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Awaiting Fruition

Plant Friends 7-19-09 (4)

As I eagerly sow and wait for my newest plant friends to pullulate, I meet a sense of peaceful repose gazing through the lens of my camera at their new abode – a coconut fiber-lined wire basket that jauntily dangles from my balcony railing.  Embedded in compost and worm poop, soaked and then drizzled over lovingly with water daily, I entertain visions of a bequeathal of salad green goodness from this basket as these mesclun lettuces burgeon forth.  And yes, I thrill that their main fertilizer is the excrement of wriggling creatures.  You can visit Vermiculture Northwest to see why.

Besides calling up a surge of potent metaphors, archetypes, and mythological referents, these seeds also represent something of my independence.  I failed to understand that I hadn’t really found it yet.  I have been removed from the surety and safety of the nest (albeit with a temporary revisit recently) for some time, and yet I have discovered that this new space allows for an exploration and effusion of creativity that I have not felt the like of before.  Part of this is why I was not writing devotionally while in the midst of moving – I was so profoundly affected by the energy that was building within and around me that I could not focus enough to bring thought to keypad.

I know there is many layers of soil to explore with these new roots of mine.  Forgive me while I descend, like the questing roots of my new mesclun lettuce plants, into the clichéd space of seeds and rooting, but the relation to my living space is unavoidable and utterly joyful.  Like these seeds, I feel like I have been waiting for some convergence of factors.  Within this new space, I hope to find the necessary ingredients to germinate, as I now hope the mesclun seeds are doing in their elevated container.  I shall have to find my own form of worm poop to feed my growth…

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Naamah's Kiss by Jacqueline CareyNaamah’s Kiss

by

Jacqueline Carey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
After Santa Olivia, Carey’s stature as my favorite author was assured. Naamah’s Kiss carved that distinction into marble. Any successive contenders for favorite author will have tall plinths to ascend before their names can be carved near the zenith.

Departing chronologically but not spiritedly from my beloved characters in the Kushiel’s Legacy, this generational descendant retains the compassion and character and thrill and intelligence of its predecessors. Rather than merely reacquaint us solely with D’Angeline society as it has progressed over four generations, Carey starts us in the wilds of Alba with a descendant of Alais, now referred to as Alais the Wise, who is part of a family branch that followed the isolationist nature of the still mistrusted Maghuinn Donn: Moirin, great granddaughter to my beloved princess who matured to inspire Alba.

Alais’ great granddaughter has no less a grand destiny to fulfill; indeed, it is this destiny that fuels her outward exploration. Thematically central, the thread of destiny remains ever present to Moirin as she literally feels her destiny respond to the courses she ponders. It is this internal compass that propels or hinders her along the way, the impetus that sends her beyond one ocean to Terre d’Ange, and then beyond a greater ocean to distant and newly connected, yet forbidding Ch’in.

Magic is much more prevalent for Moirin and a greater factor in Naamah’s Kiss, taking on a larger presence than in the Kushiel’s Legacy sextuplet. Moirin lives with magic, having inherited through her ancestry from Alais and the Maghuinn Donn gifts that many thought lost. She hears the call of the bear goddess of the Maghuinn Donn, but also feels and is guided by the presence of the D’Angeline consorts Naamah and Anael. Weaving together with her demanding destiny, this exploration of magic and divinity compels a significant part of the story and positions Moirin in spheres of intrigue and power to which her naivete is quickly forced to adapt.

Despite her humble upbringing in the wilds of Alba, or perhaps due to it, Moirin has a lusty desire to learn, explore her nature, and follow the call of her destiny. This often manifests as a stubborn streak, which combines with her naive charm to engender a new character Carey has created that has stolen my heart. Methinks Naamah would be especially pleased by this.

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Good For This Gay

Today found me breaking out of my home-building isolation (truly, how often can I stare at my assorted pictures and shelving waiting to be hung before I start seeing amorphous blobs of black and varied color?  Blasted feng shui sense that will not allow me to toss art up higgledy-piggledy on the wall!).  I was working with Gay For Good, a group I found in one of those random Facebook meanderings that sometimes lead to intriguing people or sites.  Gay For Good selects a charity or non-profit once a month to assist in their efforts.  The combined force of 50+ gay men and lesbians should never be doubted!

I’ve missed the two events in previous months after finding the group, the one garnering some attention was the Great LA River Clean Up in which 80 volunteers from Gay For Good participated.  This type of volunteer activity was something I always wanted to do in the past, but through odd work hours and exhaustion, I never managed to work it into my life. 

After pursuing my LAPD application with a service mindset as a core impetus, one would think I should naturally gravitate toward volunteer-based efforts.  One would be right in that I am drawn to them, but my inherent shyness and frustrating inability to surmount the barriers of not knowing people have barred me in the past.

I didn’t let it this time.  For July, Gay For Good was going local, helping the West Hollywood Community Housing Project start the clean up of a long-abandoned apartment complex.  The WHCHP recently purchased the buildings that they will convert into accessible and affordable housing for seniors, differently abled, and those with HIV/AIDS as soon as more funding clears.  It truly is local for me, as the buildings reside about two minutes up my street.  I walk by them on my way to the Internet cafe.  How could I not volunteer?

1234 N. Hayworth Gay 4 Good Volunteer Project 7-18-09 (4)

I showed up (late – so shoot me, I have to live up to the occasional gay stereotype), looked helplessly around, thought about retreating in defeat, haltingly asked where I could help, grabbed gloves, and with gravity and apology set about yanking and shearing entrenched ivy out of some seriously shaky brick planters clinging hesitantly to the front of the buildings.1234 N. Hayworth Gay 4 Good Volunteer Project 7-18-09  After the detritus was cleared, lots of sage and banana palms and the orange flower in the photo were given new homes in the barren front yard, and then we wheel-barrowed mulch in to spread over the lot of it.  It sounds like drastically lighter work than it really was – there were probably about fifty of us helping out (and so many beautifully formed shirtless men than I likely could have watered the new plants from my drool alone, not to mention the sweat from all the labor) and we worked for two and a half hours straight. 

Granted, this work was entirely cosmetic, but the effect was dramatic: every time I passed this building previously, it exuded a slightly menacing vibe from its dilapidated frontage.  I wondered if that vibe would prevent us from really making a difference, but what I found as ivy gave way to mulch and five year-old decomposing wood and rusting cans met the garbage truck was that this building was only shielding itself.  Its apartments are remarkably well kept for being unused for more than four years; beautiful hardwood floors in amazing condition greeted me as I peeked into one unit.  There is a proud demeanor that came through once the front yard was looking more presentable.  Members of the WHCHP who were present expressed their feeling that this is a beautiful start giving them hope for the buildings’ eventual rejuvenation.  I think the sage was in particular agreement.

1234 N. Hayworth Gay 4 Good Volunteer Project 7-18-09 (5)

My inner turmoil eased considerably as friendly greetings were exchanged and one woman and I explored the insect jungle living amongst the ivy, discovering a pinkie-sized centipede replete with fuzzy covering and speedy maneuvering.  The ivy really did not want to give up its home, causing me grief as I tore and cut its roots, hence I’ll end with a photographic tribute in remembrance.

1234 N. Hayworth Gay 4 Good Volunteer Project 7-18-09

So I’ve passed the time when a mere hiatus in writing due to moving is a justifiable excuse.  I probably passed it a week ago, but I’m going to blame it on not having an Internet connection at the apartment yet.  A consensus was reached that as fun as trucking a laptop and cord to Whole Foods and WiFi cafes can be (which it really can be, especially since these places have attractive people to watch in my neighborhood), actually having Internet access at 2 am when most things are accomplished would be much more fun than staring dejectedly or with recrimination at a computer screen.

This break (which probably won’t really be over until the wireless router is humming and sending DNA-altering waves into my apartment) has left me nicely released from the burden of checking my Facebook every twelve minutes and deterred my ear from listening for the little chirrup of Tweetdeck telling me I have a new tweet to read.  It gave me time to negate what would have easily become an addiction rather than a useful expenditure of time.  Because really, do I need to be playing a farming game on Facebook?

I would much rather actually be farming, and since my new balcony actually provides a space that I can grow things, I am spending my time doing so.  The joy and fun that already has and will continue to come from bringing new plant friends into my life will have to wait for a later post (with pictures, I promise).  I just saw an attractive Whole Foods shopper meander in and the store has tomato plants that are demanding my attention!  Plus they are playing 80’s music!  No time for typing!

Silent witness to the daily perambulations upon which we embark, the ceiling, tinged with jealousy and confusion, sees the rightness and forthrightness and uprighteous and the down and the downtrodden and the down-in-the-dumps and they are all the same.  

I strive to mimic the upside down distinctions and see past the gravitational boundaries of earth and culture, even if I fall down on the ceiling.  And I will fall down, often hard, and frequently.  The bumps and bruises will be badges unless I hide them with clothing.

The ceiling will still be jealous.  It cannot learn through bruised flesh as I do; it expires when earthquakes or demolition affect its form.  Instead it will seek vicarious learning through me, causing me to fall so painfully and forcefully upon it, and it will witness my reaction. 

It sees me stand again and continue.  In this way we learn from each other.  I am upside down viewing right way up.  A partnership of silence and standpoint (or fallpoint).

The floor is a totally separate learning partner, but no less prone to making me fall.

Happy homemaking: I’ll make some obfuscated man a good wifey.

Fourth of July crackles and snaps overhead.

Scrubbing the mesh strainer from a personal coffee press (a judicious amount of vinegar, lemon, and soaking releases stained tea and coffee), I am stabbed by a fraying tine of thin metal.  Right in the side of my finger at the point of articulation.  I stare at the scrub pad in the other hand as if betrayed, look fleetingly at the finger expecting watery red sanguinity but find none, and gaze at the harsh pocked white ceramic sink.  Its age refused my elbow-grinding ministrations and fizzing baking soda.

A series of percussive blasts to the northeast: Hollywood Bowl.  Tickets were cheap – I should have gone.

My kitchen shelves needed lining.

Nearby bang-pop-peeeowwww.

In acknowledgement of the central barbecuing holiday of American experience, I cut up a watermelon, store the bulk of it, scoop down to translucent white with a spoon, and eat standing at my sink.  Though I don’t let the watermelon touch the sink.

Fizzling chortle followed quickly by gurgling whizzing and then abrupt silence.

I give the scrub pad a second chance or an inhumane punishment on the counter-top.

Simultaneous multiplicity of thunderous reverberations.  Must’ve been the climax, at least for some somewhere.

The scrub pad failed.  My elbows complain.  There is watermelon juice and a few stray bits on the counter-top.  I pick up a larger chunk and eat it.  The mesh of the coffee press is silver again with only minute hints of sepia.  I have a little blushed mark on the side of my finger that throbs slightly and is probably just watermelon juice and my imagination.

Wheeewewer-psshh-whoooffff.

White counter-top and silver coffee press mesh and unseen fireworks – happy Fourth of July.

Dream Angus by Alexander McCall Smith

Dream Angus: The Celtic God of Dreams

by

Alexander McCall Smith

rating: 3 of 5 stars
Flitting in amongst the lives and dreams of modern day Irish folk, Angus, deliverer of dreams and igniter of passions and love, takes on the persona of a therapist, a tow-headed and simple-minded youth, or the ancient regalia as the son of the Dagda, the highest of the Irish deities. McCall Smith crafts a series of delightful short stories, rife with the connections between people and the failings therein. Whether describing the beautiful beginnings of a newlywed couple or the wrenching betrayal of a damaged marriage, he tells an engaging story.

Yet unlike precursors in the Canongate Myth series, the connections to the myth that beget this novel seems to hold a tenuous thread to the modernity of mythic experience that Smith never truly expounds upon. The mythic story arc, encasing the modern short stories, of the Dream Angus could be excised and leave a fine collection of short stories. I felt disappointed that the first Celtic exploration did not delve as deeply nor as soundly as the Greek tales. The myth was relegated to the hastily surmised binding offering a tenative connective tissue to the short stories, rather than the wellspring from whence they sprung.

The prose is lovely and the characters have feeling to them, but I engaged this novel hoping for the resonance of mythos to carry me to the ineffable realms of imagination and creativity, but alas the flight stopped lightly at a pleasurable yarn to wile away an afternoon, leaving me grasping at a loose thread yet to be woven into cloth.

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