I keep wondering about time, specifically my experience of time during this time. How inside and outside of time it feels right now. Today, I feel like I am on an extended residency with all the freedom of time and all the internal pressure to do something with it.
Yesterday, writing was easy. But not today, so I made myself a water color sample chart to remember what each color in my new 24 half pan set looks like before being blended. I took a virtual class in late August and made a really tight mess of water color Allen's hummingbird. I took the class to just mess around, be free, have some fun, and use a different part of my brain but I froze. So, last week I bought a Sennelier La Petit Aquarelle 24 half pan set and Canson XL water color paper. I don't know where all this leads but it makes me feel like there is a future I am swimming to. Or at the very least another virtual painting class this Saturday night.
In the meantime I am reading about big swathes of time. I just finished, The Rise and Fall of Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World by Steve Brusatte. It was one of those ebooks that was $2.99 and I was not sure why I was drawn to it. However, I have learned that when I am drawn to a book there is something I need to experience. And it was so interesting; the door is not shut on the dinosaur discovery. It was honestly one of the better books I've read during this pandemic.
Now I've started, A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived: The Human Story Retold Through Our Genes, by Adam Rutherford. So far it is captivating.
Time and change are big players in both books. Both remind me that our species (Americans in particular) lacks patience with the unknown and change.
And we are certainly neck deep right now in the unknown. And because of that, and in the midst of all the fires here in California, I started reading The Wisdom of No Escape, by Pema Chodron, an American Tibetan Buddhist nun and teacher.
Each moment is just what it is. It might be the only moment of our life; it might be the only strawberry we’ll ever eat. We could get depressed about it, or we could finally appreciate it and delight in the preciousness of every single moment of our life.” Pema Chodron
Reading really feeds writing so with the combination of these three books I'll see what comes forward.
As my mother used to say, we are in a pickle.
I am coming out of the Covid-19 fog and working to shake off the Ground Hog Day effect. I wake up at 7am feed the dogs and suddenly it is 3 o'clock.
I am not up to the task of framing this pandemic period. Just wear a mask, honestly, is it too much to ask that we do something for the collective WE. American individualism isn't serving us right now.
And yet this is the time when my chapbook, Everything reaches out to everything else, is ready for preorder. It is a finalist in Finishing Line Press' New Womens' Voices Series for 2019. I am excited that this set of poems were chosen and now that the preorder period is open it is becoming a reality. The preorder phase determines the print run and goes until August 28, the book will come out in late October.
So, since you are here, why not listen to one of the poems in the collection, Under the Valencia tree invisible to Moselle's family celebration.
To order, Everything reaches out to everything else, go to Finishing Line Press
Stay safe and aware.
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 with warm light for night reading. Yes, I love physical books but I write in a shed that is overwhelmed by books, type writers, art supplies and an antique iron single bed for reading—always occupied by my dogs. I 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 became my virtual book shelf since the Kobo Libra H2O just arrived.
And having said all this, UPS also delivered two new hardcover books by Olga Tokarczuk.
My next blog post no doubt will be my gushing tribute to Olga.
But for now, 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.