Downsize?

Winter and the Future Moon

Monday gratefuls: Ruth and Jon skiing. Gabe peeling potatoes. Kate getting Murdoch upstairs. The picker at King Sooper. Having Sunday free of workout. Cleaning off my table. Organizing and preserving my paintings. Kate paying the bills. Ruth. Murdoch.

My paintings. Whoa. Like my novels and my blog. I’ve done, I don’t know, twenty/thirty paintings since I began. A few end up in the trash because I can’t bear to look at them. A few are standing out so I can look at them, review what I like about them, don’t like. The rest I put between buffered paper and/or cardboard sheets yesterday. Not sure what I’ll do with them. My novels exist in printed form in file boxes and in their revisions on my computer.

Two million words of Ancientrails rest on Kate’s old medical school desk, two thousand plus pages printed out with the wrong margins for binding. Sigh. Going to a bookbinder for an estimate and to be told how or if, if I decide to, I should layout the page for printing myself. Might give them a memory stick with all on it. Or, that might be too expensive. We’ll see.

Gabe stayed here yesterday while Ruth and Jon went to A-basin. I asked Gabe to tell me one interesting thing he’d done last week. I haven’t done much. I did see movies. Oh? Which ones? Lots of them on the Disney Channel.

Clever folks, Disney. They priced their channel, at $6.99 a month, so a kid with an allowance might choose to purchase their own subscription. Both Ruth and Gabe have a subscription.

Stirring inside. Declutter, simplify. Downsize. Example. When we moved, I kept every file I made for my docent work at the MIA. Why? Wanted to keep art as central to my life as it was when I was there. Tried several different things, none worked. And, having the files hasn’t helped either. Out they go. I also want to clean up the filing system (?) in the horizontal file which will mean throwing out yet more files.

The bigger, harder question? What about the books? Is it time to downsize my library? I’m considering it.

Doubt it will stop my book buying. That’s a lifelong habit started, I think, with those book lists from the Scholastic Reader (something like that). Sheets with books, descriptions, and modest prices. We could pay for them at school, then they would come at some other point. Sorta like e-commerce. Oh, how I looked forward to the arrival of those books. I read them quickly, too. I graduated to buying comics and paperbacks at the Newsstand downtown.

My first serious kick was all the James Bond books. I bought them one or two at a time with my paper route money. Lots of others, too. I was also reading books from the Carnegie library, too.

Got into the habit of buying books that interested me, books that followed other books I’d read. Buying books. College was hard in that I passed by the bookstore every day in the Student Union. If I went in, I’d always come out with a book or two.

Later, bookstores. Joseph had been in most of the good book stores in the Twin Cities before he hit first grade. And, finally, Amazon. Oh, right here in my own loft. On my computer. What a great deal.

Over 60+ years I’ve bought a lot of books. My interests have waxed and waned, but the books purchased during my enthusiasms remain. A few: Celtic mythology, fairy tales, Ovid’s Metamorphosis, magic, Jungian thought. An ur religion focused on the natural world, not scripture. Literature of all sorts. Plays. Theology. Poetry. U.S. history. the Civil War. Art. Lake Superior. Latin and the classics. Religion.

Getting rid of them feels like betraying my curiosity. I might finish that book on the Tarot. That commentary on the Inferno? Maybe next year? What about that ecological history of Lake Superior? The work on reconstructing, reimagining faith?

Still, it feels like time to begin paring down. Will take a while. And be hard.

For each of the tags listed here, I have a small or large collection of books.

Stick to it

Winter and the Full Future Moon shining through the lodgepole pines in the west

Friday gratefuls: for the Mussar group. for the Daf Yomi, now day seven. for the chance to do the Murdoch mitzvah. for the fresh new snow. for the 12 degree weather, what they call here, Stock Show weather. for Black Mountain who watches over me from above. for Shadow Mountain who supports me from below. for the crazy people who go out on Evergreen Lake for ice-fishing. May there always be crazy people.

Kepler to the vet yesterday. No, not bites and rips from Murdoch’s teeth. Rashes and hot spots. Antibiotics and an increased prednisone load for a week or so. Dr. Palmini has lost weight and buffed up. When I asked him if he would go to the Iditarod this year. The jury’s still out, he said. It’s a long time to be gone. But, it’s fun, isn’t it? Well, some of it, but when you get up at 3 am…? He goes as a volunteer vet for the sled dogs in the race. Lots of Iditarod memorabilia on the walls of his practice.

Back to HIIT workouts for cardio. Hi intensity interval training. A new one. Slow, 90 seconds. Fast as possible, 6mph for me, 30 seconds. Repeat four times then 3 minute cool down. I increased the number of intervals and the incline, from 1% to 2%, this week. Intervals are the best workout for cardio and they take a shorter time period that most cardio workouts.

Mussar. Got caught out nodding like I understood something that was said. Had to admit it, because the conversation expected me to say something about I’d already said. Everybody laughed when I told them. First time I can recall being caught in this oh, so usual gambit of not only me, but all folks hard of hearing. Gotta work on the ear wax thing. Seems to bother my hearing aid a lot.

The quality of the day, see Ruth Gendler’s The Book of Qualities, was perseverance. A lot of discussion, an amusing number of examples about math, not unusual in a group with literary inclinations. Perseverance is in my toolkit.

Mostly. I can write novels. Start and finish them. Not easy, often taking over a year. I did not persevere so well with marketing them, though. I enjoy, as I said a few posts back, long books, long movies, long tv series. I can start all of these and finish them. Think War and Peace, Dante’s Inferno, Spenser’s Fairie Queen, Faust, Romance of the Three Kingdoms. 10 Commandments, the Irishman, Gone with the Wind. And, Resurrection: Ertugrul. I’m finally in the fifth and last season. It only has 88 episodes.

I can make a commitment and stick to it for years, a lifetime. One of my youthful commitments was to keep reading difficult material. Stay political. College. Keep asking the fundamental questions and don’t shy away from difficult answers. Never work in a setting that compromises your values. Kate, now for over 30 years. The Woollies, about the same. Joseph, now going 39 years. Exercise, since my forties.

When I didn’t persevere, marketing and college German being the ones that come to mind, it was out of fear, I think. Fear is not a guide, it’s a caution, but I let myself get stuck in its glue at least those two times and I regret it. Anxiety grows along with fear and fear increases the anxiety. As I’m learning to be easier with myself, I’ll give myself an “I’m sorry to hear that, but you’re ok now.” bit of self-talk.

I Recommend

Lughnasa and the Harvest Moon

Three high quality but very different offerings on TV right now. On Hulu, the least strange show of the three: Veronica Mars 4th season. The first three seasons ended in 2007, so number four is set 12 years later. The show’s first three seasons are also on Hulu, which paid for the late addition.

characters in the 3rd season of Veronica Mars

If you never met Veronica, you’ve missed an iconic character in American television. Smart mouthed, brave, petite, beautiful, and brainy, she’s first in high school solving the problems of students at Neptune High. (California) In the third season she’s in college. Ditto. By season number four she has a Stanford law degree, but chooses to return to Neptune to work as private investigator with her father, Keith.

Four stars out of five. Four only because I like things a little stranger. So, a biased ranking. (But, aren’t they all?)

Amazon Prime Video put up Carnival Row on August 29th, so it’s brand new. Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne star. A British production, it’s loaded with character actors you might have seen on BBC shows and has a fascinating set complete with monorails, gritty streets, and an overall Victorianesque tone.

There’s been a long war between the fae with their human allies and the Pact, a mysterious and brutal enemy to both. There are pixies with wings, trotters with rams horns on their heads, lots of Midsummer Night’s Dream references (this is a British show after all), and yet another take on zenophobia. This last is a bit disappointing though I get it as an of the moment plot device. Disappointing, btw, in its overuse, not in its broader significance.

High production values, great cast, an edgy plot. Four and a half stars. Right now. I’ve not finished it so I may go up to five or down to four when I’m done.

As I said in yesterday’s post, Netflix has taken the biggest chances by funding shows and limited series from a diverse collection of nationalities and story telling traditions. My recent and so far all time favorite is Frontera Verde, the Green Frontier, made by Colombians and filmed in and near Leticia, Colombia’s southern most point. Leticia is the capital of the department of Amazonas, and borders Brazil’s state of the same name.

A detective from Bogota is sent to Leiticia to investigate the murder of four missionaries in the jungle. Helena Poveda was born in the jungle near Leticia, but sent to Bogota as a young girl and has not returned until this trip. The murder of the missionaries, from Edens Church, and the solution to them, does make this a mystery.

Solving the murders is a vehicle that takes us into the botanical mystery that is the Amazonian jungle and the lives of those indigenous communities who live there. The old days of rubber plantations, the current threats of rogue loggers and a secretive group intent on penetrating the mystical center of the jungle for their own purpose provide the villainy.

The story telling has a Gabriel Garcia Marquez inflection, magical realism often taking the story in surprising directions. Early on a hand, covered in black pigment, comes to rest on a root and the root glows and pulses. This is Yua, the eternal slave, and a guardian of the jungle. Ushe is his long time companion, both many decades older than they appear. Ushe’s murder, discovered by Elena while investigating the killing of the missionaries, is the central plot line though it takes a long time for that to become evident.

I love the undercurrents here. An indigenous detective has to choose between his police duties and his community, the Nai. Elena discovers the true depth of her home coming. “The jungle is in your heart,” says the indigenous detective’s grandfather to her. Yua and Ushe navigate the jungle’s essence, sometimes using magic, other times their knowledge of the communities, other times their vast botanical lore. Edens Church has a much different belief system than its predecessor, an order of Catholic nuns.

Ushe and Yua

The videography is wonderful. A slim boat travels quickly up the wide, brown Amazon. Ushe and Yua meet in a cosmic space held together by mother jungle. The jungle itself is by turns claustrophobic, vast, and alive.

I realized last night that by an odd coincidence Colombia is the foreign country I have visited most. Three times. Once in 1989, Bogota. Once in the 1990’s with Kate, Cartagena. And once in 2011, Santa Marta. Long before any of those trips I had found Marquez and his Hundred Years of Solitude.

Santa Marta, Colombia 10/23/2011

With those trips to Colombia, our two transits of the Panama Canal, and the 7 week cruise we took around Latin America in 2011, I feel I’ve had a modest immersion in the often strange world of this continent where the Portugese and Spanish ran headlong into indigenous communities. Might be why I like this so much.

I’ve begun a second watching of Frontera Verde, something I almost never do. It’s mixture of indigenous magic and shamanism with contemporary problems of the “earth’s lungs,” as the Amazon is often referred to in the stories about its many fires, makes it compelling to me.

Five stars. Good acting, wonderful landscapes, strange plotlines. Another world brought to life. Compelling.

Collecting

Imbolc                                                                       Valentine Moon

Tumblr.  Addictive in a sense I don’t fully understand yet.  I’ve selected bloggers on Tumblr, largely where folks post images of one sort or another, who present art.  Over 100 of them at last count.  At any one time only a handful might be posting, so keeping up, or at least staying roughly abreast is doable.  The range of images that folks select is wide, one of  the charms of Tumblr for me, a chance to both get inside people’s heads as they choose images to post and an opportunity to see art that I wouldn’t have found on my own.  In that sense it’s a very eclectic museum.

(folder: architecture)

The addictive part for me is that I’m saving images, image after image, in those files I talked about reorganizing a while back.  Many, many art folders:  art contemporary, art Russia, art Symbolist, artist Blake, artist Matisse.  Cinema and television.  Natural world.  Cities.  War.  Travel.  So on.

Like a squirrel delighted with finding an abundance of acorns, I pluck these images up in my digital cheeks and carry them over to the small holes I’ve dug in my hard drives memory to cache them.  The folders have begun to grow fat with image after image.  Perhaps a hundred images or more in some instances.

(folder, art photography.  the pope’s apartment the night before his announcement about his retirement.)

My question is, why am I doing this?  Part of it is a desire to see again striking images or historically significant images or funny images or moving images.  That’s true, but mostly, like the squirrel, I dig the hole, then go on to dig another hole, often forgetting the one I dug before.  This is what oak trees count on.  How oak forests grow.  Of course, I know where all my folders are and I can open them whenever I want, but my point is that I’m more engaged in stuffing them full than utilizing them.

Utilizing them for what?  My first approach to answering this question will come on Thursday when I start reading the catalog for the Pre-Raphaelite show at the National Gallery.  I have a folder filled with Pre-Raphaelite art and will find images, I imagine, of most of the pieces in the show.  Perhaps I’ll curate them myself, re-organize them in different ways, trying to emphasize different aspects of this 19c phenomenon.  Perhaps I’ll use the images for comparison, for tracing the history of certain themes and techniques.  Or, I might just open the folder and look at them, one after the other, taking in their color, their subject matter.

(folder History England.  a 1920 poster for the tube.)

This is an activity only possible with the internet and large hard drives.  And a lot of time.  It feels important; that’s why I’m writing about it.  But why?  No idea.

A Serial Watcher

Spring                                                     Beltane Moon

A gorgeous day.  Sun, warm.  Daffodils in bloom.  Bees buzzing in the orchard.  Dogs playing in the woods.  Kate’s on her way home.  

Ruthie told Kate she was her favorite grandma.  I told her she was my favorite grandma, too.  She’s coming back a happy gal.

During the grey cold days of the weekend I did something I’ve not done before.  I wrote here sometime ago quitting Comcast cable tv.  Too damn expensive and a time suck.  In it’s place we have dvds, netflix and hulu.  Hulu (and Netflix, too for that matter) has whole TV series from beginning to end.  For instance, it has the entire Battlestar Galactica Sci-Fi channel series.  And many others.

 

That means you can do what I did on Saturday and Sunday.  I found a new series, Grimm, that tells the story of a descendant of the fairy-tale compiler.  Turns out the Grimms can see and hunt all manner of thought-to-be imaginary creatures like the big bad wolf, pied piper and a whole menagerie of others.

So I watched 1-12 of an 18 episode run.  That’s the thing I haven’t done before.  You can watch TV serials as if they are, in a sense, a video novel with each episode as a chapter.  Now I wouldn’t defend this as a way to increase your brain power, might have killed a few gray cells, but it sure was fun.  Felt very decadent though.

A Puzzle

Winter                                 First Moon of the New Year

Here’s a puzzle.  Tuesday night is trash night here in Kadlec Estates so I trundled out both the regular trash and the recycling.

The moon, at about 3/4’s full, was there, the lesser lamp, but the greater in aesthetic impact; Orion had risen in the eastern sky, now his usual upright self after his disturbing Southern Hemisphere headstand; and, there, on the western patch of lawn, the portion that abuts the driveway and goes down to the street, were regular bare patches, about 6-8 inches wide, then a much broader band of icy snow, a pattern that repeated several times as the yard slopes up toward the garage.

What could cause such regularity?  Baffles me.

Soon I’ll have several more chunks of photographs posted about the cruise at www.ancientoftrails.tumblr.com .  Going through them brought back a lot of the trip, its diverse geography, flora and fauna.  This trip will take a long time to settle in.  My eventual goal is to post my ancientrails entries in tandem with the photographs, but that may not happen for months.

A Drive Down Mainstreet of My Hometown

Beltane                                      Full Planting Moon

Ah, the internet.  It can suck you in and keep you in place longer than you intended.  I found this quirky video, a drive on Harrison Street, the main street of Alexandria.  If you notice the Masonic Lodge he shows about halfway through, our house was just behind it, flanked by two nearby funeral homes.

The character who took this I don’t know, but he’s real familiar anyhow.