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Happy Hallowe'en...

I'm finding myself missing Samhain ritual this year. I always think of October as birth-and-death month even aside from today, since I know so many such anniversaries in it... And this year has had a lot to remember. I want to take the time to commemorate.

Deaths in the last year:
Mom's cousin Harriet
Ed Broadfield
Elisabeth Sladen
Nicholas Courtney
Chris' mom and Oracne's dad, on the same day
my sweetie's uncle (unless that was longer ago)

All of the grandparents (3) and great-grandparents (1) I knew either were born or died in October of some year past. Plus my sweetie's father.

Fire song here.

And many many births:
cousin Tyler
cousin Simon
cousin Henry
cousin Karlyn (slightly earlier)
Lucy and Jovie
Griffin/Gryphon (?)
To name those whose names I can think of...

Also, Mom both retired and had a significant number birthday!

Birthday round here. And cake.

odd grieving

Six months ago today, my sweetie came into my office, appallingly serious, and told me, "Elisabeth Sladen is dead." (Which, I noticed immediately, was a more stark and painful way of saying it than "Elisabeth Sladen died today." Why is that? Takes away her agency? Makes her more of an object than a person?) She was still working, still producing...no one but family, it seems, knew she had cancer. So it was a huge surprise to nearly all the people around her as well as to her fans around the world.

If you had asked me the previous week whose death among people I didn't actually know would so devastate me, I might not have come up with an answer. But at that instant it became obvious what my answer should always have been. In that instant, a part of my childhood died.

Collapse )

And every so often, when I'm suddenly reminded, or during references to the old show, or sometimes even when I open my own diary ('cause, um, it's named after another, related, Doctor Who character), it hurts again like a stabbing pain, as though it were someone I really knew and loved who'd died and gone away forever. This happened again just yesterday, which is why I'm writing now.

But here's the weird thing. All this time, I've had no idea how to grieve for her loss, nor how to talk about it, even to myself.

On 4/20 I wrote a few notes:
    "Not just that I never got to meet Elisabeth Sladen but also that I never got to meet Sarah Jane Smith. I wanted to be part of that world. Worth remarking that this is not a dream *actually* affected by Lis Sladen's death. But I wanted to meet her as herself too; especially now hearing [from tributes online] that it was okay to meet this hero, that she was as nice in person as a fan could want."

On 4/24 I wrote further:
    "Was she an icon for me? Idol? Favorite actress? Favorite character? Hero? Hero is good, I think, but was Elisabeth Sladen a hero of mine, or was Sarah Jane Smith? Whom did I really want to meet, and was this death really the thing that made that dream impossible? There are all these dichotomies, but it's as though they're all merged dichotomies: actor vs. character, real vs. fictional, new show vs. old show, aspiration vs. crush (that is, Sarah was both the companion I wanted to be like and the one I wanted to travel with), adolescent me vs. adult me ... So how do I describe what she meant to me? I think the point is that meeting Lis isn't what I *really* wanted, but it's what I wanted (/still want) in real life -- it's close enough. And from what people have said, it sounds like it would have been particularly close in her case.
    "Oh! I just thought of this -- there's a way in which Elisabeth Sladen's death suddenly makes her as remote -- almost as fictional -- as Sarah Jane Smith ever was. Thinking about Sarah was always wistful but still sort of anchored in something real. And now it all hurts. And no, it likely wouldn't have had the same effect if she'd never returned to the character at all -- the past five years have added this whole new adult reaction that's tempered by/merged with my adolescent reaction to her."

And yet it may have.

This week (October 16-20 in particular) is always a hard week for me -- it contains the anniversaries of the deaths of two grandparents and a terrible accident -- and it's curious to me that this has all my focus. But I seem to need it, and it seems to be helping...
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Writing Help, Please...

Hello! I am looking for a tree. Or shrub. Native to Europe, maybe Germany or similar latitude, or central UK, that would show very early signs of drought. Any thoughts?

crocus 2008

Hmm. Apparently I'd seen it before...

Poem Analysis - "The Peace of Wild Things"
Acc. English II
March 10, 1987

"The Peace of Wild Things," by Wendell Berry, is a free verse poem describing the way in which the narrator escapes "for a time" the troubles of life. He tells of his worries and unrest, and of the way he dispels them by indulging in nature -- he goes to a quiet, tranquil spot, where there are birds and blue skies, and he stays there, not doing anything, simply being.

The poem does not have a definite rhyme scheme or rhythm, nor is there very much use of figurative language. The description is not very complex, but it was written in such a way that I could see, hear, and feel all that was going on. It's a very peaceful poem.

I think there are two messages that Berry is trying to get across to the readers. The obvious one is that nature has a calming effect on the troubled heart. The second message, which comes across in the comparison of our lives to those of "wild things," is that one main human problem is apprehension. He says that the wild things "do not tax their lives with forethought of grief." It isn't grief itself which is troubling the narrator -- his concern is for what the future may bring. So he comes into "the presence of still water," into a place where time is still, where the past and future don't matter and now is all there is. And as a result of this, he is set free.
  • Current Music
    "The Peace of Wild Things," setting by Joan Szymko
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(no subject)

I have been really pleased with the effect of the Holly Near workshop on my songwriting. Since March I have begun at least four songs (clowning, Russian orphans, fried matzah, finding the north star) that still need work, have completed the Earth Song, which I started almost 10 years ago and which completes a cycle, have written a brand new gay marriage song to console me for the loss of Marriage Protection Week, and have nearly finished the electric car song I began last summer but only had a chorus and a framework for until about a week ago. And I add to this the shoe song that I started in 2003 and finished in February, plus Many Thanks, from the fall, and that's a lot of new stuff!

What's cool about this is the way it dovetails with my issues about "writing" -- I have trouble getting myself to sit and write, even though I have stories to work on and time to do it...I just have a weird priorities thing about...well, levels of procrastination, I guess. Writing is in an in-between level where I don't believe it's okay if there's anything else time-limited. Then I get discouraged, and then I don't write. Which... Yeah, it's a spiral.

But in the past few weeks, I've been able to set aside time and work on songwriting, after which I can truly feel I've spent good time writing. And I even get things finished! Having a concert deadline helps.

The other effect of the Holly Near workshop was on my performing. Which I hadn't been doing, and suddenly I realised that I worked in a perfectly fine performance venue, and that this summer would be a great time to take advantage of that. (Also SpiralSong wasn't rehearsing this spring.) So now I have this concert coming up on Saturday, and songs to sing, and people coming to it, and some friends singing with me in it, and...well, one song to finish. Nearly there...
  • Current Music
    The Ballad of the Electric Car
  • Tags
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Yesterday I went to find my sandals, as we were in a heat wave. I did not find the sandals I expected, so then I went to look in the back hall, where a number of things have just been kind of tossed out of the way. I found the sandals I wanted. Then I saw a turquoise sneaker that matched my outfit. And there was no mate in sight.

So I started lifting the pile of random suit jackets and various sundry other things, including a tied plastic bag, and I did not see the other sneaker. As I went past the plastic bag I thought idly, what is this? but was in enough of a rush not to want to open the knot. As I was putting it down I noticed a small hole, so I lifted it again to peer in and beheld a brilliant flash of blue!

...which I recognized as the blue border yarn we used on the Spiral Scarves two years ago. And so, hope against hope (because I'd really looked *everywhere* else I could think of) I palpated the bag, and lo, I discerned among the soft skeins of yarn the comfortingly solid edges of my little missing crochet book!

So then of course I opened the bag. Yay!! Now I think I can go back to the hat/yarmulke I stopped in the middle of when I got cranky at not having the book to write in.

I'll wait 'til the heat wave properly ends, though.

Oh, and I still haven't found the turquoise shoe, but I didn't really look very hard.
  • Current Music
    "Voyage: I Too Can Sing a Dream," Cynthia Folio, and "Iowa," Dar Williams

(no subject)

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

— Wendell Berry

We're singing this poem on Friday, along with some Copland and three commissions. They include Peter Hilliard's "Consider Krakatau," the piece that prompted me to read the Simon Winchester book I described back in the fall. Three choruses, three conductors, three commissioned pieces, and three separate chorus sets.

What does that remind me of? Okay, what's going through my head now is "two little dolls" from Sesame Street. With the cats who break into the little doll house.

Though really that doesn't fit rhythmically. Now it's more reminding me of the Count. Or the 12 days of Christmas.
  • Current Music
    "Two Little Dolls," "The Peace of Wild Things"
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Sharing is Beautiful

In the kitchen this morning, my love drew my attention to the balcony door. "Hey, there's a chickadee on the balcony!"

I crept to where I could see out the door. Indeed, there was a black-capped chickadee on the rail. As I watched, it hopped across the corner to the other rail, then back.

"But...isn't the kitten out there?" I asked. We had locked the (3-y-o) kitten outside during the delivery of our NEW REFRIGERATOR (to replace the 30-y-o fridge that was falling apart). We'd invited him back in afterward, but I'd thought he'd declined. nifwitch remembered differently, and I didn't want to scare off the chickadee by getting close enough to check. It certainly seemed undisturbed.

Then the bird hopped down off the rail. I took a step closer to the door and saw that it was pulling a big clump of white fur, silky soft and as long as itself, up from the carpet. It took a few tries to get it clear, or to get all of it, or to get it settled to its satisfaction, and then it took off. Whee...

And then I poked my head outside and found that the kitten was indeed on the balcony, a few yards away, looking bemusedly at the place where the chickadee had picked up his fur for reuse. Nice kitty. What a lovely Earth Day present for a nesting bird!
  • Current Mood
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(no subject)

Kids' Literary Festival this weekend! First up today, cooking for toddlers!

Feels a bit overshadowed by the library festival, alas. Well, considering which one has a two-page spread in the wknd section and which has a tiny paragraph...

Note: "wknd" appears to be a weakened version of weekend.