Villanelle Update

File under the category of “Ooops”….
In class last night, I learned that I got the rhyme scheme in the villanelle wrong. Oops.
The teacher diagrammed a Villanelle for us like this:
A1
b
A2
a
b
A1
etc.
Now I, being a poetry newbie, interpreted the “A1” and “A2” as the refrains that had NO relation to the “a” of the rhyming scheme in the non-refrain lines. In my brain, the capital As with numbers where separate entities unto themselves.
Bad brain, bad brain on too much computer work….
It dawned on me slowly last night, while we were work shopping another classmate’s villanelle that the capital “A1” and “A2” of the refrain were to rhyme with the little “a”s of the main part of the poem. Oops.
The dawning of the realization that I had missed out on 50% of the villanelle’s form was rather like the time I was talking to my brother and he was telling me a long story about his friend “Jane” who was a dancer. Given that the story was mostly about her teenage kids, everytime my brother mentioned her dance career I envisioned that she ran a ballet studio for children. Over the course of the conversation, the realization that she was a dancer of another sort, the type who takes her clothes off in the course of dancing, came slowing over my consciousness rather like the sun creeping over the horizon slowing and then all the sudden SUN everywhere.
Last night was just like the conversation with my brother, after I realized that Jane was a stripper and that the Villanelle had a LOT more “a” rhyme than I put in it, I felt slow, naive, and rather embarrassed. At break I rushed over to the instructor, quickly explained my plight, and she appeared to have a moment herself. She didn’t realize that I, the student, did not already know that the captial A of the refrain and the minor a of the rhyme were not related.
My only defense of myself is that my education focused more on math classes where big As and little a’s had no numerical relational but were symbols for different ideas, and that sleeping through most of the required english classes as a teenager and college student has resulted in minor adult embarrassment. Oops.
Maybe not embarassment, but feeling silly in the midst of a paradigm shift that I assumed to be one way and folks who know poetry assume to be another way.

Villanelle Hell

Ok, tonight is poetry class, my efforts are…. small grumbling noises.
This week is the Villanelle and a spontaneous poem ala Frank O’Hara.
Here is the villanelle:
Dreams of London
As spring warms to summer, I dream of London
As Los Angeles heats, I melt and yearn.
Cool rain dripping off London plane tree leaves.
At times, walking in Westwood, a flash of
Sensation, diesel fumes, bustling people adjourn.
As spring warms to summer, I dream of London.
Garden Court Hotel, green canopy above
Kensington Gardens Square, Bayswater return.
Cool rain dripping off London plane tree leaves.
Month of May, afternoons in LA heat up over
Eighty-five, smog hugging the foothills burns.
As spring warms to summer, I dream of London.
Fantasy ruined, global warming shoves
London temps in April to record heat, U-Turn.
Cool rain dripping off London plan tree leaves.
Nomadic, itchy feet, I desire to rove
Imagine a new hometown, escape left arm sunburn.
As spring warms to summer, I dream of London
Cool rain dripping off London plan tree leaves.

Surprise at the Birdfeeder!

The best view of the backyard birdfeeder is from the bathroom window, and the best way to watch without scaring the birds off. Imagine my surprise this morning to see a large black, orange, yellow and white bird at the feeder. I snuck out of the bathroom quietly to grab my digital camera, and came back stealthly. Here are the resulting photos:

May 15, 2003 Black Headed Grosbeak

The house finch of the left of both pictures is the average bird that comes to the feeder. Occasionally, a house sparrow will show up. And frequently, black phoebe or warbler will show up to watch the spectacle of infighting for perch space, but they will go about their insect eating ways.

May 15, 2003 Black Headed Grosbeak

My housemate Lauren told me that she recently saw a bright yellow bird at the feeder (goldfinch?), but today is my very first time of seeing a Grosbeak at the feeder. After consulting my bird guides, I determined that this fellow is a Black Headed Grosbeak.
Thank you, sir, for showing up and making my morning much brighter.

Miracle of God? … Maybe…

Yesterday I ate my first sandwich in a decade.
Yes, in a decade….
In early 1993, after 20 years of being throw up sick, having migraines, a seized back, I was diagnosed with a severe allergy to wheat, on top of my already known allergy to yeast (brewer’s and bakers). In the ten years since my diagnosis I have completely eliminated wheat from my diet and have had a complete relief from the symptoms.
No wheat = no bread, no crackers, no croutons, no breading or batter of any kind on fried food (thus no fried food); no bagels, no cake, no cookies, no thick soups, no beer, no vodka or any other liquor made with even a bit of wheat, etc etc etc. Most people that ask are surprised to find out that wheat = flour.
This also means no bread at communion unless I want to be sick for the rest of the day (wafers with wine at Catholic or Anglican services seem to be fine, are they made of potato starch??).
I very quickly evolved into a Rice-atarian. Rice pasta (Thank God for PastaRiso), lots of Asian food, rice crackers, homemade Irish soda bread made from rice and barley flours, and so forth.
Every so often, I wonder about all of the new “Wheat-Free” products I see at Whole Foods or Mother’s Markets. Given that I also get a bad reaction from rye, a mild reaction from barley and oats, I have been reluctant to try any product that adverstises “Wheat Free” but contains any of the above wheat botanical relatives or the new “spelt” an ancient precursor grain to wheat that is used in these products.
Two days ago, Tues. May 13th, in between my writing classes at UCLA I popped into the Westwood Whole Foods for a bit of a snack, when I spied a rack of bread products. If you go ten years without bread or sandwiches it is a bit tempting, in a good way, to at least go smell fresh bread.
On the far right side, down near the bottom of the bread rack was colorful little loaf of “Health Seed Wheat-Free Yeast-Free Bread“. Now one can find wheat-free, but not yeast free bread at most health stores or in the freezer section their is usually yeast free bread that is not wheat free. To have both in the same loaf?
I read the ingredients and spelt was the first thing listed. hmmm…. Yearn. Yearn. What would a turkey sandwich be like? Yearn. Yearn. Go to checkout counter. Buy little loaf for Health Seed.
Yesterday became Experiment Day. Following the rules for introducing a new food or previously allergic food into one’s diet, I made sure that everything that I had with the bread was a non-allergic or non-reactive food for me. I made two pieces of toast with Health Seed Bread in the morning with butter and fruit spread, and a turkey sandwich in the afternoon. Amazing! I was very excited.
The bread is very similiar to Orowheat’s Wheat Berry Bread, but thin and dense like European bread, slightly sour and with lots of seads in it (seasame, pumpkin, etc). In the morning, I had only a mild reaction to the bread, an inchy nose and mild tummy distress. After the afternoon, sandwich test phase, I had more reaction, mostly of the tummy variety. Then all night my tummy was unhappy, it is still unhappy now.
Conclusion, I will freeze the Health Seed bread in slices and maybe have one piece once a week. Maybe. Maybe as a sandwich the next time I am jealous that I can’t eat sandwiches. Obviously, while spelt does not give me as severe of a reaction as wheat & rye do, it is not as mild as barley or oats. Sad but true.
Thus ends the great Bread Experiment of 2003. I will go back to making loaves of rice flour whole oat soda bread.

Don’t wanna sleep (after Laura Litter)

I am taking a Creative Writing class in Poetry at UCLA on tuesday nights. This week and last week we had to write one sestina (evil!) and one villanelle (appears less evil, but really is more). I decided that I would write the sestina about my blog.
Don’t Wanna Sleep (after Laura Litter)
by Jenifer Hanen
May 12, 2003
Many nights I fight to stay awake,
I don’t wanna sleep, to sleep like a log,
The fear courses deep that I have not earned enough money.
Billable hours, hours billable, were there
a sufficient number of them on this day?
Cubicle land leads to numbness, I don’t want that program.
Can an artist learn to program
a computer? For the sake of pure cussedness, I stay awake.
Each year I gift myself a challenge on my birthday,
Two weeks ago, I downloaded, installed a weblog.
Not only a technical stretch waiting for me there,
But a daily stretch to write, capture ideas, try to be funny.
A computer scientist asks, “Sure you can do this honey?”
Do you have to have a CS degree to program?
I learned Italian, I can learn Perl and C++ despite all their
objections. Freelance writer and artist, I stay awake,
to push my technical and creative worlds, I blog.
The first iris of May,
That black gamecock from my garden on the 7th of May,
linking to articles, stories, and funny
ideas, posting fleeting fancies, a catalog
of events. Designers, artists, writers, thinkers, a futuristic telegram.
Hello world. Here I am, an archive of now, I am awake.
No need to slumber in that bed, in front of the computer I am there.
Don’t wanna sleep there,
in that bed, desire is strong to stretch the day,
into the night. My family may hold a wake,
thinking I have passed on, no sight of me when it is sunny.
To announce my departing from social life, mom might send a telegram
to Grandpa out on the high seas. Me, I would blog
it. Hello world. I have ceased to sleep like a log,
Now I can be found exclusively there,
online. I would live my life in the future program.
Friends and relatives could check each day
my site for my thoughts, doings, and photos. But does she make any money?
Probably not. But I am very awake.
Happy little blog, my gift to me on my birthday,
despite all objections about a waste of time and a lack of money,
I program now, I am awake.

Every 2nd Sunday – Trad Seisiun at the Harp

Every 2nd Sunday of the Month, between 4pm – 7pm, sometimes later, the Harp Inn in Costa Mesa hosts a traditional Irish seisium.
Seisium = random musicians bring themselves and their instruments, get drinks from the bar, sit down in a rough circle/rectangle and ask each other if they know thus and such traditional Irish song. What proceeds greatly varies depending on the skill of the musicians and how many of the same songs they have in common and how much beer/shots have been consummed by 5pm.

Traditional Irish Seisiun at the Harp

These afternoon sessions vary greatly at the Harp, while there is a core group of musicians that show up every month, there is either happy music making or mild bickering. Either is very entertaining for the viewer.
I enjoy this monthly event, I usually take my writing journal, order a cider, and enjoy listening while I write. Sometimes I invite my mom, yesterday due to the fact that Mom was out at the River with my brother, I invited my friend Cami. When she showed up around 6pm, I was greatly surprised to see her walk into the Harp (in Costa Mesa, Calif., not Ireland or the UK) with two grade school girls and one high schooler in tow.
Now sometimes people bring their babies in strollers to this musical afternoon in a bar, but I haven’t ever seen anyone between 2 and 21 show up. This was pushing the boundaries of CA liqour laws for an establishment that serves bar food, esp. given that Cami is not their parent. But bless Cami, none of this occurred to her, she just thought it would be a wonderful musical experience for some of the kids who live on her block.
After feeding the kids cholesterol clogging bar food, we attempted to teach them how to Irish dance. This amused one of the fiddle players to no end.

Selena, a little bored, very hungry

This is Selena before food arrived and she was hungry and slightly bored.
If you are over 21, love Irish music, and don’t mind works in progress, come on down and join us the next time a 2nd Sunday arrives.

Hey! I want one, too… Chicken vs. Lamb

Ok, I want to know why the average American in a city doesn’t give their sheep a ride around town? Inquiring minds want to know. Sometimes I think we here in the US are too dull, too straitjacketed living in our safe planned communities.
Here in California there has been a huge furour, well if you own birds or chickens, about the Exotic Newcastle Disease. The said avian ailment has been severely sickening, usually to death, the average 10-15 chickens per 10 sq. foot pen that the US poultry industry keeps together in close company. Needless to say the multiple billion dollar poultry industry in Calif. has pressured/lobbied/etc the State to go and clear up the disease.
Guess how they have done it? If you have a backyard chicken or even a parrot or finches in the house, and a bird in the neighborhood has gotten sick with Newcastle, then the State or County task force has been coming and killing all of the healthy birds on the block. An actor in LA recently made a big stink about this to the LA Times (note that the LA times charges for archive articles), after the Task Force folks came to get his parrot, who was not sick. And when the actor refused to have his parrot put down in the name of the poulty industry, he got a big sign on his front door that said “Bio-Hazard”. Nice.
Hello…. Maybe the poultry industry should stop packing the birds in, give them some room, a wee bit of fresh air, etc, and maybe they wouldn’t pass disease around amongst their commrades so fast. Or on the other hand maybe the average citizen could get a goat or sheep, instead of chickens, and have a built in lawnmower and fertilizer….
At my house, I would prefer a goat to the mow&blow guys, because the mow&blow guys are kicking up a lot of dust every monday and tromping in the flower beds, and have been caught twice now using weed killer spray on the flowers. Given that the landlady pays for the service, I don’t really complain to her because it would change nothing and add ill will. But it would be more fun to complain about the goat eating the flowers. Alas, due to the “No Pets” clause to the lease, I don’t think a pygmy goat is in my future.
Letter to the Ventura County Star: Task Force killing too many birds
Parrot Society of LA on how to appeal your bird’s imminent death

First Iris of May

First Iris of May

For my birthday, my mom gave me a bunch of flowers to put into my new little garden along the driveway and fence. The iris has decided to put out two blooms in 24 hours. I guess this means that it is happy.