Remember that time when you wanted to do a Big Something, but you were scared shitless, and so you didn’t do it? And then for a really long time after, you sat around and said things like, “Man, I wish there were more poetry videos that weren’t just performance selfies. You could do so much more with the medium,” or, “Someone really should run a poetry film festival in this town. I bet some really amazing work could come out of that.” And your friends hung out with you while you said stuff like that, and they nodded their heads, knowing that, in spite of your idea being a really cool Big Something, you’d never actually get off your ass and make it happen, because you were afraid. Remember that?

Oh, yeh – that was me.

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Hello, hello! I am arrived home from NPS 2013. Dearest Will and I spent two days (that’s what we could afford for hotel) out in Cambridge. This was a huge decision, not just because it was expensive monetarily, but because it’s expensive emotionally – I’m anxious in cities and always afraid of getting lost or left behind, bars freak me out (and both our bouts were in bars), and slam judges frequently disappoint me. But it turned out to be a good couple days, in spite of the judges and the traffic and the booze

Favorite frames from the last couple days:

Karen G hugs. Omg, Karen G hugs when she arrived at our hotel room.

The Tribute reading: Weeping silently through the whole thing. Matt Richards reading for Ken Hunt. Talking with Gerry Hardesty about Brenda Moossy. Bill realizing that he was wearing Jack’s socks.

The tiny tiny rabbit in the courtyard eating grass as three of us tried for photographs – and then Dearest Will  pointed at Liz’ tattoo for Gabrielle, and we all gasped.

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Ok, so can we talk about Mystery Gardening?

It happens almost every year: at some point in March, Man Cub & I take over the kitchen table with packets of seeds, dixie cups and any seedling trays we happen to have, and a big bag of potting soil. We fill the cups and trays and stick the seeds in the dirt. Invariably we wind up both planting the same seeds in different ends of the trays. We have full intention to label what we stick in the dirt – it’s just that that doesn’t really ever, well, happen.

What does happen is that we shrug and tell each other that once everything sprouts, we’ll be able to tell a tomato from a cucumber and a melon from a pepper, and then we cover it all with plastic and stick it in the window and wait.

And we can, in fact, tell a cucumber sprout from a tomato sprout and a pepper sprout from a melon sprout – that’s no problem. On the other hand, telling cucumbers from melons from zucchini is a little bit harder. Also, tomatoes and peppers require a few extra days to tell apart. But, fuck it, it all has to end up in the ground anyway, so as soon as the garden is ready, in it all goes. About three weeks later, the real fun begins, when we realize that there are at least two patches that are complete mysteries, surprise! there are jalapenos  among the bells, and we may or may not have planted watermelons, but we have no idea what seeds we planted, because we threw out the packets when they were empty, so it might be pumpkins? Lol, whoops.

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Oh, vacation. As of 3 o’clock yesterday, both Will Dearest and I are on vacation for a week! To celebrate, after work yesterday we grabbed some grocery store lobsters (they’ll cook them for you – joy!) and I steamed up the corn from the farmers market*, and we had a family picnic on the living room floor – which was truly lovely.

While I’m wrapping my head around the idea of a week without waking at six and going in to work, the smallest cat is laying on top of a handled bag from Old Sturbridge Village. He has killed it two tiemz, even tho’ he was frightened of it when it first arrived because it smelled strongly of fudge. I’m impressed with his fortitude and bravery. I am planning to channel his osm spirit in the coming days.

I have some plans for the week: I’m thinking about taking everything out of the sun room and reorganizing it. We are going to paint Man Cub’s room at some point. He and Dearest Will have already taken advantage of the weekend and the good weather to build a (gorgeous!) fire pit in the yard, and we are all eagerly awaiting the cement’s curing to test drive it. I would very much like to get back into my yoga practice, which has derailed over the last month because of Busy. I want to pick up some big pots and some soil, and replant the english ivy that’s looking droopy. I’m looking forward to sleeping in a few days this week.

But first, I got things to do. We have a 2 o’clock slam practice that we’re looking at ending around six tonight. We have a slam team send-off tonight, as they’re to Boston for Poetry Slam Nationals on Tuesday, another practice tomorrow night, and laundry and sundried other odds and ends to handle before we all depart.** Also, I have to order oil and pay the bills sometime today. So I think after Thursday, it will be about really digging into the move-stuff-around-in-the-house business. And going to the movies with Man Cub. I’m looking forward to it, just bringing the focus back home for a little bit.

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So! Our Man Cub is back from the wilds of Florida, at last! I was thinking that while he was away, visiting with the grands for a week, that, having the whole desk to myself (we share a desk, yanno), I would be able to get lots of things done,* right? I was going to take advantage of quiet space and lack of distraction,** and Do Work. But that didn’t happen. I mostly missed the Cub, worked a bunch of hours at the museum, and came home to watch a bunch of Warehouse 13 episodes on Netflix. In the dark, because it was too hot to have the lights on.*** While eating carryout.

Over the week I did, tho get to some stuff! For one thing, Dearest Will and I got to take in the Zentangle exhibit in Whitinsville  on Friday at the Spaulding R. Aldrich Heritage Gallery in the front offices of Alternatives Unlimited. Which was a wonderful after-work date. We came home with the book from the show (all proceeds from book sales go back to Alternatives Unlimited, to boot), and tons of inspiration.

Also, I finally got around to trying out gelatin prints! I’ve been fascinated with this form since running across Linda Germain’s site† a few months ago, and dearly wanting to try it out. And so I did. So here’s how it went in my kitchen -

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Guest blogger today! I am so very pleased, dear reader, to introduce you to one of my favorite people in the whole world, Suzi Banks Baum. Suzi is a fantastic collage artist and half of the Femail  duo, and blogs up a hella good storm over at Laundry Line Divine, She is also the driving force behind the great new book, An Anthology of Babes: 36 Women Give Motherhood a Voice – which just had its Amazon release. Read on here to find out the backstory to the anthology.

What Was I Thinking?

by Suzi Banks Baum

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy
and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity.
To put our art, our writing, our photographs, our ideas out into the world with no assurance of acceptance or appreciation-that’s also vulnerability.”
—Brené Brown Daring Greatly

Vulnerable is exactly how I felt when I invited 35 women to jump into the freezing cold waters of public opinion and share themselves and their perspectives on living lives pumped full with creativity in Anthology of Babes: 36 Women Give Motherhood a Voice. At that point I knew wanted to put my words and images out in to the world, but publishing a book? Being that public terrified me. So, I figured I’d rather have some co-conspirators.

Years before, I had started writing my own stories about how I spent my days as a mother, what caught my attention internally, and how I righted the boat of my serenity over and over again with small creative acts. I wrote never thinking anyone but a few close friends would read these stories. I was just writing. But in April 2009, I dared to title the writing Laundry Line Divine: A Wild Soul Book for Mothers. At a writing conference, I spoke to a literary agent about the work, wondering if there was interest in the world beyond my sphere for a book about how I raised myself as I raised my children. (Please note elevator pitch in the last sentence. “Can I describe my book in 10 words or less?”)

Standing before a literary agent is much like any other moment in life when you are Dorothy at the feet of the Wizard. “Is there anything in your bag for me?” “Could there be another human aside from my best friends who might be interested in my writing?” Standing there, knees clattering (and go ahead, tell me I was supposed to own my brilliance, stand for all mothers, flirt with the agent, shine shine shine), palms slick with sweat, lips dry, eyes blurring, I learned I was to go home and build my author platform. “Come back when you’ve built that,” said the agent.

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(x-posted to the Poets Asylum)

And they’re beautiful! Check out these babies -

We’ll be selling them at the Sunday reading (you know about the Poets Asylum reading, right? ‘Cos it’s been around for, like, 14 years, and if you haven’t been, you should totally come check it out) starting this weekend. If you’re out of town and would like one (or two, or three, or five, or ten), you can order one from the Doublebunny Press store – we’ll mail it right to your mailbox.

4″ round, vinyl, $3 each (+shipping and handling for mailing, natch), with all profits going to defray hotel and registration costs  associated with getting the 2013 Worcester Slam team to NPS in August. And it almost goes without saying that one of these will totally fancy up whatever you put it on.

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Ok, so! Let me tell you what I was super secret squirrel about last week – I made a Thing!

Here’s the scoop – over the last year, Dearest Will & I have been doing yoga together, and both of us have been interested in learning to meditate. It’s been nice that the gentle yoga practice that we do together* has some guided meditation at the end, but we’ve both wanted something more. We tried a yoga nidra cd. We tried some chanting stuff with Deva Primal.** A little flirting with it, right?

And then enter the panic attacks.*** Poor Dearest Will started having them at the end of last year, and has been working with a therapist around that stuff, to some really great success.  A couple months ago, she suggested to him that he should try meditation. Osm, right? She sent him home with some YouTube links, and a mission.

After some browsing the YouTube clips, hilarity ensued, as well as some aggravation on my part – why, for the love of Pete, do meditations always take place on the freaking beach? I find the beach to be one of the most stressful places I can possibly imagine – the heat, the garbage strewn all over the place, the reek of suntan lotion and stale beer, crowds, sand that follows you home and gets into everything you own. Lawdamercy, why??

So I ranted, Will giggled at me ranting, we discussed at length guided meditation clips and what we would both actually want from one. Being a skittery animal  myself,  I held that any good guided meditation should start with, Shh – it’s alright now.

So, in secret, I set to work. I wrote a script. I edited it. I read it out loud to myself and scrapped it. I started again. And again. And a third time, until I got it close to where I wanted it.

Then I emailed my friend Steve. This guy changed my life in 1990, when he handed me a cassette tape with Surfer Rosa  on one side, and Goo on the other side – omogod, blissful noise! Seriously, I had No. Idea.† Anyway – Steve’s still making Good Noise these days, and with that in mind, I asked him if he could do 8 minutes of ambient music suitable for meditation.††

Steve sent me the track he came up with, pointed me in the direction of good (and free to evaluate) mixing software, complete with notes on how to cut and paste pieces and fix volume, and I got the hell on it.

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Ok, so I’ve been awol for a couple weeks, right? Here’s the scoop (anti-scoop, maybe?) -  I’m working on a project that I can’t talk about just yet (it will be revealed over the weekend, and then I can talk about it), and it’s just killing me. I’ve actually been picking away at this for about a month now (ok, almost two months), and it’s all I want to talk about, but I can’t, so instead I haven’t been talking about much of anything. Except the day-to-day business of being around here, natch, and that doesn’t feel really blogworthy. But then I realized that, indeed, things are happening. So let me tell you about things that are happening (that I can talk about)!

I made them a fanceh logo!Let’s start with the part where I got adopted by a slam team. Nono, I didn’t make it onto a slam team.* The 2013 Worcester Slam Team asked me to be their coach, and I couldn’t be more honored to work with such an osm group of poets. Watching them come together with their writing has been really great. Also, I would love these people, even if they weren’t writing super poems – they’re just really great people, and I love being in their presence. I feel a little gifted, really – two of them are housemates, and three of them are the ladies with whom I meet to write on Monday nights. It’s been lovely to reconnect to the slam while not having to actually compete – totally fun!

And I’ve been working on a scarf thing. So I saw this really sweet scarf on Pinterest, right? All made up of tiny little crocheted hexagons – so dainty! So pretty! And I was hoping for instructions at the pin’s website, but alas, it’s a picture of something that a blogger had just purchased. And I don’t know how to make hexagons. So I started to dig around to learn how to make hexagons, but in the middle of researching** I had this (somewhat related) idea that I could make a scarf from different sized circles.

And, whoa – surprise! This has been the Most Relaxing Thing Evar. See, I have issues with relaxing, across the board. I always feel like I should be doing something.*** And having something to do with my hands while Screwing Off On Purpose (what most people call Relaxing), calms that business down like no other thing. Guilty pleasure admission: I love to watch teevee and do needlework. So I’m making this scarf, and all of yesterday was spent in front of Hulu, watching episodes of comfortable junk-food teevee like Merlin, and crocheting circles. I’m about half way to Scarf, and plan on showing it off like whoa when it’s all done.

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My latest fixation right now is about throwing out less stuff. Part of it is guilt, straight up.* Part of it has to do with seeing what I can do with things that grow . Part of it is about sheer craftiness, seeing what I can re-use or repurpose in kickass ways. Part of it is thriftiness (see also: the brown banana in my freezer, awaiting three like comrades).

This afternoon I turned a decadent little trick with the two dwarves, Guilty and Thrifty,** and just had to share my victory with you.

Dearest Will generally overestimates my morning coffee consumption. We’re both big fans of coffee, but while he’s a guzzler, I’m more of a sipper.*** And he’s sweet and kind, and he makes a fresh pot for us just before we leave for work, topping off our go-cups for the road. But my cup never needs more than an inch or two, so there’s always some left in the pot as we’re about to leave the house – the last 2 cups or so in the carafe, not enough to fill another go-cup, but what feels like too much to throw out.

So yesterday, in anticipation of the heat wave, I stuck it in a container in the fridge. Then this morning I poured in the leftovers again. This afternoon we came home to a roasty house,† I poured the coffee over ice into big mugs, added some sugar and some milk, and whoa, Fanceh Coffees \o/††

todays

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