sartorias: (purple rose)
I pretty much landed running, this trip. I got in more social stuff than I usually do in the entire following year, and it was all excellent.

I went out on a high note; while in Boston, my hostess and I met up [livejournal.com profile] nineweaving to tour part of the Fogg Museum of Art. I was especially delighted to see the impressionists, having over the summer read Mary McAuliffe's When Paris Sizzled; though I'd often looked up bits of art as I read along, it's tough to see detail on screen, and I couldn't always find what I wanted. I was particularly interested to see something by Man Ray. What a name, Man Ray! I suspect an editor of a novel would ask for a more believable name. Anyway, Nine and I traded opinions of brushstroke, color, and what the paintings seemed to reveal about those caught forever in that moment of their lives.

Afterward, chocolate at Burdick's, with a group of poets. The conversation ranged over books, reading, history, art, writing, and I gave an impassioned rec for Nirvana in Fire that probably bored the snot out of everybody. High Tea the next day in the charming town of Wellesley, and then homeward bound, with a stop in Chicago to meet up with Jennifer Stevenson, and a ramble around downtown Chicago as we talked indie marketing and narrative voice and writing things. Good food, chocolate, ends this trip on a great note.
sartorias: (purple rose)
While dawn rose with lurid color over the flat part of Colorado outside the train windows, I shared breakfast with a Navajo gent exactly my age. He is an artist in a number of media, though he mainly earned his living as a graphic artist. during the course of conversation he explained that he was on his way back to New Mexico to get traditional treatment. He fought in Vietnam, and was exposed to Agent Orange and everything else, which has caused him health problems, more recently back problems, on top of a diagnosis of PTSD. He and his family live in Michigan, where he had been undergoing extensive tests; when an MRI showed nothing wrong with his back, he went home to try the medicine healers.

we talked about that. He says that they have different ways of looking at the human body when they diagnose problems. I asked about the treatment plans, and he said it was a mixture of herbs, singing, and so forth. I wanted to get into the "and so forth" but I didn't want to be obnoxiously nosy. So I let him define the conversation, but I found it interesting that he said he gets more relief from the traditional treatments that he has from the painkillers, etc., from his doctors in Michigan. Especially since his docs cut him off from the pain meds though his back still hurts. Maybe they don't believe him because the MRI showed nothing, but I could tell by the way he sat down and then got up that it is not all in his head with the PTSD nightmares.

It was interesting talking to someone exactly my age with such a completely different background and life. we talked briefly about big events that we both had shared, stemming off from the Vietnam War — which of course I had heard about and protested, but he had been right in the middle of the hell.
sartorias: (handwritten books)
Yesterday afternoon my 98-year-old great-aunt stood in the old farmhouse where she'd been a child, her careful feet on the break between the newer part of the house and the old. Gazing down at the scrubbed floorboards covered with a modern rug, she said, "My father lay right there in his casket. I was five years old, and I had no idea what was going on. They never told children in those days, you know. Not like now."

Standing by her was the 82-year-old man whose father had bought the farm when my great-grandmother finally had to give it up, after unsuccessfully trying to hold onto it as a widow in the Depression. He'd been a kid when he moved in, and at once his dad put him to work improving a house that was still nineteenth century in every way--outhouse on the knoll, paraffin stains on the walls from the lamps, a wood stove that was the only heat in the house. That stove was gone, as was the big copper pot before it that the families had bathed in--the girls first, then mom, then the boys, and the dad got the dirty bath water after everyone else was done. Both families--that was the way around there--and they laughed about how to get in and out with your knees around your ears.

That house has been in their family for seventy years, but he and his family always understands when the Carlson girls' descendants want to come visit the farm. (I was there with my mom summer 1969, but that time the dad was away, so we could only peek in the windows) They hosted a Carlson family reunion on the beautiful grounds about ten years ago--my grandmother got to be there before she died.

My daughter and I spent the entire day with my aunt, going to the various sites from hers and my grandmother's and their sisters' childhoods, with glimpses, no more than shadows, of the previous generations, left behind in work, and of course in their graves in the cemetery. So many children. "These two little boys would have been my uncles," Aunt Mim said, pointing down. One was two, the other made it to five before he died in the 1880s.

My daughter asked over dinner, "Do you miss those days?"

"Are you kidding?" Aunt Mim laughed. "Life is so much easier now. Especially for us girls. We were indentured servants back then."

She fought bitterly to be allowed to finish high school, and they let her, but the minute she got home she had to get on her overalls and get the farm chores done (she was living with a childless aunt and uncle while my great-grandmother worked as a domestic at a local rich person's house; my grandmother did child labor as the domestic at someone else's house, all the labor for a buck a week). Her younger sister was so bright that she was offered a scholarship to the local college, but that was ridiculous, the family decided--it was past time to get to work.

All the women worked, she said. Her best job was at a local orphanage, where a lot of the kids coming in spoke only Swedish.

Late in the day she admitted that she had written her autobiography. It's wonderful.

"I sugar-coated some stuff, you know," she said. I nodded--having just read a harrowing passage--and told her that if it was computerized it would be easy for her to change it any way she liked.

She admitted that she's always liked writing, but never showed anyone any of it. The only one of her kids interested died of MS ten years ago. Aunt Mim's nearly blind, but she bends over the paper with a super strong LED light bar, and writes in pencil. I told her if she writes more, or can find the chapters she wrote subsequently that didn't get typed when the MS finally crippled her daughter, I can put them in her book, and see that the whole family on that side gets a copy, along with the film my daughter is making. (She took her boyfriend's super powered camera along, and spent the entire day shooting tons of footage.) So she gave it to me.

When I show this autobiography to my mom, she's going to be blown away.
sartorias: (desk)
Fair Winds and Homeward Sail is a very short novel that I wrote for fun. It takes Soppy Croft from Jane Austen's Persuasion and gives her a back story, and also addresses one of my misgivings about the book. (The other one, a major logic flaw, I feel Austen would have fixed if she hadn't died before she could polish this one.) Kindle

I did several Austen things for practice and for relaxation (like, stroke recovery) and those will be bundled up next week.

I also finally was able to get a print edition of |A Stranger to Command in trade, for those half-a-dozen faithful people who kept asking. It turned out really pretty, too.

I arrived in Denver five hours ago, so will begin with a sizable sleep deficit, but I am here! And there was cool weather, and clouds! Commencing soon much writing talk. Train journey enjoyable as always. People met and talked to equally enjoyable, including a group of people who travel around to go on roller coasters.

Packing

Oct. 4th, 2015 06:23 am
sartorias: (desk)
Leaving today for Colorado for a week (Sirens), then Vermont, Martha's Vineyard (Viable Paradise) and finally New York City, before returning home on November 1. With an afternoon stop in Chicago to hang out with two of the Sassafrass performers--whose music I've been mainlining for weeks.

Naturally, the air blowing in the window here is cold for the first time in months. But I know that won't last--I will leave behind the usual October heat wave, ha ha. I've been looking at weather reports back east and seeing temperatures of sixties! Yesterday I checked about five times, each time expecting a "Nope, sorry, it'll be 112 for the rest of the month."

Here's what I love: not having to agonize over which books to shove in, and weighing interest against how heavy they are. My iPad is loaded with more reading than I can possibly do in a month. And I hope to collect more when I'm back east!
sartorias: (desk)
Off to Texas for ConDFW in a few hours. Looking forward to some relaxing time on the train with books, writing, and scenery.

Over at Charles Stross's blog, [livejournal.com profile] rachelmanija talks about indies and erotica.
sartorias: (Fan)
Spurred by some fulminations read online of late. Written up while sitting next to my fading dog, and now I am crossing New Mexico--woke this morning to my cell phone blasting a flash flood danger alert. Lightning outside! Rain!

Dog is still hanging in there at home--daughter came up to take my place. Family decision was to give him his time while he enjoys small things: my last memory of him was sitting out on the patio yesterday with him as he lay on a blanket under the umbrella so it wasn't hot, a breeze ruffling over him, as I scratched his chest. His eyes were slitted with contentment.

Doing a lot of reading, and thinking about reading, and wanting to talk about reading, and result: above post.
sartorias: (Fan)
IMG_0600
Over the weekend I was in the redwoods, working with Dave Trowbridge on our massive rewrite of our space opera. Dueling computers, with occasional gusts of laughter, and sometimes Deborah, Dave's wife, who is staying with a friend through her hast days. She could be present on Skype so we could all talk writing.
IMG_0601

I don't know if you can see it, but there is a stream far below this bridge I was standing on. (Dave and I walked the three miles into the small town for dinner one night.)

When I got home, there was my Netflix waiting, and first up was Triumph des Willens, the Nazi propaganda film made by Leni Riefenstahl in 1934, a year after Hitler took power.

Getting on toward half a century ago (it seems to weird to type that, but it's true) I first saw it, on one of those occasions when the German profs showed us significant German films. This particular time they used a room off at the film school I guess so that casual passers by couldn't look in, and with this peculiar atmosphere partly grimness, partly disgust, partly the almost-embarrassment of academics studying sociology looking at a famous porn flick, they hitched up the projector, we sat in those horrible plastic chairs popular at the time, and they let it roll.

I'd been dreading it. By then I'd spent my year in Austria, and I'd talked to a lot of folks, young and old, about the war years. That shadow was still long in 1971. I already knew plenty about atrocities, and if this was a party film, I was expecting clips of the sort of stuff Hitler had loved at private showings. (You can imagine; I'll stop here, but I heard even more details a few years later, when I was working in the film industry, and one of the older screenwriters talked about his days in the signal corps, having to review and catalogue the private film stashes of Nazi commanders, captured after the fall of Berlin.)

But what did we get? The film starts out high above the clouds, an exalted view of the sky overhead and all around amazing air-castelated cumulous. Then we descend through the mists (we are on Hitler's private plane) and there below is old Nuremberg, a fantastically beautiful city with a complication of slanted roofs juxtaposed over medieval and Renaissance times up and around the spires of famous churches. A castle or two. All to be bombed flat, of course, a few years later--and then apparently rebuilt pretty much as it had been. (I think that was still going on when I drove through there in '72, at least, all I remember is a lot of scaffolding.)

The shadow of the plane soars along a main boulevard down which precisely squared rows march toward the central gathering area at city-center. It's called Adolph Hitler Platz in the film; I don't know what it was before, or is now. The camera swoops down and makes love to glimmering reflections of old buildings in the peaceful waters, shows castle and homely (but picturesque) farmhouse, street and statue, and all of them--every one--flying the new flag of Germany, with the swastika (Hakenkreuz, or hooked cross) they'd pinched from the Aryans of India, under the supposition that the master race had conquered there and gone north, I guess blondifying as they went, until they reached the pinnacle of racial purity in Germany.

Everywhere at the roadside and hanging out of the streamer-bedecked windows and climbing precariously on centuries-old statues of saints and commanders, are people waiting to see Hitler. Blonds, mostly; though Hitler and his middle-aged, constipated-looking senior staff (except for the cadaverous Goebbels with the hooded gaze) were stodgy and dark-haired--Riefenstahl couldn't do anything about that except to shoot them from below, making them as imposing as she could--she and her camera linger on the fair-haired. There is a lot of speechifying about Germany and a reference to racial purity, though Hitler, when he speaks, reveals a very strong Austrian commoner's accent.

That is the best part of the film. Most of the rest are various sustained set pieces shot over the week-long "Party Day" get-togethers, which Hitler hosted every year until 1939, when he dispersed his peace-loving, state-serving boys off to slaughter and be slaughtered. The centerpiece is a long sequence I guess meant to show the solidarity of the S.A. with the S.S. as this was shot a bare month or two after Hitler bloodily purged the S.A. of 'undesirables.' Including the president, von Hindenburg, whose memorial is lengthily and unironically displayed in the film.

There is a second film, which is all military parade all the time, which makes me wonder how much Leni R. had had to fight the party honchos to get her vision over their demand for More Military Might. (According to the history professor who did the 2000 re-release film commentary, there was plenty of debate, for example, the old cavalry units wanted their time in the film but only got four minutes.)

The speeches are as creepy as you'd expect, the torchlight parades and all the rest pretty much what we've seen displayed in endless fiction since that time. But what got to me were Leni's own touches: the shots of Hitler from behind, from over his shoulder, so that the adoring crowd are framed between the side of his head and his upraised arm; the lingering on his profile with sunlight limning his head; and above all, the upward, heart-lifting shots of beautiful blond boys and girls, their hair sun-kissed, looking up adoringly at their leader. These shots are what I remembered all those years later, when the rest of it had faded.

1934. It got me wondering if this film was intended to sell the Nazis to the rest of the country, because it seems to me (and of course I stand to be corrected, as I've only been there twice, and can only read and listen from a distance) that Hitler might have finagled control of the government (which was a mess, coming out of post-war depression, and the humiliation of Versailles), and he undoubtedly did have all these thousands of followers, but he did not actually have the entire country behind him. It's interesting to note who is left out of that film, like the old army, commanded for centuries by the warrior caste. You get a couple brief shots of distinguished Junker army chiefs, in the audience at the speeches, not speaking themselves. There is absolutely no sign of German's once-vigorous intelligentsia. Instead we have Young Germany as Hitler envisions it, everyone in either in uniform, or in traditional garb when celebrating fealty to Hitler's person.

It occurred to me that this particular film was as effective as it was because of the female view, this lingering on the beauties of the city, the ancient buildings, the lovely smiling faces of girls and women. Sweet shots of the scuffed backs of children's shoes as their tow-headed wearers stand on tiptoe eagerly trying to catch a glimpse of the motorcade.

The party boys wanted (and got, in the sister film, which is stunningly boring except to the historian), military matchings and arms swinging, boots smacking the ground in unison, row after row of artillery with barrels jutting upward at an aggressive angle, medals glinting on uniforms. Leni Riefenstahl twines her message around the heart of the watcher, which is far, far more insidious.

It got me thinking about women who, while not in power, used their gifts to serve power, and how very dangerous they were.
sartorias: (Fan)
As [livejournal.com profile] rachelmanija's folks are away, we came up here to take care of eight cats (seven spotted) and to work. What a delight to find it snowing two days ago!

Yesterday it began to melt, the snow dropping off branches and eaves in gossamer sprays and fat clumps. Could I get a single picture of that? Noooo. But I got some pretty dawn and sunset shots; the sunset one I shot through a window, so there's a reflection of the dining table (Rachel's work station).
Read more... )
sartorias: (Fan)
. . was the winter of 1972, in Vienna.
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And home

Oct. 20th, 2012 05:45 am
sartorias: (Default)
I can't resist adding two more photos, both taken from the window of the train as we whizzed through Colorado. Back to very dry air, and I made out the haze of wildfires across the sky, though no one said anything about major ones.

Oh, but the astonishingly brilliant shades of gold!
trees

That one, alas, caught the edge of the sun.

trees2

One of the nice things about train travel is that they seat you with others. I would never have the guts to impose myself on a set of strangers, but with the authority taken by the dining car steward I find myself eating my meal with people I never would have met.

That Colorado lunch was shared with a professional fiddler from Oregon, and a couple of UK people who were crossing North America to see the sights, before embarking on a cruise ship to go south. They were discussing knowledgeably whether those trees were aspen or cottonwood. As always, whatever the name was fell out of my head in seconds--I have to see something frequently to remember its tag.

The dinner the night before, I sat with three nurses--did they laugh when they discovered they were all in the same profession, one in her mid seventies, one my age, and one around thirty. They had a great time comparing nursing training and attitudes as it had once been, and as it was now.

But I am back, and there was my desk piled with the "I'll do that when I return" things and the things that had accumulated since, so it's time to hunker in the bunker.

And home

Oct. 20th, 2012 05:45 am
sartorias: (Default)
I can't resist adding two more photos, both taken from the window of the train as we whizzed through Colorado. Back to very dry air, and I made out the haze of wildfires across the sky, though no one said anything about major ones.

Oh, but the astonishingly brilliant shades of gold!
trees

That one, alas, caught the edge of the sun.

trees2

One of the nice things about train travel is that they seat you with others. I would never have the guts to impose myself on a set of strangers, but with the authority taken by the dining car steward I find myself eating my meal with people I never would have met.

That Colorado lunch was shared with a professional fiddler from Oregon, and a couple of UK people who were crossing North America to see the sights, before embarking on a cruise ship to go south. They were discussing knowledgeably whether those trees were aspen or cottonwood. As always, whatever the name was fell out of my head in seconds--I have to see something frequently to remember its tag.

The dinner the night before, I sat with three nurses--did they laugh when they discovered they were all in the same profession, one in her mid seventies, one my age, and one around thirty. They had a great time comparing nursing training and attitudes as it had once been, and as it was now.

But I am back, and there was my desk piled with the "I'll do that when I return" things and the things that had accumulated since, so it's time to hunker in the bunker.
sartorias: (Fan)
LJ is being weird--won't let me answer comments. This form for posting I have never seen before. I am going to try to post these last photos as it is laborious to get photos from phone to here, and I don't want to do it all over again when I reach home.

I had four hours, and the weather was cool with incoming clouds, so I took a water taxi to a canal tour boat for the architectural tour. I snapped some of my fellow passengers, who represented a remarkable range of language groups--imagine each set of people linguistically isolated from everyone else.

Oh, but first off is my roomette aboard the train to Chicago. As you can see, tight quarters, especially for two! I have packing and organizing myself down to a science, so I am quite cozy.

Following is the tour. Naturally, being me, I forgot all the names of the buildings five seconds after I was told. Lots of rich men and corporations. The only one I remember is the opera house--apparently another rich man had a mistress who wished to be an opera singer. But New York wouldn't have her, so the guy built her this gigantic, fantastic opera house, with its back to New York. It looks like a Titan's arm chair.

Okay, let's see if this works.
Read more... )
sartorias: (Fan)
LJ is being weird--won't let me answer comments. This form for posting I have never seen before. I am going to try to post these last photos as it is laborious to get photos from phone to here, and I don't want to do it all over again when I reach home.

I had four hours, and the weather was cool with incoming clouds, so I took a water taxi to a canal tour boat for the architectural tour. I snapped some of my fellow passengers, who represented a remarkable range of language groups--imagine each set of people linguistically isolated from everyone else.

Oh, but first off is my roomette aboard the train to Chicago. As you can see, tight quarters, especially for two! I have packing and organizing myself down to a science, so I am quite cozy.

Following is the tour. Naturally, being me, I forgot all the names of the buildings five seconds after I was told. Lots of rich men and corporations. The only one I remember is the opera house--apparently another rich man had a mistress who wished to be an opera singer. But New York wouldn't have her, so the guy built her this gigantic, fantastic opera house, with its back to New York. It looks like a Titan's arm chair.

Okay, let's see if this works.
Read more... )

Last day

Oct. 16th, 2012 08:20 am
sartorias: (Default)
I'd wanted to go see the Constitution again, and this time get below-decks (saw it in 2000, but couldn't go below-decks) but it turned out the ship is closed on Mondays.

But Julia Rios, my hostess, found the Mayflower II, which was built on the plans of the original Mayflower back in the fifties. It was built in England and sailed over here, where it is permanently docked off Plymouth.

Turns out there is one of those living museums nearby, but as we were meeting [livejournal.com profile] nineweaving at three for tea, we marked that portion for a possible all-day trip next year, and confined ourselves to the ship.

Cut for photos:
Read more... )

Last day

Oct. 16th, 2012 08:20 am
sartorias: (Default)
I'd wanted to go see the Constitution again, and this time get below-decks (saw it in 2000, but couldn't go below-decks) but it turned out the ship is closed on Mondays.

But Julia Rios, my hostess, found the Mayflower II, which was built on the plans of the original Mayflower back in the fifties. It was built in England and sailed over here, where it is permanently docked off Plymouth.

Turns out there is one of those living museums nearby, but as we were meeting [livejournal.com profile] nineweaving at three for tea, we marked that portion for a possible all-day trip next year, and confined ourselves to the ship.

Cut for photos:
Read more... )
sartorias: (Default)
It's difficult to know how to write up such an experience without resorting to wibble-and-squee, or worse, retailing the in-jokes that inevitably develop in such activities, as these, I find, are usually hilarious to the participants, freighted as they are with the fire of shared experience, but to those who weren't there they tend to cause reactions ranging from the polite smile to stunningly unfunny.

I will try, below the cut (heavy with pix)
Read more... )
sartorias: (Default)
It's difficult to know how to write up such an experience without resorting to wibble-and-squee, or worse, retailing the in-jokes that inevitably develop in such activities, as these, I find, are usually hilarious to the participants, freighted as they are with the fire of shared experience, but to those who weren't there they tend to cause reactions ranging from the polite smile to stunningly unfunny.

I will try, below the cut (heavy with pix)
Read more... )
sartorias: (Default)
I'm in beautiful western Massachusetts today, after an excellent day yesterday workshopping some chapters or stories with a bunch of other writers.I got good feedback on a much-written opening that is going back for more retooling.

We broke to amble through the woods (imagine having woods right by your house!) and I gloated to myself about how I am missing more hundred degree temps at home. I wore long sleeves yesterday, ha ha ha!

Other than that, BVC is doing a full week about banned books for Banned Books Week. Here is my entry--Put her in the Fire!.
sartorias: (Default)
The last portion of my journey was by bus, as the track through southern Mass is being worked on. I put on my music, headphones, and watched the windows. The trees had been still late summer through IL and points adjacent, but here, suddenly, were bursts of startling color.

These photos are snapped from a bus window, so the detail is smeared by speed, but the colors in the slanting sunlight were just so lovely to my SoCal eyes!
Read more... )

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