Friday, September 30, 2016

Hot Flash Friday, William Wordsworth and the Ordinary

Hi everyone! I’m back from my trip. 1,100 miles from John O’Groats to Land’s End in Cornwall. There is really no one word to describe my experience—though HARD comes first to mind. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Plus I had the pressure of trying to finish in less days than I originally planned because of a snafu at the beginning involving Air Canada. (Still trying to resolve getting reimbursed for my train tickets I had to re-purchase.) I plan to post my daily trip diary here starting next week and into the following weeks.

BUT since today is Hot Flash Friday I wanted to pull something from my bike trip, something that reinforced this writerly journey I’m on. It has to do with William Wordsworth.

While in the Lake District I stopped at Dove Cottage, Wordsworth’s residence for eight years, before marriage and then through 3 of his 5 children. He also seemed to have eternal houseguests, a sister and Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

Before moving to Dove Cottage Wordsworth had been somewhat itinerate, what we might call a tramp. He moved around a lot, carry only a small bag. He wrote much of his poetry while on the go; he especially loved to compose on long walks. While living at Dove Cottage he wrote most of the poems that have come to be loved.

He wasn’t always so well-read, so well-loved. (It was only later in life and after much coaxing that he agreed to be Poet Laureate for a short spell.) In fact Byron and Shelley were much more popular than Wordsworth because much of their verse was “exotic,” based in foreign lands, out of the ordinary. Thus, Wordsworth’s writings were considered local, homely, of little consequence because his topics dealt with the everyday, with people we know well and scenes of the English countryside.

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Or . . .
Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, On Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour. July 13, 1798
Five years have past; five summers, with the length
Of five long winters! and again I hear
These waters, rolling from their mountain-springs
With a soft inland murmur.

Or . . .
Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802

Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.

He is writing what he sees, what he’s experiencing. He is in the NOW. And because of this propensity to record everyday life, he now surpasses Byron and Shelley in popularity. People turn to Wordsworth for that sense of England during that time, to re-capture the mood of the time. He also was someone who could encapsulate the sublime, that is create with a few words a feeling that one can’t quite put their finger on. Beauty! Peace! Well being! That all is right.
Wordsworth translated his world into words.

Right now, plein air, go outside and compose. Take a walk along the lakefront, or along the bicycle path, or into your garden, now subsided into mid-autumn. Go to the Friday night football game, or take a Sunday drive out into the country. Go outside and write, give me a sense of where you are and how it feels to be alive. NOW.

Eric Ravilious - Sussex Landscape, 1933, wood engraving

Monday, September 19, 2016

No Baggage

No Baggage
A Minimalist Tale of Love & Wandering
Clara Benson
2016, Running Press

So girl meets guy, guy meets girl and together they decide they are going to travel to 11 countries in 3 weeks WITH NO LUGGAGE.

Of course this book is really all about the baggage they lug around, the stuff inside of them. Both have pasts that are not easily left behind.

First off: who meets on OKCupid and stays together for 3 seconds let alone 3 weeks without a change of clothes?????

I loved this story and Googled and found out there is a film project around it, so can’t wait for that.

Clara meets Jeff, an professor of environmental science with a wild streak. Clara is a naïve but open-hearted young adult trying to navigate the world post bachelor’s degree. She loves poetry and soup. He experiments with alternate lifestyles, such as living in a Dumpster for a year. The idea that these two will embark on an overseas trip with nothing sounds crazy, exciting, and improbable.

Like that line in Say Anything when the two main characters are about to embark on their own crazy adventure—
She: no one thinks this is going to work
He: you’ve just described every great success story

One time I flew over to Sweden and my backpack didn’t land with me. I went to the hostel and the next day took a fast train to Copenhagen, got off at the station and took a walking tour, got on a bus, went to my couchsurfer’s apartment—and ten minutes later the airline called to say my luggage was about to be delivered to my host’s address. Wow! Serendipity! And that whole time I had been free to run around Stockholm and Copenhagen without the burden of my pack. It felt great, a little nerve-wracking, but great. A bit like unencumbered freedom.

So what do we really need when traveling? A sense of humor, an imagination to visualize possibilities, and a good pair of shoes. Oh, and an outfit you can wear over and over again.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Day 13 of JOGLE, halfway there

The first week of this tour I played a game with myself. If I had a choice which would I exclude: high winds, rain, or punishing up hills. It was always about, what's worse. This week since there aren't as many bad up hills and the weather has been clear and the winds still, I'm dealing with getting hopelessly lost and round-abouts. I've managed to not get killed, but not confused. I swear today I wasted a total of an hour each trying to circumnavigate Preston, Wigan, and then Warrington. At one point I realized I'd taken the wrong turn at a round-about and had double-backed.

I was also trying to book a warmshowers host on the go. This being Saturday, I wasn't lucky. Nevertheless, I rode past the Holly Bush Inn and as it was almost 7 pm and I have a cousin named Holly Bush I stopped and inquired. They had a cancellation, and one room left, a triple that they let me have at a single price. I haven't spent much $$ so far, so went ahead and splurged. Also had a GREAT dinner in their pub. Excellent fish and chips with a salad included. 

I noticed I've been getting a lot of sun. Have bike shorts tan line. I pretty much took the A49 all day (except when ridiculously lost). I plan to scrap bike instructions and go with the A49 tomorrow, Sunday, into the Shropshire Hills.

69 miles today, extra miles than necessary.

Pics to come

Thursday, September 15, 2016

JOGLE Day 9, Lochgilphead to Ayr, via Arran, 67 miles

from my trip diary originally posted at Crazy Guy on a Bike

Day 9, Lochgilphead to Ayr, via Arran, 67 miles

Tuesday September 13, 2016, 67 miles (108 km) - Total so far: 440 miles (709 km)

Woke early, still raining, but at least no wind. Left probably around 8 a.m. I haven't been following the cycle route completely because sometimes it turns into a slog, or logging track. So stayed on A83 before turning off to go down to the ferry, about 25 miles. By this time the weather was sunny. Lochranza was a blur as I really wanted to catch the 13:55 ferry, only giving me 1.5 hours to cover 15 miles, plus a big uphill. After descending and following the coast I met another cyclist named Murray, he paced me to the ferry. I got there just in time, the last person on. So far on this tour I haven't seen much wildlife. Also rarely do I meet cyclists going in my direction. There are quite a few passing me going the opposite direction.
Ardrossan, I followed signs for cycle route 73, then for 7. Definitely this side of Scotland is less pastoral. In fact so far very industrial. It is working class, golf courses, trainspotting. In Preswick I passed the airport for example. There are power plants and highways. I passed over my first M road.
I eventually got to Ayr and tried to follow directions to a camping/caravan place. Way off base. But as it was getting dark, I scoped out a stealth camp site by the River Ayr. I am totally afraid of being found so will turn off device.
About 67 miles as cyclometer acted up after Broderick to Androssan ferry.
Tarbent Harbor

Tarbent Harbor

waiting for the ferry

the ferry to Arran

Lochranza Castle

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Memory Tour

Not sure what this is, here’s the article:
by Morgan Greene
Chicago Tribune

Pivot Arts will produce a site-specific interactive production titled "The Memory Tour," the North Side company announced Tuesday.

Structured as a 90-minute indoor and outdoor walking tour through other people's memories in the Edgewater and Uptown neighborhoods, the event incorporates live performances with an interactive app and filmed interviews. Isaac Gomez, Brett Neveu and Tanya Palmer have contributed written works for the project.

Directed by Julieanne Ehre and co-conceived by Palmer and Ehre, "The Memory Tour" will feature Ann James, Sharon Lanza, Ashlyn Lozano, Brandon Rivera, Kate Smith and Alejandro Tey.

The production runs Sept. 10-Oct. 9, beginning at 5252 N. Broadway Ave.

Sharon Lanza is a Memory Docent in Pivot Arts’ "The Memory Tour," conceived by Julieanne Ehre and Tanya Palmer and directed by Julieanne Ehre.

Monday, September 12, 2016

James Schuyler’s Letters

Just the Thing (review)
Selected Letters of James Schuyler, 1951 – 1991

It’s hard to get into a book of letters. I started and then began to skip around—then it hit me: Oh, this is when Frank died, or Jimmy went on vacation with the Koch’s in August, or he just won a Pulitzer for Morning of the Poem, and then the letters began to take on some context. I began to use the dates and places and reference them to a New York School of Poets timeline—wish the editor had done a little of this for us.

Nevertheless, it is rich, rich and brimming with names and nuances. You really begin to see the amount of collaboration that went on in this fairly broad group of friends. Imagine if you were able to approach your genre, let’s say poetry, through the eyes of a painter—or your sculptor friend gives you feedback. The cross-pollination between dance, fashion, music, writers of all genres is incredible and RICH. These people wrote together, slept together, drank, summered, and gossiped together. They drove each other crazy and fell apart, together.

Where in the world and which period of time works as a parallel?

And the discussions centered around the arts (not entirely, but in the letters let me point out): movies, books, art openings!

How lucky, how fortunate. Did they ever realize that what they had was rare, could not be duplicated?

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Out on a JOGLE

Hi Folks! Right now I'm out and about on a bike ride. John O'Groats to Land's End, familiarly known as JOGLE. A 1,000 mile journey. I am going to try to post updates here and HERE. I'll be gone Sept. 1 through 26--send good vibes, prayers, thoughts my way!

Hopefully you will join me as I cycle the length of the United Kingdom!
North Yorkshire Dales - Steve Coldroy Photography
Brunton Turret, Hadrian's Wall, Northumberland, England


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Throw Back: Holiday at Home Parade

from an earlier post:

Holiday at Home Parade

Labor Day weekend. School was right around the corner. Which meant autumn was coming, falling leaves, and change.

But things would never be different.

Freshman year I was a nerd. As a sophomore I was a more experienced nerd. Junior year I entered school thinking halfway done, only 2 more years of being an ostracized nerd. Finally as a senior, I knew it was my last year. I'd never be popular but forever a nerd. But at least a nerd on her way out.

The only good thing about Labor Day weekend was the Holiday at Home Parade. I looked forward to getting there early and finding a seat along the curb. Friends of my parents lived close to the parade route, so I rode up to their house and parked my bike in their garage. The Centerville Elks marching band and Coed Drill team would be in the parade along with both Fairmont high schools, East and West. Schools from as far as West Carrollton and even ones from Dayton, the big city, might show up. There were the floats and people I had no idea of who they were in convertibles, waving. The Shriners, clowns in miniature cars came by tooting their horns and tossing candy into the crowds. The Shriners also had a bagpipe corp. I often wondered if the guys minded wearing kilts. In fact, the Shriners took up a large section of the parade.

Somewhere in the procession came the mounted police and after the mounted police came the street cleaners!

Several cars carried the Holiday at Home parade court with the Queen and several princesses. I never once knew anyone elected. Or were you born royalty. That's something else I thought about.

I can't recall a time that the parade was cancelled or rained out. In my memory it is always sunny, the parade going on forever, until at last people filed into the street carrying lawn chairs and pulling coolers. Time to go home, turn on the Jerry Lewis telethon, and prepare for the next day. The first day of school.

for the history of the Holiday at Home Parade go HERE.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Labor Day by James Schuyler

Labor Day by James Schuyler
From Collected Poems, James Schuyler, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1993.
Labor Day
Not what I think
or see (I can’t:
sun in my eyes)
or remember, or
will be – what
do I know of that? –
or never knew
or know for sure,
just this day
its clarity:
bliss: an un-
ending kiss:
what a gyp,
that there is
but we, or
I, only get
to sense it.
It’s not like
that, this
day.  A family
of seven
walk down our
street, a tot
on his father’s
shoulders. Three
policemen chat.
The fancy grocer’s
is open.  Liquor
store shut: I
foresaw that.
Drums in my room:
“We can make
each other happy.”
Radiant clarity,
why, today, do
I think of death?

Friday, September 2, 2016

Hot Flash Friday: Hawaiian White Ginger

Did your Mom ever order from the Avon catalog? Remember the Avon lady? She came around door-to-door with brochures and samples (usually a neighbor trying to earn extra bucks). I always loved the Hawaiian White Ginger.

What is this fragrance? On-line it is described as containing notes of citruses, green grass, jasmine, rose and ginger. I’m not sure it’s something found naturally in nature or was spawned in a laboratory. It’s something only myself and a grandmotherly-type person would like. Thus this classic fragrance as well as the Avon lady have long been retired.

Yet just the other day I was reminded of this when an odor wafted by me. That smell! And immediately the rhythms of onomatopoeia, the surfboard balance of the words: Hawaiian White Ginger came over me. I remembered exactly what it was like to wear it and how it felt. Comfortable, gracious, light and airy, like an exotic flower opening up on a dewy evening. All that in one whiff.

Right now, using your sense of smell, utilizing your sense of nostalgia, write about a smell that encapsulates your youth, something specific to an event in your past—or simply reminisce about the Avon lady, the homely woman you practically felt sorry for and ended up buying sacks of crèmes, lotions, and sprays that sat around in your bathroom vanity for years. Until you emptied out the house after Mom died. Go back, return to Hawaiian White Ginger.