22 April 2014

S is for Sustainable: Happy Earth Day!

Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children's children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.
~ Theodore Roosevelt

Back in January, I began the One Page a Day Challenge and immediately threw away my quill.  Now in April, I’m participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge and prepping for a Wilderness Writers’ Retreat.  I need ink, a stiff drink and therapy.


H
appy Earth Day!

I’ve been gardening seriously for a couple of years now, dedicated to being organic and as sustainable as possible.

This means no chemicals, pesticides, no GMO seeds or compost.  Companion planting.  Respecting the seasons and plant cycles.

It’s difficult to be 100% sustainable without livestock to help provide manure, etc.  But I’m on the road.

At least to healing my little bit of earth.

S is for Sustainable
One of my farming heroes and role models is Joel Salatin.  Not only is he committed to sustainable farming and living, but he has an acerbic wit and way with words.  He wrote an article for Mother Earth News back in January that says it better than I could.


Happy Earth Day ~ hope you have a chance to get out there and imbibe some with Mother Nature!

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

How did you celebrate Earth Day?

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21 April 2014

R is for Restless: We Gotta Get Outta This Place!

You live like this, sheltered, in a delicate world, and you believe you are living. Then you read a book… or you take a trip… and you discover that you are not living, that you are hibernating. The symptoms of hibernating are easily detectable: first, restlessness. The second symptom (when hibernating becomes dangerous and might degenerate into death): absence of pleasure. That is all. It appears like an innocuous illness. Monotony, boredom, death.
~ Anaïs Nin

Back in January, I began the One Page a Day Challenge and immediately threw away my quill.  Now in April, I’m participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge and prepping for a Wilderness Writers’ Retreat.  I need ink, a stiff drink and therapy.


M
aybe it’s because Winter was so long this year.

But you like Winter.

I know.  But each season has it’s time, and Winter missed its cue to walk off, stage left.  Spring has been waiting to make her debut.

You were feeling restless even when the snow was deep, and Spring was just a dream. 

Well, maybe it’s just since I’ve moved back home.   You know, they say you can never truly go home again.  And God only knows, my soul has been ripped to shreds at one point or another in the last three years.

You were restless and hurting four years ago.  Before you moved.

R is for Restless
A few years ago, I remember seeing a commercial for restless leg syndrome.  I ave restless brain syndrome.  And restless soul syndrome.  And restless writer’s syndrome.
I’m just…restless. 

But I don’t know what for. 

It’s just a general ennui, an itchy feeling in my heart that translates to my skin ~ until I no longer like it fits me anymore.  I need a new one.

Image credit:  Thanapol Praserdvigai
It’s a longing to be surrounded by breathtaking mountain views, far from the maddening crowds.  To lie in a field of violets and alfalfa.  To burrow in a hammock and watch the humming birds dance.  To just be and not to do.

And for that to be enough.

Because here in the everyday, it is never enough.  Never finished.  Never perfect.  Always something that needs fixing, picking up, moving around.  

I’m tired of living life as an active verb.  I want to live it as a passive verb for awhile.

Running Out of Excuses
And yet, like most people, I put off my R & R.  Time, that precious treasure, is hoarded up for future spending.  And for me, there’s a good reason ~ I’m not my own person.  I work for the Man.  And so I need to save up my vacation time for Kodiak.

(Angels break into song.)

But that doesn’t mean I can’t take an hour here or a day off there.  I work a compressed schedule, so I really have no good reason not to relax.  And every reason to jump off the Tilt-a-Wheel.

It’s exhausting being responsible.  But it’s equally exhausting being restless.  There is nowhere for the energy to go.  It just sits there, humming inside of you, begging for an outlet, any outlet. 

And it’s better if you plan the release. 
Because here, there is no Autobahn.
Because here, there be dragons. 

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

Are you restless? Why or why not?

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19 April 2014

Q is for Queen: Freddy would have loved this painting

The Queen's Pride was his ship, and he loved her.
~ William Goldman, The Princess Bride

Back in January, I began the One Page a Day Challenge and immediately threw away my quill.  Now in April, I’m participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge and prepping for a Wilderness Writers’ Retreat.  I need ink, a stiff drink and therapy.


Q
is a lonely letter.

Queasy.
Quiver.
Quick.
Quack.
Queen.

And that annoying dude on Star Trek who was always making a mess for Captain Picard to clean up.


Q is for Queen
Another painting for you today.  Don’t worry.  By Monday, this will all be over, and you can breathe a deep sigh of relief and go back to being bowled over by my ink blots of wit and wisdom.

For now, gaze upon this thing of beauty:

Seaport with the Embarkation of the Queen of Sheba


I know, it’s not a PRB painting, but I do like other art periods, you know.  I just choose to talk my head off about the Brotherhood.

This painting depicts the Queen of Sheba, who visited King Solomon in Jerusalem, and was painted in 1648.  I love how the sun seems to literally shine through the painting, and the buildings have such elegant, Grecian lines.  The colours are also vibrant for a painting of this period. 

You can read more about the painting and the artist at the National Gallery.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

Have a restful weekend, dear readers!

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18 April 2014

P is for Persephone...and Apparently, Long Winters

 "Be to her, Persephone,
All the things I might not be;
Take her head upon your knee.
She that was so proud and wild,
Flippant, arrogant and free,
She that had no need of me,
Is a little lonely child
Lost in Hell,—Persephone,
Take her head upon your knee;
Say to her, “My dear, my dear,
It is not so dreadful here."
~ Edna St. Vincent Millay

Back in January, I began the One Page a Day Challenge and immediately threw away my quill.  Now in April, I’m participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge and prepping for a Wilderness Writers’ Retreat.  I need ink, a stiff drink and therapy.


A
nother sad midnight and I ain’t got no…words of wisdom.

And Sam Cooke is just shaking his head up in Rock and Roll heaven.

Ah well, you can’t win them all!

I’m hoping that all the ham, stuffing, green beans, latkes, cabbage, spinach, butter, and biscuits (what?  We’re a Southern-Eastern European household!) will inspire some great prose for next week’s post. 

While we all wait for that glorious pot to boil, here is another painting that is a favorite of mine.

P is for Persephone
And not just a favorite piece of art, but a favorite Greek myth as well.  I love all the Greek and Roman myths.  We studied them in middle school.  And I love how modern writers have immersed themselves in these ancient stories, and breathed new life into them. 

What a beautiful way to inspire getting to know history and a past culture.

Proserpine, 1874, Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Prosepine is the Roman version of Persephone
Although Waterhouse is by far my favorite PR Brother (shhh, don’t tell the others), Rossetti is a close second.  Here, he captures the essence of Persephone’s story ~ she looks as if she is turning slightly back, away from the light, facing the Underworld, and she clasps a partially eaten pomegranate, thus ensuring that she has to stay with Hades a third of the year.  During this time, her mother Demeter mourns her absence by forbidding all vegetation from growing.

Given this winter we’ve had, I’d say Persephone partied too hardy with Hades and is only now staggering out from the Underworld.

And since we had two days of balmy weather followed by two days of freezing temperatures, I’d say that is one heck of a hangover.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

I was going to make a snarky remark about kill joys who sniff and turn their noses up at ancient stories and myths.  But it’s Good Friday.  You’re welcome.
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17 April 2014

O is for Ophelia: Three Cheers for Art! And Pictures!

“When down her weedy trophies and herself
Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide;
And, mermaid-like, awhile they bore her up:
Which time she chanted snatches of old tunes;
As one incapable of her own distress,
Or like a creature native and indued
Unto that element: but long it could not be
Till that her garments, heavy with their drink,
Pull’d the poor wretch from her melodious lay
To muddy death.
(Ophelia)”
~ William Shakespeare, Hamlet

Back in January, I began the One Page a Day Challenge and immediately threw away my quill.  Now in April, I’m participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge and prepping for a Wilderness Writers’ Retreat.  I need ink, a stiff drink and therapy.


L
ucky readers.

You get three days of picturesque posts because your fearless writer has holiday brain. And if I’m really being honest, Black Dagger vampire brain.

Both are akin to senioritis or the summer’s-coming-shakes: they render the victim unable to form coherent thoughts other than:

“Ahh, a three day weekend!  Sleeeeeping in!”

and

“OMG!  That character did NOT just die!  What the heck, J.M.!?!  Must buy next book in series!  Arghhhhhhh!”

And now back to our regularly scheduled Alphabet post:

O is for Ophelia
A couple of years ago, I highlighted Waterhouse’s painting of Ophelia.  Today, I give you Alexandre Cabanel’s rendition:

Ophelia, A. Cabanel

Cabanel was a 19th century French painter, who first exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1844, which my fellow PRB lovers out there, was four years before the Brotherhood came together in England.

And this weekend, I am going to imitate Ophelia's watery pose, but in a bathtub, surrounded by bubbles, candles, and a nice tumbler of scotch.  

And if I'm really lucky, vampires.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

Beauty – it comes in all forms.  Art…and in knowing when to take things easy. 

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16 April 2014

N is for Noticing: Sleepwalking Through Life

The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice. And because we fail to notice that we fail to notice, there is little we can do to change; until we notice how failing to notice shapes our thoughts and deeds.
~ R. D. Laing

Back in January, I began the One Page a Day Challenge and immediately threw away my quill.  Now in April, I’m participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge and prepping for a Wilderness Writers’ Retreat.  I need ink, a stiff drink and therapy.


D
ear God, what is that thing!?”

This phrase echoed in my perfect ears this morning as I walked through the lobby on my way to a meeting.

A little embarrassing to admit that I’ve been working in this building for close to four years and never noticed the huge model plane hanging from the lobby ceiling.  Until today.

Seriously, it’s a model plane but you could put a small dog or toddler in there and watch them fly away.  I know I’m not tall, but even I should have seen a mid-size replica of the brain child of Wilbur and Orville Wright.

Which led me to wonder: what else escapes my notice in the course of a day?

N is for Noticing
Sherlock (the BBC-BC version but of course) once told John: “As ever John, you see but do not observe.”  A way of living that sadly, most of us could cop to.  We look at things, people, places, but do we ever truly see them?  Notice them?

Or do we rather drift past them, always on the way to somewhere else?  Focused on something else?

The dictionary defines notice in three ways: 
noun1.       attention; observation.
synonyms:          attention, observation, awareness, consciousness, perception; More2.      notification or warning of something, esp. to allow preparations to be made.
synonyms:          notification, warning, advance warning, announcementverb1.       become aware of.
synonyms: observe, perceive, note, see, discern, detect, spot, distinguish, mark, remark 
All three involve time and focus.  Attention, observation, awareness, discerning ~ these are not things you can do in a rush.  And if we’re living our daily lives like this, they can’t be very fulfilling.

Life should not be lived on auto-pilot.  I understand that some tasks are best done out of habit.  But if we sleepwalk through our days, we are missing out on so much. 
 
Image credit: Calvin and Hobbes, Bill Watterson
Parents seem to lament this attitude the most ~ that they blink and their two year old is now sweet sixteen and going to her first dance.  Junior is heading out the door on his first tour of duty. 

And you wonder: where did the time go?

When you should be wondering: what the heck am I doing every day?  And how can I be more present to those around me?  What beauty out there am I not noticing?

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

Take some time tomorrow to really notice what is going on around you.  Then come back and tell us what you had been missing all this time.

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15 April 2014

M is for Meatless: How Your Dinner Can Benefit from My Laziness

And God said, “Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.”
~ Holy Bible: King James Version

Back in January, I began the One Page a Day Challenge and immediately threw away my quill.  Now in April, I’m participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge and prepping for a Wilderness Writers’ Retreat.  I need ink, a stiff drink and therapy.


I
t’s rainy, it’s cold, it’s miserable, and my brain was all used up in endless meetings today. 

I’ve got nothing left over for y’all.

Maybe I should do an M is for Monstrous Meetings post.  Or perhaps, a post on The Murder of Stupid People.

Instead, I’ll have a little moxie, make a sad little mou, and give you instead, a Meatless recipes post from Lent 2012.

Because even I forget what I've written sometimes.

M is for Meatless
And hey, it’s still technically Lent for those of you who are observing it.  Although I will warn you, these recipes follow more the letter of the law then the spirit. Wink, wink.


Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

And this mental block after a good sleep last night?!  What the heck!?  I need to eat more spinach.

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