Before I would have been up early, fed the dogs, gone off to the Farmer’s Market in the city next to our village. My mood would lift seeing the French bakery tent, the Tamales steaming, Fuji Apple farmer, the biodynamic farmer with vegetables fit for an Art Museum (the only ones with Mulberries), the fisherwoman who scoops ice into a bag of fresh Halibut and offers a sample of ceviche, the up-the-coast Farmers who have carrots sweeter than candy and lettuce shaped like fanned out roses. Saturday morning was a marvel.
I cannot touch my face anymore and so it itches in places that I know it never has before. I spend hours trying to feel calm, breathe, invite self-compassion. Without notice I speed up only to not follow through on the many tasks that seemed momentarily essential.
I now have the prepared and pickled hands of that mummy I was taken with at the British museum. I have the diet of whatever. The dread of one step away from here.
Others are not welcome. Loved ones are virtual.
It is suddenly late afternoon again and I stare at bottle brush trees out the rectangular window above my desk. I am waiting for them to bloom.
It has been very long time since I've read a writer who I've enjoyed, admired, and learned so much from. My friend, Victoria, recommended her book Drive Your Plow Over The Bones Of The Dead, quite a title and an amazing book.
There is so much to say about Olga Tokarczuk but this blog isn't a dissertation so I am giving you links below. She is a writer of place and lives in south western Poland in a medieval region near the border with Czechoslovakia which was once Bohemia. She was awarded the Nobel for 2018 and the Booker Prize for her experimental novel that she calls a constellation novel, Flights.
So, tonight I will be reading House of Day House of Night which will mean I have read everything she has written that has been translated into English, including a short story I found in the anthology Elsewhere. And I will have to wait for the translation of her Books of Jacob, which is frequently referred to as her masterpiece which comes out in 2021.
From her Nobel lecture, The Tender Narrator:
I also dream of a new kind of narrator―a “fourth-person” one, who is not merely a grammatical construct of course, but who manages to encompass the perspective of each of the characters, as well as having the capacity to step beyond the horizon of each of them, who sees more and has a wider view, and who is able to ignore time. Oh yes, I think this narrator’s existence is possible.
Here are some links to follow:
Her Nobel lecture: The Tender Narrator,
Olga on Poland
Interview with Olga about her novel Flights
Interview Absorb Stories
Reading through it all
The Corona virus is declared a global emergency, NY Times Cooking posts a game-day Jalapeño poppers recipe, and apparently, Taylor Swift is Scathingly Alone.
Those tweets wrap around the Impeachment hearings that today go far beyond the surreal territory of the some of the world’s best future fiction. The hearings, at best, perhaps are a lesson in unreliable narrative twists. The constant disruption and distraction will continue. Getting free of it takes work and it is never really completely successful. Or could it be? Perhaps only be in extreme isolation and that possibility today is attractive.
My strategy for getting through pain, change, distraction, and disruption has always been to read. I made a commitment to myself late last year to cancel my Netflix subscription and to limit television. There is only so much time and so many books and very little moral justice to go around.
After that decision serendipity struck when my friend Lucianne recommended I read Louise Penny’s Gamache mystery series. I read all 15 books once and, then, read them again. It was pleasurable reading filled with complicated justice, artists, gardeners, poetry (she had permission from Margaret Atwood to use her poems), community, wonderful bistro food, and the world of French Canada, Québécois. I love being in the hamlet of Three Pines with her mature, flawed, loving and quirky characters. These books carried me through a hard time and was healing.
So now, I am writing another book. No Chief Inspectors however, although one never knows.
Since I’ve extended my reading pledge, I want to stop my Amazon book purchasing habit and move to solely purchasing from independent bookstores. And for that I needed an eReader, one which has the warm light for night reading. Yes, I love physical books but my writing space is a shed that is overwhelmed by books and typewriters and art supplies and an antique iron bed I thought I’d read on but is occupied by my dogs. I researched and decided on a Kobo eReader, the one used in other countries on this planet. Not only does it have direct integration with my library for books, but also I can choose my independent bookstore purchases at the Kobo store. My old Kindle will become my virtual book shelf now that the Kobo Libra H2O arrived just now as I am typing this.
And having said all this UPS delivered two new hardcover books, both by Olga Tokarczuk.
My next blog post no doubt will be my gushing tribute to Olga. In the mean time, breath in, breath out.
Happy Earth Day, or is it a sobering reminder of the precarious position we are in?
I have good news to share, Issue 7 of Minute Magazine was published yesterday and my poem Under the Valencia tree invisible to Moselle's family celebration is in it. But if you prefer to listen to me read (and hear all the poems in this issue) just go to SoundCloud, iTunes, or Spotify.
The Royal and the Valentine
I drafted this post on my 1930’s Royal Quiet De Luxe typewriter. I am challenging myself this month to do all my drafts on a typewriter. Writing on a computer is hard for me because of the distractions; spell and grammar checks, alerts, email, messages, and the general seduction of the Internet. It is easy to lose an hour (or many hours) following legitimate needs that lead to links, visuals, videos, and ends in I can’t remember what I was going after.
I have been loyal to my Royal but truth is, I have others. Over the last several years I've had an addiction. A serial falling in and out of love. But Royal is my first love with the best keyboard for my hands; the glass keys which can’t be beat. I should have stopped while I was ahead but one leads to more: Hermes 3000 (Mid-Century, Swiss), Royal Safari (70s big doll), Hermes 3000 (cursive type) and Erika (20’s delicate little beauty, laptop-like but with a European keyboard). All of them are wonderful typewriters but, with the exception of Erika, they are not for my hands.
Last week, being a member of the typewriter community, I got an email from Typewriter Review , which is a great review site for writers. The current review compares two Olivetti typewriters. I have long wanted an Olivetti Lettera 32, not to mention the design icon, Valentine. The review pushed me right over the eBay edge. I found one and it was in pretty great condition. It had a perfect case (won’t buy one without a case) and all the original documents (rare to get them). But, I told myself not until I sell the others and went back to revising a poem.
Well, some days I have a struggle writing a poem, story, or essay; Saturday I had a struggle with all three. The cure was the Olivetti Lettera 32 because, well, Sylvia Plath wrote her poems on one. I put in a low bid and left it up to fate. I should be getting the Olivetti in two weeks!
So now, I am looking at creating an eBay shop to sell the Hermes and Safari which are in their perfect cases in a line along the back wall of my writing shed.
I will sell them, if only to find my Valentine .
P.S. If you are ever in Venice, Italy, visit the Olivetti Museum.
More on the Typosphere: http://typosphere.blogspot.com
Famous writers & their typewriters: http://mentalfloss.com/article/80104/19-authors-and-their-typewriters
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My mind has been on the fragility of our current circumstances on Planet Earth. This was intensified for me by the November (Woolsey) fire that devastated 88% of the park lands in our Santa Monica Mountains. As it ran out of control we were evacuated; this time for a week. We were lucky, the winds shifted, and thankful for our friends in Ventura who opened their home to us and the dogs (much to the horror of their cat, Luna). Fire never reached our canyon but it brought home the reality of living in these mountains. As I packed up my backpack I added a library book; Ursula K Le Guin’s last book of poems, So Far So Good. This book gave me relief and perspective on living, aging, dying; all with the long view that only someone who lives a full life into their nineties has.
Today, I heard the first Pacific Tree Frog of the new year. We are having a classic rainy day and it is a joy, sadly a rare joy, but my excitement sunk as dread crept in; lately on a daily basis. Over 16 years here I have experienced the change in our climate, my guess is that you have that experience where you live or travel. For some time, after the fire, I couldn’t shake it. Now I realize it is pointless and immobilizing. Now, I work toward not going down that spiral. I am not naive, but to stay right in the moment; merged with this land, speechless, overwhelmed, is what I have at hand.
I didn't read Le Guin until last year. I finally woke up to the fact that I was I admiring her but never actually read her, so I started with The Left Hand of Darkness. And so began my unsystematic journey into her work. Right now I have four of her books on hold in the library system, and today received, The Found and the Lost, The Collected Novellas and Words Are My Matter. I am definitely on a journey, she is the writer I want to read this year.
Recently, before going to the Honda dealership, I picked up my latest library book, Ursula K. Le Guin: Conversations on Writing, with David Naimon, since I was wrong to presume it would be a short appointment,
I was able read it over the five hours it took for my Element to reappear. These conversations took place toward the end of her life and are one of the last interviews of her; they are organized around the genres she wrote in fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. David Naimon received her final penciled comments when he got news that she died. Le Guin is an amazing world creator, and her focus on writing, publishing, gender, nature, and our current world has never been sharper. Reading this book was like sitting with her, was having her voice in my ear. She has much to say about the world we live in, about writers, writing and to readers--all with a healthy sense of herself.
It has taken some time to come back to what I know is true for me; reading Le Guin has helped me to understand that this is where I need to live . I’ll accept the risk. And there, in the midst of a once-normal-now-rare rainy day, I went out on the upper deck and heard those first sounds of the Pacific Tree Frog. She/he was blending into the bark of the massive Coastal Live Qak tree encroaching upon the deck, its leaves showing evidence of a flash burn from a 114 degree summer day. And so, if our luck holds out, it will come down into our fountain to voice amplify and become our resident Chorus Frog.
Happy New Year,
Here is where you can listen to Le Guin's gutsy speech at the National Book Awards when given the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. It went viral and gave rise to what she calls her 15 minutes of fame.
So Far So Good
Ursula K. Le Guin: Conservations on Writing with David Naimon
The Found and the Lost, The Collected Novellas
Words Are My Matter
And everything you want to know about the Pacific Tree Frog/Chorus Frog
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©2019-2020 Jacqueline De Angelis . All writing and site images are the property of Jacqueline De Angelis.