St Brigid's Poetry Festival 2014

To A Friend Estranged From Me

Now goes under, and I watch it go under, the sun
That will not rise again.
Today has seen the setting, in your eyes cold and senseless as the sea,
Of friendship better than bread, and of bright charity
That lifts a man a little above the beasts that run.

That this could be!
That I should live to see
Most vulgar Pride, that stale obstreperous clown,
So fitted out with purple robe and crown
To stand among his betters!
Face to face With outraged me in this once holy place,
Where Wisdom was a favoured guest and hunted
Truth was harboured out of danger,
He bulks enthroned, a lewd, an insupportable stranger!

I would have sworn, indeed I swore it:
The hills may shift, the waters may decline,
Winter may twist the stem from the twig that bore it,
But never your love from me, your hand from mine.

Now goes under the sun, and I watch it go under.
Farewell, sweet light, great wonder!
You, too, farewell,-but fare not well enough to dream
You have done wisely to invite the night before the darkness came.

St Brigid Poetry Festival, Year Seven

Pine Hollow 004THE SLOTH by Theodore Roethke

In moving-slow he has no Peer.
You ask him something in his Ear,
He thinks about it for a Year;

And, then, before he says a Word
There, upside down (unlike a Bird),
He will assume that you have Heard-

A most Ex-as-per-at-ing Lug.
But should you call his manner Smug,
He'll sigh and give his Branch a Hug;

Then off again to Sleep he goes,
Still swaying gently by his Toes,
And you just know he knows he knows.

Theodore Roethke

Relax. This won't last long.
Or if it does, or if the lines
make you sleepy or bored,
give in to sleep, turn on
the T.V., deal the cards.
Blog pix 040This poem is built to withstand
such things. Its feelings
cannot be hurt. They exist
somewhere in the poet,
and I am far away.
Pick it up anytime. Start it
in the middle if you wish.
It is as approachable as melodrama,
and can offer you violence
if it is violence you like. Look,
there's a man on a sidewalk;
the way his leg is quivering
he'll never be the same again.
This is your poem
and I know you're busy at the office
or the kids are into your last nerve.
Maybe it's sex you've always wanted.
Well, they lie together
like the party's unbuttoned coats,
slumped on the bed
waiting for drunken arms to move them.
I don't think you want me to go on;
everyone has his expectations, but this
is a poem for the entire family.
Right now, Budweiser
is dripping from a waterfall,
deodorants are hissing into armpits
of people you resemble,
and the two lovers are dressing now,
saying farewell.
I don't know what music this poem
can come up with, but clearly
it's needed. For it's apparent
they will never see each other again
and we need music for this
because there was never music when he or she
left you standing on the corner.
You see, I want this poem to be nicer
than life. I want you to look at it
when anxiety zigzags your stomach
and the last tranquilizer is gone
and you need someone to tell you
I'll be here when you want me
like the sound inside a shell.
The poem is saying that to you now.
But don't give anything for this poem.
It doesn't expect much. It will never say more
than listening can explain.
Just keep it in your attache case
or in your house. And if you're not asleep
by now, or bored beyond sense,
the poem wants you to laugh. Laugh at
yourself, laugh at this poem, at all poetry.
Come on:

Good. Now here's what poetry can do.

Imagine yourself a caterpillar.
There's an awful shrug and, suddenly,
You're beautiful for as long as you live.

6th Annual Brigid Poetry Festival

Today! Feb 1st.........

The 6th Annual Brigid Poetry Festival

Anne's set up a Facebook page for Brigid this year. My poem is by Judy Grahn from her book, The Queen of Wands. (Her own website doesn't look as if it has been updated lately.)

You really have to say that poem out loud a few times to understand it but once you untangle your tongue, it's amazing. (Found at So Many Books)

Blog pix 1906 Judy Grahn

Knit the knot: a riddle

The directions said:
to knit the knot known and
not to knit the not known,
knit the knot known
to the unknown knot
and not the knot known to
unknot the unknown
and knot the knit;
to unknot the known and knit
the unknown, unknit the
knot known and know the knit;
to know how to not know
the unknown, knit the knot.
Gnaw your fingers to the bone
until you understand the plot.


Mousie Meat

Blog pix 1624 Isn't it entrancing how the same numbers can come up with different sums each of the six times you add it up? 

Did I say entrancing? I meant maddening.

(pictured: 1. Stunted Lemon Tree Freed from Pot. 2. Crabapple Llama & Fiber Wool Basking in The Sun, 3. Raccoon Contemplating Future Foraging Expectations)

Blog pix 1623

A Tale of the Cats

The lucky cats in Stratton Street
Had seven mice apiece to eat.
The rest made do
With only two:
The total score
Being twenty-four.
How many cats ate mousie meat?

Don't ask me.

See what my darling brother brought me from his foray into Sheep & Wool Festival land - wool from Crabapple Llamas and Fibers! They don't seem to have a website or I'd link them. Very nice! Neutral color too, just like I like. Now I just need to find the perfect project for them. Isn't he the sweetest? A yarn bowl came separately - once I figured out what it was, it was very cool! (I was expecting a wool bowl so the ceramic-ness of it threw me off.

Hezekiah was not amused by the appearance of the well fed raccoon at the back door last night. [She went to her food in the kitchen and hoovered all of it. Just in case]. I banged on the window and pulled out Dad's old police whistle because while it's hard to discourage raccoons, they really prefer a more peaceful environment. Cross your fingers he hangs out in Linda's garden across the street instead. Except, no. Her cat Dusty is an outside cat. Fine. The raccoon can go back into the hills).

Blog pix 1627 Ten On Tuesday (well, it WAS Tuesday)

” Ten things you love about where you live.”

1. I can drive to the ocean, the San Francisco Bay, Tomales Bay or the Delta in a little more than an hour.

2. Or I can go to the mountains.

3. My county has a fabulous intra-library lending system and a great selection of books and audio. (Check out the new library opening in Walnut Creek tomorrow.)

4. Quirky independent bookstores - Serendipity is the one that I think of most as quirky. That bookstore as to be seen to be believed. The owner has pancreatic cancer and the last time I was in (end of June) they weren't sure they'd be open the next Monday. Lafayette Bookstore is closing its doors and taking it to the streets.

Bay Books always has what I want (except for the Mary Stewart books. I'm a little bitter I can't find them. Mickey Spillane, sure. Scratch that, I could find most of them except Nine Coaches Waiting and Gabriel Hounds. Good thing I have that nice intra-library loan thing.) (As it happens, I'm on a Harry Dresden bender now two more to go before I get to his latest adventure! The exciting thing about reading them in random order is finding out - wait. Spoiler stuff. Never mind.)

OH NOES! They're closing! In a month. This is getting scary.

5. Tourists. They're always amusing and sometimes a lot of fun.

6. The ferry at Jack London Square - maybe cruising around the Bay Bridge and Angel Island and Alcatraz help but the ferry itself is fun.

7. Free concerts in the park all summer.

8. Mt Diablo. There is nothing better than driving to the summit and surveying the Golden Gate Bridge, the Delta and the environs [provided it's not cloudy, on fire or raining]. 

9. The weather. Micro climates mean that it's perfect somewhere close.

10. The plays. I'm partial to the California Shakespeare Festival [CalShakes].

Blog pix 1603 Speech Alone

by Jean Follian, translated by W. S. Merwin

It happens that one pronounces

A few words just for oneself

Alone on this strange earth

then the small white flower

the pebble like all those that went before

the sprig of stubble

find themselves re-united

at the foot of the gate

which one opens slowly

to enter the house of clay

while chairs, table, cupboard

blaze in a sun of glory.

I write like
Arthur C. Clarke

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Hmm. I wouldn't have guessed that. Found on Book-a-Rama.

Uffish Thoughts

According to Carrol the term uffish suggested to him "a state of mind when the voice is gruffish, the manner roughish, and the temper huffish."

Huffish, eh? I like that. 


Lewis Carroll

(from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872)

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
  Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
  And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
  The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
  The frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
  Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
  And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
  The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
  And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
  The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
  He went galumphing back.

"And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
  Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
  He chortled in his joy.

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
  Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,

  And the mome raths outgrabe.

Somehow, I suspect my knitting WIP's are outgrabe.

Blog pix 1596 

Here's Elizabeth I to date. Hmm. Black and white is not kind to my two gauges - one knit and one purl. I did try using two different sized needles but that's where the difference shows the most. Oh well. it'll either block out or not. It's pretty. 

I've got an insane intarsia project going - I figured no sense in knitting up a gauge swatch (which is possibly my usual supposition) since it's basically a big rectangle. I'd forgotten to take into account that patterns for cross stitch don't necessarily translate into patterns for knitting. I've reworked it a bit so that the sword point doesn't look like a giant blob (which you're not going to be able to judge for yourselves because my camera (read: iPhone) decided to die and I ripped & fixed it rather than wait and snap a pic for posterity.)

Other than that, all other projects are ongoing, the stash busting cardi, the tailored jacket, the scarves, the Veronica Lake shell, the keyhole shell, Lillian........huh. No wonder my WIP area looks like this:

Blog pix 1600

There's actually more, but it's too embarrassing.

I don't think I've done a book update in ages. I managed to read 59 library books last year and.......32 so far this year. It helps being broke.

Best books so far: The Emperor of Ocean Park by Stephen L Carter. The novel is told from the point of view of the son of a judge who at one time, was a nominee to the Supreme Court, and at his father's death, become embroiled in what derailed his father and now threatens him.  More or less. Great suspense book and if you like politics, you should love this. 

The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis. So that's how the economy collapsed.

Mary Stewart novels, Nine Coaches Waiting, The Ivy Tree, Madam Will You Talk? Moon-Spinners, The Gabriel Hounds. I hadn't read these in decades. The Moon Spinners title is based on an island myth about the phases of the moon - as a wannabe spinner, it was fun to read that the full moon glow was twirled onto a drop spindle causing it to wane then the spindle was plunged into the ocean where it  unraveled and filled the moon again. 

One thing that struck me is how dumbed down our vocabulary has gotten since these were published. 

And in the spirit of dumbing down everywhere, a few of my favorite summer shows: Too Hot In Cleveland (Wednesday night at 10pm on TV Land) with Betty White, Jane Leeves, Valerie Bertinelli and Wendy Malick. Fun. 

Warehouse 13 starts tonight at......9? 10? on Syfy. (Ridiculous name for a channel. And oddly enough, most of the shows I watched used to be on SciFi. This (and Eureka starting Friday) are the only two shows I watch on SyFy.).

Burn Notice on USA 9pm on Thursdays. I really like the addition of Coby Bell, I've missed him since Third Watch. Jason Wiles, aka Bosco of Third Watch is on Persons Unknown on Mondays NBC at 8pm now (and soon to be Saturdays) but that show is so convoluted and dull that if it wasn't for the cast, I wouldn't bother.

& then afterward

Blog pix 1557 POEM (From the Poetry Foundation):

& then afterward by Nate Pritts  

    I woke to early sun:
    burning of fire, & then afterward.
    We kept reaching
    through the long night.
the small deceptions
we allow ourselves:
a sickness, unchecked.
Like this:
Blog pix 1511     (iii)
     & first sunlight.
     Snow continues.
     I could never close my eyes to light.
     But there was no light
     & you looked like night.
     There must be a pattern,
s   now slow-dropping in wet clusters
     through the wooden arms
     of empty trees.
    Sun fingering its way
    through branches
    I’d hung my life on.
    We don’t matter a bit; realization
    forces our eyes closed—
A sickness, unchecked, like this.
I’d hung my life on
burning of fire, & then afterward.
Our arms together
we searched for patterns
& sunlight.
Our arms laced together,
pointing together
over wind-tossed grasses.
Us: waist deep in night blue.
There was no light.
You pointed.
Sun overhead,
you pointed
to the wind-tossed grasses.
This is a memory now.
Blog pix 1365    (xi)
    Together in that first sun,
    so vivid:
    there must be a pattern
    I’d hung my life on.
S   now dropped in clusters,
    staggered & jagged.
    We don’t matter a bit.
    Reflected in lake water:
    all these things I’ll forget.
(   xiv)
     Our arms together
     but we keep reaching
 over the wind-tossed grasses.
Black smoke curling:
the importance
of night-blue field grass,
the importance of.
The stars are close; we try to hold together.
All this ends
but until then:
burning of fire, & then afterward.
The stars are close; we try to hold.
Such distance between the fallen!
Blog pix 1478    (xviii)
    Burning of fire, & then afterward.
    You pointed.
(   xix)
    Grasses silently fold,
a   sickness, unchecked, reaching. Like this.
     Wooden arms of trees
     long since emptied.
    This ends in darkness,
&  all the stars within reach,
&  other constellations.

From Friday Fill-ins - because TGIF, even if I don't take the weekend off.

1. _Cross-footing_ feels great.

2. The solution is _buried in arcane language.

3. ___I wish I could__ fall asleep.
4. How about _a week without a crisis or a deadline.
5. _Reading a book is something I highly recommend!
6. Imagine _if everyone did that_. ("that" being undefined. You know what "that" is).
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to __Miss Marple___, tomorrow my plans include __knitting _ and Sunday, I want to  _sit in the backyard and admire the garden.___!

What I Know For Sure by Bob Hickok

Some people, told of witness trees,
pause in chopping a carrot or loosening a lug nut and ask, 
witness to what? So while salad 
is made, or getting from A to B 
is repaired, these people 
listen to the story 
of the Burnside Bridge sycamore, 
alive at Antietam, bloodiest day 
of the war, or the Appomattox Court House 
honey locust, just coming to leaf 
as Lee surrendered, and say, at the end, 
Cool. Then the chopping 
continues with its two sounds, 
the slight snap to the separation 
of carrot from carrot, the harder crack 
of knife against cutting board, 
or the sigh, also slight, of a lug nut 
as it's tightened against a wheel. In time, 
these people put their hands 
under water and say, not so much to you 
but to the window in front of the sink, 
Think of all the things 
trees have seen.
Then it's time 
for dinner, or to leave, and a month passes, 
or a year, before two fawns 
cross in front of the car, or the man 
you've just given a dollar to 
lifts his shirt to the start 
of the 23rd psalm tattooed 
to his chest, "The Lord is my shepherd, 
I shall not want," when some people 
say, I feel like one of those trees, 
you know?
And you do know. 
You make a good salad, change 
a wicked tire, you're one of those people, 
watching, listening, a witness 
to whatever this is, 
for as long as it is 
amazing, isn't it, that I could call you 
right now and say, They still 
can't talk to dolphins 
but are closer,
as I still 
can't say everything I want to 
but am closer, for trying, to God, 
if you must, to spirit, if you will, 
to what's never easy for people 
like us: life, breath, the sheer volume 
of wonder.

found at N-Judah blog

Change is Evil. Well, mostly.

Those pangs of homesickness!

That long since detected upheaval!

I am altogether indifferent

As to where to be altogether

Alone or how to drag my tote

From bazaar to house and home,

A home that is mine no more

Than a hospital or garrison;

Indifferent to what sort of people

Will see me, the caged lion, bristle

And from what sort of world I will -

As I must - be banished into

Myself and my own feelings.

Like a Kamchatka bear with no ice floe,

I don't care where not to fit in

(I don't try to) and where to eat crow

Nor am I charmed by my mother

Tongue's call, cajoling and creamy:

I set no great store by the tongue that others

use to misconstrue me

(Readers solely intent upon

Milking the press of its bletherings),

For they're of this twentieth century,

And I precede the centuries.

I am stunned like a log left to lie

On a path with trees. Everyone's the same

To me, it's all the same to me,

And what is all the more the same


And closest of all, perhaps, is the past.

All my features, all traces, all dates

Have vanished into its morass:

I am merely a soul born-somewhere.


My country has so let me down

That should a sharp-eyed sleuth

Search that soul inside out

It would fail to sleuth forth native roots.

Every house is alien, every temple empty,

All the same, all one, all mere trash.

But if by the road there's a tree

That chances to be mountain ash......

                                                                                        Marina Tsetaeva

Mitering Mary Tudor

I've joined a reading challenge! Eco-Challenge at Chris' Book-a-rama. I like that the rules say between 1-5 books and I can justify my choices with a spirited debate. Starts May 1 through Sept 30th.

I've gone from saying "Cool" to saying "Excellent." Not so much in a Ted & Bill Adventure way but more in a mad professor style. What I want to know is why? Am I going to start cooing  "darling" soon?

Blog pix 1120 In knitting news, stupid mitered corner. Evidently you're supposed to pick up the edge stitches of the body and miter the corner of of the buttonhole band while you're attaching it.

Somehow, I don't think this is right.

She has a "marked stitch" at the end that I read as it's knit together with a picked up stitch from the body but then I still have only the one marked stitch and I'm supposed to be adding five stitches to the band. Shouldn't there be slipping in there? And picking up of more stitches?

It's the mitering one side and picking up the edge of the already knit part that's confounding me. I can miter a corner while I'm knitting the whole thing but half done? Argh. Any suggestions? (Not including setting it on fire. I'm too close to being done).

READING: I've been reading The Periodic Table by Primo Levi - I ran across it in a used bookstore Thursday night and it’s just fabulous so far. It’s the semi autobiographical novel of his life as an Italian Jewish chemist up to and during WWII (so far) and he’s done the fascinating twist of sectioning off pieces of his life using various periodic elements as the anchor to those memories.


Is anything sadder than a train
That leaves when it’s supposed to,
That has only one voice,
Only one route?
There’s nothing sadder.

Except perhaps a cart horse,
Shut between two shafts
And unable even to look sideways.
Its whole life is walking.

And a man? Isn’t a man sad?
If he lives in solitude a long time,
If he believes time has run its course,
A man is a sad thing too.

–Primo Levi
January 17, 1946
From Collected Poems
Faber and Faber, London, 1988.

Ten Is A Lot

Chartroose tagged me for a meme and against all odds, past practice and fate, I'm actually going to do this within a 24 hour time frame. Shocking, ain't it?

Well, it would have been.

The Rules: The rules are simple:  choose 10 favorite things beginning with a single letter of the alphabet and explain why you like them.  The only catch is that the letter is assigned to you by the person who wrote the post you’ve just read.

Uh oh. Let's see how quick I am to assign the letters.

My letter is T (because I am Terrific. Chartroose said so.)

T: Ten things? Geez. Hey! 1. Ten. 10.   Ten lil fingers That's one of ten. What's not to like about ten? Ten fingers to knit with, to turn pages, ten toes to count when ten fingers arent enough. Ten helps to scale unweighable options, as in on a scale of one to ten, a way to combat the homicide rate by counting to ten first, ranks everything from authors to hot guys to zoos in the Top Ten. Image taken from Lil Fingers Storybook Coloring site. 

Poem found at  The International Virtual Institute for Historical studies of Mathematics. 

Ode to the Numbers

by Pablo Neruda


Such thirst
to know how much!
Such hunger
to know
how many stars in the sky!

We pass
our infancies
counting stones, plants,
fingers, sand grains, teeth,
pass our youths counting
petals, hairs.
We count
the color and the years,
the lives and kisses,
in the fields, waves
in the sea. The ships
made ciphers which multiplied.
The numbers spawned.
The cities
were thousands, millions,
and the wheat came in hundreds
of units
each holding other integers
tinier than a single grain.
Time became a number.
Light became numbered
and however much it raced with sound
it had a velocity of 37.
Numbers surround us,
At night we would
lock the door, exhausted,
approaching 800;
having come to bed with us
in that sleep
the 4,000 and the 77
goaded our foreheads
with their wrenches and hammers.
The 5
would compound itself
until it entered the sea or the delirium
where the sun might greet it with steel
and we co racing
to the office,
the mill,
the factory,
to start fresh with the infinite
number 1 of each day.

Friend, we had the time
so our thirst could be satisfied,
the ancestral longing
to enumerate things
and total them,
reducing them
until rendering them dust,
dunes of numbers.
We are papering
the world
with figures and ciphers,
the things existed
nonetheless, fleeing
all tallies,
becoming dehydrated
by such quantities, leaving
their fragrance and memories,
and the empty numbers remained.

For that reason,
for you
I love the things.
The numbers
which go to jail,
in closed columns
until they give us the sum
for the whole of infinity.
For your sake I want
numbers of the way
to defend you
and you to defend them.
May your weekly wages increase
and grow chest-deep!
And out of the number 2 that binds
your body and your beloved wife's
emerge the matches eyes of your sons
to tally yet again
the ancient stars
and innumerable
spikes of wheat
which shall fulfill the transfigured earth.

(Trans. William Pitt Root) from NUMBERS AND FACES, Humanistic Mathematics Network Journal, Issue # 24, June 2001, pp. 23 - 25.


Tax-questions 2. Taxes.  I don't love paying taxes and I wish there was a dollar for dollar acounting for where exactly the tax dollars go but tax returns? Are fun. The deductions, the credits, there's a story behind how each one landed on your tax return and the little social tweaking that goes on.

3. Traffic: Techically I loathe and despise traffic. I've been known to go miles out of my way just to drive at a snail's pace so I don't SIT on the freeway. (Now if I was at a stop light, I'd probably pull out my knitting or a book. But on the freeway? I just fume.) But the last few months, there has been an eerie and somewhat terrifying dearth of traffic. Please tell me all those folks time shifted their work hours, moved out of state or are working from home, as opposed to, say, mass unemployment.  Pretty please?

Side note: Last night when driving out to Berkeley to meet up with Birdsong - who is as fabulous as you'd think, if not more so - check out the Triina she's knitting, that yarn is so soft. Also nupps are pronounced noops evidently just because Nancy Bush says so - there was plenty of traffic, particularly when I was on the frontage road by the Berkeley Marina with oncoming traffic on both sides of me. Yowza.  

4. Tuna: Technically Sheba was the one that loved tuna but I must include it. She loved Bumblebee water packed tuna the best. Actually she loved the juice the best, the rest of it I could toss.  TUNA Hezekiah has not really hopped on the Tuna Love train (although she'll eat it, if it's fresh.) What she really likes are my spinach souffles but those are S's, not T's.

Pine trees5. Trees. I LOVE trees. Look at my late lamented poor ghost pine trees. They were viciously attacked by pine beetles (who are currently working on the rest of the pine trees in the neighborhood -sob). To this day, the bluejay will occasionally hop around disconsolantly where his pine tree was and complain bitterly about its loss. We are in complete agreement.

There seems to be this dreadful conspiracy against trees lately. They're being lopped out of yards, shopping malls (the to better "see" the shops - any shop that felled trees, I don't frequent anymore). 

And, at times, I can't see the forest for the trees.

6. Tomatos. There is no more glorious food than a tomato freshly plucked from your garden.

7. Tomorrow. My favorite time to do something. Which is one reason why this post is so darn long.

8. Time. No time left for me! On my way to better things........What's not to love about time? I just wish they'd perfect Time Travel.

ElizabethR3 9. The Tudors. No list of T's would be complete without the Tudors. Now that's what I call a fun family. Glenda Jackson's Elizabeth R PBS miniseries began a fascination with British royalty.  Wow, Glenda Jackson is an MP now? And that series was shown in 1971? Huh.

10. Think. Think, think, think. What else starts with a "T"?

Miss T, of the Mystery House of Yarn & Horrors, who graciously awarded me with the  Kreativ Blogger Award.

I'd be happy to give out a letter to anyone who's interested! But I warn you, this is harder than it looks. Just me? That figures. :)