Category Archives: blogging

And the winner is

And the winner is: Michelle! The scraps have already gone in the mail. It’s nice to send something back to Michelle given that she mailed me this delightful print not so long ago.

We got about four inches of snow yesterday, followed by rain, which made today’s walk treacherous. But! We are definitely at the time of year when you can begin to notice the lengthening of the days.

I reviewed a manuscript over a delicious lunch with a friend today. Such a nice way to do it. Not only because her memoir features a lot of personal loss, but because it’s a such an immediate and tangible thanks. I’ll have to remember that. Take your readers to lunch!

Tomorrow is my birthday. That’s me on the left. Nana Mallon in the middle. My sister on the right. I think it might’ve been the weekend of my First Communion. I can’t remember what was happening at the moment this picture was taken (it looks like Nana is pinching me? playfully, but perhaps a little too hard?), but I do remember her cautioning us against eating jelly donuts outside because the bees visiting the red tulips in the foundation beds might fly right down our throats. (Posted previously 8/16. Having trouble grabbing the link).
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And after that snippet, who doesn’t need a little fairy tale? Isn’t she lovely?elsa_polar-bearIt’s from “East of the Sun, West of the Moon” by Mercer Mayer. I just searched (and searched) for and couldn’t find the illustrator. Does anyone know?

Fog

I woke up at 1:30 this morning still reeling from Maddow, wondering how a single couple — Murdoch and his ex-wife — could do so much damage. He with FoxNews and now she – a Chinese spy, perhaps? Targeting Kushner?

The fog feels fitting.

Today: more revisions and lunch out.

PS Make up brushes are wonderful cleaning tools for sewing machines, too.

PPS I’m going to post pix of “books to read in 2019” tomorrow. As a placeholder. I looked at Goodreads and it wasn’t as bad as remembered but still doesn’t draw me in. So forgive me while I figure this out.

Soon the rain

SCARE: watching water drip from my study ceiling onto the router positioned on the floor. Drop. Drip. At first I thought the router was clicking. But, no.

The pipe that carries condensate from the attic furnace down to a well in the basement had frozen.GRATITUDE: K was NOT in Asia or Russia and knew just what to do. It appears to be fine now.

TRICK: to walk Finn and then write a chapter set in 1744 from the point of view of an enslaved mother. Meaning : to save reading the middle portion of the Fusion gPS transcript for later.

TO DO: find a company-worthy Miso Cod Chili recipe. Go for a glazed fish with bok choy on the side or a soup with soba or udon noodles, bok choy floating?

COMMENTS, please: what is your view on how and when posting to social media becomes a life force drain? Drop. Drip.

Can’t shake this interview in the literary journal, Rattle, with poet Maggie Nelson (that was the fourth book completed for #theunreadshelfproject last week).

Or put another way: how can you use social media in a manner that DOES (fairly consistently) engage the parts of your intellect (or creative process) that is most important to you?

I’m okay with it being a little hit or miss. And maybe I value your and my posts about French toast more than Nelson does.

So it’s about balance, then?

What ISN’T about balance?

Ciao.

Mouse droppings and global humanity

When you live in a 200 year old structure with a stone foundation, you share your life with mice.* It’s just a given. I draw the line when and if one of two things happen: I find teeth marks in the butter or I catch the smell of dead bodies.

Mice like pistachios, it turns out. Note to self: put the bowl of nuts away at night.

Weeks of catching whiffs of that distinctively fruity and repulsive stench of death got me going. There I was down in the basement sniffing at the joists and lifting up the sump pump well cover to stare down into its depths with a flashlight. Nada.

But this morning, my hound-like powers of detection pinpointed the source of the stench. It was coming from under the fridge. We pulled the appliance away from the wall to a horror show of dust and grime and mouse droppings, urine stains and yes, pistachio shells.

No dead bodies, though.

A thorough cleaning has not eradicated the smell. Could a few little grey corpses have slid along the undercarriage of the fridge when we pulled it from the wall?

Ugh. Now what?

Meanwhile, I’ve been piecing up a whimsy (when I should have been folding up the ironing board and putting some of my piles into closets to get ready for company).

But hey.

I’ve picked up our 15 pound organic, free range turkey from across town and stirred up the brine. And my apron is on and recipes located for candied yams and maybe? — a chocolate pie (others are bringing pumpkin and apple). Before I get to it, you might like to hear this.

Today’s Indivisible Group tele-call became dispirited with news regurgitation. We’d somehow strayed from the more usual constructive format of sharing possible action steps or venues for education. One member said, “I can’t take this. I get enough with the news. I’m going to sign off”.

I piped up that I completely understood but could she hang on a minute more if the talk turned positive? Then I shared about International Peace Day … about love being the answer and peace pins and peace leaves and about making peace a daily conversation. My voice shook, for some reason.

But here’s the thing — the tenor of our call was radically transformed. I have many of you to thank for that! I sent links to some of your websites to the group and to my own and for the first time wasn’t compartmentalizing political and artistic work. Until this morning, I hadn’t even realized I’d been doing that. It was liberating, somehow.

In that positive second half of the call, this event came up: starting on December 2 there will be a 24 hour global vigil for humanity. You have to register but it’s free and you can show up for any part of the 24 hours.

Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends! This week, love and food will be the answer — especially if that food is made with love.

P.S. I’ll take this moment to be grateful that most of my family doesn’t bother reading my blog (who says they should? but then again, why don’t they — at least once in a while?). With this post, it’s probably a good thing in terms of keeping their appetites for Thursday’s dinner!

*autocorrect turned my first attempt at typing “mice” to “love” … Does that mean even when dealing with a mouse infestation that love is the answer?

Don’t you just hate posts about blogging?

Posts about blogging often have a Catholic air of contrition about them: “Bless me Father, for I have sinned — I have not posted in six days.” Ach, indulge me as I cast before you a post about blogging!

img_2353Earlier this week, I published a few paragraphs about K traveling to a city in China very close to North Korea. It was freaking me out, etc. I thought maybe I could institute a practice of sharing his absence in real time because of our barky friend, Finn — but then thought the better of it. Why advertise vulnerability? (Since K’s now en route from Beijing to Newark, it’s public again).

[By the way, I don’t need my husband to be within Seoul’s radiation range to care about nuclear escalation — (in fact two others in my indivisible group and I have an appointment to speak with Representative Joe Kennedy about this next week). Let’s just say that the possibility of immediate personal harm amplifies concern].

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Then I started a post about housekeeping. Part nod to the need for discrete tasks with tangible results in a world spinning out of control and part nostalgic lament. (And yes, I really am picking detritus out from between the floor boards with a fowl pin!)

The house is tidier than ever. The raking more thorough. It’s hard not to wonder: what was so impossible about keeping a neat house while the boys were growing up?

Not wanting a question so fundamentally unfair to myself to linger unanswered, I considered an exercise in prescriptive memoir. Let’s document the positive!

I have a terrible memory, but this warping of recollection in the direction of personal failing is something else. It hurts.

But then it all felt incredibly disingenuous and anyway, in the process of rereading journals to “build my case,” I kept finding stuff that highlighted my missteps. Whoops! I got jammed. Really jammed.

I consulted my dear Byron Katie and got a little unstuck.

I’m tired of taking sides.

And anyway, wouldn’t a disordered lament make me more vulnerable and therefore be more interesting than some tidy, upbeat chirp of a post, which corrective or not, is ultimately self-congratulatory?

Messy then. Less messy now. So what.

I’ll leave you with a few of the pictures I scared up. I’ve made no attempt to span the years or to be thorough in any way (you know me better than that!)

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Hail Mary, solicitors, and hope

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Two days ago, when I was editing a published post about the only Catholic prayer I still say and a little about travel by air, the phone rang. It was a persistent solicitor — a number I’ve been seeing every day for weeks. I picked up to politely request my removal from their list while simultaneously saving the post —

and the whole thing vanished. Not just the updates — all of it.

I walked away, resolved not to let negative narratives spin up around the glitch, but also without the energy for a re-do. The negatives arose anyway (was silence imposed because the post was braggy instead of vulnerable? was it too facile with the Catholic rituals? not remotely concerning what is truly and deeply on my mind?)

What IS truly and deeply on my mind?

Yesterday, the wordpress app on my phone seized. Geez! Haven’t I said, I’m not shutting up?

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So by way of recap, here’s a little from the other day — I hope I never stop feeling a sense of wonder about being up in the air and seeing the coast lit up below. I hope the Virgin hears our prayers. I hope Mary’s mercy can guide me to learn more about the complicated landscape of South Carolina. Help me filter history through a tender and flexible compassion.

Here’s one surprise from my recent trip. The most restorative aspect of our visit to Charleston came from a major reduction in news consumption. Not the sun, the 70 degree temperatures, the incredible food or historic sites (though they were amazing, too). It was LESS NEWS.

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For wisdom about the business of balancing duty and lightness, I turn to Rebecca Solnit (“Hope in the Dark”). Even though since November I’ve had a hard time reading political commentary that predates the election, she will be an exception. She wrote:

“Joy doesn’t betray but sustains activism. And when you face a politics that aspires to make you fearful, alienated, and isolated, joy is a fine initial act of insurrection.”

Giving is an act of insurrection, too. Did you hear about the crowd sourcing that planned to raise $20k in a month for purposes of repairing the vandalized Jewish graves in Missouri? They exceeded their goal in THREE HOURS. Or about the million-plus dollars raised to rebuild that burned down mosque in Texas? Twenty-three thousand people contributed.

Closer to home, my city just voted to be a sanctuary city.

Powerful examples of our collective goodness absolutely abound right now. To stay sane, I really need to pay as much attention to them as I do to the ugly and dark work of the GOP.

  • Photos of Virgin, magnolia tree and house were shot at Magnolia Plantation, SC last week.

H is for humor C is for courage

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Rethinking this platform big time. Bear with me while I re-jigger it enough to keep my own interest (and hopefully not lose yours). Otherwise, I need to just walk away.

First up, name change. This blog is now called: Pattern and Outrage. It more accurately reflects content and I have always hated the primacy and repetition of my name. If you list me, please revise when convenient (the url will not change).

I’m remembering Austin Kleon who said, ‘you don’t blog because you have something to say. You blog to find out what it is you need to say’. Bingo. I’m thinking of Jude, too, who over the years has consistently modeled blogging as a way to track her creative process. What I track may or may not inspire or even interest others, but I don’t have much to lose (as long as I keep my 35 readers, that is).

Here are a few things begging for regular mention: what I’m reading; what is inspiring; political resistance resources; the scary antics of the new administration (something along the lines of: ‘favorite lie of the week’); digital photo collage; and maybe, if I am courageous enough, deeper level thoughts about race — what I’m learning, where I’m stuck, etc. (that’s a  mighty ‘etc.’)

Also considering an occasional semi-private post — not sure how to do this (with a password?). It’s a strain to censor myself, but it strains me in a different way to air private matters. A recent revealing post brought this into sharp relief (now it’s tagged ‘private’). Unlike in the past when I have overshared and taken the post down immediately, this time there was an interval. In that space, many of you made generous and caring comments, both here and on the phone. It felt like part of the point. (NB: can my ADD-addled frontal lobe organize this?).

This is all very fluid. Input is welcome. Are there any improving tweaks obvious to you? What would make you more inclined to come here and/or comment more often? Would you prefer a different platform, like typepad? What form of social media draws you in the most right now and where do you read it?

So today for humor, I am going low. I find this absolutely hilarious.


And for courage, I go to the word itself and the inspirational Brene Brown:

“Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage is cor – the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” Over time, this definition has changed, and today, we typically associate courage with heroic and brave deeds. But in my opinion, this definition fails to recognize the inner strength and level of commitment required for us to actually speak honestly and openly about who we are and about our experiences — good and bad. Speaking from our hearts is what I think of as “ordinary courage.”

Brené Brown, I Thought It Was Just Me: Women Reclaiming Power and Courage in a Culture of Shame