How to Make Improvements to Your Home Office

Broadcasting from the New Holand

In Mexico, Felipe and I practiced something we called “sticks and mud technology” we made it work with what we had, which sometimes was sticks and mud.

I had several “offices”  that were built on this principle, with crossed fingers and a lot of walking in search of a signal.

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Sometimes I worked out of internet cafes, they had their benefits and challenges. Benefits; chairs, food if one has money, pretty good signal. Negatives: usually, a really smelly bathroom, vicious mosquitos that breed there, and video games played at sonic volume at the computer next to you.

This was a particular favorite of mine, the hazardous waste desk. It was behind the clinic in La Tigra and just happened to have the best signal in town.

My Bioharard office behind the free health clinic in La Tigra

The hazardous waste office made me feel really dedicated to my craft.

-my super fancy home office in Nicaragua, complete with an actual office chair

But, things are quite a bit cushier in Nicaragua, I have an office chair!

I got the office chair because my back was bothering me, and it did help, but the problem persisted so I went back to the sticks and mud approach and asked Felipe to make a sofa desk for me. Just like the one I had at the Piedra Rahada. I wrote three books and over 200 posts with this little desk made of a sawed-off plastic garden chair.

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Even with the new office chair, and sofa desk I found I was having back pain. The solution? A standing desk! An end table topped sofa desk! Sticks and mud at its finest.

I would love to hear how you make yourself comfortable working at home. I’m also up for advice on back health for writers.

Hasta mañana!

Proud Flesh

followed only by the plume of her tail

followed only by the plume of her tail

“In dark times, the eye begins to see.”

                                  Theodore Roethke

Shortly after I returned from the U.S., I set out with my dogs , Lilly and Moechi, on our favorite walk . The walk begins on a gravel thruway, turns into a farm road and ends in a mountain trail passable only on foot, or hoof. When I turned onto the trial I noticed Lilly wasn’t with us, I called her, and when she arrived she was shaking and foaming at the mouth. Somewhere in that remote and lovely landscape she’d found poison. She was dying.

I was memorizing Jane Hirshfield’s, For What Binds Us, as we walked.  I’ve had a very difficult time continuing with this poem, or even going for a walk since her death. But it is so appropriate, I wanted to share it. I admit I used a cheat sheet to make the video.

I’ve questioned my choice to allow my dogs to be free, since I’ve lost four in two years  to poison and disease.  I don’t know that the answer is sufficient or responsible, but, it’s because they are campo dogs. Freedom is their life.  I know, though not as safe, they are happier than the poor dogs I walked in the U.S. that spent hours in their crates every day.

Long ago, I decided my responsibility was to aid in the fulfillment of their daily lives, not the near impossible safeguarding of their future. After Elvis was implicated in the death of a calf and became a public enemy , I tried keeping him on a leash, watching him constantly if he wasn’t; I made him stay indoors at night (no one got a good night sleep). But it only took a rabbit sighting to send him deep into the woods if I wasn’t hyper-vigilant. Finally, I realized I could not watch my dogs all the time, and that even if I had a fenced in yard someone could and likely would throw poison over the fence again someday ; I could not protect them. So I let them live their lives, until it kills them.

I can imagine the look Lilly would have given me if I had tried to keep her on a lease for our walks. I’m sure she would have sat down in the dirt and refused to accompany me in such a degrading position, she was very good at getting her point across.

Good bye Little Bear…I will always save the heart for you…

 

I will return when I can feel that anything is very simple, very easy, or very good again.

 

 

 

Walking the Poem

Poems I've memorized

Poems I’ve memorized

This week I recite, Memorizing The Sun Rising by John Donne, by Billy Collins, the poem that inspired last week’s recitation.

When I took on this challenge: memorizing, reciting and recording 52 poems in 2014; I wasn’t certain how I’d go about it. I’d memorized a couple of poems in school, but I wasn’t in theater–accustomed to memorizing lines, and well, I’m not very a disciplined sort.

So, I put together a little ritual on week one and it’s worked very well. First, I write the poem out and then fold it into five portions, a part that I will learn each day. I take it with me on my morning walk and speak it into the countryside to the rhythm of my footfalls. Just as Billy Collins claims,the poem showed no interest in walking by his side, until he’d taken it for a walk, I find it very difficult to internalize a poem without walking with it.

Walking plays a role in much of my creative process. I must walk to find the objects for my art . I do a lot of revision in my head as I’m walking and I carry a small notebook, because I often receive ideas and sometimes entire poems during my perambulations.

It pleased me to read that Billy Collins used, in part, the same method as I, though he doesn’t mention it, I imagine he too, takes a dog with him.

followed only by the plume of her tail

followed only by the plume of her tail

 

Do you have a physical activity that’s integral to your creative process? I’d love to hear about it.

Sepillin

This is Sepillin. One of five dogs who live at the ranch where Felipe works. No, those are not shrunken skulls around his neck, they’re shrunken limes.

A few days ago Sepillin came down with a bone wrecking cough. It was so violent we worried he wouldn’t live through the next bout. Since farm dogs are of little value to their owners, Felipe knew it was unlikely he could convince his boss to treat Sepillin. When he asked for medicine, the man barked dismissively, “Ahhh, just put some limes on him.”

A coworker of Felipe’s who practices brujeria, confirmed this as the appropriate treatment. I rolled my eyes, mumbling, “cheapskate”, and other #%$& things and fled the scene. Felipe made Sepillin a lime collar.

When I returned the next day…Sepillin’s cough was gone! This is truly the most remarkable folk remedy I’ve been witness to. The dog was so ill I don’t think it’s possible that anything other than the limes could have affected his speedy recovery. Three days later he’s still fine, Felipe will remove the collar tomorrow.  This remedy definitely qualifies as very simple, very easy and VERY GOOD. He’s such a goodboy.