Category Archives: Books and MORE books

(read … loved … recommended … wished for … all things BOOKS)

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I thought I’d begin the weekend, on this eve of the 21st anniversary of my father’s passing, with sharing an excerpt from a book I have been waiting to see and finally got to download a preview of on my iPad:

“Because, you see, when something bad happens that’s big enough to make you question your entire life, all the other hurts that are hanging around, all the wounds you’ve collected during your lifetime, will come out of the shadows and ask to be healed too.

It’s entirely possible to squash your pain down and carry on with your life, but one day it will catch up with you. One day a little tear will appear in the blanket and then, with an almighty rip, all your crap comes tumbling out. This is a good thing in the long run.”

excerpt from
this i know: notes on unraveling the heart
by Susannah Conway

Wishing you all moments of healing and epiphany and thanksgiving.

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My life is filled with simple pleasures these days. Knitting has become a fixture, and alternately is used as a relaxation/meditation (replacement) process and a source of visibly productive creativity. I enjoy the fact that I’m making things but not having to ponder the process itself – the pattern and the related elements are already figured out and all I need to do is show up. Hence my Gryffindor scarf in the making (tucked into the beautiful Lantern Moon project bag pictured here).

Another source of joy has been reading, and this evening I had the pleasure of attending a CBC broadcast of a book club radio show. Tonight’s featured author was Annabel Lyon who read from and went on to discuss her latest novel, The Sweet Girl, at some length. I haven’t read any of her work but look forward to doing so soon. As with most of these types of events, I always leave inspired and amped to stretch my own creative muscles, only to feel sadly inadequate at the results. I enjoyed hearing Annabel’s response to a question from an audience member on a how-to point (taking the time to scoff at the notion that creative writing is not a teachable skill): in order to produce good writing one must learn the tools that, combined with taking the time to write in whatever increments are available, will bring about the desired results. That, along with John Cleese’s video on creativity that is making the rounds on Facebook lately, there is no substitute for time in the seat.

I sometimes get this feeling of a pesky niggling just beyond my periphery with such little to go on that I’m not even sure what it is that I’m taking note of or why, but enough to know that I must do something with it. Kind of like (in Annabel’s case) Hellenic sippy cups and spiny “bubble wrap” plants (read The Sweet Girl to see what that means). So the Writers’ Festival happening next month seems like a good, short, foray into picking up some skills for someone (like me, lately) with a short attention span.

Celebrating… friendship

It’s been sunny and cool here in Southern California. I spent Saturday with my friend Bonnie in celebration of her birthday, and went to see the Dan Eldon exhibit in Santa Monica. It was small but worth the trip. We had a late lunch at Anisette Brasserie, which was delicious and beautifully appointed. The restaurant was in a renovated bank building, so there were high ceilings, and they’ve imported tiles and different things from France to give it a French “brasserie” feel. We ordered several things off of the menu and shared… everything was delicious… my choice were the mussels, and they were absolutely delicious!

This weekend I picked up a couple of graphic novels… proving once again what a geek I really am. And, proving also that I am consistent in my tastes, I picked up a book that I already had… Rising Stars : Born In Fire (Vol. 1), by J. Michael Straczynski, who is also the creator of Babilon 5 (though I never watched the series… somehow television lost its appeal early in my marriage, since my husband’s viewing habits were mostly limited to sports networks and perhaps the news… and then when Gabriel was born, kid’s networks and the science and/or discovery channels–which I do enjoy). I have Vol. 1, which is a compilation of the first eight comics of the series… there are four more compilations of this sort, which I can never seem to find more of in the comic book stores (but was able to find on Amazon).

Another graphic novel I picked up was The Last One, which was written by J.M. deMatteis and illustrated by Dan Sweetman… the story is right up my alley (and fabulous in my opinion)… it’s about an angel… the last of the “old ones”… still living amongst humans… it’s a lovely story (though somewhat dark and gritty yet filled with hope), and it’s also beautifully illustrated… beautifully lined/penned and colored.

I’m still working on my February chapbook pages… they’re taking a bit longer to put together as each page has eight eyelets attached (which means hole-punching… attaching and setting each of them) and also five “danglies” per page that also require eyelets (for a total of 13 eyelets per page), which then need to be attached to the page with leather string. Me and my bright ideas…

On being directionally challenged and time impaired…

It’s a mystery to me, this time-space thing. While I can organize my workspace (rather compulsively, I might add) into a masterful example of feng-shui-ness, no matter how much stuff there is to organize, and I can spatially organize the flow of an art piece by tapping into some inherent sixth sense, I can’t seem to find my way around the neighborhood without getting ‘lost’ and the concept of time has never quite sunk in.

You know… like when I wake up in the morning and say that I’ll make breakfast but it’s about two hours later before everyone is munching on their eggs and potatoes, simply because it took me so long to stow the clean dishes from the dishwasher and reload the dirty ones from the sink… wash the pans I need to cook with… clean the coffee filter and rinse out the carafe, pour fresh water into the machine, grind coffee and put it into the rinsed filter and turn the coffee machine on so it can brew a new pot… take out the eggs, potatoes, onion, shallots, parsley, spices and ghee and crack, chop, slice, peel, dice, beat, stir, sauté and fold a meal into submission.

I’ve been uploading book titles onto Shelfari over the last couple of days… Steve remarked that I must really be bored to be wasting my time on such trivialities… you know, it’s just another one of those compulsive urges, see? I have lots of books. So many, in fact, that I’ve lost track of which ones I have and by virtue of this seemingly meaningless exercise have discovered that I have quite a few duplicates (and I’m not even done with the whole lot of them). So far I have 879 books on my virtual bookshelf.

My only wish is that I live long enough to read every single one. Soooo many books, soooo little time. More time now, that I am currently unemployed, and I have certainly been using this time to catch up on my reading. And being terrible with the space-time thing, but quite capable of reading multiple books at the same time, I am currently reading the following books:

Extreme Self-Care

The Art of Extreme Self-Care: Transform Your Life One Month at a Time

Odd and the Frost Giants

Odd and the Frost Giants

Tales of a Female Nomad

Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World

Essential Rumi

The Essential Rumi

Wraeththu Storm Constantine

Wraeththu

And so that leaves… over 870 (and then some) more to go… I’ve also discovered, by virtue of this uploading and cataloguing on Shelfari, that not only is my taste pretty consistent, it is so much so that I have not once but sometimes twice purchased the same books. I have a few duplicates, which I am thinking of offering up for postage costs… as you may have witnessed from my book shelf, my tastes are rather –er– eclectic. 🙂 Will post the titles later.

Who is that masked man?

My pink and black postcard is ready to go out. I started out with a sketch of a Venetian Carnivale masquerader and worked a pink background on watercolor board with US ArtQuest’s watercolor palettes. They’re glittery and fun and when I need to take myself a bit more lightly, I pull them out. I layered on several coats of the stuff through a paper doily. I love the resulting texture. Then I transferred my sketch onto the board with graphite paper and added dark paint and texture on my masked man as well. I’m grateful that I only have one (as opposed to nine) to do.

I’ve been thinking on a lot of things lately. I picked up Doreen Virtue’s Divine Magic (Hay House Classics) last week, and have been reading it since mid-week. Interesting stuff, this… not new, per se, but neatly, concisely packaged, along with a “meditation” CD. It’s inspiring, in the least… whatever it takes these days.

Everything about my professional life, lately, seems to be ill-fitting, except perhaps the regular paycheck. I’ve spent most of my adult life in the corporate world, working as what can be equated to a servant position… that of secretary, though nowadays the term administrative assistant is by far a more politically correct designation. And as with all positions of servitude, the degree of palatability is entirely dependent upon the person you serve, and to a lesser extent the nastiness of the other wenches in your household, so to speak. Some days they behave, other days not so much.During a rather philosophical discussion with one of my co-workers, I was advised to “rise above it” (as opposed to wallowing in the slop of the pig sty). Some days this is easier to accomplish than others. I truly feel that my calling is not amongst these ranks, though it does provide a steady and dependable flow of income. I’ve most always picked the easier route in my life, choosing not to rock the boat even though every ounce of me was screaming that I should tip it over. Other times, when I’ve done just that, after the dust settled and the other passengers in the boat smoothed out their disheveled hair, I always found that I was in a better place (at least on a soul level).

But it’s always good to have a plan…I’ve almost completed my Kaizen-Muse coaching program and can now officially be called a “Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coach.” As with any new clothes… shoes… titles… this one will take a while to feel comfortable in, but I’m sure I’ll adapt. That… and I’m just about convinced that I’ll be winning not one, but TWO very big lottery draws… I’ll keep you posted… maybe even throw a party.

Weekend’s end already!

I can’t believe how quickly the weekend has flow by. I’ve not accomplished a whole lot, but I did manage to get one load of laundry in the washer just now, and the dishwasher loaded and started up. I’ve been rather unproductive… mostly sleeping a bunch and feeling tired and out of sorts… not really sick, but not really feeling all that good either.

I did manage to almost finish up my Colors of India postcard piece… a bit more to do on the two top right ones and I think I’m ready to cut them up and finish them up individually… may stick some other things onto some of them… we’ll see.

Gabriel and I did do some silly, slightly demented things… like watch Monty Python and the Holy Grail this afternoon, and drop in on the comic book store yesterday. I picked up Y The Last Man‘s two first books (they’re pretty dang good) and Neil Gaiman’s Midnight Days… absolutely loved the “Hold Me” segment, which featured John Constantine (amongst other characters from Gaiman’s Sandman series) and was drawn by Dave McKean, whose pen work is simply magnificent… I love his squiggles… they do something for me… and the story, well… it really did something for me as well… amazing what wonders simply being held does for the soul.

For the love of… books


Book Soup – Audrey Niffenegger book signing
Waiting… reading…

My love affair with books occurred hard and fast, at a very young age. Even before I could read, my mother would read those little Golden story books to me, and I could recite them from memory, simply because I’d heard them so often. I love the pictures that illustrated the stories. They provided just enough fuel for my imagination to launch me into these worlds, making them seem more real, at times, than the one I lived in. My favorite stories were Rumplestiltskin and The Princess and the Pea. I suffered an appendicitis attack during the winter of 1971, and while recovering at the Montreal Children’s Hospital I was accompanied by my whole library of Golden books. Little did I know that they would not be following me back home—my mother had decided that I’d outgrown them and had donated them to the hospital.

I don’t part well with books. I’m sure I’m permanently scarred due to that singular act of goodwill on my mother’s behalf. I gave up borrowing them from the library because I could never seem to bring them back on time… sometimes not at all (and ended up paying a whole lot more for the book than if I would have purchased it outright). So, there began my book addiction, and all that it implies.

Herein began my voracious consumption of books without pictures (or with considerably less than the donated tomes)… Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, Archie and Richie Rich comics… Harlequin Romance and other similar syrup (as my mother liked to call them). Thankfully, because I was from eighth grade onward in enriched language arts classes, I got to read stuff that wasn’t normally assigned… like sci-fi along with the usually assigned classics. I started reading Huxley and then moved on to Ayn Rand, Marilyn French, Erica Jong, Margaret Atwood, Margaret Lawrence, Marie-Claire Blais… Anais Nin… D.H. Laurence… Emile Nelligan… and then off into the realms of the mysterious and occult… Ouspensky and Crowley… Jane Roberts… Elizabeth Montgomery… Lopsang Rampa… Edgar Cayce… Shakti Gawain… Jess Stern… and more. On the lighter side, I graduated to The Warlord (for comics) and played D&D with a gang of guys, and started reading lots of fantasy/sci-fi stuff… the DragonLance series… Jack L. Chalker’s Soul Rider series (published by DelRey)… ahhh… and then Clive Barker, Peter Straub, Stephen King, Dean Koontz…

Today my books are mostly non-fiction, how-to books that are largely art related, or related to the process of creating (art or words). I still buy and have a fairly large collection of esoterica… and mythology continues to fascinate me. Graphic novels have become an obsession. And this brings me to my Sunday afternoon visit to Book Soup on Sunset in West Hollywood. Audrey Niffenegger, author (and artist extraordinaire) was present for a book signing of her recently released “picture book” The Adventuress. This book was the last of three books released, and yet was the first she completed. Originally an edition of ten hand printed and bound letterpress books, created during two years of college, it has now been made accessible to the rest of us by virtue of mass printing. I purchased the new book at the shop and brought my previously purchased book, The Three Incestuous Sisters, of similar construct and scope. Widely known for her non-picture book The Time Traveller’s Wife, it was the first of the three books published, though the last one written chronologically.

It was interesting to listen to Audrey speak about the creation of the book (which took approximately two years to complete), whereas the Sisters book took about ten years. She works as a teacher and manages to find time and inclination to write and create works of art besides. We are not so far apart in age, she and I, and I was looking up at her as she stood at the lectern, thinking “That could have been me…” While left-hooking my shadow for my purported “failures” I am given a new sense of hope… that it’s never too late to move toward our dreams. Although, for me, creating “stuff” is an uncontrollable drive that is all-consuming and takes on a life of its own, I find it difficult to stay focused and on-task for long enough to create a completed end product. When I don’t create I reach a sort of critical mass, threatening to explode if I don’t facilitate some sort of exit, though I have yet to build a body of work that is cohesive enough to present to a gallery for consideration. Perhaps it is due to lack of training and knowledge of technique… or perhaps a lack of discipline… perhaps it is somewhat an amalgam of both.

As an artist or writer, I often feel like I am merely a vessel, a tool by which the “stuff” manifests itself. Maybe this is how the universe came into being… I think I’m ready to build mine…