Currents, December 2014


Project: I need to make various Christmas music playlists for holiday vacation, separated by genres and moods.
Movie: 22 Jump Street made me giggle just as much as 21 Jump Street. And I'm seeing the last Hobbit movie tonight! 
Food: Homemade? My sister's pot pie. Restaurant? Burgerville's Yukon gold waffle fries. Crispy, golden heaven.
Drink: My dad has started making fresh-squeezed orange juice and it makes breakfast (when I'm home) 5 times better.
Celebrity Crush: I've been re-watching Gilmore Girls and good GOD I have a serious Milo Ventimiglia crush. Jess is how I imagine a young Bruce Springsteen...
Obsession: My new blue hair.
Book: Reading This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper for book club, hopeful it's funny. 
Thankfulness: Oz was a crazy-sweet cuddler this morning. God, I love my cats, you guys. They're so great. 
Fashion: Found some $5 flannel Santa pajamas at Target. You're WELCOME, everyone who will see me in them. (Mom and dad.)
TV show: I am hoping to use the break from regular programming--I watch too many shows--to, you know, start watching even more shows. I am eager to start The 100, as it's ALL OVER my tumblr dash.
Music: I already did a post about some of my Christmas music, but here's some more! "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" has become a bit tired for me over the years, but Joan Baez's version where she hums at the end has totally reinvigorated it for me. I can't get enough of John Legend's "It Don't Have to Change" off his debut album--particularly because I'm a stickler for family tradition and nostalgia--but also because I can't not snap my fingers to it.  Finally I'm delighted by Norman Blake & Peter Ostroushko performing "Christmas Eve is Coming, Anna."
Wishlist: I'm pretty in love with this coat's collar. And I would love this on CD or vinyl. For kicks.
Reminder: "Edit your life frequently and ruthlessly. It's your masterpiece after all." - Nathan W.Morris

Season's Burnings


Technically this is a Yankee Candle video, but I spend a lot of time talking about my hair and Christmas tree lights.

Top 5 New(ly Discovered) Christmas Songs of 2014

Hey! I haven't been blogging at ALL. Sorry! It's been a weird few months but I'm feeling back in the groove again.

I'd have to say that tied with decor and food, music is my favorite part of the Christmas season. My tastes in Christmas music have shifted a bit over the past two years, from more classic genres of Motown, Big Band, or pop, to a more bluegrass and mediaeval choral arena. Of course I'm happy to hear most all Christmas music (though some song featuring Larry the Cable Guy came on the radio the other day and I became eager to offer whatever help I could to any of the south's renewed attempts to secede), but when I'm especially wanting to feel connected to the holiday both spiritually and nostalgically, the bluegrass and choral music has been just the ticket.

All of the following songs are one's I've only just discovered (or really begun to appreciate) this year. You may have loved them for ages, which makes me jealous, because they're only now in constant rotation for me.

1) First up is "Light of the Stable." Written in 1975 by Steve and Elizabeth Rhymer. The version I discovered was on Ricky Scagg's album, A Scagg's Family Christmas, Vol. 2. I'm not sure who does the vocals for it, but when I first heard it I was not super impressed with their voices. But the more I listened to it, the more the song felt homey and cozy in its non-grandeur. It feels like a song I would like to sing around a campfire at a non-crazy Christian camp. Like an awesome, progressive, hippie-dippie Christian camp. I came to find out that the most famous version of this song is probably the one by Emmylou Harris, who even named her Christmas album after it. When I found out her backing vocals are by none other than Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, and Neil Young, I thought, "Oh, this version must be the best." But honestly, the backing vocals don't feel warm and close to me, instead they feel ghostly and distant. I want to hear this song sung in a casual, intimate space, not in a cathedral. So here's Ricky Scaggs' family version, my preferred:

2) Next up is "The Wexford Carol," a traditional Irish carol. Technically I've heard it for years sung by Julie Andrews, but it wasn't until this year that I feel I really heard it for the first time, and now I'M OBSESSED. I've scoured iTunes for as many versions as possible, and hum it to myself regularly. Julie's is gorgeous, but I've found more covers that leave me just as thrilled. I adore The Chieftains with Nanci Griffith (stirring) as well as Judy Collins (glorious), but the one I'm posting is no shocker--it's the #1 downloaded version on iTunes. It's Alison Krauss with Yo-Yo Ma, and I swear it's like her voice was made to sing this carol. It feels powerful, ancient and mystical.

3) I love the Nutcracker Suite, and always love to have it in my Christmas mixes. About a month ago I heard a Bluegrass-jazz version of "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies" by Béla Fleck and the Flecktones. I never knew I needed a banjo playing this song, but now I don't know how I ever lived without one.

4) Perhaps the most modern song I've adopted into my playlist is a cover of a Melissa Manchester song by The Indigo Girls: "There's Still My Joy." Every Christmas I hope to find a new "Blue Christmas" song--one that embodies the grief and heartache that this season can hold alongside the celebration. Well, when I heard this one for the first time it knocked my socks off like Tracey Thorn's "Joy" did last year.

I brought my tree down to the shore
The garland the silver star
To find my peace and grieve no more
To heal this place inside my heart

5) Finally I end with another carol that I've heard for years, but now listen to as often as I do to, say, "Carol of the Bells" or "O Holy Night." I love it because it's a weird carol, as it follows an apocryphal narrative about Mary and Joseph. It's been called "Joseph and Mary" but I know it as "The Cherry Tree Carol." It tells the story of Mary and Joseph hanging out in a cherry orchard and Mary tells Joseph she's pregnant, and that she'd like him to pick her some cherries. He gets pissed and says, "Let the father of your baby pick you cherries, you slut!" (Ok, he doesn't call her a slut but it's very implied.)  Then Jesus the FETUS talks to the cherry trees and tells them to lower their branches for Mary, which she awesomely rubs in Joseph's face by saying "I have cherries at command, you asshole!" (Again, everything but the asshole bit is in there.)

Now, my favorite version stops the story there, but other ones then go on to have Joseph humbled and sit Mary on his knee to ask when the baby's birthday will be (or Mary's birthday? It's not always clear to me), and in a shocking turn of events, the baby replies January 6th instead of December 25th! Is that a pagan thing? I don't know. But I LOOOVE this carol. Some excellent versions include Natalie Merchant's of 10,000 Maniacs with Elizabeth Mitchell and Joan Baez's (I mean, all of her Christmas stuff is gold). But my favorite version is the one I've known the longest, Peter, Paul and Mary's performance from their Holiday Celebration (1988), which of course you've seen, because you've never celebrated Christmas properly unless you've watched it.

Currents, November 2014


Project: This year's Christmas card photo. There's 5 of us this year, and I'm hopeful I can make something work that won't include photoshopping us all together.
Movie: I loved Gone Girl so much. It re-inspired my hope that David Fincher makes more Girl With The Dragon Tattoo movies. I watched Birdman last night and I liked it but I don't recommend seeing it on the big screen. I had to take two advil and a dramamine and I was still nauseous when I left the theater.
Food: I'm trying out NatureBox for a few months. I don't love cooking and my diet generally consists of ready-to-eat food, so I want to try to eat a bit healthier. 
Celebrity Crush: John Cho in the show Selfie
Obsession: Showing off Bridget's Flora.Forager instagram account to everyone I know. 
Book: I'm reading Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl for book club, and I'm eager to start the 3rd (and final?) novel in the Mara Dyer series.
Drink: I'm really into Naked's Orange Mango juice right now.
Thankfulness: So, two days after it arrived in the mail, my new iPhone 6 fell in my toilet. And it never woke up. I took it to the Apple store, and only one of the 4 water-detection sensors had been triggered, so my Apple Genius guy replaced it for me under warranty as it "having problems powering on," not as water-damaged. I'll never stop being thankful for that Apple Genius. 
Location: I'm dreaming of a (local) vacation spot for my 30th birthday (still 5 months away).
Fashion: My sweater boots are back in rotation! #blessed
TV show: The Fall is finally back for season 2! And I'm late to the game but really enjoying Lillyhammer.
Music: I'm loving Taylor Swift's new album 1989, and eagerly anticipating One Direction's new album. But all day today I'm playing this: 

Wishlist: This ring.
Reminder: "I chose and my world was shaken. So what? The choice may have been mistaken, the choosing was not. You have to move on." - (x)

The Narcotic That Got Away (Which Is a Good Thing Because Addiction is Real, People)


I've written about my love of Dilaudid before, but since I haven't had any since 2010, I don't really have anything new to say about it. That's not to say that I don't bring it up whenever someone talks about pain meds or being in the hospital because I totally do. But two days ago The Paris Review Instagram account posted Diana Ó Hehir's poem "Sleeping Pill" and it immediately reminded me of being on Dilaudid. If sleeping pills exist that can give you this kind of feeling, then, Diana, you need to DISH, bitch. I don't care that your 85 years old, you need to share that Rx with the world.

And then the drug takes hold
And goes down into your arms and fingers,
Wipes the pain along in front of it, washes
Cells clear. The white moons come back in your fingernails,
The bed unfreezes and cradles you; it becomes
That nest you remember from childhood, coaxed from a
            mat of leaves,
Wedged up close to the oak tree.
You lie there with your friend with the pale green eyes,
            the one who was shot in Vallejo.

He smells of dust and soap, there are shadows of leaf on his
            face; he props
Himself up on one freckled elbow;
The hot California day wraps you in its dry tart smell.

And now the drug drowns the base of your spine, it floats
A pale warm ocean around the base of the tree, drowns
The lover in his khaki pants; pulls you
Empty as a new boat,

Currents, October 2014


Drink: Prosecco and tangerine juice mimosas from my friend Eryn's baby shower. Tangerine juice. Who knew? (Thanks, Olga!)
Current Project: I'm investigating/researching/reading up on Radical Feminism. For funsies! My kingdom for a Women's Studies graduate program in the NW.
Location: Anywhere it's cloudy and raining or misty and gray or chilly and windy. Ideally all of the above.
TV Shows: Can we talk about how GREAT it is seeing David Tennant on a Fox TV show? It warms my heart. What warms my heart even more? That they kept his gorgeous beard stubble. If you didn't see Broadchurch when it aired last year in the UK, go watch it first. But then start watching the American version, Gracepoint, starring David and Breaking Bad's Anna Gunn. The teleplay is by the same person, the sometimes-Doctor Who writer Chris Chibnall. He wrote "42", one of my favorite episodes ever. As for other new fall shows, I'm watching Gotham (and loathing it), Blackish (and enjoying it), The Mysteries of Laura (and liking it more than expected), How To Get Away With Murder (and already liking it better than Scandal), and finally, The Red Band Society (and super back and forth about it). Also, I'm still watching Outlander, but unfortunately, I have to retract my former high praise. I got to a certain part in the book that really upset me. I'm hopeful they'll portray it differently (or not at all) in the show, but those hopes aren't high, judging by how closely they've stuck to the source material so far.
Worry: I'm taking Stevie in for a private session with a dog behaviorist this month and I'm quite nervous about it. 
Movie: I re-watched Happy Gilmore last weekend (to get prepped for watching the Ryder Cup), and realized I should be watching it on at least an annual basis.
Food: I'm super into Zoi Greek yogurt right now. The only part I don't like is the fruit on the bottom. Someone find me a nice single man who likes cats and chunky fruit at the bottom of yogurt containers but not the yogurt itself. 
Celebrity Crush: Josh Lucas in The Mysteries of Laura.
Obsession: Finding childhood crap on Ebay. I'm planning on doing a post about it soon!
Book: Well, loads of radical feminism books with titles like The Industrial Vagina, The Spinster and Her Enemies, Against Sadomasochism, etc. But in fiction I'm in the second book of the Mara Dyer series. The first one, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, had me hooked; I read it in one night! But the second is definitely less gripping. It's creepier, which I like, but a lot less smoochy-time between her and Noah, which I dislike.
Thankfulness: For the energy I had to clean my condo this weekend. Summer stuff is in storage, deck is cleaned...
Indulgence: Almond Roca for breakfast.
Fashion: I'm getting ready to dye my hair a new color for the fall/winter.
Music: This song (thanks to this SYTYCD routine):
Wishlist: The right idea for my holiday photo this year...
Reminder: "Falling in love with yourself first doesn't make you vain or selfish, it makes you indestructible." (x)

Why I Love Pumpkins


Because they roll into town on the backs of trucks
with a loud, orange
tomatoes, apples, and melons
moving from the market stalls
to make way for their huge invasion.

Because the grocers pile them row on row
with the same skill that builds stone fences.

Because this fall for the first time, living
as I now do farther south, I saw
a whole field, pumpkins tumbling
to the horizon and doubling back,
and I had to stop the car to stare
as if I'd come upon a herd of deer.

Because they are more accurate than calendars or clocks.

Because of the grin some mother or father
carves for a child. The nose,
the triangular eyes that look at you
as if they know your face.

Because a candle flickers inside inside their heads
like memory
striking its paper matches and blowing them out.

Because they are the last
of autumn's light, the last to ripen,
an explosion, a contradiction of
colour in the colourless fields.

Because their flowers are deep yellow,
because their five-lobed leaves resemble hearts,
because pumpkinseed is also
the name of a fresh-water
fish resembling perch and the name of a type
of sailing boat.
Because you can therefore travel on a pumpkinseed
across any kind of water, or holding it to your ear,
hear the secrets of the sea.

Because the OED says, "A single pumpkin could furnish
a fortnight's pottage."

Because they are not a vegetable
for the delicate, the weak-hearted.
When you knock on their doors, someone
might answer, beckon you inside.

Because they are moons defeated by gravity,

hugging the earth in their orbits, as we do,
dust to dust. Because in soups and pies
and thick slices of pumpkin bread,

we taste what they know of time.

Because of the small distances
they travel on their trailing vines.

Because they float just above the earth
like lighted buoys marking the safest entrance
to the harbour.

Because the deer, born in the spring,
return to the pumpkin fields
after the harvest,
and are lost,
though they nibble with their soft mouths
the broken shells left on the ground
and slowly
find their way.

Because the first snow falls,
the first snow falls,
into the huge silence
the pumpkins leave in the fields.

- Lorna Crozier (x)