Monday, November 11, 2019

autumn fades towards winter



there's a full moon outside and instagram is full of people performing mercury retrograde full moon rituals. i'm not sure how much i believe in such things, but the full moon does feel like magic...even more so, these days as autumn turns into winter. we have foggy mornings and foggy evenings and i find myself taking the back way to get where i'm going, because then i can stop and capture such scenes. i think that sort of ritual may mean more than some fluffy mercury retrograde thing. what does that mean anyway? that mercury is fixing the gravel road with a vintage grader? give me a still forest, where i can stand listening to the silence, looking at how what light there is plays on the leaves, breathing it all in. now there's a ritual i can get my head around and i think it clears my path ahead more than anything else possibly could. health and prosperity, here i come!

a work for poets



A Work for Poets

To have carved on the days of our vanity

A sun

A ship

A star

A cornstalk


Also a few marks

From an ancient forgotten time

A child may read


That not far from the stone

A well

Might open for wayfarers


Here is a work for poets -

Carve the runes

Then be content with silence

--George MacKay Brown

working on a writing project with two friends from the good old blogging heyday and i'm struggling to get started. it's an absolutely fascinating story and research keeps revealing new and interesting angles and possibilities, but that makes the story elusive and hard to grab onto. perhaps i just need to carve a few runes and then listen to the silence and see what happens.

Friday, November 01, 2019

five things friday :: november 1



#fivethingsfriday
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thing 1: it’s a new month, so i took a new route today, exploring roads that were new to me. husband says it makes our brains grow. and i’d like to think he’s right. at the very least, i saw some fall colors and this church, which looked pretty despite the drab, grey day.
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thing 2: new episodes of queer eye! in japan! it makes husband being stuck late at work on a friday night more bearable. #imnotcryingyourecrying #teamyokosakuma
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thing 3: when husband said he would be late and foiled my plans of a dinner out, i decided to make myself some soup. husband isn’t a fan of soup (one of his few faults), but i figured i could just please me, since he wasn’t home. and please me i did -i roasted two eggplants, a whole cauliflower and a head of garlic in the oven. they were drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with sesame seeds and herb salt. meanwhile, i sautéed three leeks in butter and bit of my homemade herb salt and thawed out a container of herbed chicken broth I had in the freezer (thank you past me). once the veggies were roasted, i popped them into the broth, along with the buttery leeks and blitzed it all up with my immersion blender. i had planned to add a bit of cream, but it was so rich, smoky (thank you, eggplant) and delicious that it didn’t even need it.
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thing 4: learning new things these days. it’s stretching my brain in the best ways. it is as much a physical process as a mental one.
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thing 5: i’ve been thinking this week about The Muse - who it is, where it is, how to make it appear. i suspect it’s really just about hard work and regular practice -whether it’s an artistic muse or a writing muse. the muse might actually just be discipline and practice. #revolutionary #impracticing

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

drawing the threads together


i know i just lamented that autumn filled me with dread, but this evening, on the way home from my weaving group, it was just gorgeous. small tendrils of fog sneaking into the low spots, the blueish light that contains hints of the winter ahead descending, leaving trees to stand as starkly beautiful silhouettes, still clad in their leaves for now. it's strangely warm, it was still 13°C this evening, which probably explains the fog. it was a good day, spent at two different small museums, stretching my brain around how tablet weaving works, as well as how to create different patterns and a wider band on a small band loom. i am so fortunate to have amazing women in my life who know all about these things and who are patiently helping me rewire my brain. once again, i am struck that in weaving, i find deeper meaning - how we draw together the threads of our lives and find depth and beauty. my threads are still a bit tangled, but days like today move me in the right direction.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

dear autumn



dear autumn,

you and i used to have such a great relationship. you used to bring with you the promise of a new semester, the excitement of all of the new books to be read from a fresh syllabus, the comfort of a new university sweatshirt and the impending trip to the seminary co-op bookstore. when i close my eyes, i can hear the crunch of leaves, feel the crispness of your air in my nose. i'm enveloped by the memory of a new brown suede coat wrapped around me as i walk down 57th street and turn on woodlawn, so i can pass by the classic lines of frank lloyd wright's robie house as i head for campus. the golden sunshine is stunning on the red and orange leaves, making the day look warmer than it actually is.

these days, autumn, you fill me with a bit more dread. there's no new semester beginning, there's just the impending darkness of winter ahead. short, often grey days and relentless rain, wind sweeping in off the distant north sea to the west, the trees denuded before they even have a chance to change to glorious jewel tones.

autumn, you give way too easily to the darkness of winter in these latitudes, and that's why you fill me with dread. please be kind this year, with a few glorious golden days to look back on when the darkness comes.

your old friend,
/julie

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

zen koan inspiration













the friend i stayed with in arizona had a small collection of amazing little zen koan 'zines from the 70s. they were done by paul reps. on the front, it says you can send away for a bag with all six for $3. they were so amazing, i had to photograph them.  i had vaguely heard of zen koans, but never worked with them, what with my inability to meditate properly and all. i can see the attraction - an enigmatic phrase to ponder in silence, what could be better?  i have a couple that have always stuck with me, though they are not official buddhist zen koans, i think they have a koanesque quality. one is a quote from the hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy: "reality is frequently inaccurate." and from my favorite 20th century russian author, andrei bitov, "unreality is a condition of life." funny, i think they're related. maybe when i try the 15 minutes of meditation tomorrow morning (for the sake of my brain), i'll ponder those. i also feel inspired by paul reps' art, to dig out a typewriter, work with them and a little bit of payne's grey. do you have a personal zen koan (maybe you didn't even know it was one) you ponder when you have a moment of stillness?

morning rituals


i read this morning that 15 minutes of meditation a day can have a great effect on the brain. and i'm thinking, i want my 50ish-year-old brain to operate like a 25-year-old one, as far as the functioning of the old grey matter is concerned. i don't recall searching for words at 25, so yes, bring that on. and it got me thinking about my morning ritual. it mostly consists of picking up my phone to see what madness the spray-tanned buffoon came up with overnight. i normally watch colbert and trevor to get their take on it - i find it hard to take it directly, i need it filtered through intelligent humor. then i turn off my sleep cycle app. then i get up, pretty much making the bed as i get out of it. i'm a bed maker, i think it's the one small ritual that sets the tone for your day. if you leave a neatly-made bed, there's a good chance of less chaos in the day that stretches ahead, even if the cats come along and lay on it during the day, leaving little hollows here and there. our cat bob won't lie on the bed unless it's made and if it's not, he'll come along and stare disdainfully until you make it. and i always make the bed.

next, i make a cup of tea. if it's the weekend, i'll make a pot, or rather husband makes a pot and brings me the first cup of tea in bed. that's a ritual that i love. but things sort of fizzle out from there. i sit down in front of the computer, checking mails, reading articles and blogs, fiddling around on pinterest, maybe writing a blog post like this one. mostly wasting time, if i'm honest. lately, i have australian master chef playing in the background, so i'm also half pondering what's for dinner later in the day (hmm, can i get squid somewhere nearby?).

i'm not sure any of these rituals are helping my brain very much, nor are they getting me regular exercise or making me more organized or helping me figure out what's next.

and speaking of my quest to figure out what's next, i've undertaken a major clearing out in our "box room," where we stashed all the boxes of books and stuff we didn't have room/shelves for when we moved here nearly a decade ago. i'm ruthlessly tossing lots of things that we haven't missed, but admittedly i probably should be even more ruthless about it. i'm hoping having that room more organized will create space in my brain for better habits that move me forward. so i guess i'd better get cracking. but first, maybe 15 minutes of meditation?