Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Authors Authoring Our Lives

"If, seated on high, amidst the authors of our destinies, we could read the book of our life. Which is written. Already written, finished. But we shall never know our story. We are only characters in it. And to think that there will be readers of our book. They will open it. And they'll make fun of the murkiness of our night. Says the author~" Helene Cixious, "Stigmata."


Nothing grand like positing a Divine other as author of our lives, or even ourselves: history is the author of our lives. History creates the book of our lives, where we only live as a character, and even then a character in what becomes our own story, a story that we can never fully know, either. If we remain anonymous bearers of history, our lack of individuality is our story. And nothing is ever 'settled,' the process of revision after revision continues. Perhaps history is an author who never finishes the story that is written and rewritten with each successive generation. There is no final Word, the author cannot be absolutist but only contextual, forever revising the book, the canon, made up of our individual transcripts where we are characters living in a story we can't ever fully know the design of.

I am a lady of hidden books, filing cabinet drawers of journals, piled up, copious writing through the years, and an abrupt end, sudden stopping. Slowly pushing into the stream of life, like here, where we all write our lives, thoughts, concerns, happenings, where we can overhear each other think, revealing those interior places, those places where we posit our lives against the anonymity of history, authoring ourselves in halting, flowing, coagulating, humorous, descriptive sentences of every kind, on every topic, a veritable cornucopia, our offerings. Writing into the future, yesterday's blog gone, like the news, an alphabetic rubble for the future historian to sift through. And some of our stories will remain, the fickle heart of history being what it is, for awhile, of our coming to writing. And then our lives will be placed in the context of. On this inky lonely night without my children, there is comfort in this, knowing that I cannot know the book of my life even while I am writing it.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

From my novella-in-progress, "The Move"- sections 50 & 51. Click on the image for a larger, readable size. Suggestions are always welcomed.

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Section #50

A man who she met at a garden party, talked to all evening in his kitchen, and went dancing with late in the night at a bar with a jazz band and a toy railroad all the way round the ceiling with a tiny train chugging continuously, that new friend took her to the slough. She should have been packing. She wanted to meet his friend who lived in the wetlands on the Fraser River and wrote books by hand.

Walking on boards placed on the rich vegetation of the rain forest, a pathway opened into another world. She entered a lush and overgrown secret place where creativity flourished directly out of the imagination. Kaja, statuesque and beautiful, like a Germanic goddess, welcomed her. Tall, sensual, curly chestnut hair pulled up and tied, her legs bare and long in shorts, her green eyes shone with vibrancy and mystery. The magical world was her everyday reality. Kaja, and the friend with whom she had come, spent an evening a week sharing dinner and reading their writing to each other, or telling stories. Kaja was too self-conscious to read to a stranger that night, so she told a story.

It was the story of the creativity of life that swept up on the shores all around us, calling us to understanding. The cadences of her telling were visionary and spiritual and philosophic, the poetry of her words swayed on the river, in the air, across the tops of the trees, in the choral streaks of the sunset.

Everything in Kaja’s life had come through spiritual intercession. The cottage on stilts on the river that she lived in was a perfect writer’s cabin. It had appeared as an option that couldn’t be turned down when she asked for an ideal place to live and write. Her boyfriend’s work took him away for two weeks each month, giving her time to write. She worked part-time in special education, a job that fed both her body and her creativity. She had nurturing friends who supported her emotionally. She told story after story of her life where whatever she asked for came to her in profound ways. She said she had to be careful because it was almost too easy to conjure what she asked for.

Anyone would feel fortunate, as she had, to have sat, enraptured, listening to Kaja’s tales, their marvels, her understanding of the way things came to us, how we can shape our lives in ways we desire so that we may do whatever it is that calls to us deeply.

Section #51

A new way of living, or perhaps it is a very, very old way, was opening, it seemed, everywhere.

When things that you needed snapped into place, she could feel it like two grids connecting, two genes intersplicing.

It was easier to do through the medium of money, but money was a poor substitute for the deeper exchange that went on between us all, and of which we are often barely aware.

©2005 Brenda Clews

Friday, November 25, 2005

What am I most grateful for?

Having spent the greater part of my life serving others and trying to fit into, I don't know, their conceptions, or conceptions I had of their ideas of how I should be, I have to say I'm grateful for whatever intelligence and talent have clung to me through it all and sorry that I haven't honoured either but I am trying to rectify that. You all, in the blogosphere, are a big part of this process of coming-into-being...

I'm grateful for the flock of angels who fly with me every day; for feeling as if I can cope, that I am strong; for being able to learn from my experiences in a positive and healthy way; for not being bitter or pessimistic. I'm grateful for my ability to see and feel the world around me; I'm grateful for the brilliance in everything...

And for the delicate smile at the corners of my beautiful daughter's mouth when she tells me she got an almost perfect mark on a major project that she worked for weeks on (she dropped out of school & I ended up homeschooling, so this is good news indeed), the light in her eyes, her delightful petulances, and her laughter and hugs...

And for my gentle and generous son, who's living at his Dad's and who I miss, but who's come through a maelstrom, and who I'm very proud of...

And the soft acceptance of my dog, her soft curly ears, how she's just there, consistently, every day, sweet and huggy, how much fun she is to take for a romp in the park...

I'm grateful for food in the fridge and a roof over my head; grateful for the bounty of the earth and a culture that allows me that; for the inky wash of dawn in the sky and the brightening the sun is bringing to the world. I'm grateful for all the men I've loved; for the beautiful friends I have. I'm grateful to be alive and healthy and brimming with a finally freed creativity; and for all the dark and desperate and lonely times because that enables me to see how fortunate I am to have so much love in my life. I'm grateful for how open my heart is. For how I am not afraid. I'm especially grateful for the coming blessings...

The ability to smile, to laugh. Most of all I'm grateful for love, the ability to love is everything, being loved is everything.

The sky is washed with clear light, it's going to be another stunningly beautiful day.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

To post or not to post?

Well, sending you to my website to read the first 11 pages was perhaps daunting, and who has the time? Many thanks to Jean and Laurieglynn for their very helpful comments! This section, from page 99, is perhaps not polished enough, and probably way too long to post as a blog entry. I'm not sure if I should leave it up or pull it. It's about the vast field of interconnections between us all and the many small miracles that happen continually in our lives. I think this section might be central to the theme of my novella-in-progress, The Move. It's perhaps a more theoretic section, and I think it has, I dunno, perhaps too Buddhist an edge to it (all that talk of no arrogance, although I don't actually say non attachment) that I have to scrub and polish out (it's non demoninational, though may have an underlying Buddhist philosophy, oh, heck, that's where I've learnt the most spiritually), and this section is in the midst of sections that are about happenings, events and that illustrate this way of describing gifts, coincidences, small miracles...


Strange luck, strange turns of events, strange eddies in the currents of time, like strange physics particles cohering in unexpected formations, were occurring in ways incongruent to the laws of cause and effect. The energy of a system wasn’t contained in the rationality of its whole, nor in the logical sum of its parts, not all of it. Perhaps there are pockets of other dimensions in this one, oscillating at even higher frequencies. Something like intersecting fields of frequencies crossing each other at nodal points where the pattern of events could take a different turn. Sometimes the fabric of space and time stretched, buckled, spread, allowed. Places where the light trickled richly and pooled. Where the visions were strongest. Where visions could become realized. Contact points where creative poolings occurred out of which magic arose as if from the mists which swirl over the waters of the deep. If you were in one of those places somehow things spawned. Cornucopias of wishes came true. Effortlessly; if you applied effort, or attempted to arrogate the processes, became arrogant, the entryway shut down, closed, moved elsewhere. These were gifts that only appeared through a process of gifting. It was not a doctrine, or definable by any system, religious, scientific or otherwise.

No-one could claim to own or control this process of interconnections. Patents couldn’t be taken out on it. It’s a network that’s larger than the continuum we think we exist in. It intersects with the space-time continuum of cause and effect. It enables crucial connections to be made.

Whether you call it co-incidence or the guidance of angels, it doesn’t matter.

What you did when a desire and its fulfillment intersected was up to you. What you want will appear, but it might not be what you wanted after all, or perhaps you didn’t recognize it as the fruition of your wishes, or perhaps the lapse between its appearance and your recognition was long enough to lose it. It’s important to be open to possibilities.

That’s where the sudden lightning flash of illumination will appear, as a possibility.

Finding what she was looking for, accidentally, wherever, happened so often she didn’t doubt the existence of a set of connections between us all that appear beyond the accepted communication channels. Finding what you were looking for, what you wished for, was no stranger than seeing yourself in a mirror, after all. You think you exist, and then you see yourself and it’s always a little strange and somehow magical that you are here at all.

As she sipped her hot, aromatic Earl Grey tea, its sweetness on her tongue, she continued to follow her train of thought. She wondered if trying to map this process, even poetically, would scare it away. Like psychic phenomenon, it was resistant to testing. Wish fulfillment was perhaps akin to hitting the jackpot, it would happen, but no-one could predict when or how much or who would be the winner. Only, we were all winners all the time, it was just a matter or recognizing that what you were asking for is being given to you.

For the co-ordinates of this larger system of connections to key in to your mental arena, your flux of thoughts and emotions, there has to be a real need. It doesn’t happen on a whim. It doesn’t happen if you don’t really need it. If you’re fine without what you think you want, then you won’t find anything. If you’re frustrated and finding things difficult and such and such a thing will help, then you will find it. When you’ve forgotten about it. Like magic. That’s the way it happens.

It happens and you can’t make it happen, but you cause it to happen, and when it does it seems like a small miracle.

The book of life is a book of miracles.

It is not about the suspension or violation of the laws of nature. It is about an added bonus to the stability of the world. Something that brings what is desired without shaking the foundations of your life. Parachuted in. Added to. Offered. Gifted. In the immediacy of the moment. As is. Without artifice, exploitation, ulterior motive, in the purity of the present.

It cannot be reduced to the normal processes of communication, or of the market of goods that flow back and forth. But it is a give and take. A call and a response. An offering of gifts to each other.

You will find what you are looking for if you stop looking for it; but first you have to want it, deeply.

It’s not that the energy is freed once you stop wanting, stop thinking about it, stop looking, though that is one way to teach yourself to let go. It’s like desire reaches a fevered pitch and spills over into a silence so rich it spawns whatever was being sought until it is shining before you. It’s a process of love. When you find what you are looking for, you feel profoundly loved.

The small miracles are to remind you that you are loved.

©2005 Brenda Clews

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

NaNoWriMo?! Oooh, yes, & now the work begins...

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Okay, so the word count is 50627 by NaNoWriMo's unofficial count. Have I been writing up a storm? Nah. Oh, I've been sweating it, you have NO idea; I've been working with feverish incessant continuity, yes. I've been eating and sleeping this book. Lots of new writing, and lots of old writing. It's autobiographical in the 3rd person, go figure, and interweaves life and fiction, and so I've included many blog entries and emails as I tell the story of the last 8 months of my life. It's all been done in little blocks of writing that criss-cross each other, resonate against each other, dissent or assent, unfolding a story through events and metaphoric and symbolic images. There is huge, mungo HUGE editing to do. It all has to flow with a poetic voice, and that's not easy to create and maintain. I've got to put connectives in, discipline the narratorial voice into a consistent level, add the philosophical dimension of ambiguity and unknowingness while remaining grounded in love and trust, all that. I've done some of the editing/rewriting, buried under my hat wearing tiny spectacles on buses, subways, at the park while my dog wanders freely and without supervision to nibble leftovers on the grass, even in steaming water by the candle light of a dozen tiny tea lights spread along the side of the bathtub, and am satisfied with what's happening, but I have more sleepless weeks ahead of me ironing out this dance pagaent of uncertainties! I've made the word count, yes; I have a single-spaced 130 page manuscript that I didn't have before to work on. That's something to razzamatazz about, for sure. And that, my friends, is what NaNoWriMo is ultimately all about...

Monday, November 21, 2005

Has there been a breakdown of morality this century?

From an article in Arts & Letters today:

Whitney Harris: I am totally convinced that Adolf Hitler was only a name that symbolized the absolute and worldwide breakdown of morality in the 20th century. It started in 1914 with World War I when everyone killed everyone and no moral standards remained. Revenge was the order of the day and any excuse was permissible. And afterwards? What did the communists do in Russia? And the Japanese in China?

Sixty years ago on Sunday, the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial got under way to bring leading Nazis to justice. Whitney Harris was one of the principle figures for the prosecution.

Read the interview, "I Hadn't the Slightest Idea of the Scale of Genocide."

The other day I met an old aquantaince in the park. We were both walking our dogs; there was a light dusting of snow; I recognized her, even in her ankle length wool coat, by her handmade felt hat. Her son had taken a year off between high school and university and with some money he inherited travelled in Europe where he had many wonderful adventures. In Italy, however, he met a man at a train station who offered to buy him a coffee. When he came to, he realized he'd been raped. The man had put drugs into the coffee and taken him back to his apartment. The woman and her son met in Switzerland later that day, as they had planned, and when his mother found out what happened she went berserk, took him to the hospital for tests, and has helped him in every way she could to cope with this violation. She attributes the degree of callousness and usury of those who victimize others to the general breakdown of morality world-wide. Who can disagree?

Here is a riveting first-hand account of a survivor of the London Tube Bombings earlier this year: Rachael from North London, in a post entitled, Well, I watched the documentary. She writes extraordinarily well and with a poet's sensibility. To read an account like hers is unforgettable; it changes you, your understanding.

Is a lack of morality the main, fundamental, biggest underlying problem in the world today? Is that what causes such widescale violence and terrorism? Has there in fact been a breakdown of morality this century?
_____________________

Widespread atrocities are not a unique phenonema to the 20th c at all; they go back to earliest recorded history with the invasions of the Indo-Europeans in the Ancient Middle East up to genocides like Rwanda. The only difference in this century is the deadliness of the weaponry and the scale of devastation made possible by our technology. The idea of imposing a morality could potentially become another type of "oppression." It's perhaps impossible to fathom a solution to the irrationality of violence other than to keep working at understanding it, and trying to prevent it.

I don't believe in absolute forces of good and evil; but I do think that there is a malaise, a death-wish, a despair underlying violence that musn't be succumbed to - that it's important to keep fighting that dissolution in our own lives, our little plots, in our own ways, through understanding, and through wanting other, safer alternatives in ours and everyone's lives.

Aggression is part of the human spirit. It's not going to go away. But there can be refusal to do things that are deliberately harmful to others, to be conscientious objectors.

This really is a huge topic...

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

On the problem of concepts of equality...

The central problem with the concept of equality is that it presupposes a unitary subject to which all other subjects must adhere. If that prime subject is a white, upper middle class male, as it is in Western European culture, then we can see it is extremely problematic for women and those from so-called 'minority' groups. Women, for instance, have babies. This makes women, and women's issues and needs, fundamentally different to that of the unitary male subject which underlies the notion of equality. It also makes the diverse needs of ethnic peoples problematic. If we are all to be the same, how can we celebrate our differences? Personally I favour Parity over Equality, parity being a system that allows equality in difference, that recognizes and respects difference, sexual difference being a fundamental aspect socially and which, under Equality Theory, prevents a woman from attaining true equality with her male co-workers, but under a political system of Parity would give cognizance to her potential needs as a mother should she wish to become one and remain in the work force. Parity in France has not only given women a legislated 50% entry at the political candidate registration level of politics, but enabled women to receive up to 2 years of maternal leave with benefits and a promise of a return to a job at the same level as she left. It may not be an ultimate solution to the difficulties a "two sex" world gives, nor to the problem of how to democratically define the concept of what a 'subject' of the state is, but it is somewhat better than that afforded by the essentially "one sex" model of equality. Reproductive issues are hugely problematic for equality theorists, and perhaps you can now understand a little of why...

________________
I realize Parity hasn't worked all that well in France, vis-a-vis the riots over girls wearing headscarves in the classroom (where I see a unitary notion of the 'non-religious' subject operating), behind which is intolerance towards religious difference and discrimination, and a whole host of other problems in the Islamic groups in question, with high unemployment, etc. Or perhaps I'm seeing in it the same problem that Equality presents generally. This is the area which, when I start thinking about it, goes around and around in my head like a record stuck on one huge glitch...

Monday, November 14, 2005

From my current NaNoWriMo project, "The Move."

From my current NaNoWriMo project, "The Move."

AUDIO recording...(4:28min) I am rather 'melancholic' at the moment, and recorded this 4 times, eventually going with the first practice session... Oh, and I've used one of my own photographs too.

Lo-fi: Uncertainty…
Hi-fi: Uncertainty…
____________________________________________________________________
This is rather intense, but I can live with it (isn't that ultimately the only criteria?). The character is at a low point in the turning...


In the uncertainty of every moment, where the fragile knowing rests on unknowing, how do we push through the collisions of the days? The overwhelming propensity of the world bears in on us. It is vast and unfathomable and mysterious and yet we must. Go into the darknesses and wrestle with the disappearing light, call the dancing angel back, carry what is ethereal and impossible to grasp. Is it always a question of light, bringing ourselves to consciousness? Of evolving into who we are. And of healing the splits, the wounds, the places where the shredding, that couldn’t. How to move from a state of deliquescence to the harmony of integration. Where the ground of being is apparent. When integration itself is only a process that is superceded by chaos, and another integration. Unless it all falls apart, that is. It is always falling apart and always staying together. Living without a shell burns.

Without defenses, without well worn responses, without any agendas to trick meaning or at least a coherency, what then? Crawling like an amoeba without the skin of its cell? Guts spill out. The nucleus is torn from its sacred sac. What is inside splayed over the field of vision. She may not carry the sack of herself like baggage across the landscape of firings and dangers and meltings of what encloses and keeps us safe.

Was any day easier than the one before? Implosions were going off in her mind at infrequent intervals. Memories were raping, denuding, leaving her breathless and torn. Her insides hurt. Her breath rasped and hurt. Perhaps anger was sliding through her brain cells like dark wisps of perturbations, little halcyons and tornadoes, jumbling up the past with the present, living in a storm.

It hurt, wet leaves on skin, where the green veins knit into her hand. “Bury us in the dung of light,” says Celan. Who she meets in the underworld, where it is growing over. I didn’t lose any in the crematoriums, but I am lost, hold me tight, Yorick, whose skull, a soliloquy in Hamlet’s vine entangled palm. The lifeline sparking.

Yet the sky was blindingly bright; the sun a combustion of blessings in the sky pouring benediction over her as she stood in its golden raiment. Last night the moon had yanked her from her enclosed thoughts and she saw how she was akin to insects crawling indeterminately over the globe that the moon shines indiscriminately on constantly. She and Kafka sang. Of trials and metamorphoses. The air windy, crisp and perfect for those shuttling like the Autumn leaves down the dark alley of fences and motion detector lights behind the houses that are rooted to the earth in their basements.

The days were falling on themselves. Diurnally turning day into night into day. Can this be the rhythm of the rising and falling, of the coming together and the splitting apart, of the fearless fathoming of the insouciant depths. Where the eyes blaze.

In a fury of love.

©2005 Brenda Clews

In the Uncertainty of Every Moment

From my current NaNoWriMo project, "Parchment of Roses."

AUDIO recording...(4:28min)

Lo-fi: Uncertainty…
Hi-fi: Uncertainty…
____________________________________________________________________
The character is at a low point in the turning...


In the uncertainty of every moment, where the fragile knowing rests on unknowing, how do we push through the collisions of the days? The overwhelming propensity of the world bears in on us. It is vast and unfathomable and mysterious and yet we must. Go into the darknesses and wrestle with the disappearing light, call the dancing angel back, carry what is ethereal and impossible to grasp. Is it always a question of light, bringing ourselves to consciousness? Of evolving into who we are. And of healing the splits, the wounds, the places where the shredding, that couldn’t. How to move from a state of deliquescence to the harmony of integration. Where the ground of being is apparent. When integration itself is only a process that is superceded by chaos, and another integration. Unless it all falls apart, that is. It is always falling apart and always staying together. Living without a shell burns.

Without defenses, without well worn responses, without any agendas to trick meaning or at least a coherency, what then? Crawling like an amoeba without the skin of its cell? Guts spill out. The nucleus is torn from its sacred sac. What is inside splayed over the field of vision. She may not carry the sack of herself like baggage across the landscape of firings and dangers and meltings of what encloses and keeps us safe.

Was any day easier than the one before? Implosions were going off in her mind at infrequent intervals. Memories were raping, denuding, leaving her breathless and torn. Her insides hurt. Her breath rasped and hurt. Perhaps anger was sliding through her brain cells like dark wisps of perturbations, little halcyons and tornadoes, jumbling up the past with the present, living in a storm.

It hurt, wet leaves on skin, where the green veins knit into her hand. “Bury us in the dung of light,” says Celan. Who she meets in the underworld, where it is growing over. I didn’t lose any in the crematoriums, but I am lost, hold me tight, Yorick, whose skull, a soliloquy in Hamlet’s vine entangled palm. The lifeline sparking.

Yet the sky was blindingly bright; the sun a combustion of blessings in the sky pouring benediction over her as she stood in its golden raiment. Last night the moon had yanked her from her enclosed thoughts and she saw how she was akin to insects crawling indeterminately over the globe that the moon shines indiscriminately on constantly. She and Kafka sang. Of trials and metamorphoses. The air windy, crisp and perfect for those shuttling like the Autumn leaves down the dark alley of fences and motion detector lights behind the houses that are rooted to the earth in their basements.

The days were falling on themselves. Diurnally turning day into night into day. Can this be the rhythm of the rising and falling, of the coming together and the splitting apart, of the fearless fathoming of the insouciant depths. Where the eyes blaze.

In a fury of love.
©2005 Brenda Clews

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Self-portrait on the edge of

I'm not sure whether to post this photopoem, its extreme Hamlet-like self-referentiality. When did I compose it? Maybe a month ago? When Kyra, my daughter, saw the photopoem where it is reproduced twice, she told me it was an awful picture of me, that it didn't look like me at all, that if she'd seen it she would never have guessed it was her mother, and absolutely not to post it. The eyes, yes, she she said that was the only part that looked like me. Take that off the computer screen, she said. My fierce little editor....

Yet, on this rainy cold and broke day, I return to it, wondering. My manuscript is being written, yes, the artist is alive, so is the mother, but for how long without a job? This portrait was composed on the edge of.

Even I don't know who that woman is. Even I have never seen her before. She must be a literary figment...












It clicks to a larger and readable size, but you probably already know that...

Which is not large enough for some readers, oh Blogger.

Here is the text:

Self Portrait/Photopoem, Brenda Clews 2005 (self-reflexivity, the self produced in collision/collusion with the self)

[images here]

Is this the colour of the edge, where the light, eyes that, where it pours over, at the moment of, disappearing, that clarity, an obfuscated truth, the face, its waxy quality of lotus cream-colours, burnt auburn waves, emblazoning, meditating with open eyes, the gaze, un/self/conscious, always I take self-portraits on the edge of possible devastation, needing to see who I am... [the last 3 words bleeding into the larger portrait]


Bravely, or maybe secretively (since she's at school, the sweetie), I'm posting this as an echo to, some sort of personal response to, Jean's post on works the National Gallery in London on Self-Portraits; and Richard's post on Self-Portrait with photons in tandem with Jean's. Perhaps...that is; or perhaps those posts reminded me of this one buried in my hard drive.

How to fathom...

From The Move, my current writing project...

How to fathom the poetic metaphors of our lives? Where does art come from? What layers of our being do images arise out of? And how do they reveal our lives in their unfolding, and in what ways are they prophetic? It seems as if we already know the truths of our interactions with each other, and she is not sure how that is.

Her life was an artwork where a collection of images had clung to her.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Aviator blessed as Shefi, butterfly spirit...

A Mazahua Indian chief, "Margarito Sánchez Valdez, bathed the aviator in incense, wreathed his neck with marigolds and blessed him in the name of Shefi, a butterfly spirit, and Mysyohimi, the Mazahua's supreme deity."

The journey began "on Sept. 6, when Mr. Gutiérrez flew his ultralight, Papalotzin, an indigenous word for the monarch, over Niagara Falls with a cloud of butterflies beneath him."

From there he "traveled more than 4,375 miles from Montreal to Michoacán State, following the butterflies at low altitude. He logged more than 90 hours of flying over 72 days." Last Thursday, "Mr. Gutiérrez wheeled his ultralight plane painted like a monarch over the butterfly sanctuary...and brought it swooping in to land on a stretch of mountain highway."

His extraordinary journey made to publicize the plight of Monarch butterflies, who are vastly thinning in numbers, whose future as a species is precarious.

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NYTimes Article: To Save Endangered Butterfly, Become a Butterfly, by James C. McKinley Jr.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Photos my daughter took today...

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My daughter's into the digital camera (finally)... here's a merge of moi, from this afternoon, now how self indulgent is that? Nothing like those rich carpets of gold leaves... we are in an older neighbourhood with many beautiful trees, they are massive and wise and soothing, and often I reach out and touch their trunks, the knotted bark, and caress leaves as I pass by...
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All images ©2005 Kyra Clews

A NaNoWriMo month...

NaNoWriMo Progress MeterIf anyone doing NaNoWriMo this year would like one of these nifty counters for their website - I've put mine in my banner - go here: National Novel Writing Month Progress Meter. Last year I swear seeing the little pointer move incrementally around the dial kept me going until I jubilantly huffed across the finish line with 50,000 words on the last day... (this from a woman who's got many unfinished manuscripts littered about, pieces here and there, until, that is, NaNoWriMo, a marathon writing month when you join in with tens of thousands of other insane writers around the world and convince your muse to take the worded trek, and to travel with you, offering you ambrosia and nectar and good kicks in the butt when needed, writing a first draft of a book of novella length by the end of the month)...

Friday, November 04, 2005

Our Doggie...



Our dog, Keesha, taken today by my daughter (who doesn't like digital cameras, prefering the SLR, but, oh, Keesha was so cute...)




























A writer's dog?... flaked out after a day of heavy writing? You can see our minimal conditions at present: yes, that is my desk, which is also my couch, and my bed (shhh, it's actually very comfortable).

Keesha is a purebred Springer Spaniel, not the show dog though, the one bred for hunters. She's very domesticated. Very cuddly, sleeps mostly, loves any kind of treat, dog treats, people treats, droppings from cats (where she keeps small children's sandboxes in the park clean to my discomfort), organic recycling bins, bones, and sticks are good to chew too. She never walks anywhere, but pulls whoever's walking her (usually me) like I was a toboggan and she was a sled dog. When she's off leash, which is mostly if we're not crossing too many roads, she races from house to house, or field to field, or bush to bush, sniffing and exploring. She's got it figured out in the park socially too, running over to the owners of other dogs to get a pat from them first, before playing with the dog, and usually even dogs that don't like other dogs like her. If a bunch of children come running or walking towards her she barks at them, mostly because they scare her. She'd never bite anyone, and wags her tail like she's auditioning for competing with windmills for making electricity when patted. She's been somewhat of a barker ever since Ralph in Grange Park though, Ralph was a barker, and Ralph's owner & I liked to talk, so we'd move away from them, and they'd keep happily barking for maybe an hour, and we'd laugh and chat ourselves (she was trying to get pregnant by her fireman ex-boyfriend at the time, who lived in another city and would arrive ready for the task, alas, she didn't beget). After she moved out West, Keesha kept barking, looking for another Ralph... which can be annoying, let me tell you. Lately she's abated a bit; maybe, finally, she's forgetting the fun she & Ralph had letting loose with their vocal chords. She's 5 years old. She has limited so many rental options for us, but we'd never give her up. Who else would there be to talk about stuff with? Any stuff, she doesn't mind. Who else is always there at 3 am when you're stressed and can't sleep and need a hug? She's smart enough to recognize a good number of words, follows me around like a loving toddler, is funny, sweet, adorable, and only occasionally irritating... she's actually taught me much about unconditional loving, holding still, being present. I couldn't imagine a life without animals...

3 - BOD (Book of the Dead), continuing the story...

Posting some sections of my NaNoWriMo novel, BOD (Book of the Dead) from last year. This time I'm including a little of the narrative of the woman's day-to-day life...


She checked the phone, and there was a message. It was from Jarret, "Hi, something's come up. I'm putting the children on the train. They have enough money for a taxi, so don't worry. They should be home around 6. I'll be back later, maybe tomorrow."

Nothing more, no explanation of why he wasn't coming home. She felt herself crumbling and began to cry. Why did women always cry when they felt overwhelmed or helpless? She cried deeply for a long time. It helped to release the tension inside. Where was her husband? Was the woman who had answered the phone really with him that morning? She sounded like a one night stand, since she didn't seem to know the name of the man she was with. Could it really have been her husband?

It was nearly six o'clock. She went to the bathroom and washed her face. She put on some lipstick. She smoothed her dark curly hair back. She tried to look like she might normally. She heard the key turn in the door and went to it to greet her children.

"Hi Mom," they each said as they dumped their bags on the floor.

"Hi my honeys, how was your trip?"

"Great," they both mumbled and headed off in different directions, one to the kitchen, one to the bathroom. She heard a bath being poured. In the kitchen, her son was opening a bag of chips and holding a can of pop.

"Hey, it's dinner time, not snack time. Let's get pizza tonight."

"Ok, Ma," he munched as he talked. "Oh, yeah, Dad said to tell you he met a business contact and decided to arrange a meeting. They couldn't meet until tomorrow or something. He'll call later. He'll be home tomorrow night probably."

"Oh. He left such a short message I didn't understand what had happened. What," she said, changing the subject, "would you like on the pizza?"

"Everything."

She dialed the number of the pizza house, ordered, and went upstairs to her computer. Sitting there, mystified at the events of the day, she called her friend, Taim, and left a message asking to meet her for lunch the next day.

It was a quiet evening. She spent it sitting in the semi darkness of her office meditating.
.

Bones were certainly interesting. Within the organism, they provided the structure, the underpinning, the foundation that held the body together. Bones were living and were crucial. Yet to hold a bone, they never felt so important, so central, but light, almost too airy. They are what is most hidden, except for the teeth, and so to hold a human bone was a strange experience. To hold it knowing it was a thigh bone, of someone who died there. That this was all that remained.

Only our bones are left in the corridors of time that we have passed through, rattling on the floors…

Even our bones return to the soil, are ground up in the recycling of time, they just take longer.

It was a few days later, when the Police Station phoned and asked for her.

“Yes, it’s Shona Leicht.”

“M’am, you found the site where the bones lay?”

“In the cemetery, yes. Do you know who it was? Was it a woman? Or a man? It quite frightened me.”

“Well, the thing is, m’am, our department took a look at them, ran a few tests, and they seem to be quite old.”

“You mean they were there a long time? Can you trace them back to anyone missing?”

“Our department says there are a few more tests to make sure, but the bones appear to be at least one hundred to one hundred and fity years old.”

“What?”

“That’s what I got written here. Seemed in good shape for bein’ that old to me.”

“That is very strange indeed, officer. Could there be a mistake?”

“Well, as I said, there’re a couple more tests, but it looks like they’re from maybe 1850 or 1900. Could’a been a pioneer even. Who knows.”

“Male or female.” She was trying to keep her voice steady.

“Female, older though, post-menopausal, cause there’s some osteoporosis around the hip joints.”

“Is there any indication of the cause of death, officer?”

“Funny you ask. I was asking our guy in Forensics, and he said there was nothing to indicate the cause of death, except maybe freezing.”

“Oh!”

“Sorry, m’am?”

“Officer, I would like to give the bones of this woman a proper burial, and would like to know if I may have them? Or if I make arrangements at the funeral home, if they can be sent there for interment?”

“Don’t see a problem with that, if that’s what you want to do, m’am. I’ll have to get my supervisor’s signature, that’s all.”

“Should I pick them up? Or will you take them over?”

“We can take them over to the funeral home. It’s time to go out on patrol anyway.”

“Okay, I’ll call them. Thank you, officer.”

Then she called the funeral home and explained that the police would be by shortly with some bones that she had found in an unused and old part of the cemetery, and that she wanted to bury them properly. After some discussion, she chose a standard package, a single plot, the lower of a double depth grave, a vault and a simple coffin, and a simple marble slab on which they would engrave, "An unknown woman, who froze to death in 1850, in honour.” She said she would be there within the hour to pay for the burial. It was agreed that the burial would take place the next day in the morning.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

2 - BOD (Book of the Dead), continuing the story...

Posting some sections of my NaNoWriMo novel, BOD (Book of the Dead) from last year. Some other things happen between what I posted yesterday and the continuation of the story here which leave her rather frazzled, one of which is a 'crank caller'...


The phone rang again, and absent-mindedly she answered it. “I have been trying to reach you for hours,” said a deep male voice. The connection wasn’t good and there was static on the line.
“What do you want? Why are you calling me?”
“I wanted to tell you that there is a body in the graveyard, in an old and untended section…”
She hung up the phone and began screaming, loudly, hoarsely, and then sobbing. When it rang again, she picked it up slowly, “What do you want?!”
“To tell you that it wasn’t a dream. An old, homeless woman died in the cemetery where you worked. Her body is still there. You must find it and give her a proper burial.”
The line went dead. Shona shivered deeply. She felt suddenly cold, a sense of dread overcoming her. If it were true, did she cause the old woman’s death by dreaming it? Or did she somehow tune into the experience? Why did she dream of a homeless woman freezing to death alone in an old cemetery and now she has been told by an anonymous caller that there is, in fact, such a body. She dressed quickly, locked the door behind her, got into her car and drove to the cemetery.

She passed shops and houses and parks on the way, and people walking on the sidewalks, driving in cars, in the buses, it seemed surreal this morning, this world, its activity, like ants in an anthill, carrying on our tasks, day after day, keeping everything going. Yet there was a spark, something indefinable, a joy to the whole moving, buzzing, profound venture that life is. She felt a tension between her angst and that joy as she sped towards the cemetery, parked, got out of her car, stood, began looking in all the directions, trying to sense which way to go.

Pulling her coat tightly around her, she began walking towards a forested area, in the far corner; it took three quarters of an hour to reach the copses of trees. The area was overgrown, unkept, had reverted back to wilderness. If there were gravestones, they had crumbled over time. She was moving through tall grasses, whitened with the frosting of the night before, for Winter was setting in early, and brushing her feet along the ground, looking for remnants of gravestones. She wasn't sure that this was part of the cemetery anymore. Her foot hit something, and she leaned down to look, but it was only a field stone. She kept walking. She closed her eyes, seeing if following an inclination other than sight might help. She walked, the day was warm, and she puzzled over the dream, since the woman had frozen to death. Her nostrils filled with an indescribable smell, not of decomposition, but something faintly perfumed, and she opened her eyes.

Before her was a white gravestone, buried in the underbrush, half of it crumbled, and she leaned down and felt it with her fingers. She drew back, it had the feel she recalled from her dream. For awhile she simply stood, her eyes shut, swaying in the morning breeze, her mind silent, poised for what was coming next. When she felt ready she opened them and walked to the other side of the gravestone, looking for the body.

There was nothing. Only tall grasses bending under their own weight. Now what? She walked around the area, looking, but not wanting to look. It was difficult. Her foot touched something hard and she bent down to see what it was and saw a whiteness and found herself becoming dizzy.

Her fingers reached for it. She touched it, feeling the smooth calicified length. She picked it up. As she held it, a life came swirling back to her. The burden of a life came swirling into her heart and mind. She felt overwhelmed by the tragedy of this life, its loss, its loneliness, its abandonment. This person had lost everything, and died here, without anyone knowing or caring. What if it were the goddess herself whose bones had lain here for an eternity, awaiting care? Wasn't even an old and ill homeless woman a goddess? Worthy of dignity at death? She stood in the cold wind and felt anger rise in her chest. "I am here now!" she shouted defiantly to the sky and the trees and the birds and the animals hidden in the leaves and in the forest, but she was speaking to a whole culture that left its old and ill and lonely to die in such ways. "You will be buried properly!"

She turned, with the bone in her hand, and walked back to her car. She drove to the nearest police station and walked in and placed the bone on the counter and said to the officer on duty, "I found this in the cemetery, in an old part. It is obviously human. Can you run a check on it, and please let me take the police to where I found it."

The officer looked at her suspiciously. He reached under the counter for a clipboard and some forms. They went into a small office, and he wrote down everything she told him about going for a walk in the cemetery and finding the bone in an obscure and overgrown corner.

After he had finished taking her statement, he left the room, and returned with two other policemen. The funeral home had been alerted and the manager of the grounds was waiting for them when they arrived. She led the small troup of men across the fields of gravestones towards the forest; at the edge of the wall of trees, she pointed to the gravestone in the underbrush and said that was where she had tripped on the bone.

The police cordoned off the area and began carefully searching. After a couple of hours of watching them scour the area, finding bones and carefully placing them in marked bags, she decided to go home. They said they would call her as soon as they learnt anything about the remains.

At home, she lay down, dizzy and exhausted. The scene was still swirling in her mind, as was her dream of a few nights ago. It was so real as to be surreal. Everything made sense, and nothing made sense. She was confused and yet it seemed as if everything was perfectly sensible. She couldn't encompass the fear and relief she felt at finding, not a dead woman, as she had expected, but calcified bones. She wondered what the forensic department would uncover about her death.