Archive for November, 2011

November 18, 2011

stepping into late fall

“If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That’s why it’s your path.” -Joseph Campbell

Found this wonderful discussion on Nathan Bransford‘s this week in books post, by Gretchen Brugman about writing, running and the power of not being satisfied. The inner need to something more, and as Bransford describes it, “Writing is an act of getting down on your hands and knees and pushing on the ground and hoping the world spins on a slightly different axis. It’s the art of not taking life for granted and trying to make something, anything change.”
In the fast & funny video she posts by John Green about The Great Gatsby (his vids are. the. best), I love this, about the 2 minute-ish mark: “Books are not in the business of creating likable characters books with whom you can have some simple identification are in the business of creating great stories that make your brain gobahgodobahgaga” (or something like that). Also cool is the bit about gold symbolism at around 4 minutes.

Can’t remember how I first found this, The Proppian Fairy Tale Generator, an experiment in electronic (re)writing and an exploration of the retranslation of modernist theory within the electronic environment. I think it’s cool and fascinating (or horrifying). I love (hate) the idea that the generator can create your fairy tale using Propp’s studies of structure in Russian folk tales. (There’s got to be a postmodern fairy tale in there somewhere!) All you need to do is enter your functions from the list, ie absention, trickery, departure, guidance, solution, unregognized arrival, etc etc. Mine started like this:
In the bowels of the valleys where I live the smell of anger comes in bouts. The smell rides down from the mountain sides on great horses wearing heavy armor and large blades; the smell drives at us with the sound of hooves pounding on soft valley soil. My father could scent this smell twenty-four hours before it came, but when he was hungry for something angry, to him the smell of war was everywhere. The day he left to find the source of the scent was the day he left me all alone.

He grabbed the stone from my hand and began to inquire about its origin.

I told them that the good graces gave me whatever I had.
and so on…

nerds rule:

Some random thoughts & words flitting through my mind that I absolutely love:
a pillowcase that remembers you – Ray Lamontagne from old roses& cigarettes
I will come willingly, like a leaf on a tree in October. –Lisa Hannigan from O Sleep
As you wish. -Wesley to Buttercup in The Princess Bride (by the way, the book is really wonderful)
Now bring me that horizon. – Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean

November 12, 2011

nine lives + counting

My boy, Salvador is over 18 years old, and you know that is about 130 in dog years. And he has what seems to be dog alzheimers, which leaves him disoriented much of the time, and lost some of the time. He has been getting lost even when he is just outside around our house. He lost his way two days ago. We looked everywhere. There are lots of trails leading from our home, and I just couldn’t find him anywhere. I thought he had possibly just gone off into the woods to die. But today we got a call from the best neighbors on earth, and they found him wandering down by their creek. Yay! He is cold, shaky and tired, but safe, now.

Salvador was my roommate’s dog originally, back in Maine. Part rottweiler, his first family gave him up. They had called him Rocky. He loved to chase rocks, and could always find the exact one you threw. I had only my dog Ace back then, and Maybe the cat. But as soon as I met Sal he was the perfect companion, and when she was going to Mexico for a year, I said I would take him. He always reminded me of Gene Kelly. So agile, strong yet graceful. Such a long time ago. Ace and Maybe are both gone now. Salvador’s had a few close calls over the years, and I’ve really thought we was a goner a few times. He is my constant buddy. So happy he is home.

“Yes’m old friends is always best, ‘less you can catch a new one that’s fit to make an old one out of. -Sarah Orne Jewett

In the beautiful word department, did you know a flock of starlings is called a murmuration? I love this video so much, I could watch it a thousand times. Found it over on mysticvixen.

For more, get lost on islands and rivers.

Terri Windling has started a series of posts about some of the women who’ve inspired her, and she began with my favorite poet Emily Dickinson, and introduced me to a stunning painter, Jeanie Tomanek.

Tomanek says, “Literature, folktales and myths often inspire my exploration of the feminine archetype. My figures often bear the scars and imperfections, that, to me, characterize the struggle to become.”

Also found at Terri Windling‘s Drawing Board, a wonderful discussion of gypsies, by Rima Staines in Atching Tan (meaning stopping place, orig., the place where the fire is lit).

November 1, 2011

where I am

Some years ago I worked as a photographer for resorts and magazines in New England. It was my, ahem, job, really, to capture that perfect peak moment of fall, when fall is at it’s most glorious. The big moment. Little did I imagine that West Virginia’s fall finery would even shame New England. The New River Gorge is simply a breathtaking spectacle of gold, orange, red. I still sort of have this weird pressure in fall, and can’t help myself but watch and wait for, and sometimes document, fall’s big show. Green to gold, orange, red, rust and brown. This year however, I was otherwise occupied during fall’s peak, helping family up north. Plus, we had moved in August, and partially due to some of those family needs, just hadn’t really had a chance for much of anything, much less to really settle in to our enchanting little house in the woods.

But I’m home now, and autumn is now much closer to winter. The path I walk outside the door into the forest has a thick, moist layer of leaves, twigs, running cedar, moss. Cold rains fall, and one morning even snow.


The colors are closer to each other, deeper and older. I like how things are growing on and out of other things. It won’t be long before the

leaves are all fallen and the view really opens up. I look forward to really seeing the bones of this place I am in now. I like it better than before when perhaps I looked at the finery, more than the anatomy.










I think it’s odd that we associate spring with creativity. To me, late fall and early winter is where the real juice lies. When all the year’s events filter through us like mulch. When the old trees break apart and feed the new ones.  Do we lose something when we look for answers rather than observe the questions? Even worse when we know what the answer will be? Isn’t the mystery itself pretty wonderful? Right now, give me a dry creek bed, a mossy throne and a few curious companions and I’m happy. Truly.

I’m listening to Lisa Hannigan

Reading Alice Hoffman’s beautiful The Dovekeepers

So moved by author Mona Simpson’s story of her brother, Steve Jobs at his funeral, for a life well-lived (and loved).

(sorry I can’t seem to get the formatting right on this post.)