January 2007


It seems a bit wrong to admire the aesthetic effect of a smashed window, especially if you’ve met and chatted with the shopkeeper (and mascot dog) whose establishment was so targeted. Vandalism is a senseless and cowardly crime: what perverse thrill does smashing a downtown boutique window bring, really?

Ethical qualms notwithstanding, though, when I noticed the smashed window to PINK Distinctive Women’s Clothing and Accessories–another purveyor of the kind of well-dressed mannequins I so enjoy shooting–I couldn’t resist snapping a photo: with Valentine’s Day approaching, I thought, an image of feathery, fluffy hearts suspended behind cracked and shattered glass might eventually come in handy. Imagine my surprise this week when I happened to walk by, camera conveniently in hand, at the precise moment when repairmen had leaned this same smashed window, still bearing last week’s Sale signs, against a nearby brick wall.


Given my penchant for emergency call-boxes and the fashion emergencies that sometimes necessitate their usage, an extreme close-up of said leaning window resulted in an image that immediately became one of my all-time favorites. Can you say, “In case of emergency, break glass”?


Soccer artifact

Over a week ago, Rachel (aka Velveteen Rabbi) tagged me for the “five things no one knows about me” meme, which has been making its way through the blogosphere. After several years of blogging, it’s difficult to come up with five things about myself that haven’t already been shared: chances are, if I haven’t mentioned something here, I don’t want to mention it. But since I’m a firm believer in playing along with even the silliest of games, here are five things that readers of this blog probably don’t know about me.

  • For the past year or so, I’ve been taking a beginner belly-dance class.
  • Although I describe my eyes as being blue, one of them is blue and the other greenish-blue.
  • I have double-jointed thumbs and shoulders and thus can bend/contort them in alarming ways.
  • I can’t spell out loud. When I see a word spelled in my head, I can’t accurately translate that into spoken letters.
  • Due to chronic allergies and nasal polyps, I’ve been almost entirely anosmic (i.e. lacking a sense of smell) for most of my adult life.

Any questions? Instead of tagging five other bloggers to carry the meme-ish baton, here’s an open invitation to any- and everyone who wants to share their unmentionables: now that I’ve shown you mine, won’t you show me yours?


After taking most of this week off from blogging, I’m trying to figure out how to ease back into the once-regular routine. Although my initial reference to my hibernating Muse probably made it sound like I had a grim case of Blogger’s Block, there’s nothing dire or desperate that has kept me from writing and posting photos this week: I just felt like taking one item off my to-do list for a while.

In December, I wrote about the awkward semester’s-end transition between Teaching and Not Teaching, and this past week marked the not-so-subtle segue in the opposite direction. During the first week of a new semester, pure adrenaline fuels your teaching…but by the second week, you’ve already collected the semester’s first papers, and with them comes the grim realization that no matter what you do, you’ll be buried under a continual onslaught of student papers until May.

It’s felt good to take a week off from the obligation to blog: at times “feeding the blog” with fresh words and images feels a bit daunting. At the same time, though, I’ve missed “keeping time” through the almost-daily discipline of checking in and saying something. One thing I hope to retain from my week of almost-silence here on HO is the lesson that my entries here needn’t be anything in particular: they just need to be. Whenever I feel tired or intimidated at the thought of “feeding the blog,” it’s usually because I’m laboring under some unspoken, barely conscious expectation of what my entries “should” be. If I get rid of the “shoulds,” though, blogging isn’t a weighty chore; it’s simply a matter of showing up.

And so, I’m back, showing up on a cold and clear Sunday morning, still in pajamas and unshowered as I ponder where to walk the dog. Dog-walking, you see, often leads to blog-feeding: the two seem to fit together as snug as leash in hand.


Yes, it’s finally feeling like winter here in southwest New Hampshire even if it’s not exactly looking the part. On Tuesday, there was enough of a dusting of snow–about an inch–to give the landscape a refreshingly frosted appearance…but by now, most of that dusting has either blown or melted away, a victim of cold but clear days.

There’s no snow in the near-foreseeable forecast, but we are expecting dangerously cold wind chills tonight, so it’s fortunate that I recently received a flame-red scarf knitted by the multiply-talented Adrienne. Even though my Muse is still in hibernation, the rest of me is out and about, so it’s good that I dress accordingly.

Cartouche blanche

I’ve been feeling a shortage of blog inspiration these days: I think my Muse might be hibernating. Feel free to fill in the blanks (or bricks) as you see fit.

Digging out

No, this isn’t my car…but this image gives you a sense of how of some areas here in southwestern New Hampshire fared this week’s ice storms. Here in Keene, we got freezing rain that leaned more toward “rain” and less toward “freezing”…but wherever this car came from, they got at least a half inch of ice, forcing someone to chisel out windshield and door locks before hitting the road.

I’ve survived the first week of face-to-face classes at Keene State, so it feels like I’m digging out from under a different kind of load. The first week of a new semester always comes as something of a shock. After having gotten used to the quasi-retirement that is winter break, now I’m suddenly back in the swing with classes to prepare and papers to grade. It’s good to be back in action after the lethargy of a Do-Nothing December…but it will take me another week, I think, to feel fully settled into Back to School, Again.

Creepy yoga chick

Although there’s nothing more peaceful than the meditative rest found in a comfortable yoga pose, I shot this photo of a yoga studio mannequin because it struck me as just plain creepy. Is the sight of a stiffly-arranged cloth mannequin with streaky red hair and a heavy-lidded, full-lipped expression reminiscent of an inflatable sex doll supposed to make me want to pay for yoga lessons? Or is it intended to send me screaming down the street in search of peacefulness anywhere but here?

Today is the day before classes resume at Keene State College, so while my online classes are entering their second week, today I have my head down with last-minute preparations for tomorrow’s classes. As I’ve blogged before, I always panic the day before the first day of a new semester, anticipating the glassy, indifferent stares of my sleepy-eyed students as I stand before them, trying my damnedest to grab and keep their attention. Forget peacefulness; what I’m experiencing right now is the cold stab of premeditated panic as I play again and again in my mind the various nightmare scenarios that can happen when first-day classes go bad.

I’m sure a soothing yoga session is just what I need right now…but somehow, I can’t stomach the thought of looking like a weirdly posed, strangely coiffed yoga studio mannequin: if that look says “peaceful,” I’ll choose “panicked” any day.

You are here

Today’s image is a kind of follow-up to this graffiti-based post. I find it perversely comforting to know that at any moment when I’ve lost my way, a nearby brick might remind me of my true station in the Universe. Surely you’ve been there, too?


At first, compromise is such tender discipline, a bending arch as comforting as a gentle stretch or the quiet nudge of a warm and welcomed hand. At what point do ties begin to bind, the supple shape of acquiesence gradually solidifying into the iron bands of unmoving habit? What says “stability” to a strapping sapling might say “strangulation” to a full-grown tree, the initial kiss of hugging cables increasingly chafing with each swelling season. Once contained within a metallic embrace, can a growing tree ever sway against the inevitability of no escape? Once restrained, can any freed creature be re-trained?

    I can’t seem to help seeing evocatively forked, contorted, and even chained trees as sensuous things, the emotive arch of otherwise rigid wood being eternally erotic to my eye. Is it any wonder that I, like Daphne, am named for the supple yet ever-elusive laurel?

After a morning of steady rain, this afternoon brought a spot of sun…and mud. Typically, a January walk would crunch icily underfoot, but today the trail along the Ashuelot River here in Keene was squishy and puddled, looking as it does during the “mud season” of spring. Mud puddles, like halffrozen ponds, offer reflective glimpses of sky and over-arching trees, bringing the heavens down to earth: the stuff of spirit getting down and dirty.

Today has been a typical work-at-home day, with me multi-tasking the start of two online classes, preparations for next week’s face-to-face classes, and assorted chores and to-do’s checked from an ever-growing list. It’s been a typical Monday, all in all: a day when darkness comes and I realize I’ve spent the entire day without saying a word to any other human creature, the length and breadth of my social interaction being some scattered words to the dog.

Winter afternoons with a spot of sun always bring Emily Dickinson to mind, her certain slant of light being a phenomenon I’ve mentioned on several occasions. A certain slant without snow seems odd enough, and on an afternoon like this, I myself feel a bit odd and Emily-like, holed away in my quiet house with my quiet dog, the world outside transpiring without me. Is solitude a bit like January mud, something that oozes upon you unexpected, a soft sensation underfoot that threatens to slip then stymie you, quagmirish? The soul selects her own society, Dickinson insisted, but I wonder if it’s always necessarily so. Aren’t there some souls, perhaps, who find themselves mired in solitude as if by accident, the tender tug of isolation being not a choice but a slippery slope?

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