Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Bohemia Branches Out: Paperwine

My husband's opened an Etsy shop: silk birds, hand-drawn cards, wire-earrings, and soon to come beauties are collecting in the yurt, ready to love and be loved in their new homes. It's exciting for him to be able to share his aesthetic, for me to see the designs he's imagined, and for Yarrow to have her daddy home more often - drawing her whims as she looks on.

He's not just doing Paperwine - he's been doing painting, masonry, and a host of small projects as well - but as the days grow shorter, he's spending more and more time at home. Close to the fire and close to us. A change we're all grateful for, and one we hope to continue. 

So if you're interested, check out Paperwine Industries on Etsy. There are more items to come soon, and so much more in the planning stages! And send up a prayer for us that this little venture becomes something more.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Creative Updates

We are in full on 'Artistic Mode' here! Which means lots of trading off play-time with Yarrow, cleaning up, and making tea. It's a fantastic time for us all - except Luba, who resents what she sees as yet another intrusion into her time and space. She wanders the house deliberately looking for a problematic place to lie down: the couch-full of silk birds, the bed-full of Yarrow's blocks, beneath the table - exactly where we need to sit and type. All of our enthusiasm (Luba excepted) my have something to do with the weather - gray skies and cold, blustery days make for some wonderful indoor afternoons - if Yarrow didn't keep inviting my to 'come to Mass' with her ('Mass' apparently means pushing a chair around and around the house, occasionally kneeling down to pray) I could sit all day with my little pink writing book and my piles of reading.

Both contemplating destruction..notice the plastic potty-chair, and admire!

With a little over a week left of NanoWrimo, I'm nowhere near 50,000 words, but I do have a story I like, characters I'm committed to developing, and lots of inspiration to grow on..along with a handful of new poems..and Seth..well, I can't wait to show you what he's been doing! I have to wait just another day or two, but very soon we'll be all ready to share his winter project!

What sort of work are you getting done this month? I feel like November is such a productive month! Too cold for yard-work, too dry for snowy-fun, just right for letting the imagination take over a bit! Right?

Friday, November 22, 2013

Harry Being Angry..and Death Omens: Book Club Talk

One of my favorite parts of the whole series is in this section. Harry wanders the happy, wizarding shop-land, young and eager and cared for, and free. There is no drama, no dark lurking shadows of evil, just bright afternoon magic and summer sunshine.  Though even in this scene, I just can't see Harry as a Leo at all. I love the mirror in his room at the Inn, but oh my goodness how awkward would that be! Especially at thirteen, I would never want to be dressing before a mirror that provided it's own commentary on my looks.

But Harry needs a chance to cool down after his time with Aunt Marge. At this point in the series, I'm sympathetic to Harry's emotions and lack of control, his tendency to rage is an understandable failing in an abused child (still very much a child), and while I'm disappointed that there are in no way consequences for his actions, I'm used to the 'golden-boy' treatment he learning to expect from his new society. That said, causing physical harm to another (even repairable harm, unintentionally caused) is not something to ignore, in any situation, and I'm not surprised Harry never really ends up learning to control himself, with the unbalanced jump from neglect and abuse in the one society to catering and over-excusing  in the other. 

Reading this section makes me want a bowl of hazelnut gelato and a book of medieval magic, though, along with a mirror that alters my looks for the better instead of just commenting on my faults.

* * * * * *

I know nothing about Modern British politics, so the Margaret Thatcher reference sort of escapes me, though it seems Rowling enjoys mocking the conservative mindset in general, and I can see how enthusiastic fans could pretend to be their own little Harry's. It's a stretch, but why not..I mean, people start churches based on Sci-fi novels, so why not, right? Jenna reminds us that:

           Once anyone starts tying something like this too specifically to modern politics, however,    it gets mean. Maybe some of the Marge and Vernon Dursley statements are a fair parody of some of the more extreme and mouthy conservatism, but it's certainly not a fair presentation of conservatives in general. 

And I think Rowling does a decent job of keeping it in the fuzzy area of uncertainty for those of us not in with the Harry-fandom-crowd, it's not essential to see that scene and Rowling hating on conservatives in her book, and I like to pretend she had no ulterior motives and leave it at that.. mainly because the whole conservatives vs. liberals thing bores me, and at least on of my co-hostesses..Christie, are you interested?

* * * * * *

We'll talk about death omens and divination later..after Harry gets his taste of Rowling's version. Because I love omens, and don't so much love people who mock them. Though for all her mockery, Rowling's got something of a sense of divination, in a mocking, superior, and modernist sort of way..I almost like it. Almost.
I couldn't resist stealing this, Jenna! And, I don't think I'm going to be able to resist hunting these down for MY tax returns either!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Beginning Book 3 with some leftover controversy: Harry Potter Book Club

l can relate to poor little Harry at the start of book three - I too neglected my studies all year, only to revel in 'homework' during the summer months. It's natural, Harry, really..I understand.

 We've had a lovely bit of discussion on a few general points recently: The spirituality (or lack thereof) of J.K. Rowling's writing and the value of the passive character in fiction. They've been fantastic, so if you haven't yet, check them out! If we can figure out a way to continue the discussion of spirituality in the series without ruining all discussion of future books - we will! Potentially during Lent - so wait and see, we'll let you know if we manage it.

On the theme of the magical and the spiritual, I thought Christie's thoughts were a fascinating take:
        ..  And what separates magic from science, in a universe where magic seems to lack all elements of spirituality and is a naturally found occurrence?  It reminds me of the passage in The Lord of the Rings when Lady Galadriel kindly tells Sam that what he considers "elf-magic" is for them art, skill, and science.

 l've never thought of the two magics as similar..though why exactly, I don't know..perhaps it's because Tolkien's world feels intensely spiritual to me, while Rowling's doesn't - Jenna has a much different reaction, to both worlds - hence the need for time set aside to dissect the soul of the series!

" A book of light and shadow" Jenna calls Prisoner of Azkaban; she's so right!  This is the book that seems to have more unrealized potential than any other, but that my because I have a love affair with light and shadow and am always hoping for more, or it may be because Rowling seems to be beginning a deeper infusion in the books of her themes and philosophies, but is not quite so heavy handed as she is in later books - so there is the attractive, imaginative richness of the  earlier books is still prominent. It is the book I usually think of when asked to pick my favorite in the series. "Pack lots of chocolate!" is Jenna's closing recommendation here, and I agree - along with her advice to "hold onto your souls"..which means I can't buy those beautiful tarot cards I just want to have for inspiration in my month of novelling... they are relevant to the story, really! But soul firmly in hand, I turn away, and towards the distraction of finding Harry Potter memes appropriate to our journey through book three!
I couldn't find one..but this is adorable!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

November Writing

 Every morning now begins before dawn - and I can no longer walk barefoot without regretting it - even after noon on sunny days. I have tea steeping beside me nearly every moment of every day, indulging in November's primary joy while the world dies around me. 

My husband and I are attempting National Novel Writer's month (Nanowrimo) to make November interesting. It's a challenge - but one that invigorating  and fun after a few months primarily focused out of doors. I wonder sometimes why I invited my husband to write with me - I try to tell myself that he has it easier, as he's writing a bundle of short stories and not a proper novel..but it's embarrassing to read his drafts and know they are better than mine!  The truth is, that he has a natural gift for writing, and a style that is pure delightfulness. I'm talking him into submitting one in particular for one of the Tuscany Prizes that Christie claimed last year! So writers, beware..
I do actually love working with him on this. I have no focus or discipline of my own, I have to borrow from others to get even the smallest project done, and to nestle into the couch with him, notebooks and good pens, and a bottle of wine for an evening of talk and writing is a delight! We've got plans to take our projects out as well - leave Yarrow with friends for a few hours and settle in to a cafe for a less distracted (hopefully) and more romantic 'writing date'. Enviable, isn't it?

The Novel itself is a problem. I'm delving back into books and notes I haven't look at in months? Years? I even found some notes I'd made on a a fascinating and long lost book of death magic and superstitions..full of curious little rituals that make me nervous on the long night-time walk to the outhouse. The 'novel' as it stands right now is essentially an attempt to recapture the symbolic essence of the vampire-myth from repeated (read that: not just Twilight) bastardizations; explore the concepts of death and redemption; and the possible variations in the effect of immortality on individuals..without falling too far into the "vampires OMG!" swamp. It's a mess right now, as I have too many good characters, lots of imagery, and too little plot. I am not a novelist..any advice, my thoughtful writing friends?

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Harry Potter and the Consequences of Magic

All Hallow's Eve and the ensuing feast days are past..It's November, and high time I put my life together again. Harry too, is changing seasons - school fading away for another summer with his aunt and uncle. He's faced his darker self, in a sense, and come away again in one piece. Riddle is an ideal villain in this one book. His Voldemort self is less convincing, and less interesting to me than the conscience-free, arrogant boy facing Harry beneath the castle. Is this why Chamber of Secrets is more unnerving than the rest of the series? Because Harry is still so young, still likeable, and Riddle is very much the image of a boy seduced by darkness, and not the incompetent, almost ridiculous little demon he becomes? 
That's right, pinterest is the best..this one's from Muggelnet

Dumbledore makes a lovely point about choices as well, which Jenna emphasizes nicely. It is a good lesson from author to audience; and I like to think of Rowling's young readers taking it to heart along with Harry's kind willingness to skip right past mentioning Ginny's part in opening the chamber. I imagine eager elementary kids refusing to pass on the gossip of who misdirected the dodge-ball over the fence, or who brought the tuna that filled the cafeteria with that smell, in an attempt to share in Harry's little kindness. But the quote also seems to reflect a sort of 'do as I say, not as I do' attitude in the author, because really, if we were defined by our choices, as Dumbledore says, then Rowling could not have created a character who, as she says in an interview has never loved or cared for anyone at all. A person who has never loved at all is lacking something, not by choice but by nature. He is deficient in humanity and his choices are all limited by this deficiency. It lends to the books a sense that Harry and Co's choices define them, but some people..people in Slytherin for example..are defined less by their choices than their families, their blood, and their abilities. So I end up hoping those impressionable young people don't read too closely or glean too much from the series.

* * * * *  

This week I was surprised, and thrilled to see Harry Potter mentioned in the magazine that gives me so many of my favorite cake recipes. Nestled between a recipe for Rhubarb, Cardamom, Pistachio, and Orange cake (which was amazing, even without the Rhubarb), and an as-yet-untried recipe for blackberry whiskey, "Why We Need Magic" caught my eye. It was delightful, and when Harry is mentioned, I found myself nodding in sympathy:

                          Magic in fiction needs to be more than hocus pocus spells: it must be
                          difficult, rare, and perilous. It's why - forgive me - I personally don't buy
                          the magic of Harry Potter, which is attained too easily and lacks 
                                      ~Philip Ball. Why We Need Magic

I can't help but see his point. The magic in Harry Potter is not magic in the true sense, and teaches us nothing about how to approach this "embodiment of  the sublime virtue of hope", with all it's dangers, pitfalls, and beautiful potentialities. More often than not, the magic of Harry Potter is mere 'hocus-pocus spells' - not fairy at all. But then, there are at times that real sense of 'ritualized optimism' that makes the magic real. What do you think, my fellow readers - easy and mundane, or delightful possibilities??
* * * * *

In this book, Ginny comes across as an obvious 2 on the enneagram - opening up to the dangers of possession in order to feel the cozy sense of importance to another. It's interesting to me as I'd never even consider such a thing - too much a chance that the kind solicitude of the diary would turn to mocking arrogance - which is exactly what happened, of course..more reason not to trust your secrets with anyone who might not be what they friendly diaries or spirit-guides, or ghosts who come re-arrange your bathroom in the night.
Most of all, I end this book grateful that Harry and Professor Dumbledore show themselves to be the opposite of the Diary-Riddle, safe-holders of Ginny's weakness, and nourishing to her spirit and sense of self. It makes me wonder about Christie's comment that Dumbledore may be something of a Reader of Souls..there's argument for it here, it seems..and he is himself reflective enough to make it a possibility. It's definitely something to watch as we move along! Here, his and Harry's  kindness covers over so much that makes me wonder beneath the surface of the tale and lets me close the book fonder than usual of them both.

Friday, November 1, 2013

All Saint's

How Halloween-y are my potions!!! And my 'Apothic' wines!

All Hallow's Eve is passed; and with it the easy, crisp days of October. We had a delightfully Halloween-y month: a spooky, local, harvest meal at my favorite cafe (just my husband and I); a Halloween short-story reading at the library; and last night, an amazing little bit of trick-or-treating with Petka as a Matryoshka that ended at my in-law's tiny library, where my father-in-law (a local historian) told haunted tales.

Petka and Da made delightful Matryoshkas


It's a dreary All Saint's Day this morning. We woke late and warm, and lazed through a morning of creamy coffee, Stromboli, and all the anticipatory joys the new month brings. 
I should have waited to frost them today, it got just a bit dry looking overnight

..but Saints and photographs are so forgiving.

I've baked Saint's cakes for the altar today (and later for our mouths!): Orange, Cardamom, and Pistachio with an orange-y cream cheese frosting. The just feel autumnal. Tomorrow I'll bake Soul Cake's for our beloved dead, and for the Sad People only Yarrow can see. I like to pray a Rosary while mixing the batter, trying to remember all those who ought to be remembered..but today the celebration is just rest and celebration. I can greet my saints with gifts of cake and cream.

Seth made me spooky..but only in the photo. I looked pretty lame last night

 Blessed Hallowmas all!