Sunday, February 22, 2015

                  Blogger Muse

Ursula Le Guin. Her name comes up in my writing group. A familiar name but I don't remember if I've ever read any of her books. I resort to Google where several surprises await me. Familiar names and places. She grew up in Berkeley, where I lived for eight years, though our years didn’t coincide. She was the daughter of Alfred and Theodora Kroeber, renowned anthropologists, her father being director of the University’s anthropology museum. Theodora wrote one of my most-loved books, Ishi in Two Worlds, the account of the last Native American living in the wilderness of California. Ishi went on to become a research assistant at the museum, then located in San Francisco. With low resistance to ‘diseases of civilization’, he suffered ill health, spending much time in the University hospital where my great aunt, a nurse there, met Ishi. How I wish I’d asked her about her experience.

These coincidences (serendipity?) prompted me to explore more about Ursula Le Guin. Her novels are classified as fantasy/science fiction, genres that have never appealed to me. None of the titles sound familiar but their descriptions spark my curiosity. Maybe it’s time for this reader to branch out to an untried genre.  I definitely want to reread Ishi.

I've just spent the past hour browsing her blog which she continues to maintain at the age of eighty-five. Funny, entertaining, thought-provoking, she describes her cat’s antics, shoots darts at book publishers and consumer-based capitalism and talks tough and personally about aging. Blog number 69, The Diminished Thing, is profound. She is now my mentor, my muse and my model. 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Day and Night 

Controversy and disgrumplement are rampant. (I’m exercising my writer’s license to invent whimsical words.) No turning the clock back in the fall? No on and off daylight savings time? The government has decreed that Chile will remain on the current time system throughout the year. Voices of protest point out the disadvantages for school children and workers who will enter school rooms, offices and factories in murk fit only for alley cats. This also means I’ll have to readjust my thinking when calculating the time when calling friends in California or Skyping with son in New York. A rather drastic decision to be made without consulting the populace forced to grope half their mornings through the penumbra.
This morning hubby asked, “What happened?” referring to my early rising on a Saturday. “I want to go out for a walk while it’s still cool,” I explained. Every summer day in Santiago the thermometer soars to what we already know– the high 80’s.
The sun was just peering over the cordillera as I took off down our street invigorated with the touch of cool air in my face and arms. People were already out and about: concierges sweeping apartment entrances, workers installing a new garden in a neighbor’s house, a man sleeping on a park bench, head propped on a backpack. In the park blackbirds, doves, austral thrushes and one parrot grazed in a patch of grass. The city streets were unusually calm, though usual for February, the big vacation month. The crowds and congestion have migrated en masse to the coastal beaches or southern lakes.
I spend the hottest hours of the day indoors, moving about the house in search of a cooler       spot to read and write. Yesterday, checking my emails, I opened a link to the newsletter from my small northern California hometown and read about precautions and preparations for flooding as it was currently raining. The usually tame town creek, which eventually empties into San Francisco Bay, has the nasty habit of converting into a raging rogue during very heavy rains. Hey. There was a link to a fixed camera at three locations on the creek. I clicked on the link and there I was watching the creek water, dotted with rain drops, flowing along through my hometown. Live and direct!

Mornings and late afternoons, the sun at a gentler angle, bring me outside. Nothing beats long summer afternoons and evenings. At nine p.m. we watch the local news. The current Socialist government seems intent on making vast sweeping changes with a dubious amount of planning. Educational reform and a pro- abortion law are at the top of their to-do list. As in the case of no-time-change, major decisions are being made while paying little heed to opinions coming from outside the governing coalition – until mounting opposition forces them to take a few steps back. The buzz words for educational reform are “free education for all”, “equality” and “diversity”. Very noble objectives I’m in total agreement with. The question is how to go about it.

As the summer days shorten and nights lengthen, I suspect the hour-change issue may be subjected to reconsideration. Meanwhile, I harvest two or three very, very dwarf cherry tomatoes from my one potted bush, savoring the special scent of the tomato leaves, pluck off dead petunia blooms, observe visiting bumble bees and encourage our tortoise, Speedy Gonzalez, to eat the plum I’ve placed in his path.