The Corn Mother

As interpreted by me for the Daily Post’s topic Grain

Igraine–it originally appeared like an awkward, unwieldy name to this reader & it took me quite some time to puzzle out how to actually pronounce it.  The extra nouns clashing against my young untrained eyes.  A name that stands out from Arthurian legend that seemed to have so many other lovely female names to reveal, like Guinevere or Morgan or Nimüe or, my very favorite, Lynette.  And yet, despite the matronly air to her name, Igraine is a character who does not quietly allow herself to be relegated to ‘mother of the King.’  She gives birth to two equally important children of legend by two different men–a wrinkle that future texts struggled with as they wished to emphasize Arthur’s gallant practice of Christianity & noble birth.

Igraine–the grain–the rebellious spring daughter of the fields that invites order (‘sew on the grain, cut with the grain of meat, pet the fur with the grain’) or inspires challenge (‘go against the grain’).  I, ever the uncertain girl, usually ends up on the other side of that dynamic, on the cross-tendency side, mainly because I don’t pay attention, too wrapped up in my own perspective to see properly.  And so, the dress comes out with an odd stretch, the roast looks like it’s already been chewed and the cat is hissing at me in the corner.  The worst sin growing up was being “a space cadet” & “having no common sense.”  I sinned frequently & eventually stopped asking for forgiveness.

And so, I still find my thoughts caught up on that name–Igraine–the name meant to invoke a Goddess and the strange history that leads from something wilder and difficult to a bright shining moment of dreams nearly true and exuberant hope.  Does her name remind me to look past the façade of accomplishment?  Or do I trouble myself with doubts that the story of my life as I’ve told it to myself has overlooked something?

Books, Thoughts

Off the Shelf: Arcadia, issue #3

Arcadia #3Arcadia #3 by Alex Paknadel

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 instead of 4. Jaime, the hack wizard, rescues Giacomo from the Arcadian enforcers & together they go looking for Coral. Digital Lee learns about analog Lee & is used as an experiment by the Arcadians to make contact with him in order to spy on the Meat. Analog Lee becomes the new leader of the server farm & suspects those in charge of Arcadia are up to something. Sam & digital Lee make separate deals with the people in power in order to preserve their family.

The plot thickens & gives us some tasty new details to savor–Paknadel reveals more of his main conflict through a philosophy lesson in Coral’s class. Analog Lee is starting to seem like the more interesting of the two Lees. He broods, argues with himself & racks his brain trying to figure out how he survived the last plague & his family didn’t. (Also, the guy is ready to throw down with wolves in a blizzard. How can you not resist him?) Digital Lee just seems bland beside him even as he gives his handlers in this issue plenty of attitude. Hopefully that will change as our story continues.

I’m sort of torn over how the anomalies in the Arcadian code work. On one hand, we have rogue code that permanently destroys things, but on the other hand, we have Giacomo who has “innate root access” but doesn’t have the same amount of destructive power from what readers can see. How far does this rabbit hole mystery go? Guess there’s really only one way to find out. . .

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Crafting My Own Tarot

I took a fantastic art class last weekend.  A few months ago, I was browsing through the summer catalog for the Visual Arts Center of Richmond.  The range of classes offered was pretty amazing, from working with clay, weaving, digital design & photography &, interestingly, writing.  But the class that stood out to me the most was a printmaking class on making personalized tarot cards.  Instant excitement!

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Anxiety, Then Joy

Remember, talking about The Thing is not the thing.  Doing The Thing is the thing. —Amy Poehler

Sorry readers, I didn’t get a post up last week because I was on deadline for a freelance piece so I thought I’d talk a little bit about writing it.  The piece itself was just a survey of the local food scene in Fredericksburg, my hometown, for a regional magazine.  Really quick turnaround, partially due to the secondhand nature of how it came to me.  Their usual writer knew my husband & suggested him when she couldn’t do it.  But my husband already writes for food for the area paper so there was a conflict of interest there.  So I took it on, seeing as how I’d been looking for a new assignment & I often accompany Kurt on his food expeditions.  The week before last, as I was planning & putting things together, I started having a series of small freak-outs.  Oh my stars, the deadline is two weeks away.  Oh no, what’s my angle?!  Hell, no one is getting back to me!  What do I doooooo?!

But, step-by-step, I made myself solve the problem & just write the thing!  I talked out logistics with my husband, who suggested a few other people to contact.  I put aside research days, where I could not only collect info but meet people face-to-face to plan interviews.  Those interviews got scheduled and by last Tuesday, I was really getting excited for the assignment.  I drove into town early that morning, ready to take on my busy itinerary of photo shots and one-on-ones with my contacts.  The day was packed, but I felt productive and happy, confident I was working toward something I would be proud of.  When I got home that night & started putting together my draft, I remembered Amy Poehler’s quote from her book Yes, Please and thought, She was right.  Doing The Thing is the thing and the moment of finding your stride is exhilarating.

I submitted the words & photos last week, right on deadline, so I’m looking forward to the feedback and seeing it published.  It’s been a while since I’ve had a freelance assignment and I’m totally up for more.  I’ll post a link when the issue goes up!


Off the Shelf: Daughter of Night

Daughter of Night: A Tale of Three WorldsDaughter of Night: A Tale of Three Worlds by Lydia Obukhova

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 instead of 4. Obukhova starts with a retelling of the Adam and Lilith myth and moves into old-fashioned sci-fi with explorers from another planet and their journey through the stars. Lilith is part of a nomadic tribe and abandons it with her cousin Odam when they realize their attraction to one another is forbidden. They live together as man & wife in the wilderness, but their idyllic love is built on a cracked foundation. Lilith is curious & craves new experiences while Odam clings to the tribe’s old ways in order to survive. While exploring by herself one day, Lilith witnesses beings land on their planet & befriends them. She grows close to one particular being she calls the Nameless One, a male who is introspective, thoughtful & as curious as Lilith. As the Nameless One recounts his previous journeys, readers learn about the doubts that have accumulated in his mind about his mission & his place in his native society. Both the Nameless One & Lilith struggle to understand what their relationship is developing into.

Daughter of Night is not a long book, but it is heavy with ideas. Obukhova uses her story to celebrate the cycles of life & death as well as the power of community and legacy. Obukhova is essentially hopeful, crafting a searching narrative that believes a society can achieve much despite its shortcomings, as long as it is infused with new & inspiring perspectives. Night is very much an atmospheric novel more interested in ideas than a plot, sometimes to its detriment. I would recommend it to those who enjoy movies like Werner Herzog’s Wild Blue Yonder, are obsessed with the Lilith myth or curious about sci-fi utopias.

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