Thursday, May 5, 2016


May 4, 2016

The bitter anniversary.
   
In a first-of-summer mode that suits me well. Rise early, write, nap, write, go into the garden and do the work that needs to be done there. When I hesitate about retirement, I should remember this. Work on Antigonus flies ahead.
   
Facebook discussion on what students do to irritate professors. The central problem is that students come from high schools (now– we were amply warned) with the wrong idea of what a professor is. He is not a “teacher” in the sense they’re used to. A professor professes, delivers information and understanding, which you either receive or you do not. The worst question you can ask a professor is “what can I do to improve my grade?” because there is only one answer, and that’s not what the questioner wants to hear. “Do better.” Study harder. Stop surfing the net in class. Read the material. It NEVER has to do with the professor’s teaching style or the student’s “learning style.” The material is there. You pick it up and make it yours, or you do not. Anxiety over retention has put administrators on the side of students in this, implying that professors are somehow responsible for student failure. But administrators are always wrong about everything. It is one of the constants by which we navigate our lives. I want my students to understand that I care about them absolutely, and want them to have the wisdom and the skills they need for abundant life. But also, that I don’t care one bit about their grade. That has nothing to do with me. It’s amazing that they should want it to.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016


May 3, 2016

Working on the play in the High 5. Lone bearded men, and women in clumps, summoning things up on their laptops. I think most of the people there at that hour are social workers having meetings. Nothing is odder than the matriarchy. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2016


May 2, 2016

Waking, slender curve of moon low in the east.
   
Pulled the plug on the fountain for a while. The builders want me to keep it on “24x7,” but I feel it cannot build up a proper pond biota if the water is always moving. Sat and watched it, then, and in the great calm I did see my denizens at last, Egypt and Sumer and Akkad leaping to the air with their gold scales flashing, the reddish minnows nibbling at everything on the surface, a bit of petal being nibbled by one, abandoned, then being nibbled by another and abandoned, until all the fish in the pond are satisfied it’s nothing they want to eat. Saw the turtle Minos, too, his head like a black bubble pushed up for breath between a stone and a lily pad, in what must be called an excess of caution. Drove to Weaverville and bought dried red worms, seeing that everyone wanted to feed on the surface. The guy at the pet store said, “Red worms are what I would want if I were a fish.”
   
Began a play which speculates that Antigonus was not killed by the bear.

Monday, May 2, 2016


May 1, 2016

May Day. Gentle rain through the night. Blue iris in bloom.
   
Bought tadpoles from Ebay, which I’d never previously imagined to do.
   
Matinee was the best performance yet, for me. I’ll consider it opening night.
   
Grueling Cantaria rehearsal after the matinee and the long drive. I could have ditched. I could have been irresponsible. J beside me singing his confidant one note, the same note whatever the score says.

Saturday, April 30, 2016


April 30, 2016

First almost perfect night on stage last night, with a tiny audience to witness it.
   
Lunch at White Duck downtown with J D and his wife and their increasingly beautiful toddler son.  He receives $4600 for our song commission, asks what I want of it. I say $200. He thinks I’m joking. I sat in a cafĂ© and wrote the text over cappuccino. Not the same thing as work.
   
Rushing home before meeting with Z, I discovered two cartons on my porch, which I knew were the turtles I ordered from Florida. Unpacked them and put them in the bathtub with some water until I could attend to them, but even then the time was brief, just that between seeing Z and heading out for Waynesville. The razor backed musk turtle was perfect. His name is Minos, after one who was a sea-king, and then went down to be a judge of the underworld. I set him on a stone at the edge of the pond, went in to do an errand, and when I returned he was gone. Submerged, I hope; I’ll look for him today. The red slider, however, was enormous. Too big for my pond, I thought, an eating machine beside whom there could not be much else in the pool. I put him back in his packing box and drove him to Beaver Lake, where I figured he’d have a home right for him. A couple was pushing their baby in a stroller by the lakeside, so I walked over and said, “Would she like to see a turtle?” The little girl played with the turtle for a moment (looking then less like a turtle than a colorful, angry stone) as I explained what I was doing. “We have a pond,” the man said. “A big one,” the woman added, “full of koi.” They looked so hopeful. I explained the turtle’s needs and gave them the box, telling them to choose between the lake and their koi pond. I figured my little friend would prosper either place. And so one turtle is kept close and the other set to a fate not fully known. I feel blessed either way.
   
Joe the tree guy turns out to be even more beautiful than Nick the lawn guy. My luck in these matters holds. Joe is beautiful and cheery, like a kid. Nick is beautiful and solemn, like a figure in an icon.
   
Planted like a maniac– two roses, more waterlilies, a witch hazel tree. The crows use the pond to soften or dampen–or perhaps to conceal–their food. Haven’t seen Minos since I left him on his rock.

April 29, 2016

Final in Introduction to Literature. As with almost every semester, students who slogged through the semester don’t show up for the final. I can’t figure that out. Some come late, confident. Too many duties and appointments, layered like pastry in baclava. The German and the Japanese iris remember an old alliance.

Thursday, April 28, 2016


April 28, 2016

Turbulent days.  Fixed upon the pond, to have it right. To Kung and Lao Tse I added the small golden koi Egypt, Sumer, and Akkad. All of them vanished instantly and became invisible fish. Yesterday it entered my heart to have turtles, which cannot be caught or bought locally, but only by the mail. I have a red eared slider and a razor backed mud heading my way through the aether. To prepare for their coming I bought a shoal of feed minnows. These I saw in the morning– before there was direct light on the water– and under them Sumer and Akkad moving in the very deepest places. Added water iris. God-like Nick came and gave me a surprisingly cheap estimate for removing the north fence. Waiting for the arborist to come and give me an estimate on removing the last of the sour walnuts. Got a cheap, ugly haircut. I sleep all the time. I have become a cat.