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I saw this odd little scene two days running, a very tiny makeshift stand by the side of the road, a rainbow umbrella, a sign, a cinderblock (and probably a moneybox somewhere, but I didn't notice--I was in a car), so I made a cartoon (?) about it:

Flowers: a flexible term!

This entry was originally posted at https://asakiyume.dreamwidth.org/916414.html. Comments are welcome at either location.

thoughts on the way to the supermarket

I'm going to be away this weekend, when I'd normally post, so I'm putting a little something up now.

... My students this time around (this is the second cohort; the first group graduated in June) like to get me to Google things for them, and I like doing it, but one student asked me for information on stress reduction, and oh man, no quick and cute list of things is going to do it for you, my friend. I was pondering this as I walked to the supermarket this morning. About how easy quick recipes are to give out--and it's not even that they're not accurate, necessarily; yes, deep breaths do help relieve stress--but how insufficient they are. We--by which I mean all of us--need so much more. We don't need a list. We need someone to sit with us, someone to lean on; we need the impossible sometimes, because it's more than the parched world we live in can give to us, let alone any particular person.

But we can make it. Many of us do, day after day, through a patched-together, makeshift system; we make ourselves stronger and also we rely on others, multiple others, and somehow we go forward, and meanwhile, we're also providing support for others; we're part of *their* patched-together, makeshift system. It's all the blind leading the blind--that's how it works.

I'll still try to find her some tips, though.

This entry was originally posted at https://asakiyume.dreamwidth.org/915996.html. Comments are welcome at either location.

notes from a land of delight

I pass this veggie stand on the way to work every day, and I always contemplate stopping, but until last Tuesday, I never did.

veggie stand

A big old tree provides shade, and two elderly white guys sit in outdoor chairs by it, every day. Tuesday was a steamy hot day. I bought some green beans--"first of the season," one of the old guys told me--and a beautiful eggplant. I was able to see their rambling garden back behind the stand. Wonderful.

As a goodbye remark, I told them to stay cool. "I love the heat!" the other guy proclaimed. "I changed my shirt once already today! Love it! Love being out in the garden!"

I love the heat too, but it's rare to find others who do. I left charmed and delighted. I'm going to buy more eggplant there.

(There's a more sturdy farmstand right near my house; I go there too. What a blessing.)

This cabbage white butterfly looks like the protagonist of a fairy tale. Her beauty is matched by her fearlessness and her creative thinking.

small friend

This is a public planter. I like it! I particularly like the yellow vine flowers, which I discovered are Thunbergia alata, "black-eyed susan vine." I saw them first--or, well, noticed them first--in Colombia, cascading down walls. They're apparently native to East Africa, but naturalized in places like Brazil and Puerto Rico (and maybe Colombia?) I want to grow some, so I ordered a packet of seeds. It'll be late by the time they get here, but maybe if the plants once start, I can have them indoors. We'll see.


And here is some sidewalk art from Amherst, MA:

sidewalk art, Amherst MA

The third season of She-ra is out! So we can watch that now. Meanwhile, we've been watching Evangelion (I've seen it once before, but long ago), which means having the theme song ALWAYS IN MY HEAD.

This entry was originally posted at https://asakiyume.dreamwidth.org/915777.html. Comments are welcome at either location.

butterflies, rainbows, time

Here are two monarch butterflies in an intimate embrace. Sexy butterfly times, mmmm.

Today my siblings and I, and selections of our children, gathered at my father's house. On the return journey, there were rainbows everywhere. I mean everywhere, including one that spanned the highway perfectly, ushering us into the promised land of ... maybe West Stockbridge, MA? Somewhere around there, maybe? It was spectacular; it seemed like you could dye clothes in it or eat it or something.

A book I was reading was talking about the possibility of a different relationship to time than the mainstream Western one of schedules and deadlines and efficiency. My father-in-law used to talk about Dorset time, how the Dorset farmers weren't going to be rushed by other people's urgency. And in Timor-Leste, the Australians talked about Timor time in the same way. Notably, it wasn't the Timorese or the Dorset farmers doing the talking--though I think the Dorset farmers would have staunchly agreed with my father-in-law's assessment. As for the Timorese, I can't say, but I wonder if when you're living with a different relationship to time, the urgency and rushing seems spurious. Not everything is about efficiency. It's kind of like how a capitalist approach to life fosters transactional metaphors for EVERYTHING--but not everything needs to be, or should be, turned into a transaction. I feel like if you really are inhabiting time in this different way, then it's not that you're easygoing as opposed to stressed-out and rushed, but rather your whole sense of what you're doing is different.

I need to think about this some more, because I'm not able to fumble my way to a coherent thought just yet.

This entry was originally posted at https://asakiyume.dreamwidth.org/915487.html. Comments are welcome at either location.

Food trucks --with poetry

This past Friday was Food Truck Friday in my town.


So many marvelous choices! (This is just a sampling)

IMG_1343 IMG_1342 IMG_1341 IMG_1345

I got empanadas from La Mesa and some fried plantains from a Caribbean truck (not pictured). People were picnicking, but I was bringing my goodies home for family.

I did, however, stop to get a "wicked short" poem from Attack Bear Press's poetry vending machine:


I got an untitled haiku by Melissa Silva:
sun-shade dappled path--
Blue Winged Warbler sings

Jason Montgomery, the Attack Bear in the picture of the vending machine, told me that on the trees at the front of the school grounds where Food Truck Friday was happening had the transcribed story of his grandmother's migration to the United States from Mexico in the early 20th century. Her story was vivid--here is the introductory placard and a few others from the trees:





It was very pleasant! Much better than my other main excitement of the week, which was to contract a TERRIBLE case of poison ivy for which I'm now on steroids ....

This entry was originally posted at https://asakiyume.dreamwidth.org/915410.html. Comments are welcome at either location.


I never watched the original 1980s She-ra (though I was aware of its existence), but I'm loving Netflix's reboot. It's a real delight! The characters are mainly teens, and there's a friendship-oriented, work-together quality that reminds me of My Little Pony or Steven Universe. Instead of the female characters having identical Barbie-doll bodies and features, everyone's unique, and their personalities are a lot of fun.

The set-up is that Adora (OMG the names, but they're artifacts of the original show) and Catra are best friends who grew up in the Horde, but one day Adora discovers a magic sword and also that the Horde, rather than quelling rebels, has been destroying innocent villages, etc. etc., and so she switches sides. She invites Catra to come along with her, but Catra, who's been more aware of the true nature of the Horde all along, doesn't feel inclined to--maybe because she didn't get to find a magic sword, or maybe because Adora's realignment coincides with meeting two rebels, Glimmer and Bow, whom she pretty instantly becomes close friends with. It's a lot for Catra to swallow; she feels deeply betrayed. So now she has a personal reason to be against the rebels. But Adora being gone also lets Catra come into her own a little; she's kind of been in her friend's shadow.

In one episode, Catra (left) and Adora (right) see visions of their childhood selves

Glimmer and Bow

... As you can see, I'm pretty invested in the bad guys, and the thing is, the show lets you be. It kind of reminds me of Team Rocket in the Pokémon cartoon--there's just a lot to like about the bad guys. Another awesome bad-guy character is Scorpia, a super-cheerful Horde force captain who desperately wants to be besties with Catra.

Scorpia on the right

But the good guys are lots of fun too. It's hard to be the straight-arrow main character, but Adora does a great job. Her transformation into She-ra owes a lot to Sailor Moon's transformation sequences, and I watch it with delight each time.

There's also a social justice–oriented winged pegasus and all sorts of incidental humor. Adora tipsy as an after-effect of being infected by an evil-making virus makes for some great moments in a late episode in the second season, as does an episode in which attempting to make a battle plan devolves into a roleplay.

I've watched all that's available, but another season apparently will arrive in August. I can't wait! Those of you who've seen it, what things do you like best?

This entry was originally posted at https://asakiyume.dreamwidth.org/915151.html. Comments are welcome at either location.



Today I didn't have to go to work, so I picked red currants. My bushes are full, bowed down.

branch bowed down
branch bowed down

red currants

And the berries glow.

There was life everywhere all around while I was picking--tiny life, little spiders, a daddy longlegs, tiny caterpillars, mother mosquitoes hoping I had a meal for them, and also bigger life, orioles singing up high in trees, invisible, and robins and bluejays, and next door, the neighbors' grandkids, splashing in a pool, and under my feet and knees as I alternately squat and kneel, there's soft green moss, and it's so gloriously, softly hot--heat woven on moisture and full of scents--the grass, the flowers, the dirt, my shampoo, my deodorant, a whiff of the laundry detergent--the humid heat holds these scents. (It's the time of year that edible chestnuts are in bloom--oh the scent of those as you pass them). I never, ever feel more alive or happy than on a summer day like this, life pressing against me. Each moment is bliss.

... Here is the same branch, no longer bowed down.

branch lighter

And here are the pickings from just this one bush:

Two bowls

This will become red currant jelly. The berries on the two other bushes may be just for eating out of hand and for things like fruit in scones. We'll see.

This entry was originally posted at https://asakiyume.dreamwidth.org/914805.html. Comments are welcome at either location.


For two days early last week, it was hard to turn onto the long, uphill driveway to the jail because workers were repairing--replacing, it turned out--a utility pole right at the entrance. The day they finished and cleared off, this shrine appeared by the new pole:

I've seen roadside wreaths and flowers and crosses, but the mass of candles was new to me and moved me.

I asked the officer at the lobby desk if she knew the story of it.

"Yeah, last week we were doing our outer,"** she said, "and this car came really fast, so fast--and crashed into the telephone pole. It was a boy and a girl."

"Did they both die?" I asked.

"She did. He survived. She was young," she said.

It seems like the candles have been lit, too. I wonder if someone comes by to light them each night.

**outer = outer perimeter. I hadn't realized they do this but, duh, of course they would.

This entry was originally posted at https://asakiyume.dreamwidth.org/914586.html. Comments are welcome at either location.

Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee

Thinking again of what [personal profile] rachelmanija said about posting when we finish books, I thought I'd share my Goodreads review of Pachinko, an intergenerational novel about a Korean family that emigrates to Japan in the 1930s. The story goes up to 1989. Japanese racism toward Koreans is a big part of the story (though the characters in the novel are a pleasingly mixed bunch--not all Japanese are evil villains; not all Koreans are long-suffering heroes), but it's more about how people face their problems, what mindsets they bring to them and how these help them or let them down. Here's what I wrote:

I really loved the way this story was told; it's a rare case of an omniscient narrator in modern fiction, and it's graceful, lean, strong, and moving. I'm talking about moments like this, where a boy wants to stay with his dying father:
The child hadn't realized how much he'd missed his father until he returned. The ache of missing him had surfaced in his small, concave chest, and he felt anxious abut the pain that was sure to return. If he remained home, Noa felt certain that his father would be okay. They wouldn't even have to talk. Why couldn't he study at home the way his father had? Noa wanted to ask this, but it was not in his nature to argue.

Its spareness and directness makes me realize how clotted writing can sometimes get, just tripping over itself to dissect people's feeling and motivations in minute detail.

That said, in the second half of the book I sometimes wished we had a little more time inside some of the characters and maybe fewer shocking situations. I found one character death surprising and distressing, and while I can see how the author lay the groundwork for it--it's not implausible--I felt a little bit like I could feel the hand of the author *doing* this to the character as opposed to it arising naturally in the story. Or maybe it's just that I wanted more things to work out for people at that point--but that's not how life goes.

Still, the characters were lovely, and the way they interacted with each other and faced their problems was completely absorbing, and there was a lot of wisdom in the story.

This entry was originally posted at https://asakiyume.dreamwidth.org/914413.html. Comments are welcome at either location.


quick post

I missed my window of opportunity on the weekend to post, so have an early Monday morning post instead. Jiji is sitting on my chair--he wishes to encourage me in the standing-desk habit:

Thinking about the news, the children underfed and shivering on cement floors. We want to be able to buy a plane ticket, go to one of those places, wave aside the guards, open the doors, take the kids out, give them a good meal and a gentle hug, and find their relatives and reunite them. None of which we can do. We know the list of things we can do and it seems paltry and measly compared with the enormity of the badness. I tell myself, this is what it means to be infantry, though. This is what it means to be not a hero but part of the tidal wave that shatters the wall. We just have to keep on going. (And if people have novel ideas, share them around)

One of my kids in Japan took some pictures of lotuses. So beautiful.

... We don't know how things are going to end or how people will understand the story in years and centuries to come. But we can take care of each other, and others, and tend the garden, metaphorically and literally.

This entry was originally posted at https://asakiyume.dreamwidth.org/914050.html. Comments are welcome at either location.



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