Wednesday, September 21, 2022

World Alzheimer's Awareness Month

September brings the equinox and autumn. It's also World Alzheimer's Month. 


By accident (or a grand design of which I'm unaware), two of my Alzheimer's-related publications have come out this month.


Here, read my review at Minola Review of Four Umbrellas: A Couple's Journey Into Young-Onset Alzheimer's. It's an exceptional book by June Hutton & Tony Wanless, in which Tony shares insights into his experience of dementia. Here's an excerpt from my review:


We all have a near-inexhaustible capacity to fool ourselves. No one wants to acknowledge their own mental confusion. No one wants to see dementia in the face that is resting on the pillow next to theirs. It took great courage to write this book.


We should all read it. Statistics suggest that if you don't know someone with dementia now, you will soon. 


Luckily, people -- generous, motivated, creative people -- with lived experience, people who love someone with dementia, and perhaps have cared for them, also write books. 


Here's an interview in the Miramichi Reader with Sheridan Rondeau, author of Dear Braveheart: A Caregiver's Loving Journey Through Alzheimer's Dementia (Crossfield Publishing).   


She cared for her husband, "Tony," at home during his time with dementia. Her insights and perspective can be a gentle companion for others in that situation. It was a pleasure to read her book and speak with her. 


I wrote recently about the pleasures and curiosities of "pulling back the curtain" and peeking behind the scenes. Sometimes it's fun (a movie's outtakes); sometimes it's engaging (creative competition show). 


And sometimes it's a responsibility for those of us who haven't been there to go there. That's why we broaden our reading habits to seek out #ownvoices whose experiences in society are different from ours. That's how we learn what we don't know. That's where we get ideas and energy and courage to change unequal power dynamics.


In some cases, that's how we prepare to be a better member of our community, or a better parent, sibling, friend, or "offspring" (my father's word when his "children" were adults with children of their own). 


That's why you should read books like these -- not for the curiosity or because they're scandalous, like some clickbait article on co-stars who are also having an affair. But because they let you see more fully.


If you've read a book like this, you might better understand what you're looking at. For example, when a woman filling a prescription huddles with a pharmacist for the "this is the first time for this medication" conversation, you might have insight into why she and the pharmacist both have tears in their eyes. 


Or on other errands: You might have more patience for the steely-haired older woman in the bank who's trying to keep her companion, a blank-faced white-haired woman, engaged without bothering others. The patient fifty-something woman in the coffee shop who repeatedly hands an elderly gentleman his handkerchief.


They're all part of the full range of human experience, often invisible, but still there. Where someone we know and love -- or ourselves -- might be someday.


Read these books, and books like them. Please.    



 

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Holiday

I'm enjoying a hit-or-miss kind of September. Lots of hits of family and new experiences; lots of misses of being in my "upstairs office," doing work at the computer.


I'll be back sometime later this month. Until then, enjoy.




Rocks under water


Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Inspection

So I’ve been thinking about looking deeply into things. Pulling back the curtain. Showing what happens behind the scenes.


Incident 1: When I was at the dentist early this summer, he poked and drilled while I sat benumbed and reclined. Then he brought me upright in the chair and handed me a mirror. He was excited to show me the series of cracks in my back molars (and several other teeth), the stains everywhere, and the big hole he’d created and was about to fill. Yay!


Because I’m a compliant person, most of the time, I looked in the mirror he was holding, but I really didn’t care. I know I didn’t muster enough enthusiasm to please him, but then again, a. No one could (he was pretty enthusiastic), b. I’ve been disappointing dentists and dental hygienists longer than he’s been alive so I’m used to it, and c. Basically, making a dentist happy is not my emotional labour to perform.


Consider the hydrangea, if that's what this is:
it neither toils nor spins. It knows for whom
it performs emotional labour.



Incident 2: A little over a month ago, I had the opportunity to inspect the bottom of an almost empty water storage tank, capacity something like 250 gallons. Several buckets of sludge had already been removed and the sides had been scrubbed.


When invited, I happily hopped up to stand on the bottom of an overturned plastic pail and peer into the tank through the top hatch. I could see the bottom. The water was completely clear. It was a mystical, magical moment.


Why? I’ve wondered what made the difference between seeing the details of my mouth and the details of our water storage system.


I’m pretty curious, so I have a vague interest in the inner workings of a lot of different things. Just not my mouth, I guess. Related: recently I got to see a super special image of the inside of my husband’s eye. It was very cool.



The sun sets, not without drama,
but perhaps without pain.



But that made me think about when it is and isn’t interesting to see the inner workings of things. Why yes to the eye and the cistern but no to my teeth?


OK, the teeth thing involved needles and pain. But beyond that.


So I started thinking about glimpses “backstage.” Mostly on TV.


One allure of the competition show as a genre is to see people like aspiring models, clothing designers, and bakers at work. I like to see musicians try different interpretations of a song or spontaneously goof around together. How do other people in other artistic disciplines create?


Same with the home reno ouvre, also a creative pursuit, but for a slightly different reason: it’s fun to see a house stripped to studs and reassembled, all in the course of an hour, from the comfort of my chair. It’s satisfying when order becomes chaos and then a new order again.


Same with a behind-the-scenes look at making a movie—it can be as interesting as the movie itself.


Not yet, but never far away. 



But I’m a generalist, not a specialist. I don’t want to spend extra time with the director and set designer of every single movie I see. I’m not so keen on all the different competitive cooking shows that I never miss an episode, though that Great British Baking Show is beguiling. I’d happily watch more Project Runway, but the open concept floor plan has lost its allure.


And I’m “so over” police investigations into missing and murdered people. Maybe they’re the equivalent of the dentist with the mirror.


And so? In searching for a conclusion, I admit defeat.


I think it’s human nature to be curious about how things work, but we’re not all curious about the same things.


That’s good—I have zero curiosity about electricity, though I appreciate the curiosity and expertise of electricians every time I flip a light switch.


The end.

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

What I’m Taking Into September

My courage with both hands, mostly. In September, I’m traveling for the first time since October 2, 2019. (I found a receipt in my US wallet.) I’m not sure it’s the right thing to do. But much of it is. So, a risk.


Manitoba Maple starting to change


Quantifiably reduced expectations. It’s really helpful to specify how many pages of an interminable project I aspire to finish in a month (and then cut that by a third), as opposed to hoping that somehow I’ll magically finish the whole thing and being disappointed when I don’t.


I think this green plant is a lupin;
it's spread farther in the ditch
where they grew this year. Readying
for next year?


Wild blueberries, enjoyed this year and stored for next. I made a couple of awesome desserts, and we’ve got a stash of berries in the freezer. Since we had zero local blueberries last summer, a freezer full feels both magical and mundane. 



Is the world, ever so slowly, righting itself again? Stabilizing? So, so slowly? 


And if not -- or if this sense of balance, possibility, and normalcy is also only temporary -- can I enjoy it for this moment? There's the bigger question.












 


Wednesday, August 24, 2022

The Perfect Word

The wee scene below caught my eye the other day, when it wasn’t raining and I was out for a walk

A small yellow weedy wildflower
grows through a crack in the asphalt.




It made me laugh because it’s begging to be an inspirational poster on the wall of some business conference room.


Then I started wondering which word it would illustrate.


Persistence? Inevitability? Endurance? Imperfection?


Maybe a phrase. “Allow space to grieve,” or “You can grow anywhere you want,” or “Imperfection is where the good stuff happens.” And of course, an obvious choice: “Nevertheless, she persisted.”


Nevertheless. Love it.


So. Perhaps, just perhaps, there isn’t one perfect word or phrase for this photo. The “right” phrase depends on your perspective. And there are millions of those.


I hope you’re enjoying your Wednesday, whether you’re the weed, the asphalt, the observer, the sun, or a fawn who’d like a little snack while crossing the street.


Thursday, August 18, 2022

Summer Days

It’s Mid-August in a year that’s included fawns and chipmunks, squirrels and crows, clean water and clean new sheets, burgers on the barbecue, and The Great British Baking Show.


And I’m enjoying it beyond all reason. Who wants to listen to reason in August?


Morning sun breaks through clouds.

Doe watches photographer while fawn gambols.

Fawn gambols some more.

Fawn butts doe's flank;
surely s/he's weaned?
Maybe not yet?

Sunset lights up the evening sky.


I was not a huge fan of the movie Grease, but Olivia Newton-John made the world better, and we will miss her.  
Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Numb

I've been thinking a lot about grief lately. I imagine we all have. All of us humans.


Eight years ago, I took
my cute boots out in the canoe.
We had fun. 



Whether we are or aren't "coming out of the pandemic," we have definitely been IN one, and that has held grief. Birthdays missed. Hell, births missed. Deaths, too. All kinds of celebration of life. 


As society changes, in whatever way it changes in the next 2.5 years, those changes can cause new pain. 


Perhaps I didn't have a "productive" stretch during the pandemic. Perhaps I have redefined "productive" and live a far happier life, more connected to things that matter. Perhaps I have merely survived. No "merely" about it, though.


In any case, I am considering today whether I (and we, as a society) have been misunderstanding grief. It's not like I haven't experienced it before, and I know more grief lies in the days ahead. 


As does more joy. Make no mistake, I know that, too.


Today I had a(nother) dental appointment. I'm getting two back molars crowned this summer, and I have whined about it before. I acknowledge my privilege in having dental insurance at all, to say nothing of the wherewithal to pay premiums and copays. But it's just not pleasant, okay?


Waiting for the "numbing," as the dentist calls it, to wear off is always interesting. I'm continually poking or patting at my cheek, my tongue, my lips. Can I feel them now? Here? No, how about there? Maybe. Et cetera. 


And then, whoosh, the numb spots are gone. Today, sensation returned to my face after 3.75 hours. In the space of about 5 minutes, I went from "is that gnarly thing in my mouth my tongue?" to "hey, there's skin on my cheek and I can feel my lips!"


And yep, that's how I still thought grief works. Like in the movies: there's a montage where our protagonist drags herself out of bed in January, sometimes falling back into bed with a bottle of wine, but generally mooching around the house in her bathrobe while calendar pages flip, and then it's March and trees are budding and she wakes up and goes, "Oh, I feel better! I'm going to be okay."


Feeling returns. The good kind. Energy enough to overcome inertia, to return to some semblance of a former self. 


But I'm guessing that's not how it works. Or how it will work, for some of us, this time. Because while we've all experienced a pandemic, we haven't had the same experience. And that's not all the painful experiences that some of us are experiencing.


Funny (not haha) how old assumptions lie there, waiting to be questioned. 


Now that I have, I won't be wondering where all my old energy is. I can be open to whatever energy I have. And look for that joy.


        




Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Things I am Taking Into August

Bobcat on the septic field at dusk, from a previous
year's August but not out of the question
for this year.

Helpful, positive, constructive input on a beloved project.


A renewed and affirmed sense of myself as a writer, reviser, and editor.


The recognition, perhaps again, that I am ready to simplify many elements of my life. (As in, how many bedspreads do we NEED in this house?)


A newly crowned molar. One down, one to go!


A fading bruise, the souvenir of a couple of days with chainsaw and loppers clearing saplings from under the power line. Bragging about that makes me feel gnarly.


A cleaned out water storage tank in the basement.


The experience of reading books ONLY off my own bookshelves for a month (it was wonderful).


The re-recognition, born of looking at photos from previous Augusts, that the world moves in cycles. Apparently, August is often hazy. Apparently, I need to re-recognize that every year.  


The sincere, if probably ineffectual, effort to refrain from saying, "How can it be August already?" every other day or so.


Here's hoping you are the same.


What I took into July is here. What I took into June is here. Apparently I traveled light in May. What I took into April is here. What I took into March is here. What I took into February is here. What I took into January/the year 2022 in general is here.    




Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Sun and Fog in Late July

 




Here we are, this place, this day.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Joy in Work

It's the little things, mostly. Duty. Integrity. Lately, they really have been bringing me joy.


For example. 


Yesterday, workers showed up for an appointment, did their work (and more!), chatted and listened to us respectfully, and solved some problems. They even celebrated, in an appropriately distanced way, with us when they had finished.


More than a year ago, an worker collected a file, as was her job, and put it where it was supposed to go. Almost two years ago, other workers watched disturbing events happening and recently chose to tell the truth. We are hearing from them and people like them.


A little more than six months ago, technology with roots deep in the 1990s bore fruit, and recently, we all got to see that fruit and can watch it continue to thrive. 


Some days, joy is hard to come by. Sick people get sicker. A sick planet ditto. Household systems, and the households surrounding them, age and eventually fail. Always. 


Birch trees, like lilies of the field,
neither toil nor spin, yet remain
reliable sources of joy.



Most research DOESN'T bear useful fruit, if by "useful" you mean world-changing. But it was "useful" to the person who did the research. It might be "useful" in a grander sense, to someone else, twenty years from now. It might not.*


Most of what lies in official files may remain curiosities or simply data, not especially vital information. Same with office interactions. But the person who did the filing and reported the disturbing events did their jobs with integrity.


Most of what the workers did for us yesterday may be moot in only a few months. But the house and household are better today for their presence yesterday.


I'm lucky. I can say that the work I do today is good -- it's good for me to do, even if it never becomes valuable beyond that. Making the bed, doing laundry, revising my words, working on others' words, enjoying words, even hardboiling eggs for a future breakfast. All good.  


That knowledge brings me comfort, and sometimes the knowledge, or the work itself, brings joy. And that's enough.

___________________________  

* And yes, I keep thinking about dementia research, and that neurology researcher, along with her team of lab techs, who are acting with such integrity. Who give me hope.  

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Today in Gratitude

For a few years, I've started the morning (after water and coffee; let's not be ridiculous) with a notebook and a pen. I review yesterday and prep for the day. 


("People" say to do this at the end of the previous day. That makes me anxious. I'm doing me.)


One element of this time is a list of three things for which I'm grateful. I have excluded some items from this list (my husband, coffee) except in special cases, because I'm grateful for (and to) them every day. 


The purpose of the exercise -- and I have to say, it has helped during these past seven or so years -- is to notice NEW things to be grateful for.


Recent items from my list: dental insurance, people in positions of power and authority doing the right things in public, being my own boss (haha), and sunny mornings. I also often gauge the quality of sleep the previous night, because it helps me set reasonable expectations for the day.


And yet, those lists don't tell the whole story. Here are some things I left out. 


I had dental work, which I'm not quite ready to be grateful for yet. (In A Wrinkle in Time, Meg knows if she loves that thing, it would be destroyed, but she can't, so she focuses on loving Charles Wallace instead. That's how I am about dental work -- can't quite be grateful for that yet.)


It has taken more than a year for some of these people to do the right thing, and they are still not all-in on doing it. (In The West Wing, Sam explains monetary police to CJ and begins with something like, "Let's set aside the fact that it's taken you so long to get to the table and celebrate that you're here at all.")


Also: I may be my own boss, but if I don't meet deadlines or if I hate what I'm working on, that's on me, and I have to decide how or if to fix it. Gratitude for sunny mornings means we've seen a lot of rain, which puts a damper (haha) on outdoor activities. I can't take good, restful sleep for granted.


Et cetera.


Two observations about this process: What you see is not the full picture. Which we all SAY we know, and we hear a lot. But sincerely -- do we really remember this?


And: I spend a lot of time with fictional people. Characters, if you will. They keep me company and offer advice. This means that I want to be careful about how -- and with whom, fictional or not -- I spend my time. 


It also means that what we do is important. Telling stories is important. Art, writing, music, important. It is our means for touching others -- people living today, and people in the future. 


And for that, I'm the most grateful of all.           



Thursday, July 7, 2022

What I'm Taking Into July

Senses. I tried to list them in an order that made sense to me and came up with this, so far: gentleness, openness, curiosity, wonder/awe, competence, diligence, appreciation, understanding, gratitude, duty, and generosity. 


I anticipate (ooo, anticipation?) continuing to think about them this month. Along with why and how I pay attention to them.



Monday's sun peers out from behind a relatively low gray cloud
shortly after rising. The sky holds criss-crossed white clouds higher.
The sun reflects from the surface of Lake Superior.



A fling with store-bought guacamole. Full of flavour and good to soothe a hankering for guacamole. No match for my sister's, made from scratch, of course, though part of my enjoyment of her guacamole is being on vacation and sharing it with her.


A similar fling with local gelato. I enjoy it a lot. But I don't need to enjoy it all the time. Which is good to know.


Moments of contentment, joy, connection, and sadness. It's been quite a month and we're still in its first week.


Random: iced-tea spoons (yes, still), grocery store pickups, two new yet persistent black-fly bites, the ability to skip stones (though not as well as some), and a different way (other than despair and teeth-gnashing) to measure progress on long-term projects (make sure it's a project you're measuring, not an ongoing responsibility like laundry, and make it small enough). 


Stay well. Please. Everyone.


 




 

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

It's a Lot

And by "it," I mean many things. 


What do I do when it's a lot? 


A pretty evening sky.

A few things.


I do my work, for starters. Yes, it's hard to focus. But I'm lucky to do what I do under the few constraints I have. 


Some pretty yellow flowers.



I do active looking. I look for pretty things, for things that inspire gratitude, for things that restore my faith in other people. For example, I look for people being nice to each other. 





Some pretty wild roses.



I do targeted actions. Yes, voting. Yes, donating. Yes, engaging gently with others. And learning--how Supreme Courts work in two different countries, different approaches to protecting women's rights. 


That's it; that's that. That's what I've got these days. Is it enough? For now. For today.  

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Moon, Solstice, or Aurora?

When I woke up at 3 a.m. today, I wasn't especially happy to be conscious, but I was curious. What had awakened me? I didn't remember dreams, bad or good. 


Then I saw how light the sky was. (Our bedroom blinds don't block everything.) 


As I lay there, I reviewed the options. That light in the sky: It could be the moon. It could be the solstice. Or it could be the aurora.


I got up and tiptoed to the window to look. Turned out, the sky was just that light at 3 a.m. on June 22 this year. Thanks, solstice!  


But as I tried to go back to sleep, I thought about the differences between the moon, the solstice, and the aurora. 


The moon is full every (wait for it) month (not exactly, because our measurement systems aren't accurate, but still). The full moon isn't always visible from our bedroom window overnight, but it is visible several times a year. The regularity is comforting, even when we can't see it.


The solstice happens twice a year; one in the darkness and one in the daylight. Also regular, but with more time between -- even more time, a full year, between 3 a.m. twilights.


The aurora -- well, that's a gorgeous gift, bestowed at random (more or less). It may be more visible in the winter than summer (though I've seen some spectacular displays on August nights), and it may occur in clusters. The point is, don't set your watch by it. 


Clouds, not the aurora, but pretty nonetheless.


So as I lay there not-quite sleeping, I considered work, and projects, and my days, and time passing. And my expectations. 


Summer is such a busy time, almost frantic as we try to do things in the long days to prepare for long nights. Because I am a creature of habit, I value the events that present themselves with regularity -- the grass needs to be cut, "someone" should sweep the roof and rafters of the little camp, footpaths have grown up and need to be thinned, it's warm enough to safely drag the boat nearer the water, the neighbours have seen a hungry raccoon so it's time to stop putting food out for birds. That kind of thing. 


Some things happen with the regularity of the moon, some are more solstice-type events (car service), and several years elapse between some (related: we have a new garage door).


But I never want to expect ONLY those events that recur, whether monthly, annually, or every couple of decades. 


I want to be open to the unexpected. Sometimes, opportunities fall into my lap; sometimes I pursue projects that don't pan out but I'm glad I tried because why not.


The metaphor: I love seeing the moon, and I appreciate the special nature of the solstices as they pass. And, when I wake 3 a.m., I want always to remember that I COULD see the aurora.


Now, back to my third day in a row of "town errands," with another day possibly Friday. Happy solstice! And happy moonrises, and happy auroras, when next they come. 


Thursday, June 16, 2022

When Does Plenty Become Surfeit?

One comment I consistently receive (less so, recently, because eventually I DO learn) on essays, is that I too often posit topics as questions. 


For example, I could have titled this post "When Plenty Becomes Surfeit," and written much the same post here. 


Asking questions is part of an essay, even when they're not technically phrased as questions. But on reaching the last part of an essay, one of my critique partners said, "I really feel you owe us some answers here -- not 'the' answer, but 'your' answer, even if it's just an answer for now." 


Fair enough. But today, I want to linger in the question -- to live here for a while on the page, as I am (perhaps we all are) in "real life."



Too much green in spruce and birch?
Not sure that's possible.


Here are some sample questions I consider regularly.


Where is the line between "I am who I am" and "I can happily learn new ways of being in the world"?

When does irreverence become disrespect?

When does caution become fear?

When does risk become reckless?

When do I make decisions based on my own preference, and when do I make them based on my responsibility to others? (And related: how can I make "responsibility to others" my own preference, thereby having the best of both worlds?)

When does strategic thinking become dithering?

When does "plenty" become "surfeit," and its permutations: When is "enough" a deprivation because you don't deserve more? When is "enough" a futile effort to fill endless black hole?

When is "we're all in different places" so vitally different from "you do what you're comfortable with"?

When does "I have a right to write and speak" drown out someone else's turn at the mic?  


I don't have answers to these questions. I like living in them. I like the possibilities and challenges that the questions represent. I like having different inclinations on different days.


Today, I am comfortable knowing that "too much green" isn't really possible in these grey and rainy June days. Tomorrow I  may have a different opinion. 


Do you live with questions? Should you, maybe, just a little bit more? (I don't have an answer, but you might.)



 

 

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

June is Alzheimer('s) and Brain Awareness Month

June is a full month. It's Pride Month, with its celebration of rebellion and joy and love. It's Indigenous History Month, with its celebration of endurance and generosity as Indigenous people share stories we should have learned but haven't yet. 


It's also Alzheimer (in Canada) and Alzheimer's (US) and Brain Awareness Month, with its calls to raise awareness of dementia and related diseases, and its ever-hopeful hashtag, #EndAlz.



Growing in the wild around here,
forget-me-nots. Pff, as if I could.



As you may know, I wrote a book about Alzheimer's. It's also about my mother, and my father. It's about our family, inertia, denial. Mistakes and regrets. 


And, to be fair, it's about joy, and dogs. Glass on a beach and a set of sheets. Home.


It's also about sounds and love, and how they both reverberate through time. I'm glad I wrote it, and I'm so honoured that it has touched many people. You can read more about it here. 


Years ago -- nearly eight years ago -- I also wrote about Alzheimer's (linked here). Eight years is a long time, and I produce a lot of words on the regular, so I'd forgotten this specific post.


It includes these paragraphs, which hold true today. 


Sometimes I picture a lab tech grabbing a sandwich at what should have been the end of her shift but isn't because processing an extra batch of samples each shift means getting results that much earlier ...

* which lets her lab meet an earlier publication deadline ... 

* which helps secure an extra $100K in research funding ... 

* which produces results leading to a collaborative project with a drug company ... 

* and maybe just maybe it's THIS drug that proves effective.


And because she's a numbers person as well as a people person, the disease statistics--millions of people with the disease, each of whom has family, all of whom are waiting for good news--may haunt that lab tech.


So I hope she thinks of us, when she thinks of us, not as suffering people in need of her pity, nor as impatient family members wishing someone would do something.


Instead, I hope she recognizes we're a giant cheering section, urging her on. 


Still true today. You go, lab tech. We're rooting for you, and we're rooting for each other -- for every person who has dementia, and for those who love them. 


 

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

What I’m taking into June

Another dose of COVID vax


A drain strainer for the bathtub, shaped like a starfish, that works a treat (strains hair, lets water through).


A pair of houseshoes in a larger size (my big toes are ecstatic).


Some Penguin Classic clothbound versions of Jane Austen titles (I’m still missing Emma SO FAR), each of which has an updated introduction, and I’m LOVING them.


Loving the hardcover clothbound Penguin Classic
versions of Jane Austen's novels 



A new, perhaps slightly strange, interest in Beowulf translations and a specific re-envisioning that reconsiders love and monsters 


A bunch of photos through rainy windows, to say nothing of photos of a squirrel (or several?) at our old bird feeder 


A squirrel atop a bird feeder, snacking



A writing conference registration, a writing group commitment, and the prospect of being with other writers, maybe even in the flesh.


The energy of writing to elected officials even though I know they’re indifferent at best and likely actively working against the world’s best interests. It’s the energy not only of speaking up, but also of seeing myself speak up, if that makes any sense. 


The world’s cutest boots, which I have been wearing for the past eight weeks any time I venture outdoors.


The ever-adorable Rifle Paper X Keds collab.
As a bonus, you can see just how muddy
it gets around here in the spring! 



Renewed delight in the peepers that sing me to sleep. Every year, they’re one of my favourite signs of spring. They began in the middle of a thunderstorm a few weeks back and are charming friends. 


And a general delight in spring, with fresh starts and new beginnings for which I'm always grateful, even as I never forget that those starts and beginnings both build on old knowledge and exist in the context of a difficult world. 


Wednesday, May 25, 2022

A Poet's Words



See also: church-goers, grocery-buyers. And car-drivers, joggers, sleepers in beds.


This poem, online at the Jellyfish Review.


More about Kathy Fish.



 

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Things I'm Reading

I don't recommend all these things, necessarily. However, I thought they had interesting points to make.


The cover of Jose Saramago's
The History of the Siege of Lisbon,
held in front of our sunny deck and red pines


The History of the Siege of Lisbon, Goodreads link


Our book club read this. The main character is a proofreader who--from frustration, perhaps, or perhaps from just growing awareness of his own agency--inserts a "not" into a history book and sets in motion a larger change in his life. 


I liked the idea of the power of the lesser-celebrated members of a book's production team. I said more about it on Instagram, where I'm (surprisingly) @marionagnew. You're welcome to find me there.



How Growing Up in the Digital Age Impacts Young Minds 


Salient quote: "A third concern about viewing habits among the very young comes under the heading of the displacement hypothesis: time spent watching video potentially displaces other more age-appropriate activities such as face-to-face interactions, creative or open playtime, physical movement, outdoor play, and reading, all of which are known to foster brain health in kids."  


I know my mind isn't technically "young," but I have been displacing some of my usual activities with other, media-based activities, and it hasn't been an especially rewarding experience. 


Also, now is the best time of year for my brain to re-learn about things like the physics of falling trees, bodily energy storage and consumption, the body's Vitamin D response to the sun. Et cetera.



The Making of Moonstruck


Salient quote: "[Moonstruck director Norman] Jewison once believed that, after reaching some arbitrary threshold of success, he would be able to call his own shots. Yet here he was at sixty, still hustling, still facing rejection. Those rejections were “very destructive for me at times,” he confided in an unpublished archival interview. “When I become depressed and disillusioned and forsaken and nobody believes in you anymore . . . you take it personally.”"


Again, I'm not a film director but I have experienced rejection--part of the business--and it's disappointing, and I don't like pretending it's not. (You thought I was going to say I'm old, didn't you? Well, that too.) 


However, rejection is not the end of the story. Sometimes you persevere and make Moonstruck, and even though you don't win the Academy Award for Best Director, you've made a classic that apparently experienced a resurgence of sorts during the pandemic.


Not bad.



And now, between rains, I'll go move dirt around, or move myself around on asphalt, or go lie on a rock, or something (maybe nothing!) else. 


Tra la, it's May.