Monday, August 24, 2009

Porn for Wendell Berry

This is what I got in my inbox over the weekend. I feel like this might make Mr. Berry quite aroused.

Vegetable Love

by Barbara Crooker

Feel a tomato, heft its weight in your palm,
think of buttocks, breasts, this plump pulp.
And carrots, mud clinging to the root,
gold mined from the earth's tight purse.
And asparagus, that push their heads up,
rise to meet the returning sun,
and zucchini, green torpedoes
lurking in the Sargasso depths
of their raspy stalks and scratchy leaves.
And peppers, thick walls of cool jade, a green hush.
Secret caves. Sanctuary.
And beets, the dark blood of the earth.
And all the lettuces: bibb, flame, oak leaf, butter-
crunch, black-seeded Simpson, chicory, cos.
Elizabethan ruffs, crisp verbiage.
And spinach, the dark green
of northern forests, savoyed, ruffled,
hidden folds and clefts.
And basil, sweet basil, nuzzled
by fumbling bees drunk on the sun.
And cucumbers, crisp, cool white ice
in the heart of August, month of fire.
And peas in their delicate slippers,
little green boats, a string of beads,
repeating, repeating.
And sunflowers, nodding at night,
then rising to shout hallelujah! at noon.

All over the garden, the whisper of leaves
passing secrets and gossip, making assignations.
All of the vegetables bask in the sun,
languorous as lizards.
Quick, before the frost puts out
its green light, praise these vegetables,
earth's voluptuaries,
praise what comes from the dirt.

"Vegetable Love" by Barbara Crooker, from Radiance. © Word Press, 2005. Reprinted without permission.

Rule: Do these things. And then film yourself eating the vegetables. Then send copies to me.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


I was looking at vintage rings on etsy (no I was not leaving hints for my boyfriend), and admiring the craftsmanship and beauty of yesteryear. Today, lots of our jewelry is described as "architectural," "modern," and "sleek," where before they just wanted flowers made out of gems on their hands.

From Etsy, seller thesecretKohola

Seriously, look at that frickin' thing. Beautiful. As I was looking at them, I was wondering why I was looking at them, and why, even though some pieces were very reasonably priced, I wasn't inclined to buy most of them (I hungered after this one for a while).

I realized that almost all of the objects I own don't have any meaning attached to them. The few gifts I've received from previous boyfriends were nice, but rarely did any of them have a story. Those that did, ended up staying with me. My parents never gave my any physical objects of significant meaning, other than my car (read: escape from anything, guaranteed [add unconscious question mark]). I feel that maybe this is because I have lost any semblance of a real connection to them since I was a little kid. Many of my friends have family heirlooms, and I won't deny there is a bit of jealousy when I think of those objects, hallowed by time and inheritance, made into a passive participant and observer of the lives and stories of each new owner.

Looking at these vintage objects, I feel like I'd be borrowing other peoples' stories, that I would be putting them on my body, wearing them, sweating on them, using them, cooking them. Is that false? Or is it just adding another dimension to the overall tale of the object? I wonder if it varies between types of objects. Inherited engagement rings mean one thing, does an inherited set of turntables mean something different? Things pass from one person to another through friendship, bloodlines, love, necessity, birth, sale... One man's trash is another man's treasure. When he is done treasuring it, and gives it to someone else, what is the cumulative value of the object? Is it trash, or treasure? What about good luck charms? Do they really work passed on from person to person? Or is there one good luck charm meant for one person?

What happens to buried objects? Objects that never pass to another living being other than the worms and the insects? They live their own quiet life, dispersing into the world. Do they still have a value? Are they valued by the bugs?

I want to leave a legacy. I want to start an heirloom. What if I pass stuff on and tack on false stories? Stories that never happened? If I buy a beautiful necklace and tell a friend of mine my grandmother gave it to me, and I have always treasured it, and that I want her to have it, will there be some menacing green aura of lies surrounding it? Will it be a bad luck charm, something that haunts the person with confused dreams of an imaginary heritage?

But maybe if whoever I pass my object along to would understand that my purchase of it was simply to celebrate it's beauty, or perhaps to attach my own story and emotion to it in passing, like a Tibetan prayer flag (perhaps a presumptuous simile), spreading its blessing to the next person willing to receive it. I think also the passing from hand to hand, the muttering of awkward and heartfelt words, the stress of importance or meaning, the giving and taking are an act of consecration in themselves.

Rule: Identify an object that has significant meaning to you. Alternately, imbue an object with significant meaning.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

And now, a brief word about self-created holidays

I'm feeling very romantic at the moment, so forgive me. My feelings come at a strange time, seeing as how the boyfriend is away on a vacation without me (all-guy nerding out annual beach retreat).

Tonight those with a clear view of the night sky will be able to participate in seeing the Perseid meteor shower. To quote Wikipedia (because who quotes other encyclopedias while writing a blog?), "Meteor showers occur when Earth moves through a meteor stream. The stream in this case is called the Perseid cloud and it stretches along the orbit of the Comet Swift-Tuttle."

Lots of things are going to hurtle through our atmosphere and be face-meltingly hot. We will see tiny, bright streaks across the sky for brief moments after minutes of searching. People will point, make wishes, talk about Perseus, eat a sandwich, drink cold drinks, talk about Swift-Tuttle, make oohing noises, hold hands, look through telescopes, fart to disrupt the peace of star-gazing, forget there's a meteor shower, ignore the meteor shower, or be mad there's too much ambient light to see the shower properly.

A few years ago, I lay on the ground with aforementioned boyfriend, pre-relationship, and watched in the muted, buzzing dark with some of my closest friends. I lay there completely immobile as I felt every hair on my arm bristle and burn while lying there next to him, so close, but not touching. The earth was still and hot where we were, but debris was whooshing through the sky, making shining gashes. Turmoil and stillness on the terrestrial and celestial planes. The tall, prairie grass made a living, waving window.

But to my real point. Our anniversary (which non-married couples usually count as when they first started dating) is in October. We celebrate it happily and dutifully. But I was considering tonight as I'm awaiting this year's Perseids, why we celebrate it then. It's self-created and rather arbitrary. We have both discussed those infamous Perseids and how we felt about each other at the time (answer: mutual). Why not change it to the Perseids shower every year? Why not reflect on and rejoice the passion in our relationship when it crackled and compressed first so intensely under a romantic, flaring sky?

Whoosh, whoosh... wish, wish... hush, hush...

That was what the Perseids were and that is how and when I would like to celebrate each year.

Rule: Re-examine self-created holidays. Ancillary: Make them real holidays.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Do what the Axe-Man says and nobody will get hurt

"Esteemed Mortal:

They have never caught me and they never will. They have never seen me, for I am invisible, even as the ether that surrounds your earth. I am not a human being, but a spirit and a fell demon from the hottest hell. I am what you Orleanians and your foolish police call the Axeman. When I see fit, I shall come again and claim other victims. I alone know who they shall be. I shall leave no clue except my bloody axe, besmeared with the blood and brains of him whom I have sent below to keep me company.
If you wish you may tell the police not to rile me. Of course I am a reasonable spirit. I take no offense at the way they have conducted their investigation in the past. In fact, they have been so utterly stupid as to amuse not only me but His Satanic Majesty, Francis Josef, etc. But tell them to beware. Let them not try to discover what I am, for it were better that they were never born than to incur the wrath of the Axeman. I don't think there is any need of such a warning, for I feel sure the police will always dodge me, as they have in the past. They are wise and know how to keep away from all harm.

Undoubtedly, you Orleanians think of me as a most horrible murderer, which I am, but I could be much worse if I wanted to. If I wished, I could pay a visit to your city every night. At will I could slay thousands of your best citizens, for I am in close relationship to the Angel of Death. Now, to be exact, at 12:15 (earthly time) on next Tuesday night, I am going to visit New Orleans again. In my infinite mercy, I am going to make a proposition to you people. Here it is: I am very fond of jazz music, and I swear by all the devils in the nether regions that every person shall be spared in whose home a jazz band is in full swing at the time I have mentioned. If everyone has a jazz band going, well, then, so much the better for you people. One thing is certain and that is that some of those people who do not jazz it on Tuesday night (if there be any) will get the axe.

Well, as I am cold and crave the warmth of my native Tartarus, and as it is about time that I leave your earthly home, I will cease my discourse. Hoping that thou wilt publish this, and that it may go well with thee, I have been, am and will be the worst spirit that ever existed either in fact or realm of fantasy.
The Axeman"

- A letter printed by the Times-Picayune on March 14th, 1919

I trust you can infer the rule on your own. Posts of my own creation will come soon when I am not jazzing it.