something swishing
around inside
and what on earth
and where on earth
and this was happiness
this little ball
of interest beating
inside his chest
this interestedness
beaming out
from his face pleading
and because I wasn’t
happy I said
to put it back
because I didn’t want it
because we didn’t need it
and because he was happy
he started to cry
right there in aisle
five so when we
got home we
put it in the middle
of the kitchen table
and sat on either
side of it and began
to consider how
to get inside of it


Poem: “Coconut” by Paul Hostovsky from Bird in the Hand. © Grayson Books. Copied
from http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org/index.php?date=2006/09/25 (buy now)


21 09 2009

I’m thinking about getting one of these motion sensing sprinklers to keep the deer away from my roses next spring – and from decimating the Nasturtiums as well. Seems to work fairly well for deer, some say.

But not for all animals, says this review from Amazon.com:

does not work, June 29, 2009We installed it about a month ago. Now the geese walk real slow so that the motion beams are not tripped and they walk right up to the back patio to eat my grass and leave me little “presents” all in my yard. This morning, one goose was actually drinking the water sprayed from the Havahart 5265 Spray Away Motion Activated Water Repellent. They have gotten used to the spray and some even wait out the 8 second delay or get behind the chairs on my porch to wait out the 2 second spray then continue to eat and **** in my yard. They even circumvent the whole system. (We installed 2) We have even moved the system around to fool them which has not worked either. Thanks but no thanks. I would not recommend this as now I have more than 40 geese take up residence since it was installed.

Well, that’s OK – I plan to get the other brand anyway! 😉

Watermelon Rind Preserves

16 09 2009

When I first heard of watermelon rind preserves, in an ancient (to my young eyes) Pogo comic strip, the idea seemed miraculous. It seemed like soup from a stone – too good to be true. And what quantities of watermelon rind I had so thoughtlessly discarded! Texas watermelons – Hempstead, Texas – are gourds almost beyond belief, so I imagined gallons of sweet preserves.
This year, for the first time, I made them! But they aren’t what I thought they would be. At least, this recipe wasn’t. It was a pickle, actually – an Indian-style pickle, with ginger and lemon peel and allspice berries and cloves. It needed to mellow for a month or so in a jar – now it’s been three, so I had some today as a relish for some hot dogs – yum! Many years ago I made a green tomato chutney that was a surprise hit as a hot dog relish. This isn’t quite as perfect, but it is still a good match. Just imagine – soup from a stone. I mean, just imagine – you can eat those rinds!
DSC_0001 - Copy

“an irresponsible lunatic”

22 07 2009

Today, I’m listening to Florent Schmitt: Piano works for 4 hands” by Christian Ivaldi & Jean-Claude Pennetier.

It’s very easy to separate this contemplative, glittering music from the controversial historical figure. I found an interesting article that talks about his importance on the musical scene and his fall from grace, both during his lifetime and beyond, summed up in the Wikipedia entry:

Having been one of the most often performed of French composers in the period between the two world wars, Schmitt afterwards fell into comparative obscurity, although he continued writing music till the end (and in 1952 he became a member of the Légion d’honneur). He became the subject of attacks — both in his old age and posthumously — over his pro-German sympathies during the 1930s, and over his willingness to work for the Vichy regime later on (from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florent_Schmitt )

Here is a bit from the music article (the Wikipedia entry appears to be based on this article:

He enjoyed his powerful position as grand-high-arbiter-of-taste during the years when he wrote regular reviews for Le Temps (1929-39), as much as he enjoyed creating scandal at live concerts by shouting controversial jibes from the loges. These bursts of élan were always sparked by his sense, usually at premieres of new works, that the audience was “missing the point”, and he would as readily champion aurally daunting avant-garde works as he would decry the popular. The most noteworthy incident occurred in 1933, when songs of Kurt Weill were being performed at the Salle Pleyel. Schmitt’s scandalous shouts from the audience exposed an anti-Semitic arrogance that resulted in a newspaper scandal, with words of support from Weingartner, and condemnation from just about everyone else, including the publisher Heugel, who called him an “irresponsible lunatic”.

You can read the full article at http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2002/Jun02/Schmitt.htm

Or Click here to listen to “Florent Schmitt: Piano works for 4 hands” by Christian Ivaldi & Jean-Claude Pennetier.

Time to go.

4 07 2009

I never seem to find the time to write. Reading can snatch me away – a stolen minute turns into a quarter of an hour. But writing seems to need to be scheduled, or I don’t do it. So I’m stealing a few minutes now, when I should be hustling to go to the fourth of July picnic.

I compose a dialog with a few bits of nearly every book I read, crimping down a page to come back and write about. But I rarely do, and what seemed urgent when I was reading it loses the context when I return. So I’m resolving to start noting a bit of my reading journey mid-stride (if you will).

Today, we finished reading Seven-Day Magic, an Edward Eager book that yields little to comment on. I’m still enjoying Mary Oliver’s poems in New and Selected Poems – I want to start writing down my favorite poems again. I started this journal to do so, but I get stymied by worrying about stealing the poems by posting htem here, so I think I’ll just make a private journal of them – I’m my best audience here, anyway…

I brought a stack of books to the hammock to decide amongst – which should I take to the picnic? Past picnics have been memorable, relaxing reads, usually biography. Also, the books I wanted to write about – Sway (the irresistible pull of irrational behavior) and the gargantuan collection of Joan Didion’s non-fiction We Tell Ourselves Stories In Order to Live, which serves as a journalistic history of the late 60’s. One thing that strikes me is the parallel between the get-rich-quick hit-or-miss gold-strike claim-jumping California of the gold rush days and modern Hollywood.

Oh well, time to go play!

Genius quotes.

26 06 2009

Alexander Hamilton:

Men give me credit for some genius. All the genius I have lies in this; when I have a subject in hand, I study it profoundly. Day and night it is before me. My mind becomes pervaded with it. Then the effort that I have made is what people are pleased to call the fruit of genius. It is the fruit of labor and thought.

…dovetails very nicely with my reading lately, including Why Don’t Students Like School: A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions About How the Mind Works and What It Means for the Classroom

More of my favorite quotes