analogue wednesday #259

happy (early) anniversary to us! has it really been 15 years?

weeknotes, 15/21

– this week was just… ugh. being away is amazing, but coming back to work after a few days away feels like being slammed by an avalanche. it’s relentless and overwhelming, and it takes days to catch up.

– on better news, my air plant is blooming! i got it from a friend’s mom, and it has been hanging in our olive tree ever since it got here last summer, looking half-dead. we just let it be, and now there’s pink flowers in it, whoa!

– following our detour into the chinese supermarket last week, i cooked my first gong bao chicken. omg, it was amazing!! :D i feel like i performed some sort of sorcery involving a dozen ingredients that somehow leveled up my powers!

– i finished listening to the artist’s way. i’ve been writing morning pages on and off for years, so it feels good to finally read the book that started this idea of stream of consciousness writing as a sort of rambling meditation, of getting rid of the thoughts that just clutter the mind.

the thousand character essay

The sky was black and earth yellow; space and time vast, limitless
Sun high or low, moon full or parsed; with stars and lodges spread in place
Cold arrives then heat once more; Autumn’s harvest, Winter’s store
Extra days round out the years; scale in tune with sun and spheres…

from a postcard i’ve recently received, i discovered that the chinese have a rhyming poem with a thousand different characters, which kids used to learn in school, as part of the character-learning process… how weird and wonderful is that?!

it’s called 千字文 and was written by Zhou Xingsi, about 1500 years ago.

a bit of history, from this archived page:

According to legend, Emperor Wu (ruled AD 502-547) of Liang sought a Chinese character literacy text for his son, and to this end had scholars select a thousand non-redundant characters from work left behind by famed calligrapher Wang Xizhi (AD 321-379) to be put to rhyme by the widely learned and talented scholar Zhou Xingsi, who also wrote China’s earliest extant example of a type of historical study known as a Shi Lu or “Factual Record”, the Liang Huangdi Shi Lu. Zhou now applied his heart and soul to the task and created a full rhyming text of four-character couplets, eight characters per line in seven chapters, in only one night; legend also has it that his hair and beard went completely white during those momentous hours. The imperial heir for whom it was written in turn grew up to close the circle by compiling the “Wen Xuan”.

The resulting Qian Zi Wen or Thousand Character Essay was, in the centuries that followed, distributed throughout the Chinese-reading world and has ever since been a major source of inspiration for calligraphers, due in part to its unique feature of non-repeating characters, and for Chinese schoolteachers, tutors, students and general readers as well. This was true especially throughout the ages when a grasp of the classical language was the key to success in traditional China.

analogue wednesday #258

remember the blue sky.

weeknotes, 14/21

it feels like a few weeks have passed in the last 7 days, and all because we took a few days off… we should probably do that more often! :D

– seeing a sea hare! at first, we thought it was a plastic bag just floating around, but then it kept moving in a strange way… and when we looked closely, we found out it was a gigantic sea slug. often we see something interesting and then are disappointed to discover it’s just plastic, but this was the other way around and it felt brilliant.

kestrels, little owls, whimbrels, rare red-billed choughs, the ellusive (though exceedingly loud) corn bunting… it’s been a good week for birdwatching.

– the highlight of the week was definitely the return of the long hikes: three days walking from lagos to sagres, up and down aaaaaall the cliffs. i’ll probably write more about it at some point, but it was sublime to be outside in open air. just us and the birds and the waves crashing the shore for miles and miles, nothing to do but walk all day. if that isn’t nice, i don’t know what is.

– a visit to the chinese shop on the way back to stock the pantry with the essentials was ridiculously exciting for me, who had been listing ingredients and anticipating it for weeks. the nearest proper asian supermarket we have is all the way in albufeira and it isn’t even very good… but no matter — i got what i could find and i can’t wait to cook some stuff from chinese cooking demystified and work on improving my tolerance to spiciness.