Roy Zimmerman. To be honest, he's not someone who I know a lot about. But if Mr. Bawdy Songs (cum "Voices In The Wind"), Oscar Brand, himself, recently devoted an entire radio program to Zimmerman's music, then Zimmerman can't be half bad. Especially since Zimmerman is brave enough to ask the musical question, What If the Beatles Were Irish? So, force upon yourself, if you will, Zimmerman's unapologetic songbook of liberal umbrage, regime-rocking anthems and over-educated word play. You'll feel inspired by his songs, and they're all available at his YouTube channel.
I never knew that chives were so popular - and these were just the guys that I could get to hold still long enough for me to photograph them. The diversity of flying creatures was amazing - it stopped me in my tracks.
Goals for this three-day weekend:
Enjoy myself. This should include jumping into the Atlantic Ocean, drinking a mojito or two, and finishing Harry Potter (during daylight hours, of course).
Get this mulch pile distributed around my garden (yes, I know, it's been awhile - but it was fresh live oak mulch and it needed to sit awhile, right?).
Tonight I went to the opening of a custom furniture and cabinetmaker, Michael Moran. I was so impressed by the simple beauty of his designs (check out these for example) - and how each piece complimented the beauty of the different woods. But what I also enjoyed was his appreciation of his craft and more importantly, his appreciation of the wood itself. It was evident in his work. Above one of the pieces was the following:
The Woodcarver by Chuang Tzu (translated by Thomas Merton)
Khing, the master carver, made a bell stand Of precious wood. When it was finished, All who saw it were astounded. They said it must be The work of spirits. The Prince of Lu said to the master carver: "What is your secret?"
Khing replied: "I am only a workman: I have no secret. There is only this: When I began to think about the work you commanded I guarded my spirit, did not expend it On trifles, that were not to the point. I fasted in order to set My heart at rest. After three days fasting, I had forgotten gain and success. After five days I had forgotten praise or criticism. After seven days I had forgotten my body With all its limbs.
"By this time all thought of your Highness And of the court had faded away. All that might distract me from the work Had vanished. I was collected in the single thought Of the bell stand.
"Then I went to the forest To see the trees in their own natural state. When the right tree appeared before my eyes, The bell stand also appeared in it, clearly, beyond doubt. All I had to do was to put forth my hand and begin.
"If I had not met this particular tree There would have been No bell stand at all.
"What happened? My own collected thought Encountered the hidden potential in the wood; From this live encounter came the work Which you ascribe to the spirits."
Three years ago from today, on 29 August 2004, a strong tropical storm came ashore by my home - a storm that was later reclassified as a hurricane, which made sense to me, since I was home, nervously cleaning (I had no electricity, but I did have water - so cleaning seemed like the logical nervous activity - it was morning, and too early to start drinking, although during tropical storms I'm not so sure that the same rules should apply) - and I remember feeling relieved when the sky brightened, only to then realize that it was the eye of the storm - the eye of a storm that was not necessarily supposed to have an eye. It was one of those surprise storms that creep up on the coastline - I had joined friends for dinner the previous night, and had arrived home around 11 pm to hear on the news that the tropical depression was now a strengthening tropical storm right off of our coast - but there was no sense at all that a Category 1 hurricane was forming. It wasn't until the early, still dark hours of the morning that the electricity went out and the beeping of the refrigerator woke me up - and with the light of morning I could tell that the storm was more than I (or most) had anticipated. I was looking forward to a rainy day - but not a day that would take six trees from my garden. We got about ten inches of rain that morning - and most of the damage was from soil saturation, and trees with more shallow root systems were literally coming up out of the ground. A large tulip poplar in the front garden was leaning precariously over my car, until I decided to run out in the rain and move it. I know, silly and dangerous. The Peanut Riders helped take down five of the trees - but that tulip poplar had to get taken down by 'professionals' (and that's not to say that The Peanut Riders weren't thoroughly professional) - and I remember the tears falling as I watched them. I kept some of the flower pods from that tree in a bowl on my dining room table - I'll pack those pods and store them and put them on the dining room table in my new home. I find it heartbreaking to see trees come down.
I can't imagine what people in New Orleans and all along that part of the coast went through during Katrina. Here we are, the 29th of August, and it seems like two years couldn't have passed by - but I'm guessing that the two years that went by so quickly for me went by painfully slow for those folks. Today was slow, and tomorrow will go by slowly as well. I've spoken several times recently to a friend and colleague whose home was destroyed during Katrina: he and his spouse had the resources to rebuild, and they did - but many in their neighborhood have not rebuilt and their days still feel strange and their streets still feel mostly abandoned. But they were more fortunate than many.
This evening I ran across a few blogs that originated from New Orleans - and I found myself starting to read them and just felt compelled to keep reading. Their stories were both simple and unimaginable - hopeful and sad. The first one that I came across started at the end - the final post, dated July 3, 2007 from Fix the Pumps, written by someone who had been passionately blogging about the pumps that need to be repaired all across the city. I'm guessing that this post eloquently summarizes a common feeling:
As some of you may know, I'm trying to step away from all of this. It's taken a huge toll on me, as if Katrina weren't damaging enough.
So this is my last post. For a while, I'd considered this a closed loop process, where a defined end would be reached at some point.
However, I've concluded "Katrina" will never end, and at this point the only way to find my end is to declare it.
I had thought about continuing for a while, despite some major transitions in my life, but I just don't think it's worth it. I've got to move on. I've put out as much information as I can get, and if people don't understand the issues at hand by now, they'll never understand.
Thanks to all those who have supported me. I wish the best for New Orleans.
I just think that today I didn't want to hear Anderson Cooper talking about New Orleans now versus then, and I didn't want to hear what Bush had to say, or the nightly news guys. I think I wanted to hear what folks that live there every day were saying.
I remember the night-blooming cereus. It was rangy and clearly ambivalent about being domesticated, seemingly trying to crawl out of its pot (if it could), yet graciously blooming in the summer's humid evening air. In other words ... exactly the kind of plant you throw a party for, which we did.
It was a party at which music played through the window (“streamed” through the window, you might say). Music not very different from the music I gave to the marketing company I recently hired.
Earlier this year I laid out a ton of money for a marketing company to build my (very small) company's website. In addition to the money, the marketing company wanted other things from me. Like, information on what my company did that's useful, and a bunch of other stuff along those lines. There were dozens of pages that I had to write, explaining (a) how it was that I — miraculously — retained clients, and (b) why it was that I wanted to engage the marketing company's vaulted website production services.
After completing all of that, I decided to give the marketers two mix-tapes. So they could get into the proper spirit for building my site.
First tape: Country & Blues
Alejandro Escovedo – California Blues
Canned Heat – Goin' Up The Country
Chet Atkins & Doc Watson – On My Way to Canaan's Land
Del McCoury – Learnin' The Blues
Dwight Yoakam – Little Ways
Steve Earle & Emmylou Harris – Goodbye
Etta James – Whatever Gets You Through The Night
Fabulous Thunderbirds – Tuff Enuff
Gary Allen – Nothing On But The Radio
Guy Clark – Dublin Blues
Hot Tuna – Hesitation Blues
Iguanas – I Moved Too Slow
Jimmie Dale Gilmore – Defying Gravity
Joe Ely – Slow You Down
Joe Stampley – Do You Ever Fool Around
Johnny Duncan – It Couldn't Have Been Any Better
Johnny Lee – Lookin' For Love
Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – Special Rider Blues
Mike Ness – Dope Fiend Blues
Red Willow Band – Finally Hit Bottom
Steve Earle & Supersuckers – Creepy Jackalope Eye
Second tape: Rock & Jazz
Art Pepper – Blues In
Bad Plus Trio – Smells Like Teen Spirit
Brand New Heavies – Have A Good Time
Hot Chocolate – You Sexy Thing (OK, so there's no way you can stretch your definition of acid jazz to call this track anything but R&B, but it mixed well with Jane's Addiction)
Jane's Addiction – Sympathy
Jazzanova – Bohemian Sunset (electronic Brazilian samba; my favorite track on the disc)
Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – Killer Wolf
Marc Ribot Y Los Cubanos Postizos – No Me Llores Mas
Mink Deville – Gunslinger
Morphine – Buena
Nada Surf – Inside Of Love
New Wet Kojak – Love Career
New York Dolls – Looking For A Kiss
Patti Smith Group – Ghost Dance
Pharoah Sanders – Tomoki
Sonic Youth – Hot Wire My Heart
So, I gave the marketing woman the discs, and her reaction was veeeery distinctly, "Ohhhhh..." (can you hear her voice's declining inflection of dis-interest?) Still, she ended up building me a terrific site, one that includes, Pam, an authentic photograph of the Intracoastal Waterway, taken somewhere between New Jersey and Florida.
The night-blooming cereus that is happily flowering this week in my South Carolina garden is the same plant that I had years ago, that sat on a brick wall at the front of my house in Blacksburg where I lived when I went to graduate school. The garden was simple, a few pots of geraniums (I remember one with beautifully variegated leaves) and a few cactuses, including the night-blooming cereus. My boyfriend during that time tended this little garden with me - and he is someone that I have maintained a friendship with throughout the years. I think, hopefully, that most of the people that enter into our lives leave a trail of gifts behind them (even if untentional) - perhaps ones that are not noticeable at first - but that become apparent throughout the years. This person definitely left me with the gift of music - the gift to appreciate music, all types, all tempos - as he dragged me, reluctantly at first, into the student radio station at the university (WUVT) for the first time. Two years and alot of music later, I signed off from my last blues show 'No Escape from the Blues', turned in my thesis and left Blacksburg. During that time I grew to love John Coltrane and Duke Ellington and Ruth Brown and The Dead Kennedys and Sam & Dave and Muddy Waters - I even grew to love Doc Watson and country music with lyrics that made me laugh but that I grew to love. What a gift that was, that trail of music.
Tonight, after returning home (yes, I did remember to attend my own class this afternoon) and letting the dogs run around for awhile, I came inside and got a call from this friend (you can find him over at 3Dsound). We had talked months ago now about him posting podcasts on my blog - it was a tad selfish of me to make such a request: first, it would keep me from even boring myself with some of these posts, and second, I missed the exposure to a wide variety of wonderful music that he always managed to find. We never did podcast posts (the whole illegal thing) - but on an evening where I find myself feeling world weary he suggested that he start contributing music posts to my site - a suggestion that I jumped on and am thrilled about. The music will be eclectic, basic, quiet, fast, traditional, obscure, familiar - in other words, who knows what it will be.
More boxes taken to my storage unit on the way into work (and yes, I finally packed a few boxes of books, old paperbacks mostly). A meeting at work about a NMR metabonomic profile of a coral pathogen - such potential with this new approach! News that a grant was rejected. Conversations about tri-parental mating and a problematic GC-MS, thoughts on a proteomics abstract and a discussion on where to submit a manuscript. One graduate student looking too thin and frustrated and another over four months pregnant. A technician wanting some time off to take a HTML code class at Trident; a postdoc out of the lab for the day. A phone conversation with a solar water heater rep and a fascinating phone conversation with a geothermal heating and cooling guy. A quick look around the www for recycled/antique/used tiles and farm sinks and a quick phone call home to my mom who is off chemotherapy for awhile. Tomorrow is my first class of the fall semester - yep I've got a class and let's just hope I remember to go. I've become one of 'those' professors that forgets to go to their own class (now how horrible is that?). Home and dinner to cook for the Ancient Wonder Beagle, home and some planting, home and some time spent admiring the sunflowers that are gracing my side garden. A call from my brother. An early evening spent listening to Beth Orton's 2006 Comfort of Strangers. A late evening spent craving quiet and the sounds coming from my garden in the darkness.
I think that I've finally reached that point in the summer where I'm forced to admit that the month of August has worn me down. I feel discouraged, tired and a bit overwhelmed. Yesterday I went to the Charleston Home Show where I found myself disappointed - disappointed in what I saw there, disappointmented in my lack of desire to even be there. I don't think I'm building their kind of house anyway. The two things of interest that I did find were:
(1) an interesting (and local) company in the countertop business - producing vetrostone and oysterstone. I was surprised at how much I liked the material - it's an engineered stone quartz, and they incorporated oyster shells and glass into the composite. It created a highly reflective surface - but with natural tones that I really liked. Just something to think about.
(2) a really informed and interesting (and somewhat small) solar hot water company - I believe they are with the Energy Division of the Elemental Design Group, LLC (their website isn't so great though). I liked the two people they had at their booth representing the group, and will call them this week for more information. Tankless water heaters are all of the rage now - but I really believe that these solar water systems are the way to go. I'd love to have some part of my home taking advantage of this August sun.
Other than that, I talked to alot of wood flooring folks who griped about the LEED certification program - which was a bit annoying since, of course, I had nothing to do with writing the regulations but had only committed to building a LEED-certified home. Mention FSC-certified lumber to some of these flooring guys, and they get kinda cranky. It does seem like the process could use some re-evaluation - perhaps in time that will happen.
Interestingly, what was more motivating for me than the Home Show was visiting a new neighbors home yesterday evening for a friendly and informal open house. One of them was an architect - and together they had both completed the interior work - and I was so impressed. The woman had done all of the tile work - and it was so nice - gorgeous colors and patterns - and perhaps what I liked most about the house was the easy incorporation of the old with the new. Their kitchen sink was from his grandparents home - as were the doors throughout much of the house. For the masterbath sink they had purchased a long and narrow trough (or potters) sink online - and it worked beautifully. They had also taken a wrought iron fence with a quite intricate pattern, and cut it into sections which were placed on the inside of the guest bedroom windows. Their home was quite simple overall, but was also quite elegant. I was so impressed by the work that they had done.
So I need to take a deep breath and ride out these last few remaining days of August - perhaps even shake off the oppressiveness of the month and go outside this evening and reclaim my garden. I have a few things to plant that I brought home with me last weekend from my mother's garden - a blackberry lily, a tiger lily, a clump of tall perennial phlox, and a butterfly bush - they need to be put in the ground. I'm so glad that I planted sunflowers in mid-July - they are now standing tall and are blooming like crazy - moving towards the heat of the sun instead of away from it. Cheery companions on a hot August evening.
I walked on the banks of the tincan banana dock and sat down under the huge shade of a Southern Pacific locomotive to look at the sunset over the box house hills and cry. Jack Kerouac sat beside me on a busted rusty iron pole, companion, we thought the same thoughts of the soul, bleak and blue and sad-eyed, sur- rounded by the gnarled steel roots of trees of machinery. The oily water on the river mirrored the red sky, sun sank on top of final Frisco peaks, no fish in that stream, no hermit in those mounts, just our- selves rheumy-eyed and hungover like old bums on the riverbank, tired and wily. Look at the Sunflower, he said, there was a dead gray shadow against the sky, big as a man, sitting dry on top of a pile of ancient sawdust-- --I rushed up enchanted--it was my first sunflower, memories of Blake--my visions--Harlem and Hells of the Eastern rivers, bridges clanking Joes Greasy Sandwiches, dead baby carriages, black treadless tires forgotten and unretreaded, the poem of the riverbank, condoms & pots, steel knives, nothing stainless, only the dank muck and the razor-sharp artifacts passing into the past-- and the gray Sunflower poised against the sunset, crackly bleak and dusty with the smut and smog and smoke of olden locomotives in its eye-- corolla of bleary spikes pushed down and broken like a battered crown, seeds fallen out of its face, soon-to-be-toothless mouth of sunny air, sun- rays obliterated on its hairy head like a dried wire spiderweb, leaves stuck out like arms out of the stem, gestures from the sawdust root, broke pieces of plaster fallen out of the black twigs, a dead fly in its ear, Unholy battered old thing you were, my sunflower O my soul, I loved you then! The grime was no man's grime but death and human locomotives, all that dress of dust, that veil of darkened railroad skin, that smog of cheek, that eyelid of black mis'ry, that sooty hand or phallus or protuber- ance of artificial worse-than-dirt--industrial-- modern--all that civilization spotting your crazy golden crown-- and those blear thoughts of death and dusty loveless eyes and ends and withered roots below, in the home-pile of sand and sawdust, rubber dollar bills, skin of machinery, the guts and innards of the weeping coughing car, the empty lonely tincans with their rusty tongues alack, what more could I name, the smoked ashes of some cock cigar, the cunts of wheelbarrows and the milky breasts of cars, wornout asses out of chairs & sphincters of dynamos--all these entangled in your mummied roots--and you there standing before me in the sunset, all your glory in your form! A perfect beauty of a sunflower! a perfect excellent lovely sunflower existence! a sweet natural eye to the new hip moon, woke up alive and excited grasping in the sunset shadow sunrise golden monthly breeze! How many flies buzzed round you innocent of your grime, while you cursed the heavens of the rail- road and your flower soul? Poor dead flower? when did you forget you were a flower? when did you look at your skin and decide you were an impotent dirty old locomo- tive? the ghost of a locomotive? the specter and shade of a once powerful mad American locomo- tive? You were never no locomotive, Sunflower, you were a sunflower! And you Locomotive, you are a locomotive, forget me not! So I grabbed up the skeleton thick sunflower and stuck it at my side like a scepter, and deliver my sermon to my soul, and Jack's soul too, and anyone who'll listen, --We're not our skin of grime, we're not our dread bleak dusty imageless locomotive, we're all beautiful golden sunflowers inside, we're bles- sed by our own seed & golden hairy naked ac- complishment-bodies growing into mad black formal sunflowers in the sunset, spied on by our eyes under the shadow of the mad locomotive riverbank sunset Frisco hilly tincan evening sit- down vision.
I couldn't resist last weekend asking for seeds of this beautiful hollyhock in the garden of a family friend - I believe it is a fig hollyhock (Antwerp), but I'm not sure. It's foliage is more of an olive green, different from my other hollyhocks. This weekend I'll get some seeds planted - and hope for success (although my mother and another friend have had difficulties getting these to germinate). I already have a nice group of fig hollyhocks in my garden - but they are mostly pinks and deeper roses. I love this pale yellow - it reminds me somewhat of the butter yellow of the forsythia sage (Salvia madrensis) - one of the fall-blooming salvias that is part of my garden's fall color.
Today was good. It started off by stopping really, stopping down the road a few houses to admire a two-masted schooner ('Felicity') being hauled away from a neighbor's yard - but while I was admiring the schooner, something in the backyard caught my eye: a Herreshoff design, a wooden sailboat, that was simply beyond gorgeous. She was stripped down to the bare wood - and her mast was along side her - and her lines were amazing. I've seen Herreshoff's before, but not for along while, and not in a bare state. When I finally pulled myself away - I couldn't help but think that I'll like these new neighbors - these restorers of wooden boats. For me, it's like having an artist in the neighborhood, a sculptor perhaps - these boats are works of art to me. I just want sit back and stare at them, admire them.
So the morning was spent going slowly through a manuscript that was ready to submit - and in the middle of the day I took a break and went to meet Pete at Stono Cafe for lunch. Grilled shrimp and red peppers and squash casserole and life was good. We met because Pete wanted to introduce me to 'Louie' the cabinet maker, a John's Island local who has quite the reputation for his work. Unfortunately we missed Louie by a few minutes, so after we ate we went to his shop, where he wasn't - but I have to say that I laughed at the Confederate flag on the shop door coupled to the sign 'Big Ass Dog Inside'. (I can't tell Stanley about that sign, or he'll start demanding one - he definitely desires the 'Big Ass Dog' reputation, although first he must overcome the urge to roll over on his back so an intruder can scratch his belly). Pete just laughed and said that I didn't say you guys would get along, I just said that he made nice cabinets. Okay, you've got a point. So I left Louie and his big ass dog and his confederate flag a note, so maybe I'll get a call one day soon. We'll see.
The manuscript got submitted.
A glass of wine has been poured.
The next manuscript draft that I need to work on has been saved onto my thumb drive.
Eight more to go.
Not counting the ones we tentatively outlined during Wednesday's laboratory meeting.