Last week my husband ordered Rachel Mankowitz’s Yeshiva Girl: A Novel for me (see Goodreads (link)), which arrived yesterday. I’ve read three or four chapters, so far, and I’m finding it quite interesting and well written. Since it’s a paper edition, it will take longer, because of the eye strain, but it’s next to my chair in the front sitting room, ready to pick up again as I am able.
Naomi Beth Wakan’s The Way of Haiku has been republished by Shanti Arts LLC, and I have ordered a paper copy, which will arrive from Barnes and Noble on Monday. I also have The Way of Tanka and Poetry that Heals, both of which I recommend. In 2017, I enjoyed a four-week workshop given by the author: Introduction to Writing Japanese Poetry.
I pre-ordered L.E. Modesitt, Jr.’s latest book, Endgames, which comes out on the fifth of February. The Imager Portfolio is a favorite from among his fantasy series.
I am done with rereading L.E. Modesitt Jr.’s Imager series and now anticipating Endgames, the last book in the series, as I understand it.
I have picked up two ebooks by Amos Oz, not having heard of him prior to his death. Only, now that I look through the list of titles, it seems to me that I may have read one of his books, but not remembered it. Anyway, I have started Dear Zealots,which consists primarily of three essays. I also bought Judas, which I believe to be a novel.
I also came across mention of The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, by Michael Pollan. I hope that it was meant to be humorous. Think I’ll enjoy it.
The last two are The Cobbler’s Boy, by Katherine Addison and Elizabeth Bear (I so adored The Goblin Emperor that I searched for another book by that author. I know that she writes under a different name, also, but those books did not interest me. I have, however, hope) and Sheila Connolly’s Tied Up with a Bow.
I’ve been running a trace route from my ISP to the host of this blog, and some of the times for hops are really long. And I am beginning to rethink what I want to do with these spaces that are not hosted by WordPress dot com. After importing nearly all of my Quiet Spaces/The Written Word posts and pages into Quilted Poetry dot net (which domain is vanishing from WP), I find that I just want to delete the installation and data on the QS/TWW site and start over fresh. I do want to have a couple of blogs that are independent of WP and Google, and I want them to work halfway decently. I do hate to think of how many times (I am so glad that I have not kept count) I have simply deleted everything and started over again after a suitable break.
It is the writing that needs saving. All of the photographs are backed up on my external HDs (with copies in the bank vault). I could go ahead and wipe everything out.
I realize that over the years, I delete and restart very often. My domains at SFFNET, POWWeb, WorldNet and AOL have come and gone without a pain. Their contents are spread across the years of site backups. What I have enjoyed the most is the new beginnings.
As I get older, the process of restarting becomes complicated, because I take longer to dump and restart, and therefore the “how to” has changed more by the time I get to that point.
I realize that such is not the case after sixty-some years of writing essays, stories, poetry and all else, but it’s almost as though I take photographs and write poems and stories (and a lot of nothing) in order to have something to build a blog or web site around. I would not want to admit to how many gadgets and such that I took apart and then could not reassemble.
An artist/writer for the sake of having art to frame? Oh, dear!
I have installed the new Gutenberg WordPress engine on this blog, but am still using the Classic Editor. And I have reinstalled the Jetpack plug-in, paying for the Spam filtering but no other fees. Oddly, having accomplished those things, I find that I have nothing to say.
In order to accomplish anything of substance on this tiny computer, I have had to move almost everything off to an external hard drive (which I must then pass on to my weekly and monthly backup drives, to rotate through several off-site locations). That means, I will have to keep detailed (relatively) notes on what I am putting where, so that I can find things, again. I must make a backup HD of all my ebooks, and then a backup of that. I have been buying them since the nineties, and the majority are not DRM locked.
On this computer, I write poetry, do initial scanning and weeding out of daily photographs, and read ebooks. I do like web mail. Which reminds me, I just renewed my favorite domain name for another four years. I’ve checked my cpanel, and I have plenty enough space for including both poetry and photographs, so long as I don’t go hog wild on pixels.
Later this week, I have an appointment with the diabetes educator, which is always enjoyable fun. I would prefer to meet with her every six months. Not going to happen, but it would serve the purpose.
My back-up has finished for this computer, and so I must wrap things up and go to sleep, now.
I have realized that turning off comments on a blog is strange. However, almost all of the comments on this blog have been spam, and I am tired of deleting the files that Akismet sets aside for review. Now that I’ve recently paid for two years of spam protection services. Therefore, I have shortened the open period for comments to one week.
An odd thing . . . wanting a blog where I can feel that nobody’s listening.
I have found myself neglecting this blog, again, and I am not sure why. First, I think, I have had a lot to concentrate on, these past few years. Over the past 23 months, we have lost 14 family members (including extended family), and as I am coming up on the first of the second anniversaries of the deaths, I am bogging down, again. Friday will be the second anniversary of the death of my mother’s last sister, and the 15th of next month marks the second anniversary of Mother. Father’s follows in another three and a half months from her death.
I do not have a bereavement counselor at this point. (I will revisit that decision if the impending death of a relative currently in hospice care upsets the apple card and all else tumbles out in reaction to the event.) It is okay to experience grief and then move on. I know that grief is an experience that does not last forever.
Anyway, as things are changing in the computer/Internet world, and as I grow older, my energy level wanes, I begin to rethink the extreme compartmentalization of my life across so many blogs and domains. Into my seventies by a ways, there are things that I should be doing with what time and energy left to us. For one thing, serious divestment of possessions. Last week, I threw away almost all of my software and backup CDs and DVDs, and I am now sorting out the documentation and user manuals from the poetry and literature. I accepted too many items from the parents’ estates, and now must decide whether to toss things while nobody is watching…or mention items to determine whether someone else in the family things that they want something enough to pay for shipping, saving me the city landfill disposal fees.
I talk to myself, here. Nobody visits. Nobody reads what I write, and there is comfort in that. Still, I wonder if mere sentimentality justifies paying the fees for this space. (I am not investing in SSL at such a price as is charged here; my other web host includes it as a courtesy, part of the hosting package. I do not collect information of any sort, and so that seems useless.)
With the advent of the new Word Press editor (and the death of MySql, as I understand is happening), will there be aggravations that are not worth my coping time? Should I drop the email accounts from the domain package? Switch current lists to different domain addresses?
My on-line life is sequestered and maze-like. I must make it less so. More “fireproof”.
My first step in all of this has been to dump the Jetpack plugin. I do not actually need it.
Now that my six-week photography workshop has ended, and before I start to go through the weeks’ essays and exercises again, I need to get back into writing, for which this is a first step.
I did write two poems, this week: one for Ronovan Writes Haiku, and another just on the spur of the moment.
picnic box waiting…
bikes propped up against the fence
walking hand in hand
together, now, and happy
loving spirits, free again
Oh! And following up on the New York to Nome book (see a previous post, tag new-york-to-nome), I enjoyed it thoroughly. It got a bit rushed toward the end, but I can see that repeats of previous conditions, only spring instead of autumn, would not have added much to the impact of the tale.
And another surprise to me. As I get farther into the “diabetic diet” experience, I find that my allergies to paper and ink are somewhat abating (although not recently printed advertising, catalogs or newsprint), I am able to read printed books more comfortably. Hardcovers, anyway. I need not feel that purchasing HBs to back up my ebooks wastes money. Only a lot of bookshelf space.
Progress has been made with clearing out junk in the bookshelves to make more room for books, this week. I had hoped to put out a few boxes of books for people to go through on Spring Clean-up Week, but we had rain and wind, and I hated to put out the books, only to have them ruined.
Amongst the miscellanea I found Aftermath, a CD of orchestral works by Stephanie Wukovitz, which I got from CDBaby many years ago. For the time being, I have a computer with a player on it, so I am able to listen again to her music. Lovely. I’ve just now discovered that she has a channel on YouTube. Go! Listen!
The day has passed unregarded and unremarkably. I shred a book of carbon-copy receipts from at least ten years ago, and also some writings in “blank books” in which fewer than half a dozen pages were written upon. Inane notes. I have no idea why I’ve retained them until now.
I found two CDs that I had made of photographs and poems, to give to our families as “stocking stuffer” presents, which his nephews refused to accept. For fear, I think, that they would be expected in future years to reciprocate. Today, I tossed the CDs into the wastebasket. I have discovered that I have not since let myself care for them overmuch. Intellectually, I can relegate it to a difference in cultures. That’s okay. I was blindsided, but I have adjusted to who they are, as well as what I need.
Emotionally, I find that I still hesitate to be vulnerable to them, again. The joy went out of giving to members of that family, other than to my husband’s siblings and cousins of our generation, but I have found other people and organizations to which I can give freely. That is satisfaction enough.
Throughout my life I have stepped off onto too many steps that are not there, lost my balance, and fallen down and often hurt myself. I think that these days, I concentrate on just getting up and going on, rather than trying to puzzle out why the step I was expecting was not there. The surprises of life are most often unpleasant ones.
However, my expectations do not, nor should they, rule the world. My mental and emotional constructs do not constitute the basis of or guidelines for right thought and action. They are the perspective from which I experience and act in the world. God is Truth. I can work to be trusting, but to be all-knowing is beyond me. I cannot judge, because I am not omniscient. Nor am I the pattern card of patience or concern. I muddle along. Not even doing “the best I can”, most of the time, but merely concentrating on getting through my days taking care of what is at hand.
However, my perspectives are my own. And hard won. I pretty much sit on ’em, my perspectives, difficult to be moved, and not inclined toward easy change. Aren’t we all?!?
There’s not much to equal the behind-the-scene thinking that goes on when one is concentrating on pursuing a particular goal. In this case, writing a poem for each day during the GloPoWriMo, NaPoWriMo 2018 poetry-writing challenge. It took at least a week to gather my poems together, write something for each of the days I had missed, and post all of them to one blog site. That would be The Written Word at Home Journal at Quiet Spaces.
A lot of disquiet arose during the past five weeks concerning things I had chosen not to address regarding decisions that should be considered. Points of avoidance. One of the sore spots is being targeted for other people’s (or organizations’) projects and priorities.
The primary impetus for change was the encroachment of the New York Times into my head space with priorities, projects, and solicitations that in actuality have little to nothing to do with my own. So, while I have had a subscription there since 2011, I got on the telephone, first thing this morning, to have a talk with the “Customer Care Advocate,” since there is a check-list of persuasions to go through before the account can be closed. The last time I went through that process, I settled for a half-price subscription for 12 months if I would stay with them. (The first offer was a third off.)
Media. Over the past many years, I have cut down on movie going (not many I would want to see), watching television (even the good shows went downhill after the first season), listening to radio (cannot stand the talk shows, the interruptions in the music, the general irritation of noise in my environment), magazines (subscription to The New Yorker lasted for one issue before I canceled it; I’d forgotten how much it does not publish anything that interests me…if only I could find those gems), and newspapers.
At its most basic, there is the problem of the not-truths, the not-information, and the not-healthy information flow. Cannot tolerate it, right now. And I do not have the inclination or patience to go looking for a cleaner spring to drink from, and so the drinking water is going through a series of filters.
Reuters seems relatively fact based and doesn’t turn my stomach. Fairly often, NPR has articles that interest me.
What I miss are discussions without rancor about things that are real and that matter, whether thoughts, events, wishes, or feelings. Respect for differences. Recognizing that not agreeing is not the same as disagreement. Many years ago, before I married in the early nineties, there was a woman that I enjoyed talking with. I discovered that she believed I could not like her (or she, me) because we did not agree on some beliefs she felt it necessary to have in common.
In the course of shopping, a couple weeks back, an acquaintance at a store where we shop regularly mentioned a book that he remembered fondly, but had not been able to find. We thought it sounded interesting, also, and found a couple of hardcover (1st editions, autographed, used) copies online at Biblio.com and ordered both copies: New York to Nome, by Rick Steber and Shell Taylor. We stuck one copy in the car, and hope to remember, next time we stop by the store, to offer it to the acquaintance. We’ve shopped there once, since the books arrived, but he wasn’t working that shift.
Although I have over 1,700 eBooks in my library, I am slowly accumulating paper editions of books that I have read in excess of 10 times each, figuring that at some point we may not have access to digital editions, but I will still want to continue rereading them. For example, if B&N were to fold, I might lose access to all of the books that I have bought from them for more than a decade. (Fiction-Wise and Peanut Press made it easy to download PDFs of the non-DRM documents;. B&N won’t let me touch the files that I obtained through them; I have since switched vendors to buy non-DRM files.)
My major problems with paper&ink books is that I have some sensitivity to paper and ink. I still have rough patches on the sides of my hands where books rested during my reading, or where my hand rests as I write a letter or an entry in a paper journal. Buying them far enough ahead, though, they have an opportunity to outgas, dispersing the fumes over time.
My latest acquisitions are a trade paperback 1st printing from Kensington of The Glass Butterfly, by Louise Marley and four books (to date) of the Elemental Blessings series by Sharon Shinn. I bought the last two books as hardcovers through B&N and the first two in paperback, only to discover that I could get hold of hardcover editions by way of independent booksellers. I am waiting for the delivery of those books on Friday and Monday.
I do, of course, have eBook editions of these five books, so that the paper copies will last longer. I also got an eBook edition of Summers at Castle Auburn, by Sharon Shinn. I know that I have a paper copy around here somewhere, but most of my books are in boxes in the basement, not having been reshelved after we had water seepage—which problem has been dealt with by means of resloping the yard and replacing the eaves and gutters.
Other series/books/authors I double-buy for would be L. E. Modesitt, Jr. (as each new book comes available for pre-order) and the Summoning series by Robin D. Owens, which I just finished reading in eBook format, the paper copies that I started with being on the verge of becoming … delicate. I don’t recall Luna putting out hardcover editions.
I have ordered some books through independent booksellers that I remember from childhood (Cluny Brown by Margery Sharp, and Van Loon’s Lives, for example) and my teens (Odyssey: A Modern Sequel by Nikos Kazantzakis),
There are other books that I cherish, but which are so embedded in my mind that I no longer need a physical or digital copy to enjoy them again.
… and I have begun the NaPoWriMo challenge, posting most of my #poemaday pieces, rough drafts and all, at my Quiet Spaces journal. One recent day, I did not post one poem because, although I like it, it is still a rough draft; not everything comes off my pen ready to publish. I missed yesterday totally. Poems ran through my mind, but none of them fit the offered prompts. I will try again today.
In the meantime, inspired by the WP #dailypost photo challenge, I did write a poem to go with my #awakening photo, which was of breakfast, one day last week.
waking too early
to the familiar smells…
my favorite breakfast
I am having much trouble writing, I think. Some topics seem too intimate to share with the world at large, even on this blog, which receives no traffic whatsoever. Exaggeration! For as often as I make a blog entry here, that’s not surprising, is it?
I suppose that I should start a new post, talking of recent book purchases. But not right now. My dog has vanished from the front room, and I must discover what he has discovered. 🤔
The first anniversary of my father’s death is two weeks from today (Monday), and I realize that he and I spoke only briefly after I left home. Almost always about books, and if not what we were reading, stories about who he’d run into and what they were doing, leading into memories of people, places, and events.
Dad left so many papers and photographs. I got a nagging feeling for a while, that I should have kept and read at least some of them. He was very important to me in my youngest years. He gave me the gifts of literature and knowledge and the freedom to pursue them without hindrance. Once I had learned how to read, he treated me as an adult, when it came to choices in books, magazines, and interests in general.
It is odd that I do not care—really, I do not!—what he may have written to me. Thoughts that he might have left behind. He would have mentioned having left a note. Instead, he would offer books to me from his library during those last years and months. When he had something that he wanted to say to me, he said it. Nothing was left unsaid.
We had a deep bond in several ways aside from books and discussion. Our care for his wife, my mother. He would almost always, once he’d greeted me on the phone or at the beginning of a visit, he would hand the phone to Mother or wander off into another room to give her plenty of room to visit…without competition?
Left to his own devices, Father could talk for hours, always saying something. He and I had our moments—fond memories—but Mother’s needs came first for both of us. She needed to be cherished. She needed to be the center of creation. Dad was always there for her. Well, sometimes he had to get out of the house to take his walks and have coffee with old friends and new, but otherwise, he was always available for her. They traveled a lot. Enjoyed one another’s company. Never mind the complaining from either one.
He died 103 days after she did. Unexplained (?) death. No apparent cause other than not taking in another breath. I think that the last words that we said to each other were “I love you”…”I love you, too” as we hugged. It did not occur to me that he would die before I could see him again.
There was nothing left unsaid. If I were to see him again? In a dream, perhaps? It would be “I love you, too. We’re still good.”
My plans for this year’s writing and blogging have not yet gotten off the ground. I had hoped to follow the Finding Water progression as a basis for getting back on track. Organized. Instead, I find that I am more in need of unstructured time and non-ordered thinking.
I have been spending more time playing with the dogs, taking naps, being less compulsive about my eating habits (not necessarily a good thing, but good for short-term unwinding), and starting once again with relearning piano warm-up routines: mainly multi-octave scales and arpeggios.
I am reading fewer books, right now. Rereading old favorites, mainly. (Sharon Shinn, L.E. Modesitt, Jude Deveraux, and Francis Fukuyama, and a few other, scattered series.) I am reading more articles in The New York Times and at Medium.com. I find myself reading fewer pieces and more slowly, rather than speed reading. Discovering what it’s like to have forgotten the beginning of an article by the time I’ve gotten to the end of it. Remembering why I’ve stuck all these years to speed reading. The unified whole.
I was pleased, this past week, to discover a note on one of my other blogs from a favorite former client. I hope that there will be continued contact. I feel that I am not particularly good at that, but I would like to be. I must consider how follow up on this and other habits that I wish to develop.
The time is now well past midnight, and I must sleep. My alarm is set for nine o’clock in the morning. I will not sleep that long at a stretch.
It looks as though I will be starting the new year on the sick list. Al and I both came down with serious colds. Although Al’s is a head cold, which is bowing to zinc lozenges, mine went to my chest, of course. Finally the tightness is beginning to lift, thanks to rest, lots of tea and sleep (and dark chocolate), and one dose too many of the Albuterol via nebulizer. Racing pulse like I’ve never seen happen before! Al and I have decided to buy vitamin C tablets (that are not past the expiration date) to see if that will help things along.
I have been too tired to write for a week. Too tired to think. I have been reading my way (again) through L. E. Modesitt Jr.’s Imager novels, which has been a nice distraction. Started out with The Octagonal Raven (science fiction) and moved on from there.
While the dogs were eating, first thing this morning, I took some more photographs of frost on the windows. I am adding my favorite: Ocean Waves & Mountains.
I had been thinking about my latest visit to my doctor and the RN diabetes educator, a few days ago, and recalling the pleasure of their company as we work together to plan out ways of modifying my activities and interventions to optimize my health while under treatment for T2 diabetes. They really are fun to work with. Outside of my own family, there are very few who take the time to visit, interact, laugh, smile, and share an occasional hug. To discuss real matters. Thinking!
I also am happy that I can learn so much about what to do and how to do what’s needful. Glad that I am making my own decisions, thanks to my own research and the guidance of medical staff. Their willingness to take time to discuss alternatives and offer honest opinions while helping me to carry out my health care plans to fit my life.
It might sound odd, but this past year has been a lot of fun. In the midst of all the family deaths during the past fourteen months or so, spending these twelve months working at improving my health and maintaining my joy in life has been a blessing and a welcome activity. The hours that I have been able to spend, also, during the summer and fall, with the bereavement counselors, have turned this time to exploration of additional facets of my life that have profited me and my family.
This week, I went back to reading Fukuyama’s Political Order and Political Decay: From the Industrial Revolution to the Globalization of Democracy, with particular attention paid to chapters 30 through 36. The first volume, The Origins of Political Order, helped me to make sense of what I saw happening in the larger world surrounding me as things played out. This second volume is helping me to firm up my convictions about how I would live during this time. What decisions I would wish to make. Who I can be, and who I can’t.
I was going to say, “Earlier today…”, but that time has passed. Yesterday evening, six or seven hours ago, I found myself writing a sketch for a poem, which I shall not write as is, but I want to follow the ideas farther…I will share the sketch here.
not to live
this life forever
but for immortality
I would not cling
as though the end
off which I’d slipped
and then could
claw my way back
into life again
there is a proper end
as were beginnings
what are minutes…seconds more
when stacked beside eternity eternal life
I think, also, about an article (at medium.com) that a friend/Friend posted on his FB page, last night, the article describing the unhappiness that must devolve among Americans at their declining quality of life and their slipping steadily into poverty of various types. Miserable and not recognizing that their lives are growing shorter and their quality of life is vanishing. And further, that those in Europe, whose standards of living and life expectancy are so much beyond those of those in the United States, do not recognize or appreciate how well off they are in comparison.
I think that these are odd, broad generalizations. There are, I am sure, many of us who dropped out of the “rat race” decades ago to continue enjoying what of life that really matters. Taking time to nourish self. To smile and exchange a word or two with friends and strangers. To laugh and to appreciate the small beauties around us. Surely not so many are so harried by life that they cannot or will not see the realities of the people around them.
Life is not perfect, and most of life is beyond our control. This always has been true, and it’s not likely to change. But we continue to do what seems right to us and do what should be done. Continue to be who we have determined to be in the face of whatever comes to pass.
Speaking of beyond control, I am not going to be up for grocery shopping in advance of the holiday if I do not get to sleep. Having too much fun thinking? 😊