Spring Equinox musings

Sep. 23rd, 2017 04:45 pm
satyapriya: Macchu Picchu 2009 (Default)
[personal profile] satyapriya
Oh, so it wasn't a cold, but the real, actual flu. Certainly it's hung on like the flu, and I've been exhausted enough to enter the lethargy Olympics, and take gold in the ooze-under-the-bar jump.
I'm a little better now. Coughing less, but today's hot north wind, and dry air has set off hayfever, because I'm snorking again. Sigh.
Anyway, I'm here, because doing this makes me feel like I'm contributing to the world, doing something, and not just lying on the couch, reading werewolf stories. I found a huge book at the op shop a few weeks ago: 'Werewolves and Shapeshifters'.
And as I write this, I look across the loungeroom floor, and there is my tiny white dog. He might be the wolf part of a baby werewolf forever stuck with the change because someone burnt his bunny rug. Or wolfie rug. I'm sure if I had my writers' hat on, instead of my invalid hat, I'd make something of that. I'll put it in the ideas folder, and none of you thousands of readers pinch it, okay?
My mind leapt straight to the shapeshifters in Mercedes Lackey's 'Children of the Night', and the Japanese vampires that exist merely on perfume. They must have had a hard time in some eras, if born into a peasant village, where everyone smelled of turnips. Or even a Japanese fishing village. They long for peonies, and get only fish-head odour.
Don't steal that idea either, readers.
Not much else has been going on of late, except an excess of flu in the house. PB, and TP both have it, the house is awash in eucalyptus oil, and tissues, and bottles of cough mixture. Hey, Japanese perfume vampires, do you like eucalyptus, tea tree, lavender, and clove?
We have mounds of camellias in bloom, but none of them have any scent. Not sure if it's an Aussie thing, or just our yard. They all look a bit wilty today in the warmth. Most of our camellias no sooner bloom than drop to the ground. What's the point, truly? If these strong winds keep up, our lawn will be covered with blooms tomorrow. And our compost bin is full, and awaiting complete decomposition before we can empty it and start again. I guess I'll just chuck the fallen flowers onto the garden and hope they decompose and add something to the soil.
The perfume vampires would be disappointed here at the moment. The daphne is past its yearly prime, the camellias have no scent, the rosemary flowers are all but spent, and nothing else has much perfume yet. I wish I had jasmine planted. No roses out yet, but I'm wondering which of the many bushes here will win the race to have the first blossom. Most years, it's the big yellow standing rose bush, but last year, the apricot one beat it out by a week.
Spring Equinox today, and all I've had the energy to do is a tarot spread for myself, and refresh my altar. That's enough. Some years I forget to do even that.
Well, enough rambling. Back to the werewolves. And as I look up again, there walks Tilly TinyPony, our hugely fluffy black and white longhaired cat. Imagine waking up and you're a werecat, covered in masses of fur, and it's 30 degrees outside, and you find you have a tummy of dreadlocks, and very little brain, and you think you keep seeing the fence wavering and dancing in front of your eyes.....
asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
[personal profile] asakiyume
I'm doing a little bit of writing with some adult learners (there may be some high school students in this class as well)--just ten minutes or so. I don't have any pedagogical reason to believe this is beneficial, except for believing that when people have pleasant experiences doing something, then that thing becomes less daunting. In other words, maybe, if the students enjoy this time writing, they'll feel more able to tackle the sort of writing you need to do to clear the hurdles in front of them. But even if that's not the case, I think people deserve a chance and a place to try out writing, just for its own sake and their own sake. So.

My first prompt for them was this quote from Fred Rogers: "You can grow ideas in the garden of your mind," which I recalled from this autotuned song made from that and other remarks of his.

I showed them some gardens.

A garden in Holyoke, created by "self-proclaimed plant geeks":


Randyland, the garden created by Randy Gilson, a waiter and son of a single mom, in Pittsburgh, PA:


The magic gardens of Isaiah Zagar in Philadelphia:


The blooming Cadillacs at the Cadillac ranch in Amarillo, Texas:

(Source is this Google image, whose original location is given as this video.)

The famous Zen garden at Ryōanji, in Kyoto, Japan:


And I said, even when you think a place is barren, nothing growing, life pushes through, like in this parking lot in Boston:


And then I asked them--what's growing in the garden of your mind? Several people wrote that they felt like the parking lot and talked about worries, but one wrote about a painting she's planning, and another compared his mind to a potato (and gave me a diagram to show it growing). It was wonderful.

What's growing in the garden of *your* mind, these days?
mount_oregano: and let me translate (translate)
[personal profile] mount_oregano
Book coverAs you may know, for several years I’ve been translating the medieval Spanish novel of chivalry, Amadis of Gaul, as a blog. I finally finished that this spring.

The novel was written as four “books,” each one the size of a modern novel. I’ve since been working on collecting the translation into books to self-publish, and since the whole thing would run more than a thousand pages, I’m doing it book by book.

Book II of Amadis of Gaul is now available as a
paperback and Kindle ebook at Amazon.

It joins Book I, also available in
paperback and Kindle formats.

Books III and IV are coming soon.

The blog will remain up in case you want to read the book for free, which you’re very welcome to do.

Why would you want to read it? Because this novel is a masterpiece. It inspired a century of best-selling sequels in seven languages and changed the way we think about knights, chivalry, damsels in distress, and courtly life in castles. During the Renaissance, it even led to cosplay!

Most of all, this book drove Don Quixote mad. What will it do to you?

— Sue Burke

Meeting an actual hero and statesman

Sep. 18th, 2017 04:43 pm
asakiyume: (Timor-Leste nia bandiera)
[personal profile] asakiyume
If you're going to meet an actual hero, a freedom fighter and former political prisoner who helped birth a new nation--that's YOU, Mr. Xanana Gusmão--you would do well not to be 45 minutes late. Alas, Google maps misled me about how long it would take me to drive from my house to the Pell Center, in Newport, Rhode Island, where Mr. Gusmão and a panel of distinguished experts were going to be talking about the future of Timor-Leste. And then I made a wrong turn at the very end and got lost. By the time I was driving down Bellevue Avenue, past RIDONCULOUS mansions, I was more than a half-hour late. But damn it! I did not drive all that way just to ... go home again.

Finally I found the place. A guy waiting in a bus kitted out like a trolley told me yes, this was it.

The talk was happening in a room with gilded Baroque-style accents.


between entering and **the kiss** )

I hung back in the hallway, hoping to somehow say something, anything, to Xanana. I knew I wouldn't really ask him if he could shapeshift, or if he'd like to collaborate with me in writing a story based on this experience, and I didn't want to just gush that I was a fan, but I wanted to say **something**.

And I got my chance. He walked by and saw my expectant face and stopped and smiled at me. And I started blurting out that one small thing he'd done that made me admire him was get out and direct traffic one day in Dili, when there was a traffic jam. I think I said more presidents should do things like that. But before I got two words out, he had lifted my hand to his lips and kissed it, all the while looking at me with an expression of friendly affection.

I can see why people would die for him--or better yet, live and struggle for him. He was EVERY BIT as charismatic as I thought he would be, and then some.


Bits and bobs

Sep. 14th, 2017 09:48 am
satyapriya: Macchu Picchu 2009 (Default)
[personal profile] satyapriya
With the advent of a head cold, I cancelled nearly everything in my diary this week. So this is what it's like to make space. No wonder the writing well has felt dry for so long. I am usually so busy that I don't make space to rest, think, dream, and let my mind make connections.
Lo, and the writer is confined to the house. And lo, images and ideas start to intertwine, and hello, it's poetry.
Yes, Satya, all it takes is not running around doing stuff to 'feed your writing and mind'.
A new poem yesterday, and one this morning. Dunno if they're any good. Shrug. They can be bonsai'd into shape. Right now, what's important is that poetry edged its way out into the early Spring sunlight, and I'm very happy to see it.
Don't make too much of it, don't make too much of it, don't shine 25 spotlights on it. Let it be. Shhhh.

Anyway, so, head cold. Another one. Melbourne is germ-laden this year. Ugh. PizzaBoy and I are moping around the house, snorking and coughing. So far, TwentiesPerson is well.
Not much else to report, except that I finished reading 'Spoonbenders' and wondered what that big fat book was all about. I thought I'd lost my current journal, until I saw it again 5 days later, sitting on my altar, where I'd carefully put it with my mala, like I've been doing for the past several weeks. Brain fog is real, people.

Also, I'm taken with the idea of choosing tarot and oracle decks to suit the season and the Wheel of the Year, so I've had a brief flick through my decks and chosen a few that might match up. Margaret Peterson Tarot, Winged Enchantment Oracle, Belly Dance Oracle, Flower Reading Cards, Hawaiian Oracle. Some chosen for the colour palette, some because flowers or burgeoning life feature. I'll see if this method of playing suits me.

To be or not to be ... copulative

Sep. 13th, 2017 10:14 am
mount_oregano: Let me see (Default)
[personal profile] mount_oregano
I love grammar, and here comes a grammar rant. I have seen (no links to protect the guilty) writerly advice about avoiding “to be” as a linking verb.

Actually, you should consider this advice. You want to use strong verbs in your writing. The verb “to be,” when used as a linking or copulative verb, merely connects or couples the subject with the predicate. It’s a weak verb. For example:

• Becky is an expert computer programmer.
• Your dog was well behaved.
• They were zombies.

While these are fine sentences, you might not want to use too many of them in a row. They merely describe things. There’s no action.

So far so good. But what about these sentences?

• Becky is working as an expert computer programmer.
• Your dog has been behaving well this morning.
• They were being eaten by zombies.

None of these sentences uses “to be” as a linking verb. Here, a form of “to be” is acting as a helping or auxiliary verb. Do not avoid using “to be” in these kinds of sentences.

In English, verbs have few forms, but we have many shades of meaning that we want to invoke. To do that, we use a variety of auxiliary verbs to show time, questions, negation, completion, repetition, willingness, possibility, or obligation. If you’re a native speaker, you can do all this without thinking about it – but you might not precisely understand how you’re using the language. You can easily fall prey to mistaken ideas if you don’t know grammar.

In the sentence, “Becky is working as an expert computer programmer,” the main verb is “to work.” The “is” in the sentence makes the verb tense present progressive, also called present continuous. It can be used in a variety of ways. In this case, it shows an ongoing action, what Becky is doing over a period of time.

“Your dog has been behaving well this morning” similarly shows your dog’s ongoing action, but during a specified period of time expressed by the present perfect continuous tense. It says that your dog was behaving well in the past and is continuing to behave well in the present, or at least until right now. English grammar allows us to make complex statements about when things happen.

Notice that both of the above sentences are active voice.

“They were being eaten by zombies” is passive voice and past progressive tense. The eating is being carried out on the subject of the sentence, “they,” and that’s what makes it passive: the subject receives the action. I have an inordinately long rant (a ten-part workshop, in fact) about identifying and properly using passive voice here, so right now I’ll just say that the main verb is “to eat,” and both “were” and “being” are helping verbs, not linking verbs.

So here’s my point: if you see a form of the verb “to be,” this might not indicate a copulative use. If you want to strengthen your writing, look a little deeper before you make any rash decisions. Don’t just circle every form of “to be” as a way to decide whether there are too many of them. There might be just the right amount if you’re trying to say something complex.

— Sue Burke

a Garnet fan

Sep. 12th, 2017 11:32 pm
asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)
[personal profile] asakiyume
I was driving to the post office, and I noticed that the car in front of me had a sticker of Garnet, from Steven Universe, on the back of the car. Also, the car was from out of state.


I haven't watched much Steven Universe, but I've really enjoyed the few episodes I've seen. I felt warmly toward that car. Then, coincidence of coincidences, it turned into the post office parking lot too. "Wow, someone from New York is going to the post office here in B'town," I thought, and also, "I can tell them how much I like their Garnet sticker." I followed the driver into the post office. They got in line; I had to fill out a customs form, so I was standing nearby.

"Excuse me," I said.

"Oh!" they said, startled, and made to get out of my way.

"No, no--you're fine! I just wanted to say, I really like your Garnet sticker, on your car."

"Oh!" they said again, but a pleased and happy one this time. "Thanks!"

Then it was their turn at the counter. On their way out they smiled at me and said goodbye.

I had no clue what gender, if any, they were, but they inhabited their skin and their space with a pleasant, easy charm. They looked more or less like this:


snakypoet: (Default)

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