Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Books read in August 2020

 1. Diana: Princess of Amazons, by Shannon & Dean Hale, illustrated by Victoria Ying (2020)

 This was cute, but not particularly memorable or special to me. I know I'm not the target audience (but I do love the author and care about the isle of Themiscyra!)

2. Ultralight: The Zen Habits Guide to Traveling Light & Living Light, by Leo Babauta (2016)

This was just a reread because I've been in a particularly "light" (minimalist) mood. Living and working in a small shared space will do that.

3. A Town Like Alice, by Nevil Shute (1950)

First half (Englishwomen on a death march in World War II-era Indonesia) was far more interesting to me than the second, even though I have an interest in Australia. The casual racism of the times was pretty appalling where it was apparent.

4. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, by Stieg Larsson (2007/2009)

Gosh, there was lots of bureaucratic digging that had to be done to unmask The Conspiracy (!) in this one, the final of the Millennium trilogy. I still don't quite understand the outcome of the trial. But it was all well filled in and enjoyable.

5. Up a Road Slowly, by Irene Hunt (1966)

Sweet old Newbery Medal winner. It reminded me of Anne of Green Gables except a little less perfect, a little bit darker, and set in more recent times - but similarly centered on a young girl moving to the country to live with an unfamiliar spinster figure, and on her rich inner life.

6. The Foundling and Other Tales of Prydain, by Lloyd Alexander (1973)

How likable! My first Lloyd Alexander. It really felt like reading folk tales, except with more humor, and more quirks to the characters. I found this at a Little Free Library and shall have to seek out another of his Prydain books.

7. New Moon, by Stephenie Meyer (2006)

 A reread. Edward is so loathsome and this book is so painful and empty for the majority of its pages.

8. Eclipse, by Stephenie Meyer (2007) 

Somewhat more plotty. Hurrah! Not a reread. The love triangle stuff continues to show Edward and Jacob at their fairly loathsome best, but Edward has improved a little by the end.

Read any of these? What have you been reading lately, and how's it been?

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Point & shoot photo album: August 2020

Candle bath to cure some tension.
Morning sleepiness and loving it.
An unusual white peach variety that has a trademark stripe of golden flesh running through it - exactly on the cleft.

Treasures left by my coworkers for me to find on returning for my once-a-week office day.
Those dry-farmed tomatoes...incredible.
Look at these fallopian shapes!
Celebratory fancy take-out dessert - for my girlfriend's last final exam and me getting a raise.
Relishing the evenings as they get earlier.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Dreaming of fresh air




Flashback...to when we were sheltering in place, but could also go outside, because the air wasn't hazardous to breathe. New summer/fall realities on the West Coast, people. It's been difficult. I am cranky and emotionally worn out. I would love to walk on this path by the waterfront again. Hopefully it won't be too many more days.

Relatedly, I really spoke too soon last week, because for all the sun was strange on Tuesday morning, it had nothing on Wednesday. Wednesday the sun didn't really rise for us - the entire Bay Area existed in an eerie orange dusk for the entire day due to a very high layer of smoke. We woke to ashes. It's hard to describe. Imagine streetlights and headlights being on at 11 am. We were not able to turn off our indoor lights at any point.





Thursday, September 10, 2020

"Stars," by Chrystos

full generous in beauty hold me in tender light
Each one a burning kindness against the icy bite
All comfort comes from mystery we let be
shining without reason
across a thousand years of sky
simple as white primroses who open
all through winter
denying snow in shelter of a drooping fir
Each heart petal centered gold
as strangers exclaim my miracle
gift given as sweet sustenance
for grief more terror stained
than any want to bear
I planted these
rescued from bins of ignorance
They thrive as do I
in spite of chill cruel frosts echoed in her eyes
I've made my mother be
all that lives in rooted harmony
She whose blood carried me here
I've sent beyond the night
so I may laugh with stones & shells
hold shelter with my arms around a tree
whose old bark patterns my face with words
In my footsteps no child sings
my voice calls out alone
in darkness I name rest
This dandelion of my breath a silver promise



From her book Fire Power (1995), which I read and admired in June.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Strange sun today

Amidst the wildfire smoke, there was a strange sun out this morning - dim and orange, not illuminating the apartment as well as it usually does. Walking outside I felt like I was in a weird dream where a blood moon had become overly bright. 

My CSA newsletter notes that the smoke is affecting the yield from plants on their farms and I wonder if it's because of the strange quality of light I am observing here.

I have been thinking about climate breakdown, of course. It's not just the wildfires, and the way they now strike in areas they weren't seen in before, but the two heat waves one after the other, and the long drought that presaged these wildfires. 

I've been thinking about the Flight Free campaign, in particular, I think because I've been hearing a lot about plane journeys recently. Many people seem to find it unthinkable that someone with sufficient means would refuse to travel by plane. (It's my right as a middle-class millennial to travel, travel, travel, isn't it?)

(I have a lot I could say about consumerism and travel, maybe another time. I remember starting to say something here a long time ago.)

Thich Nhat Hanh refers to the sun as a second heart, "that great heart outside of our body," and the forests of the world as our lungs outside our bodies. He says this about environmental destruction: "We are imprisoned in our small selves, thinking only of the comfortable conditions for this small self, while we destroy our large self."

Similarly, I recently treated myself to a book by Ffiona Morgan - a old-school feminist witch, and the designer of the wonderful, beautiful Daughters of the Moon tarot deck - and found a place where she wrote about how women's bodies mirror the living earth, microcosm and macrocosm of the same divinity, "Goddess Within, Goddess Without."

And I'm recalling Ocean Country, a book about a Bay Area woman exploring the effects on climate breakdown on the oceans. She wrote that in the age of global environmental crisis, what we consider home must be bigger. What we consider family must be bigger.

When I breathe in ideas like this, I find it hard to feel deprived by a life that treads more lightly. It feels like not doing physical harm to my own flesh or bones. It feels like connection and devotion (to self, home, family, reality, our future).

I'm not sure what difference my choices make - that's okay. Sometimes it feels ironic how much attention I give to making the little pieces of my life more environmentally friendly, only to be confronted with a roommate or neighbor or family member who has far more room for impact than I do and thinks far less about changing their ways. But I won't be unhappy in the end, no matter what - I value the sense of the world that my choices give me, and they are good for my spirit.