I am sitting in a cafe called La Merceria, which is half a kilometer from my place. They have excellent coffee and good strong Wifi, and nice places to sit and work. The tables are too high, though–suboptimal for typing. The hunt for a perfect remote workspace, therefore, goes on.
Everything stops for two days, though, because tomorrow at the crack of dawn I leave for Edmonton, for my grandmother’s funeral. The quest for things like routine and workable coffee houses and reasonably priced produce will have to resume on the weekend. In the meantime, grieving is hard work and I’m slogging through that instead of working on my novels.
Speaking of heavy, this week’s Buffy Rewatch covers “Weight of the World.”
Things that are nailed down and delightful: the yoga studio, Downward Dog, is marvelous. We did meditative/restorative yoga on Sunday–what Muppet calls ‘blankie yoga’ and it was a lovely experience. The brekkie place, Cora’s, not only gives you tons of fruit with breakfast but lets you order it without melons. We have much of our stuff unpacked, including the television and comfortable seating, and are finally up to date on Game of Thrones, even as the Internets explode with ewww and squee over it.
Our couch arrived when it was supposed to and the Frogboxes were taken away when they were supposed to go, and the only things standing between me and getting all the extra crap out of my office are a storage bed that’s due to arrive on June 8th or so and a shelf to be acquired later.
Toronto is full of photo ops. I have a Flickr Set with about fifty pictures in it already.
We have been having a gorgeous spring, filled with light and birdsong and flowers. The double-flowering plums in front of my building are about to pop, and already the minivans of Vancouver are starting to be plastered with pink confetti from the cherries and apple trees that are currently in bloom everywhere you care to look.
My own little deck garden is looking quite spectacular of late, and on this rainy Sunday, if I cared to, I could go out and take a picture identical to this one:
But there are goldfinches partying out there with the feeder, and Rummy is gently serenading them with the “I want to chew your neck” symphony, we’ve named BBC Two, so I’ll leave them in peace and give you last year’s model of the purple tulip. Tweety here thanks you for your patience.
Back around the same time digital photography was beginning to dawn, my grandfather sent Kelly his old SLR 35-mm camera. It was in perfect condition and took beautiful pictures, and she spent a lot of time roaming around Vancouver making very cool black and white images.
A lot of them were of me, and this was entirely to my benefit. Before Grandpa’s Camera, I was awkward before the lens and hated almost every image taken of me. While K was learning to take better pictures, I invested some time and attention both in becoming a better subject and in appreciating a wider range of me-pictures. Here’s a random portrait:
Now, as more than one of you probably knows, I’m obnoxious on this topic–I did it, and I liked the result, so in the typical way of humans I can easily be led into preaching about how everyone else should do the same.
(But really! You should! Because people take more pictures than ever of you. And they put them on the Internet without asking. And this is the age of the selfie! And other reasons as well!)
I brought home books from the library. Hundreds and hundreds of books on photography for K to read. Ansel Adams and Henri Cartier-Bresson and history of this and collections of that. And while I didn’t absorb more than a minute fraction of the content, I looked at all the pictures. Knowledge soaked in: I can tell a good photo from a bad one now, even if I can’t always articulate why. And I loooove good pictures.
That was 1997ish. Dad was alive (we obliged him to build a darkroom in our bathroom and our cat Obi clawed the living crap out of his hand by way of thanks) and I had just started writing fulltime. In 2001 I was toting a Polaroid around, because by then I’d found that, occasionally, I wanted a picture of something for writing purposes. It suited me to have the picture that very second, dammit, so I could write down why I thought it was important.
This didn’t work out so well, so in 2003, I bought my first digital. I’ve taken well over 15,000 images since then, with four different cameras. The further back you go in time on my Flickr account, the less impressive they are.
So, with that long wind-up, I offer you my photo pinboard. This is for pictures by other photographers, images I think are wonderful, interspersed with the occasional infographic on technique.
Happy almost-the-weekend, everyone!
Google’s announcement that it was killing off its reader app caused me a few moments of pain on Wednesday, until I realized that what I love is not so much the Google part of the equation but the fact that it interfaces nicely with an app called Flipboard. And this is something it will cease to do when they kill the service, but it was a moment’s work to surf up a “best alternatives to Reader for iGadgets” article and from there find my way to Feedly, which seems like an awfully pretty and workable solution.
My needs are pretty modest, I must admit. I keep up with a few blogs, I browse Longreads, and I follow a few people who can be relied upon to post intelligent writing related links, some of which I forward to my students. (And, lately, I pin them for posterity.)
So, while I go make sure I know how to use Feedly and catch up with all my favorite stuff, here’s a little streamer with the latest Instagram posts.
[instapress userid=”AlyxDellamonica” piccount=”7″ size=”90″ effect=”fancybox”]
Birds, birds, birds: We now have four bird feeders. Two window cafes, one hummingbird feeder, and a shiny new one with suet. We haven’t seen a hummingbird yet, but the level of syrup started diminishing last week. We have named them BBC1, BBC2, ITV and CBC. (Because, you know, it’s all Cat TV.) BBC1 has until now offered the most active program offerings, in the form of very feisty goldfinches. But CBC is a strong starter…
Doing this makes me want to become the Johnny Appleseed of apartment feeders, and roam the city talking people into installing seed, syrup and suet stations all over the darned place.
Yoga: Kelly and I are making it to yoga regularly, at a studio that is blessedly close to our place. This is our new favorite thing about the neighborhood: only having to walk two blocks for the thrice-weekly stretch. We’ve been here long enough that, much as we love The Drive, I needed a new favorite thing. So yay!
Teaching: My Writing the Fantastic class at the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program has been wrapping up its workshop phase: fifteen writers, doing fifteen critiques each on a wide (and interesting!) range of short stories and novel fragments. They’re moving into considering revision now. My next class will be Novel Writing II, beginning in mid-April.
One of the things I’ve started doing as of this quarter is keeping a pinboard (of course!) of links to the writing essays I’m sending to the group. This means that the list of optional readings will be growing ever longer over time. Pinterest being quite picture-driven, I’ve noticed–not a big surprise–that writing essays and articles about publishing tend to be rather low on snappy graphics.