susanstinson: (Default)
There were a few light flakes of snow as I rode in. There's supposed to be a big storm coming tonight.

Following me up the steps this week was the man who cried last week. He was very polite, almost meditative in the way he went my pace as he walked up the stairs. About the third flight, he said something I couldn't understand, and laughed in a friendly way, but when I said, "What?" He said, "Oh, nothing." Then, he mumbled something like, "We're going the same place." I smiled and nodded, both because we were and because it made me happy. I stepped aside and gestured for him to go up the last flight ahead of me. It felt a little like starting the dance on the stairs, with all the placards telling us anyone can dance.

I spent some time with a cushion on the floor, stretching and playing a little with how it feels to get up and down. I watch people go to the floor with so much grace, but what is between me and the floor is something else. For one thing, if the chairs of the world are too flimsy or too small, the floor and the grass or the ground always stretches out to accommodate me, and I take it up on that, sometimes regardless of propriety. Because my arthritic knee needs padding under it if I rest my weight on it on the hard floor, I get up like a baby, walking myself up with my hands on the ground, my legs a little straddled and and my butt in the air. I was self conscious about that when I first had to figure out how to do it, but now it comes naturally. So, yeah, I don't swoop down and leap up, but I bent over and slapped the floor for a while today, like people make steps with their feet.

They played Rock Steady! What it is what it is.

I was trying not to jump around because my knee was sore all week, so I spent a long time planted in one spot. But then they played some kind of country song, and I couldn't figure out what to do with it until I started skipping all over the room, which felt like flying, it was so fun. Other people started doing something like it, too, and it was pretty delicious to weave in and out of everybody dancing (a young willowy girl in a black leotard and filmy skirt who danced with her even younger sister like a ballerina letting her hair down; an older woman doing contact improv with a young man -- her son? -- who might have been autistic, rolling him over her back, dancing with another woman her age as they both kept physical contact with him; a little girl tossing a rubber snake back and forth to her mom; couples doing swing dance moves), I liked it, and my mess-with-me friend from last week was doing it, too, but I has to skip out the door in the middle of the song to gasp and drink water, because I am not so used to moving that fast.

Later, when I was dancing in a corner, a young woman came over to hug me and tell me that I radiated joy. A guy who had been dancing behind me said, "You have more fun than anyone." Which might be true. I think that this was something that I've been needing -- in a time when I'm looking urgently for paid work, and holding the experience of getting so much no and silence back from putting my beloved book out into the world, when my personal obstacles can set up a clamor with the big struggles and hard times -- to have somewhere to stretch physically, socially, emotionally, to explore connection and separation, to move. It's very wild to me that this is a bodily thing, not an intellectual thing, not about language, and that I've started to feel reflected back there in a way that I've been thirsty for. There are a lot of things about it that almost embarrass me, especially once people start talking, but I can't afford the luxury of indulging my taste for critique, not now, not yet, maybe not at all. Mostly, I'm just grateful that it's there, even for the likes of me, and that all I had to do was find it, drop my five dollars in the basket and dance.
susanstinson: (Default)

  • I was going to skip dancing this morning, but my body wanted to do it, so I jumped on my trike and went downtown. I liked shaking, liked the drummers, liked rolling around on the floor and kicking my legs in the air, walking my feet up the heated pipes along the wall. Okay, maybe I really am a hippie. I was singing "The Age of Aquarious" as I pedaled away.

  • I rode to State Street Fruit to get a ticket for a poetry performance, then read about Dickens and mesmerism at the bagel place.

  • The big poetry show was at the Academy of Music. There were slam poets I enjoyed, but the deep heart of it, for me, was Richard Wilbur. I got to hear him read poems I love, including this one.

    In which he says to his daughter, who is working on a story, about writing:


    It is always a matter, my darling,
    Of life or death, as I had forgotten.



    I'm needing nerve, focus, and flexibility. There are so many ways to keep getting there: movement, poetry and community among them.

susanstinson: (Default)
I was alone for the election, and that didn't feel right, so I just got on my trike and went downtown. They were broadcasting PBS coverage of the inauguration at the Academy of Music, with a speech from the mayor and, rumor has it, a video message to the people of our town from Rachel Maddow (who's lived around here a long time -- she emceed an poorly attended lgbt event I read at kind of a lot of years ago), but the free tickets were all gone in a flash. There is going to be a rebroadcast there at 6, and they were also showing it at the Senior Center and Smith College, and I hadn't decided where to go. I rode up through town, where everything was very quiet, then circled back and parked to go to the Paradise City Tavern. As I was locking the trike, a guy in a t-shirt from the restaurant came running hard up the sidewalk, slushy spots and all. As I was walking in, he came running back with a big roll of cash. Must have run out of change.

The place was packed, standing room only, so I found a spot to lean on the wall behind some people at the bar. They were joined, eventually, as more people crowded in behind me, by a family with a three year old and a baby who had a dazed, open-mouthed look on his face. He seemed pretty overwhelmed by the shouting and clapping (his sister put her hands over her ears), but when things quieted down for President Obama's speech, he was sitting on his dad's shoulders, and started making talking sounds himself. He was watching the screen and clapping, then pounding on his father's head. All around him, we laughed noiselessly, not to interupt the speech.

Also, from the speech: choose our better history.

Our better history, not falsified, not erasing other ways to tell and live and know the stories, but chosen and studied and understood and expanded and built from. I'm for that.

As I left, the running guy from the sidewalk held open the door and asked if I'd had the buffet. I hadn't spent any money at all, and don't think I could have if I'd wanted to. A man sitting on the cold sidewalk under the train overpass asked me for money (which will be illegal if the panhandling law passes). I said no, and then, as a police officer was coming towards us, walked a little ways further, then stopped to watch. The officer stopped to say something to the man on the ground, then fumbled in his pocket, and gave him a cigarette. I left them having a smoke. It seemed to be a civil moment, hard-won and far from certain, I know, but I was grateful.

As I was getting on my trike, I saw two women (maybe mother and adult daughter) who had been behind me at the bar, and as I waved at them, the younger one yelled, "Obama," and the older one yelled, "Don't forget to pound your head!" It was a joke about the baby. I pounded my head and waved from the trike.

Open poetry reading, Yellow Sofa, starts at 6:30 tonight.
susanstinson: (Default)

  • I found out about it on usaservice.org. I'm going to go fold clothes for the hospice shop and collect canned food for the survival shelter tomorrow from an event I found there, too. There's a lot to be seen about the Obama administration, but I appreciate that they found me a place to dance.

  • It was snowing this morning. Not too much, but it made for hard triking! They had barely plowed, so I had to ride right in the middle of Route 9, in the only place that wasn't thick with snow. The cars had to go my speed until I pulled over to the deeper stuff and let them by. I almost didn't go because of the snow. (And, you know, fear.)

  • When I got to the drive for the Fitzwilly's building (site of an encounter last summer with a rude man and his motorcycle) I had to get off and push the trike through the slush. A woman walking asked if I needed help, but I was waiting for her to go by. She was nice, then she went into the door I was headed for. Two other people, looking happy, went in, too. Okay!

  • It was on the fourth floor. (Another reason I almost didn't go.) I could hear the drumming. There were placards along the stairs with quotations from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. They were saying beautiful, profound things. I went slowly up the stairs and read the placards. This made me both less winded and less scared.

  • I took off my boots in the anteroom. I like an anteroom -- it's good to have another moment of transition. I peered into the room -- everyone was the floor while someone danced in the middle. Yikes! But they looked like old hippies, and other generations of hippies. Hippies and artists taught me how to dance in the first place. I like them, in general. I'm not exactly one of them, but I dance like them and I understand a lot of their ways. I liked the sound of the music.

  • Then, there was a little dressing area, where I took off my coat and my jeans, and saw the nice woman who had offered to help me with my trike. She said that she hadn't been there in a long time, and I said that I never had before. "Oh, you'll love it," she said. I go too many days when I don't have nice, simple, small conversations in person with someone else. This was very good, and I was also glad that there was no talking once a person went in to dance.

  • I put my can of baked beans into the basket. I put my five dollars in another basket. People were up and dancing now, and, why not?, I started to dance. There were handsome women drumming and singing in the front. There were grey-haired men in tie dye. Some people rolled over each other or lay down on mats and did acrobatic dancerly moves, alone or together. They were fun to watch. Lots of women my age or older, including a couple of fat women. A few kids running and laughing. Mostly white, but not everybody. I started dancing at the back near the nice lady from the driveway. People looked at each other lightly, not demanding, but with some sense of welcome. There was a window with a ledge that always had someone sitting in it.

  • The drumming was good for shaking, arriving that way. It felt so good to move. I was quickly too hot. I had on leggings and a body suit and a little brown dress that came in the [livejournal.com profile] amarama's magic box for my birthday, with straps on the sleeves that dangle and fly. I liked having a skirt I could swirl by the hem.

  • After a while, a grey-haired man who was tie-dyeish came up to dance with me. He did a shaking all over thing, like me, and hand motions, like me. It was funny and fun for a minute or two, and then the song was over, and I sat down on the floor, and that was enough of that.

  • I liked the live drumming and singing. After they left, I liked the highly altered version of We Will Rock You. I stomped and even jumped up and down, which might not be wise. There was a tall, blonde woman who struck me as an lgbt person, who was smiling very sweetly at me and pressed her hands together and bowed a little when I smiled back, stomping.

  • I didn't dance in the big line and circle with most people at the end. Wasn't quite ready for that, but did stand up and dance on the outside, and that song ended with a piece of a speech by Martin Luther King, not "I Have A Dream," but he was talking about a call to love.

  • Then we watched a video on the wall. The Dells doing the Star-Spangled Banner, with a background of intense images from African American history, including slave imagery and a lynching. I watched, and felt it, and followed the lines from the writing I've been doing over the past few years to these images and back.

  • Then, there were circles. We said our names, and drew a quality from a basket. I got "education. " Then we went around with announcements. Afterwards, most people left, but I stayed for a small circle in which people talked about their experience at the dance and anything else that was coming up for them. Nothing was perfect, but the whole thing had this quality I love of a bunch of people trying to keep something happening because they care about it and because they think it might be a good thing in the community. I folded up a couple of scarves and put away a few placards.

  • Right before I left, the tall blonde woman came up to me and whispered in my ear, "I loved to watch you dance. You're a dancer. " That was lovely. And it felt true -- I felt like a sweaty, hippie dancer, in my body, ready to trike home (the roads were plowed! an old hippie guy that I'd seen at the dance actually threw me a peace sign with his fingers from his car window as I pulled out on my trike!), and being the other things that I am, hot to tell the story to you.

  • Now it's 3 pm and I better eat lunch and do the next thing. But the dancing felt so good!

Turnip

Dec. 30th, 2008 09:05 pm
susanstinson: (Default)
I've been to Texas. Flew home yesterday.

Today, I got on the stepstool to get down the good teacups, and had rills of talk with a friend over hummus on toast. Then, I went with her to a community farm to pick up the weekly "winter share" that had been given to her by someone who is out of town, and so missed the pick up time. It was an adventure. We got lost twice. We didn't know what to do, but, when we finally found it, there were different categories of food listed on a blackboard and directions about how much to take of each: 1.5 pounds of green beans. Greens: lettuce, kale, chard. Choose four. Like that. She been told to bring bags, and shared copiuously with me, so I had two turnips, two yams, a bunch of kale, a bunch of lettuce, a huge hard round avocado (did that grow around here?), two tangerines and an orange (some kind of fruit swap?) in a big white paper shopping bag from Talbot's (est. 1947), which was meant to carry new clothes home from the store. I put her green beans in an xmas gift bag covered with little decorated trees.

When I got out of her car, the bag ripped, and the turnips and the citrus went rolling away down the street. I had to chase them. It's a slope, and the orange and one turnip looked to be heading towards the entrance to the fairground, but when I got in front of them, they rolled right to me.

So, I put the turnips and yams in the dutch oven, and just ate the white, juicy, sweet meat of a very round turnip, mashed with a little butter and pepper in a bowl. The taste was new to me. It was a good way to come home.
susanstinson: (trike)
The trike shifts weirdly in the cold, and sometimes not at all. The tires spin on the first little hill when my street is icy. The lock sticks. Tonight, the small pump I carry in the basket was sliding out and poking into the spokes of the wheel. Also, something ominous is happening with the hub or the chain again. Moments of suddenly pedaling through nothingness, with no connection to the wheel. Moments of suddenly pedaling through thickness, as if the road was gravelly mush. This can be shocking to the thighs, which like steady work.

Also, I couldn't find one of my gloves today, and there was no waiting to see if it might turn up. Riding a trike when it's below freezing without gloves is reckless. It's getting dark so early, and I wish I had the better light that I had last year, the one with 5 leds. It stopped working this fall, probably from water damage. I replaced it with one that was much cheaper, but nowhere near as bright.

Those are my plaints, so early in the winter. But, I like feeling rugged. I like being able to get where I need to go. I like pushing the left grip back up the handle bar as it threatens to slip off. I like the motion, and the phyiscal work of it. I like its squat elegance, its red modesty. I love my aging trike, even in winter. As long as the snow isn't too thick to ride on, and the air isn't too cold to breathe.

Honestly compels me to add that I also quite enjoy sprightly rides in warm cars, too.

Morning

Oct. 10th, 2008 01:13 pm
susanstinson: (trike)
Slow flurries of leaves like chips of light drifting over the bike path.

Also, yesterday, a very small snake wriggling past my front tire. I didn't see it until I had stopped to take off my sweater. Today, a squirrel almost ran in front of me, but changed its mind and whipped around so fast that its tail bent in a plush U at the edge of the path.

Reservoir

Aug. 23rd, 2008 07:56 pm
susanstinson: (trike)
Today I rode to the reservoir in Leeds. I haven't been there before, in all the years I've lived here. It is past the end of the bike path, past Look Park, and there is a big hill on the way, since this is the beginning of the rise into the hill towns above the Connecticut River Valley. I wasn't at all sure I could make it, but I put on my swimsuit, brought a jar full of ice water, a pear, and a bunch of my stuff in a bag, and tried. The hill on Florence Road had me gasping, and I finally got off and walked for a little while. I wasn't sure how much farther the reservoir was, and there was also a pretty big downhill that made me nervous for the ride home, but, once I got there, it was perfect. A little sandy beach, other people on bikes pulling up, families. I put down my towel and walked into the cold water. It's a river, marked off with rope and floats for swimming. Lots of kids, and lots of room. There were many little fishes in the water. A very tan and friendly woman told me the sandiest place to walk in, to avoid the rocks. The water was cold and lovely after all of that effort, and I was langorous. I floated on my back, and swam to a far corner, then back. There were foamy bits on the surface.

When I got out on the beach, a chubby little boy showed me his rubbery chain of flowers, which twirled and bounced, and told me the story of his only sunburn. I read bits of The Forest for the Trees: An Editor's Advice for Writers, by Betsy Lerner, the pieces at the back about what editors want from writers and what writers want from editors, and about the life of the book itself, once it's bought. It's not good for daydreaming about books, but it's a bracing reminder of some common points of view of people who work within the industry. I'd been enjoying reading my Dickens biography, which, itself, was a study in a dazzlingly successful career as a novelist and some of its costs. But I'd finished the biography, and the beach, with the water in front of me and the ride home still ahead, was a good place to think a little bit about the publishing industry, with plenty of gritty sand and the story of a sunburn so bad that a little boy had to take a shower instead of a bath to put it in perspective.

There was also a little girl walking very purposefully down the beach, saying to herself, "Something is wrong. Something is wrong." I looked up, but couldn't see what was the matter. Finally, in the water, she shouted, "Something is wrong, and IT'S TADPOLES!!!" She went running up the beach, and the next time I saw her, she had a jar full of green water, trying to catch some of the very present small fishes.

Also, I saw a garter snake before I set off, small and fast, there in the dirt near where I park my trike. Such a good late summer day.

I saved my legs for the one hill, but, mostly, it was coasting, all the way home.
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I had the fan on in the bedroom last night, so I couldn't hear the loudspeaker from the fairgrounds, but when I walked past the open window in the kitchen, an auctioneer was doing clear, fast bidding patter. "$20,000, I've got 20. 20. 20. 20 can I get 21. 21. 21.50. Can I get 22? 25? 25? 25? In or out? 25. 25. Believe I would. 25. 25." It, whatever it was, sold for $24,000, to benefit something.

Then another announcer came on, and they started blasting -- surprise me! -- YMCA! Encouraged by the dj, people sang along with the chorus. Then he said, "I know it's been stormy all week, so here's The Weather Girls." Sure enough, It's Raining Men.

I have a very distinct memory of throwing myself into dancing to It's Raining Men at a lesbian bar in Central Square in Boston in the early eighties, having a little argument in my head with the lyrics, because I was like that, but every time I tried to make it rain somebody besides just men, I started thinking too hard about it raining any big old bulky person at all, so I gave it up, and just danced.

Who would have thought the Morgan horse show's Friday party would blast all that into my kitchen?
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I've been working a lot at Forbes Library, the Northampton public library. They have these great study nooks with tall windows, green blinds, curves of dark wood to help you nestle into your work. Fifteen minutes before they close for the day, someone walks through the building ringing a hand bell. It's a good sound. I work for forty-five minutes, then take fifteen minute breaks, and lately, on breaks, I've been going outside, walking around the corner of the building, and sitting on a obscure bench to eat an apple with my feet on a piece of granite that was once a doorstep to Jonathan Edwards's house. There's a little plaque about it, too, which credits him with helping to spark the wave of Christian revivals they called the Great Awakening. The last time I used the bench, I had to wait until a guy was done drawing patterns with the ash of his smashed out cigarette on the Jonathan Edwards doorstep.

Yesterday, though, I ended up across Rt. 66 at the Neilson library at Smith College, because, distracted, I forgot that Forbes is only open 1-5 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I was hours early. The study carrel I was poaching in had bad light, but when I was working on getting more of what Jonathan and Sarah were feeling while he preached a sermon on the death of one of his daughters, I was looking at the text from the bible he used:

Job 14:2. Man that is born of woman is of few days, and full of trouble. He cometh forth like a flower and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not.

He actually based the sermon, including the scripture, on another funeral sermon he had given seven years before, because, I figure, he must have been just too emotionally devastated to try and start fresh. As I was thinking about this, and what he actually said in the sermon (and because of the great resources at The Jonathan Edwards Center, I know which part of what he said was the old sermon and what he added), I went to find Smith's copy of Jonathan Edwards' blank bible, and looked up the notes he had taken in the margins about that chapter: Job 14. One thing he referred himself to was Dr. Sherlock's book, Use and Intent of Prophecy. (That's not a book I know.)

And that, how to say this?, was a beautiful, tiny epiphany. It is profoundly pleasurable to me to be able to know a little about thoughts Jonathan Edwards had about the chapter of the bible that he used when he preached his daughter's funeral. It is part of the reason, I think, that, despite everything, I love him so much. He was generous with the records of his thought, generous with himself about it, at least, and rigorously honest, so that he left a trail that makes it possible for him and the people around him to become plausibly visible to a worldview like mine, so different from his. (And I contend that my worldview is part of his legacy, whether he would like it or not. I am part of what he made with his writing about those surprising works of God.)

Maybe that sounds complicated, but I'm trying to talk, right now, about something very simple. It is such a -- whoosh -- strange, thrilling and emotional journey through time to investigate these feelings, and to have a note from Jonathan Edwards on the very chapter I need.

Downpour

Jul. 21st, 2008 01:54 pm
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I was just working on a chapter in the library, and it was thorny and pleasurable in the strange way that this revision has become. Then, I wanted to go swimming, but just as I left, a few raindrops were hitting the pavement outside the library, so I put all my notes and manuscripts (handwritten, a lot of it, in old fashioned brown accordion files: bad news if wet) into a white trash bag, draped my swim towel over it (they won't let you in the pool for a half hour if it's thundered), and headed home on my trike in a downpour that left me absolutely soaked to the skin, shivering and barely able to see. My shoes were squishing on the pedals. Wet, wet, wet. I'm home, still wet, warm and drying, work dry, too, about to eat some pesto from basil my love brought me yesterday. It's getting very humid hot in here again, and I'm exhilarated from the writing and the ride.

It feels so lucky, and so good.
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The Morgan horse show just started at the fairgrounds across from my apartment. It goes all week. Lots of trailers and canopies lined up along the fence, and crackly loudspeaker announcements aurally flavoring my days.

Last night, the sky was flashing white with heat lightning before the rain, and I stood for a minute on the little landing of my stairs, watching a big open flame that people had lit next to their trailer in the corner of the fence blow sideways in the wind. I could see the dark outline of a guy standing right there, but the wildness of the flame still made me nervous. It was beautiful, too, in the humid, windy heat and dark, and I was counting on rain, soon. It's always a little strange to watch people who pick this corner of the fairgrounds to camp. I think that they might feel like they are getting a sort of private spot far from the center of the world they've made together in their horse show at the fairgrounds, but, of course, it brings them almost onto our street.

The smells from the stables make me think of Texas.
susanstinson: (Default)
So, yeah, I grew up in Colorado, with summer trips to Texas every year to see my parents' families. My parents moved back to Texas in the eighties, into my grandparents' house. Jonathan Edwards captured language for "an angry, unpredictable God," and, right now, I'm thinking, one of the things that is a legacy of the Calvinists and Puritans, more a function of their time than of their religion, although JB Jackson has written about about the specific Puritan landscape that they brought from Europe and reinacted in New England (each family allocated a homelot, grazing land and wood lands, along with the shared common and the gathering place of the meeting house; sometimes, by law, everyone had to live within sound of the church bell, which called people together, not just to worship, but any time they needed to be summoned as a group) -- that one thing Northampton, for instance, has as a legacy of the Calvinists is that it clusters on a human scale, with many needed things available on foot or by bike, as they needed to be when everyone walked or rode.

Another thing about Jonathan Edwards is that he was unusual for his time, European background and cultural position in reading the landscape as a language, the physical world as part of God's efforts to communicate with his people. Most stuck to Scripture, but he read the crops, animals, bugs, water, storms, clouds, too. (Hmm, although there definitely was a Puritan tradition of taking omens, portents and acts of nature seriously as messages from God, sometimes admissable as evidence in court and things like that.)

Here's Rebecca Solnit from Storming the Gates of Paradise: Landscapes for Politics again, looking at The Great Basin. Western, desert lands:

Because wild creatures too are spread far apart and often operate at night, because the colors and changes of the plant life can be subtle, it often seems as though the real drama is in the sky -- not exactly life, but life-giving, the light and the rain. Summer thunderstorms in the arid lands are an operatic drama, particularly in New Mexico, where the plot normally unfolds pretty much the same way every day during the summer monsoon season: clear morning skies are gradually overtaken by cumulus clouds as scattered and innocuous as a flock of grazing sheep, until they gather and turn dark; then the afternoon storm breaks, with lightning, with thunder, with crashing rain that can turn a dusty road into a necklace of puddles reflecting the turbulent sky. New Mexico is besieged now by a horrendous multiyear drought, and, watching the clouds gather every afternoon as if for this dionysian release that never came, I felt for the first time something of that beseeching powerlessness of those who prayed to an angry, unpredictable God and felt how easy it would be to identify that God with the glorious, fickle, implacable desert sky.

The whole essay quoted,"The Red Lands," is available as a pdf at the link above.
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Northampton, the small city I live in, has a long history with both problematic and transformative ideas of itself as paradise. Jonathan Edwards had a role in that and suffered consequences from it, too. In 1992, we went through a media frenzy sparked by a National Enquirer story about Northampton as "Lesbianville, USA: 10,000 cuddling, kissing lesbians," which framed it as another kind of paradise and/or freak show, depending on your perspective. But, yeah, it's not alone in that. My brother, the landscape painter, gave me this book. The tension between idealism and the mess of human reality continues to fascinate me. I keep struggling to be able to make a whole out of experiences of both.

From Rebecca Solnit, Storming the Gates of Paradise: Landscape for politics:

The fundamental desire could be described as the desire for paradise, or perhaps the demand for it -- for the city on a hill; for a more perfect union; for getting to the mountaintop, in Martin Luther King Jr.'s sense as well as Thoreau's and Muir's; for the peaceable kingdom that devolves into the gated noncommunity but is also this country's rich history of utopian communities and social experiments. )
susanstinson: (trike)

  • So, it was up to twenty mph winds today, and got down to 18 degrees. I finally got some winter triking clothes figured out so that I could go to the grocery store. Long socks, leggings, jeans. T-shirt, sweater, sweat shirt, jacket. The ever important good gloves, and a hat that fits under my helmet. My cheeks and nose were still cold, and it was slow going against that wind (which blew my trike in a semi circle when I was off it to fill in a deposit slip at the drive-through machine at the bank, and blew the parsley out of my shopping bag when I left it on my steps to go lock up the trike), but it was exhilerating, too. Okay, here comes winter. I can do it.


  • I see the folks from Pedal People a lot. Often, we're some of the few winter bikers out, only they're pulling trailers full of trash cans as part of their hauling and delivery service. (I just saw on their website that they're starting a pre-order food coop, too.) On a cold day recently, someone who I recognize from the website as Ruthy pedalled up beside me on the bike path and started chatting about the advantages of trikes versus bikes with trailers. She said that it always makes her happy to see me out on my trike, and I feel the same about them. Plus, they put up a pay phone and a bench and a tire pump people can use outside their yard, and they have a lending library. It's all pretty sweet.

    If you scroll down their photo page, they've got a good shot of the bike path in winter.


  • I found out from [livejournal.com profile] nunofthat, who just put up a great (locked) post about winter biking, that Chicago has a bike station, where people can bike to work, park their bikes securely, take showers, leave their stuff in lockers and go about their days. Love that.


  • A friend was visiting last week. This was gorgeous. We ate sweet squash in oatmeal most mornings, and did many wonderful things, including a tour of Jonathan Edwards sites I'd never been to before: an eighteenth century church; his birthplace and the graves of his parents in an excellent cemetery with many terrific carvings of angels, plus one of the country's oldest post offices, which was a store in his time; and the town where he preached his most famous sermon. We took the old highway along the river.
susanstinson: (Default)
There was an article by Suzanne Wilson in Wednesday's Daily Hampshire Gazette.
about the panel I was on last Saturday. (Edited to delete dead link to the article.)

In the paper, there are many more photos, including a gorgeous head and boa portrait of Heather MacAllister, who is quoted calling San Francisco "the epicenter of fat liberation."

And how could I not love the following paragraph, which references my books AND my glasses?

She was wearing a soft and swirly dress that covered, but didn't try to hide her rounded belly. She has long, flowy hair, and she wears pointy-frame glasses. Stinson is the author of three novels -- "Venus of Chalk," "Martha Moody" and Fat Girl Dances With Rocks" -- and some of her characters are women who are fat and proud. "Never before," wrote one reviewer, "have I encountered the large body depicted with such beauty."

I owe [livejournal.com profile] fatshionista credit for that dress, which I found on clearance at B& Lu.

It makes me happy to have a fine article full of images of Big Burlesque dancers going out into my town on this chilly Wednesday.
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  • I'll be reading from the novel this Saturday, 3:20 - 4:10 pm, at First Churches in Northampton as part of a conference on Jonathan Edwards and the Environment. Come if you'd like!

  • I finished another draft of the novel. People are reading. Some have been praising. Who knows what will happen next, or how, or when? I'm summoning my patience and resilience. Deep breaths.



I'm still dreaming of The Oxbow by Thomas Cole for the cover. I hear that the word shaddai, the Almighty, appears to be written upside down in Hebrew letters on the distant hill.

Here is the painting.  )
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Via [livejournal.com profile] firecat, a good q&a with researcher Linda Bacon about fat and health -- she's a key person in the Health At Every Size movement among health care providers and researchers.

Last night, it was dark on the bike path and the red rear light on my love's bike reflected on the fenders and lit up her calves. They were all I could see of her, beautiful and ghostly, pumping away.

Back home, it was lights and shouts from the rides at the fair and flashing blue from the police cars at the crosswalk until late. There was a huge cloud of smoke from an early round of the demolition derby.
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It's cooled down this morning, but it's been hot in my apartment, and men have been putting siding on a very near house, making it hard to work here. I've been working well other places, though. Yesterday, I went in the morning to the beautiful graveyard, and did some delicious, sentence by sentence revision (that's my favorite, the fine polishing stuff, when deep glints suddenly come up) under the shade of my favorite tree, everything I needed in the basket of my trike. Then, I looped by the store for some chicken, two apples and a pear, then went to the library. When I first asked at the reference desk about court records from January 1736 (I wanted to try to double check details about a flogging), the librarian said they didn't have the records, but I went upstairs to the local history room, where the amazing Mrs. Feeley, retired head reference librarian and very well-informed and ardent admirer of Jonathan Edwards, still works on Fridays and Saturday afternoons. She was waiting for someone from Seattle who had an appointment to do geneology research, but she left me to be her "temporary docent" outside the door of the archive, and went to look in the basement. She wasn't sure that she could find the microfilm, since there have been two head reference librarians and a renovation since she retired and they move things around without telling her, but she came back waving the little cardboard box of microfilm over her head in triumph: microfilm of the records of the Court of General Sessions of the Peace and the Inferiour Court of Common Pleas holden at Northampton, 1735 - 1741.

The flogging wasn't there on the third Tuesday of January, being the 20th day, 1735/6 (there was a confusing date shift in these years) -- they must have tried it, I think, in criminal court -- but tons of interesting things were, including the license granted as an innholder, taverner and common victualler granted the guy in whose tavern I'd just revised a key scene, with the law directing him to keep "good rule and order," and a lot of debt, land deals (including one really intriguing one) and fornication cases (usually settled by paying 50 shillings).

So much fun.

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May 2009

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