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more on microseasons

I started mentioning what microseason we were in for my classes at the jail, and the students are really into it. On Tuesday we entered "First Cherry Blossoms" (... we're not quite in sync, here in New England), and on Thursday they wanted to know what the new one was. "We're still in 'First Cherry Blossoms,'" I had to tell them, "But we'll be in a new one on Monday." (I teach Mon-Thurs).

Students in class know bits of different languages, and it's fun to have them share--Spanish, of course, but one woman has French-Canadian grandparents and speaks Quebecois French, and another student went to a high school that offered Chinese--so yeah, it's fun having people get excited about what they know and can share.

This entry was originally posted at https://asakiyume.dreamwidth.org/909218.html. Comments are welcome at either location.

a book and a magazine

Those of you who enjoyed Aster Glenn Gray's Briarley but would have liked to have it in print form... now it's available! Behold its beautiful cover:

And here is a link, for purchasing ease.

And, in more news of the physical rather than the digital, the latest issue of Not One of Us is out. It's a great size for carrying with you and reading, quietly, wherever--no batteries needed. [personal profile] lesser_celery has relevant information here, and if you're not a subscriber and want to purchase an issue, leaving a note there would probably do the trick.

This entry was originally posted at https://asakiyume.dreamwidth.org/908940.html. Comments are welcome at either location.


Week two of teaching completed. I love the students; I love the actual in-classroom time. Actually being employed by the jail, though, is stressful and traumatic. I haven't felt so much free-floating anxiety in a long time. I keep telling myself to breath deeply. This story is unrelated.

The first time I lived in Japan was after college. I lived for a while in special housing for foreign exchange students, where my closest friends were two women my age--a French exchange student and an Italian one. The French one, S, was ethnically Chinese, born in Tahiti, and grew up in New Caledonia, mais comme une vraie française, elle se identifie comme française, et pas comme chinoise ou caledonienne. (Not sure how grammatical that French is... just wanted to see what I could recall.)

She had a way of pulling me in. We'd be sitting in her room on her bed; she'd be looking at a magazine of photography and smoking (everyone smoked, it seemed to me, except me). So she'd be looking at this magazine, and she'd take a drag on the cigarette and thrust the magazine in front of me and say, "What do you think of this photo?" And she'd look at me intently, like it was the most important question of the decade, or at least the evening. And so I'd say what I thought. And if she agreed, she'd say "Yes! YES!" positively joyfully, and we'd talk on about the picture. And if she disagreed, she'd say vehemently, "Not me--I think [whatever]," but not with huge disappointment that we weren't in accord, but just as if it was very necessary to share what she felt.

I felt so delighted when we agreed, and so desperate to understand her point of view when we didn't.

Like me, she had a Japanese boyfriend. One time we somehow got into a conversation that somehow led to something like, What if the two of us kissed? "I don't think it would be cheating," S said, "because we're girls."

I don't have the world's strongest sex drive, but I felt a thrill just then, and a sense of possibility, but also danger.

"I think it probably would be cheating," I said.

. . . Nothing ended up happening.

We stayed in touch for a long time and even now are tenuously connected thanks to Facebook.

This memory brought to you courtesy of [personal profile] mallorys_camera, who was writing about attraction and got me thinking.

This entry was originally posted at https://asakiyume.dreamwidth.org/908452.html. Comments are welcome at either location.

hills this morning

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

This entry was originally posted at https://asakiyume.dreamwidth.org/908287.html. Comments are welcome at either location.

waving from afar

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

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

It'll take me a bit to get into the swing of things, but hopefully by next week or the week after I'll be back to my normal posting and commenting habits (though in more limited hours).

This entry was originally posted at https://asakiyume.dreamwidth.org/907911.html. Comments are welcome at either location.

maple syrup season

I subscribed to a local newspaper, a physical paper that comes to the house, for the first time ever, and it's a decision that delights me. Even the ads delight me. If it weren't for the ads, I wouldn't have found out about a place nearby called the Strawbale Café (built with straw bales, but then plastered over), which, at this time of year, makes its own maple syrup.

We went for a visit this past weekend.

The bottom part of their evaporator dates from 1959.

boiling maple sap, Westhampton, MA

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

main lines from sugarbush

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

side lines connecting individual trees

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

jug full of maple sap

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

pump and lines coming in from sugarbush

And here are the sap storage tanks.

tanks for storing sap

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

Strawbale Cafe, Westhampton, MA

This entry was originally posted at https://asakiyume.dreamwidth.org/907771.html. Comments are welcome at either location.


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

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

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

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

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

"Please let it be so," I prayed.

And a minute later, the lights came on.

I think it was a blessing from the deer.

This entry was originally posted at https://asakiyume.dreamwidth.org/907375.html. Comments are welcome at either location.

Feb. 24th, 2019

Sometimes I save up things to post, and then by the time I get to doing it, they either seem stale or inconsequential, and I think, Is this really worth posting? ... But tonight I'm going to go ahead and post a couple anyway.

A black crow

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

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

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

An electrician

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

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

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

. . .

For a change of pace, how about this:

It's flattened eggs for Dunkin Donuts--now to be known just as "Dunkin"--breakfast sandwiches. Strange and kind of charming. That plastic container is filled with them.

This entry was originally posted at https://asakiyume.dreamwidth.org/907240.html. Comments are welcome at either location.

A Stranger in Olondria: An Appreciation

A Stranger in Olondria
by Sofia Samatar
2013, Small Beer Press

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

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Describing someone’s self-exile, Jervick reflects,
I see him with the sweat on his brow which has turned the color of tallow and imagine how he will flee to the ends of the earth, putting the fathomless sea between himself and this sweet, incautious girl, interring himself in a country of alien flowers.
A country of alien flowers. It’s a startling, memorable, beautiful book.

This entry was originally posted at https://asakiyume.dreamwidth.org/906991.html. Comments are welcome at either location.

Wednesday reading--A Stranger in Olondria

Hey, it's Wednesday, and I've actually read a thing: A Stranger in Olondria. I'm going to write up a review of it, because I ended up loving it; I think it's an amazing book, beautifully, powerfully told--and that's not what I went in thinking, or even what I was feeling in the first fifth of the book. Early on I had the impression that it was an admirable book that I was going to effortfully work my way through, but my mind completely, totally changed, so much so that by the end, this passage about coming to the end of a book--used as a heartbreaking analogy for final separation--was exactly how I felt:
Earlier, frightened, you began to have some intimation of it: so many pages had been turned, the book was so heavy in one hand, so light in the other, thinning toward the end. Still, you consoled yourself. You were not quite at the end of the story, at that terrible flyleaf, blank like a shuttered window: there were still a few pages under your thumb, still to be sought, treasured. Oh, was it possible to read more slowly?--No. The end approached, inexorable, at the same measured pace. The last page, the last of the shining words! And there--the end of the book.

This entry was originally posted at https://asakiyume.dreamwidth.org/906679.html. Comments are welcome at either location.



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