Friday, June 27, 2008


Almost four years ago Janet Cooper and Renee Van Buren (botanists and neighbors) showed up at our front door with a big sack of seeds from their Palmer's penstemons. We planted them on the hill of dirt denuded of natural vegetation by building the house. And now you see their progeny.

Good neighbors.

Good plants.

And what a scent.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Vampires / A Reasonable Dictionary

An email today from my friend Zarko Radakovic. In April he was a featured reader at the International ProseFest in Novi Sad. Here's a page from the festival brochure (click on the photos to see larger versions).

Several other pages list his work -- translations (including the one I  wrote about earlier here, Peter Handke's "Loss of Images," with Serbian translation and visual translation by the artist Nina Pops), edited anthologies, and novels (one of which is our "Repetitions" -- for a good look at how Serbo-Croatian declines English nouns, take a look at the Serbian side of the brochure, where the translation of "along with Scott Abbott" turns me into "Scottom Abbottom").

Mark Twain once famously wrote that he would rather decline three German beers than one German noun.

And a third page with information about Zarko's other work (translation is not as easy as it seems!)

Finally, the email contained great news. After Zarko's reading from "Vampires" at the festival, he was approached by several publishers who wanted the book. So, in October of this year, Stubovi Kulture, the publisher of Zarko's earlier novel "Pogled" -- "Look," will publish our joint text: Zarko's fictional "Vampires" and my travel narrative "A Reasonable Dictionary," which serves as what Zarko calls "the real landscape" for his fiction.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Buck Snort

We're sitting on the deck watching the evening fade. A slight breeze picks up and the day's heat slips away. Hummingbirds jockey for a last feeding. Black-headed grosbeaks and lazuli buntings sing their final protestations of virility while there's still enough light for the females to admire them. A young buck, two years showing in a thick fork under velvet, browses through the yard, seemingly partial to the flax whose blue petals have fallen with the darkness. The blue will bloom again in the morning, except, of course, where the buck has eaten them short. Blue, our yellow lab, watches the deer with us, fascinated. A second buck follows, his rack almost three times the size of the first one's antlers. There will be four points when the velvet rakes off in the fall, and his body is bulkier. He's also more wary, and turns to face us when he hears a sound. He watches and sweeps his big ears back and forth. We don't move. And then he snorts. And slips into the scrub oak.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Broke the Block

So, as Saturday eased past I finished the new deck, worked hard on the new flagstone walkway, took some pictures (this one of Utah Valley some time after sunset), and wrote a good piece on my first experience in an art museum in Cologne, Germany.

Feels good.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Michael Morrow complements me on the photos he figures I'm using as "filler" during the summer.

Au contraire, Michael. As I noted previously, I'm combating a fierce case of writer's block by producing pictures.

And waging battle against "performatives"!

Friday, June 6, 2008

writer's block

Yesterday I replied to an email from a student frustrated by her inability to write her thesis. My answered echoed her problem -- I am fighting writer's block myself.

So I turn to the camera, looking for forms that inspire creation -- like Joe Bennion's pitcher against a darkening sky.

Artists and writers and builders and musicians and plumbers make things. They form them, shape them, figure them out.

Writer's block keeps that from happening.

Looking at Joe's pottery sharpens my appetite to make something, and what I make involves words.

Wish me luck.