asakiyume: (misty trees)
I went running this morning, and the sunlight through the clouds was turning parts of the hills into pure gold, while around them the shadowed hills were still winter purple-gray. I didn't have a camera, and it would be time-consuming to try to draw, but I discovered that MS Word has a very rudimentary drawing function. And so I created a picture! This... doesn't really capture what it was like at all, except for the contrast, and not even that. The dark was darker, the bright was glowing.

asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)
I got a message from a friend (thank you friend) checking to be sure I was okay, seeing as I hadn't posted in a while. That's prompted me to post this--I am okay! Just a bit overwhelmed at the moment with the new job. Last week was my multiple-day orientation, and that was Very Daunting--lots of rules and procedures and things that mainly won't apply to me but that I have to know.

And yesterday was my first day of teaching, and it was a positive experience--the students are great and seemed to genuinely enjoy the material--but we went through the material I had expected would last the whole class in ... less than the whole class. Fortunately I had the week's materials to hand, so I was able to just forge ahead, but that put me off my stride a bit.

It'll take me a bit to get into the swing of things, but hopefully by next week or the week after I'll be back to my normal posting and commenting habits (though in more limited hours).
asakiyume: (cloud snow)
I subscribed to a local newspaper, a physical paper that comes to the house, for the first time ever, and it's a decision that delights me. Even the ads delight me. If it weren't for the ads, I wouldn't have found out about a place nearby called the Strawbale Café (built with straw bales, but then plastered over), which, at this time of year, makes its own maple syrup.

We went for a visit this past weekend.

The bottom part of their evaporator dates from 1959.

boiling maple sap, Westhampton, MA

Here is the main line, reaching up into the sugarbush. (Isn't that a great name for a stand of sugar maples?)

main lines from sugarbush

And here you can just about see the much thinner piping that goes to each tree. In the past, people would collect sap in buckets and then carry it somewhere to boil it down, but now they generally use piping like this.

side lines connecting individual trees

When I used to tap maple trees, I gathered the sap in old milk jugs:

jug full of maple sap

But back to the present: This apparatus pumps water back up the line at the end of the season to clean the lines and (somehow) help seal things off (I didn't really understand that part).

pump and lines coming in from sugarbush

And here are the sap storage tanks.

tanks for storing sap

Last but not least, inside the Strawbale Café, where everyone was enjoying fresh maple syrup on pancakes, and the manager was urging people to come back in the summer, when they have a much more extensive menu.

Strawbale Cafe, Westhampton, MA

blackout

Feb. 25th, 2019 09:46 pm
asakiyume: (cloud snow)
At 6:30, this windstorm knocked out the power, and I freaked out, picturing us without power for days in the well-below-freezing temperatures. The pipes would surely freeze and burst and then cost extravagant amounts to fix, and anyway we wouldn't be able to fix them right away because everyone else's pipes would have burst too, and so the helper-fixer people would be in short supply.

I went to the supermarket to get milk and maybe another candle. In the parking lot, I met Wakanomori, who'd just gotten off the bus; he said the town to the west had power. I knew from the gossip in the supermarket that the town to the east didn't.

"We'll just have to sleep in one huge bundle in the living room under coats and blankets to keep warm," I said as we drove home. Without street lights or house lights, it was deeply dark everywhere.

As we were about to turn in at our driveway, our headlights illuminated a huge and unearthly creature, the color of smoke and about as corporeal, standing where we usually park. It was a deer--standing in the middle of the driveway. It stared at us a moment, then ceded us the parking space and walked away down the slope into our neighbor's backyard accompanied by a friend who'd been standing by our apple tree.

"National Grid estimates the power will be back by 11 pm," the healing angel reported, once we were inside.

"Please let it be so," I prayed.

And a minute later, the lights came on.

I think it was a blessing from the deer.
asakiyume: created by the ninja girl (Default)
Sometimes I save up things to post, and then by the time I get to doing it, they either seem stale or inconsequential, and I think, Is this really worth posting? ... But tonight I'm going to go ahead and post a couple anyway.

A black crow

The first is from an author interview I heard. It was with a former governor of Vermont, a woman named Madeleine Kunin (I'm not up on my former governors of Vermont). She's written a memoir which--I just checked Google; I didn't remember this from the interview--is called Coming of Age: My Journey to the Eighties, by which she means decade in her own life (she's 85 now), not the 1980s.

She said something at some point that prompted the interviewer to ask her if she thought about death much, and she laughed and said, well, she was getting up in years and that the thought was "like a black crow sitting on your shoulder--when he flies away, you know he's still in the neighborhood."

And I thought Wow. I know exactly what she means. About certain sorts of thoughts--not necessarily about death. But yeah, also about death--though I doubt that crow sits on my shoulder quite as frequently as it sits on hers. She's got a few decades on me.

An electrician

At some point in our first year in this house--almost 20 years ago--something was wrong with something electric in the bathroom. The only electric things in the bathroom are the lights and the fan, so one of those two. An electrician came over, a journeyman electrician. I don't remember how we got connected with him--was he someone's friend? Or a recommendation from a parent of some classmate of one of our kids? Anyway, he came. He had an unusual name of a mysterious-to-me ethnicity, and pale eyes. He pointed out a simple fix to whatever our electrical problem was, and I seem to recall he didn't even charge us.

Sometime later I saw he had gotten his own truck. Sometime later still (like a few years later), he was in the police blotter for a domestic assault charge. Well that's too bad, I remember thinking. But I continued to see the truck around, and the other day I saw it again in the library parking lot.

Every time I see it, I'll have these twin memories, so opposite--the personal kindness received, and the charge of violence.

. . .


For a change of pace, how about this:



It's flattened eggs for Dunkin Donuts--now to be known just as "Dunkin"--breakfast sandwiches. Strange and kind of charming. That plastic container is filled with them.
asakiyume: (Em reading)
A Stranger in Olondria
by Sofia Samatar
2013, Small Beer Press

Jervick, from the Tea Islands, is not only a stranger in Olondria, he’s a stranger in his homeland, too: someone educated in and besotted with the culture of a faraway land, schooled in letters in an oral society, able to recognize and make Olondrian allusions and references but bored by and ashamed of the place where he grew up. After his father dies, he travels to Olondria and briefly gets to experience the heady cosmopolitan existence he has dreamed of, in the consequence- and impact-free way strangers are both permitted and limited to. It’s kind of like being a ghost.

Read more... )
Describing someone’s self-exile, Jervick reflects,
I see him with the sweat on his brow which has turned the color of tallow and imagine how he will flee to the ends of the earth, putting the fathomless sea between himself and this sweet, incautious girl, interring himself in a country of alien flowers.
A country of alien flowers. It’s a startling, memorable, beautiful book.
asakiyume: (far horizon)
Hey, it's Wednesday, and I've actually read a thing: A Stranger in Olondria. I'm going to write up a review of it, because I ended up loving it; I think it's an amazing book, beautifully, powerfully told--and that's not what I went in thinking, or even what I was feeling in the first fifth of the book. Early on I had the impression that it was an admirable book that I was going to effortfully work my way through, but my mind completely, totally changed, so much so that by the end, this passage about coming to the end of a book--used as a heartbreaking analogy for final separation--was exactly how I felt:
Earlier, frightened, you began to have some intimation of it: so many pages had been turned, the book was so heavy in one hand, so light in the other, thinning toward the end. Still, you consoled yourself. You were not quite at the end of the story, at that terrible flyleaf, blank like a shuttered window: there were still a few pages under your thumb, still to be sought, treasured. Oh, was it possible to read more slowly?--No. The end approached, inexorable, at the same measured pace. The last page, the last of the shining words! And there--the end of the book.
asakiyume: (man on wire)
In 2012, I was briefly a skateboarder. I loved the speed and grace and daring of it--I wanted to touch that and live that.

That time was brought back to me so vividly tonight watching Skate Kitchen (2018), which I requested from Netflix DVD because of [personal profile] osprey_archer's excellent review) of it. The film coveys the feel of skateboarding beautifully (and also the dangers of it--part of why I quit: I loved the daring but wasn't up for the injuries), and I loved the posse of girls--real-life members of the Skate Kitchen, an all-girl skate collective in New York City. The director apparently met members of the collective while riding the subway, and she used Rachelle Vinberg, who plays the main character in Skate Kitchen, in a 2016 short film, That One Day.

The scenes of New York City's skating haunts are ones I remember from a video of skateboarding I found and posted back in 2012--it made the movie feel extra real to me.

The trailer pretty accurately captures the feel of the film:



And [personal profile] osprey_archer, the quote you were trying to find is the voiceover at the start of the trailer (and the scene with the little girl is in the trailer too). You're right: it's beautiful.
asakiyume: (Em)
The same day my friend showed me the photo from the previous entry, I had a great encounter in a pharmacy. There were two pharmacy technicians, young women, chatting. One came over to give me the prescription I was picking up, and I saw on her name tag that she had the same surname as Em in Pen Pal, and a really pretty, unusual first name (so unusual that when I typed the whole name just now into Google, a picture of her popped up on the first page of results).

I don't know if you've seen that meme on Twitter that goes

don't say it
don't say it
don't say it
don't say it

And ends with you blurting out the thing, but that was what happened with me. Don't say she has a pretty first name; that's intrusive, I told myself. And DEFINITELY don't mention that her surname is the surname of a character in a story you wrote.

But I did, and she smiled and said, "Oh really? My name? Where does the story take place?" So I told her, describing Mermaid's Hands, and said that it was kind of a fantasy, and she said, "I love fantasy! You know, that was one of the things I wanted to do before I turned twenty-one--write a book. I started, too, and got 2,000 words ... but then I stopped."

"Oh no! Why?"

"Oh, I let a friend read it, and she had so much to say. She was really sarcastic."

"That stinks! What a terrible friend!"**

"I know, right? The story was about the four elements, and now I see so many stories like that! If I had only finished it. . ."

"So maybe if you write your next idea? It sounds like you're tapped into what people want to read."

... I love encounters like that.

**I really believe this. When a beginning writer gives you something to read, it's terrible to close them down like that. I'm not talking about a situation where you're in a writer's group together and sharing critiques, or if an experienced writer asks you to beta read something--that's different. (Though even then there are ways and ways of giving criticism.) But if a friend shares something they've created with you, you don't shit all over it, any more than you would if they showed you their first photos or their first pottery or knitted item or sketch. If the thing genuinely appalls you, there are still ways of begging off without giving the creator a world of grief.
asakiyume: (Em)
A friend (no longer on DW, apparently!) found this beautiful photo, part of Gordon Parks's "Segregated Story, 1956," and shared it with me. She said it reminded her of Pen Pal, and it did me, too.



(I’ve been setting out Sabelle Morning’s cup every night so it can catch the dawn light,)

The girl on the right could be Em; the girl on the left could be her sister Tammy; the house, if only it were floating, could be their house.
asakiyume: (Kaya)
In this entry, [personal profile] osprey_archer talks about short films she's watched recently, and one of them, "Lost World," by Cambodian American director Kalyanee Mam, captivated me.

It's narrated by a young woman, Vy Phalla [surname comes first here], who lives on the island of Koh Sralau. The way of life there is threatened by sand dredging: sand is dredged in Cambodia and taken to add landmass in Singapore.

Scooping up Cambodia ...



... To create more Singapore




The film's write-up at shortoftheweek.com says, "Kalyanee Mam’s film encompasses vast juxtapositions in a slow-motion lament against environmental degradation, loss, and rapacious capitalism." Yes. It is that, powerfully.

But I was also there for foraging clams at low tide, in among the mangrove spiracles:





And for hopping from prop root to prop root, looking for snails (though the kids did complain about the mosquitos).



Beautiful place to live...



... very different from futuristic Singapore**



At one point Phalla sings a beautiful song about the mangroves. "The beauty of the mangrove forest / rivals the palace gardens" So right.

mangrove seedling



And Phalla goes to see the palace gardens, so to speak: in Singapore she visits an artificially created cloud forest. "Lost World," the exhibit is called. Please do not touch, the signs admonish. "Camelia," Phalla says. "I've only heard the name. Now I see its face."



Back in Cambodia, watching the dredgers, she says, "The law has given us all kinds of freedoms. Here we only have the right to sit, shed tears, and witness the destruction." ... I would like to say something in answer to that, but I think maybe the appropriate thing is to sit, witness, and maybe shed tears.

Thanks for sharing this with me, [personal profile] osprey_archer!


Lost World from Go Project Films on Vimeo.



**Don't take this entry to be anti-Singapore. You can point out a wrong practice without condemning a country (or person or organization or....) wholesale.
asakiyume: (man on wire)
In the supermarket the other day, a mom scolded her baby, who was sitting in the little seat at the front of the shopping cart, when the baby leaned down and started chewing on the cart handle. "Don't do that! You don't know where that's been!" the mom exclaimed.

AND HOW RIGHT SHE IS! Just **think** of the adventures shopping carts get up to!

The cart you are sitting in right now, baby, may recently have been sunning itself on the beach...


(source)

Or it may have been tangling with rival gangs in shadowed alleys... (though your shopping cart seemed more hale and hearty than this one)



(source)

It may have been for a refreshing swim...



(source, an old LJ friend's journal)

Or perhaps spent time communing with the mountains...

Abandoned Shopping Cart At The Banff Railway Station

(click through for source, Flickr user "Malcolm").

Baby, if we were to give you a blessing, it might be to travel as widely as a shopping cart.
asakiyume: (more than two)
I was listening to a talk the other day, and the speaker was talking about how she preferred "yes, and" phrases to "no, but" phrases when talking about someone's ideas.

In general I favor this approach too. Conversation that builds up rather than breaking down is energizing and encouraging. But you can't only use "yes, and." Sometimes you want to disagree or criticize. The speaker seemed to think that even in those situation you could/should cast what you're saying as a "yes, and." The example that came up was the speaker's criticism of the Black Panther movie. She was saying that she loves it, that it's great, but that it has problems--among them, it holds up a model of a single important person, a king, who makes all decisions. But unlike me in the previous sentence, she didn't phrase this using "but." She used "and." ("It's a great movie...and it has this problem")

You can do that, but changing the conjunction doesn't really change the valence of what you're saying. Why not just acknowledge the criticism by starting what you say next with a "but"? Sometimes it's fine to criticize! Furthermore, criticism doesn't have to be destructive--as the speaker herself was showing. She clearly did like the movie.

Maybe what would satisfy both her desire to stay positive and my desire to own the criticism is "yes, but." Yes, I agree/like this, but I have a refinement or criticism to add.

Hey, and then there's also "No, and," which is even more negative than "No, but," right? Like with "No, but," you're saying no, but you're also saying "but," which means there's some point of commonality, whereas with "No, and," you're going to town with your criticisms--you've got more than one!

Wohoo, I think we can do a business-article-style four-quadrant graph:


OMG my dayjob is invading my journaling...
asakiyume: (turnip lantern)
In Japan, today through January 24 is the microseason called "butterburs bud"

One fond memory I have of living in Japan as a family was the 60-plus-year-old director of the daycare where my kids went teaching me how to prepare fuki. In spring you could buy it in markets, but it's also a wild herb that you can forage. I remember where we foraged ours: there was this cut-through with a little bridge, and then you came up behind/beside the Watanabes' shop, which was a sort of convenience store in their house. We bought our kerosine there. I think I still have the director's hard-to-read instructions somewhere--maybe stuck inside a Japanese cookbook. I hope so, anyway.

I've seen butterbur here and thought of picking it, but I've never done it because I'm afraid it might not be exactly the same plant. It also gets translated into English as "coltsfoot."

Here it is--not a bud, but vigorous leaves:


(source)

And here it is, prepared:


(source)

Wow, I guess when you cultivate it, it can get quite large! The stuff we picked is much, much smaller.


(source)

Wikipedia tells me that the plant known as butterbur in Massachusetts, Petasites hybridus, is also called "bog rhubarb, Devil's hat, and pestilence wort." Gotta love folk names.

abelha

Jan. 18th, 2019 05:00 pm
asakiyume: (shaft of light)
abelha

"bee"

One word of Portuguese, buzzing in my head

In the cold Northeast soon the snow-bees will be buzzing

while somewhere in Amazonas,

little abelha-cachorro, dog-bee

is pollinating brilliant blooms

epiphytes, bromiliads,

orchids

and passion flowers
asakiyume: (november birch)
I was looking at some of my earliest journal entries, trying to see what had me hopping with inspiration back almost thirteen years ago, and I discovered this:
Little Springtime, the Peaceful One, had to list things that happen with regularity in nature--just a few examples. She said, "I've already got things like 'Bears eat skunk cabbage in the spring...'--as if THAT'S the first regular seasonal thing you'd think of! I only just learned that about bears last week. It made me think, it would be fun to have a list of things that happen very regularly that people rarely think of (like the bears and skunk cabbages, frankly).

I thought, that idea dovetails nicely with Japanese microseasons, which Wakanomori introduced me to a few years ago. There are 72 of them. Right now, for instance, we're in 雉始雊 Kiji hajimete naku--pheasants start to call. (More broadly, we're in the period called 小寒 Shōkan, "small cold," which will be followed, from January 20 through February 3, by "greater cold." Just warning you.)

But it might be fun to get as particularistic about place as for time. If you can divide the year into 72 microseasons, how about microclimates? Of course years can vary so wildly in terms of what happens... it would take lots of observations to have microseasons that would really apply fairly regularly year after year.

These last few days, here, we've been in the microseason of thin wind--the kind that slips between all your layers and curls up right against your skin, trying to warm itself, a hungry ghost of a wind. I haven't heard any pheasants calling.
asakiyume: (Inconvenient God)
I think everyone who reads me here probably already reads [personal profile] sovay, but just in case not...

I was blown away by her review of An Inconvenient God.

[personal profile] sovay's reviews are as good as stories: when she reviews films, she captures the drama of them, and without spoiling them in the least, makes you feel, by the power of her writing, what makes them funny, poignant, terrifying, tragic--whatever. It's a huge honor to have that attention paid to my own work.
asakiyume: (turnip lantern)
I went to this last night with zero expectations and really had fun. I enjoyed Miles and his family, I liked the other spiderfolk, the humor worked for me, and the animation/art was gorgeous. Oh and I loved the soundtrack!**

Just in case you were sitting wherever you're sitting and you found yourself wondering what Asakiyume thought of Spider-Man: Into the Spider Verse.

colors


more colors


more more colors


glitching


hero



PS--I liked the role graffiti and stickers played.




**And I have some money on an Amazon gift card so I think I'll be treating myself to it...
asakiyume: (aquaman is sad)
I can *not* write every day on the novel. It just won't work with my life. The language goals are easier because they're more mechanical, but I'm definitely letting Portuguese be a now-and-then.

I don't know why I was able to write nearly every day in November but can't now in January. Maybe I should chalk this up to a rocky start (holiday, family, illness) but the year is strewn with similar obstacles, so I think I'll rethink this. I probably won't announce what the revised goal is--I'm only even posting this because a couple of people asked specifically about the writing goal, and it seems like proper accountability to say, Yeah no, this isn't going to work for me after all.
asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
I ... have written my first-ever** fanfic, about one of my favorite moments in Voyage of the Dawn Treader (actually, one of my favorite moments in the whole Chronicles of Narnia)--the moment when Lucy sees the Sea Girl in the Last Ocean. The story is from the Sea Girl's perspective. It's very short. Thanks to [personal profile] osprey_archer for a read-through and advice on posting!

[ETA: In my rush to post I, um, neglected to include a link to the story. Here it is! Sorry about that--it's kind of hilarious to post an announcement like that and then not remember the link -_-]

And here are some beautiful examples of seagrass for you to look at, to accompany the story.

turtlegrass

(source)

sickle leaf seagrass
Sickle seagrass (Thalassia hemprichii)
(click through for source)

paddleweed

(source)

**Actually I did once write a piece of fanfic earlier. I was in seventh grade, and it was for Space 1999.

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