I recently had something startlingly nice happen to me! There's a professor I had in the past who's a noted and accomplished author. She's got enough prose and literature out that I always found her somewhat… not quite intimidating to talk to, but not easy to chat with. It's not her fault at all, of course — she's one of the most friendly, approachable, and helpful women writers I've ever met — if not the most so. She's the one who told me I was brilliant enough that I should continuously challenge myself, in fact.

She even shared one time that she still gets butterflies in her stomach when she steps up to the microphone to speak or read at events she's invited to. It's just that… well, there's something a little awe-inspiring about a woman who can casually mention that she first realized she must be famous… when she was in Europe and saw a line from one of her poems translated into that language and scrawled as graffiti across one of the arches of a stone bridge there.

So yeah: hugely impressed and inspired by her. So you can perhaps imagine my shock and pleasure at hearing from a friend that she was so pleased to finally meet this woman… and as they were chatting about people they both knew, my name came up — and this accomplished, brilliant, heartrendingly evocative author said (with apologies to my failure of absolutely precise memory due to the aforementioned shock and pleasure), "Oh, Collie! Yes, I know her — she's a great writer!"

I'm published again! It's a very small thing this time, but once again it came from the heart. In the gorgeously illustrated She Appears! Encounters with Kwan Yin, Goddess of Compassion there is a short segment which I wrote. I would have liked to include more, but at the time which Sandy Boucher, the author/editor, asked for contributions I was rather swamped with schoolwork. Nevertheless, Sandy said she was quite pleased to have my input, as it was markedly different than what most of the contributors were sending in. I guess that's par for the course for me? ;)

If Kwan Yin calls to you, please buy a copy and help support women publishers and authors! If you're more interested in a wide variety of goddesses — especially goddesses who stand on their own and are sufficient unto themselves — you can either purchase the other book in which I have articles on amazon, or I'll gladly sell you a copy: Unto Herself: A Devotional Anthology for Independent Goddesses, edited by Ashley Horn. Enjoy!

What we call home

17 Feb 2015 In: Family, House stuff, Random
Conversation pit & fireplace

The conversation pit & fireplace, taken from the living room.

We have moved! So much stuff happening; so many errands on my metaphorical plate! The photos are from before we moved in. Currently we're still living in box-ageddon, though we're making progress on changing that. It's surprisingly satisfying to have a place you call home that's yours — I'd not realized just how much. True, I lived in houses my parents owned, but this is the first house we've owned since I became an adult. It's funny how many plans we have for the future, even as we work hard on excavating the canyons of boxes for our goods.

Pool from NW

Looking up at the house & back deck from our little pool.

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There is a sort of beauty found in terrible weather, which I'd forgotten. It's nice to remember.

Because I don't currently have a backyard, I walk my dog Goldie twice daily, and I try to get her to a dog park five or six days a week to stretch her legs off-leash and play with other dogs. One of the dog parks is in Los Gatos Creek Park, and during this last rainy spate it was frequently full of large flocks of grazing Canada geese, as well as the myriad other water birds taking advantage of a bit of free-standing water.

While I was a teen in Texas we rode the horses daily regardless of weather conditions. I remember in particular one fine winter blizzard where my sister was riding her white horse, while I was riding my black mare. As we trotted along, both of us bundled up within inches of our lives, I laughed and pointed out that it looked like I was riding a white horse with black splotches… while my sister's horse was simply vanishing into the briskly accumulating snow. Given our druthers, I suspect we'd both have preferred to stay nice and warm by the fire indoors… but because we had to go out, we received the lovely gift of experiencing first-hand the cold, spare beauty of a snow storm.

It's been a bit like that in the recent rainy weather. Fortunately Goldie seems to enjoy bouncing around in the rain — so I bundle up, take an umbrella, and head on out to the park with her. I remember one day in particular where it was raining so steadily that I was the only one in the dog park. The clouds were lowering and traveling fast in the gusting wind, while the rain slanted down in visible sheets. It was cold and wet and my visual horizon was significantly reduced — and yet… it was also stunningly, peculiarly beautiful. The rain poured down all in sparkling silver and dove gray, while the dusky, dappled clouds were a visual delight of an inexplicable number of shades of gray in a richness I'd never expected: grays in slate and oyster and hoarfrost; pearl and lead and stony gray. Even the puddles and the small reservoir glinted bright-plated argent in the refracted sunlight.

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Grateful for the holidays

1 Jan 2015 In: Random, Wonderful pets!

The holiday season is finally coming to a close, and I find I have a great deal to be grateful for. One random side thought: Good heavens, new houses take a lot of time and effort! ;)

I've already written about our lovely kittens, but I do have two cute new photos to share before I talk about my wonderful new pup. So here's Tessa doing her camo thing…

Camo-Tessa

Camo-Tessa

and Manda playing the part of the cat in the Far Side cartoon — somewhere a deliriously happy dog is yelling, "SCOOOORE!"

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Some years ago I had a friend with whom I lunched on a weekly basis. At that time he was on a job team that had something particularly difficult and complex to accomplish. This wouldn't have been such a big deal except that, frankly speaking, the manager was terrible. He wished to hear only that things were finished; he didn't want to hear about or assist with technical details or difficulties. As he became more… disinterested, more hostile to listening to the team members tell him anything he didn't want to hear, he added someone he liked to the team — a guy who was (pardon my bluntness) basically a brown-noser.

Unsurprisingly the team started fracturing soon thereafter, as the brown-noser picked someone to scapegoat to his boss — my friend. It was a rather painful time for both my friend experiencing this, and myself as listener, since I could see what was happening. I tried to gently urge him to start looking for a job right away so he could leave as soon as possible… but he really wanted to believe the team could indeed accomplish its goal. As it turned out, he was right — the team staggered to a shaky conclusion point. The very next day my friend was fired. Because he lived some distance from me, and it was his work that was close to me, we put our weekly lunches on hold.

Fast forward to now: I get an IM (Instant Message) from my friend suggesting I look at a particular web page. I do so; it's some girl's blog. I read a few entries and am not terribly impressed; I'm thinking she seems to be rather… self-centered? Kind of has a chip on her shoulder for some reason… might want to work a bit on her grammar and spelling. Maybe she's still in her teens or early twenties? No idea; don't really care since her chatter about herself is not very interesting to me.

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I don't usually use trigger warnings in my writing, mostly because I don't expect that many people read my blog, and those that do have not asked me to please do so — which I'd be happy to? -but wevs at this point. However, I'm using a trigger warning this time for… hm. I guess for possibly graphic descriptions of sickness? Therefore: please be warned.

 

I'd meant to write about our new dog right after the posting on the kitties. However, two rather significant events happened which derailed my writing. First, we signed on a house — WOW! I'm still amazed and thrilled by this. Second, we went out to celebrate with dinner that night… and I promptly came down with a hugely and painfully debilitating case of what I think was either food poisoning or stomach flu. I was under the impression that food poisoning usually lasted only a day or two. However, it's six days later, and I'm only today beginning to have enough functioning brain cells that I'm focusing well — which is annoying as heck. I truly loathe feeling stupid and not up to snuff.

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Two of the fruits

Two of the fruits

I'm trying to write more often — it's way too easy for me to get into a no-writing slump and procrastinate on my dissertation proposal. Everything I've read on the process says any writing is better than none, so this is a collection of thoughts all tossed out for consideration. The first one, though, is a request for help on identifying a particular fruit. In the backyard of one of the houses we visited — we're house-hunting again now that the previous possible purchase fell through — was a fruit tree. I took one of the fruits to try and identify it, though I didn't actually take a bite of it.

The fruit cut in half

The fruit cut in half

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As I write this I've just spent the past two or three hours sitting in the tire shop and waiting for a tire change. It was busy there; fortunately I knew it might take a while and planned ahead so I had my drink and one of my textbooks to read. The book's cover is attractive: off in the distance you can dimly make out a rust-colored desert background with scudding dust-red clouds reflected on the red surface below — though it's not clear whether that is a mirage or a lake. Up closer to the viewer, and strikingly precise in comparison to the soft, distance-faded edges of the background, flies an osprey. It is a curious choice of bird for the cover: distinctively marked, ospreys are renowned for being extremely poorly suited to captivity. To put it simply, they pine away. This one flies free on the cover, but I still find myself wondering: what is a fish-eating bird doing in a desert biome?

Osprey in flight over Lake Wylie, SC - from wikipedia

Osprey in flight

The cover suits the book, which is titled Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place. The author is Terry Tempest Williams; I generally enjoy her writings for her ability to intriguingly weave together personal experience, a deeply compassionate emotion, and ecofeminist themes. This book is as excellent as I expect: she ties together the natural rising of Utah's Great Salt Lake and the ensuing disastrous loss of viable living and nesting grounds for a huge variety of birds and other wildlife due to the pressures of human encroachment… with her mother's — her entire matriline's — doomed struggles with cancer, due to Utah and Nevada having been used as nuclear testing grounds.

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I'm reading Vandana Shiva's Staying Alive: Women, Ecology, & Development for an on-line class on Ecofeminism which I'm TAing. The following are two comments made on the class forum at different times.

While reading both the book and the forum comments, I was reminded of a study I read about many years ago (which means unfortunately I've lost it, darnit!) which reviewed war as a profit source. The current common perspective is that war is good for the economy — especially that of the winning side. So the study's researchers examined several wars over the past century or so, and discovered something fascinating: war is not actually good for the economy, so much as it is good for the "captains of industry" (read: the old white guys that own everything already) — but only of the winning side. So not only are these the men who aren't actually risking themselves or their families when they urge a society to go to war, but they're also those who most stand to gain. It's everyone else – including the environment and the poor, especially women and children, on both sides — who will lose in war, regardless of who supposedly "wins."

I have some friends I have amiable arguments with about things like this, and some time ago I said to one of them that current Third World development by First World companies was almost a war on the people there. He scoffed, pointing out that lots of folks made money on that development, and it was good for the industrialization of the countries involved.

I have to say now, though, thinking about it — I think I didn't go far enough in my description. I think maldevelopment (Shiva's descriptive term of the economic and ecological devastation which occurs when First World corporations start throwing their economic weight around in Third World countries) really is a war on the poor, the women and children, and the environment. I don't think it's done maliciously, per se — I think it's worse: these people are absolutely indifferent to the pain, destruction, suffering, and death they're causing in their incessant quest for more profit. In maldevelopment there may be short-term gain for the rich of the non-industrialized nation, but I suspect it's only the already-rich of the so-called First World countries that benefit in the long term, just like in any war.

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Bestiaries depict mythical, moralizing animals, but are also potential allegorical sparks that can bloom into brilliant mental bonfires. My bestiary is this mythologizing animal's fascinated exploration of beauty & meaning in the wonder of existence -- in the hopes of inspiring yet more joyous flares of intellectual passion.

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