Saturday, December 18, 2010

Water Lanterns for Sandra "Everlasting" Jones

Today is the birth date of American writer and poet Sandra E. Jones, born December 18, 1948 in Philadelphia, PA. passed away on November 27, 2010 in Seattle, surrounded by loved ones.

This morning I woke up with Sandi's smile and her love for Style-ish colors on my mind. And yes, Garrison Keillor's voice in my head. His unmistakable sound accounts for the above starting lines.
Sandi and I met only five times and she left an indelible impression. The first time she surprised me before Aunt Mama's Story Hour at a coffee shop, by saying "You're Judith?" For a moment I thought the lady in cobalt blue was clairvoyant, but then I realized we'd made our first acquaintance on the SheWrites site, where I had my profile picture posted, but she didn't. Not long after that she attended SheWrites' 1st anniversary party, followed by a book launch for her writing teacher Priscilla Long, and yet again at Aunt Mama's (where she plugged Priscilla's book) and finally I got to enjoy Sandra E. Jones' reading... no, performance at the book launch party for Sunday Ink.

Let me tell you, the lady stood up and delivered.

Last night Sandi's family of friends gathered at Greenlake in Seattle for Toro nagashi the Buddhist custom of floating lanterns on water, usually practiced on the last day of the Bon or Obon Festival, to honor ancestors or send off the spirits of departed loved ones. 

If I may continue with Keillor's voice in his program The Writer's Almanac I'd say some of her short stories can be found in the just published anthology Sunday Ink: Work by Uptown Writers.
And I'd like to add what can be read in the notes about Sunday Ink writers:
"Her poem Ladybug was featured in Terri Casey's book Pride and Joy: The Lives and Passions of Women Without Children. Her stories and poems were given special prominence by the Seattle arts organization SOIL and the Los Angeles POST Theatre. She volunteered as a teacher in the Seattle School District's Powerful Writers Literacy program."

Sandra "Everlasting" Jones did not let illness get in her way.

To get back to Greenlake, Sandi's writer friends PK, Geri and Stacy set up a small altar and supplied floating lantern kits. Some came with their eulogies, written memories and collages prepared, some of us crouched on the moving boat dock to write our thoughts for Sandi on thin paper shades.

Here I'm taking a chance by sharing Sandi's haiku Ladybug, used as epigraph by Princess Jackon-Smit for her contribution (page 51-57) to Pride and Joy: The Lives and Passions of Women without Children.

Black, well read, busy:
Spotted without small children,
Lady bug wings it. 

 Sandra E. Jones 
She winged it, And she did it so well!

Japanese lanterns, incense, Jahrzeit candles, "The It" (or would that be ID, or idea?) of spirituality was present as we said our goodbyes, sharing stories, anecdotes, pinking away tears and laughing in remembrance. A gentle breeze set sail to decorated lanterns we followed with our eyes. Flickering lights, getting smaller and smaller, until they were but reflections, or memories of stars.

She shines.
Visit the memorial site for Sandra E. Jones 

Do you have a "Mensch" in your life who shows by example how to be here now and live life to the fullest? How do you honor her or him?

This work by Judith van Praag is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Multi-Tasking | Ultra Focused | Hyper Sensitive

Gallery Dutchess Abroad - Art, Literature & Guidance by Judith van Praag

A book starts by writing one word. 

Last month, on the 1st of November, one minute past midnight Pacific Standard Time, I typed the first word of what had to become a 50,000 word manuscript by November 30. Thanks to exhausting and exhilarating Word Wars initiated by Lia Keyes between NaNoWriMo Warriors on Facebook, I passed the 50K word count on the 21st.

December 1st finds me adding and editing, filling in the gaps, paying attention to all senses and tenses, past present and future. Today the word count is 63,333, I'm at page 80 of the present total of 309.
Imagine that, one month ago, there was one word, the title Forgiveness.
A good moment if ever to capture the screen that illustrates the title of this post, or rather, what it takes to write a complex story. I'll keep you posted here of the developments concerning this novel, while I continue to share hopeful thoughts on art, culture and transcendence.

Which screen captures best what you are doing, who you are, what you stand for?