I'll go with thee to the lane's end... I am a kind of burr, I shall stick. Shakespeare, Measure for Measure

I write not to teach but to learn. Rebecca West

drew's writing:

  • "Always Forever Now," Ideomancer volume 13, issue 2
  • "Black Sun," Black Static # 32
  • "Bread or Cake" and "Pride/Shame,"2nd Annual Philadelphia One-Minute Play Festival
  • "Copper Heart," Polluto Magazine issue 5, A Steampunk Orange
  • "The Accomplished Birder's Guide to Overcoming Rejection," Last Drink Bird Head, edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer
  • "Another Night With the Henriksens," Player's Theater Halloween One-Act Festival NYC 2008
  • "Hating the Lovers," and "Pipe Down!" Geez Magazine: Thirty Sermons You Would Never Hear in Church
  • "Beth/slash/Nathan," Paper Fruit Blogiversary Contest

Thursday, July 21, 2011

tennessee summer 2011

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We felt after Christmas that we hadn't spent enough time with our niece, so we scheduled some niece time for the summer. She's seven, and a master at being goofy, finding fun things to do, and making stuff up. The dessert you see above--vanilla frozen yogurt, white chocolate chips, and marshmallows--is her invention: It's called a Ghost. I love ghosts and I love new foods so I was excited to try one. It was OK.

We also got to see my in-laws; it's rare to like both; I'm lucky. Topics I share with my mother-in-law include travel, plants, and Hemingway. Topics I share with my father-in-law are nutrition, local history, and thrift. Both are lively and interesting.

What would I have done if they had been dull?
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I would have been very patient and nice. My father-in-law took us, the niece, and my brother-in-law to see this waterfall. The waterfall has the honor of being my camerado's screensaver, so when I saw it, I thought, Hello screensaver.

The waterfall was adjacent to a campsite with a conference center. My father-in-law treated us to lunch in the cafeteria, where I beheld a natural wonder that impressed me just as much as the waterfall.

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Anything in the south that is unfamiliar to me I assume is typical of the south, so these incredibly high meringue peaks on the banana pudding made me think, Incredibly high meringue peaks on banana pudding is a storied Southern tradition. But when my camerado and his brother marveled at the high peaks, I appreciated what a rare thing it was to see them.

They reminded me of the Nome King in the Oz books.

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The day was rainy and because the most talkative person in the car (my father-in-law, lively, see above) was busy driving, this was a quiet, contemplative outing for all of us. The large, plush, smooth-riding car hushed sound. As we drove around the campground, my camerado and his brother murmured about the places they had played, and I kept tripping down time corridors of my own.

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The cafeteria took me right back to the Boy Scout camps and Christian retreat centers of my childhood.

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On the way back it fell to me to entertain the niece, who wanted pictures of royals. I had to draw the Queen, the Diana, the recent Kate, and William. Drawing them all inside a satisfied dragon seemed a good solution, but the niece was inexorable. So I discovered a new talent, and you may find me at the Jersey shore drawing royals in pastel on the boardwalk. In return, I made the niece learn the name of the flower in Kate's bouquet that has the same name as the Prince: Sweet William. I had seen it in my brother-in-law's garden.

We also took the niece to a legendary toy store that I thought was overrated (I like the one in Franklin, TN), and the Nashville Zoo, which I thought was good, and to Kung Fu Panda II, with its sissy villain.

We aren't home enough to have a dog of our own, so it was great to stay with some dogs.

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Murphy's one desire is to fetch a tennis ball. I aspire to this kind of single-minded purpose.

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I shouldn't praise my own photo, but I like this picture: could John Singer Sargent have depicted one of his privileged thoroughbreds with greater poise or sophistication? Last night we saw The Cherry Orchard simulcast from London--this dog, Lola reminds me of Madame Renevsky, a creature of affection, living only in the moment.

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Mr. Meow, a neighbor of my mother-in-law. He watches the house when she's away.

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One night we walked around Nashville when this crazy sunset unfurled. The light was strange, golden and heavy, like I imagine light in Italy might be. We walked on the campus of a university with gazebos, and statues to decipher. Prospective first-years roamed around with and without their parents--entering that protracted American twilight between childhood and independence.
We've been much more exotic places than Nashville this summer (New England!), but I really enjoyed this trip. Not everyone gets to step sideways into a new family in adulthood; the one I've found myself in is friendly, smart, and fun. We said goodbye after breakfast at the Pancake Pantry, and my father-in-law put his arm around me and said, "You're the third son I didn't have." He'd asked my thoughts on dinosaur extinction over the meal (asteroid seems a safe bet), and for this I liked him even more. A family's borders are never stable; they take on new territories, and relinquish others. It's mysterious, like plate tectonics; the ground moves beneath you, you go with it.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

alapocas: hike 12 of 2011: pawpaw trees and brandywine blue gneiss

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My camerado chose this hike from the book of hikes that we are beginning to realize we will not finish this year, though that had been our goal. Alapocas Run State park is a lovely wild place in Wilmington Delaware, situated by a freeway, similar to Tinicum Marsh in Philly.

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The parkland was set aside by William Poole Bancroft for the people of Delaware. W.P.B was the son of Joseph Bancroft, who seems to have made the family money, and the brother of Samuel Bancroft, whose collection of PreRaphealite art is the largest in the United States. I've never been able to keep the Bancrofts or the DuPonts straight, but I feel I owe it to the philanthropists of Delaware to try.

We liked this hike. It began as a quiet, pleasant walk through riparian woods.

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(These fungi resemble the bonnet-wearing oysters in Disney's Alice in Wonderland--my first, instantly addicting taste of the surreal.)

The trail led us up a rise into a pawpaw forest. I had never seen so many, and had the sense of being somewhere very exotic and new. Look how the leaves fan out at the ends of the pawpaw branches:

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Very graceful. The pawpaw is the largest fruit native to North America--I envision a day when everyone has a pawpaw tree in the yard, having finally realized how thrifty and ecologically shrewd it is to grow low-maintenance foodstuffs at home. This may be unrealistic: I know only two people who have tried pawpaw, and neither liked it.

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But I need to taste it myself. Pawpaw is the only species of its genus found outside the tropics; our hiking book said breadfruit was a relative, but I think the author confused pawpaw with papaya. Wrong again, book! Like Jango Fett, pawpaws reproduce by cloning (which I may try, so be warned), and is the host plant for the zebra swallowtail butterfly (which we did not see).


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The trail led to the base of these cliffs. They are blue gneiss, which I had pictured as lush cobalt and marbled, but blue gneiss, it seems, is battleship gray unless freshly broken. Still, this view was impressive, and I was able to imagine these cliffs veiled by a waterfall, through which a glistening tarzan might step.

We got lost on the way back, and emerged from the park, hot and weary, in a suburb, where, we surmised, many Native Americans must reside--because the sign for the development is crowned with a beautiful silhouette of an Indian shooting an arrow.

Or, at least, it seems likely that Indians are given a nice discount on homes here.

We'd been invited to Peter's house for dinner (Peter and his wife gave my camerado the hiking book that started this whole thing), and were supposed to bring beer--but found none in Delaware and were too tired to stop in Philly. We showed up at Peter's door and explained--he said, Well actually, I am very disappointed.

So we borrowed Peter's dog and walked to the liquor store to keep our end of the bargain, which, after all, is only fair.

Dinner was outstanding, as it always is at Peter's.

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