Friday, November 28, 2008

Belle de jour

Saw Belle de jour (1967) this evening at a Revue theatre with the beautiful Catherine Deneuve as a frustrated surgeon's wife who becomes a prostitute in the afternoons. Bunuel's film is deliciously ambiguous - the sequences, reality or fantasy/dream, we don't know, & perhaps in the end it doesn't matter. Deneuve a frigid doll with a wicked sex life.

Apparently Bunuel didn't know if the last scene was reality or dream either.

Will have to watch this one again in a year or two.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


After the effort of the last month to produce 50,000 coherent words, which I chose to do as 2,000 words a day, prefering to give myself a little leeway for the inevitable crises in daily living that occur or to finish early, both of which happened, and having crossed the finish line yesterday, I found I was truly exhausted today.

Yesterday I also managed to disable the wireless network and not having an hour or more to deal with technical assistance got a long internet cable out of the doldrums and plugged it into my computer to cross that NaNoWriMo finish line!

While I did attend Kaeja d'Dance's fundraiser last night, and showing of dance films by local students, and had tickets to Kaeja Mad Screen this evening, I had no energy. But my novella isn't finished! Instead of resting, I wrote my daily count. Another 2500 words! Crazy or what.

Now he's almost out of the mountain cave where condors nest having recovered his memory & I have to get him safely down & home... :)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Official NaNoWriMo Winner

It's official. I am a NaNoWriMo winner - just logged in at 50,042 words, and still writing... whoopee.

Now off to Kaeja d'Dance.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Almost at the NaNoWriMo finish line...

My nights are spent avoiding then struggling to write, hours, agonizing, then bursts of a clicking keyboard as a new scene emerges, now at 46,658 words.

That's, so far, 223 double-spaced pages.

For someone who started NaNoWriMo on November 1st to break through a writer's block, it's an explosion of writing. And I'm actually not displeased with what's happened in the pages that have spun out during the past few weeks. It's a fascinating process, writing under a deadline.

I recommend it, along with the writing we do when inspired of course. Both are valuable.

I'm very tired, so time to turn off the computer.

'Night everyone!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Sleep for a Thousand Hours

Passed the 40,000 word mark . Only 10,000 words to go. Groan, Groan, Groan, Groan, Groan... ::wan smile from a NaNoWriMo moll::

When this is over, I'm going to sleep for a thousand hours.

Or years, whatever comes first.

Don't I look like I'm writing maniacally, not having a life! Squirreled away, pounding the keyboard, reading glasses hugging the nose, hour after hour, night after night... sleep for a thousand hours, I say!

How's it going? Really and truly I can no longer call it 'erotic fiction.' Ah, well. I tried but ya know writing trash is difficult and beyond my capacities to keep up for any length of time.

Here's a snatch from tonight:

At HIL (House of Ill-Repute), Orsola and Mœdello sat at the great wooden table next to the kitchen surrounded by the five Madames and whoever else drifted in and out, various children of varying ages mostly. The Madames were dressed in old velvets and chiffons of deep and warm colours, dark purples and rose pinks, and some wore rhinestone beaded bandannas and they all wore dangly shiny costume jewelry from their ears and around their necks. They were more opulent than when they were younger, and exuded even more sensuality.

Perhaps it was the insular way the city had developed, the Bordello more-or-less aging with its original occupants. These were older women who laughed easily and who were comfortable with who they were, how they looked, in themselves; even if some might say they looked a little batty, to Orsola and Mœdello, they were colourful, warm and beautiful.

But it got worse in tonight's writing.

The Bordello was like an apothecary. A pantry at the back contained an array of herbal remedies, not just many bundles of dried herbs hung from the rafters and walls, but shelves of tinctures.

And then my rampant muse, oh! My rampant muse made an outrageous assertion.

For, besides being hookers, the old Madames were as knowledgeable as trained midwives.

While they laughed often, they were jovial women, particularly hearty laughter shook them when they said they were women from the ancient religion and were high priestesses who were sacred prostitutes, midwives and healers. Of course, no-one took such nonsense seriously.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Writing a 50,000 word novella in a month challenge continues...

The NaNoWriMo novella is progressing on schedule. I wrote till 2am last night, this is becoming normal, especially yesterday, a day of kid crises that were finally all resolved at midnight followed by two hours of intense writing, and then an hour to unwind. Slept from 3am-8am without waking, then onward with the day. Day after day of these hours and I do get rather tired, but I'll sleep late on the weekend and catch up. I should finish the 50,000 words five days early, and so I'm considering spending those five days on a 'clean-up' edit for consistency and spelling etc., I don't think it'll be possible to do a rewrite (at 10,000 words a day, uh uh - I'm |insane| but not that |insane|!)

Is it fun? Maybe the first hour was!

Since I have no predetermined plot, no outline, nor is it autobiographical, each day is fresh and a surprise to me. It's hard work, dragging this rather plain and ordinary story out of my imagination. I mean I started out trying to write trash but there's not a whole lot of trash in it, more long social conscience scenes with some erotic interludes, which I try to juice up, really I do, but I actually don't have much or any experience of the sort that I write about in some of the erotic interludes. Really imaginary! No matter, writing creates its own story. 

And I have been rearranging my apartment and it's beginning to come together, still a couple of corners of papers to sort - moving from a 3-bedroom house to a small 2-bedroom apartment continues to be challenging and I've given away or thrown out masses of stuff.

Been at it with my power drill too- hanging curtains, multiple coat hooks and kitchen shelves and masks and paintings, and now I have to finish two paintings that I've hung, so it's all good.

Tonight a Slovakian movie, Return of the Storks, part of the European Film Festival in Toronto.

Friday, November 14, 2008

(though my head is heavy and dull, made my word count, before midnight too. 28007 words now.)

Onward, NaNoWriMo!

Gak! 600 words more for today's 2k goal. Like pulling reeds out of quicksand! Or words out of the sludge of my brain tonight. Focus, write!

I passed the half-way mark yesterday.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

(2:33min) Videopoetry: Magnolia Stellata, an attempt...

Claire Elek wrote:

"You're from another time Brenda..the time of troubadours, "mad" women, the Lady of Shallott, Ophelia.. I don't mean to suggest.. I just love your drama, your temperament, your authenticity.. Your poetry.. It should be in a beautiful box with flowers on it tied with a purple ribbon.. You made my day as I set out to teach small children.. You're a drop of fresh water in this world of hum drum.. thank you for being you..."


I love what you wrote, Claire! Ah, yes, let's be "mad" creative women, Sarah Bernhards & Isadora Duncans... through the weeks of taping this poem the versions just got sillier until this late one night.

Nov 12th

For weeks I have been trying to record a poem, Magnolia Stellata, in various outfits at various times of the day using either the built-in Webcam (as in this clip) or my older Canon GL2 video DV camera. I promised myself to post something, anything since I purchased equipment to produce videopoetry. Hence loading this little hilarious clip to Blogger. It's taken hours to produce, and there was no editing since I used a clip as is! Sigh. Probably I have a better clip, but NaNoWriMo awaits and it's already almost tomorrow.

Mostly the time was taken up with trying to deal with the background issues, which I resolved with a still worked on in Photoshop Elements and imported into Final Cut Express, and then the video made slightly transparent and cropped inside of. I chopped and cooked a chili, ginger, vegetable and pork stir-fry for my son during the time it took to render, and then render again.

The jammies? Oh, sigh. You know, and this isn't by way of excuse, I've lived in or near Chinese communities for many years, and in Vancouver how many dear Chinese folk were out in their pajamas after 9pm at night?

Look, there was the white nightgown Butoh-based dance video. Maybe I have a thing about sleep attire?

I share an enclave with a Chinese woman who's always in her pajamas. And my daughter (who's vegan) lives in hers, putting them on as soon as she comes home.

I got in the habit...

No Comparisons, no, no

If I think my NaNoWriMo's raunchy, I have a ways to go: "My Name is Juani," Spanish flick, won awards, upcoming European Union Film Festival in Toronto.

On my calendar, sigh.

Take notes.

Tibetan Prayer Flags in the Sky

Photograph by Maria Stenzel.

"Incense smoke clouds the air as sun streams through strings of prayer flags during New Year celebrations in Lhasa, Tibet. The fragrant smoke of juniper and artemisia is thought to be pleasing to the spirits of land and sky.

(Photo shot on assignment for, but not published in, "Tibet Embraces the New Year," January 2000, National Geographic magazine.)"

If you click on the image to see it full size you'll see how it is shot through prayer flags that are like colourful mantra beads in the sky.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Sunday, November 09, 2008

NaNoWriMo continues...

Reached 18,204 words now, becoming more social conscience, clearing out the old order & rebuilding society, ah NaNo freedom!- must stop, got to meet a friend.

I find a daily word goal works best- this year it's 2000 words a day, and thus far I've been meeting it. In the early morning I write 600-800 words, and in the late evening the remaining 1200 or so words to meet that day's target.

Find your rhythm, and go with it.

Branches of Dreams

ramos dos sonhos, 2008
técnica mista sobre papel, 100x70.

This pen and ink and ecoline drawing is by Pedro Madeira Pinto, a 36 year old artist in Lisbon, Portugal. Go to his blog, Desenhos De Pedro, to see more.

I wrote (at Facebook): "Somehow says everything to me about uniting the globe - can't say exactly why. I'd love to see this drawing as a poster for the United Nations. The child, the golden tree, our heritage, we are all on those branches. Tree of Life. Stunning image, Pedro."

He wrote: "thanks brenda.
we all have dreams in our minds. when life is hard our tree doesn't have many leaves, but still has that light that allows us to keep on dreaming. the boy in the drawing is a homeless kid that i knew in cabo verde who teaches me that our dreams must live no matter what.
this one is on my bedroom's wall!"

I wrote: "Dear Pedro, This drawing is burned in my consciousness and everywhere I turn I see it and it fills my eyes with tears of compassion and warms my heart because of the spirit in us that lights the way. The boy is someone I want to protect and yet his vision is strong and I bow down before him. How much would you charge for a print of this drawing? Thank you so much."

Saturday, November 08, 2008

In the Early Evening

I draw deep red curtains over the dimming remnants of fire opal in the sky as darkness sweeps over the continent I live on.

Excerpt from NaNoWriMo, on the process of writing

Dear Reader, I need not tell you what an unexpected afternoon of delight he had. We shall discover the details, for I am as curious as you, and after all this is a book of erotic fiction.

Though, dear reader, you understand that I but partially write the story of these characters. My idea had been for Ambra to discover his innocence and for he and her to spend a delightful night together as she indoctrinated him in the arts of love. Then I could have written of deep emotional love, of indissoluable bonding, and thereby written of the poetry of their souls.

But Ambra, on the brink of being written into the text as the woman who deflowered him, decided to meet with her rich lover and disappear.

I was surprised as you, dear reader, by her quick and complete exit.

It doesn't look like she's coming back either. I'm not sure where she's gone, or what happened to her. In this regard I, though the author, am as 'in the dark' as you, the reader.

Never mind. The story continues. It appears to be, more-or-less, writing itself. I have found any planning I do for what may happen next goes for naught. The characters have other ideas.

I'm learning in my daily life to forget that I am writing a novella since nothing I decide in terms of direction or character development happens that way.

Rather, it is as if the text decides its own direction moment to moment.

Things develop logically out of other things, but what happens to characters seems based on the inner logic of the story rather than my control of it.

Hence I shall relate Mœdello's afternoon at the Bordello, though you understand I, too, am entering the Bordello along with him; this writing has not been thought-through beforehand, there are no notes, or plot outlines, or even overall moral for the story.

Everything in this story is created in the moment.

Though I have unsuccessfully tried, no premeditated directions of any kind have been permitted by the writing itself. I sit before my computer, or my legs stretched out on the couch or bed, touch typing.

The writing tells its own tale.

No, I'm not "chaneling." Such a ludicrous notion!

It surprises me, what goes on in the subdued buried populations of my mind, where these characters roam close to a wild abandon to the senses, racous, on the edge of social decency. They are like dreams called forth through the act of writing without prescribed notions of what is to happen, or not happen.

What unfolds through these pages might embarrass me, but dreams are like that.

Relative of Lithops, or Living Stones

Botany Photo of the Day

"Plant Family / Families: Aizoaceae
Scientific Name and Author: Conophytum maughanii N.E. Br.
Name Location: cultivated in Altadena, California, USA"

"The genus Conophytum is closely related to the living stones, or Lithops. Both genera are in the Aizoaceae. Like the living stones, species of Conophytum generally produce two above-ground plump succulent leaves. In the picture above, the Conophytum maughanii specimen is breaking dormancy, revealing new wrinkly crimson leaves. Last year's bloom is also present in this photo as the shriveled projection between the leaves."

All I can say is, sexiest living stone I've ever seen!

Friday, November 07, 2008

First Wash

Painting with water-soluble oil pastels, a figure that became sinewy with flesh tones, reds, greens and tree-trunk browns, while listening to "Alex," my computer's best voice, reading a long piece of writing by a young friend...

Highlight the text to be read, hit the keys you've set up to start the text-to-speech recognition, and voilà! Free to work and listen to whatever you'd like in the big net-wide world.

Flame-Red Bushes

Walked to Kensington Market to shop, Indian Summer bluesky, carpets of crumpled gold, flame-red bushes, copper canopies of Maple, Linden...

Thursday, November 06, 2008

NaNoWriMo continues...

12,011 NaNoWriMo words, wrists hurt, story's raunchy but sad, made my daily word count, I did, sleep in peace now, till tomorrow's count...

Life under President Barack Obama

Click on this for a larger size. It seems spontaneous and not posed. It brought tears to my eyes this morning. This is how it should be.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

President Barack Obama

Way to go America! So proud of you, my dear American friends. You've elected a great statesman and leader to run your nation.

Here, in this little apartment in Toronto, Canada, tears & celebrations~ it's like a possibility we might have imagined a hundred or two hundred years into the future is happening now.

Phenomenal. Awesome. Truly GREAT.

A heavy mantle to carry, times are complex and difficult, but if anyone can do it, Barack Obama can.


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Vote for Barack Obama

Let me tell you, if you Americanos don't vote Barack Obama for President we'll be happy to have him as our Prime Minister up here in Canada.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Fate of the Lhapa

In my four and a half years in the jungle in Zambia as a young child there was a Witch Doctor who I remember clearly. He has been with me all my life - though I had a strong feeling he passed on in 1997 - I went to my cottage alone and fasted (only water) for 3 days and helped him, his spirit on the journey to the Great Oneness.

My memories of him and his power and his work are entirely different to the New Age posturing of so called "Shamans." From my own tribal African vantage, I understand the difference between the pose and the reality. "Shaman" seems to me to be about power, and is sold as such in workshops and books and New Age CDs et al; whereas, the traditional Witch Doctor or Medicine Man or Woman is about healing, and it is a most difficult path of great responsibility for the chosen practitioner.

Last week, as part of a Planet Earth film festival, I saw the film this trailer advertises of three Tibetan Lhapa who are in their elder years living in a permanent refugee camp in Nepal who do this difficult work with illness and Spirit. They may not have heirs to their calling since the signs of Lhapa have not appeared in any of the younger generations in any of their families, which is why they requested a documentary to remember them and their work.

It is a beautiful little film, shot in natural light. The Lhapa are disarmingly open about the traditional Tibetan Medicine they are doctors of. The Lhapa hold nothing back in their sharing of their understanding of what they do, the processes involved. Perhaps to us it may seem superstitious, though we also in our Western medicine use a set of metaphors to explain bodily and psychic processes in terms of illness and cure and we should understand that they are only sets of metaphors and are no more or less valid than the ones the Tibetan Lhasa use to describe their treatments.

The Lhasa give themselves fully to the work they do; more than this, they give themselves over to the spiritual calling of the healing processes. It takes its toll on them; it is not an easy calling. That they live hard lives is quite evident, though they do not see themselves this way.

The Lhapa become gods while they heal, the deities enter them, this is an incredible sight to see. It's not about 'power' either. The Lhapa take no personal credit for the healings.

It is a difficult calling, to be a Medicine Man or Woman, and nothing at all like what New Age therapist types propose. There's no glamour in the true Medicine Way. You don't become more powerful and able to command life and those around you with your psychic force; rather than a display of special powers, the real Medicine man carries the heavy mantle of a healer who heals by exorcising disease, who takes on the ailment to expel it. Who continually works to understand the ways of the spirits in their interaction with the human and animal and plant worlds.

This is in striking contradistinction to advertisements I've seen for workshops and whatnot with New Age healers that appear perfunctory and rather imperious.

The sentences in these ads have a 'feel' of business talk and of someone who is an 'expert.' Yet I well know from exploring some of these offerings that an (often not very thorough or self-reflective) intellectual knowledge of various traditions doesn't thereby accord the moral and emotional wisdom that should accompany the teachings. Their aim is to convince others to spend money on their modes of healing, their workshops, their retreats. Healing is a game being sold.

Compare this to a Lhapa, whose kindness and compassion radiates, you can see that in the trailer, yet there is a humbleness that surely comes from not identifying with the healing forces. And for whom healing is a very real and difficult path that must take great moral courage to stay on.

But you, my gentle reader, know this better than I do.

When we read, we should be intensely alive: the writing "a ball of light in one's hand."
Ezra Pound

Sunday, November 02, 2008

NaNoWriMo 2008

Aiming for 2000 words/day, should reach 50,000 words before the end of the month or have a few days for crises'; NaNoWriMo is exuberant, hell, a way to drive yourself |insane|.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

NaNoWriMo begins...

Yes, I've begun NaNoWriMo - 402 words so far, only 49,598 to go! No plot, no outline, allow oneself to compose a story unplanned! Discover it as you go. Why not, I ask. Why not?

Is this fun? I don't know. I'm surprised too. Where this character came from, I have no idea. But here he is - Moedello. And onwards...

My site at NaNoWriMo is RubiesInCrystal.

I'm writing it on Google Docs (which some of you have heard me rave about). I'm sure I'll be posting bits on this blog throughout the month. The first beginning...

No beginning. Mœdello, I tell you this. Remove the concept of beginning. Everything develops out of something else. Coming into fruition or withering away, seeds set a long time back, perhaps when the universe developed out of something else. No ex nihilo.

Take off your monk's garbs, leave the Order. Forget the salvation of the timeline. Without beginning, there is no end.

It's a gentle truth. Whatever we are will become something else. We live in continuums. Going all the way back and all the way forward. Nothing is wasted and nothing lost.

Even black holes, which suck everything in, disappearing past the event line, the horizon of being. Which then evaporate. We think they're gone, information lost, trajectories lost, where there was is now nothing, impossible to conceive, inconceivable. Yet transforming, evaporating from disappearance.

Perhaps we are an evaporated black hole. The disappeared who are here, a living universe.

Drop your robes, Mœdello. Unstring your rosary in the garden. I am not a wanton woman tempting you.

I'm only writing this to discover time, the passing. Because I respect the time that our grammar weaves, teaching our minds generations after generations. Organizing our memories, too. Timelines. Enfolded complexities of living.

If I could understand where you're coming from I'd go there too.

Or perhaps only visit. Bringing my past to meet your future.

The horses were white and galloped powerfully, muscles and nostrils and flank hair and hooves. Were they in a pasture or were they a memory?

You came from Italian stock. From farmland. You gave up the soil for the dry run of Ecclesiastical words. Hearing, breathing the scriptures. Predictable shadows on the walls. Walking by pillars every day, upheld. Comfort in the predictability of the hours of the days that repeated themselves without interruption and were unlike the cycles of farming, dependent on the weather of the seasons and the market. When the rains stopped, the famines began. The horses died. It was cracked and dry.

You all went away, there was no food. The friar on the street of the city where you stood shivering took you in. The friar who offered you his robes. You were thin but he fed you and taught you to mime the sacraments with him.

It wasn't that you didn't believe what the Church offered.

I never said that.

Archeology of Water

This began with an image of memory scrawled in a notebook in April 2019 that I knew I would work with, either in a poem, or perhaps video. ...