something about sequinning

how could i forget
the eight-minute-abs moment (was it yesterday?)
after mica and i pushing through the sequence then resting
on my back on my mat on the floor
and the song that follows the abs track is
one by antony and the johnson’s i’ve never heard before
and the sweet sad feeling that rose up
and the surprise of welling of tiny tears

woke up sweating i say sipping earl gray with meadowfoam honey
over a mini plate of mini pancakes
one savory, one sweet
(sweet: peanut butter plus maple syrup
savory: red pepper spread plus tiny bits of pepperjack)
went to bed still sweating from the water polo
and i feel like i didn’t stop all night


slipping tomato seeds out of cut open halves
in the side yard at a picnic table in the shade
temperature and humidity rising around us
sometimes interrupted by the shock of
ice cold sips of water from a small silver thermos
we discuss spin the bottle and
stripping in new orleans

a mouse battles a peacock
something about sequinning
something about a swagger
something about embodiment or a lack thereof


emory and i up in the white pine playing tree-sit
we should decorate it
so that the loggers won’t want to take it down
he says
so we hang gigantic leaves he plucks from below on the branches
and i weave some grass up in the twiggy branches near me
we need food he says
and runs to grab a bag of snacks
which i store on the ‘shelf’
(a few branches close together that will hold the bag in place)just yell if the loggers come he says
on his way down to the privvy

later i scrape at the sap near my knees
(how it does that thing it always does:
gathers dirt to its sticky self)
knowing this uselessness
and also, half-proud
carrying the wind-sway of the trunk with me long after i have descended
(perhaps something like half-covering up a hickey
but if the scarf falls away i won’t re-wrap it)

(also, how i do as i always do:
rub a bit of sap between my wrists
knowing the scent doesn’t last
but hoping it carries anyway)


kitchen playlist for cooking for a crew of 10ish:
des ark
aretha franklin

green bean (blanched) salad (with tomatoes and red onions)
lentil burgers
quinoa eggplant (red pepper, summer squash) bake layered with tomato sauce and nooch/tahini something kindof like last minute cheese sauce


a sweat sheen shining across collar bones
reflected back in bathroom mirror

a return to the homeland
(of prep cook days)
only this time
there is no jerky boss
just my body feeling tiredgood
ad the end of the night
shirt stained with tomato guts


it’s not like i’m the world’s finest chef i tell mica
but kitchens are spaces i feel capable in
i get in the zone


green locust
at loft window
second night in a row
how it throws itself
and how the light cast on it reveals
its missing back leg


you’d be proud i think
i rarely go to bed after liver-o’clock here

where the heat still hangs

7:15ish a.m.
i not-quite-stumble but not-yet-walk
into the white house kitchen
warmed with mica’s fry bread and red pepper spread making
that she woke at 5:30 to concoct
so that she and tyler and i would have lunch to pack
for our apple picking at dan kelly’s place
(also known as blue heron orchard)
in canton missouri
where, upon arriving, we guess the five ingredients
as we unload our things from the trunk:
red sweet peppers (sauteed)
pumpkin seeds (roasted and sauteed with the red peppers)


we discuss car sickness on the way
and i relay the story of that one whale watching excursion
where i luckily took the overpriced dramamine
and later, half of the ship was hurling
and how i learned, for sea sickness, to stay on the top deck in the open air
and keep your eyes on the horizon
and while the missouri horizon is tough to keep one’s eye on in the back seat of a car
(due to curves and hills and treelines along the river beds and creeks)
i say that perhaps fixing ones vision on a single cloud
(if there are any) probably helps


in order to put on the apple harvest bag
you must cross the straps and put your arms and head through
something like a criss cross bra or apron or dress or swimsuit
and a backpack (only worn on the front) combined


there are three ways to go after the apples in the orchard
i discover
1. via ladder (which are genius because they rest on three points instead of four
and they way the steps curve out at the base and narrow near the top sure are something too look at
though they are a bit unwieldy
and it takes a certain tree, where you can fit your ladder through some of the branches,  to accommodate this approach
2. from the ground and reaching up into the tree (poison ivy-proofness is imperative)
3. climbing up into the tree itself
(this takes a certain amount of negotiation between your body
the shape of your harvest bag
and the branches
i suggest you take off your hat
so you can see up
even though the small branches will reach into your hair
this requires a specifically climbing-shaped tree
and is personally my most preferred)

today we harvest a variety named freedom


after apples we undress at the pond
hang our sweaty clothes from a nearby tree
and rush through the reeds to keep our feet from getting sucked into the muck
and float and paddle there

dan brings us a tray with a fridge-cold pitcher of tea on a tray plus a small bowl of sugar (to accommodate the southern sweet-tea drinkers in the group) plus four glasses and a cooler of ice
(the tea: half black tea and half berry zinger. perfect in terms of quenching and in terms of sweet
on this 100 degree day)


i’m not normally a jumpy-insect-seeing-person i say
but have been having these encounters lately…
i go on to describe the spider that jumped onto my keyboard
and this mantis we see on the picnic table
that seems to have a habit of running and jumping
which i have never seen a praying mantis do before

sprightly is the word i use to describe him on the drive back
describe sprightly tyler asks
lively i say animated
light and youthful in manner/spirit

that orchard
with its shade and breeze
was not a bad place to be on a 100 degree day
it feels warmer here i say, upon returning
than it did there

cross-arm crunch
the best part of eight minute abs (level 1)
every time
because of  sound the syllables make together
and the curt tone the phrase is announced in


and then, homemade pizza (anything ever made with wheat here is from the wheat we grow in our fields)
and then, a 20 minute drive to memphis (missouri)
where we rented the public pool
(for something ridiculous like $45 from 6-8pm)
and for almost two hours
excepting a few breaks i take to hang off the edge, dive or jump in
i swim
plus a game of renegade water polo
where i exhaust myself after the first pursuing
of that buoyant yellow ball

through the window
we see one of those white see-throughish bonnets
mennonite lite zoe calls it

near 9pm in the sweet treats parking lot
in memphis, missouri (of scotland county)
i mistake a sno-ball (which is pretty much like a blizzard
which is actually what i meant to say
which still would have been wrong)
for a snow cone
all while licking up my medium twist (chocolate vanilla) cone

when corrected, i respond
i’m drunk while lowering myself into the back seat
in a clumsy manner
which is not true
unless sugar-wasted counts
it was not the joke itself
but that people were laughing with me


the thing about a medium-sized soft serve twist
on a hot summer night
in the back seat of an open windowed car
(even though the sun is down, the heat still hangs) is that you gotta eat fast


wherein i invite emory
to brush his teeth with me
while holding his foot as he lays on the couch
in the part of the whitehouse kitchen which is not really the kitchen
but not quite yet the back porch or the hallway either


porch couch
and tiny keyboard lullabies
that don’t sound like lullabies at all
but they still feel that way
in the half light
emory’s eyes heavy
and  his hair bright

in the middle of a heatwave and a drought

the quiet-quiet of the white hose on thursday mornings
when the early risers are already out in their work
and the ultimate players are on their way back to the farm
and i fry an egg
in the quiet of an unpeopled kitchen


8:30 a.m. and it is already hot in the fields
plus humid
i try to move quick through the asparagus beans
plucking dried pods from the vines
the familiar itch of
a singular drip of sweat rolling down
the center of my chest
and the flip backwards of a baseball cap
while i face west
and the flip forwards again while i work my way up the other side of the row
facing east


grape by grape we pick
fruits from their bunches
collected in 5 gallon buckets
how parts of the stems stick to my grape-juiced fingers


i feel far from the news (of the world) i say
and mention syria
and the chemical weapons attacks
that the syrian government unleashed on its civilians
about 300 dead joseph says
yeah i nod my head

and what i don’t get
is how many governments are killing many of their people
in various ways
but somehow, only when the chemical weapons line is crossed
it becomes a problem


on our garden walk to the north gardens
how the sky opens up there
how there are too many different kinds of clouds to name
and too many different ways that the light moves through them
to articulate
and how the blue is all the same but its quality is something for eyes
not words


saffron honey home-made ice cream
with spoonfuls from tyler’s batch of  granola stirred in
when i help myself to seconds
what remains has melted
to a frothy cream


on the after dinner couch
a story of hitch hiking, 8 months pregnant
to southern california for a wedding
how that man at the booth in the desert
that was set up just for checking to make sure people had enough water
didn’t want to let an 8 months pregnant woman in

the other story of whole foods donations
garbage bags full of all kinds of cookies and pastries

and then the stories after that of where the diplomas god
and what we studied to get them

and a noticing of the light getting less
earlier and earlier
like tonight
around 8pm


just a note i say
i am writing in the middle of a heatwave and a drought

we decide it’s better to take the ‘care’ out of carrots
and not worry about the surplus bed planted for market
that mostly has not made it


from the water world:

Screen shot 2013-08-29 at 10.30.12 PM

Flood-affected villagers in the eastern Indian state of Bihar were forced to carry their belongings to higher ground as the River Ganges inundated their homes after heavy rains in Patna district. – day in photos, bbc



moving from the light into the dark

it’s like the opposite of nest-making
i think
as we part the straw
on beds in the look-far garden
so that we can transplant cabbage seedlings
plus handfuls of compost
into the soil underneath


the plunk of the last of the blackberries
in the bottoms of our plastic white three-gallon buckets


the moth
whose squirming brown cocoon had been sitting on the dehydrator on the screened in porch
sprung free
and clung to one of the screens
its striped body
its brown scalloped wings

scooping tomato seeds for saving
from the roma=ish fruits
(sliced through the long way
then seeds slid out with our fingers)
sensory experience i say


the only thing better than the solar shower
is the backlitness of the clouds (streaked and blazing)
as the sun lowers itself into horizon
while i soap up, rinse off, and dry


9 something pm
the kitchen in karma cooling down
from mica’s tomato processing extravaganza
while the kitchen in the white house
heats up
trays of tyler’s granola in the oven


it takes us a while
on these moonless nights
to adjust our eyes
when moving from the light into the dark
(what handrails on steps are for)

and her grandpa made music

last night i used the word residue about you
the ghosts are ghosts of ghosts now
like a set of matryoshka dolls
an echo on its third or fourth reverberation

smoked tomatillo smell rising from the lower-level kitchen
where laird processes cans and cans of tomatillo salsa

with rakes and pitchforks we lift clumps of straw into a cart
wind carrying bits and dust
clearing out north garden beds for disc-ing
a turning in


i squint on this 97 degree day while crossing the road
which is made of white rocks
and how this makes me think of the snow blindness in the book
solar storms


darien’s accordianing slipping under the door as
mica and i
with our mats and chairs
jump-jack like maniacs
under a swirling ceiling fan
how we laugh as if to say yeah right
when the push ups come
but we push up anyway
and finish with a pull up bar flourish


two young girls and i
(nina and cole)
in the back seat
their light hair lifting in gravel-road open-window wind
as they sing, sometimes too loud
the gummy bear song
the transformers song
the old ship went down song
all after one of them tells me about her grandma’s funeral
and how her grandpa played the music


we’re more like a family
i say about sandhill
when hanna asks if there are cliques or groups
as the sun gives its orange light
to the west-facing plastered walls
yeah, more like family
with varying levels of closeness/connection between each of us


have one
alline invites us to the chocolate cupcakes
swirled with frosting
and rainbow chocoateish chip bits
sprinkled on top


under a starspilled sky
i unclip my sheets from the line
pause with them wrapped up in my arms
neck craning

oh heartbreak, oh world


Protesters throw stones at a police vehicle in Ubate, north of Bogota, Colombia, Aug. 26, 2013. Hundreds of protesters clashed with police in support of farmers who had being blockading highways for a week for an assortment of demands that include reduced gasoline prices, increased subsidies and the cancellation of free trade agreements. – day in photos, voice of america


A Free Syrian Army fighter looks outside while holding his weapon as he takes cover inside a damaged shop in the old city of Aleppo, Syria. – day in photos, voice of america

Screen shot 2013-08-27 at 10.42.49 PM

Two men try to comfort a man mourning the death of his brother south of the Afghan capital Kabul. Local officials say Taliban militants killed 12 civilians, including six men working on government projects, in the past two days. – day in photos, bbc

here comes the heat

in the dream, barker and her new lover and a rag-tag art farm crew
put our first month’s rent in on a house we’ve never seen
in iowa city
(a good 7 of us or so)

what is this?
i said, looking out on the water that stayed shallow for a good long while before it got deep
a body of it
unlike any body of water i’ve seen before
and i start talking about how high it seems this year
how the reason we got the house for so cheap is because it probably floods on wet years
there was a set-apartness to it
and places where it looked like the field was already flooded
and places (channels and aisles) where it looks like one could walk into the water
and there were people far far off in the water doing water things
the basement room had a ceiling as high as an old movie theater
with 1920’s style embellishments
the house kept going
in a secret mansion kind of way
how many kithcns are there in this place!?
i say, upon discovering the third which looked nautical 70s style
and had a view of the water
my room was a high-up loft and a
separate room workspace on the ground

(when you dream of a house
the house represents your body)


here comes the heat
we say
glancing at the weather for the week
ice cube and fan weather
mornings in the fields and afternoons anywhere that’s cool
darien and i work our way up/down the greenbean  beds
at the end, i wipe the sweat from my forehead/brow
while it shines on my forearms
my calves
my fingers
free sauna i say
before going in for the cool down
(head under the hose)


do you ever get goosebumps
from getting warm/hot
i ask and say it’s happening right now
motioning towards the patch of them rising my arm


mid-harvest i detour to the grapes
and i don’t know the name of these smaller lighter  (pinkgreen) ones
but they have gotten sweeter and tomorrow
may be the day to pluck them from the vine


we talk about patagonia
how it seemed that the europeanish folks and the native folks
kept themselves separate
how there are glaciers
how the government was trying to get folks there for cheap
to work the land, riase cattle maybe
the land which is not quite tundra but something like it
and i mention the documentary patagonia rising
and the massive three-dam project
proposed by some mega corporation
that doesn’t give a fuck about
drowning families out who have been living off the land for generations


(cucumber salad, curried tiny potatoes, green beans with curry garlic, plus miles and miles of apple crisp)
we have to stay on these couches i say
sun-sleepy and in serious lounge mode
fan whirling above us
until the mail comes


quick but good
sunset walk on the rock road
the thing the clouds do
when they turn pink in the east just after a setting blaze in the west

mica, tyler, darien and i
perch on stan’s bed
with a gigantic metal popcorn bowl
and pretty in pink on the screen
sound of crickets and cicadas absent
in the hum of stan’s air conditioner


and then there’s the barred owl
at 10:56
while we are powering down behind various closed doors
call drifting in the windows


the graphs tell me i am feeling mostly affectionate
and concerned mostly about death
which seems like a lovely balance
and makes me go huh outloud

and this, from the water world:


Indian men sit on the roof of a house which is submerged in the floodwaters of the River Ganges after heavy monsoon rains in Salori, India. – voice of america, day in photos

it’s not only how high the waters have risen
but the image of the man holding his head in his hands
and the fact that someone is taking a photo of it all from a helicopter
so i can write about it
but who knows if a rescue copter is ever on its way

with a shovel in my hand

today was many things
for instance:

1. raspberry leaf tea
plus oat straw
plus nettles
steeping on the front porch
2. four buckets of tomatoes harvested before the heat of the day came on
3. slicing windfall apples to bake into crisp in the solar oven with mica
in the cool basementyness of the karma kitchen
and how i pause in the middle of an answer about my love life
when someone walks in to fetch something from the walk in
and resume when they leave
4. packing up the market vegetables
the scale
the owl sheet that covers them in transport
the sign with veggies and their prices on it
and unpacking them
then doing a bunch of math
and people-talking/meeting
5. home made pakoras and chana masala and chutney and kimchee on a screened in porch that i saw the beginnings of building on my pass-through last year
6. a three mile drive from here to there in a manual toyota truck
some asphalt but mostly gravel
windows half down
which is just enough (not too far)
to make me like driving
(how it was probably overkill when i waited at the turn for the oncoming car i saw in the distance
but it’s better than navigating sharing that skinny stretch called a road)
and then the stars upon returning
7. 9 minutes of hict (high intensity circuit training) with mica
and yoga mats
and chairs
and walls
with a grand finale finish of pull-up bar
8. the joy of a less-than-week-old bunny
sleeping in my cupped palm
feeding it warmth and
watching it sleep-twitch
the movements of which surprisingly remind me so much of a human’s sleeptwitching
9.  setting up the fan-sprinkler on the greens
how i have to get close to adjust the distance it covers
which means it rains on me at least
four or five times and
the back of my shirt dries within 10 minutes
the water is wet but not a shocking cold

but mostly, perhaps, it was walking down to the apple trees by the pond
with a shovel in my hand
to bury one of the baby baby bunnies (put in my care by a five year old)
that turned cold and still
sometime after breakfast and before lunch





with a dropper full of milk

paring knife in my hand i slice
light green stems that bead with water
harvesting yellow and green (crook-neck and straight) summer squash


san diego light pours in
on the skype screen behind 217
how it is goodness, this connecting
and how it makes me miss the boba place
on el cajon near the high school

how to encourage a 5 year old who’s still a little wild in his own body
to be gentle and slow while handling 4day old baby bunnies?we sit on the couch and take turns
with a dropper full of milk
bunnies whose still-forming insides i feel with my fingertips
bunnies whose eyes still haven’t opened

on the office floor
an initiation into the after-dinner eight minute abs tradition
mica, joseph and i


certainly not the first time and most likely not the last but
i feel this sickness in my gut/my body


Workers move waste containing radiated soil, leaves and debris from the decontamination operation at a storage site in Naraha town, which is inside the formerly no-go zone of a 20 km (12 mile) radius around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and currently a designated evacuation zone, in Fukushima prefecture, Japan. – voice of america, day in photos


Indians stand and watch floodwaters in Panskura, near the East Midnapore district in the eastern state of West Bengal. – voice of america, day in photos

with arc and flex

here’s the other cool thing about green beans
i say to darien and his metal pail full of beans down the row
while plucking off a leaf
and velcro-ing it onto my sleeve
(it’s pretty much a gaurantee
that if i am ever in the green bean field with anyone
i will show them this trick)


here, so far, i write fewer lists
and start and finish things (postcards, letters, emails) as i desire
not sure if this is a bonus or a setback
but at the moment i don’t mind either way
time here is this generous thing with arc and flex
the fruit trees give back
the fields give back
the sky gives back


stray detail from several days ago:
venice mallow (also known as hibiscus trionum)
if one flower/plant should be called exquisite, this is it
ipm1007mallow03 5013506194_f6e8822e09

plucked from the squash fields
plus some stalks of chicory

chicory chicory+art+old+fashioned

for a screen porch bouquet


the missing places and things that i maybe didn’t fully love while i was there can catch me by surprise.
i write in an email to lester

i think that might qualify as an unnammed phenomenon.


i pin a photo of an ungodly and humongous dam on the wall
to remember what i am pushing/fighting against
to remember the profanity (as in: opposite of sacred)


a misspelling for the word crunch, perhaps?
in the backseat heading west and south
and i love the sound of the word so much i
have to wipe the tears from my eyes from laughing at it
not only that but the way jon gears up to tell certain stories
i know they’re going to be funny before he even begins


petroleum and elecricity-free says the man giving the tour at the possibility alliance
in la plata missouri shows us some of the gardens, the strawbale structures,
the real good hand tools, the horses and goats and chickens
and shares the five practices in place there
radical simplicity, service, social activism, inner work and gratitude/celebration


over dinner
at two tables outside positioned between the house and the outdoor kitchen
the three rituals include:
1. the lighting of the candles of what we have done and who we are
2. the filling/overfilling of the cup of joy (everyone shares one moment of joy from their week and pours some of the special tea into the cup of joy that is passed around without overflowing it until it gets to the last person)
3. the putting of hands on the bread or on people who have their hands on the bread during a song and then the breaking of it and feeding it to each other, sometimes after wishing each other shabbat shalom

then the dinner itself: hummus, falafel, home-made pita, salad, tomatoes, goat cheese, salad with mizuna, sweet corn followed by peach cobbler pie

what strikes me:
all the plates match (white)
as well as the cups (stainless steel)
plus the spotlessness of the farmhouse and the total of three small wildflower bouquets on the tables


the sound of music in candle light in the distance
under a tree
before we drive away


the ride home in rolling-hill dark
emory in his car seat
a small box with a tshirt scrap for bedding and two tiny bunny babies curled up in it
(bunnies that emory rescued from cricket-the-dog’s mouth earlier today)
gray-black with bent back ears and closed eyes
you know what’s cool about there being two of them i ask emory
that when they are next to each other, they help keep each other warm

and then there’s the pink moon rising
how i watch it weave side to side as we take each curve
how i keep my eyes on it
just like i did when i was emory’s age,  maybe older
watched it follow me all the way home

under this moon
i think about how much easier it is to love myself out here
which doesn’t mean there isn’t struggle
but this is the self love that grad-school couldn’t give me


wherein wikipedia tells me what a tidal bore is:
A tidal bore (or simply bore in context, or also aegir, eagre, or eygre) is a tidal phenomenon in which the leading edge of the incoming tide forms a wave (or waves) of water that travels up a river or narrow bay against the direction of the river or bay’s current.

this being the reason i wanted to know:

Screen shot 2013-08-23 at 10.55.37 AM

A huge surge from a tidal bore in the eastern Chinese province of Zhejiang left at least 30 people injured. The power of the wave was strengthened by flooding caused by a typhoon. – bbc, day in photos

almost gold pink gold

in the dream
a moving truck was required
that and some kindof hangouts in some sortof emptyish warehouse
and something about how there is now way i’m going to make this happen by myself
and at least three other elements masked by all the waking between now and then


black square plastic netting
draped like a hairnet over two rows of grape vines
concord (round, bursty looking, candycolor purple, matte not shiny)
i don’t think these are quite there i say
they’ll get sweeter 


mason jar of roofing nails we pulled off the roof last week
(small, medium, large.
some bent, some re-useable)
fetched from back porch
for hammering side panels into the hoop house
in the north garden


the quality of light these past couple days
something hazey
but not a polluted hazey
more like a humid hazey
diffused light everywhere
almost renaissance painting
almost gold pink gold


in honor of today being nick’s last full day
later afternoon strawberry milkshakes:
frozen strawberries (harvested and frozen earlier this season)
ice cubes from the walk in freezer
raw unpasterized cow milk purchased from the farmer down the road for $3 a glass-jar gallon
maple syrup tapped from our trees last fall/winter
vanilla extract (beans grown here? and then extracted)
blended and poured into ceramic picture
then walked up the neighbor’s hill with a
where we sit and sip and watch nick’s kite made by nick (he’s an engineer) and his friend
this kite is more like a mini-sail (nylon blue rip-stop with string and cords and rings and wooden handles)
that could almost pull one across the land on a windy day
and if you are flying it on humid/hot enough day, it will make you sweat


post-dinner snack:
windfall apple sliced plus
peanut butter, honey, oats, a pinch of salt
mixed (viva la skyhouse special)


some of these details depend on knowing these people
like emory
who i can name ‘the 5 year old with hair so bright it may glow in the dark’
but that doesn’t tell you much, reader, it doesn’t tell you enough
how it is half heartbreak and half i-can-baerly-handle-your-youness (because it is so brilliant)
when the tag-along bike to the neighbor’s doesn’t work
that he is furious and crying so hard his face is red (full body feeling) and resolute on getting to the neighbors the way he wants to that he is determined to walk the three miles there in this funny arms half out enraged
how small he becomes in the scale of all this wide-openness as he fits and stomps down the gravel road


another fire-orange sun
lowering itself into rolling hill horizon
as we back-truck ride
north and then east
dust rising in our path

squinting to see through dusty windshield
before i remember there’s a thing called brights
just like one of those too many dreams
where i am driving with my eyes closed and trying to open them to no avail
or driving from the backseat and trying to push the break pedal with my hand by slumping up over the front seat
or driving without knowing how to operate some crucial feature of the vehicle


a light glowing in a building named karma
accordion sounds spilling out
that and a wiggle of a dog (mostly white and some black markings, including a perfectly round one on her back right side)
are what coming home sounds/looks like