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Saturday, January 30, 2016

Brandywine Red Clay Association's Polar Plunge 2016 Fundraiser

Hi everyone,

I hope this blog entry finds you in good spirits. On Saturday, February 20th I am taking the plunge - as in polar plunge - for the Brandywine Red Clay Association.  I am holding a fundraiser for their cause, which is very important for the world we live in. The mission of the Brandywine Red Clay Association is to protect water, the ecosystems of the water sheds,  and offer Environmental Education for the Brandywine Valley. I'm only asking for $5.

I've been participating in these plunges for the past five years. I look forward to the Brandywine Polar Plunge each year and fundraising for this wonderful cause.  I also enjoy the costume contest; actually, that is my absolute favorite part of the Polar Plunge.

This year, as I was discussing this morning at the library, I am going to dress up as the Black Swan. I usually make costumes out of clothing and materials I have lying around the house. I feel like getting my tutu out, getting wings and a tiara, and just have fun with it. It would definitely be a conversation piece, like the snow wizard costume was a few years ago. It won me honorable mention! Here are some albums from previous years:

If you would care to donate $5 for the Brandywine Red Clay Association, you can either donate via Go Fund Me or you can send it directly to me via PayPal (

Thank you for your support. I hope you all enjoy your weekend.




Friday, January 29, 2016

Cephalopod Coffeehouse: January 2016

Welcome one and all to the Cephalopod Coffeehouse, a cozy gathering of book lovers, meeting to discuss their thoughts regarding the works they enjoyed most over the previous month.  Pull up a chair, order your cappuccino and join in the fun. 

This month I read The Best American Travel Writing 2006. Since I am still working on As Far As The Eyes Can See, I wanted to read travel pieces to help inspire my poetry. While these are articles and not poetry, the different stories did help inspire me. Alain de Botton's Discreet Charm of Zurich reminded me when I went to Switzerland in 2007. That was my first time abroad - I went to Germany, Austria, and Switzerland with the German Club. I remember the flight over, the one German teacher (I wouldn't have him until I was a senior in high school) was translating some of Lufthansa's flight instructions for me, but I understood most of it. I appreciated it, though. Anyway, before I digress too much, I could relate to what de Botton wrote about Zurich, but Switzerland in general. I found Switzerland to be very bourgeois too, but safe. Not a lot goes on in Switzerland and the people are so calm - it's almost like a blase. Switzerland is beautiful, however, and I would go again.

Kira Salak's Rediscovering Libya through a camel trek across the desert really made me crave that adventure. How cool would it be to ride a camel in a caravan through the desert? The way Salak described the Libyan people, they were friendly. Most, unlike what the media portrays, really like Americans and welcome them with open arms. Though, nowadays I'm not sure if that's the same case as 2005. Even George Saunders's New Mecca, a piece about Dubai, writes about Dubai's modernization and how posh Dubai is compared to Saudi Arabia. I would really like to go to Dubai; Dubai is much like Switzerland and is very safe. People also seem really nice and Saunders meets a lot of great people. I really liked these passages the best:

I thoroughly enjoyed these articles from various authors. I was happy to see David Sedaris in this anthology - Turbulence made me chuckle. It was about a flight gone wrong - I have always loved Sedaris's dark humor. Even the food pieces were great. Best American Writing 2006 has really inspired me and I've been working on my poetry. Tomorrow when I go to work at the library I'll have to see if the recent books are in.

Austrian Snows

Jessica Marie

the sign warned
as we climbed
the snowy, winding, icy roads
to the hostel up in the Alps.

yet our driver
seems so nonplused.
He speeds up ahead
Austrian skies show the beginning of night.

despite the fury
of the snowflakes
the sky turns pink-purple
as the snow and sun rendezvous together.

the sky blackens
or turns gray.
Violent snow storms bleat us,
yet our bus trudges on through ice.

our bus skids,
we must slow.
Yet, it’s beautiful to watch
the April snows cover all pine trees.

the final hill!
We really slowed;
and in the distance I see
our quaint little hostel covered in snow.

even the rocks
are deeply buried
and out ahead I see
farmer’s sheep looking for our hostel too.

إبتسمت السمكة الطويلة في وجهي
أثقل من جبل
عيون السمك تحدق وابتسم
اتبع الظل؛
واذا تمنيت فاستكثر

(The long fish smiled at me,
heavier than the mountains.
The fish's eyes stare,
and laughs;
follow the shadow
if you wish, wish for more.)

The Adventures of Whole Fried Fish
Jessica Marie

Quickly chop the garlic,
                as it will make your fingers smell for days,
                                which is why I suggest doing this task first—
since all of the other vegetables for the tatbileh must be cut,
the garlic scent—it will keep vampires away; haha, remember that old joke from childhood?—
will rub off onto the jalapenos, or chipotles, or Anaheim peppers, or a combination of the three,
                depending on how adventuresome you feel.
                                Me, I would only chop an Anaheim along with a green bell pepper.
                                I’ve talked about this Palestinian adventure for so long—
                                the dangers of reading a cookbook from a top New York City restaurant;
                                                an idea planted so firmly in my head, why not try?
I chattered with excitement as I bought the vegetables. The grocer pointed me into the right direction,
                “You’ll have to tell me how this recipe turns out! It sounds interesting and adventurous.”
                                “I sure will! I will even have pictures!”
                He certainly did lead me to the best peppers.
Soaking the Anaheim and long green hot pepper in the sink next to the parsley,
letting the cold faucet water sprinkle on them
                as I begin to chop the shallot—
                                ah, I hate when this happens,
                                as the water wells around my eyes,
                                my eyelashes become moist,
                                no, I’m not crying about how my life turned out,
                                no, I’m not crying about surviving:
                                I should cry for all of the refugees—
                                who can’t even eat, let alone their favorite dish,
                quickly, I violently thrust the knife through
                working at warp speed to get the shallots done.
I wipe my eyes on my shirt sleeve
and wash my hands before I start cutting the peppers.
                I go hotter tonight—my parents are joining in on the fun.
                                “What’s this dish like?” they inquired—
                                “it’s amazing! The branzino is subtle, almost like cold!
                                The tatbileh really adds zest as well!”
                                “Sounds good, even if the eyes stare back,” dad laughed.
                                I laugh, “we’re eating like the people in Nazareth,
                                the recipe comes from there—it brings Muslims, Jews, and Christians together
                                and they eat in peace.”
Turning around, I begin chopping the Anaheim pepper,
which had been hanging out in the cold shower—
the spigot sprinkling water as the green dude hangs out in the bowl with parsley.
They look like green log rings; I pierce the seeds
and flick them into the sink. Seeds pack heat, or so I hear.
I group the Anaheim logs with the shallots and garlic,
                next to the long hot green pepper—a few lily pads for mom and I,
                the rest for dad—I make sure to really discard the seeds
                and wash my hands well to avoid eye burning.
Parsley, who can forget the parsley?
Because it has soaked for so long, the cold water bath freezes my hands,
                they shrivel at the touch. I quickly cut,
                the leaves begin to look like confetti and like New Year’s Eve at 11:59,
                                I begin to throw the Emerald confetti into the blender.
                                And like at midnight, the confetti settles after a brief flight in the air.
                I add the other vegetables along with the petite pear, juicy, I cut.
                                This wasn’t in the recipe book, but I thought it would add
                                a nice, juicy sweetness to the tatbileh.
                Everything is cozy, comfortably packed near the blades.
                Pulsing, the blades whir to a spin.
                A few more pulses, the consistency like relish. Perfect!
I begin to slice open the branzino,
I also chattered with excitement as I bought the fish,
the fish monger showing me where they kept the best branzino;
I look at their faces; the eyes just stare.
                I carefully pick out the three best fish, their faces have personality,
                different personalities, I pick based off of which would match our personalities—
                the fish monger carefully picks them up and wraps them in butcher paper.
Their marble eyes stare at me, at first in judgement,
almost pleading with me not to fry them. Now they are indifferent.
It is almost hard to pierce their flesh; they are hearty;
but once I slit is made, I violently stuff the cavity with tatbileh.
The flour I mix with salt, cumin, pepper, clove, I carefully stitch the incisions,
the fishes are dredged, single file and one at a time, fully and it becomes ghostlike.
Only frying in olive oil, eyes glazed over,
                does he become alive…
                he brings us around the table,
                brings us all together—
                                not only as a family, but people of the world,
                                we laugh and tell stories
as we devour
                his sustenance with tatbileh.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Thankful Thursday 1/28/2016

This is not of my walk, but as I was waiting for the train. Look at the melt, compared to Monday:

Monday after the snow fall.

For the past two days, Pennsylvania has been warming up. It has been 38 degrees during the day and in the teens at night. With the higher temperatures, snow has been melting (and re-freezing at night); today I had the opportunity to take a walk. It felt nice because it has been two weeks (with the frigid winds and wind chills, although I love the cold, I didn't want to get sick... at least not until 2/1... so I stayed in). As I walked, the scenery looked beautiful. I loved seeing the snow and walking next the melting snow just felt seasonable. I feel thankful for the feeling. It just felt nice.

I'm not only thankful for the weather, but people too. One of my co-workers is retiring and the office was holding a retirement party for her at a local restaurant. I don't drive and a lot of people in the office don't drive, but for the holiday party the drivers carpooled and took the non-drivers.When I RSVP'd I assumed that would be the case again. As of last week, more representatives said they were going. Well, with the snow this week a lot stayed home. The one driver has a child who was sick and she had to make up time. She wasn't going and the other drivers left already. My co-worker suggested Uber. I am leery about Uber given the news stories about assaults that happen. However, I said I was going to this retirement party and I wanted to keep my promise (it is on the train route, but on Tuesday things were still clogged with snow - I couldn't walk to the restaurant); I booked Uber.

While I was waiting outside for Uber, one of dad's coworkers was serving papers at an old company that used to be in the building. He saw me, I told him what happened, he noticed my hesitation about Uber and offered to take me since he was going that way. I took him up on the offer because I was nervous about Uber. When Uber arrived, the driver was annoyed, but I am glad I went with someone I knew. I hopped into the deputy car and he took me to the restaurant. I am thankful for that; I am thankful for the nice people my dad works with. :)

The retirement party was a lot of fun! I am thankful it was a fitting ceremony. I ordered the co-worker a copy of my NYC photography book, however, it didn't come in until tonight. Tomorrow is her last day and I am thankful for gift arrived in time! It came later than the party, but I am glad it arrived before her last day! ::wipes sweat::

What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Review of David Bowie's Blackstar

I bought David Bowie's new album, Blackstar, on the Sunday I went into the city for the day. Blackstar had already been out for a week and it was on sale for $9.99. Since this was Bowie's last album, I wanted to check his final piece of art.

Metro, a free newspaper given out by SEPTA (our public transit here) rated the album highly the Friday Blackstar was released. Metro also wrote about the different phases Bowie went through from Ziggy Stardust to his modern phase before he died.

I could definitely detect the different stages in Blackstar. I could also hear that he knew he was going to die. It was almost cryptic. Blackstar has seven songs and each song mentions his death - his end. I thought it was a beautiful album because it didn't only focus on the end, but the album was a reflection on life. Blackstar was definitely a fitting final album from David Bowie and I would highly recommend this album.

This morning, after I woke up.

Listening to the album at work.

Taken when I came home from work.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Nan, Three Years Later

I posted these images on Wesley Bear's Facebook last night:

On Nan's obituary it says she died on January 26, 2013 - I still think of her dying on January 25, 2013 because she died overnight when my parents were sleeping. Mom called me at 4 AM to tell me the news that Nan had passed. I went to Christine's for the night after spending the day in the city. I didn't want to watch Nan die, I wanted to remember her in a good light - actually, I was just really upset. One friend at the time criticized me and called me cold hearted for not watching her die. I don't know. Before I went to Christine's, I hugged her goodbye, gave her a long kiss, and we just hugged for 15 minutes. She was so out of it from the ativan and all of the other medications home hospice gave her for her final hours. I don't want to say anymore about that.

Over the years, what my old friend told me lingered with me. Was I horrible person for not staying for the whole thing? Was I a horrible person for only saying goodbye and spending the final days with her only? I guess one really can't think of what outsiders say because we all handle things differently. I was close to Nan and I am thankful I had her in my life for 23.5 years.

The pictures I posted on Wesley's Facebook I stole from my personal Facebook when I re-activated it for a few days after my phone crashed. After I deactivated again, I thought I should have saved all of the pictures I had. I did an indefinite de-activation, but hopefully I can log on again to just save old pictures and re-deactivate it. I have a lot of pictures of Nan with siblings, that have long passed, and I just went every old picture. I am going to include some of those memories in my book and I am adding pictures with my poetry. Here are some poems for my book in memory of Nan and other family members on Dad's side:

Strawberry Shortcake Birthday

In celebration of what would have been nan's 91st birthday on May 4, 2014. I miss her terribly: every birthday she'd make her famous strawberry shortcake.

Today I need your fluffy icing, vanilla sweet
with tart strawberries circling the top;
the extras and sugary, red water a treat!
Today I need your fluffy icing, vanilla sweet
because as we sing, our lungs and voices beat;
I miss those candles and the radio blaring doo-wop.
Today I need your fluffy icing, vanilla sweet,
the tartness of strawberry, circling on grieving's top!

A Taste of Summer

Traipse to the red deck;
out of the coolness of the house
into the arms of humidity
and the melancholy of the sun
retreating, fleeing behind the trees.

On the red deck, the paint peels
and leaves black and red dust
on the heels of my pale feet.
In your hands, your old china
that was given to you on your wedding;
slices of watermelon, your favorite,
and the salt to accompany it.

On the red deck, the juices drip
with salty-sweet goodness
and the pinkness stains my white nightgown.
You laugh at me, I'm always a mess.
Yet you smile, a rare glimpse
into happiness, safe from chaos.
Fireflies fly around us,
yet we're too busy yapping to care--
this is a world I never want to leave.

Traipse back into the house,
the clock strikes 10;
it is time to lock up
and with salty and sticky kisses
the dusk a very good night.
And as it falls on us,
we hug tight. 

Written: August 7, 2013
Aunt Millie's Sewing
Jessica Marie

"Please hand me the needle and thread;
I'll show you how to make a simple knot,"
as she picked up pretty fabric; she said,
"Please hand me the needle and thread."
Weaving, arms thrust; she turns her head--
she is patient while teaching an itty bitty tot;
"please hand me the needle and thread,
I'll show you how to make a simple knot!"

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Here Comes the... ...Snow

Early last week mom was alerted (on Facebook) by a friend that is a meteorologist that the Northeast was going to get a bad snow storm - a significant snow storm was brewing. Our news outlets and the Metro didn't start confirming this significant snow storm until midweek. By midweek everyone was saying that a storm bringing 12-18 inches of snow, coastal flooding for Jersey, and heavy winds will hit the Northeast corridor (D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, NYC, and taper off in Boston) on Friday evening and go well into early Sunday morning.

Stores were mobbed on Thursday when mom and I went to Trader Joe's. That was the scene around here before the storm hit. On Friday at lunch my library boss texted me that the library would be closed for Saturday; I was a bit happy about that (even though it means no pay for the library this week) because this week at my full time job had been busy and I wanted to work on my book. I left my full time job at 3:30 PM and the skies were very gray and bleak. Even the Schuylkill River was beginning to freeze over.

You can see a little bit of the ice starting to form.

When I arrived home at 5, I was so happy to see Straight Outta Compton waiting for me. I was glad the pre-ordered DVD arrived before the blizzard. 

The snow began at 8 PM on Friday evening. Here are pictures from the beginning of the storm, yesterday's storm, and a picture of the aftermath.

Dad snowplowing our driveway yesterday morning. That is a little less than a foot of snow.

It's half my size!

Yes, Mimi, it is a very snowy Caturday.

Although we have an awning over our back porch, the winds still blew snow onto the porch.

My love struck snowman. Joyce's mom, Barb, gave me a great idea. The snow wasn't the right snow for a snowman, so Joyce and Michele put grapes and a carrot into the snow. I grabbed some Valentine's Day candy and a cheetoh, made my own on a snow pile.

Birdies were walking on our porch. So cool!

Later in the afternoon - tree is half covered.

Very windy.

My love struck snowman is completely covered!

Aftermath this morning at 8 AM.

 A lot of things are still closed today. The township didn't really plow last night because of the conditions. Today dad and I will be watching Straight Outta Compton and I will continue to work on my book. Another storm is scheduled for next week. I'm glad winter is finally here.