Gratitudes + things that are making me happy

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• the gift of a lovely new teapot

• getting to see my sister and her family for Christmas

• long handwriting sessions

• the clarity that a single word can bring when it's the descriptor you need

• introducing my two-year-old niece to Xena: Warrior Princess early one morning when it was just the two of us

• Malbec and good memories

• mess

• being able to pay this month's credit card bill

• being awake today to see the full moon sink into the dawn clouds 

• atmospheric music videos

• growing older

December 26th

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December 25th

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Fretful

"I don’t write poetry when I wish, I write when I can’t, when my larynx is flooded and my throat is shut."
Anna Kamienska
Lately I spend too much of the night chasing myself in panicky laps around the inside of my head. The idea of opening my journal frustrates me for some reason on such nights, so when I'm fed up with lying in bed I rise and fill loose pages with the things that I can't yet make my peace with, and pretend they're going somewhere in the mail, perhaps to my freshman-year roommate's mailbox in Massachusetts. I don't know, maybe they are.

And I have rewritten each page so many times, just to change the telling slightly and see if it will make more sense this way, or that way... I put on that Antlers song ("Two") for the relief of hearing him sing the line near the end, "Two ways to tell the story." The multiplicity of ways to truthfully relate a single event is fascinating and kind of obsessing me.

Evening view

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Shannon in the vegetable garden

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Western Australia, October 2012.

Shivers / nephew

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I have had a shivery buzzing feeling since yesterday, couldn't quiet my still faintly jetlagged brain enough for sleep — or couldn't make myself want to make it quiet badly enough — until about six in the morning, but this evening after dinner it vanished and I was left with a sudden emptiness, the tranquil kind.

I met my nephew today for the first time. He is five weeks old. (How can that be a sentence? A human who is five weeks old? It boggles the mind.)

"Holy Never, have mercy on us."

It's comforting to be tired with the parents of a newborn, because you know you are not alone and yet they still have it so much worse than you.

I'm making a crafty little photocopied book of Australian stuff, of some of the things I wrote there as well as some other bits and pieces. Let ya know when it's finished.

From the top of Harvey Dam

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Where there was a stunning echo. Western Australia, October 2012.

Gemini and Bella

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The morphine cat — unlucky child of incest — and the elusive cat. Both rescued by Shannon from people too stupid or self-absorbed to be pet owners.

Gratitudes + things that are making me happy

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• Edna St. Vincent Millay's poetry — I read through this online collection recently

• smiling kisses / kissing smiles

• harmless people

• good friends

• leisurely art museum afternoons

• a new pen pal

• taking time in the morning to feel put-together

• the numerous excellent dresses I op-shopped in the last two weeks of being in Australia, and how I now get to wear them with the extra jauntiness of lace-up boots and woolly winter layers

• not half-assing on my needs

• a somewhat epic friend rescue from LAX, staged by Sui in my hour of desperate need

• the simplicity and clarity of dancing sober and simply happy / with Erin in a dark concert venue during clean-up

• disco balls, by the way — not at ALL overrated

• short flights

• airports with free wi-fi

• and a brief visit with my Arizonan little sister for the first time in three and a half years

One Saturday, having driven out to the hills

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Western Australia, October 2012.

Disjunction

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Suddenly it's winter and the sun is setting three hours earlier than it was a week ago and it's my childhood bed I sleep in rather than various borrowed beds and bare floors in foreign cities on the other side of the ocean...

I'm tired. Did all that really happen? It doesn't feel like it now that I'm back in this country/city/house.

I don't particularly want to be here, but I don't have much money left.

I need to get my life going.

Homecoming in changed vowels

So I'm back in the U.S.

When I went through customs, the officer who took my declaration form and passport said to me, "Your accent has changed."

Yes. My California accent had softened into something less conspicuous. Fewer rhotics, tidier vowels. I have a good ear and I'm suggestible in that way. (In addition to not liking to be involuntarily conspicuous. Oh, I felt so self-conscious the first couple weeks whenever I had to speak to a cashier or bus driver...)

I wanted to cry when he said that. I don't want to lose this; I don't want to lose any of it. I want to hold these last three months and know that I can keep them, can keep who I was there and how I felt and what I saw and knew, and I'm not sure yet how else to do that but on my tongue.

Leaving is grief

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Sunday session

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Have you heard of this thing, the Sunday session? I'm sure people do it in the US — it just means getting together for a drink or two on a Sunday afternoon — but apparently not enough for it to have its own name. So I think the term is uniquely Australian...but I could be wrong.

Anyway, I spent my last Sunday afternoon in Western Australia having caprioskas and a wander by the water with my lovely friend Liv, of Col Panna.

Last days in Sydney / Rilke

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I'm sleeping on the floor in my fictive sister's shoebox of an apartment. My fictive sister and my newly adopted fictive brother.

Rilke's words are circling in my head.

"Es leben so viele und wollen nichts." / There are so many who are alive and yet desire nothing.

I have spent the last few years so afraid of my own weakness and wrongness that somehow I ended up convincing myself that I didn't want any of what I knew I did.

Which has been awful. To look at your own life stretching out ahead is very dreary when you believe that even permanent employment and moving out of your parents' house are too much to ask for, let alone the really delicious things, the love and magic and fulfillment.

But I am beginning to believe lately, for minutes at a time, that I might be able to have what I want.

"Noch bist du nicht kalt, und es ist nicht zu sp├Ąt." / You are not dead yet, and it is not too late.

Read in November 2012

Titles link to the pertinent Goodreads page — feel free to add me as a friend.

1. Shatterglass, by Tamora Pierce

2. Someday Find Me, by Nicci Cloke

3. Annie on My Mind, by Nancy Garden

4. Depression: A Guide for the Newly Diagnosed, by Lee Coleman

5. Paranormalcy, by Kiersten White

6. About a Girl, by Joanne Horniman

7. My Candlelight Novel, by Joanne Horniman

A letter from Jeanima: 8/24/12


[click for big]

Text:
Dear Miss Holly,

Jeanima is pleased to write you this letter. She's greeting you in the name of the Savior Jesus. She lets you know that she and her family are fine. Her school activities are going well; she succeeded and she got promoted to grade 6. She thanks you a lot for the letter. She's pleased to hear from you. Jeanima is thanking you for the birthday gift. She bought a hen with it. She lets you know that at this moment, they are planting trees in her neighborhood.

She asks you whether you like horses. She asks you to pray for her to that God can change her life. She lets you know that she's praying God to always keep you in good health. She wishes you a good summer vacation 2012.
As always, if you have ever helped pay her sponsorship fees, consider it addressed to you.

Yallingup

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A day trip "down south," as they call it. I have never seen such perfect clear water in real life before. The waves were too rough for real swimming, but what a sparkling day.

"Paradise is all around..."

Late sunlight

I am taking a break from my point-and-shoot 365 for a little while. I haven't been wanting to pick up that camera as often lately — it has been feeling like an interruption to what it documents.

I took my journal down to the beach this evening before dinner. I wrote about spitefulness. My impulse to spite, should you be interested, is strong and strange, but there are only three or four people who bring it out in me.

The waves were cold and very bright in the lowering sun. In the pauses, when I looked up at the sand and the water and the birds and my feet and tapped my pen to consider, I kept thinking, You will remember this so fondly once it is out of reach. That has been a saving question for me to ask myself before — Will I remember this fondly? Then savor it while it's here. Will there be anything to remember? If not, do something differently.

By this time next month, I'll be back in California and the sun will suddenly be setting before five rather than after seven. Strange! I feel invigorated and ready for December and the coming year.

Gratitudes + things that are making me happy

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• blossoming jacaranda trees

• nice bus drivers

• rainy mornings

• feeling the happy kind of tired after a run

• the anxiety workbook I am working through (here)

• beautiful autumn photos from northern-hemisphere bloggers

• phone calls from my Sydney sister

• two of my good friends finding good jobs

• the smell of my new face wash

• listening closely to what I need

• sitting by the sea

• shooting with a borrowed AE-1

• driving south by starlight and headlights, with Shannon and her kids and her case of energy drinks

• seeing a wallaby in the wild

• a sense of peace and release

Jellyfish moonrise

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Last of the aquarium photos. You can see all of them under the Monterey Bay Aquarium tag.

Breathing

When I step outside here, I hear the wind, the waves breaking a few backyard fences away, and the stand of big gum trees up the road blowing in the wind. That's all.

The air is warm. Dry.

It's the kind of free space I wrote about in January.

That might be the thing I love most about Australia, and Western Australia in particular. Even in the middle of the cities, somehow you can always sense the vastness of this land. The mostly-emptiness (though "empty" is a tricky word) — the spaciousness on the horizon. Standing at the edge of the Indian Ocean, I look up and down the coast and feel such relief knowing that unlike in California, there is an end to the houses, and it is never far. Breathing is so easy here, in this expanse.

It Was Not a Dog: An Australian episode

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Is that a — deer? —

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Oh. Nope.

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Real life, friends.

Recipe: Sun River Banana Bread

I have no picture of this, but it is my favorite banana bread ever. It's dense, not crumbly or oily, and has just the right amount of sweetness, with a nice lightly crusted top.
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2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
2/3 cup mashed fully ripened bananas
1/4 cup yogurt
1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Blend in banana pulp. Add baking powder, soda, and salt. Alternate adding the flour and yogurt. Pour into a well-greased and floured loaf pan. Bake on the center rack for about one hour. Remove from pan and cool on rack.

Makes one loaf.


Adapted from the Sunset Cook Book of Favorite Recipes (1973).

Walsh Bay, Sydney

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Just a short walk back under the southern end of the Harbour Bridge and then you're back at Circular Quay, looking at the ferry terminal and the CBD and the Opera House.
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Read in October 2012

Titles link to the pertinent Goodreads page — feel free to add me as a friend.

1. Singer from the Sea, by Sheri S. Tepper

2. Antigone, by Sophocles

3. A House Like a Lotus, by Madeleine L'Engle

4. Fog Magic, by Julia L. Sauer

Week-ish in photos (266-275)

266/365
266/365.

267/365
267/365. Looking back from the water.

268/365
268/365. Op-shopping.

269/365
269/365. Walking home from daycare.

270/365
270/365. Picnic at the dam.

271/365
271/365. Fleeing the scene of the crime with frizzante in hand.

272/365
272/365. Exploring.

273/365
273/365. At the Western Australian Museum

274/365
274/365. Found while engaged in 268's activity, bargained down to $2.

275/365
275/365. Waking.

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