(from Through the Looking-Glass)
Friday, January 30, 2009
(from Through the Looking-Glass)
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Wednesday was a wipeout, writing wise. School was cancelled, and our SCBWI critique meeting, that I'd been looking forward to since the holidays, was cancelled as well. I'm very disappointed. I got some writing done today, but I'm so behind on the big goals I've set for myself.
I did sign up for some conferences though; the Whispering Pines retreat and the New England SCBWI Conference in April. So that's something to look forward to. I'll feel better if I get some solid writing done in the next few days ...
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
I need to add THE GRAVEYARD BOOK, THE UNDERNEATH and SAVVY to my list of books to read. They all sound great! I wish CHAINS had won something at the ALA. I’m glad it won the 2009 Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction. We all have our favorites!
The one I'm most excited to read is debut novelist Kathi Appelt's THE UNDERNEATH. Here's the book trailer ...
Read an interview with Kathi on Cynthia Leitich Smith's Cynsations.
Monday, January 26, 2009
It is Australia Day, celebrating the landing of the first fleet in Sydney’s Botany Bay. Kind of like Columbus Day. But since they don’t have an Independence Day it is also a bit of 4th of July, coming as it does in the middle of summer vacation down under. I should mention that some aboriginal people mark it as a day of mourning, much like Thanksgiving Day in the US.
In India it is Republic Day, celebrating the completion of the written constitution of the Republic of India in 1950, two and a half years after independence. The constitution is the bedrock of Indian democracy, so in a way they’re celebrating democracy itself, a wonderful thing to celebrate, in my opinion!!
They celebrate with parades, the grandest of which takes place in New Delhi. When I was in 8th grade I marched (or rather danced) in the parade. It remains one of my happiest memories!
There I am, in the front, dressed as a Punjabi bride in flaming orange and gold. The dance we did had to do with “Unity in Diversity”, the Indian version of E PLURIBUS UNUM. So if you look carefully, you'll see groups of kids in costumes from many parts of India.
The worst part of the whole thing was that the elephants carrying the “brave kids” ahead of us had gone and pooped on the road. So we had to dance around the elephant poop … in our bare feet!!
Since then, my kids have been in our town 4th of July parade. The funny thing was that they’d heard my elephant poop story a few times. So they were weirdly thrilled when the horses of the Canadian Mounties before them also did their thing and they had to perform their Karate Katas around the horse doo doo.
But I think my story still trumps theirs. They were wearing shoes, and everyone knows that elephant poop is bigger than horse poop!
Happy Australia Day, Australia! And happy Republic Day, India!
And as Yat-Yee points out, it is also Chinese New Year. So -- Happy Year of the Ox too!!
* picture of the Year of the Ox by chooyutshing @ Flickr creative commons
Friday, January 23, 2009
So here is a poem by the great Bengali poet, Rabindranath Tagore, on something I often strive for, but don't always achieve; Stillness. It is hard to find in our crazy world, but very necessary (for me) to be able to collect my thoughts and put them down.
Stillness - by Rabindranath Tagore
Stillness soars as a mountain peak,
Seeking its greatness in height.
Movement stops in a silent lake,
Seeking in depth its limit.
The fish in the water is silent,
the animals on the earth is noisy,
the bird in the air is singing.
But man has in him the silence of the sea,
the noise of the earth
and the music of the air.
Read the rest here ...
(BTW - The wierdness with the singular/plural has to do with the translation from the original Bangla, I think!)
Poetry Friday is hosted today by Laura Salas
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Monday, January 19, 2009
If you haven’t read it, start now!
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Then I started thinking about Indian travelers who left India to see the world. I knew they had to exist, but there are hardly any surviving accounts that tell of them. Still, I decided to make a list …
The ones I found easily were Buddhist monks who went to the Far East to spread their teachings. The most famous of these was the monk Bodhidharma who went to China in the 5th century AD. He was the founder of Zen Buddhism (Sanskrit - Dhyana, Chinese – Chan, Japanese – Zen) and said to be the father of Shaolin Kung-Fu (!) as well as having discovered tea. He is known as Daruma in Japan. Those Daruma dolls they have are based on him! And look at this clip I found of a Chinese movie about his life (Master of Zen). Chinese actors playing Indian roles and talking in Cantonese! How amazing is that!!
And there are more. China, Tibet, Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia and even Japan all had visitors from India.
Sona and Uttara – Cambodia 274 BC
Malananda – Korea 384 AD
Bodhidharma – China 5th century (Founded Chan/Zen)
Kwang Yoo – Korea 7th century (Founded Golgulsa monastery)
Bodhisena – Japan 736 AD
Nagasena – 7th century AD went to China from Cambodia
Padmasambhava – Tibet 747 AD
Prajna – 804 AD China
Atisha - Tibet 10th-11th century
Vinitaruci – Vietnam
There were also the seafaring Chola Kings of Southern India, Rajaraja and Rajendra, who had a formidable Navy and colonized Java, Malacca etc. And there were traders who plied the monsoon winds of the Indian Ocean and traveled regularly to the East.
So, what about the West? Did no Indians travel to Persia, Arabia, Egypt or Greece? The evidence is they did. The Bamiayan Buddhas were a product of the Indo-Greeks that ruled Afghanistan (Gandhara/Bactria) after Alexander’s conquests. Emperor Ashoka erected stone tablets etched in Greek and sent Buddhist missionaries to the Yonas (Ions or Greeks).
The Mahavamasa (Chronicles of Lanka) says -
The wise Maharakkhita who went to the country of the Yona (Greece) delivered in the midst of the people the Kalakarama suttanta. A hundred and seventy thousand living beings attained, to the reward of the path (of salvation); ten thousand received the pabbajja.
Friday, January 16, 2009
Two universes mosey down the street
Connected by love and a leash and nothing else.
Mostly I look at lamplight through the leaves
While he mooches along with tail up and snout down,
Getting a secret knowledge through the nose
Almost entirely hidden from my sight.
It was 3 degrees this morning when I dropped the kids at school. Too cold to walk the dog, at least for me, so Yogi (the dog) and I went to PetSmart and signed him up for doggie playgroup. Remember that sick feeling when you first send your kids to preschool? Yeah, I had that again today. Yogi didn’t know anyone, and was very anxious. I watched him through the glass doors and he settled down after a bit. The girls there shooed me off and told me to come back around noon. When I got back he was in a separate room because he threw up from excitement or nervousness or something. Poor baby!
But apparently he did play (before he threw up) and it’s good for him to get socialized. I have to say that a daycamp/hotel/playgroup for dogs seems very odd to my third-world brain, but it serves a useful purpose. We’ll try again, but not for a while. Maybe some one-on-one playdates first … Yikes! I can barely keep up with my kids’ social life and now I have to have playdates for the dog!!
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Monday, January 12, 2009
And all you writers, before it was a Golden Globe winning movie Slumdog Millionaire was a book. That's right, the movie is based on Q & A by Vikas Swarup. Check out an excerpt on the author's site here.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Saturday, January 10, 2009
I owed several people critiques and sent off a couple of queries all off which ate into the little writing time I had. This time last year I was determined to finish the 1st draft of Karmic Cat and single-mindedly pumping out a 1000+ words a day! I’m antsy to get back into a regular schedule – here’s hoping Kiki’s cold won’t get passed on to the rest of us (gulp!)
At least I managed to read a lot. My favorite holiday read was Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh. I think it’s the best South Asian book I’ve read since A Suitable Boy (except Anuja’s book of course :-)), but it kind of leaves you hanging. I’m glad there are to be two sequels. Also read Speak, Shiva’s Fire, and just started A Curse Dark as Gold. Weirdly I’ve been reading a lot of the Artemis Fowl books (again) for some reason.
Note to self: Must bring laptop to Kiki’s ice-skating class, if she’s well enough to go.
Friday, January 9, 2009
So, to start, here's an old favorite by Emerson.
Ralph Waldo Emerson - Brahma
If the red slayer think he slays,
Or if the slain think he is slain,
They know not well the subtle ways
I keep, and pass, and turn again.
Far or forgot to me is near,
Shadow and sunlight are the same,
The vanished gods to me appear,
And one to me are shame and fame.
They reckon ill who leave me out;
When me they fly, I am the wings;
I am the doubter and the doubt,
And I the hymn the Brahmin sings.
The strong gods pine for my abode,
And pine in vain the sacred Seven;
But thou, meek lover of the good!
Find me, and turn thy back on heaven.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
But now we know that:
1. He has 4 siblings, Heather, Honeybun, Herbie and Hazelnut. (His old name was Healey, we renamed him Yogi)
2. Most of them have been placed around here so we should be able to see them at the Sato reunion in August.
3. He had been found with the other puppies eating out of a trash-bin to survive. He was less than 2 months old.
4. He lived with Doris, his foster mum, for 2 months before flying to Massachusetts.
I have been looking at him with new eyes today. What a lot he’s been through! And there was no way for him to tell us. I can’t stop fussing over him. What a good, good, dog!
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
The Dog has to be walked. He needs to do his Business. He needs exercise and playtime. He whines to go out just when I've settled down with my laptop and a big mug of tea. And I’m thankful.
Oh, I’ve been outdoors when it couldn’t be helped. When I had to take the kids sledding, or to shovel the driveway, or put up Christmas lights, or walk to work from the train-station. But until this winter, I’ve never been out alone.
Well, not completely alone, because The Dog is there, of course. And there are other creatures. Birds of all kinds, and critters that scamper out of sight but leave tracks for The Dog to sniff. And with nothing to do but take it all in I’ve finally realized the wonder of winter. Like when it’s snowing silently and you are the only person outside to watch it come down, or when it’s crisp and bright and the snow melts around you with the sound of pop-rocks candy in your mouth. I love how it covers everything and makes it beautiful.
So, I’m thankful that The Dog dragged me out of my cozy cocoon and showed me stuff that was right there for me to see all along.
Thank you, Dog. Now, I must go and defrost my toes.
Sunday, January 4, 2009
Behold the Imperial Star Destroyer, 1366 pieces of total awesomeness! And the X-Wing Fighter, AT-AP Pod Walker and various other Star Wars legos that my son spent half the holidays building. He actually timed how long it for him to build each set. I have to admire any activity that produces such intense concentration, over multiple days, in a 10 year old. Now if I could get him to read with the same single-mindedness ...
I'm exhausted. We had an overload of playdates etc. over this final weekend. They go back to school tomorrow. At which point I can actually have my life back. Oh yeah!