“For heaven I’m a failure, for earth I’m as good as anyone else.”

TakagiHaruyamaTwo things today:

1. My Bubba is a fan-freaking-tastic musical duo composed of two girls—one Swedish, one Icelandic—who make the kind of dreamy yet down-to-earth music that my heart is currently craving. Do you like smart, poetic lyrics with haunting vocals? Well, then you’ll dig these ladies. Start here. Fall down the NPR rabbit hole. Enjoy.

2. I’ve been reading a lot of mythology lately and one of my favorite stories comes from Japanese folklore. It’s about the moon-rabbit, a mythological creature that lives in the sky. There are so many different stories about the moon, but this one has stuck with me. Wild rabbits (like bears) show up in my dreams fairly often, and I feel a weird kinship with those scattered, scared creatures. Anyway, if you’re not familiar with the story, here it is….

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Hair as straight as sticks, dreams as frail as bog cotton, and eyes as big as plates.

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On the internet, this series of photographs has gotten a lot of attention under the headlines “Old Finnish People with Things on Their Heads,” which, while funny, really obscures the purpose of these strange pictures. The series is actually called “Eyes as Big as Plates,” a rather beautiful name, if you ask me. Originally inspired by Scandinavian folklore, the series has grown to cover people living in New York, Japan, and Iceland. It’s the creative work of photographers Karoline Hjorth and Riitta Ikonen and while I do think it’s peculiar and humorous, I also think it’s a wonderful depiction of human dignity, just people being people in their natural environments. Sure, we don’t typically adorn ourselves with windswept sticks and stand atop a cliff… but why not? It’s not like I do anything better with my days.

I might just be in sleepy fiction mode, but each piece feels like a writing prompt to me.

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Ilisia, the goddess of nightmares and daydreams, wonders whether she should claim credit for her most beautiful creation, the nightmare that incubated in an Englishman’s head until it was ready to spring forth, fully formed on Ilisia’s gracious loom, from his tingling fingers. Oh how she loathed the need for a human conduit! “Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks,” she whispers into the air, a fine mist of spit spraying from her cracked lips. “You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout, till you have drenched our teeples, drowned the cocks!” Her voice lowers to a rumble in her throat, barely audible, but the birds listen still: “Nothing will come of nothing.”

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Marvin lay down for a little rest in the wood behind his house. He thought he could find his way back easily—if not by sight, then by scent, for his wife Nona had been making Borscht when he left and the savory red smell lingered in the air. Sadly, when he awoke, he could smell no stew and see no house. All had aged, for faeries trick time and men who stray from the hearth are seldom mourned.

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“Who are you looking for?” the man asked. “Oh no, Lars is not here. I am Otso and I am a bear.” He took a piece of dried rabbit out of the pocket of his trousers and began to gnaw at it, making the most disgusting noises as he ground and gnashed his old man teeth. For a moment, his headdress slipped, and I’ll tell you this, my friends: He really did look just like Lars.

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Social media mysticism & let’s say a big welcome to spring, dirty though she may be.

Black tailed jack rabbitFour days late: Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit.

Did you know that the tradition of saying “rabbit rabbit” on the first of the month (or in the UK, “white rabbit” or even “bunny, bunny”) is a relatively new bit of folkloric superstition? This odd habit first appeared in the early 1900’s (FDR was a rabbit-rabbit devotee and reportedly uttered the silly phrase on the first of the month without fail). No one really knows where it came from or why the magic words vary from place to place. Most people think it has something to do with the tradition of carrying a dead rabbit’s foot on a keychain—another thing FDR was known to do. I suspect that the tradition is becoming even more widespread in the age of Facebook and Twitter, where everyone can digitally rabbit rabbit for good luck. Or just to show that you’re well versed in social media mysticism. (This is either the best kind of hoodoo or the very worst. I don’t really know.)

In America, rabbit-ing is a New England thing, and I rather like that. New Englanders always seem like such skeptical, cold folk. It’s nice to know that we’re also pulled toward the rabbit hole of nonsense (because if there is anything truly magical, that’s where it hides: in plain sight under piles of nonsense).

But I suppose I am thankful that it’s finally spring. The ground has turned to mud. Everything is coated in grime. Portland is a city of dirt and muck. Even the whitest of rabbits would turn hare-brown here. Wild, like a Dürer.