Searching for contentment

In the fragrance of freshly worked wood

The soft glow cast by shoji lamps

The inspiration of good reads

The wonder of daily living


My heart is with
the people of Ukraine

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Reading

Karen Wyld, Where the Fruit Falls

Book cover of Where the Fruit Falls by Karen Wyld. Book cover of Where the Fruit Falls by Karen Wyld. A beautiful stylized fruit tree with a large bird flying above it is shown in front of a cracked and deep orange background with a river zigzaging across it.

When I came across a description of this novel yesterday morning, I was intrigued enough to immediately sample a few sentences. I ended up reading all morning and, after a break for lunch and a walk, all afternoon and, after another brief break for dinner, late into the night until I reached the conclusion.

Wyld, a diasporic Aboriginal woman of Martu descent, shares an amazing indigenous story spanning four generations and traveling across a large portion of Australia, through periods of harmony and despair. The resilient women who are the main characters fight to protect and nourish themselves and their kin in the face of treacherous racism, but also graced by occasional incredible acts of kindness.

The final section follows the lives of two spirited young girls who are twins, though one is richly dark skinned and the other fair skinned, which highlights the disparity in treatment they experience as they navigate the 1960s and 1970s together on a quest of survival and discovery.

   'What about the creatures, Aunty?' asked Maggie. 'The ones that lived in that sea long time ago. Do they live on too?'
   'Yes, because everything is connected. Even people. We've all soaked up that ancient sea. We reconnect with it every time rain caresses upturned faces. Rain carries the essence of those creatures. It keeps them alive. Water is infinite—not even a single drop can die. Water connects us to all that is, was and will be. We are all one; kin to ancient seas.'

The author shares a note at the end of the book. Once again, I wish it had been shared at the beginning, as it provides deep and meaningful context, including:

   I respectfully ask readers, reviewers and educators to be aware of how they read and respond to this work. I invite non-Indigenous readers to reflect on perceptions, myths, biases and worldviews that often unconsciously filter how we read and respond to works of fiction. And to uncover the truth and call for action that often lies hidden in fiction. I purposely applied elements of magic realism to this narrative; to assist readers in understanding our collective pasts in a different way, and to perhaps reimagine a more just and truthful present and future.

The beautiful cover was designed by Alissa Dinallo.

UWA Publishing, 2020; Books from Australia⩘ 

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Contemplating

Saturn at Night

Photo of Saturn against the black background of space. Taken from its dark side, Saturn shows just a crescent of light on the top of the planet and its shadow is cast across its rings. The rings are in shades of tan and gray.
Image credit: NASA⩘ , JPL-Caltech⩘ , Space Science Institute⩘ , Mindaugas Macijauskas⩘ 

Once again I'm left just spellbound by the beauty of this neighborhood we live in.

This image of Saturn's slender sunlit crescent with night's shadow cast across its broad and complex ring system was captured by the Cassini spacecraft … two days before its grand final plunge.

Astronomy Picture of the Day⩘ 

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Living in the Rockies

Wow, what a glorious morning. Our first big snow of the season has transformed our world. One of my favorite things in life.

Fresh snow blanketing Ponderosa pine trees on a beautifully sunny morning after

From our afternoon walk the next day, one of the best examples I've seen of a snow frosted cliff face, and the very best example I've seen of the term "snow blanket."

A cliff face made up of a jumble of boulders, each with a frosting of snow on top. Below the boulders is a steep hillside with Mountain Mahogany bushes whose branches are full of balls of snow.  The cliff is silhouetted against a rich blue sky.
A zigzag log fence with a blanket of snow wrapped around the top rail and reaching down almost to the middle rail. Beyond the fence is a hillside with Ponderosa pine trees sihlouetted against a deep blue sky.

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Woodworking

Closeup of the new keyboard tray. The mahogany is richly grained in colors that range from tan to dark brown. The back has a one inch strip of mahogany beyond the back edges of the keyboard and touch pad, both of which are mostly white. The front has approximately four inches of mahogany to provide a space for wrist rest. The side edges curve outward for the back two thirds, then curve inward for the front third. The front edge curves in.

Mahogany keyboard tray

A unique shape to fit a special use case.

More about this project >
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My journey

Trail winding up Cow Creek valley across a meadow and through pine trees towards the hills beyond; photo by Toshen

Love nature. As a kid, I just wanted to be out playing in the woods that surrounded our small town home. When younger, I lived a few places around the world and visited several others … then found a place in the foothills of the Rockies and my heart was home. Hiked and camped a lot in the mountains until my knees wore out. Since then, have enjoyed walking nearer to home where there is still much natural beauty to appreciate. My memory has never been great and is slowly becoming more elusive, so I snap photos and post the better ones on this site to preserve the opportunity to revisit some of these exquisite experiences.

Love reading. As a kid, I carried armloads of books home each week from the library. Now tend to carry around a virtual stack of audiobooks. I deeply appreciate authors, narrators, and translators. Since 1999, I've been posting reviews on this site, in the more recent years focused on just those books I appreciate the most. I listen to or read a lot of genres, fiction and nonfiction, though my heart has held a lifelong special place for SciFi and speculative fiction.

Love woodworking. A passionate amateur, I revere wood. My main focus has been shoji lamps in the shape of polyhedra. I love the light that glows through washi and deeply appreciate the folks who make these papers. I'm entranced by the dance of polyhedra patterns, and keep notes on my website about the experience of making some of the lamps. I've also made a fair bit of our furniture, and have even done some woodworking to fix up our old home.

Love our beautiful, fragile planet. Naturally I'm deeply concerned about climate. I've been a vegetarian for several years now, and am continually trying to simplify my life and reduce my personal impact.

Blue Marble, 2012: a photo of Earth showing continents and ocean, lightly covered by some clouds, floating in the infinite blackness of space
Photo credit: NASA/NOAA/GSFC/Suomi NPP/VIIRS/Norman Kuring

Awed by space and astronomy. Photos of a spiral galaxies melt my heart and also inspire me to wonder whether I'm originally from another planet in another galaxy. See also: Our home in this wondrous universe⩘ 

The large, gracious, spiral Andromeda galaxy floating in the depths of the universe
Photo credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Value privacy. I think online privacy should be the default state. Because it's not, I try to protect at least some of my privacy online, especially against greedy corporations. I deeply appreciate the work that folks like Cory Doctorow and organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)⩘  are doing on our behalf. Installed App Tracking Protection⩘  by DuckDuckGo on my phone and ended up deleting several apps when I saw just how much tracking data they were collecting.

Some online privacy tools:
Firefox Browser   DuckDuckGo Search   Mullvad VPN   Privacy Badger | Electronic Frontier Foundation

Introvert. Somehow I did still manage to find a wonderful partner to share this journey with, as well as a few dear friends.

Keystones: Respect, compassion, empathy, acceptance. We're all in this together.

Double rainbow at sunset; photo by Toshen. The rainbows rise above a hill that is sunlit at the rocky top catching the last rays of the seeting sun, but falls into shadow below. There are dark outlines of the tops of a few pine trees in the foreground.