Sunday, November 30, 2008


Driving back to central Ohio from southern Indiana, I found myself finding license plates. "DAVE CRY," said one. Not long after I left a rest stop, I saw "BOLD ONE," on a Lexus that was anything but. And then, during a standstill south of the state capital, there was the sleek black car with a plate reading "TITHING." It was that one--since we were in a standstill, after all--that made me reach for my little notebook, made me scrawl before we restarted.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


Two things are simply to be expected during a winter visit to my parents' house. It's not easy leaving either behind when it's time to go back to my own home.

Friday, November 28, 2008

This slipping by of days.

And now, suddenly, I find myself at the end of the week, debating whether to head home tomorrow or Sunday, calculating how to get my work for this semester polished off in as timely a way as I can.

The dog, who can now only get up onto my bed if I lift all 38 pounds of her, wakes up momentarily in the blanket nest she worked ten minutes to build, looks at mea s if wondering what I'm still doing up, buries her head back in her gathered paws. "Why didn't you call her Frankendog on the blog?" my parents asked on the way home from dinner at the BBQ restaurant. The slits and sutures on her back make it look as though we had some kind of serious implant put into our dog. Like an upgrade, something that would let her regenerate her rear legs' muscle strength so that stair-climbing and bed-jumping would be easier.

For a being who's had my hand in her mouth three times today (administering an antibiotic that must taste fouler than foul), she's still mighty affectionate.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A harvest of all joys.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Back home now.

After I bought new tires for my old car, after I went out buying firewood and starter logs, I swung by the vet's office to see whether the dog was ready to come home. When one of the assistants brought her out to the waiting room, I was startled to see what they'd had to do to her this time around:

Our poor deaf puppy grows cysts and lumps and lipomas; this time, she was supposed to have a big dangly one removed from her chest, and instead she had two flat hard ones removed from her back. She might be too aged now to go under anesthetic again to have the chest lipoma removed, so she may just dangle it around for the long haul.

Now she sleeps soundly on the floor.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


This morning, I built a fire and sat beside it reading Elaine Scarry and then Oliver Sacks. And tomorrow, my deaf dog comes home from the spa; not long after she gets here, my brother will roll in from down south. I'll get some more auto repairs done. I'll buy some firewood. I'll make some pie crusts.

The pace is different here.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The final count.

When it was all said and done, my article--that same one I've been working on for much of the year--went back to its journal with 2389 fewer words than it had before. Thus endeth (for now) my negative word count.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Then we took the piano apart.

After dinner, once I'd arrived at my parents' house this evening, I tried out my old upright piano, just to see how many of its keys are out of tune. Only one was ferociously bad, bad enough that my father and I had the same impulse: open that thing up and see if we can figure out how to tune it. Within about fifteen minutes, we (by which I mean: his mechanical know-how and my ear) had gotten it close enough for me to serenade them before we all headed upstairs to bed. It's good to be the daughter.

(Oh yeah: it occurs to me that I should clarify that I'm not playing hooky from school. One of the best things about my employer is that we get a full week for Thanksgiving. I will fight hard if we ever start hearing about changes to this aspect of our calendar, because the week usually comes just in time, and goodness knows December is hard enough as it is.)

Saturday, November 22, 2008


In the early afternoon, I put more birdseed in the feeder and more suet in the suet-cage. Within minutes the nuthatches and juncos and woodpeckers were back in their flitting delight. There may be no simpler pleasures.

Now the sun sets its streaky way.

Friday, November 21, 2008


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Day in the life.

On the job means in the bed with a book, at the photocopier with a different book, on a table with the first book and with the photocopies and reading aloud and posing questions and making people laugh every once in awhile, in a chair in an auditorium trying to suppress a cough during a fellowship presentation, in a chair at the coffeeshop eating lunch forgetting about a meeting, in the office sending e-mails fielding questions taking phone calls counting submitted essays discussing cabinets locked and otherwise for a new building filing progress reports that threaten failure of my course if work is not submitted on time, at the piano learning how to count rhythms aloud while sight-reading, in the office thinking about a meeting, at the table for the meeting, in the living room reading a student thesis draft and a grad school proposal and a junior faculty research survey. And then contemplating bed, with another book. And blowing my stuffy nose and popping my ears all the long while.

As some of you know, one of my (and, if you know this, one of your) friends is very, and mysteriously, ill. This afternoon, he was due to go into hospital. Please keep your thoughts and/or prayers with him and his wee lovely family. They need us right now.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

My sunset view.

The evenings burn down cold now. And I hate that I can manage barely a caption these days--but I figure that more words will be at my disposal soon.

My sinuses scrape and scream against our temperatures' plummet. I cook kettles of water for their steam.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Spotted while coming and going.

I meant to show you this sign yesterday: when I arrived at the Syracuse airport on Friday, I laughed out loud at being so directed. They make it seem easy!

Monday, November 17, 2008


And so it came to pass that I returned to where I live.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Back of a stop sign, Utica, New York.

Sometimes, I don't know, either. I just bring it so that you can see it, too.

There were lovelier things today, but we're in the dark season here, and no one wants to startle a baby with a flash. And so what was lovely goes down in words only--the wide-faced wide-mouthed grins, the curling and cuddling, the pancakes and cider mill runs and bookstore jaunts, the crying and the various pains and the meanders.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


The thing I like best about this plant, he says as we walk to the car, I carrying the baby, he carrying his coffee, she following with the diaper bag and the car keys, is the way it catches the water. They all do it, but this one does it the best.

Later, we sling the baby and I carry her through the mall, her sleeping face buried under my arm, her left arm stuck straight up to clutch my shirt. Look, look, little children say to their mothers at the Gap. Look at the baby.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Flying, flown.

Sundown on the New York Turnpike, 5:43 p.m.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


When the visiting poet remarks that no one writes poems about teaching, your mind will jump, suddenly and inexplicably, to the incubator in which your kindergarten class sheltered chick and duckling eggs until the birds began to chip their ways out with their tiny beaks. And you will keep thinking about all that warmth, all those small births. All the turning of all those fragile eggs, and all the peeping that came next.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Little gatherer.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Sometimes, what you really need is right around the corner, with the friend who will buck you up, tell you how to get on with things, and even give you a pink ribbon and a piece of chocolate cake to help you with your writing.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Further proof.

You never know where or when you're going to see your most fun sight for the day. Some days I feel like the Little Wonder. Some days I need to feel even more like the Little Wonder. Today was one of the latter kind of days.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Do not.

Saturday, November 08, 2008


Such a plethora, all packed into this one sphere of bone.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Paled and shadowed.

The rainfall late this morning was only the beginning: this week was the one when--in addition to the true and humbling greatness of Tuesday night--all the shit everywhere hit any fan it could find. Two-thirds of the way through the semester, we find ourselves confronting the Big Questions, the ones that make my head and heart hurt. Is it possible to teach civility? do we tackle racism or sexism first? Can we tackle either on its own? Is it possible to tame the irrational and horrifying parts of human nature through strenuous exercise of reason? Are we allowed to pretend that we don't know there are great panting chasms on every side of where we tread--just so that we can get through a week? Will anything ever get better, truly better?

By the time I came home for dinner, I realized that the last place I wanted to be was alone in my own mess in the apartment, and so I headed next door to perch in my flaming-sworded friend's living room for a little while. It wasn't long before I was ready to eat my soup, practice my reading, and head off to perform my latest prose-piece-in-development for an audience of friends and fans. I am pleased beyond anything that working on it this week has allowed me to remember a detail I love from my childhood and that I return to every once in awhile: my father once told me that on a paisley tie, it's important that the paisleys touch--so that none of them will get lonely. Everything my father touched like that came to life then, and still does now.

Tonight I sit in my new desk chair: finally, the right kind of chair, for here in my home. It's time: the real work needs to get going now.

Thursday, November 06, 2008


Only later would she realize just how almost hallucinatorily strange the week had been.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


On my way to the office today, I passed a neighbor-colleague's house just as he was packing his children into the car for school. He was telling them a story, and his voice drifted down the driveway: "Yes we can! Yes we can!"

Moments later, I saw a turkey vulture with its wings fully outstretched. It perched in the very top of a leafless tree. Another vulture sat beside it, as if waiting. The vulture with its wings out seemed not to move. I peered into the sun, watching for any sign of life. The outstretched wings did not even tremble. The huddled vulture sat still. I imagined the last sweep of air, the last swoop toward the tree, and then a branch through the breastbone, an impalement. I did not take a picture.

But hours later, both birds were gone.

Everywhere here today, people were giddy, exhausted, quietly gleeful. The world runs on as it did yesterday, only more so.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


All day, I waited for 6 p.m.--the closing of the polls in Indiana--to arrive. All day, it was a weird almost-mantra: watch Indiana. If Indiana wavers, stays purple or shades blue, things might just turn out okay. My family has been in Indiana for a quarter century. On election days, our state closes first and is declared first, almost without fail.

Tonight, Indiana is still uncalled, even though one candidate has conceded and the other has begun to take charge with sobriety and grace. Things might just turn out okay.

Yes, we did. And yes, we will.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Not much else to say:

Sunday, November 02, 2008


When I took the EARS picture last night, I was leaving Lowe's with a pile of bird-feeding materials in my backseat. This afternoon, I took a break from grading to hang up said bird-feeding materials, so that when I sit at my red desk in the living room, this feeder is one focus of my attention. That tail you see belongs to one of the many tufted titmice that are apparently ecstatic to have had a whole new food source materialize in their neighborhood. Of course, I now realize that I may need to re-hang the feeder so that it's perpendicular to the window--or else I'll always catch this kind of glimpse--a feeder, with a tail hanging off the corner.

The moral of today's story: own your own drill, and learn how to use it.

After dark, the cows started to shout and call in the nearby pasture.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

All saints.

I am happy to say that a particular job-related project, on which I have been stalling in even more disturbingly childish fashion than I want to admit, is finally underway now and not nearly as grueling or awful as I made it out to be. Thus, things seem to be as ever they were.

But I am, in fact, a child--at least where signage is concerned. While I waited at the stoplight, as I headed home with my new birdfeeders and hanging hardware, I had time to snap a shot of my favorite sign burnout of late:

I think that it needs an exclamation point. EARS!