This weekend is the final push before I hand in my undergraduate thesis on Emily Dickinson. I'm writing on a painfully technical, recondite subject. I tell you it's about "capitalized compound nouns and their implications for Dickinson's theological lexicon" and watch your eyes cloud as if to protect yourself. But I first became interested in these ideas in an attempt to understand Dickinson's poem number 640, which kills me on an emotional level, every time.  In order to spare you a lecture on prosody, I'm writing about phrases like Other's GazeRight of Frost, and White Sustenance, trying to tease out how and why they carry such weight in this poem (and 60-odd other poems).  Really I just want to know why 640 is the text that manages to sum up whole years of my romantic and religious experience. So here you go.


I cannot live with You – 
It would be Life – 
And Life is over there – 
Behind the Shelf

The Sexton keeps the Key to – 
Putting up
Our Life – His Porcelain – 
Like a Cup – 

Discarded of the Housewife – 
Quaint – or Broke – 
A newer Sevres pleases – 
Old Ones crack – 

I could not die – with You – 
For One must wait
To shut the Other's Gaze down – 
You – could not – 

And I – Could I stand by
And see You – freeze – 
Without my Right of Frost – 
Death's privilege?

Nor could I rise – with You – 
Because Your Face
Would put out Jesus' – 
That New Grace

Glow plain – and foreign
On my homesick Eye – 
Except that You than He
Shone closer by – 

They'd judge Us – How – 
For You – served Heaven – You know,
Or sought to – 
I could not – 

Because You saturated Sight – 
And I had no more Eyes
For sordid excellence
As Paradise

And were You lost, I would be – 
Though My Name
Rang loudest
On the Heavenly fame – 

And were You – saved – 
And I – condemned to be
Where You were not – 
That self – were Hell to Me – 

So We must meet apart – 
You there – I – here – 
With just the Door ajar
That Oceans are – and Prayer – 
And that White Sustenance – 
Despair – 

the end of summer (means jam)

Welcome to the first Saturday in September. Here is the news:

1. School started. I'm taking Epistemology, History of Early Modern Europe, Writing a Sense of Place, Middle Eastern Narratives, and 18th Century Rhetoric. (And starting my honours thesis on Emily Dickinson. Gulp.) I'm smitten with my creative writing prof and I get to read Persepolis for Middle Eastern Narratives. 

On the first day of school, I walked in to a gym for the first time. In spite of my nervousness (I was actually shaking), I squatted 105 pounds--a personal record, and due to nerves, done in record time. 4 days later, I'll still howl if you touch my quads. 

2. The garden has lapsed into wilderness and I am only trying to hunt and gather as much as I can. I finally made that borscht. I've also canned 12 jars of applesauce, 8 jars of rhubarb, 5 jars of raspberry, and 1 doll-sized jar of gooseberry jam (more on the jam later), 5 jars of salsa, and 2 jars of pickled peppers. I've chopped up and frozen pounds of rhubarb and zucchini for winter baking. I still need to dig up the potatoes, but I ate baby carrots at school and work all week.

I invented a genius slaw with the first of my green cabbages: Wash 1 small green garden cabbage thoroughly, removing dirt, slugs, and larvae. Chop finely. Mince 1 clove of garlic. In a large bowl, whisk together tahini, olive oil, garlic, salt, white sugar, lemon juice/white vinegar, black pepper, sesame seeds--all to taste. Add chopped cabbage, stir to coat, and eat immediately. 

3. I took Simpkin to the vet in our new bike trailer. On the way home, we stopped at a new cafe. I got a job interview. I start on Monday. That makes three paid jobs for me, because--have I told you?--I've also been moonlighting as a speech pathologist's assistant, working on pronunciation, grammar, and reading comprehension with a brain injury client since late winter. It's fascinating. 

4. It's getting chilly, and Fall in Edmonton is beautiful. On Thursday night after I got out of class late, Tim and I bought curry in Garneau, then walked across the highlevel bridge to eat in the park. This was the view on the way over. On the way back, the sun directly behind us and the river valley falling away under the middle of the bridge, we saw a full 360 degree rainbow. The timing was incredible--Tim had just been explaining about them. 

5. After having the top of my head taken off by the brilliance of House of Cards, I think I've discovered more great TV. I started The Honourable Woman last night and I'm already wondering how I'm going to accomplish anything until I've finished it. So far, the cinematography and screenwriting are perfect, and the characters are beyond intriguing. Also: Maggie Gyllenhaal.

6. Truly Myrtle's new series, Share All the Things Friday, is delightful and the inspiration for this random collection of a post.

7. I started the gauge swatch for this sweater. It's going to be Tim's Christmas present. The last time I planned to give him a sweater for Christmas, I finished said sweater in March. Clearly, the time to begin is now.

8. And finally! It's time to give away some jam. I've been doing this giveaway every summer for two or three years now, and it is one of my favorite blogging traditions.

Would you like a large jar of rhubarb jam, made and canned by me from the rhubarb growing in our garden (transplanted from my Opa's acreage the first summer we lived here)? For my part, I would love to send you one. I'll ship anywhere in the world. To enter, leave a comment here or on Facebook or Twitter. If that doesn't suit you, send me an email. Let me know what you like to eat for breakfast. Lately I've been stuck on a toast-with-cheddar-and-jam kick. I'll draw a winner (or two) on Wednesday night.