Saturday, October 18, 2014

Flowers of transient fragrance, fruit tarts everlasting

Taste: sweet, fresh, fruit tart; Granny Smith
Sight: cyanotype blue photos; the redundancy of Halloween decorations; fuzzy russet and black spiked Woolly Bear caterpillar of the Isabella Tiger Moth (Pyrrharctia isabella); a pale yellow, dinner-plate-sized toadstool - amanita muscaria; a 1963 black Pontiac Bonneville
Sound: perfect for October-Gary Numan
Touch: blueberries pop
Smell: Vampire incense
Extra: a bright pink house; green clad fairies underground; word of the day: Parnassus (n.) late 14c., from Latin, from Greek Parnassos, mountain in central Greece, sacred to Apollo and the Muses, symbolic of poetry. "Parnassus has its flowers of transient fragrance, as well as its oaks of towering height, and its laurels of eternal verdure." [Samuel Johnson, "The Rambler," March 23, 1751];
 "So the world became morally charged, I guess is how I'd say it. People were precious and not just my people. All of that started working its way into the stories, I think, or at least I hope it did."

"So I have a lot of things left to do, I hope. But the main thing is: get better, by which I mean get more scope and kindness and power into my books, and into me too." — George Saunders, AWP, The Writer's Chronicle
Grateful for: good sleep, dreams, early nights in and books written so well the sentences make you swoon, specificity

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Sulphur Cosmos in an idealistic post-war fervor

Taste: Golden Delicious apple froth; hand pressed apple cider; rum cookies
Sight: cobwebs; misty, morning; a single leaf hanging from a single leaf and turning slowly; a sunny yellow fringed flower - Sulphur Cosmos
Sound: "No, Rainbow, No!"; "Lost," "My Jesus," Gary Numan
Touch: an acorn underfoot
Smell: rose perfume
Extra: 144 hours; 322 miles in 14 months;
"Humanity is yearning now as it never did before for truth, for beauty, for the things that comfort and console and make life seem worthwhile. I feel this all round me, every day. We've been through a frightful ordeal, and every decent spirit is asking itself what can we do to pick up the fragments and remould the world neater to our heart's desire."

“Printer's ink has been running a race against gunpowder these many, many years. Ink is handicapped, in a way, because you can blow up a man with gunpowder in half a second, while it may take twenty years to blow him up with a book. But the gunpowder destroys itself along with its victim, while a book can keep on exploding for centuries.” ― Christopher Morley, The Haunted Bookshop
Grateful for: memories of tastes and smells

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The swaying of the sea, a scraped knee

Taste: Awesome Sauce sweet chili with real heat; King David apples
Sight: Cementerio Santa MarĂ­a Magdalena de Pazzis - a cemetery in San Juan; tubes of blood; gray upturned waxen faces; a pink nightgown
Sound: VNV Classical; "Hey Jude," as sung by Rogue; Shut Me Up - VNV Nation (1200XL Remix)
Touch: the swaying of the sea; a scraped knee; a hand squeeze
Smell: cooking pasta
Extra: returning home on the first day of fall;
"After a dream of ice-blue flowers, she ripples clear and alpine in the morning." — "Revenge of the Night People," Molly Tenenbaum 
"The world is plain today, plain and clear. It is sweet to breathe the shining air." — "Housecleaning, Autumn Equinox," Molly Tenenbaum
Grateful for: anticipating concerts; socializing

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Owls, poetry and orchids fly in to fall

Taste: Bloody Mary; Pina Colada
Sight: Barred Owl; fog in the early morning; "She and her Owl," Catrin Welz-Stein
Sound: "Ode to the Ugly Colors," Molly Tenenbaum
Touch: Acorn burrs, green spires and brown prickles - cold pricklies
Smell: Purell
Extra: the sudden onset of fall;
"you alone on the new planet, nothing
to do but start civilization over. Maybe you'll do it
your way this time. Maybe you'll see
what your way is. Maybe a system"

— "Brewing Green Tea in the Glass Percolator after the Regular Brown Teapot Has Broken," Molly Tenenbaum
Grateful for: orchids

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The impossibility of coffee, the purring of sorrow

Taste: watermelon salsa
Sight: disintegration, stars
Sound: Peter Murphy, "Cuts You Up"; estranged; Dad' splaining
Touch: burning jalapeno right hand
Smell: spoiled cheese, Aunt Bertha's house
Extra: subtext, unreliable narrators; If something's worth doing it's worth doing right, but now he can't make coffee.
"The world rushes on over the strings of the lingering heart making the music of sadness."
 "Sorrow is hushed into peace in my heart like the evening among the silent trees."—Stray Birds, Rabindranath Tagore 
Grateful for: the possibility of memoir, hugging my purring cat

Monday, September 1, 2014

Springy story review: "Lady Astronaut of Mars" by Mary Robinette Kowal

Why it springs to mind: Love! Astronauts! Oz! I love stories about older women and the authors who write them. The protagonist in this story, Elma, is 63.
Where read: Free e-book from Tor and it's online here.
Length: 8,000+ words
Summary: A retired astronaut has another chance to go into space.
Memorable: Kowal's descriptions of inner conflict ring true. And the very touching scene that leads to the observation that astronauts also wear adult diapers. The end left me in tears.
Notable: I read this just before it won the 2014 Hugo Award Winning for Best Novelette — always so delightful when a story I love is loved by others and earns recognition.
"Because I wanted to be in the sky, weightless, and watching the impossibly bright stars. Because I didn’t want to watch Nathaniel die."
Particularly lovely: How our bonds of love for each other transcend family ties or genetic links. How we are not alone.
Personal connection: As a hospice volunteer and part of a childless couple, I found this story particularly moving. It's a wonderful layer-cake of a love story. It reminds me of one of my favorite Alice Walker poems read in college on the back page of an issue of Ms. Magazine, "My Friend, Yeshi." This part:
"Who knows
Where the newness to old life
Comes from? 
It appears.
Babies are caught by hands they assumed were always waiting.
Ink streaks
From the
Left dusty
The shelf. 
This is the true wine of astonishment: 
We are not
When we think
We Are.
Pairs well withIslands by Marta Randall; Oz Reimagined: New Tales from the Emerald City and Beyond, an anthology edited by John Joseph Adams and Douglas Cohen.
About the author: Mary Robinette Kowal is the author of Shades of Milk and Honey (Tor 2010). Other stories to check out include: 2009 Hugo nominee “Evil Robot Monkey” and the 2011 Hugo Award-winning “For Want of a Nail”.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Springy story review: "State Change" by Ken Liu

Why it springs to mind: You'll never look at an ice cube the same way again.
Where read: In the 2014 Hugo award-winning Lightspeed Magazine, August.
Length: 5,194 words
Summary: A woman has an ice cube for a soul.
Memorable: How the story invites us to think about the shape of our soul, how it (or our perception of it) influences us and how it changes. What ordinary every day object would your soul be? A silver spoon, a beech stick? A great party conversation starter, this.
Quote: “All life is an experiment."
Notable: The protagonist Rina is an avid reader (always a good choice).
Pairs well with: T.S. Elliot, Edna St. Vincent Millay
Origin: The story was written in 24 hours based on a writing prompt. (See Author Spotlight: Ken Liu)
About the author: Ken Liu’s debut novel, The Grace of Kings, the first in a fantasy series The Dandelion Dynasty, is due out from Saga Press (a new Simon & Schuster imprint) in 2015.