Saturday, July 14, 2007

Weird Dreams

Weird dreams visit me quite often. There was the one years ago where my toddler and I were wading in six-inch deep water in the Caribbean and a sea turtle swam up and swallowed him, and I thrashed out after the turtle and swam like hell until I caught it by the leg. I stuck my hand straight down the turtle's throat and turned its entire body inside out (just like an oven glove) until I saved the baby and swam him safely back to shore.

Most of my dreams are architectural. This has been going on all of my life. I relish those dreams because they let me inhabit fascinating spaces that are conjectural and conceptual and often make absolutely no sense, and yet I get to occupy completely illogical and fabulous places. I find this tremendously freeing, since most of mundane daily life, literally and figuratively, is bordered by such maddeningly predictable, unremarkable walls.

Yesterday one of the boys and I were watching part of an episode of "How They Do It" on Discovery (I think). There was a segment on how they make and package bandages, and much more compelling, a bit on how microchips are fabricated. I like this kind of stuff and so does the kid, but the kid was very tired from athletic overexertion and said he hated it and could not stand it anymore, so off it went. But I was still thinking about the microchips.

This morning, as I was dreaming I somehow got stuck in a big potato-chip factory tour. They showed us everything from slicing to how the oil gets put in the frying vats to the draining, conveyors, salting and bagging. But on this tour, I got shown more than the salting. I was on a flavor tour! And lucky me. What flavor did I get? Salt and vinegar? Sour cream? Jalapeno lime? BBQ? Cheddar? Not that I like any of those. No. Yecchhhh. In fact, I'm a potato-chip purist. Plain-old classic is good, and when I'm feeling wild, the ripple kind that you can dip without breaking.

I was on the tour of

Steak & onion flavor

I don't eat beef, haven't for many, many years, and can't really stand the thought of it. Why did my mind come up with this?


Quick! Where do I turn in my tour ticket and trade it for a different tour?!! Where do I turn in my dream ticket and trade it for a different dream?!!


Friday, July 13, 2007

Another Stupid Mishearing

For years I've had a special drawer in my mind that records what I would call fractured mishearings of song lyrics.

Just today, G and I were in the kitchen and he barely started to hum "The Immigrant Song" by Page and Plant of Led Zeppelin. Then he went into a deliberately funny and obnoxious mime dance of a flailing rock star, shaking his long hair and throwing his guitar around. I was washing dishes, but I sang the lyrics. He said [get this] "Mom, how do you know every lyric to every song?" As if I were so old I could never have owned a radio as a child. Gawd.

While we were singing this song together, I confessed to G that I never had been able to understand a particular line of the lyrics to "The Immigrant Song," even though I had listened carefully to all the lyrics for about a thousand years. It was a function of the recording, not a problem with the artists or their lyrics. I've written articles on this subject (misheard lyrics) before, but today I confessed a crowner that I hadn't mentioned before because I'd completely forgotten about it.

Even as a young child, I had always understood that "The Immigrant Song" was about the Viking invasions. And so it is. But there was a single line which threw me, making me think the song was not only about the Vikings, but also perhaps about Ellis Island immigrants. What I didn't understand was the line that begins,
Oh we sweep with thrashing oar
And since childhood, I've thought the next line was
I want to go and see the Western show!
My childhood reasoning was that yes, the Scandinavians were "immigrants" [read invaders] very early, and then much later, in the 19th century, many immigrants came by boat to America for what they hoped would be a more prosperous life, not as invaders. So as a kid I reasoned that perhaps along the way the immigrants might have heard about cowboys in America, and Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley. But I could not understand why, out of the entire song, there was just one line that seemed to allude to more recent times and goof up the unity--the established chronology of the whole song. It was just too anachronistic in the middle of a song that otherwise made exclusively ancient references. It was plausible, but really bothered me.

G quickly researched the exact lyrics. He found out that the real line was
Our only goal will be the western shore.
G said, "That's excellent, Mom! I really like it! I think that's your stupidest mishearing yet!"

Ooooooh, ooooooh, ooooooh. Ooooooh, ooooooh, ooooooh.

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

Fill In The Blank

I love the way writing exercises crack through banal rationality to offer a glimpse of our native wild mind (see Natalie Goldberg's books for excellent ideas). A couple of weeks ago I was waiting for outrageously expensive new functional tires to be put on my pathetic old car, and tried this exercise from Behn & Twichell's The Practice of Poetry (HarperCollins 1992), called "As/Like/Finish the Sentence." It was contributed by Linnea Johnson.

  1. Fill in the blanks as rapidly as you can. Do not think. Write. If you have no reflex response, go on to the next sentence. Stop when you slow down.
  2. Reread the sentences you've finished, circling a couple you like best. Begin a poem using a simile/metaphor/analogy you've written.
I haven't done a poem yet; haven't even decided which sentences I like best. But here are my sentences. The part in regular font is the prompt from the book; the italics are my fill-ins for the blanks.

  1. A spider on an old man's beard is like a carol wafting through a cathedral.
  2. The oars on the boat rowed as if they alone could bring back President Kennedy.
  3. Nothing was the same, now that it was a hot refrigerator.
  4. The wino took to coma like a used car to a scrap heap.
  5. The dice rolled out of the cup toward Len like sewage rising through the basement drain.
  6. A child in a warm laundry pile is like a duck in a pond.
  7. Puffy clouds in your glass of wine are harbingers of time-clenched fancy.
  8. Fall's leaf-filled tarp is like muscles stretched out over bone.
  9. The fog plumed through the gunshot holes in the train windows like furtive ghosts seeking refuge.
  10. The gray honor walked up the satin plank as if each step took on a new-found planet.
  11. Canceled checks in the abandoned boat seemed to bounce just like the yellow rubber they swirled in.
  12. If I should wake before I die, give me wisdom and blueberry pie!
  13. Alannah poured coffee down her throat as if reversing wind through a trumpet.
  14. Up is like down when the cat falls off the chimney.
  15. You mine rocks from a quarry. What you get from a quandary is an equilateral quadrangle.
  16. Marlene dangled the parson from her question as if shaking off a mosquito.
  17. She held her life in her own hands as if it were Socratic rubble.
  18. "No, no, a thousand times no," he said, his hand pulling off the Santa beard.
  19. The solution was hydrochloric acid; the problem was, therefore, indisinguishably disintegrated.
  20. Love is to open sky as loathing is to a cellar cubbyhole.
Gosh, now I want to go try this again!

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Poetry Thursday . . . a little late

Because of the holiday, I'm all goofed up this week. On the Fourth we had a day of sloth, socializing, real concerts starring the kids, and barbecue invitations. Tuesday we had new garage doors, lifters, remotes and keypads installed, and it all went terribly awry. Today I'm still reeling from the garage-door fiasco (they had to come back this morning to fix all the bollixed up business, including their thievery of our ladder), and because yesterday was so relaxing, today feels like Monday and I keep consulting the calendar only to review activities for the wrong day. Frankly, I don't know what I'm supposed to be doing, except for getting the garage-door installers to redo and make it all properly functional without harassing them.

Oh, yeah! It's Thursday. That means Poetry Thursday. And because I was derelict in my duty last week, I feel the guilty obligation to post something, even though it isn't any good.

My previous post about raccoons confirmed that I'm fairly blackhearted when it comes to nuisance wildlife. I think it's cute and love to watch it--from a distance. But I'm a beast, too, and I won't put up with the invasion of my territory if it results in damage.

I wrote this before the raccoon post, when I had not yet been enlightened as to which animal was creeping about at night. It was clear to me that it wasn't the squirrels, because they wouldn't take the bait by day--but I got a notion--imagine that squirrels were stealthily creeping about at night and hoarding things that they wouldn't touch by day?

The Porch

One by one the night squirrels come
silent and haunting
tree to tree
roof to roof
like acrobats in “Crouching Tiger”
furred and tailed.

Wrought-iron pillar to suet cage
blue spruce to hopper feeder
spilling the miniature birdbath

devouring stale rice crackers I tossed to taunt
whoever would take the bait.

Next time I’ll leave
wasabi peas.

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There's a great poem by Joanne Kyger ("Destruction" in the section entitled "Beasts" in Good Poems, edited by Garrison Keillor) that describes how a bear ransacks a cabin. This morning I looked out the kitchen window to discover this--look under the bench:

At the base of the wrought-iron post is a pot full of lily bulbs. The plants are flourishing and just on the verge of blooming into my favorite big pink Asiatic lilies. I should say they were flourishing, until the middle of last night sometime. There used to be three plants, but as you can see from the photo somebody marauded one of the plants. Ripped it right out of the pot. Took the buds off. Shredded the stalk in half. Tore the precious leaves right off that sucker.

Who? Who? Who would do such a thing? Rampant, egregious destruction. A blatant, violent attack upon an innocent and potentially beautiful flower. Obviously it wasn't deer; they can only nibble. Not squirrels; the plant was to big for them. Not the many birds, however aggressive they may be, and many of them are.

Tyke took one look and said, "Raccoons."

He's pretty smart, that tyke. Of course he is right. I've never seen any raccoons around here, but I know they're on our property and the neighbors'. Tyke said that once when he was up high in his favorite tree he saw some raccoons going into a den by the remains of an old stone tree ring on our property. Occasionally they get into garbage cans and tear up garbage on the street.

So, news for the raccoons: I am officially stalking you. What would you like to taste next? A little arsenic? That can be arranged. When I catch you, I'll hang you upside down from the wrought iron post and pelt you with a slingshot full of large gravel. I don't care if you DO wash your grubby little hands before you eat. I'll grab them and tear you limb from limb.

I guess it's obvious that PETA gets no vote from me. I have even worse things to say about squirrels.

From now on, No Trespassing! I'm playing hard ball.