I spent a lot of this week unfocused and absorbed in the news. How to create in the face of a great void? This poem found me, and I was struck by the way Mayer conjures the dizzying sensations of loss, ambiguity, and disproportion and cuts to the pith with the line “how will we socialize / in the winter?” Not uplifting, but refracting.
The Lobelias of Fear
by Bernadette Mayer
there are maple trees, one, two, three
but wait there’s 5 more, 2 behind the bungalow
and lots in the poetry state forest
I hear target practice from far away, it’s
probably for shooting deer, bears and dinosaurs
but how will we, still alive, socialize
in the winter? wrapped in bear skins
we’ll sit around pot-bellied stoves eating
the lobelias of fear leftover from desperation
last summer’s woodland sunflowers and bee balm
remind us of black cherry eaten in a hurry
while the yard grows in the moonlight
shrinking like a salary or a damaged item
when we return in the morning for a breakfast
of harvest petunias sprinkled with wild marsh mallow
Also this week…
+Kiwis heavy on the vine in our backyard. In the fall, we harvest dozens of them. They keep for a long time if cellared and then brought out to ripen on the countertop for a few days. We haven’t yet found any innovative ways to make use of them, so we just slice them for breakfast for weeks on end in the cold months. The still-novel presence of this yielding vine, two years into our lives in suburbia, charms me — hidden, hen’s teeth fruit.
+I’ve been further reflecting on Ann Patchett’s Tom Lake (full review here), and I love the way she enshrines the virtues of a solid, if possibly unexciting, home life. The things we take for granted often stitch our worlds together, you know? On Saturday night, I folded laundry while enjoying a Mai Tai and watching Jose Andres’ series on HBO (I adore him). It was kind of perfect.
+My daughter has been waiting with bated breath for the green light to switch out her earrings after having her ears pierced six weeks ago. (I’ve had so many questions about this. Quickfire replies to the most common — 1) How did we choose when to do it? She’d been asking since Kindergarten, as some of her close friends have their ears pierced. My mother made me wait until I was 13 to have mine done, and I respect her decision, but also felt it was old to be having it done and longed to be like my friends — I was the latest of the crew. I didn’t see any big downside to doing it earlier, so I decided we’d make it a “you’re a big grade schooler now; let’s mark the occasion by doing something a big girl gets to do” just before she matriculated into first grade. 2) Where did we have it done? Our pediatrician! Check if yours offers this service. If not, you could ask him/her for a rec on where they’d go. 3) Did it require a lot of care afterward? What’s the responsibility like? We cleaned the area with an alcohol pad and turned her earrings twice a day for two weeks. This felt minimal because I did it when I was already tending to her for other reasons — in the morning, when tying her hair back, and in the evening, when helping her prep for bed. Since then, it’s required almost nothing of us.) The children’s jewelry line Pip Pop Post generously invited us to select a few earrings, and mini chose stars, lightning bolts, and “E” letters for her name. I could not be more in love with this brand — in fact, I ordered some myself before they swooped in to send us a few. The brand was started by two mothers who hated the cheap (infection-prone), cheesy earring options out there for little girls. They set out to create cute, perfectly-sized options in stainless steel with a clever screw-on backing (less like to fall off, and without the standard, stabby point packing my daughter hated) and a shorter, more comfortable stud length.
+Last weekend, we had friends over for drinks, snacks, and football, and I used this guide from Food52 to make homemade French Onion Dip. It was delicious. The post has a couple of variations, but I went with the sour cream / cream cheese / mayo base and the mixed allium. I’m going to make again for a chili cook off in a few weeks — it was a crowd-pleaser. I served in this cute little pumpkin cocotte with crudite and — duh — Ruffles. De rigueur! We had all kinds of drinks on hand, but I mixed up a batch of “Mother’s Ruin” Gin Punch from Death & Co cocktail book that was popular with our guests. You steep orange-cinnamon tea in sweet vermouth in advance, an ingredient that gives the cocktail a wonderful fall spiciness, and top with dry sparkling wine, which makes the punch effervescent and dangerously drinkable. Mr. Magpie even made and cut his own enormous craft ice cubes for the pitcher.
+I found myself reaching for this Goop Color Blur “cheek balm” all week long in the Afterglow color. I know I’ve mentioned it many times, but it’s a beautiful colder weather / winter weather color, and exactly what I want to pair with the burgundies/navies/golds I’ve been wearing. The other ingredients in my quick morning makeup routine: the Merit complexion stick (which is sort of a hybrid concealer-foundation), this Trish McEvoy mascara (I’m just so so — it’s the best tubing mascara I’ve ever tried, but you must apply with ultra-light-hand…more than a coat or two is a disaster, and I generally like an inkier lash line), this UBeauty lip plasma (truly plumps the lips — I did not want to love this pricey lip product as much as I do; a Magpie reader recently wrote to say she also bought this, skeptically, and it’s the only thing that’s made her thin lips look full in her entire life), and my beloved Airbrow brow gel. Using just these five products can get you a fair way to looking very polished in under 5 minutes.
+My baby, dressed up in an RL sweater and skinny cords, on his way to Church. We are working on the concept of a Church voice. Since he’s just started at Catholic school, he has a lot of new information he urgently needs to share once we are in the pew — “Joseph is Jesus’s Dad,” and “the babies get dipped in water” and “this is God’s house.” Such a sweet age, with no concept for venue or vocal volume.
+Concluding with my favorite things to wear at the moment: this Sezane cardigan, this Leset tee, these Gap kick flares, and my ultra-minis. I’ve been wearing these items constantly. They constitute my favorite “reach for as I run out the door for school drop-off” outfit.
P.S. Six helpful reframes.
P.P.S. In praise of a normal day.
P.P.P.S. Smoke signals.
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