Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Mohave Desert

I do love the desert. I love the gnarled trees, seemingly dead, but sprouting one green branch. I admire the decay after a cholla cactus just left it's ribs on the desert floor. I see how the washes run after a rainstorm and flooded small creeks or the dip in the road filled with mud and rocks...
And yes a heavy rain can lead to a leak in one's roof and then one needs friends to help with the repairs. Always repairs, most of my time  here is spend on repairs, organizing for it, supervising it.
The gas station itself seems solid, the leak was in the back house, where my guest(s) sleep and have their domain.
The night sky over Chloride with just two street lamps is gorgeous, wonderful, magic filled. Orion shows his every star, the Swan and Cassiopeia  can be seen. It is all clear and bright. One can read by the full moon. The air is crisp at the end of October, will be crisper in November still...

I want to do one more trip by Flagstaf to Hopi... I better make the phone calls to get the appointment with the people I need to see.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Peach Springs - Hualapai

It had been a year or so since I last saw Frank. He has been a friend since a long time and has always been generous with his time. He introduced me to the Hualapai sweat lodge. The first time we were three people plus Frank who sang the sweat lodge songs pouring the water over the hot stones. Of course he sang in Hualapai, thus I didn't understand a word. Yet at the third round I kind of got it what I had to do inside: being open, cleansing my self in all ways, being attentive, quiet, mindful and quietly be part of the ceremony. At this visit Frank junior was there as well, now living with his father and learning the culture, the language and maybe even the songs and herbs and such. It was fun cooking a meal together and to make the salsa sauce from scratch:
Cooking together is fun:
The recipe: Boil 6 to 7 tomatoes. Well it depends also on the amount of salsa you want to make, when the tomatoes are done, throw them in a mixer, add garlic. While the tomatoes are cooking roast the green jalapeño peppers on an open flame. Then add them to the tomatoes and mix again.
Fry the Mission Tortilla's in a greased skilled. Clean the lettuce, heat the brown beans (or alternatively the garbanzo beans) and mash them up when soft.
Put the mashed beans on the fried tortilla, add lettuce and cheddar cheese and the fresh salsa. Enjoy!
Thanks for a wonderful afternoon, Frank and Frank. And I drove off into the sunset in Chloride.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The attack of the flying Cars

My daughter Maya is a long term futures researcher and, since yesterday was the day that Mac Fly would arrive in his future she was interviewed on Canvas, the cultural channel of the Flemish speaking TV. So as a proud mother I give you all who understand Dutch the link to the interview on Canvas: She did great since she did explain about changes in how to interpret the reality around us. She is a realist and stated in answer to a question that world peace would be nice, but that it would already a big feat if we all learn to live together without bashing in  each others head.

Well done. She spoke to message, without superfluous stuff or superficially and she once again made me think about the concepts we hold dear and how the evolve or have to evolve to go on  in a good way for all.

Thank you Maya!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Desert rain and a birthday

For two days we have been gifted with spectacular cloud bursts. Not big drops, not buckets of rain but sheets, the water almost feeling solid. The desert drinks it, forms runs, puddles, mud. of course the water flows to the lowest point, which luckily didn't flood. Otherwise the town could not be accessed anymore except on a dirt road. We are grateful for the rain, as are animals too. And then there was Nadine's birthday, a large group of friends gathered around a table in the Yesterday's ate together, talked, had fun. I had brought a small present which she liked. She must be the most respected and loved woman in town. Nadine is kind, generous, brave, realistic, warm, an excellent baker: if ever you have a chance try her lemon pie.
The main repairs to my place haven been done thanks to Banker Dave or if you want Giant Dave and Dan who has been a friend for years and who knows kind of everything about the civil war. They repaired and saved  the roof of the small bathroom at the back-house and repaired the garage. The tin had flopped over, had come loose in the welcome home storm just a few days after arriving home. Now everything seems to be consolidated and will be standing for an other few years... Or so I hope. The old gas station seems solid and dry. Yet the old pumps are slowly rusting yet still they are photogenic. Sorry my pictures aren't uploading to my computer...

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Chloride - Old miners day...

After flying for 19 hours, we finally touched down in Las Vegas. We rented the car and rove off to find my old gas station in Chloride, my home, my refuge, my other place, my other life, the small town away from high culture and endless traffic jams. Doggy Dog seemed to recognize the place and felt right at home. Of course, the place had been gathering dust for about ten month so there was some work to be done, to make the house livable again. And then came the storm: the tin plates from the garage were flapping and making a lot of noise. So I have been looking for someone, to put all the loose stuff back together again... In the hopes that it doesn't fall apart in the next storm. The back house, after two downpours developed two minor leaks, but it is obvious we shouldn't wait till the next heavy rain, which might then complicate matters. Coming back here the first days when a lot of of stuff  must be repaired lends a distopian feeling to the place. But that smooths away after a short while when I look at the gorgeous mountains. Yet I keep worrying about the leaks in the Old Library. But today was not really a workday. On the contrary it was Old Miners Day, with stands and a parade and gunfights at Cyanide Springs. People dress up for these occasions: there are two groups of people doing skids and short exchanges, always with loud bangs from the black powder guns.
The parade itself is fun: Topnotch old cars driving through, horses and goats, old fire trucks, even the democrats were there in this mainly republican town. Yet also the republican ladies know how to bake, so we don't discriminate in buying some sweets at the bake sale. I usually buy Nadine's  work: she is more refined in her backing than some of the other ladies.
Of course on a day like this one meets the whole town, so Lisa who will do my laundry and let me use her vacuum cleaner, Dan, who walks around on such occasion as a civil war survivor in his grey uniform. People traipse through my yard. Some know better than I when something went missing in my absence. This year it was a spoked wheel, rather nifty...
I look at the clouds coming from the north: ranging from white areas to the darkest thunderstorm gray. I can see just one spot of blue sky.
This time not pictures, since I cannot download my pictures on my laptop. Something is wrong somewhere. You'll have to make do without the visual information. I would have loved to show you the beautiful appaloosa  on her first parade. It was a fun day and seeing old friends again is a good thing.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Travels with Doggy Dog

Traveling with a small dog entails quite a lot of things. There are specific times that need to be respected for when vaccinations must be given. There are also things that must be done in the last three days before the trip like filling out the health certificate for the pooch. The weight of Doggy must be right otherwise she cannot be with us in the cabin.
This time a a colleague from PEN-Flanders will be traveling with me. Of course it is always possible that life has some surprises in store. For instance our friend Nigerian poet friend Tade Ipadeola won't be able to come and visit us. Sad, we wanted to discuss his poetry, talk through some of the problems with the translation and also how to proceed after the proofreading we will be doing when at our destination. Of course we also will meet up with friends, make long walks in the desert, look at the murals and petroglyph's beauty and try once again to decipher their meaning. The particular once near the village are Hualapai and some old Hualapai still kind of know how to interpret them. The weather will still be nice, so longer trips are being planned. A lot of Nature and added to the mix also some Culture. I particularly look forward to my friends I have had to miss so long.
All of you: Sunday night late I should be home with my guest. Brace yourself for Monday morning: I need a lot of hugs.
When returning to Europe we'll stop in New York to bring the books "Over the backs of Salmon" in the Dutch translation "Over Ruggen van Zalmen" to Sherman Alexie's publisher and friend Robert Hershon. Exiting times await us.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

A double act at De Zwarte Panter: Andree Chédid & Sherman Alexie

Quite a while ago Lucienne Stassaert proposed  to her publisher of over twenty years to bring out two translations on one evening. The publisher Leo Peeraer said yes and thus last night it happened. We decided to introduce each other, no stuffy professors but just two people who like each other and each other's work.
It came to be that I opened the festivities in Adriaan's and Frieda's "The Black Panter" Gallery, home to such events, introducing Lucienne's translation in Dutch: Bestaan is een zegen voor mij: "Existing is a blessing for me" a book by Lebanese author Andrée Chedid. In reading the texts I understood and felt why she  had to translate this specific author. Chedid has a personal spirituality which leads her but which also is not conform with the laws regulating the way of living together in our society. Luxcienne also abhors our amoral society and she has an outspoken humanitarian world view. Both poets always question their thought experiments in life and work. This leads to  changes in the work she does: translating, writing her own poetry, her souvenirs and she does graphic work as well. Luciennes work and Chédid works stem from the same root: a problematic past, being the endless war in Libanon on Chédid's case.

I love lines like:

I don't dare to speak of mankind I know so
little of my self

The poetry in "Bestaan is een zegen voor mij" is not sweet nor easy. Lucienne would never make such a choice. She is more of 'notwithstanding everything we feast and question in uncertainty.

And then Lucienne introduced Sherman Alexies work: "Over the Backs of Salmon". She referred to "The true diary of an halftime Indian" and pointed to the critical aspect of the book and the fact that it was censored in certain states of the USA for being too positive about masturbation...  She commented on his sharp wit and humor and tragicomic situations on the reservation. The publisher Leo Peeraer himself said that at first he didn't know what to do with the book, since Alexie's poetry is full of surprises, poetry and prose at once. Yes, it took a few years before he was won over to publishing the book till suddenly he saw the element of surprise, the greatness and depth of Alexies work.
Yes Poetry is the result of Anger X Imagination
And yes Beauty begins somewhere.

I must admit I was swamped by the people, I signed books, I probably gave some books to the wrong people. What a whirlwind of emotions.

The poems I read in Dutch are:
Last Will and Testament
The Powwow at the End of the World
Things to do (for an Indian) in New York City) : nr. 10

To Robert Hershon, Sherman Alexie's publisher and a great poet in his own right, I would like to say thanks, also to Leo Peeraer THE publisher for great translations and wonderful poetry in Flanders, Belgium.