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photo by Sarah Longworth. I have a water lily fixation.

This place is and always will be special to me, whatever ultimately happens to it. I've been on here nearly 14 years. I am sticking around until it crumbles into the sea or is sucked into a blackhole.

I am also: [personal profile] star_swan for anyone who feels more comfortable there. That blog crossposts to this one and I check both places.

I love tea, loose leaf teas, teas in sachets, all sorts of teas and COFFEE. The more legally, addictive stimulants, the merrier! I possibly own too many books.

Music is my life.

If you've somehow wandered across my journal and you don't mind some fandom flailing, random daily life ramblings, and music and writing madness, please feel free to friend me! Things that I like to jaw about are under the "current obsessions" and other headers in my profile banner thingy. I like poking fun at the ridiculous so sometimes I post about some seemingly random encounter though it's in a spirit of fun. I babble about birds, trees, clouds and the weather a fair bit also though not for pages.

Most entries will not be friends-locked. I prefer not to.

Updated on April 19 2017

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I was going to post a longer entry as well as review the latest episode of Doctor Who, Smile, but I took out the violin sometime after ten o' clock, looked up a little(?) bit later, and realized that it was already past midnight! I am so knackered now, and yet, still awake.

Definitely tomorrow though. I enjoyed Bill greatly, yet again, as well as her interaction with The Doctor, though there were a couple of things about the episode that I found a tad bizarre (aside from its feeling like a mash up of every dystopian episode in recent years complete with the colony/settlement looking a bit like an abandoned shopping arcade/mall).

I know I am not supposed to be paying too close attention to plots. ;P

This entry was also posted at http://star-swan.dreamwidth.org/192776.html.

Rain & Pots

Happy things!



Container gardening, the semi-orderly way.
I plant certain things, whilst others just appear and I accept them (such as voluntary Morning Glories, Lobelia, Snapdragons..the tiny oak trees can't stay though). >.>

I like how witchy this looks.

This entry was also posted at http://star-swan.dreamwidth.org/192429.html.

LJ 18th anniversary




#mylivejournal #lj18 #happybirthday



I am a few days late to this party, but damn if I am not going to make a post about it. This place got me through horribly mundane jobs, Uni, as well as a few other things. <3

Violining and Whatnot

Becoming a little more active again. Let's see how it goes. I miss journaling and talking to you folks awfully.

My recent acquisition:



After pondering it for two years or more, I finally did it! A relative went halfsies on it!

I really wanted to practice this evening, but everyone is about and it is Hump Day and my practice mute is not yet here. It arrives tomorrow. I can avoid scratchiness, believe it or not, and produce a pretty nice even tone, but who in their right mind wants to listen to me playing open strings over and over and over, even with slight rhythmic variations? I am getting better at differentiating and not unintentionally slurring or playing a two string chord. Still. STILL. Repetition is necessary, but a bit annoying for the outside listener. As it is, I wear ear muffs while I play because the volume is a bit much. I was surprised by how loud it is. It is lovely though.

Watched the pilot for Season 10 of Doctor Who. I might be foolish, but I am giving it a chance. I liked how Clara became more of herself in Season 8. And I love Bill so far. And I like Peter Capaldi and while I might not be a fan of some of Moffat's choices (including how derogatory he is towards women who do not conform to his standards of beauty, the hypocrite) I refuse to allow him to stop me from watching a most beloved show and thereby allowing it to potantially die from poor viewership. I found the pilot intriguing. I liked that it was not a citywide, world-ending threat for once. I am sure that it did not feel epic enough for some folks, but I liked how personal it was. And, without being too spoilery, I was very appreciative of how Bill criticized The Doctor for what he was about to do to her at the end, and how it directly mirrored things that he has done in the past forcing him to question his motives for what is or is not the best choice, and for whom. It fit in nicely with with theme of the episode about life, memories, pictures, reflections. Many nice parallels. He is quite capable of writing good episodes when he does not succumb to something hilariously convoluted.

Still, the line about the lady eating the chips was...

Speaking of mirrors, have you looked in one lately, sir? You're not exactly stunningly handsome. And let's have some more positive body image, please. "Thin" is not the only sort of beautiful. Grrrr. Anyway.
My only consolation was that the way that Bill phrased it sounded like more of a reflection of her own momentary considerings, which changed when she concluded that in the end, she'd rather enjoy the chips (i.e. life) and not overthink it. And she clearly didn't stop flirting. Just... look at me, already on Ep 1 making excuses....

But overall, I was excited about it and enjoyed watching and am eager to see the next one.

This entry was also posted at http://star-swan.dreamwidth.org/191822.html.

Book Overload!!!

I cannot believe that this has never before been the title for one of my journal entries.

I need to stop. Full stop. I am not spending loads of money or anything (these books range from $3-$5 used), but what with online book archives et al, I have about a couple dozen new books or something very near it (including the physical copies I have ordered). Can we say mental? It is all folklore, or essays on nature, or myths, or fairy tales. Did I mention that I ordered a rare book from the UK that is over a hundred years old (the actual copy)? It's for research. :P It wasn't expensive. Just, few people are all that interested in it.

What were you thinking, Erin?

I dunno.

Here is a Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell photo collage depicting my various mental states. You should go on iPlayer or the BBC Amercia site, or iTunes, or Amazon, or wherever and watch it. It's incredible. I think you can watch the first ep for free on Amazon?

So here is me acquiring said books:



Here is my mindset/raison d'etre:



And this is how I envision my nights perusing said, new found literature:



But actually, this is really me, completely bonkers, only with books:



I am dreaming frantically every night though I wake up with only scattered recollections. I think that last night I was wandering through a large house and there was something to do with gardens or improving them or making sure that everything was properly green and healthy. Or something. ??? And it was either the same house as a few(??) nights ago, or not. But it was very bright. Like every surface seemed to gleam with reflected sunlight (white wooden walls, marble floors, etc) and where was it coming from? It seemed to be shining down from someplace. I may have been talking in my sleep. I certainly remember muttering to myself in the dream. It was the sort of thing that happens when I am severely mentally preoccupied. It is probably all of these books that I am reading! In part...

I awoke at three in the morning. The mockingbird was still at it, but the road was completely still.

I need to use my blackboard more. Perhaps I should make a reading list. :S

We pre-ordered the DVD. :D... It comes out on August 11th!!!! Wow, to see it on a big screen. Though watching it IN HD on the computer with headphones is very intimate.

I will just leave this fanmade photo collage here. This was someone's pre-show visualization of bits of the book:



I am completely besotted with this show. Somebody please come talk to me about it. :P
...okay, aside from plunging into a swimming pool, the ocean, rivers. If you have any of those nearby. I could really do with a trip to the beach. Anyway.

You ever go through periods where you are reading voraciously, where even eating a tasty treat creme brulee or watching a diverting program too many to list can't live up to your rapacious desire for more books?
Of course, the main reason why I can string sentences together presently is because the heat broke and it is overcast. Was going to write a few sentences about how meltingly hot it is and then slap a picture and be done with it. But I am feeling significantly more animated now!

I've had all of these books on my shelves on Celtic Myths, rhythms, animals, beliefs, poetry, folktales, contributions to Western Civilization, you name it, for years. But I haven't gotten around to reading half of them, except for some of the books on poetry and folk tales. I am not certain why. Most of them were gifts, probably a not so subtle hint from my Irish Catholic mother to read up on our ancestors! I had some Norse books for a time when I was going through, all right, I hate the way that this sounds but I have already started the sentence, damn it, when I was going through a Norse "phase" (pardon all of these crazy questionably grammatical fragments). Why not, right? It's fascinating stuff and my dad is English and we know that they are an amalgam of everyone who ever partied in the British Isles up until William the Conqueror, and beyond once they began colonizing everybody everywhere. I speak about them in the third person as if I'm not completely related to them. :P There is practically no point to this paragraph except to illustrate how my Celtic books would stare reproachfully at me whenever I cracked the spine of Norse Myth or The Poetic Edda, the Johnny Come Latelies of my bookshelf who jumped the reading queue whilst they had been sitting patiently trying to attract my notice for far longer. I used to know a guy named Stephen who was a Celtic Reconstructionist and who hissed (literally) in the general direction of anyone studying the Norse pantheon. He seemed to think that I was being more than vaguely traitorous. :D....
It's not as if my books are taking up arms and assaulting one another for rights to the shelf...and if the books do not mind, I do not see that I should terribly. I'll read what I want!

Intermission: It's raining!!!

Be that as it may, I have a pile of books and I was a little naughty earlier this week and I went and added to the pile, then proceeded to tear through it. Well, the tearing is in progress. Rather than reading one book, setting it down and then progressing to another, I am reading four or five at once. They are not several hundred page narratives after all. There are tales, poems, histories. I am also re-reading The Ladies of Grace Adieu and this fun little piece of Gothic fun:



I figured that a gothic novel is just the perfect thing to read under a tree (or indoors if it is insufferable out there) during Summer in one's spare time. The characters are forever exclaiming at shadows and ruminating on their worst fears and anxieties (usually as regards whatever may or may not be stirring in the shadows literally or metaphorically). Or else there are unseen enemies (aside from whatever may or may not be lurking in the dark waiting to get them), lightning flashes, dark woods, upturned carriages, damsels shut up in convents, secret doors, noblemen fleeing debt, castles, ruined abbeys, surly townsfolk, highly perceptive manservants, and a quote from a forlorn sounding poem/play at the beginning of every chapter.

Here is another pretty coverCollapse )

I will leave you with my Current Obsession: Prokofiev's Four Pieces, Op. 32, especially the Dance and the Gavotte. Actually, they are all really good. <333

This entry was also posted at http://ivybellis.dreamwidth.org/161089.html.

The Hermit Thrush (happy ending!)

A few months ago, I found a Hermit Thrush sitting on a stoop in front of a doorway. There is a tall, thin window and it is shady (no sun reflections on the window) so I figure that it probably ran into it as it looked perfectly clear and the people in that office are overly fastidious when it comes to window cleaning. :S I have only ever heard them before, hence the "hermit" in their name. They have some of the most beautiful song! Walt Whitman was moved to write about them.



It was a rather perilous place to be and it looked freaked out so I endeavored to collect it and set it someplace out of the way where nobody would accidentally run into it. It perked up when I gathered it up, started making noises, and looking around curiously which was encouraging since it had been rather quiet on the stoop. But once I set it down it looked a bit anxious again and was breathing heavily so I sat with it for awhile and gently stroked the back of its neck til it relaxed a bit. This seems to work with owls and parrots so I thought it was a worth a try. It rested for a bit before flying off, hopefully avoiding future windows.

More photosCollapse )

Aside from that I've been spending my weekend so far reading, mostly about Celtic culture/myths and the Fairy Faith.
It was supposed to be HOT so I took advantage of the cooler morning to sit outside with my tea, a book, and a hand written journal. I saw big, black Carpenter bees, three types of butterfly/moth, and a few dragon flies flitting about. And a possum. Don't usually see them in broad daylight! There were also some juvenile crows around. The students have Finals next week so it was very, very still apart from the critters.

There are supposed to be more thunder showers around this evening. Ooh! There were thunderclaps last night and some flashes. I always get unreasonably excited at the prospect of rain storms. My weather app has this silly little rhyme tucked in the middle of their Special Weather Statement which I have never heard of:

When thunder roars, go indoors!

o_O

Really? I used to do the opposite when I was a kid (where it thundered all the time). It's not like I was running about in an open field clutching a five iron, mind you. I would be some place sheltered if it was right overhead but I loved the smell and the sounds and the flashes. I could never understand why the children in The Sound of Music were frightened of thunderstorms. Even our cat was like "whatever", but he was sort of unusual. I suppose if you're born some place where it regularly occurs, you don't view it as terribly scary. Then again, we never had the threat of tornadoes. A black sky would definitely put me off then.

Pictures of the evening sky resembling a paintingCollapse )

This entry was also posted at http://ivybellis.dreamwidth.org/161012.html.

Window Seat

I keep thinking that it is Friday and then I realize that it is Thursday, which while usually cause for celebration has resulted multiple times in my thinking disappointedly to myself, "Oh."

The week was going pretty swimmingly-ish. Or at least, whatever frustrations I did encounter I was able to handle without much self-inflicted drama (meaning thinking overmuch and wondering inwardly about things until I frittered away my free time with worrying). Then in the space of twelve hours I got hit with, well, drama is the only apt word (times three even). I realized though, and perhaps this is something important that I do need to realize/address, that my thoughts and reactions are my own and that while certain people and behaviors are annoying, they do not dictate my response. I can choose not to react overly emotionally, to get sucked in.

My exercise regimen sort of imploded during the past week. I had to be careful of my back though. Been walking or riding my bike a bit since they are fairly gentle forms of exercise. Just caught myself slouching. >.>...

Looking out my window, I am really appreciating the street that I live on. Sure, it's noisy. I do have a buffer of a few car spaces and various trees and sidewalk (as well as being on the second floor) so it is not as if the road is right upon me. It can be quite noisy though, especially on the weekends late at night with haloo-ing etc.. But it is also nice to be able to stand at the window/door and to look out and watch bikes, pedestrians and cars (and hummingbirds) go by. It would be different in a quiet room in a house removed from busy streets. It sounds lovely, but here, even if I do not go very far or if I spend the weekend near to my desk, I can still be close to activity of some sort. I never feel completely removed from society, even if I have no idea who any of these people are (most of the time).

I currently have an impressive stack of books for "research" purposes. I was going to try to make a skeletal outline for the book/project/thingy I am working on though I keep having turns of mind that cause me to scribble or backspace or rethink something. I like to have A Plan before proceeding, but sometimes that is not entirely possible. At some point, I will likely be at a place where I am comfortable discussing it, though not at the moment. There is so much work to be done. Trying to fit in time for this as well as practice is seriously challenging some days.

But I did turn another corner practice-wise yesterday evening. I played something at tempo that did not sound like crap to me or like bits of it were so-so timing-wise. I just hit it and it worked, at least once which is cool even if I did not replicate it again all evening. Still, a breakthrough. Basically, the fingers of my left hand are more responsive/quicker. I do loads of maddening finger exercises. They are not as bad as some of the ones I have seen out there though. They can be meditative and enjoyable, especially when you begin to master them and play them to speed.
How anyone can tolerate Czerny finger exercises though is beyond me! They're mind numbing. There are all of these methods and dusty books written over a hundred years ago or more that set forth the "proper" way in which you should approach the study of classical piano. And mad debates occur online between people who swear upon one or the other. And who swear that doing one will bust your fingers/give your carpal tunnel/drive you crazy!
It is fun to just sit and read people getting worked up about it. Basically you need to speak with people/have a tutor who have experience and exercise common sense. Don't play until you are in pain or play seven days a week even if the thin, powerful muscles in your forearms are throbbing.

It is a bit warm this evening.
There was a chance of thunderstorms at the end of this week, but it is dwindling now. :(
Thunderstorms are rare here. I really miss them. I have mp3s of rain storms for when I really get dragged down by Summer heat and dryness.

This entry was also posted at http://ivybellis.dreamwidth.org/160642.html.

It's June!!

An update and then I am going to go read journals/reply to comments as I get some other reading/work done.

This weekend was quite a bit warmer than it has been!
I am excited that it is June. Though I am usually excited at the beginning of a new month. It feels like an opportunity. I was not so productive in May in many ways while also figuring out a few things. Was more in absorption mode.

I somehow managed to tweak my back when I was in the laundry.I am not even sure how! I was in the laundry and after moving or bending in a particularly ordinary way, I felt this series of shocks up my spine like I was being struck with something. After that it was difficult to walk properly and bend any which way. So I sat carefully upon the ground and on top of one of the washers, crossed my legs and twisted to pop my back which took the pressure off and righted things. I was able to walk and move fine, but that area is tender now. It will take another day or two to feel less sore. Lying on my side is not fun unless I have a pillow in between my legs. It's been a lot worse though. I haven't had any problems in over a year. But I've had recurring lower back "issues" as my chiropractor called it since I was 16, so I need to be careful. It isn't weight or movement usually but just moving in a very particular way for just an instant that knocks things out. It might be related to an accident I had on my bicycle when I was 15. I was riding a racing bike when someone came out of an alleyway and hit me and I was thrown several feet. I caught a lot of air and after I landed I slid a few feet on the asphalt. On my face. I luckily was wearing a helmet. I remember limping home which was about another block. :OOO

Oddly, my back feels better than it did before I tweaked it. I am standing up straighter and feel taller.

Another reason that June is rather nice is that the university lets out and we are bathed in relative peace and quiet. Quite a few people leave to go on their annual trip to Europe or wherever and most students go back home. Summer session is pretty intense and all around is the soft buzzing of people focusing on their tasks (or else!) The warmer weather has a way of mollifying folks or causing them to slacken their pace a bit and to not rise up to meet every possible, perceived offense or slight to their person. I am not a fan of HOT weather, but I do appreciate the season. Perhaps when it gets ridiculously hot, I will go swimming. <3


Here are a couple of photos of Percy, Bill's brother, who passed away a little over a year ago. I had meant to post them before but I lost them in my bucket! Things that I've uploaded are out of order.

PercypussCollapse )

Also, the birds are getting super loud in the mornings! It's great! Around the Solstice, the dawn chorus gets louder and louder. Sometime after the Solstice, the tweeting is noticeably less enthusiastic.

This entry was also posted at http://ivybellis.dreamwidth.org/160415.html.