Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Ruminating on 2008...

While I wait to go to Toronto Tam Tam, my favoured New Year event, and after having done many dishes left by my children, laundry, walked the dog in the frigid winter air, I find myself ruminating on the year that's just passing.

It was a year of shocking revelations for me. Yes, that characterizes 2008.

And a huge amount of work healing what those revelations revealed. It's been a tumultuous year in many respects. I feel as if I've spied the interior of Vesuvius. I hope I rose to the various crises with valour, goodness, respect and help, and things have certainly begun to even out now, but it's been rough going for sure. In that respect, the shock, and yes, denial, revulsion, horror, pain, grieving, all those negative responses, oh they are hard to express, but I am emotional, are not aspects of life I'd like to experience again, at least not to the extent that I have this past year.

I began the year in a contract job at a bank head office with people I loved, and was laid off, the recession already making itself evident as the US sub-prime began its collapse. Then I had another contract position at another bank answering technical emails all day, which was a little bit intelligent, and which I enjoyed, and again, working with wonderful people. Since that ended I haven't worked, which is hard, and takes its toll on the spirit, mind and body.

In November I wrote a novella of something like 57,000 words. I did a few paintings this year. And I began a venture into something I've wanted to explore for half a dozen years - videopoems. While I haven't yet produced anything I'm happy with, I am at least doing something I've wanted to do for a long time. I'll be taking a course on Digital Video Editing in January, and so this exploration will continue.

I haven't been involved with anyone this year since I've been reeling from what happened with the last one, a situation definitely among the "revelations." A couple of men have passed my way and expressed interest but I have to say nothing I would consider - all being married, and that doesn't interest me at all.

And in 2008 I crossed the threshold of menopause, and so am into my third great phase of life: that of the crone. I'm not yet sure about how I feel about it since there are many changes in my body that surprise me and which I wasn't aware would happen, but I accept it as readily as I did menses when that occured at the age of 13.

Both of my children are living with me, my daughter, who's 18, and my son, who's 21. We're very close, the three of us, in good and supportive ways. I am very glad I am able to be here for them because they've really needed that.

I'm sure there's more to this past year, but those were the highlights.

I joined Twitter, and Facebook. Both of which I enjoy. I saw way more movies this year, which was nice. I still have all of my old friends, am blessed in that way, plus some new ones.

It was a year of sweeping up the pieces, and sweeping them up, as calmly as possible, a year when I had to remain grounded and loving above all else, a year when I learnt not to reject what is difficult or painful, another year of living and loving.

In its own tumultuous way, 2008 was beautiful.

Wishing you the best for the year ahead...

Wishing you sparkle tonight, however you spend your New Year's, and a wish-granting great year ahead of success, inner joy and deep satisfaction.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Ice Flowers


"These are the most fragile and the most magical responses to moisture and cold I have ever seen. When the planets align, humidity and temperature are just right; moisture leaves the plant and freezes, creating these intricate crystals. These formed on some Aster left in the meadow."

Photograph and quote by Brian Parsons, used with permission.

(Brian Parsons has been employed by The Holden Arboretum, which he describes as a great organization, for the past 31 years. He also lives on the grounds of an old estate that has a wide variety of gardens so has a tremendous diversity of life around him to photograph. [paraphrased from his website at flickr])


Ice Flowers

asters, flowers of enchantment
whose burning leaves scatter serpents,
talisman of love, and of patience,* blackened
by frost, yet the ice clings to you all night,
your crumpled flowers like clumped hearts in the frozen fields,
making halos, or wedding veils, or intricately carved
pages of divine letters on angels' wings

your flowers become butterflies of light
who've escaped their cocoons

this winter day

__
*in folklore

Saturday, December 27, 2008

fog rises through the blue evening, and everywhere pools of water, and the sounds of water, trickling, splashing, like a Tarkovsky movie
to the outside world it may look like nothing's happening, a woman resting, but I've melted into love

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Frost of Dancing Birds

Frost on the window of my grandparents house by roddh.

This photo of the frost on a window reminds me of dancing birds.

And dancing birds remind me of the return of the light in the darkness, Solstice, the festival of the trees, birth of the divine child, of the sun-god, rebirth of the spirit.

Sharing with you the image of the frost etched on the window that is dancing birds
celebrating the rebirth of the light...

Happiness, joy, good cheer, generosity, warmth, and laughter...

hugs, love Brenda
Toronto, Christmas Day, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

Magnolia Stellata, a videopoem

brendaclews has shared a video with you on YouTube:

From my Botticelli Venus Suite of Poems, 'Magnolia Stellata' is the first poem. I am learning how to make videopoems and while this is a complete version of the poem there is a talk to accompany it that I haven't yet recorded but I share anyhow. I taped this on Solstice 2008. Hope you enjoy this rendition.

It was videotaped with an iMac 10.5.5 and edited in Final Cut Express 4.0.1.
This was filmed on, and for, Winter Solstice, though there seemed a glitch and I couldn't upload it to You Tube for a few days.

A little late, but ah well.

My daughter saw it and while she would prefer I cut the hair shaking at the end, she thinks it's my best videopoem to date.

That's praise!

Pre-amble to Magnolia Stellata - another attempt

video

No, this is not "a video." This is yet another attempt. I videotaped for nearly an hour today and will throw it all out. Posting a tiny clip just because.

I'm working at it; I'm not getting very far. There's another unsuccessful attempt that's better than this one that I may upload tomorrow, don't know yet.

I am learning that creating 'videopoems' is very hard to do!

I'd like to run the text as a line in the top third and have spent a good half hour looking to see how to do that without success!

Learn by doing - that's what this is!

Please forgive. (And the song, too. I'm not sure how to remove it, or if I can. It's from "Yumeji's Theme" on My Blueberry Nights.)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Snow Squall

When I arose this morning, it was dark. As I drew open the bedroom curtains, the world outside was still.

Not one flake swirling, perhaps it passed us by.

In the tiny kitchen, I put on the kettle, and while that came to a boil, measured freshly ground coffee into the Bodum, and put away dishes that were dry in the rack.

Then I went into the livingroom and opened the curtains of five windows.

Between opening the curtains on the one side of the apartment and the other, not five minutes apart, the kettle still coming to a boil, the sky was swirling with blinding snow.

The storm moves with a sharp line across the horizon.


Walking my dog, snow pants, coat collar covering cheeks, only my eyes exposed, the lashing snow stings my eyelids.

In the park, the dog and I chasing each other, there is a lone man in a large navy blue parka and khaki pants.

His arms swirl slowly, one after the other, like warm Pacific ocean waves rolling. His body sways.

In the squalling storm he is gently performing tai chi.

When I pass and smile and say he looks beautiful, those oceanic movements, he says, "A storm is a great time to practice. In Halifax, a whole group of us did tai chi during snow storms."



The store where I bought that nylon coat is gone and it's extremely hard to find 4-paw, underbelly-covered coats for mid- to large-sized dogs and so this one is patched with copious amounts of duct tape inside which holds it together! If she doesn't wear it when there's packing snow hundreds of little balls of snow stick to her fur and cause her to shiver and then I have to bath her carefully at home to melt them off.


Keesha looks a bit like a red rocket chewing on a stick, but you can see the tai chi gentleman in the distance.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Pedro Páramo

Certain books change your life. While I can't say I fully understand the novel, Pedro Páramo, by the Mexican author, Juan Rulfo, having now finished it, yes, I am different. Literature has possibilities I didn't know of before reading this book. Published in 1955, it began a tradition of writing. Rulfo is called the father of the literature of magic realism in South America. In the novel, those who are living and those who have died interweave in haunting ways. Time moves backwards or forwards, you can hardly tell. Characters appear and disappear like wind; memories are everywhere in the air. Everyone's death is foretold again, and again. Put it on your list. A must read.

Preparing the Space



For days I've been trying to get a little free time to film a videopoem in the late afternoon sun, but kids are afoot. I've hung fabrics over the bookcases that line the livingroom, am working on composing this piece. No idea, of course, where it's going or how it will turn out. Everything hinges on the performance, and that can't be pre-determined.

It's a tiny apartment, and you can see that I need to tidy shelves from the "teleprompt' (homemade with a black magic marker and newsprint from the art store! It works. Though I have discovered I can turn a computer into a teleprompt - for free - and so can do that with the netbook or my daughter's laptop. Whew.)



Looking at these images, I wonder if I should hang the painting you see by 'teleprompt' over the white sheets to the right of the chair? I'll try it tomorrow when I videotape. I thought to leave it white so I could project some other images on it, like Botticelli's Venus, or perhaps magnolia trees. If I videotape in the two dresses I thought of, and now with and without the painting, it's going to take awhile! And since I really don't know how to edit in Final Cut Express, ooh la!

In answer to that question, I work best alone, yes.

Wall Writing

This made me laugh, something I'm not doing much of these days. I didn't exactly lie, who isn't "involved"? Though in actual fact I'm not involved with anyone and live the life of a monk (or monk-ess).

Omar wrote on your Wall:

"in network am find u and feelling u like me am egyptian man if u want make relationship with me tell me"

Brenda wrote on Omar's Wall:

"that's beautiful, Omar, thank you, but I am already involved"

Omar wrote on your Wall:

"really am very mad about that am egyptian man and if u want make relation with me send ur answer"

Friday, December 12, 2008

Still-Life Composition of the Poinsettia

They float, clamour, collide, reach over each other, fold or open, radiate toward light.

A variegated mass of embodied thought. That greening poinsettia from last Solstice, Hanukkah, Christmas on the wooden overhand of the large old oak desk that came from a used furniture store on the other side of the country. Yes, this helps.

Feel what I'm feeling. Though sometimes I don't like what I feel about something and so block it until it drops like a dead leaf.

Or it's stronger than my not liking and I must integrate it into the mass reaching for the light.

Landscape as Subjective Figure

perhaps the landscape isn't what we rest in, perhaps the landscape is a consequence of who we are

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Bullion of Hearts

Imagine a love that cannot be tarnished,
not even by us.

We messed the beauty we had,
with our switchbacks.

I demonize you; you decry me as a crazed woman.
We wouldn't speak to each other; my fury unabated
fierce.

You were a sleazy cheat; I was self-righteous, indignant.

What is this love that continues despite our resistance?

Surely not modern love, with its questionings, choices.

But some ancient love, as old as the gold sun itself,
primal, spiritual, enfolding its mystery.

What is a love that cannot fail itself?

And how can we trust it?

It is strange not to be fighting you
like a bad obsession, like an addiction to street drugs.

To accept your irrefutable, irrevocable
presence in my life.

The forever clause,
it's caught us
darling.

Friday, December 05, 2008

one of those 'perched days,' like the birds on branches outside, it's fine, feels on the brink of something important, an expectant day

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Coming Into the Station

It's strange coming to the end of a story that's insistently told itself every day for a month.

I'd like to go on, but it's finished. Oh, perhaps another night of writing, at most.

It's not sad to come to the end, though having evenings to do nothing will seem strange, almost indolent, excessively free, you know what I mean.

I may even start going to bed at a reasonable hour again, instead of 2 or 3am, and do away with the weekend sleepfests.

What can I say about it? I've had a writer's block for about a year and a half in that nothing has flowed easily in that long. Yes, I do feel writing's been released in me again and that feels good and wonderful. Writing is flowing, the block's released, and I don't care what caused it or didn't.

The story is strange in that it is not autobiographical at all and doesn't have huge depth or any of the writerly slants I like to give things I compose.

The first day I sat down and wrote, without any prior notion of what to write.

Each day was like this. In fact, the less pre-determined, the more spontaneous, the better. I cleared my mind as in meditation and wrote from a fresh place. Often what occured surprised me, yet seemed logical in terms of the story that was telling itself.

The story, now that's another aspect of this process. The story reminds me of those long, boring dreams we have, ones that take lots of dreamtime, and if we remember them, relating them goes on and on and really we see very little point to them. They are not 'major' dreams. They are ordinary, every day dreams. Our little adventures, the ones submerged in our minds beneath the big transformational dreams, beneath the big thoughts and important occurences of our lives. What I discovered from writing this book is that an awful lot of things go on just below the conscious threshold. We are infinitely rich beings on whom the world makes a huge impact.

Yeah, there 's a fair bit of Eros in it. But not nearly enough. And towards the end it dies out altogether, but then the main character got married and has a family and etcetera.

But it was juicy in the telling up to the settling down.

I'm going to race through it cleaning up glaring inconsistencies, grammar, excesses, and if you convince me you'd be interested, and were willing to share your thoughts on the composition, by email, then I may add you to a version for readers and/or collaborators (for the purpose of editing typos only) who've expressed an interest in the manuscript.

Monday, December 01, 2008

grey pearls

thin brown pods hang in clusters on branches collecting the grey rain in drops that fall like pearl grey necklaces to the ground

To Go or Not To Go

Almost finished the novella begun during National Novel Writing Month, whose finish line I passed last Wednesday. The book like a weight, now, with no deadline. So I decided no more than 6000 words, to be finished sometime Wednesday night.

I was going to go to the Toronto NaNoWriMo TGIF (thank god it's finished) celebration tonight, but it's cold and raining, and I never did connect with anyone else doing NaNo here. I could read a snatch for 2 minutes, which I did last time I went in 2005, but.....

Lazy, perhaps. And, oh, some of the writing read at that tgif was real bad, oh it was hilariously bad, deliberately bad, and everyone laughed as they were meant to.... but, oh. Bad.

Yes, I'm lazy.

And older than most of the Toronto NaNo participants who party. Last time I sat with a woman in my age range and she was a self-admitted alcoholic who was so drunk she swayed as she sat. It was hard to understand her since she was slurring her words. If I recall she had written about 3,000 words in total, but loved to party...

If I ever got my wherewithalls together to realize I'm gonna do NaNo and go to the Toronto NaNo launch party at the beginning of November, I might meet some fellow nutcases who actually drove themselves to write like maniacs for the month.

So, staying at home, lazily lounging...

And writing, finishing the loose, wordy draft.

Sigh, no partying for this lady tonight, work continues...