Tuesday, November 29, 2016


A neighbor hangs constellations and illuminates the night.


Tonight, I am a bit of a flâneur. I had a destination and planned on returning from where I departed, but I took streets I don’t normally walk and oxbowed from the most direct route.

I am bundled up in a sweatshirt, coat, and knit cap, over and in addition to my athletic pants and T-shirt. I resemble the homeless guys who wander these same streets, except that I’m domesticated by the dog on the other end of the leash I hold.

The doors of houses in the neighborhood are adorned with Seahawks banners and University of Washington wreaths. Front room windows are filled with television sets that are like altars, with the priests and priestesses of sitcoms and game shows enacting rites and rituals of the culture for those who gather in front of them. The colored light spills out into the streets, all of it thick, rich, and saturated in the fall twilight, where the same light would be brighter, cleaner, crisper if it were a summer evening.

As I near home, I am drawn like a moth toward the amber light of my own porch, a beacon in the blue and purple shadows.

Monday, November 28, 2016


Yggdrasil, world tree, crown of the Nine Worlds, both beauty and bane of existence—seen here in black walnut avatar, with attendant crow.

Friday, November 25, 2016


"Re-membering Area X (Whitby)" by Troy's Work Table. Nighttime carport chalking for Friday 25 November 2016.

Sidewalk chalk, charcoal, and chalk pastels.


Whitby Allen is a jack-of-all-trades in the science division of the Southern Reach, the agency responsible for studying, visiting, and containing Area X, which is a pristine wilderness that took over the Forgotten Coast. During that takeover, Area X apparently killed the 1,500 or so inhabitants of the original area. Or did it?

Anyway, Whitby is one of the long-time "survivors" of the bureaucracy of the Southern Reach. Whitby has been involved with the doings of the director of the Southern Reach prior to Control's arrival as director. Whitby was involved with the release of the white rabbits at the border of Area X to see what happens to creatures when they cross that border. Whitby has notions about Area X, which he has written up as a thesis on its "terroir." Whitby may be a bit unhinged.

I know about Whitby. Sometimes I am Whitby.


"Re-membering Area X (Whitby)" is built upon "The Joker," which is built upon "Slow Burn," which is built upon "King of Crowns"...

Yes, I was feeling a bit like Whitby today.


View more photos of "Re-membering Area X (Whitby)" and the other chalk art pieces of "The Build" HERE.

Thursday, November 24, 2016


Thankful for wiener dog pillows.

(Although The Dog doesn't seem too fond of being one.)


Thankful for turkey butts stuffed with aromatics—onions and fresh herbs.

Heading into the oven for round 1, for initial crisping of the skin.


Thankful for turkey salon treatment—foil and color.

Heading into the oven for round 2, for a couple of hours of heating up the carcass and letting the juices and flavors find their way into the meat.


Thankful for Duvel Belgian Golden Ale to accompany turkey dinner.

Ten years ago, I had my first Thanksgiving Duvel. I wasn't fond of it.

Five years ago, I was still drinking Duvel for Thanksgiving. I tolerated it, rather than enjoyed it.

This year, and my eleventh time with Duvel as my Thanksgiving ale of choice, I can definitely say that I have "come around" and look forward to its pairing with turkey and cranberries, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing and rolls.


Thankful for New Belgium + Ben Jerry's Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ale with pumpkin pie and snickerdoodles?

The desserts are excellent, but the beer is a strange one.


Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, an American Golden Ale by New Belgium Brewing Company and Ben and Jerry's.

12 ounce bottle served in Lagunitas mason jar pint glass.

6.0% abv.


The pour is a clear honey yellow, with virtually no head.

The nose is very light and of both roasted malts and chocolate.

The tongue is a bit of hay and a bit of biscuit, and then is "all out" chocolate chip cookie dough.

The mouthfeel is mostly medium, although it leans toward being thin. Due to the flavors and the connection to Ben and Jerry's, and therefore ice cream, I keep thinking the mouthfeel should be thicker.

If this were a stout, then these flavors might work better for me. But since it is a golden ale, and the flavors taste artificial, it doesn't quite work.

This beer isn't bad, but its weird enough (in an off-putting way) that I wouldn't want it again.

Monday, November 21, 2016


"Months from now you will wake sore and bruised, as if your body cannot forget what happened, and this is the only way it can express the trauma."

—pages 396-397, Acceptance by Jeff VanderMeer, as found in Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy


"[A] wild hope: that everything beneath you will be inert, normal, even if at the outer boundary of what that word means."

—page 397, Acceptance by Jeff VanderMeer, as found in Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy


These quotes are from a novel of weird fiction, speculative fiction. What would have been called, in an earlier age, science fiction.

The quotes are about an encounter with monsters in the shadows, creatures of indeterminate origin and intent, many of which were encountered in the first book of the trilogy and are now being anticipated again in the third book.

But, ultimately, these lines could be about many things, about many encounters with what is unknown and therefore feared.

Saturday, November 19, 2016


In the fall of 1998, I vowed to never read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.


I guess I need to be more careful about making such absolute statements.


At the time, I was a bookseller. I hated the Harry Potter books and their fans because of the slobbering mania of the latter. They made our bookseller day-to-day lives hell for a stretch of years, but more so near the release of each new novel.

I remember one release party where I was trying to roll a cart of boxes of books from the receiving room through the parking lot, flanked by three or four booksellers acting as "bodyguards" and we were literally mobbed by kids and their parents. We had to shout at them to get back and threaten them with no sale of books before they would part and allow us to get inside the front of the store with the books. It was fervor and madness like I had never seen for a product. A book, yes, but still a product.


Eighteen years later I have asked The Child to read the first Harry Potter book to me. Yes, this is a bit of semantics, but it does allow me to honor my vow while finally engaging the text.

(By the way, The Child, a devout fan of the series, having read all of the books multiple times, was more than happy to oblige.)

(Also "by the way," I've seen the film adaptation of this book, so I am familiar with the storyline.)


It is not as bad as I had feared, nor is it as good as I had hoped it could be. But it's an honest, enjoyable tale.

The story is lively and moves along quickly. Some of the descriptions are downright awful, though. For example, Rowling describes the half-giant Hagrid as twice as tall as a man and five times as wide, with hands the size of garbage can lids and feet the size of baby dolphins. That description is laughable. But such awkward metaphor usage hasn't stopped me from enjoying the book. And The Child is obviously enjoying sharing a beloved book with me. So on we read.


After this, I may even read Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets on my own!


Jeder Engel ist schrecklich. Und dennoch, weh mir, / ansing ich euch, fast tödliche Vögel der Seele, / wissend um euch.

—from "Die Zweite Elegie," Duineser Elegie, 1912-1922, by Rainer Maria Rilke


Every Angel is terrible. Still though, alas! / I invoke you, almost deadly birds of the soul, / knowing about you.

—from "The Second Elegy," Duino Elegies, 1939, translation by J. B. Leishman and Stephen Spender


Every angel’s terrifying. Almost deadly birds / of my soul, I know what you are, but, oh / I still sing to you!

—from "The Second Elegy," Duino Elegies, 1977, translation by A. Poulin, Jr.


Every angel terrifies. Still, though I know / how almost-deadly you are, you birds of the soul, / I call out to you.

—from "The Second Elegy," Duino Elegies, 1981, translation by Gary Miranda


Every angel is terrifying. And yet, alas, / I invoke you, almost deadly birds of the soul, / knowing about you.

—from "The Second Elegy," Duino Elegies, 1982, translation by Stephen Mitchell


Scarcely had I turned from my window, heavy of heart as only a near and certain joy makes us, when I felt an alien presence in the room. It was nothing more than a stirring of the air, so that the words which formed themselves on my lips were like the creases suddenly thrown off a limp sail before a fresh breeze.

—from "A Christmas Angel," Berlin Childhood circa 1900, 1932, by Walter Benjamin, translation by Carl Skoggard (2010)


I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

—from "First Inaugural Address," 1861, by President Abraham Lincoln

Friday, November 18, 2016


Today was a day in the kitchen. A day to unwind and relax.

TWT cooked up pumpkin butter (top) for snacking on and chicken masala (bottom) for work lunches next week, as well as sweet pepper steak salads for dinner and chocolate chip cookies for dessert.

Thursday, November 17, 2016


This morning, I headed into the stacks of the Tioga Library at University of Washington Tacoma to seek out books on Goethe and Rilke. I didn't quite find what I was looking for, but I did discover a couple of gems that build upon my recent reading of The Metamorphosis of Plants by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.


My first discovery was The Great Naturalists, edited by Robert Huxley. There were a few references to Goethe, which were helpful, but my primary attraction to this tome turned out to be an introduction to the work of naturalist and painter Maria Sibylla Merian. And that introduction led to an afternoon of "thumbing through" an electronic version of her Metamorphosis insectorum Surinamensium (1705).


My second discovery was an article—"Vegetable Genius: Plant Metamorphosis as a Figure for Thinking and Relating to the Natural World in Post-Kantian German Thought" by Elaine P. Miller—in Rethinking Nature: Essays in Environmental Philosophy, edited by Bruce V. Foltz and Robert Frodeman. I ran out of time and didn't get to finish the complete article, but will be returning to take more extensive notes. But the notes I did manage to take helped to guide a re-reading of Goethe's essay on plant metamorphosis.


This was the most alive I've felt in a long time, in the sense of feeling great joy in the act of reading and researching, while simply being alone. Maybe it's time to go back to school? Or maybe it's just time for a new set of poems? Either way, it is definitely time to set aside a few hours here and there to sit in the library with books and read and take notes.


Two days shy of six years ago, I bought a bottle of The Dissident (2010) from my favorite bottle shop, 99 Bottles.

A lot has changed in those six years.

For instance, 99 Bottles will be closing after ten years of business. They lost sales once "big box" wine and beer stores were allowed into Washington state and able to operate under different rules than the small bottle shops.

So this bottle is bittersweet. I am drinking it to celebrate a staycation of books, art, and beer, even as I mourn the loss of the wonderful small business that provided me with that bottle.


The Dissident (2010), an Sour Brown Ale (brewed with cherries) by by Deschutes Brewery.

22 ounce bottle served in tulip glass.

11.4% abv.


The pour is a clear ruby red body and a thin, off-white head (1/8” or so).

The nose is lemon juice, fruity sourness, cherries, hint of yeast.

The tongue is fruity sourness, cherries, lemon juice, green apples, tart cranberry. There are hints of beef broth, yeast, and dark bread in the background. And beneath all of that (especially as it warms) there are flavors of brown sugar and iced tea.

The mouthfeel is medium. The drink is warm and pleasant. The finish is long and lingering, sour and lessening in strength of sourness over time.

This is so good. Excellent. I could just drink this and drink this.


The Wife made her "Dr. Pepper Ribs" for dinner, and this was the perfect accompanying beer. The sour notes of the beer played well with the slightly sweet flavors of the rib sauce and the meat.


Wednesday, November 16, 2016


XPA Harvest Ale, an American Pale Ale by Maritime Pacific Brewing Company.

On tap, served in 21 ounce tankard.

5.5% abv.


The pour is a clear orange body capped with a finger-thick white head.

The nose is a bit of butterscotch and caramel and viney bitterness.

The tongue is hoppy, viney bitterness and citrus peel, with butterscotch/caramel malts in the background.

The mouthfeel is thick. The flavors are crisp and clean.

This is somewhere between a pale ale and an IPA, but the fresh hops and beautiful bitterness lean it more toward IPA for me.


Tuesday, November 15, 2016


I am going to a party where the beverages and dessert are provided.

I'm bringing these Chicago hot dog "mini bites" I created. They include all of the components of a traditional Chicago dog—bun, steamed all-beef dog, yellow mustard, relish, onions, tomato wedge, pickle spear, (sports) pepper, and celery salt—in a muffin cup.


Update. They taste just like full-size Chicago dogs, so the proportions were good. And they pair nicely with an India Pale Ale; I know because I ate them alongside two different IPAs—Ninkasi Total Domination IPA and 21st Amendment Toaster Pastry India-style Red Ale.

They were a hit with those who were gathered.

MAP 2016

Today, the full version of "Map 2016" went up on a bulletin board.

I included "I Spy" cards so that the piece was interactive.

For example...


I SPY...

Two states without abbreviations.

One state in two parts.


DE • Delaware
HI • Hawaii

MI • Michigan

Monday, November 14, 2016


"The Sphynx" by Troy's Work Table.

Palette-knife-applied sidewalk chalk, charcoal, chalk pastels, and charcoal pencil on 18" x 24" concrete board.


Happy 165th birthday to the American edition of Moby-Dick by Herman Melville, published on this day in 1851.


"The Pequod's whale being decapitated and the body stripped, the head was hoisted against the ship's side—about half way out of the sea, so that it might yet in great part be buoyed up by its native element. And there with the strained craft steeply leaning over to it, by reason of the enormous downward drag from the lower mast-head, and every yard-arm on that side projecting like a crane over the waves; there, that blood-dripping head hung to the Pequod's waist like the giant Holofernes's from the girdle of Judith."

"It was a black and hooded head; and hanging there in the midst of so intense a calm, it seemed the Sphynx's in the desert. 'Speak, thou vast and venerable head,' muttered Ahab, 'which, though ungarnished with a beard, yet here and there lookest hoary with mosses; speak, mighty head, and tell us the secret thing that is in thee. Of all divers, thou hast dived the deepest. That head upon which the upper sun now gleams, has moved amid this world's foundations. Where unrecorded names and navies rust, and untold hopes and anchors rot; where in her murderous hold this frigate earth is ballasted with bones of millions of the drowned; there, in that awful water-land, there was thy most familiar home. Thou hast been where bell or diver never went; hast slept by many a sailor's side, where sleepless mothers would give their lives to lay them down. Thou saw'st the locked lovers when leaping from their flaming ship; heart to heart they sank beneath the exulting wave; true to each other, when heaven seemed false to them. Thou saw'st the murdered mate when tossed by pirates from the midnight deck; for hours he fell into the deeper midnight of the insatiate maw; and his murderers still sailed on unharmed—while swift lightnings shivered the neighboring ship that would have borne a righteous husband to outstretched, longing arms. O head! thou hast seen enough to split the planets and make an infidel of Abraham, and not one syllable is thine!'"

—from chapter 70, "The Sphynx," of Moby-Dick by Herman Melville


Left: Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy (Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance) by Jeff VanderMeer.
Right: Daniel: Under the Siege of the Divine by Daniel Berrigan.

I have been reading. Some of what has caught my attention this fall includes...


Authority by Jeff VanderMeer

During this reading of Authority, the second book of The Southern Reach trilogy, I'm captivated by the failure of the various systems in which the protagonist Control finds himself—the various government organizations he works for, his family of origin, social settings. On top of that, contrary to his nickname, he has very little control.

And when the horrors lurking in the background start to move toward the foreground...

VanderMeer plays with a gentle hand, which is refreshing. He could have easily focused on gore, but he skirts the violence in favor of the dawning horror of the monsters that lurk, in a manner reminiscent of H. P. Lovecraft.


Daniel: Under the Siege of the Divine by Daniel Berrigan

Priest, poet, and modern-day prophet, Daniel Berrigan died earlier this year. So I have his books pulled off of the shelves in the home library and stacked up. A reading from the text of Daniel 7 during a church service sent me back into this book. It includes all of the text of the book of Daniel, with Berrigan's commentary on the same.

I am always amazed how the prophets of the Israelites speak to (and against) powers and principalities of the their own time and ours.


Poetry magazine, October 2016 issue

I love it when the latest issue of Poetry shows up in my mailbox. There is always one poem that speaks to me more than the others, no matter how great those other poems are.

In the October issue, that poem is "Barbie Chang's Tears" by Victoria Chang. Similar to the poems in her book The Boss, this poem plays with homonyms, puns, alliteration—all of it running across line breaks (and without punctuation) in ways that forces me to read lines more than once to make sure that I'm reading it right. But once I've found the way the line leads and reads, there is great reward.


Poetry magazine, November 2016 issue

The poem that catches my attention in the November issue of Poetry magazine is "From 'feeld'" by Jos Charles. It uses simple language, but couches it in unfamiliar spellings and presentation. It mimics Middle or Old English. It reminds me of both the poems of Romey's Order by Atsuro Riley and "Jabberwocky" by Lewis Carroll.


The Duino Elegies by Rainer Maria Rilke

I have four different English translations of Rilke's Duino Elegies that I am reading and comparing to one another, trying to let Rilke's concepts sink into the marrow of my bones. My two favorite translations are by Gary Miranda and Stephen Mitchell, although I find phrases of interest in the translation by Alfred Poulin and the first English translation by J. B. Leishman and Stephen Spender.


Public Domain Review

I recently discovered a public domain online literary journal, Public Domain Review, and it is filled with wonderful things. It has some great essays about various artistic, philosophical, and cultural pieces in the public domain.

Some favorite essays:

"Black on Black" by Eugene Thacker

"Frankenstein, the Baroness, and the Climate Refugees of 1816" by Gillen D'Arcy Wood

Plus a gloriously beautiful piece in their collections:

"The American Woods"

Thursday, November 10, 2016


The trees reach for the sky near sunset, through the thickening blue.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016


The trees reach for the sky in uncharacteristically bright sun approaching sunset.


"The mythology may change back into a state of flux, the river-bed of thoughts may shift. But I distinguish between the movement of the waters on the river-bed and the shift of the bed itself; though there is not a sharp division of the one from the other."

—aphorism #97 from On Certainty by Ludwig Wittgenstein


The trees reach for the sky just after sunlight penetrates the fog, and the moisture likewise reaches for the sky.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016


The trees reach for the sky just after sunrise, which is now later in the day due to the end of Daylight Saving Time.

Monday, November 07, 2016


The trees reach for the sky near sunset, which is now earlier in the day due to the end of Daylight Saving Time.

(Note: This is a color photo.)

Sunday, November 06, 2016


"Joker" by Troy's Work Table. Carport chalking for Sunday 06 November 2016.

Sidewalk chalk, charcoal, and chalk pastel.


"Joker" was built upon the remnants of "Slow Burn," which in turn was built over the remnants...

Friday, November 04, 2016

MAP 2016

A portion of "Map 2016" laid out on the living room floor.


Today, I worked in the classroom with fifth and sixth graders. We are creating a collaborative bulletin-board-sized homage to "Map" (1961) by Jasper Johns in construction paper and tempera paint.

The students have been studying the 50 states, their abbreviations, and their capitals in geography/social studies. They have also been studying the three branches of government, as well as talking about elections. So the plan is to (hopefully) tie some of that in as we make "Map 2016."


As I laid out the states at home later in the day, I realized that one state's stenciled abbreviation was painted on upside down, three states were painted on the wrong side (making them mirror images of the way they should be), and one state was painted on the wrong side (mirror image) and upside down.

I've decided that I'm going to include those five states on the finished piece as they were painted. That will allow for an "I Spy" set of states to find on the bulletin board upon which they will be displayed.


Moisture + cold = fogged windows.
Fogged windows + sunrise = dawn chiaroscuro.

Thursday, November 03, 2016


If my four poetry chapbooks as a whole are a set of seasons, then each has its own weather, temperature, and clime.


My Two Melvilles is spring.

It is counterpane. It is love for another. It is longing and lust.


Black Psalms is summer.

It is heat. It is tropics. It is desert. It is darkness and the hope of resurrection.


Let There Be is fall.

It is gray. It is rain. It is rain. It is rain and more rain. It is survival, perhaps.


All the Heroes Are Dead and Buried is winter.

It is Norse myths. It is snow and cold. It is the breath of the wolf at the nape of one's neck and death on the battlefield. It is end times.


Explore a season or two of poetry at


Found art landscape. Two labels from garlic bread bags, baked at 350ºF for 12 minutes. Arranged against background of tan 20 lb. bond copy paper.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016


Fall leaves on trees, as seen through a translucent church window. North Hill, Puyallup, Washington.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016


I'm away on retreat and this is my view for the day. Autumn afternoon. Lacey, Washington.