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Yesterday still lies in the cracks between floorboards.

I was fortunate enough to get to meet the great Latvian poet Imants Ziedonis sometime around 2002, in the basement of the Dailes Theatre. Over the joyful pump of dueling accordions celebrating the birthday of his wife, an actress in the theater, I shook his hand. I told him I had to remind myself to use the formal "Jūs" with him; he said not to worry about it, that he wasn't so formal himself. He told me the story of how he once went to speak to some children at a school. One boy said to him, "but wait, you're not dead?" And he said, "no, I don't think so." And the boy said "how strange, I thought we only read dead people in school!"

Imants Ziedonis passed away today at the age of 79, long after they started studying him in schools.

After his death had been announced, the following was posted on his Twitter account:

Grīdas dēļu šķirbās vēl guļ vakardiena. Viena nopūta dus trauku dvielī, un viens lamu vārds dus pavarda pelnos.

Translation: Yesterday still lies in the cracks between floorboards. One sigh rests in a dish towel, and one curse word rests in the fireplace ashes.

He always did write my favorite words. Rest In Peace, Ziedonis, wherever your words may fall.

(photo by Uldis Grasis)


More Mall Zen

A friendly reminder I'm still very much on Instagram. (More Mall Zen here.)

© Zan McQuade. All rights reserved.


A State of Fiction

I wrote a piece on Barbara Browning's books (and fiction, and reality, and emotion, and death, and bathing) for the Emily Books blog:

It’s disturbing in a way to think of these very real characters as illusions. Browning herself talks about the difficulty of portraying real people in fiction. And as I said before, what good is an invented woman to a real one? But aren’t we illusions to other people? To ourselves? When we put on lipstick, when we play dress up, when we feign interest in a topic out of politeness? How much of our relationships with other people are things we invent entirely in our heads? Most of them? All?

How is the fiction of our reality any different from the reality of fiction? And why should our emotional reaction to one be any different from the other? Isn’t all of it the fantasy of perception? Or deception?

Read more here.


Sunday Zen




© Zan McQuade. All rights reserved.


An Incomplete List Of Things I Learned From My Grandma


1. The Bible is a book of stories from which we can learn valuable lessons, but none of which should be taken literally.

2. Heartburn can be temporarily assuaged with a slice of bread and a glass of sparkling water.

3. "Shit" is a very useful word, in Scrabble and in life.

4. Clothes are functional and should be comfortable enough for walks in the woods should you suddenly decide to take one.

5. "Old married folks have lots of fun--I can attest to that."

6. Being far from someone you love is hard, but it makes the togetherness that follows the distance all the more rewarding.

7. There's too much waste in the world. Don't be wasteful.

8. Language is playful and its games are many.

9. "Books are hardest to part with, but if their pages haven't been turned sometime in the last 50+ years, they need to be gone.  Besides there are always new ones to take their place.  Right?"

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