Friday, November 30, 2007

Tonight

1. A little under the weather tonight. Felt bad all day. Felt it coming on the last couple of days. I'm going to go to bed after I write this. I hope to feel better tomorrow.
2. When I came to my computer room, I glanced out the window. The night looks so deep tonight. I saw the tail lights of one lone car out on the highway.
3. Drat this body; my mind still wants to write.

Later...

1. I ate supper with Allen. We watched Survivor. James was voted off because he didn't play the idol.
2. I enjoyed watching the dogs play and dance for Milk Bones.
3. I played on the computer.
4. I took a long bath and read an essay about Emily Dickinson.
5. I washed my hair.
6. I put on my bathrobe and walked quietly out of the room where Allen was sleeping.
7. I turned on the computer and went to my secret blog: there I wrote a poem.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Today during office hours

1. Listened to Adam* talk about his presentation topic, Joy Harjo.
2. Listened to Jared* talk about his presentation topic, Dennis Banks.
3. Got off topic with both Adam and Jared and started talking about what it means to really be and feel alive.
4. Adam and Jared talked to me about dreams they have about doing their art.
5. Patrick* came in to talk about Modern Poetry. We talked about Emily Dickinson and how visiting her poetry was like visiting his ancient aunt (in a good way).
6. Patrick also talked about William Carlos Williams. We read a poem by WCW and discussed what it might mean.
7. I told Patrick he should write a poem or story about E. D. and his aunt. I hope he does.

*First names of students in my various classes.

Today

1. Listened to presentations in the Native American Class.
2. Played parts of two videos in the Modern Poetry Class.
3. Talked about Trickster characters in the two Response to Lit. classes. Played two excerpts from Modern Times.
4. Picked up some groceries on the way home.
5. Ate supper and cooked ribs for tomorrow.
6. Took a long bath and read an article about Saturday Night Fever.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A Dream

Last night I dreamed I went to a grave yard. It was huge. There was also a huge barn that was full of graves. I dreamed that Erin came to meet me at the barn. She brought me roses and a chocolate cake.

After the holiday

1. The first day back after a holiday is always hard.
2. It rained.
3. It was supposed to snow later in the evening.
4. When I came out of my last class @ 7:30 I looked up at the streetlight to see if it was snowing.
5. It didn't snow.
6. I was disappointed that it didn't snow. A little snow would have been nice.
7. I was reminded today about how much I like William Carlos Williams.
8. I found out that several of my students aren't wild about e. e. cummings.
9. Students in my Response to Literature class read their favorite lines from Sandra Cisneros's Woman Hollering Creek. It was hilarious.
10. Today Allen surprised me by buying a cable that I have wanted. It hooks my iPod up to my big stereo speakers.
11. After supper, we kept the TV off and listened to music from the iPod on the big speakers.
12. I read about Emily Dickinson while Allen read a boat magazine.
13. I didn't want the evening to end.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

What I Did Today

1. I slept late.
2. I sat by the fire and drank coffee.
3. I enjoyed silence. We didn't turn the TV on all day.
4. I took out my writing about Emily Dickinson.
5. I decided my writing about Emily Dickinson wasn't bad at all.
6. I worked on a novel. I wrote several pages in long hand.
7. I put wood on the fire.
8. Allen and I talked about rivers.
9. I wrote about rivers.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

What I Did Today

1. I slept very late.
2. I sat by the fire.
3. I had coffee by the fire.
4. I warmed up leftovers from yesterday.
5. Allen and I talked about what a good time we had yesterday.
6. I played around with some writing I've been doing about Emily Dickinson.
7. I got frustrated with the writing about Emily Dickinson and temporarily gave up on it.
8. I sent some digital photos to Brian's Facebook account.
9. I watched PBS.
10. I listened to Allen talking about rivers.

Thanksgiving was excellent

Thanksgiving was excellent. Everyone was well, and the food all turned out fine.

Turkey
dressing
macaroni and cheese
noodle salad (with garden peas, broccoli, red pepper, green pepper, celery, grated colby cheese)
baked beans
sweet potato casserole
cranberry sauce (whole berry)
fruitcake
banana bread
biscuits

We all laughed a lot. I got some good photos.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

What I did today

1. I don't go to campus on Tuesdays, so I slept late.
2. I made fruitcake from my mother's recipe. I know a lot of people don't like fruitcake, but this fruitcake is moist and good. I put the batter in four 6-oz loaf pans. Two of the loaves got the rum treatment!
3. I took a really long bath and skimmed through a book about Emily Dickinson.
4. I commented on Vanessa's note at Facebook.
5. I put some ribs into the oven to slow-cook.
6. I went grocery shopping for Thanksgiving.
7. I thought about how the semester is almost over.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Later on Sunday

Later on Sunday

1. I wrote another poem about Emily Dickinson and revised it several times.
2. I ate supper while watching 60 Minutes.
3. I finished grading two sets of papers.
4. I thought about what I want to cook for Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

So far, today

1. I had coffee.
2. I had bloody mary mix, extra spicy (no vodka, just juice). It's good!
3. I have put leftovers in the oven.
4. I wrote a four page letter to Beth on my manual typewriter.
5. I listened (again) to Beethoven's string quartets.
6. I acknowledged several e-mails from Gretchen.
7. I made out a check for car insurance.
8. I thought a lot about Emily Dickinson.
9. I revised my poem about Emily Dickinson.
10. I checked my Facebook profile for any changes.

Con Te Partiro

I can't help it; I can't get enough of it.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

What I Did Today

1. Stayed up until the wee hours of the morning.
2. Read a chapter in the Emily Dickinson biography.
3. Read the introduction to a book of criticism about Emily Dickinson.
4. Wrote a poem about Emily Dickinson.
5. Put wood on the fire.
6. Went to bed in the cold bedroom. (I enjoy a cold bedroom)
7. Had strange dreams.
8. Got up late.
9. Made roast beef, potatoes, carrots, onions, rolls, salad. Drank coffee. Drank homemade wine with supper.
10. Read a little more Emily Dickinson Biography.
11. Listened to Ravi Shankar, Andrea Bocelli, and Beethoven (String Quartet in F Major).
12. Gave special treats to the dogs and to the cats.
13. Pet the dogs.
14. Pet Mojo (my favorite tabby).

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Emily Dickinson Dysfunction, Part 6

Strange day. The weather was odd for November. Fast changing, like Spring. Chilly in the morning. Then the sun came out for maybe ten minutes in the afternoon. It felt warm. Then clouds closed over the sun. It got windy and cold. Then in the evening came lightening. Thunder rattled the windows in the house. Finally a drenching rain.

A day of contradictions. Chilly and warm. Sun. Warmth. Wind. Cold. Lightening and Thunder. Blue sky and rain. Serenity with an underlying sense of power, violence even.

Emily was like this.

Emily Dickinson Dysfunction, Part 5

Portrayals of Emily

1. Agoraphobic
2. Afraid of her surroundings
3. Eccentric
4. Spinster
5. Innovative pre-modernist poet
6. Rebellious and courageous woman

Emily Dickinson Dysfunction, Part 4

Emily Dickinson's struggles:

1. Faith
2. Domineering father
3. Mortality
4. Challenges of being a woman
5. Challenges of being a woman and a poet

Emily Dickinson Dysfunction, Part 3

I came up with an idea tonight that I am hoping will contribute to a cure to my Emily Dickinson Dysfunction (EDD). I have started a secret blog dedicated to nothing but Emily. I will continue to thrash out my thoughts and discoveries on Emily here (along with my other ramblings). And then once I have digested the material enough, I will turn to the secret blog and record my journey there in a more "finished," "polished," or "poetic" form. I would like to try this experiment for at least a year. At the end of the year, I would like to have a personal notebook (case study) representing my journey to know Emily. This seems like a fun project. Most of all, a worthy project. I hope I will not quit on it. I hope my curiosity about Emily will sustain me for 12 months. I think this project will make me a better teacher and writer.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Emily Dickinson Dysfunction, Part 2

I might not have ever come back to Emily Dickinson, except that I felt I had to cover her to some extent in the Modern Poetry course. Almost all the textbooks credit Whitman and Dickinson as being important forerunners to Modern Poetry. While discussing Dickinson, however, I had to admit to my students that I felt as though I was being "busted," my lack of appreciation for her work made real in front of my captive audience. Some of the students spoke of their appreciation for her work; others fell in my camp, not totally turned off to her but rather perplexed regarding her work.

Subsequently, I have made it my goal to get to know Emily as best I can.

I used to be disappointed in myself for not being a fast learner, for being someone who had to struggle toward enlightenment. But now I recognize that for me the struggle is part of the blessing. Getting to know Emily and to admire her work (as I feel I am capable of doing) is going to be a significant journey for me.

As it has turned out, I share more with Emily than I ever could have imagined.

Although in the past I have been put off by her stark style, her ambiguous punctuation and capitalization, the contradictory interpretations of her work that perplex, I am just now coming to know the brilliant possibilities of her poetry.

More to come.

Monday, November 12, 2007

On Nov. 12

On this day in 1935, 27-year-old Theodore Roethke was hospitalized for the first of the manic-depressive breakdowns that would recur throughout his life. Roethke had just begun a teaching post at Michigan State University and, according to colleagues, had been drinking heavily all semester, dozens of cups of coffee and bottles of cola a day as well as alcohol. On the previous evening, a cold one, he had taken a long walk in the woods without a coat and eventually with only one shoe; the next morning, after deciding "to cut my eight o'clock class deliberately just to see how long they would stick around," Roethke took another walk in the woods, also coatless. He was shivering and delirious when he arrived at the dean's office, where he planned "to explain one or two things about this experiment"; the dean, trained as a mathematician, called for the doctors. Roethke later told friends that while on his first walk he had had a mystical experience with a tree -- even pointed out the tree, while retrieving his shoe. The tree taught him "the secret of Nijinsky," he said, perhaps referring to that passage in Nijinsky's diary -- written while Nijinsky was a mental patient -- that describes learning from a tree that "human beings do not understand feelings."

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Emily Dickinson Dysfunction, Part I

A confession: I have trouble reading Emily Dickinson's poems.

My first encounter with her was probably high school, probably, "I'm nobody, who are you?"

In college, her Complete Poems in my hand, I convinced myself I was indifferent to her work. More likely I didn't like the feeling of being trapped in the corridors of her mind.

Whitman was a different story: "I depart as air," he wrote.

I longed for a transcendent experience like Whitman's; I still do. Whitman gave me hope of shedding this mortal coil. Dickinson did not. Her isolation, her "madness," her constant tracings of mind-shifts, the volatile underpinnings of her seemingly quiet existance were all things I did not want for myself.

More to come.

What I Did Today

1. Slept very late.
2. Made coffee and scones.
3. Enjoyed petting my black cat.
4. Watched 3 episodes of The Sopranos.
5. Thought about Emily Dickinson.

Friday, November 09, 2007

When I Went To Vote on Tuesday

It was cold when we went to vote on Tuesday. We drove through the little town in which we vote (in the Fire station), and the neon lights outside the little stores and restaurants looked both sad and beckoning. An American flag flapped in the wind and then wrapped itself around the pole.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Unsettles Complacency

"Poetry unsettles complacency. It refreshes the familiar by dissolving the encrustation of cliches." --Robert Pinsky, "Poet's Choice"

Pinsky excerpts from Reed Whittemore:

A certain gravity,
A solemn pose denoting
Grief well-borne
Is probably correct.
At parties be reserved.
Restrain the raucous chuckle
And the dirty joke.
Drink less,
Incline to thoughtfulness,
And dance, dance
Those melancholy tunes.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Hundreds of Geese!

Hundreds of Canada Geese in a man-made pond beside the freeway.

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Northwest Ohio, United States
"I was no better than dust, yet you cannot replace me. . . Take the soft dust in your hand--does it stir: does it sing? Has it lips and a heart? Does it open its eyes to the sun? Does it run, does it dream, does it burn with a secret, or tremble In terror of death? Or ache with tremendous decisions?. . ." --Conrad Aiken

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Fave Painting: Eden

Fave Painting:  Eden

Fave Painting: The Three Ages of Man and Death

Fave Painting:  The Three Ages of Man and Death
by Albrecht Dürer

From the First Chapter

The Secret of Hurricanes : That article in the Waterville Scout said it was Shake- spearean, all that fatalism that guides the Kennedys' lives. The likelihood of untimely death. Recently, another one died in his prime, John-John in an airplane. Not long before that, Bobby's boy. While playing football at high speeds on snow skis. Those Kennedys take some crazy chances. I prefer my own easy ways. Which isn't to say my life hasn't been Shake-spearean. By the time I was sixteen, my life was like the darkened stage at the end of Hamlet or Macbeth. All littered with corpses and treachery.

My Original Artwork: Triptych

My Original Artwork:  Triptych

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Wishing

Little Deer

Little Deer

Transformation

Transformation

Looking Forward, Looking Back

Looking Forward, Looking Back

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