Friday, January 26, 2007

Friday Quote: Kitty Koans

I have found myself participating in compulsive activities of late, doing meaningless things in a driven manner simply to block out the rising rattle of thoughts have begun circling in my head like manic buzzards--like manic buzzards on meth. This morning, I need to slow down the interior. I also need humor. Following are several koans (thoughts or questions intended for meditation) from Henry Beard's Zen for Cats.

What is the sound made by a single jaw chewing on a mouse?

If there were no inside, would you still want to go outside?

If you encounter the Buddha on a garden path, bite him.

What is so special about the weeds in the big pots in the living room?

Why does the vacuum cleaner fall silent when its tail comes out of the wall?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Thirteen Things...That Begin with "S"

Back in December Seeker gave me the letter "S" with the assignment to list ten things beginning with "S" that I love. Since I am such an underachiever in regard to promptness, I shall endeavor to tack on an extra three things, thus bagging brownie points while still fulfilling my Thursday list of thirteen things. Ah, multitasking!

1). Symbolism

2). Scott--The man I sleep with and cook for and read with and worship and torment and for whom I buy chocolate.

3). Silence

4). Stillness

5). Snow

6). Shimmering light on running water

7). Subtleties

8). Silliness

9). Slippery, moss covered stones

10). Streams

11). Sisters (my own, my aunts, my daughters...this relationship in general is one that interests and fascinates me and makes me grateful)

12). Sunlight

13). Seekers (people who persist in asking questions when there is no guarantee of being given an answer they can bear or even any answer at all, people who ponder and wonder and ask what if)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Looking for Relief?

In the sidebar to the right, you will find some buttons describing a brand new Christian literary journal, Relief, and linking to its website. I first heard of Relief last fall when Jennifer of Wonderfully Ill-Composed mentioned it at dinner. Relief's first issue came out in November last year and contained poetry by Scott Cairns and an essay by poet Luci Shaw, among other intriguing goodies. Poet Kristin Mulhern Noblin, for example, is someone to watch. Right now she's evidently teaching middle school English in Portland, OR, but the woman can write and write well.

Relief is new, yes, and I get the impression it's finding its voice, as I expect any new lit mag must do in the beginning. Still, I'm very impressed with the enthusiasm and approachability of its editors, with their passion for literature and their insistence on and pursuit of human authenticity over prettiness and pat answers. The text links will take you to the main page. The graphic button will deliver you to the store where the first issue can be purchased.

I might add that Relief will be publishing two of my own poems next month. Torn between whether to purchase the first issue for Cairns/Shaw/Noblin or the second one for Lawson? Go ahead and get them both. You know you want to.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

The "It's All About Meegle" Meme

Jeremy (from whom I filtched this meme and who is a grand source for all things fun) gives the following directions should you choose to tackle this one yourself: "...take the following search strings, (with your name) and find the one you like best." He credits Laura with its invention. If you attempt the Meegle, be sure to leave a link on her site.

Lucinda was born four years earlier and remembered and told stories of another war.

Lucinda grew up around her father's writer friends--Allen Ginsberg, Charles Bukowski and Flannery O'Connor...

Lucinda likes to give the dogs treats from on top of the bookcase. [Note: How Lucinda got on top of the bookcase is not explained.]

Lucinda hates being in the dark, both physically and mentally.

Cindy spends most of her time looking into the mirror admiring her beauty... [Note: "Lucinda" returned no results. Thus the nickname substitute.]

Lucinda eats a truffle and reels and staggers and blubbers, thereby making her board members think she is over the hill, nuts, goofy, senile, demented.

Lucinda wonders if magic might be involved.

Cindy's favorite food is probably roast beef... [Note: Again, no results for "Lucinda". What's more, there was only one result for "Cindy" and this was on a pet of the day site!]

Lucinda's hair is conveniently located in the Central area of Connecticut and is within driving distance of all New England States...

Lucinda likes to wear [Note: Sadly, neither "Lucinda" nor "Cindy" returned any results. One can only assume the worst.]

Cindy has traveled to Naples four times a week to train with her coach for this year's Olympics.

Lucinda works in secret...

Lucinda has decided to be difficult.

Lucinda cries, "I know, I know, I sound like the old gypsy woman in The Wolf Man."

Lucinda is happy to hear it.

Tags: Randy, Scott and Seeker

Monday, January 15, 2007

Ice, Ice, Baby!

Here at Possum Box Lane we have lots and lots and lots of ice. Every tree, every bush, every blade of grass is encased in its own little ice capsule. The countryside glitters and gleams, even though the sun is behind layers of thick clouds. In our yard, one hugantic tree limb has fallen across the front walk and into the driveway where my car would have been had we not moved both cars well into the lane and away from all trees. Another big limb is lying in the side yard. Both maples are topped with giant spikes where their heaviest and highest branches have cracked and broken off. Down by the creek, I discovered yesterday that my favorite wild plum tree, the one whose white frothy blossoms I loved in the spring and whose tart fruit I nibbled and carried with me on walks in the fall, has snapped off at the ground, its diamond crown more than it could bear.

Our power went out yesterday around 1:00 p.m. We still had heat from the gas heat stove, although its fan no longer worked. As the light failed, Great Scott lit candles, and he and the girls finished their game of Dragonology. We laid out his double sleeping bag and the girls' bags on the floor in front of the stove and closed off the upstairs. Then we sat in the living room, and I read aloud from E. Nesbit's children's book of Shakespeare plays until bedtime. To the girls it was an adventure. The cats loved having them in front of the stove, and before long two girls and two cats were snuggled together in a heap watching the flames in the heat stove flicker shadows against the walls and ceiling. Great Scott and I went to bed with flashlights and read for awhile, The Great Golden Sun Cat curled sleeping atop the covers. It was one of the most peaceful evenings we've had in a long, long time.

The power came back on this morning around 10:30 or 11:00. The phone went out about the same time. As I type this to post, I'm in Great Scott's classroom at his school (the school itself is closed today). Our internet connection at home is dial-up, so I won't be able to post more or to post comments regularly until the phone problem at home is fixed. Since the last phone repairman told us that digging would be necessary the next time the phone went out, that may be awhile. I'll try to pop in as I can via the library computers or here at school.

Many thanks to those of you who checked on us. May your power stay on, and your heat be consistent and cozy!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Friday Quote: On Shooting the Bear

Every morning or afternoon, whenever you want to write, you have to go up and shoot that old bear under your desk between the eyes.

--Robert Leckie

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Thursday Thirteen: Books Since Christmas

The following is a list of books I've either read or am currently reading or will soon be reading as a result of generous Christmas gift carding (and borrowing from my husband's and our daughters' stashes):

1. Eragon by Christopher Paolini--We saw the movie over Christmas break. Great Scott had read both this book and its sequal to the girls, but I'd registered them only in bits and pieces, so I reread them for myself this week.

2. Eldest by Christopher Paolini--No, I don't believe that Murtagh and Eragon are full brothers. I'm betting Brom was Eragon's father. My older daughter disagrees. This is the stuff of a lively relationship. :) (Even if I did agree, it's entirely too much fun baiting her.)

3. Blue Iris by Mary Oliver--I need to write her. She's kept me alive for years now. She deserves tangible thanks. I begin to breathe again when I read her work.

4. Late Wife by Claudia Emerson--Found this by accident. Am impressed all to pieces. Very concrete. No telling. Showing. Showing. Showing. Meaning conveyed via image. Excellent.

5. Mint Snowball by Naomi Shihab Nye--Prose poems! I've been becoming increasingly interested in prose poetry. Nye is a favorite. Good combo, I'm hoping.

6. Narrow Road to the Interior by Matsuo Bashō, translated by Sam Hamill--Maybe I was feeling a bit harried in the bookstore when I bought this with a gift card after Christmas. Usually haiku doesn't catch my attention. This, though, seemed restful, and when I opened it, immediately I felt permission to "play" more with my own writing, to take it less seriously and try new things. Plus, Great Scott has long been a fan of Bashō's, and I knew he'd enjoy it, too.

7. The Gift by Hafiz, translated by Daniel Ladinsky--Rumi is one of my favorite poets. Hafiz sounded as though his work might have in it what I love so much about Rumi's. This is an educated guess. I'm widening my horizons.

8. October Palace by Jane Hirshfield--I love the grounding effect of Hirshfield's poetry. I need it.

9. Lincoln's Melancholy by Joshua Wolf Shenk--Finally I'm reading this, and although I'm reserving judgement until I'm finished, thus far I'm notably impressed by the depth of Shenk's research and how cautious he seems to be about drawing set-in-stone conclusions. You'll hear more from me on this one in the future.

10. A Writer's Book of Days by Judy Reeves--I really don't like buying books about writing or books of writing prompts or plans. They ususally sit on the shelf and mock me. This one, though, is friendly. I think it purrs when I open it.

11. The Essence of Zen compiled by Maggie Pinkney--An anthology of zenlike quotations from widely (and wildly) varying sources.

12. Mysticism by Evelyn Underhill--This one is Great Scott's, and I shall have to wait until he finishes it to tackle it myself, since I read in fits and starts, and it drives him crazy to pick up one of his own books and find four or five of my bookmarks in it. He is a patient man.

13. The Chronicles of Chrestomanci Volume II by Diana Wynne Jones--I'm always on the lookout for acceptable fantasy books to keep the young book-demanding hordes here in our home at bay. So far I've not read anything of Diana Wynne Jones' that I'd have any qualms about handing over to the girls immediately. This pleases me. Plus, her books are just plain fun.