Archive for September, 2003


Having an unfortunate penchant for whimsical hats, I couldn’t resist snapping up a whimsical, albeit ultimately ridiculous hat while in Canada . . . all silly and red, and shaped like a Maple leaf. Did I mention that it’s utterly, mortifyingly, and ludicrously ridiculous? The thing of it is, though, I also discovered, while in Canada, that this ridiculous hat possesses heretofore unknown and unsuspected special properties, thus rendering it a Good Luck Writing Hat. And now if I’m having difficulty writing, I must make absolutely sure to wear aforementioned hat in order to get out of said writerly pickle. In fact, I’ve found that it’s really not a bad idea at all to simply put on the Good Luck Writing Hat and keep it on my head at all times while working. (I do, however, need to start making sure to take off the hat prior to leaving my house in future, I’m thinking.) I have a bit of a conundrum on my hands, however. Having made the felicitous discovery of the special properties of the Good Luck Writing Hat before I had the opportunity to snip the hook, tag, and price tag off the top, I am now concerned that if I were to snip off the tags, I might inadvertently damage (or, worse yet, remove in toto) the efficaciousness of the hat. And it seems a bit dicey, if not downright disastrous, to to run the risk of ruining a perfectly good Good Luck Writing Hat. On the other hand, the tags are somewhat annoying, and weigh down the top point of the maple leaf . . . thus, arguably, perhaps even interfering with peak performance of the Good Luck Writing Hat! So . . . do I snip? Or . . . should the Good Luck Writing Hat remain intact?

Pics of the Day: Coulees at Popson Park – Lethbridge, Alberta; Deer (just casually sitting on the front lawn of the warden’s house) – Waterton, Alberta; and Dragonfly – Coalhurst, Alberta

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Heh. Hey, check this out! I’m just a total Dancing Fool!! (Just click on the GO button in the little pop-up browser window to load. And thanks to Friday Fishwrap for the link.) Don’t you want to be dancing too? You know you wanna . . .

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On Learning Of My Upcoming Trip To Canada Over The Summer:

JM: Why you go there? Good grief! Such crazy thing doing! You be careful! I don’t know why have to go here, go there, all time . . . spend money like drunken sailor!

AH: I’m visiting an old friend from graduate school, and I’m going to see the Canadian Rockies. It’s going to be nice.

JM: [Suspiciously] What friend from graduate school?

AH: B.

JM: B.?

AH: Yeah . . . B.

JM: [As if suddenly struck by the realization that she could have had a V-8] Oh . . . B! What B. doing now?

AH: She teaches music at the University of Lethbridge.

JM: Is she own her own home?

AH: Um . . . not that it’s apropos of anything, but . . . er, yeah, as a matter of fact, she does.

JM: Well, at least she have good job and can take care of self. [Clearly unwilling to lose the slightest opportunity to stick it to me by broadly implying that I, on the other hand, unlike E. and P. (and now B.) who DO own their own homes, am a total loser by comparison.] Where that close to, so I know where you are?

AH: I’ll be a couple hours away from Calgary.

JM: Oh, Cowl-galley! [wistfully] I never been someplace nice like Cowl-galley before. I can’t afford. You better take pictures so I can see what Cowl-galley look like.

AH: Okay, sure.

JM: But I so worry about you flying anyplace! I saw on news that people been rob by pickpocket! Gang of pickpocket loose! All back and forth to Florida and back. Gypsy pickpocket! Gang of Irish gypsy pickpocket! I wish you not have to go anywhere right now when there gang of Irish gypsy pickpocket about to rob you!

Regarding Gay Marriage in Canada:

JM: So you been stay in Canada with your friend B. So how about B.’s friend T.? Didn’t B. used to have a friend, T.? [Having reminisced about my friends from graduate school, my mother had clearly had an Ack! Lesbians! epiphany during the interim.]

AH: Yeah, that’s right . . . she did.

JM: [Thinking she’s being all wily and crafty and shit.] So where T. now? You been staying with B. and T. while there?

AH: Uh . . . no. B. and T. broke up about seven years ago. T. got married.

JM: [Unable to resist what sounds like juicy gossip.] T. get marry?!?!

AH: Yeah . . . she married a girl.

JM: Oh my God! Such crazy thing! Is that what you going to do? I know you up to something fishy when you calling home to get state issue birth certificate! Why you need state issue birth certificate to cross border when you have original hospital birth certificate? Such crazy! I know you been up to something!

AH: Uh, no . . . since 9/11, the border-crossing rules have changed, and now they require a state-issued birth certificate and driver’s license or a passport. Since my passport’s expired and I didn’t have time to renew it, I needed a state-issued birth certificate. Geez . . . I can’t believe you think I’m getting married!

JM: [Suspiciously] So . . . who B.’s girlfriend now, since T. get married someone else?

AH: [Perhaps a bit TOO gleefully] Me . . . I’m her girlfriend!

JM: Yo-ne! Stupid!! Don’t be ridiculous!! Here . . . talk to your father.

[Editorial Note: Apparently my mother is not at all entirely convinced that I didn’t get married while in Canada. For someone who eloped with a “Yankee” in post-war Japan, she doesn’t seem to see the irony of being completely paranoid over the idea of having her daughter elope with a Canadian Dyke.]

Because Canada Is So Dangerous And Unwholesome:

JM: Oh . . . thank goodness! Your father and I so happy you finally home safe! We been so worry and worry you going to get Mad Cow Disease, or SARS, or West Nile Virus. Although you make sure don’t go anywhere now you home because everybody dying from West Nile Virus in South Dakota. So wear long sleeve, and use lots of DEET, and if anybody ask you go anywhere in evening, make sure you just say no.

AH: Uh . . . right.

JM: Now you finally get work done. I so worry you not writing, and you have to make good report to artist foundation otherwise you get kick out!

AH: Actually, I got a lot of writing done in Canada.

JM: Don’t be crazy! I know all about you . . . you too stupid and unorganize!

AH: [Defensively] Whatever.

JM: I just so happy you safe at home finally. Your father and I been so worry . . . we get that strange phone call [I had to cash a check while in Canada, and they called up my references, apparently] and they want to know if you in Canada and if you have tattoo on your face, and they say you standing right there, but I don’t know why you don’t even want to talk to us . . . such make us worry, instead! And your father and I don’t sleep for two whole day because we decide you did something fishy at border crossing and been detain at border and can’t get out, and all your fault, and nothing we can do about it! Your father and I getting old, and maybe we going die soon, so you not make us worry again like that. Okay?

Pics of the Day: Mountain Goat, at Waterton National Park, Alberta, Canada; Red Rock Canyon, in Waterton National Park, Alberta, Canada; and Blackiston Falls, in Waterton National Park, Alberta, Canada.

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I have spent the last week absolutely freaking obsessed with reorganizing, refurbishing, and redecorating my apartment. I have been in major feathernesting mode . . . I pulled out every single one of my closets, cupboards, and drawers and reorganized them completely . . . yanking out junk and setting up user-friendly systems that are more in line with my current work and domestic habits. I bought various new small kitchen appliances and cooking tools, revised color schemes, put together a couple pieces of new furniture, and scrubbed and cleaned the entire apartment down from top to bottom. In other words, there has been a veritable flurry of compulsive domestic activity . . . like I said, it’s as if I’ve developed a case of Tourette’s Syndrome, with Martha Stewart tics. The thing of it is, I always feel compelled to engage in hardcore nesting activities at the start of entering into a period of concentrated writing activity . . . say, for example, at the start of the summer. I do most of my work at home, and it helps me immensely if my space feels pleasant and orderly . . . plus, okay, I have obsessive compulsive disorder, and I fully admit to being more easily distracted/overwhelmed/offended/enraged by small, weird details in my environment than most people. So yes . . there is that to contend with as well. Although it’s weird . . . I seem to vacillate between states of domestic obsession and domestic sluttiness, and it’s frequently one or the other, without much in the way of a happy medium. I like my new space, though . . . and now I can turn my full attention to writing again without annoying environmental distractions.

Tonight I’m just relaxing and enjoying things . . . looking over my notes and research a bit, the clink and thump of laundry tumbling around in the dryer in the basement, watching episodes of Buffy. There’s a Tulip Yankee Candle burning, hypnotic groove of the Beta Band playing in the background, and in the kitchen, a pork roast with balsamic-glazed vegetables is slowly simmering its way to deliciousness in the crockpot. (Granted, due to a miscalculatedly late start, all of this crockpotty goodness won’t actually be ready to eat until about 2:00 in the morning . . . but that’s a minor, persnickety detail, right?)

Last night I had my friends S. and C. over for a cheesecake party . . . due to my obsessive nesting, I hadn’t seen much of them since I returned to the country from my extended interlude with The Canadian Dyke. I was actually able to find some marvelous fresh blackberries at the grocery store, and so I made the cheesecake with blackberries, which is how I like it best. It’s a nice sort of a summery cheesecake . . . a bit lighter, with ricotta, sour cream, lemon zest, eggs. sugar, and cream cheese . . . and blackberries of course. The best part, though, is the crust, which is made out of slivered bits of almonds and plain English tea biscuits (I was able to find a package of Peak Freens Arrowroot Biscuits (Product of Canada!) which worked out very well.) It makes for a very elegant sort of a cheesecake crust.

At any rate, the cheesecake turned out well, which is crucial if one is going to throw a cheesecake party, and furthermore, one of the highlights of the evening was that C. had found a snakeskin in her garden and had brought it over in her pocket. She brought it out to show me, and I made such appreciative oohing and aahing noises that she gave it to me, which made me exceedingly happy!! It made me think of the Elizabeth Bishop poem, “Santarem” . . . in the last paragraph, the speaker/Bishop, who is traveling in South America, recounts:

In the blue pharmacy the pharmacist

had hung an empty wasps’ nest from a shelf:

small, exquisite, clean matte white,

and hard as stucco. I admired it

so much he gave it to me.

Then — my ship’s whistle blew. I coudn’t stay.

Back on board, a fellow-passenger, Mr. Swan,

Dutch, the retiring head of Philips Electric,

really a very nice old man,

who wanted to see the Amazon before he died,

asked, “What’s that ugly thing?”

Pics of the Day: The (New and Improved) Lair of the Artichoke Heart

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On Tuesday I drove across the entire width of the state of Montana, and down the length of the entire state of North Dakota. On Wednesday, I drove across the entire width of the state of North Dakota, and then down the length of the entire state of South Dakota. For the record, these big square states are, most definitively, exceedingly big . . . and square.

All the way through Montana the bright blue skies were filled to bursting with a dizzying array of every type of cloud imaginable. It was like a grade-school biology quiz: nimbus, cumulus, cirrus, and the heavy-bellied thunderheads. And going down through the Theodore Roosevelt State Park, the North Dakota badlands, at night, I came over a rise and down into the place where you see the amazing rock formations for the first time traveling south on Highway 85. Deer moved in swift shadows, like whispered rumors, along the side of the road. The formations looked mysterious, like a lunar landscape, in the dark, and as I descended into the crater-like valley, the wind-carved rocks rose in strange shapes around me and suddenly the moon, almost full, came into view like a huge, hot, incandescent apricot. It sucked all the air out of my lungs as it pulsed there among the rock formations in the velvety black sky and left me breathless.

Pics of the Day: Theodore Roosevelt State Park – North Dakota Badlands, and Canadian Geese Sculpture on the Enchanted Highway – North Dakota, and finally Trapper Kettle Motel and Restaurant – Belfield, North Dakota (where I spent the night)

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I’m the daily featured poet today over at Poetry Daily!

Click below, if you’d like to take a peek:

Girl With A Bowl On Her Head

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Long, echoing halloos out there to the blogosphere . . . it has been way, way too long since I last updated my blog, and since I took my somewhat unintentional summer hiatus! I have been heavily invested in real life for awhile, though, which has been good . . . including finalizing my teaching duties prior to my year off for writing, several immense road trips, international romance (and a rather horrifying phone-bill debacle) with the Canadian Dyke, and a more, er . . . probing . . . exploration of the charms of Southern Alberta. Hee.

I’ve missed the blogging, though. A lot. I did some wondering and worrying, admittedly, last year, about whether or not the blogging was crowding out the “real” writing, or acting as a dilution/distraction/deterrent to the “real” writing, and where/how did the blogging fit into the scheme of things as far as the “real” writing went anyways? (Etc. etc.) I’ve been doing a lot of this so-called “real” writing over the last month, though, and I think I have a better idea now of where my blog fits into the scheme of things, and in fact it’s proven to be immensely useful. I’m so glad I was doing it, and I think I definitely need to do it some more!!

It’s strange to think that exactly one year ago today, I posted my first blog entry. I had no idea how engaging, fascinating, or intricate this whole foray into the blogosphere would become! So, it seems fitting to end the (largely unintentional) blogging hiatus on my blog-a-versary. I am very curious to see what this next year will bring.

At the moment, I’m writing from Lethbridge, Alberta, where I’ve been temporarily shacking up with the Canadian Dyke. It’s been really, really nice . . . and I’ve sort of been pretending that I’m an expatriate writer . . . like Elizabeth Bishop in Brazil and all . . . but it’s also about time for me to go home for awhile. So in a few more days here I’ll be loading up the Jeep and heading back to South Dakota again. I feel rather melancholy about ending the endless summer and going home, but I miss my cats and I miss my friends.

In the meantime, I hope all of you are well out there in the blogosphere . . . I’ve missed reading your blogs, and I hope to do more popping in to see what all of you are up to during the next few weeks or so!

Pic of the Day: Prince of Wales Hotel, in Waterton, Alberta

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