A Little Knitting Progress, a Little Hope

Stay Safe Cowl by EasyKnitter.co.uk

I have been knitting away on this little cowl for weeks now. It’s been a learning experience, both in double-knitting (those vertical grey stripes on the bottom half) and in fair-isle stranded knitting (the colorwork on top). This is actually a double-sided cowl, so when I’m done with the pattern the striped bit will flip up and be the inside of the cowl. It’s merino stranded with mohair and I am v. v. excited about wearing it, so while I am a very slow stranded knitter, I’m hoping to get this finished while it’s still cool enough to wear it.

And there’s that word, hope.

Really, this cowl represents so much of my current feelings. A wish for myself and others to stay safe. Looking for bright in the darkness. And, so much hope.

Wednesday was… a lot. I was working from home that day so I was able to listen to (not so much watch) the Inaugural proceedings, and while I don’t feel like we’re out of the woods yet (obviously there is still so much work to do! – I mean I work in healthcare, I. Know. This.) I have so much hope that we can kick hatred back into the smallest of shadows and bring on a brighter and better tomorrow. I know I am not the only one to say this, but Amanda Gorman’s reading said this better than I ever could.

Amanda Gorman delivering “The Hill We Climb”

This young lady. When I was 22 I was invited by a professor and former Santa Barbara city Poet Laureate to read at a poetry night at a museum and I thought THAT was big (it was for me, and Barry Spacks believing in me was huge). (I promise I’ll keep writing poems, Barry.) But Amanda Gorman is on another plane altogether, and honestly it thrills me to see such a vibrant, talented young woman be called the nation’s first Youth Poet Laureate.

Someone on MSNBC said that it felt as if it’s been a battle between Old America and New America and that Amanda’s reading was like a declaration that a new, more inclusive America had won. I hope so. I am hoping that Biden’s long experience, bipartisan respect, and reliance on experts (experts, everywhere!) can bring us forward to where the U.S. really ought to be in terms of innovation, equalilty, and infrastructure. Not to mention finally dealing with the pandemic (epidemic, as it should rightly be called now) in a responsible way.

I have hope. I have hope.

2020 Reads

2020 was a hard reading year for many people. For me, though, the only thing keeping me sane was audiobooks. I devoured audiobooks this year. Many, I’ll admit, rereads of things I knew felt like magic to me, like Maggie Steifvater’s Raven Cycle, or Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus. I also returned to other forms of comfort, like Percy Jackson and a reread of The Hunger Games as narrated by the incredibly talented Tatiana Maslany.

2020 was also the year I finally finished The Wheel of Time. It isn’t and never will be a favorite of mine, but Brandon Sanderson ended it well, and that’s what I was hoping for. My favorite new reads of the year were the first book I finished, The Good Luck Girls by Charlotte Nicole Davis, Darius the Great is Not Okay/Deserves Better by Adib Khorram, which both made me sob like a baby, and the hilarious, insane trip that is Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir. It was also the first time I read Jurassic Park and The Lost World, or any Crichton at all, to be honest.

This was a really great year for reading for me, but I’m grateful I’m a person who can listen to audiobooks, because while this is the most books I managed in a year almost ever (53), it also would have been utterly impossible without audiobooks, as the only one I managed all the way through in book-form was Maggie Stiefvater’s Call Down the Hawk, and even that took me ages.

Knitting Through the Mess

Slipstravaganza by Stephen West

One of the things that has been keeping me sane through the pandemic has been keeping my hands busy, and a lot of that has been knitting.

This particular piece is part of a mystery knit-along that has been over for more than a month now, but I’m slow so I keep moving along. It’s helpful for me to have a tangible thing I’m working on while I’m writing, something to keep me focused and keep my brain quiet so I can untangle story plots.

Have you been working on anything creative during the pandemic?

Embracing 2017

So 2016 was a hard year on me, both on a global and a personal level. Because of that, I didn’t get a lot of writing done, didn’t accomplish many of the goals I set out for myself. I pretty much hunkered down and practiced a lot of self-care and cuddled pets and friends’ babies and did everything I could to keep my heart open and beating and soft.

But 2017 has started, for me, with clearer and stronger intent than any year before. I have a lot of work ahead of me, but for the first time in a long time I feel energized and ready to do it. More than that, I can’t wait do do it.

I’m not expecting this year to be an easy one, by any means, but I’m going to make it a joyful one. I’m going to spend it being more of what I want to be and less of what I don’t want to be. I’m going to get off my phone, go back to using the internet as a tool rather than as a numbing device, and finally stop making excuses for my writing.

It’s taken me a lot of growth to get to this point, to go from wanting to being ready and willing to be genuinely myself and take hold of my power. To decide to be accountable for each and every day. That’s what I want this year to be. That’s how it is going to be.

I feel like last year was the recoil before the pitch. There’s going to be a lot of forward-movement from here on out.

Lisa’s Literal Translations #4 – “Rent” by Jane Cooper

LiteraryTranslation

*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*
What a Literal Translation is: A word-for-word translation that swaps words out with literal synonyms
Why a Literal Translation: They help dissect hard-to-understand poems. Most of the time.
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“Rent” by Jane Cooper The Original:
.
If you want my apartment, sleep in it
but let’s have a clear understanding:
the books are still free agents.If the rocking chair’s arms surround you
they can also let you go,
they can shape the air like a body.I don’t want your rent, I want
a radiance of attention
like the candle’s flame when we eat,

I mean a kind of awe
attending the spaces between us—
Not a roof but a field of stars.

*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*^*

Lisa’s Literal Translation:

If you crave my rented living abode, hibernate therein
but let’s keep a transparent agreement of ideas:
the tomes are yet liberated spies.

Should the shuffling seat’s limbs circle you
they may likewise release you,
they may mold the atmosphere like a corpse.

I don’t wish your house money, I wish
a brilliance of concentration
kin to the light’s fire when we ingest,

I intend a sort of wonder
listening to the emptinesses betwixt us—
No ceiling but a meadow of planetary lights.

Too hot – gone reading!

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Sorry for the late post, but it’s too hot for me to have my laptop on for very long in my air-conditioning-challenged apartment. If you live anywhere on the west half of the U.S. (and maybe even the east?) I bet it’s too hot where you are, too.

To keep the heat at bay I’m reading Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, and when that gets a little too heavy for me, I’m switching off with The Battle for Skandia, book four in the Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan, which The Mr recommended to me and I’m loving.

Sorry for the lack of links, but I’m posting this from my Nook and that makes things difficult.

This is what else I’m working on….

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How are you coping with the heat?

Poetry Month post two: Sharon Olds

 

“The One Girl at the Boys Party” (Sharon Olds, 1983)


When I take my girl to the swimming party
I set her down among the boys. They tower and
bristle, she stands there smooth and sleek,
her math scores unfolding in the air around her.
They will strip to their suits, her body hard and
indivisible as a prime number,
they’ll plunge in the deep end, she’ll subtract
her height from ten feet, divide it into
hundreds of gallons of water, the numbers
bouncing in her mind like molecules of chlorine
in the bright blue pool. When they climb out,
her ponytail will hang its pencil lead
down her back, her narrow silk suit
with hamburgers and french fries printed on it
will glisten in the brilliant air, and they will
see her sweet face, solemn and
sealed, a factor of one, and she will
see their eyes, two each,
their legs, two each, and the curves of their sexes,
one each, and in her head she’ll be doing her
sparkle and fall to the power of a thousand from her body.


I love the clarity and the honesty in Sharon Olds’ poetry. and for some reason I especially love her poems about her children. I don’t have kids of my own yet, but I imagine she hits just on the head the odd mix of emotions watching your children grow up brings to you—pride in their strengths, anxiousness over what they don’t know and how they might stumble, wonder at the things they understand better than you. A t the things you know are headed their way.

2012 in Review…

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My phone took this photo all by itself today, whilst I was taking snapshots of some perfect snowflakes (and I mean perfect. All snow-flake-y-like, though that’s not my picture). As I was flipping through my photos, though, I couldn’t help but stop on this one. This fuzzy, pretty accident shot.

This was kind of my year. Blurry, uncertain, not what I was expecting it to be… but ultimately a lovely thing.

2012 started out as a bit of a mess for me. The Mr. and I were broke, living down in Texas on some property my father had bought in a scary part of town and doing our best to clean it up and get it ready for business. And work on stuff for my Etsy shop, which was pretty much our only income at the time. And oh yeah, work on my writing. I was hoping to be finished by the end of June so that I could have the whole thing edited and ready to send out for submissions by December – that didn’t quite happen, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Then in March, without much real warning, my father sold his property in Texas, and The Mr. and I bundled up our stuff and headed back to where we met and started this crazy life together—Utah. We went on faith, mainly, because we certainly didn’t have anything promising waiting for us there. We were blessed to stay with good friends for a couple of months, and our hopes that we would find a soft spot to land from a long fall ended up justified. Soon I had a part-time job, and almost as quickly after that (thought it didn’t really feel quick at the time), both The Mr. and I got hired on at the same company—with a decent wage and benefits from day one.

Of course… it was a graveyard shift, so there was that to adjust to. And honestly, sometimes it feels as if we are still adjusting, a little over six months later. But we are under our own roof and paying our bills, which is a blessing some might take for granted.

With all the craziness, I read only a measley 22 books this year. And yes, that includes the one I finished today. I blame this largely on the fact that I’ve been trying to read both Bleak House and The Idiot without owning my own actual hard copy of either of them… but this might be a little crazy of me. It probably also had to do with the whole sleep-adjusting and moving twice thing.

I fell in love with the Android Librivox app this year, too.

As I said before, I did not write “The End” on my story by the time I was hoping—but I did write it. Now I’m working on edits and the new goal is to have everything triple-edited by the end of April and be on submissions after that, along with having another WIP done by this June.

2013 is my year! Hope it’s yours, too!

Happy Release Day to Guardian’s Choice by Isabelle Santiago!

Happy release day to Book II in one of my favorite series. Here’s the blurb:

(Book II, The Guardian Circle)

When Amaya wakes, with only the memory of her world’s apocalyptic destruction, she is surprised to find herself alone in a world deceptively similar to her own. But there’s so much about Zerah that’s changed. The Holy Grounds are gone. The Temple is destroyed. And all that remains of their ancient society is a vast, barren space.

Lost and confused, Amaya is forced underground into the dark heart of the neighboring province, hiding out among the monsters – unnatural products of their Maker. She loses all control of her empathic power, spiraling toward madness, until Phoenix finds and saves her. Together they work to build the semblance of a normal life, but he wants more than she’s prepared to give, and try as she might to forget, she’s still haunted by memories of a man she was never meant to love.

Torn between her fear and her need to be redeemed, Amaya seeks out the very person she’s been running from. He presents a tempting offer: he will free her of the Mark that enslaves her to the Guardianship, a Mark that carries only ghosts of a past better forgotten, and give her a chance at a new life.

All it will cost is her soul.

What I love most about this series:

A) THE CHARACTERS.

Oh my goodness. Talk about conflicted and flawed, and I love every inch of them.

B) THE WORLD BUILDING

So detailed and beautiful and THERE. Every minute of this series you know you’re in a different world.

C) THE CONFLICT

Big stakes. Heartwrenching choices.

D) THE PROSE

Just beautiful stuff. Again, reminds you you’re in a world that’s not your own.

And okay, it may be dedicated to me and some friends… but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s awesome.

Buy it on Kindle, Nook, or Kobo.

Why The Casual Vacancy Shouldn’t be Compared to Harry Potter

Note: This is not a book review. Just a general reaction to the general reaction surrounding The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling, released last week.

Yes, I’m just as much a Potter fan as you are. And if you don’t believe me, ask my husband, who, while also a Potter enthusiast, has found many a time to laugh and roll his eyes at me for my overly-in-depth knowledge of the series.

I’ve been (naively, I suppose) surprised at the reaction I’ve seen in response to Rowling’s new book ever since its existence was first announced. Of course I knew that many people would be comparing the new book to Rowling’s admittedly history-making series, but I’ve seen everything from incredulity that she can even write anything else good to outright complaints about her new subject matter (a small English town ripped apart by a political vacancy).

I have to admit, all of the above baffles me.

To me, this is like saying that Shakespeare shouldn’t have tried writing Henry V after A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Okay, maybe that’s not a perfect analogy, but my point is this: J.K. Rowling has proven to all of us that she understands the human condition on multiple levels, that she understands social tensions and their destructive capabilities, and that she understands mortality and morality, which she herself has admitted she’s a bit obsessed with. In other words: the very thing that makes most stories tick.

I’m not “worried” about this book. I’m not skeptical as to whether or not it’s going to be “as good” as Harry Potter. It’s not Harry Potter nor is it meant to be. Me, I’m looking forward to reading something new by one of my favorite authors, whatever it is. I’ll follow you anywhere, Ms. Rowling. Just keep leading on.