Backcountry of the Beyond

Hogback Hill (Kit Spahr)

Beyond Even This     
by Maggie Anderson

Who would have thought the afterlife would
look so much like Ohio? A small town place,
thickly settled among deciduous trees.
I lived for what seemed a very short time.
Several things did not work out.
Casually almost, I became another one
of the departed, but I had never imagined
the tunnel of hot wind that pulls
the newly dead into the dry Midwest
and plants us like corn. I am
not alone, but I am restless.
There is such sorrow in these geese
flying over, trying to find a place to land
in the miles and miles of parking lots
that once were soft wetlands. They seem
as puzzled as I am about where to be.
Often they glide, in what I guess is
a consultation with each other,
getting their bearings, as I do when
I stare out my window and count up
what I see. It's not much really:
one buckeye tree, three white frame houses,
one evergreen, five piles of yellow leaves.
This is not enough for any heaven I had
dreamed, but I am taking the long view.
There must be a backcountry of the beyond,
beyond even this and farther out,
past the dark smoky city on the shore
of Lake Erie, through the landlocked passages
to the Great Sweetwater Seas.

Kit Spahr

[Thanks for the poem, Linda, and the photos, Kit!]

Discovering Columbus

“Stretching along High Street, south of the Ohio State University campus, the Short North is Columbus’s designated arts district and home to a hugely popular arts event called Gallery Hop. On the first Saturday of each month, street performers, musicians and artists hit the sidewalks, shops set up temporary exhibits, and art galleries remain open late. Drawing crowds since it started in 1984, Gallery Hop helped transform the formerly neglected, crime-ridden urban district into the vibrant, independent arts enclave that it is today.”

From “Hello, Columbus,” by Ingrid K. Williams, New York Times (March 14, 2010)

Kirk Irwin for The New York Times

Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams

Lorianne DiSabato

Goodale Park

Wexner Center for the Arts

So Much to Teach Me

Eight. Doing Dishes
Jeanne Lohmann

We lived in so many houses, Gloria: Indiana Avenue,
Summit and Fourth, the double on Hudson Street.
And that upstairs apartment on North High we rented
from Armbruster's. Mother thought it Elizabethan,
romantic, with its leaded glass windows and wood-beamed
ceilings. Our entrance was at the side, at the top of stairs
that creaked late at night when we came home from our dates.
You had more of these than I did, even if I was older.
It was 1943, and our brother Harry was in the Navy.
I'd had a year away at college, and you were
still in high school. On this particular night
in the kitchen, doing the supper dishes, you
drying while I washed, you told me that your friend
Monabelle had a premature baby, and you'd been there,
helped to find a shoebox to put the baby in. I tried
to imagine this, kept seeing the cardboard box
with the baby, Monabelle bleeding and crying.
You didn't want our parents to hear, so we talked
softly while we put the dishes in the drainer
on the sink and hung the towels to dry.
The pilot light on the range burned purple blue
and I saw both of us new in that light, you
with so much to teach me, my self-absorbed
studious life, so intent on saving the world.

Seeing Through the Clutter of Life

From “Mindfulness meditation being used in hospitals and schools,” by Marilyn Elias, USA TODAY (6.8.09):

Tim Ryan Challenges are landing fast and furious on Capitol Hill. So Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, feels he has to arrive at the top of his game every day. And Ryan says he has found a way to do that: He meditates for at least 45 minutes before leaving home.

Ryan, 35, sits on a floor cushion, closes his eyes, focuses on his breath and tries to detach from any thoughts, just observing them like clouds moving across the sky — a practice he learned at a retreat. "I find it makes me a better listener, and my concentration is sharper. I get less distracted when I'm reading," he says. "It's like you see through the clutter of life and can penetrate to what's really going on."

…As research expands, scientists expect to unlock more of the mysteries around meditation. Meanwhile, for those such as Ryan, proof of benefit is already evident. "I'm much more aware now than I used to be," he says. "I enjoy my life more because you notice, and you really appreciate."

I’ll Take This Any Day

Over Ohio
by Michael Blumenthal, from Days We Would Rather Know

You can say what you want about the evils of technology
and the mimicry of birds; I love it. I love the sheer,
unexpurgated hubris of it, I love the beaten egg whites
of clouds hovering beneath me, this ephemeral Hamlet
of believing in man's grandeur. You can have all that
talk about the holiness of nature and the second Babylon.
You can stay shocked about the future all you want,
reminisce about the beauties of midwifery. I'll take this
any day, this sweet imitation of Mars and Jupiter, this
sitting still at 600 mph like a jet-age fetus. I want to
go on looking at the moon for the rest of my life and seeing
footsteps. I want to keep flying, even for short distances,
like here between Columbus and Toledo on Air Wisconsin:
an Andean condor sailing over Ohio, above the factories.
above the dust and the highways and the miserable tires.

From a Bus Window

james-wrightFrom a Bus Window in Central Ohio, Just Before a Thunder Shower
by James Wright, from Selected Poems

Cribs loaded with roughage huddle together
Before the north clouds.
The wind tiptoes between poplars.
The silver maple leaves squint
Toward the ground.
An old farmer, his scarlet face
Apologetic with whiskey, swings back a barn door
And calls a hundred black-and-white Holsteins
From the clover field.

Tuning Between Stations

"As a child, I remember playing with my grandfather's shortwave ham radio set in the blisteringly hot attic of his Ohio home. And I loved tuning between stations and listening to all the tones and beeps and whistles and static. And often I will do that now today. I'll just turn on a shortwave radio, put it next to the bed, and mistune it somehow so I'm really not hearing any station directly. There's something about that I find opens my mind...I find a peace and excitement at the same time."

~ Ben Burtt, the voice of Wall-E, discussing some of his sound design inspirations with Kurt Anderson on Studio 360 (6.27.08).

Below, he explains how he created the lightsaber sound.

Surpassing the Creativity of All Other Ice Cream Makers

Photo by Michelle MaguireIt's true. Anyone who has tasted it knows the Denver Post and the New York Times aren't exaggerating. Even Al Roker, Lynne Rossetto Kasper, and Dean & Deluca are in the know.

In today's New York Times, Marian Burros writes, "Jeni’s of Columbus, Ohio, has surpassed the creativity of all other ice cream makers with its versions like goat cheese and Cognac fig sauce....Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams’ intense, offbeat flavors would be worth a drive to Ohio. My favorites were the goat cheese, salty caramel, coffee, Thai chili and torrone, plus lime cardamom lingonberry frozen yogurt and forest berry and pear riesling sorbets. Six pints start at $70; jenisicecreams.com, (614) 488-3224."

My favorites are pistachio, pumpkin five spice, dark cocoa mint gelato, and the pear riesling sorbet. You have to try her ice cream sandwiches with a thick slab of ice cream squished between traditional Parisian macaroons. I'm sure they will be world famous one day.

Deadline for ordering in time for Christmas delivery is 12/19.


Halloween seems more Eros than Thanatos these days. On Saturday evening, we were drinking tea and talking about Lars and the Real Girl before its charm had a chance to evaporate (the film cleverly uses restraint to ground its unlikely premise--boy meets artificial girl--and grows a sincere tenderness out of simple and familiar social conventions), but my attention kept wandering to the Ohio State students drifting past the window on their way to costume parties.

A surgeon crossed the street with a short skirted nurse on each arm. A woman in a tight black dress wore a gilded hard hat with a light mounted on it, and yelled up to people drinking on a nearby balcony that she was a gold digger. A muscular man with glitter on his chest and shoulders clomped by alone in high heels and a low-cut ball gown. A Spartan soldier in a helmet, boots, and red cape passed by to reveal that the only other thing he’d brought along besides his spear was the pair of black briefs he was wearing. And just this morning, the sun played along as it rose slowly over the city, saturating the entire backdrop with copper and amber, the pale thighs of a French maid glowed like the moon as she stepped over the railroad tracks in fishnet stockings, long black gloves, and the lingering darkness.