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Reading List 5 of 2016

May 1, 2016

Covers the period from 4.10.2016 through 4.28.16

I own 4 of these items. I read 1 book on vacation. Baltimore County Public Library system supplied 7 of the books and movies.



  1. Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie {re-read}
  2. Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie {re-read}
  3. Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie {re-read}
  4. Court of Fives by Kate Elliott
  5. Jeweled Fire by Sharon Shinn



  1. First Impressions: A Novel by Jude Deveraux
  2. Speak Its Name by Kathleen Jowitt



  1. Felicity: Poems by Mary Oliver
  2. The Poet, the Lion, Talking Pictures, El Farolito, … by C. D. Wright


Women Writers on Craft:

  1. 16 Writers on the Decision to Not Have Kids, edited by Meghan Daum
  2. An Absorbing Errand: How Artists and Craftsmen Make their Way to Mastery by Janna Malamud Smith
  3. Daybook: The Journal of an Artist by Anne Truitt



Reading List 4 of 2016

April 8, 2016

Covers the period from 3.15.2016 through 4.8.16

Baltimore County Public Library system supplied 17 of the books and movies; libraries in other parts of Maryland, via Inter-Library Loan, supplied the other 19.


Women’s Poetics:

  1. The Art of Slow Writing: Reflections on Time, Craft, and Creativity by Louise DeSalvo
  2. The Art of Writing Great Lyrics by Pamela Phillips Oland
  3. Beauty is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability, edited by Sheila Black, et al.
  4. The Dawning Moon of the Mind: Unlocking the Pyramid Texts by Susan Brind Morrow
  5. Emily Dickinson by Bonita Thayer
  6. Headstrong — 52 Women Who Changed Science — and the World by Rachel Swaby
  7. How to Live / What to Do: H.D.’s Cultural Poetics by Adalaine Morris
  8. Innovative Women Poets: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry and Interviews, edited by Elisabeth A. Frost and Cynthia Hogue
  9. Poetics in the Poem: Critical Essays on American Self-Reflexive Poetry, edited by Dorothy Z. Baker
  10. Unauthorized Voices: Essays on Poets and Poetry, 1987–2009, by Marilyn Hacker
  11. Unpacking My Library: Writers and Their Books, edited by Leah Price
  12. Women Artists in the 20th and 21st Centuries, edited by Uta Grosenick



  1. A Potentially Quite Remarkable Thursday by Jeff Coomer
  2. A Woman of Property by Robyn Schiff
  3. Blood Work by Matthew Siegel
  4. Flamingo Watching by Kay Ryan
  5. Passing Through by Stanley Kunitz
  6. Say Uncle by Kay Ryan
  7. Selected Poems by Zbigniew Herbert, tr. by Peter Dale Scott & Czeslaw Milosz
  8. Shock By Shock by Dean Young
  9. Trinity by Susan Ludvigson



  1. Fooling with Words: A Celebration of Poets and Their Craft by Bill Moyers
  2. Painted Pages: Fueling Creativity with Sketchbooks & Mixed Media by Sarah Ahearn Bellemare
  3. Spark: How Creativity Works by Julie Burstein
  4. Wired to Create by Scott Barry Kaufman and Carolyn Gregoire



  1. The Art of Risk by Kayt Sukel
  2. The Brothers Vonnegut: Science and Fiction in the House of Magic by Inger Strand
  3. The Green Road: A Novel by Anne Enright
  4. Hebrides by Peter May, photographs by David Wilson
  5. Lady Bird and Lyndon: The Hidden Story of a Marriage that Made a President by Betty Boyd Caroli
  6. This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett
  7. [SFF] Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis
  8. [Film] Enchanted
  9. [Film] The Hundred-Foot Journey
  10. [Film] Mamma Mia!
  11. [Film] This is Where I Leave You



Thinking in Pictures

April 3, 2016
  1. Drawing and Painting Imaginary Animals by Carla Sonheim
  2. Fantasy Art Drawing Skills by Socar Myles
  3. How to Draw Animals in simple steps by Polly Pinder, et al.
  4. Mastering Sketching: A complete course in 40 lessons by Judy Martin


Illustrated children’s books whose illustrations I pored over:

  1. About Reptiles: A Guide for Children, written by Cathryn Sill, illustrated by John Sill
  2. Ballet Cat: Dance! Dance! Underpants!, text & illustrations by Bob Shea
  3. Bear Snores On, written by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman
  4. Blue Chameleon, written & illustrated by Emily Gravett
  5. Day Dreams, written & illustrated by Emily Winfield Martin
  6. Extra Yarn, written by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen
  7. Firebird, text by Misty Copeland, illustrated by Christopher Meyers
  8. Have You Seen My Dragon? written & illustrated by Steve Light
  9. I Like It When … / Me Gusta Cuando … ,written & illustrated by Mary Murphy
  10. The Man Who Dreamed of Elk-Dogs and Other Stories from the Tipi, told & illustrated by Paul Goble
  11. Monster Party! written & illustrated by Annie Bach
  12. My First Book of Mandarin Chinese Words, written by Katy R. Kudela {unknown photographer’s credit}
  13. Noodle Magic, written by Roseanne Greenfield Thong, illustrated by Meilo So
  14. One Red Apple, written by Harriet Ziefert, illustrated by Karla Gudeon
  15. Paul Meets Bernadette, written & illustrated by Rosy Lamb
  16. Roy Makes a Car (Based on a story collected by Zora Neale Hurston), written by Mary E. Lyons, illustrated by Terry Widener
  17. Spike: Ugliest Dog in the Universe, written & illustrated by Debra Frasier
  18. Super Fly Guy, written & illustrated by Tedd Arnold
  19. Two Bunny Buddies, written by Kathryn O. Galbraith, illustrated by Joe Cepeda
  20. Unwitting Wisdom: An Anthology of Aesop’s Fables, retold & illustrated by Helen Ward
  21. What Is Part This, Part That?, written by Harriet Ziefert, illustrated by Tom Slaughter
  22. When You Were Born, written & illustrated by Emma Dodd
  23. Zoe’s Jungle, written & illustrated by Bethany Deeney Murguia

Reading List 3 of 2016

March 14, 2016

Covers the period from 2.14.2016 through 3.14.16

I own 7 of these items. Baltimore County Public Library system supplied 9 of the books and movies; libraries in other parts of Maryland, via Inter-Library Loan, supplied the other 19.


Celtic Language(s); Literature:

  1. Common Gaelic: The Evolution of the Goidelic Languages by Kenneth Jackson
  2. Irish Family Names: With Origins, Meanings, Clans, Arms, Crests and Mottoes by Captain Patrick Kelly
  3. A Pronouncing and Etymological Dictionary of the [Scottish] Gaelic Language, by Malcolm MacLennan
  4. 1000 Years of Irish Poetry: The Gaelic and Anglo-Irish Poets from Pagan Times to the Present, edited by Kathleen Hoagland
  5. Hebridean Folksongs: A Collection of Waulking Songs by Donald MacCormick and Francis Collinson
  6. Introduction to [Scottish] Gaelic Poetry, edited by Derick Thomson
  7. On An Irish Island by Robert Kanigel



  1. The Secrets of Songwriting, edited by Susan Tucker
  2. Songwriting: Essential Guide to Rhyming, 2nd, by Pat Pattison
  3. Successful Lyric Writing by Sheila Davis
  4. Where the Heart Beats: John Cage, Zen Buddhism, and the Inner Life of Artists by Kay Larson



  1. Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude by Ross Gay
  2. Dear Life by Dennis O’Driscoll
  3. Elegy/Elk River by Michael Schmeltzer
  4. Pieces of Map, Pieces of Music by Robert Bringhurst
  5. Songs for Relinquishing the Earth by Jan Zwicky
  6. New American Poets of the ‘90s, edited by Jack Myers and Roger Weingarten


Words & Writing:

  1. Authorisms: Words Wrought by Writers by Paul Dickson
  2. Dancing at the Edge of the World: Thoughts on Words, Women, Places by Ursula K. Le Guin
  3. The Poet’s Craft Book by Clement Wood
  4. Saussure for Beginners by W. Terrence Gordon
  5. Steering the Craft: A 21st Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story by Ursula K. Le Guin
  6. The Wave in the Mind: Talks and Essays on the Writer, the Reader, and the Imagination by Ursula K. Le Guin
  7. Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction by Jeff VanderMeer


Art ~ How-to:

  1. Botanical Drawing in Color by Wendy Hollender
  2. Brave Intuitive Painting by Flora S. Bowley
  3. Expressive Drawing by Steven Aimone
  4. Fundamentals of Drawing by Barrington Barber



  1. Bloodchild, and Other Stories by Octavia Butler
  2. The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
  3. The Martian by Andy Weir
  4. Wild Life: A Novel by Molly Gloss
  5. [Film] Big Hero 6



  • Little Fish: A Memoir by Ramsey Beyer
  • My Uncle Emily, written by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter



fast, slow; high, low

March 12, 2016

When I was still employed, I remember my brain working faster than it does now. When I took ADD medication, my brain, on occasion, was lightning fast.

Nowadays, my brain is slow, ponderous.

I generally have very little (physical or emotional) energy.

= = =

It’s occurred to me to wonder — if I could somehow regain the energy I think I used to have — what good use could I put it to? My days don’t require much achievement. Wouldn’t I then be frustrated that gobs of energy were going to waste?

= = =

The best job I ever had {where I was ~30% satisfied} was administrative. Lots of (mostly pointless) paper pushing, that, since I left, has been automated.

I felt really good about 5 projects I did there. I estimate they each required +/- 3 weeks of work. 15 weeks is approximately 3.5 months.

I worked at that job… for 51 months. So, I was happily productive for <7% of the time I was there.

= = =

Back when my brain was really fast (which it was, on that job), if I paced myself, and tried to go as s-l-o-w as I could stand to go (so I wouldn’t run out), I could sometimes manage to find… 10 whole hours of work to do, in a week (37.5 hours there). That’s approximately 27%. The rest of the time, I was required to “look busy”, even though I was bored stiff. That’s where I took up Sudoku, timed online Sudoku. I surfed the ‘net. I read books. I did (grad school) homework. I looked for stuff to help my coworkers with. I daydreamed. I found classes I could take for ‘professional development’. I attended local conferences.

I thought about… how I could better use the time & energies I had, in a job that was a better fit. I applied for any job posting I saw that looked suitable. I talked to the head of our department about making better use of my talents. I also came up with an idea for a job I could originate, and proposed that idea to a (different) higher up. None of that came to any useful result.

My brain was… a cheetah. Yoked to a plow 5-10 hours a week. Sitting idle in the barn another 27-32 hours a week.

After 51 months, I quit ‘to do something more creative’. It took me, hmmm, 2.5 years to find something truly more creative.

Basically, it wasn’t until I wasn’t employed anymore that I could actually create whenever I wanted to. I got on Flickr the day before I started this blog, in October 2009. I’ve taken ~ 30,000 photos. I’ve written >500,000 words. I’ve written 100+ poems. I’ve painted. I’ve sewed. I’ve woven. I’ve decorated. I’ve cooked. I’ve dyed fabric. I took a singing class. I knit (knitted?). I attended a writer’s retreat. I’ve embroidered. I’ve been a stylist for Spouse’s photo sessions. I’ve made garments. I took a science writing class. I attended environmental conferences. I created an art exhibit catalog (tapestries); I was a volunteer curator of a fiber art exhibit (crochet, knit). I’ve not-gardened.

Except for the stuff I’ve posted on my blogs, or Twitter (or Flickr), no one but Spouse has seen any of my individual efforts. Oh wait, I’ve submitted poems for publication too; they were all rejected.

I felt anonymous at my admin job, a cog in an enormous wheel. In my everyday life, I’m also anonymous, unsung, incognito.

No matter what I’ve worked on, how much I totally love it seems inversely proportional to how much anyone else cares about it.

I want to RUN, flat out. And I could. (Probably. For a short distance anyway.) But no one cares. I’m not part of anything larger — although I’ve tried to be, over and over. The ways I want to contribute are not what any group will accept from me. Definitely, positively, none of my efforts will be, in any way, celebrated. Or encouraged to go further.

So… what do I need more energy for?

Isn’t it possible that my brain/bodymind has looked around, realized the niche I’m currently filling, and decided there’s no point whatsoever in going to the trouble of Creating Gobs of Energy that will sit idle? Or that I’ll try to use, only to be frustrated yet again.

I was certainly almost-continuously frustrated in the 20+ years I was working. I was frustrated during college and grad school.

My whole life has been intensely frustrating.

= = =

With my current levels of low energy, I… don’t have the energy to be ‘intensely frustrated’, except in unusual circumstances.

I don’t have the energy to fret about how I could be doing great things, for something somewhere, but no one cares about helping me do that.

I don’t have the energy to keep doing cool projects that I know no one will ever see.

= = =

Why is that bad?

Why am I trying to ‘fix’ that?

= = =

Maybe my ‘low’ energy is, finally, a perfect fit for my environment.

the power of attention

March 9, 2016

2 days ago, I was finally ready to get Dragon [dictation software] working again. But the nice new headset Spouse bought me last spring (that I put away, for safekeeping, until I was ready to deal with it) is missing. Grrr.


On Twitter, I follow a lot of autistic people, people with other sorts of disabilities, people who are part of underrepresented minorities. They all have very definite ideas about what the rest of the world needs to be doing to accommodate them. How the rest of the world needs to be treating them, talking to and about them. Thinking about them.

I’ve been feeling besieged reading all these things (even when I share some of the writer’s particular challenges).

= = =

I don’t have Definite Ideas About What Other People Should Do (or Should Not Do)… pretty much at all. “Other People” is a floppy, immense category, comprising billions of human beings, living in hundreds of thousands of contexts and cultures. Who am I to tell them how to do… anything?

Why would I suppose they’re going to listen to me, a random stranger on the Internet?

= = =

Growing up, Angry People who Wanted Me to Do (or Not Do) Something tended to be people who held enormous amounts of power over me. I had to figure out ways to either (a) accommodate what they wanted from me, (b) appear to accommodate them (while secretly doing something else), or (c) openly defy them, and reap the whirlwind. I chose (b) as often as I could. On matters of conscience, I chose (c)… and was traumatized. Repeatedly.

That leaves (a).

“What they wanted”… never made a lick of sense to me. So… I couldn’t predict what new demands were likely to be. Doing things piecemeal, as they arose, required huge outlays of energy. And was massively stressful.

Like a ‘god of the gaps’, I fitted my personality into the gaps of where no demands were being made.

Luckily for me, I tended towards kindness and These People With Power could not perceive kindness. So I could stay kind. It wouldn’t ever be recognized, never mind lauded, but… it wasn’t punished, it wasn’t persecuted.

= = =

Nowadays, my gaps, my wide open spaces to swim through and make my own (moral) decisions about, are being invaded by all sorts of people. “All Good People Do X (or Don’t Do Y)”… doesn’t allow for wiggle room, for making up your own mind. Doesn’t make space for realizing, and insights, and ‘oh hey, I could change that! And then what would happen?’

All my power to decide, to do, to experiment, to realize… is taken away, if I just follow Angry People With Very Definite Ideas About What Everyone Should Be Doing.

I like experimenting. That’s the most creative thing I do, the most consistently. It’s how I get acquainted with my environment, figure out what context (habitat?) I’m occupying, how I can better ‘fit’ within it.

Also, it’s impossible to make everyone happy.

Even if I somehow walked the crooked line of My Behavior Perfectly Toes The Line Everyone Else Insists Upon… there’s all those other billions of human beings who aren’t. So the Angry Demands will continue.

If I’m doing exactly what other people want, then it’s, “you don’t get a cookie! This is the bare minimum of Acceptable Human Behavior! Everyone should be doing this already!”

As if I’m somehow responsible for Everyone Else.

And if I’m not doing exactly what other people want, I’m an unevolved jerk. Who needs to change, stat.

= = =

Why am I always wrong?

Or maybe, why other people seem to need Angry People, Yelling, to figure out what their own morals should be? Or do they just do that (yelling, angry), but they don’t personally respond to it? I don’t know.

= = =

What if I already have my own moral code, that I laboriously developed, through a lot of experimenting, thinking, reading, introspecting, all that? What if I agree with what you’re yelling about, but I didn’t adopt because you yelled — I was already doing it, for my own reasons?

When do I receive credit for… anything?

I guess I don’t.

I guess Doing the Right Thing, For The Right Reasons, is its own reward? But if that’s so, what’s the motivation for Changing How I Think because People Were Yelling At Me?

= = =

I guess I also don’t understand where that expression about “getting a cookie” (or not getting a cookie) comes from. If/when I’ve received attention for an action, it’s been nothing like a cookie. It’s often been… insults, yelling, triggers, trauma.

I’ve also been ignored.

I’ve also gotten puzzled looks, and muttering. Often, changing the subject as soon as possible.

Where are these cookies? Who receives them? I like cookies.

But I wouldn’t pick moral actions just so I could receive a cookie, from someone who probably wasn’t paying any attention to me anyway.


I still feel like I’ve got a blindspot here.

Reading List 2 of 2016

February 12, 2016

Covers the period from 1.23.2016 through 2.11.16

I own 5 of these items. Baltimore County Public Library system supplied 3 of the books and movies; libraries in other parts of Maryland, via Inter-Library Loan, supplied the other 18.



  1. Deerskin by Robin McKinley
  2. Every Day by David Levithan
  3. Set This House in Order by Matt Ruff
  4. Shadows by Robin McKinley
  5. Sunshine by Robin McKinley
  6. Thirteenth Child by Patricia C. Wrede
  7. Three Songs for Roxy by Caren Gussoff
  8. The Green Man: Tales from the Mythic Forest, edited by Ellen Datlow
  9. The James Tiptree Award Anthology 2, edited by Karen Joy Fowler
  10. Sisters of the Revolution: A Feminist Speculative Fiction Anthology, edited by Ann VanderMeer
  11. Ursula K. Le Guin: A Critical Companion by Susan M. Bernardo and Graham J. Murphy
  12. Walking the Clouds: An Anthology of Indigenous Science Fiction, edited by Grace L. Dillon
  13. [Film] The Martian, directed by Ridley Scott; screenwriter Drew Goddard {watched 2x}


Celtic Culture & Mythopoetics:

  1. Branwen, Daughter of Llyr: A Study of the Irish Affinities and of the Second Branch of the Mabinogi by Proinsias Mac Cana
  2. Celtic Mythology by Arthur Cotterell
  3. Celtic Women: Women in Celtic Society and Literature by Peter Berresford Ellis
  4. Dictionary of Irish Family Names by Ida Grehan
  5. Mabon and the Guardians of Celtic Britain: Hero Myths in the Mabinogion by Caitlín Matthews
  6. Women in Celtic Myth by Moyra Caldecott



  1. Finding My Elegy: New and Selected Poems, 1960–2010 by Ursula K. Le Guin
  2. Marginalia to Stone Bird by Rose Lemberg


Fashion & Style:

  1. The Mood Guide to Fabric and Fashion by Mood Designer Fabrics
  2. The Sartorialist: X by Scott Schuman



  1. About This Life: Journeys on the Threshold of Memory by Barry Lopez
  2. Drink the Harvest: Making and Preserving Juices, Wines, Meads, Teas, and Ciders by Nan K. Chase
  3. Painting Abstraction: New Elements in Abstract Painting by Bob Nickas




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