Sunday, January 25, 2015

On a quest for the missing, exotic ingredients

Taste: coconut aminos, medjool dates, grade B maple syrup, fresh lemon juice, cinnamon
Sight: Mexican Oregano with flower buds; viscous Grand Reserve Napa balsamic
Sound: turkey cluck and purr, grunting pigs
Touch: velvet pants
Smell: oregano, cinnamon
Extra: "Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious." — George Orwell
Grateful for: fancy ingredients, simple ingredients; Seattle; the eagle

Saturday, January 17, 2015

When did she become so in love with Roman apples?

Taste: mild cocoa powder
Sight: pink fog, pink under wings; shades of pink - petal, orchid, champagne, rose, blush, coral, carnation; the perfect red blush, warm, vibrant appearance of a Rome apple
Sound: creaking door, grunting dog, thump!
Touch: the mushy inside of a Rome apple; tripping over the dog
Smell: lipsticks and lipbalms - raspberry, shea, coconut
Extra: a horrific sci-fi dream with surgery tanks and many small men; phases of the moon; a warm, comforting animal; a Bohemian getaway
Grateful for: work; healthy teeth

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Macaroni, marshmallowing, Magdalena — Whee!

Taste: cherry wine
Sight: a colonial-style abandoned bank imagined as a perfect vampire lair; a stealthy black low-rider, imagined as the ideal vampire ride
Sound: half overheard jazzy hip-hop lyrics, "Macaroni...Whee!"
Touch: a chest clenched with anxiety; a harrowing sensation and experience
Smell: dill
Extra: scansorial: adapted for climbing; the way the power lies with the person telling the story;
"Art is our reply to weariness.
Gather it to you, emulate the tulip,
shed your petals one by one,
and dance."
— "Saturday, Sunday," Sister Fox's Field Guide to the Writing Life, Jane Yolen
"Let my heart of ink be rivers
feeding the landscape
where a thousand flowers
spill over river's banks,
and animals as yet without names
drink deep of the water." —
"Wings of Paper, Heart of Ink," Sister Fox's Field Guide to the Writing Life, Jane Yolen 
Grateful for: book club, trying new things, friends across continents

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Strange things forgotten by the side of the road — and found

Taste: coconut creme
Sight: heart-shaped sunglasses
Sound: a grunting dog
Touch: smooth keys
Smell: truffle oil
Extra: a baby orca;
 "I spent the following day roaming through the valley. I stood beside the sources of the Aveiron, which take their rise in a glacier, that with slow pace is advancing down form the summit of the hills to barricade the valley...These sublime and magnificent scenes afforded me the greatest consolation that I was capable of receiving. They elevated me from all littleness of feeling, and although they did not remove my grief, they subdued and tranquilized it." — Mary Shelley, Frankenstein  
"'There are stars in your hair'— it was truth I
brought down with me
to this sullen and dingy place that we must make golden
make precious and mythical somehow, it is our nature,"
— Diane di Prima, "A Buddhist New Year
Grateful for: a new year, events to look forward to, time to write

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 Ode to the Worst of the Sensorium

A writer's journal is not the same as a gratitude journal. What's stands out, is striking, begs to be remembered, catches one's fancy is often positive, but not always. Certainly, though, when I look back on the year and select the "best of" there's a tendency to pick the nicer moments, images, sounds and smells.

So this year, I've decided to do a "worst of" post - maybe it will become a tradition. Coincidentally, it was a rather rough year so there were many standout "worst" moments to choose from.

However, the "worst of" post is not inspired by hard times, rather by a really lovely poem. When I heard Molly Tenebaum read "Ode to the Ugly Colors," at the AWP Conference is Seattle, I noted how she made something wonderful out of keen observation of less appealing features (her entire collection The Cupboard Artist makes the every day delightful).

At first, I thought of adding a "worst of" section to each Sensorium post, but I didn't want to draw my attention too much to the dreary as I walked in the world (it could turn this into the opposite of a gratitude journal), so I decided on just one wrap up post.

We have to face what is ugly to make it into something beautiful. As writers, everything deserves our attention. Embrace darkness as well as light. We go ad astra per aspera, through hardships to the stars. As Margaret Atwood said at the end of one interview, asked if she had anything else to add, "Keep hopeful. It’s a chore."

Taste: vinegar
Sight: father's face folded into tears; tubes of blood; gray upturned waxen faces
Sound: "Fuck you!" "good cancer"; mother's anguish; "No, Rainbow, No!"; "Lithium can be a miracle drug."; snapping pumpkin seeds; cracking knuckles
Touch: sobbing, heaving shoulders; painful sitting; drooping eyelids, heavy chest, slowness of movement - exhaustion; acorn burrs; a scraped knee; a trembling dog
Smell: Purell; fried dead animals; a room filled with sweet stagnant breath; urine-soaked clothes
Extra: a restaurant named for body parts; Father's Day in the psychiatric ward; the horror of holidays
"I will not measure you out anymore distress than you need to write your books. Do you want any less than that?" — "The Young Man With a Carnation," Isak Dinesen 
"I stride along with calm, with eyes, with shoes, / with fury, with forgetfulness." — Pablo Neruda 
"Everything is plundered, betrayed, sold,
Death's great black wing scrapes the air,
Misery gnaws to the bone.
Why then do we not despair?
By day, from the surrounding woods,
cherries blow summer into town;
at night the deep transparent skies glitter with new galaxies."
— Anna Akhmatova 

Monday, December 29, 2014

2015 Word of the Year: Ease

With a few exceptions, last year's word of the year "Jubilation," was an abject failure. I knew it would be a stretch, not knowing what the year holds one cannot count on jubilation.

I began with sun salutations, which seem to be a perfect bodily expression of the word. I did not manage to do them every day. But it was a good practice and a way to put a little jubilation into the most ordinary days.

The few exceptions were a vacation with friends to Puerto Rico which was the essence of jubilation and numerous long walks taken with my husband which we used as a coping mechanism (very effectively - see gratitude of the year) to deal with a lot of this year's strife.

There is a photo of me jumping in the air beside the ocean on my birthday, which I was celebrating by taking another of those long walks. Near the end of the walk a feeling of bliss came over me (nearly jubilation), but as I look at it now I see myself as a balloon about to be popped and dropped. Three hours after this photo was taken, I was sobbing abjectly plunged back into the family crises of ill health and heartbreak which plagued this year which was marked by intensely painful drama.

So, this year I'm selecting "ease" as the word of the year. I've eschewed "mindfulness," as a bit overused and "Attention!" from Aldous Huxley's "Island" as a bit too strident. Instead, I will try for ease in the verb form - 1.) make (something unpleasant, painful, or intense) less serious or severe.  2.) move carefully, gradually, or gently.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

After all, my dear Heron, it is only an after Christmas nightmare

Taste: malai kofta, cinnamon rolls 
Sight: sunrise, sunset
Sound: "I feel alive! I feel great!"
Touch: cramping feet and calves
Smell: Cranberry home fragrance
Extra: when the atheist repeatedly asks you to pray for him; ironic terror; a sense of foreboding; a world where the sun never sets; a world where the sun never rises
Grateful for: nightmares one awakes from