Things Are Such

midsummer sunriseA dear friend gave me a book of poetry by Rumi as a present recently. And this morning, I opened it at random, somewhere in the middle, and found this. Couldn’t help but share it.

THINGS ARE SUCH

Things are such, that someone lifting a cup,
or watching the rain, petting a dog,

or singing, just singing – could be doing as
much for this universe as anyone.

Rumi

(translated by Daniel Ladinsky)

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Post-a-Quote Day 3

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Borage flowers. Another edible (the leaves taste like cucumber). Aren’t they pretty? They’re only about as big as my thumbnail. I love that shade of blue.

So here we are, Day 3 of Post-a-Quote. (Thanks again for the nomination, Kate M. Colby and Zach Chopchinski). To remind you, the rules (which I’m breaking) are:

* Post one quotation a day for three days (they can be from other sources or one of your own).
* Nominate 3 other bloggers to participate per post.
* Thank the blogger who nominated you.

And here’s today’s quote, which is, in a sense, a continuation of yesterday’s theme as directed at writers (and other artists):

Don’t be led away by those howls about realism. Remember, pine woods are just as real as pigsties and a darn sight pleasanter to be in.

L. M. Montgomery, Emily’s Quest

(In the book, the advice is addressed to Emily, the main character, a young girl at the beginning of her writing career.)

And yes – yes, Yes, YES!! Pine woods are as real as pigsties, rainbows are as real as rubble. Being an English major, I’ve had my fair share of having to read depressing stories of people being miserable and hopeless (Heart of Darkness, anyone?), wallowing in rubble and pigsties. But misery is not all there is to life.Yes, death is a reality, but so is birth. Like Luther planting apple trees in the face of doom, Emily writes about pine woods rather than pigsties – it’s the writer’s raspberry at the doom of the world. So there!

Life, the Universe, and Our Final Quote of the Day. Anyone have a favourite to share?

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Post-a-Quote Day 2

So here, people, is my quote for Day 2 of the Post-A-Quote challenge (which, once again, I was nominated for by Kate M. Colby and Zach Chopchinski. Thanks, guys!). To remind you, the rules are:

* Post one quotation a day for three days (they can be from other sources or one of your own).
* Nominate 3 other bloggers to participate per post.
* Thank the blogger who nominated you.

Point #3, done; point #2, don’t wanna today; point #1, here goes:

Even if the world were to end tomorrow, I would still plant an apple tree today.
(Martin Luther)

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I haven’t planted me an apple tree yet, but I’m starting with edible flowers (calendula and nasturtiums, here).

Well, it’s supposedly by Martin Luther. This quote is actually somewhat apocryphal; it’s impossible to find the precise source for it. It’s also sometimes cited in its expanded version, where Luther states that in spite of the impending doom he would also still today pay off his debts and father a child. (Tradition is silent on what his wife Käthe’s opinion on the latter point was.)

I love this quote for its unabashed hopefulness; for its cheerful opposition to gloom-and-doom prophecies and the despair that follows in their wake. It blows a raspberry at the collective naysayers of the world. Yes, there’s darkness in the world – but in spite of it: Plant trees! Be honest with your neighbour! Make babies! And, as I’m sure Luther himself would have added (for that, we actually have documented sources), enjoy a good dinner with your friends and family in the meantime.

And that’s Life, the Universe, and Today’s Daily Quote. One more tomorrow.

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Post-a-Quote Day 1

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I was going to show you my dragonsbane plant, but it’s looking pathetic right now. So here’s a shot of the purple peavine which grows right next to it.

Happy Canada Day, and Happy First Day of Camp NaNoWriMo!

And on that note, Zach Chopchinski and Kate M. Colby , who just happen to be two of my Camp Nano cabin mates, have done it again: they’ve both nominated me for yet another blogger challenge. This one’s a bit easier: it’s the post-a-quote challenge. I can do that, yup, not a problem.  These are the rules:

* Post one quotation a day for three days (they can be from other sources or one of your own).
* Nominate 3 other bloggers to participate per post.
* Thank the blogger who nominated you.

I think I’m going to rebel yet again and not actually follow rule #2 every single day – so there.
But for day one, here’s my round of nominations (more, ahem, cabin mates). Feel free to ignore them, bloggy friends (and pass the marshmallows).
E. L. Bates
Kara
Whitney

And thanks, Zach and Kate! Esteemed readers, do hop over to their blogs and check out their posts and their books (Zach’s is out, Kate’s not yet – but what she’s been saying about it sure looks good!).

Anyway, on to quoting. Here’s one that I used to have as a signature line in my emails for the longest time. I have no idea who said it first (if you do, let me know so I can attribute it properly).

Meddle not in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup. (Anonymous)

I think this is very good advice; words of wisdom to live by. I have taken it to heart for many years now, and can assure you that it is an effective way to avoid draconian botherations. Of course, I usually don’t have too many problems with dragons anyway – I haven’t seen even one tiny little one in my garden since I planted dragonsbane (tarragon).

Life, the Universe, and Today’s Quote #1. Stay tuned for more tomorrow.

PS: There are still a couple of spots left in our Camp Nano cabin – if you want to participate, give me your username and I’ll send you an invitation. Writing is more fun with others to complain to!

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Reading Habits

books (1)There’s been a fun reading quiz going around the blogosphere (last to pick up the challenge: Kate and Zach), and even though I wasn’t specifically named by anyone, I’ll pick up the gauntlet anyway. I’m also not going to peg anyone else, in a “Tag! You’re It!” fashion, but if this is something that looks like fun to you, consider yourself tagged.

The quiz is about your Reading Habit. Okay, yes [scuffs shoe in the dirt], I’m afraid it’s true. [Mumbles:] Hi, I’m Angelica. I have a Reading Habit. [Everyone:] Hi Angelica!

Uh, wait – Reading Habitsss, plural? Not Habit, singular? Oh. Well, yes, I have those too. Just forget what I said earlier, about my, umm, habit. Who, me, addicted to books? Naaah.

Okay, here goes. THE TRUTH ABOUT AMO’S READING HABITS:

books (5)You have 20,000 books on your TBR. How in the world do you decide what to read next?

Simple: I look at the pile and go “What do I feel like reading?” And that’s what I read.

You’re halfway through a book and you’re just not loving it. Do you quit or commit?

Quit. Why on earth would I read something I’m not enjoying? Oh, because I might want to find out how it ends? Okay, here’s a secret tip: it’s a book. You can flip to the last chapter, and get the lowdown without wasting your time on inflicting pain on yourself…

The end of the year is coming and you’re so close yet so far away on your GoodReads challenge. Do you quit or commit?

GoodReads challenge? What GoodReads challenge? Oh, is that one of those “I’m going to read 100 books by the end of the year” things? I had enough required reading in university; I don’t set myself “goals” for my reading. I read what I like when I like it. Isn’t that the whole point of reading?

books (2)The covers of a series you love DO. NOT. MATCH. How do you cope?

Umm, I think the only matched set of books I own is Austen (see picture) – or rather, one of the sets; the other Austen one(s) are mismatched too. I buy most of my books second hand or else piecemeal. I mean, I like matching books, but it’s obviously not a high priority…

Everyone and their mother loves a book you really don’t like. Who do you bond with over shared feelings?

Hah. It’s probably snarky of me, but if everyone and their mother loves a book [movie, singer, TV show, clothing style] then by definition I’m suspicious of it. So what “everyone” thinks has at best a negative influence on me. [Exception: I read Harry Potter just to see what the fuss was about, and to my great surprise got hooked. But then, it’s a great story.] As for who I share those feelings with, I have more than one family member and friend who has the same snobbish attitude, so there is never a shortage of people with whom to commiserate and share recommendations for really good books.

You’re reading a book and you’re about to start crying in public. How do you deal?

I don’t usually read in public… especially not anything likely to make me cry. But that’s because I’m not out in public a whole lot.

A sequel of a book you loved just came out, but you’ve forgotten a lot from the prior novel. Will you re-read the book? Skip the sequel? Try to find a summary on GoodReads? Cry in frustration?

Re-read. Or re-skim. (Yes, that’s allowed. There’s no book police that says you can’t skip through a book. Really!)

books (4)You don’t want ANYONE borrowing your books. How do you politely tell people “nope” when they ask?

I don’t usually have issues with people borrowing my books, because my friends who are readers also take care of books and will return them to me. But if it was a person I wouldn’t trust with my darlings, I’d have two words for them: Public Library. And I’d wrap up those words in some polite phrasing of not wanting to lend my books because I might just get a huge urge to read that particular volume in the next two days, so, sorry…

You’ve picked up and put down five different books in the past month. How do you get over the reading slump?

Reading slump? What’s that? Sort of like an eating slump, where you really can’t get into eating lunch, and you force yourself to eat some chocolate cake because eating is a virtue and must be carried on?
Pardon my sarcasm. But these questions are bringing up something really interesting: there is an underlying attitude here that reading is a virtue, something one ought to do. In my world, shaped by my upbringing, reading is an indulgence, something you get to do. No lists of “so many books of required reading”, no forcing yourself through a book you hate – and no “reading slump”… (I think there’s a full blog post in here somewhere.)

books (3)There are so many new books coming out that you are dying to read! How many do you actually buy?

Those same two words again: Public Library. My local one has this awesome feature that they’ll buy just about any book you suggest (if it’s available through their usual channels). You might have to wait half a year for them to get and process it, but you can get to read it eventually. And then, if I read it and absolutely love it, I’ll go buy a copy to keep.

After you’ve bought a new book you want to get to, how long do they sit on your shelf until you actually read them?

Depends on what it is. If it’s a new fiction book in a series I love, it usually doesn’t even make it to the shelf before it gets read. Non-fiction, again, I’ll likely get it from the library first, and then I’m on a time limit before I have to return it, so I better get to it right away… or else I just take it back unread and it can sit on the library shelves until the urge to read it strikes again.

So there you have it: Life, the Universe, and my Reading Habit. Habits, sss! What about you?

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Camp NaNoWriMo

Camp-Participant-2015-Web-BannerCamp NaNoWriMo is upon us again! In case you don’t know, Camp Nano is the “light” version of November’s NaNoWriMo, world’s greatest yearly online writing event. During November, crazy writers all over the globe pledge themselves to writing a 50,000 word novel in one month, from Nov. 1st to 30th. If you’re not up for that level of insanity, or, conversely, if you’ve done NaNoWriMo and it has you gasping for more but you can’t stand the wait until November, there are a couple of easier events happening in April and July.

During Camp Nano, you can pick your own style of project. It can be anything from 10,000 to 100,000 words long, and, unlike the November Nano, can be fiction, non-fiction, novels, short stories, memoirs, poetry, or what-have-you – actually, it doesn’t even have to be a complete “writing” project; it can be editing or continuing a previous piece of work.

During the last couple of years, I’ve used Camp Nano to provide me with the motivation to finish grad school papers. But this April, being fresh out of grad school deadlines staring me in the face, I really got into the spirit of things. The great Kate M. Colby started a “cabin” (small message board with about a dozen participants) and invited other writers to join; so I jumped in – and we had some awesome pillow fights, mutual-support session, and marshmallow roasts, and wrote a whole bunch of words together. And in the process, I made some new writerly friends*, which is really what NaNoWriMo is all about.

But this time, Kate is kind of busy, so we decided that it’s my turn to start the cabin. So the cabin is created, I’ve claimed my bunk, and I’m waiting for my friends to sign up. If you want to participate, go to campnanowrimo.org, make a profile (or pull up your old one if you’ve already got one); create a project (that’s important; the site won’t let me invite you unless you’ve got a project); and then either send me a mail through my contact form or leave a comment below with your Nano username, and I’ll send you an invite so you can join (space is limited!). You can also find me on the site under amo1967.

Incidentally, I’m not writing a full-blown 50K novel this July – I’ve got too much other summerish stuff on the go. So if you’re scared of the “No” in NaNoWriMo (NAtional NOvel WRIting MOnth), don’t be. You can join our cabin and just be wimpy with me – write a couple of short stories, do some editing, stuff like that. It’ll be fun, I promise!

Life, the Universe, and Camp NaNoWriMo. I’ll share my marshmallows.

*for example, Kara Jorgensen, Zach Chopchinski, and Whitney of Wit & Travesty. And my great friend E. L. Bates was there too!

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Allergic to E

Scrabble_letter_ESo I’ve been nominated twice for this challenge – thanks so much, Kate M. Colby and Zach Chopchinski. But seeing as I was a little busy graduating last week when they posted this, I didn’t get around to it then. But I guess I better buckle down and meet this challenge now.
The idea is to write a paragraph, in the English language, without using the letter e. So it can’t be about Extraordinarily Exciteable Elephants, absolutely none; or Effusive Elves, either.

I’m not very good at treating words like nothing but permutations of letter patterns – for me, language is about nuance of meaning and, to a lesser degree, sound. I’m lousy at Scrabble or crossword puzzles. So this wasn’t easy. But I did it anyway, just because.
Here goes (or, in the spirit of the challenge, That’s It):

This is a paragraph construction without that most common form, that fifth mark of all marks which construct words, among d and f. Sadly, it is too difficult to say anything of sanity without calling on its aid, so I shall quit trying. Good luck to all who want to sail into this trial.

One of the rules of the challenge is to pass it on to five other bloggers, but, actually, I feel rebellious. I can’t think of five others I’d want to inflict this on. So if you’re a blogger, and you feel like trying this, go for it – you can even say I nominated you if you want. You’re welcome. (And if you’re not a bloggy person but are itching to try this, leave an e-less paragraph in the comments. Come on, you know you want to!)

Life, the Universe, and the Letter E. Exceptionally excellent effusions.

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