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Archive for January, 2015

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Just about every room in the house contains books. Some are older than either of us; others are from our college years or from our assorted career paths.

“Do you think this one goes best with the theology books or the children’s lit?” I ask.

She listens for the title, which is in German.

She considers for a moment, then: “Theology.”

“Can those go up in the attic for now?”

“Sure.”

And so on….

Much furniture wrangling at Chez Rhet these days.

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ChickenVeggiesRoastedQuinceI’d found the last batch of roasted quince to be a bit on the dry side, and was wondering what could be done to use it in a safer way [for me and my tempermental esophagus].  Using it as a bed for roasting chicken seemed a good idea.  We had some new purple sweet potatoes to try, and so after tossing the diced veggies and quince in a little flavored olive oil, I came up with a mix of spices I thought would harmonize nicely:  paprika, lavender, thyme, fennel seed…some garlic-scape salt….

The oven had been preheated to 375, the chicken was defrosted in the microwave, all the ingredients layered in a square Pyrex baking pan…splashed with some ice wine/brandy mix, and popped in the oven for an hour.

Word declared it FOOD, and insisted I write up the ‘recipe’.  So.  There.  It’s bedtime now.

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There is a titmouse.  He is singing “Way-hey Hey HEY” over and over, to let the world know what a very

Very Very

titmouse-ishFINE titmouse he is.

Hey girls, right here.

Titmouse!

Now.

You other guys “Hoo!” Get back.

I

I

I am the very FINEST titmouse.

And this is my tree.

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Years ago, a friend of mine was trying to make a casual reference to his wife, who he loved dearly, and I knew from the church fellowship we were all attending at the time. The phrase he was trying to avoid was “the little woman”, but then it was immediately clear that saying “the big woman” wouldn’t do either, and so what he ended up with was the awkward and funny [even to her] “woman of moderate size”….

So here, in a somewhat similarly awkward vein, is someone trying to decide if poetry is a lively art, a hobby, a craft, or, by a particular definition, a “minor art”: a craft whose audience is mostly other practitioners of that art…..

Poetry in the twenty-first century is like pottery, woodworking, or the making of carrot carnations. Sophisticated verse was never a major art, and having lost even a small non-practitioner audience, it has lost its status as a minor art. At hobbyist conventions, celebrated practitioners of a craft address an audience made up of other practitioners of the craft, who will then go home and work at the art themselves. Poetry has more residual cultural prestige than carrot carnation making and other hobbies, but that is only because most of the poet-hobbyists are professors with MFAs, while there are no professors of table-setting.From Poesey to Carrot Carnations

I suppose he is talking about “pottery” in the sense of the craft practiced in studio art programs, and “woodworking” in some sense that is similarly rarified — but if you walk around fine craft shows, there seem to be quite a few non-practitioners who come to admire, gawp, collect, and natter. The audiences for these items still do include outsiders: There are people who love a beautifully-sculpted chair arm whether or not they’ve ever picked out a spokeshave from the Veritas or Lie Nielsen. There are degree programs in interior design. There are blogs featuring elaborate tablescapes and business models based around floral sculptures made of fruits and vegetables.

The population of people who talk about politics may be larger [that’s Mr. Lind’s main audience and source of income], and it may be that these days you can get more notariety [or more dates] if you perform in that arena rather than in poetry. But I don’t think the system of political pundits talking about/at/with each other is any less insular [and potentially prone to omphaloskepsis] than specialized communities of discourse in other segments of life or art.  I remember my piano teacher, who traveled around the world on the basis of her skills, telling me once that she had started reading business magazines [Forbes, Fortune, etc.] to see if the world of finance was any less ‘silly’ than the music world….and she came to the conclusion that it wasn’t. If the inhabitants of humanities departments get more mileage [tenure, grants, etc.] by making pronouncements about pop culture than about poetry, that’s not just a “sense of cultural responsibility” owed to one genre over another — it’s just a human desire to be wherever the action is….

Until, with typical human perversity, it becomes more interesting/authentic/hip to be running off in some other, probably opposite, direction. I believe that’s what the Smart Set aims for in its articles most of the time, anyway: a provocatvie contrarianism that reifies the status quo of some earlier time.

And yes, that was a rubbish previous sentence.  Time to get some sleep!

Music: “She’s Actual Size, but She Seems a Lot Bigger to Me”, They Might Be Giants

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gloSnowPinesMiniPerhaps today is best considered as light comedy, at least for me — I realize that the snow is Quite a Serious Matter elsewhere — I’d got the steps swept again, got the defrost going on Monster, and was cleverly sweeping off the top of Monster using a long-handled brush, after carefully putting my satchel with ID and wallet back in the house so I wouldn’t dump snow into it while working.

Less cleverly, I forgot to retrieve that satchel of essentials before hieing off into the snowstorm, and therefore had to track back 30+ miles after discovering the error.

it’s rather like the forest creature that digs itself a burrow beneath a tree, carefully lines it with leaves and fur, and then, just as it’s turning around to enter that nice dry shelter, gets flumphed upon by a cascade of snow from the upper branches.  !!

Ah well.

It is pretty.

Now my thoughts turn to how much bustling around the house I need to do to merit a big mug of hot cocoa with some bracing bit of booze in it….

In the meantime, I see there are more of you out there reading this — Don’t be shy then; say hello!

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Congrats to the new Head Gardener! I hope Word and I can someday take a stroll through this section of Wales…

Bodnant Garden Blog

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The wait is over – we have a new head gardener. After an 18-month search the coveted horticultural role goes to John Rippin (right), who joins us here on January 19. John was previously head gardener at the National Trust’s Castle Drogo, in Devon.

Our quest began with the departure of Troy Smith a year-and-a-half ago, who left to take the lead at another of the National Trust’s most prestigious sites, Sissinghurst in Kent.

Why has the recruitment taken so long? William Greenwood, our property manager, says: “It has taken some time, but we were determined to find the right person for this very special job. We have met some outstanding candidates along the way but at last we have found our head gardener.”

Troy Scott Smith, Head Gardener at Bodnant Garden, Conwy, Wales

Bodnant Garden ranks among the finest in Britain and attracts around 180,000 visitors from all over the world, each year. Taking the helm of this…

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