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low on words, so I've brought pictures.

sumi
Some time ago I was saying that, due to the alchemical combination of southern exposure, a metal door, and a glass door over that, I have a tiny space that gets tremendously hot, even on the coldest of days. cecile_c suggested I try using it for drying herbs. I did, and it worked:

basil
DSCN5071
Now I'm going to try drying a few cranberries:
DSCN5134


Unrelatedly, the semi-tattered morning glories of yesterday, rain spattered:

DSCN5131DSCN5133

And here are some dandelions I drew for Little Springtime

dandelions

And you see my crow icon? duccio drew that. He sent it with a message in a bottle :-)


A message-in-a-bottle story

feathers on the line
This has been an amazing week for messages in bottles. I don't tend to post them here, but I had to share this most recent one because the recipient of the message has the same name (Kaya) as the recipient of the message in Pen Pal.

In Maui, Hawaii, a girl named Safina put an invitation to her birthday party, along with a little lei, into a bottle, and set it afloat. Four years later, it was found by David Wilson and his family--including 10-year-old Kaya--on Shell Beach in California. A huge wave came up and stole his sandal, but gave him the message.

Fair trade, right?

Alas, the phone numbers included in the message no longer work, so there's no way, right now, for Kaya to communicate with Safina. But the local news stations in California are going to try to find her. Here's hoping.

More on the story, including a short video, here.

Safina's message (image taken from another local news station's video)
Safina message

Rebecca Solnit--Making and Breaking Stories

feathers on the line






The other day, I caught the tail end of a lecture that Rebecca Solnit (apparently an award-winning essayist and environmental historian, though I'm not familiar with her) gave in Seattle earlier this year. It was broadcast by Alternative Radio. These words had me transfixed--I was trying to commit them to memory, and they were coming too fast, so I bought the transcript. I'm hoping that this small quotation is fair use and not an infringement:

Something wonderful happens to you, and you instantly look back over your life and see it as a series of fortunate events stretching off into the distance like mountain peaks. Something terrible happens and your life has always been a litany of woe. The present rearranges the past. We never tell the story whole because a life isn’t a story; it’s a whole milky way of events, and we’re forever picking out constellations from it to suit who and where we are ...

Musselwhite saved his life by caring deeply enough, Smith by telling it in a way that made someone else care, or at least hesitate, and by being yanked from the grip of her own troubles by the intensity of that ordeal.

I tell stories for a living, where I dismantle and break them and tell them otherwise. But never forget that you are also a storyteller. That we live in stories the way fish swim in water. That we choose our stories, if we can see them. That we are made of stories, and this can be a blessing or a curse, and is usually both at once as our lives unfold. Choose your stories carefully. Listen to what has been silenced. Learn to see the invisible.1

The earlier portion of the essay touches on all sorts of things, but always with the theme of how the story has been told and how it can be reinterpreted to show new truths--touching on the nuclear era ("though we imagine nulear war as a terrible thing that might happen someday in the future, it was going on regularly, routinely, at the rate of a nuclear bomb explosion a month or so, between 1951 and 1991"), the war against native peoples in North America, how mass shootings are reported. Those are all cases where a comforting narrative is displaced by a more stark one, but she also talks about how a negative story can be replaced by a more positive one: how people's response to natural disaster is not the Hollywood portrayal of panic and chaos, that in fact "not only do people do this work that needs to be done of rescuing people, making community kitchens, improvising shelters, looking after orphans and injured people . . . but they love it, they take great pleasure in it, they find great meaning in it."

But it's the last part of the essay--the two stories leading up to the quote I give above, that I loved best, the story of two people who changed their own story, and thereby saved their lives.

1Rebecca Solnit, "Making and Breaking Stories," lecture given June 5, 2014, in Seattle, WA, available through the Alternative Radio website.

pictures before words

autumn source







I have a word-ful post for you later, but first pictures.

It's distractingly beautiful out my window:

DSCN5125

And did you ever wonder what a kitchen floor would look like if someone spilled cranberries over it? Here is the answer:

DSCN5127

I think I see constellations in there. Con-cranberry-lations.


Em reading






Did you know the United Nations issues its own stamps? It does. Initially they were only in US currency and sold only at UN headquarters in New York. The first was sold on United Nations day (24 October) in 1951. Now they're also issued in euros and Swiss currency in the UN's Vienna and Geneva offices.

Human rights, the environment, endangered species and peace are all subjects of universal concern to the peoples of the world. They are also subjects which the United Nations Postal Administration (UNPA) has promoted on its stamps.

Because United Nations stamps reflect the work of the world Organization, the stamps extend beyond the boundaries of philately to draw attention to significant world problems and to serve as a reminder of the UN’s commitment to its goals.

The United Nations is the only organization in the world which is neither a country nor a territory that is permitted to issue postage stamps. It is also the only postal authority to issue stamps in three different currencies, namely U.S. dollars, Swiss francs and Euro.

And I have one! Here it is; I've scanned it.
(It's not on a subject of universal concern, but world treasures are good subjects for stamps, too.)
what the heck


I also have two stories about messages in bottles. One is about a fisherman from Iceland: as a boy, collecting eggs, he put a message in a bottle into the bay. Nineteen years later, as a man collecting eiderdown (from eggs to eiderdown), he found the same bottle, some seven miles from its original location. (Story here.)

The other is about a really cool-seeming guy, Chad Pregracke,, founder of Living Lands and Waters, who has a mission to clean up the great rivers of the United States. He's got a collection of about 70 bottles, which he says have contained all sorts of things--messages to departed loved ones, musical scores, dollar bills, even suicide notes. (Story here.)

One of Chad's bottles, containing a photo of Bill Clinton. Photo by Erica Peterson
IMG_3115


(I added them to the messages-in-bottles page on the Pen Pal website.)


weekend encounters, treasures

autumn source
I had a lovely time with sartorias this past weekend, a consequence of which is that I haven't been online much at all, and may only slowly catch up with people's entries.

sartorias brought me cactus candy--and cactus honey--and cactus marmalade! All delicious. I AM HAPPY TO EAT CACTUS!

And she taught me some yoga, and it was so right and good, it made me cry a little.

you were always nice to meCollapse )

chestnuts and horse chestnutsCollapse )

Some treasures: in the pocket of my sweater are silvery mica and white marble from my walk in Holland Glen, back on Saturday. And on the dashboard of the car is a milkweed pod, spilling milkweed seeds--ballet dancers in long white skirts, like in Fantasia--a Swan Lake corps de ballet. More anon. Work calls--not to mention everyone's blogs! I'll get there, friends.


Faerie

greenwood
I'll be offline for a while again this weekend, so let me offer you a walk through faerie--comments off, so when next we meet, I can start with a clean (ish) slate . . .

the green of autumn

light at the head of the river

autumn path

waterfall

golden

October 2: On this day in Pen Pal

Kaya
On this day in Pen Pal, Kaya wrote to Em and told her it was too dangerous to continue the correspondence--from this point, the story enters a new stage. There won't be more posts between now and the day the story ends, but at the end I have an idea for a special post. And I might post something between then and now, if something occurs to me.

Meanwhile, here are neither lava nor waves, and yet it might be both:

DSCN5090


The crest of the wave, on fire

Sky Ocean 3
It's not foam on the crests of the waves in the sky ocean tonight: it's fire. White-hot fire licking the edge of the long wave as it breaks on . . . what shores do the sky waves break on?

the crest of the wave afire



Alterations and transformations

nevermore
Editor John Benson calls issue 52 of Not One of Us the alternative issue. Things aren't as they seem, or get overwritten or undone, there are shatterings and fires and renewals. I love the attention John has paid to what goes where--which poems go together, and before or after which stories, and which stories abut.

I'm self-interested in writing about this issue, because I have a story in it--and truly, I wanted to write about issue 51, which has a beautifully creepy story by Mat Joiner in it, and a wonderful-as-usual story by Patricia Russo, not to mention both poetry and prose by Sonya Taaffe, but time got away from me, so it's issue 52 I'll talk about here.

my own storyCollapse )

not one of us 52


I'm very, very happy to be sidling up next to Sonya Taaffe's "Like Milkweed," an achingly beautiful story of loss and hope and mystery: it's all too easy to hope that the human-sized monarch butterflies that started to appear some years ago are souls of the departed, or maybe angels, or maybe aliens, but Alicja does not believe any of those things, and yet when one knocks at her window, in all its golden-orange radiance. . .

And before Sonya's story comes Mat Joiner's poem "The Bryomancer," about a charmer of mosses, molds, and mildews:

The mosses have a love for her;
curl up like fronded hedgehogs and roll into her pack.

It reminds me of this picture of a strange seaweed phenomenon.

Before Mat's poem is the first story in the issue, "Starred Up," by Finn Clark, which features an actual alien encounter . . . if the viewpoint protagonist can trust her perceptions--which a history of mental illness has taught her to interrogate fiercely.

poems: a pyre, a fire, a graveyard, a vowCollapse )

And those images of shadowed, shattered lands provide the perfect lead-in for Patricia Russo's "The Wild and Hungry Times," a story with a desolate setting that touches on bucking destiny, enacting redemption . . . and the impositions (and ridiculousness) of academe. For the last, consider the introduction's discussion of word vaults:

The scarred lords left behind them a reestablished trading network and hundreds of what the next lot called word-vaults. It is believed that this term referred to archives, or possibly schools, or possibly private libraries, or possibly multilingual dictionaries, or possibly stone halls in which epics and sagas and such were chanted or sung. There is approximately an equal amount of evidence to support each of these hypotheses, except the last, which is ludicrous.


two poems and a cyber-taleCollapse )

And the issue closes out with Sonya Taaffe's "The Antiquities of Herculaneum," a vivid ode to volcanic wrath.

If these appeal, you can order a copy from John Benson, and it will come to you in your mailbox--your actual, physical, brick-and-mortar mailbox (except probably your mailbox is not made of brick or mortar)--the ur-mailbox after which your cyber mailbox styles itself.


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