Monday, March 31, 2014

Life of a Poet~Gail at the Farm

Kids, I have the best treat for you today! We are going to visit a real old-time heritage farm in Arkansas, where generations have lived on and loved the land. We will be talking to artist and poet, Gail, of  At the Farm. The words on the banner proclaim: "A tale of tails, tenacity and tedium, as told by me, usually barefoot and bellowing." Sounds like my kinda gal! There are animals all over the place, so I will be in my glory! I will be hard pressed to turn the talk to writing! Hop aboard, and settle in. This is going to take us back to life as it was lived in the earliest settlement days of North America, and the way some people, who have managed to hang on,  still live.



Sherry: Gail, I so enjoy poking around your site. I am such an animal lover, and have always wished I could live off the land, which you seem to be doing.......living on it, and with it. Tell us about your life at the farm, would you, please?


Charme with me

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Poetry Pantry #195



Pak Tai Temple, Cheung Chau - Hong Kong


Man Mo Temple, Hong Kong



Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery, Lan Tau

Chi Lin Nunnery, Hong Kong





Greetings, Poets!


Glad to see each of you here this week for Poetry Pantry  It is always enjoyable for me to get to know you through your poetry; and I hope you feel the same.  Admittedly, I personally appreciate those with whom there is a feeling of reciprocity, which makes for a feeling of community.  I think we ALL tend to visit (after a while) people with whom we reciprocate.

This week Gabriella has shared photos of Hong Kong.

Be sure to visit Poets United tomorrow to see what Sherry Blue Sky  has planned to share.  Will it be a featured poet?  A featured blog?  Or a featured poem?

Glad to see the turnout  for  Mid-Week Motif Wednesday continues to be good.  We hope to see you this coming week for another challenging prompt by Susan Chast!

And on Friday, remember to see who Rosemary Nissen-Wade is featuring on her "I Wish I Had Written This" or "The Living Dead."

I issue an invitation here to those of you who participate in Poetry Pantry.  If YOU have special photos that you would like me to feature some week, let me know what kind of photos you have.  There are participants here from many different cities, many different countries.  I think it is great fun to see different areas featured. I am especially interested in scenic views of your area or an area you have visited.  Send inquiries first to dixibear@aol.com letting me know what you have.  I am interested in city or country views - in your home area or places you have traveled.

Anyway, with no further adieu, this is one of my favorite spaces to post poetry each week.  I hope you look forward to it too.  An older one or a new one, it's your choice.

Link your ONE poem.   Then leave a comment below. Then visit other poets.  And I will too.  (If I miss your poem, visit me, and I will visit you... I am like anyone else, appreciating reciprocity.) We ALL like comments, so if you link please DO spend time visiting others.  That is part of the fun as well.  We really like it if you link back to Poets United too, so we spread the Poetry Pantry word in the blogosphere.

Come back a few times on Sunday and Monday to see what's new.  Visit some strangers, and they will become new friends!  Making new friends and reading new poetry, what more could one want?

If you are on Facebook, look for us there as well. Join our site.  It is one more way to stay in touch!

And now...here is the procedure, for those who are new here:  Each Sunday we start a new post with a New Mr. Linky for you. This is so that you can post a link to a poem in your blog. The link will close Monday at 12:00 p.m. (CDT), but you can still visit the links of those who have posted them.


Friday, March 28, 2014

I Wish I'd Written This

At The Edge Of The Body

At the edge of the body
there is said to be
a flaming halo-
yellow, red, blue
or pure white,
taking its color
from the state
of the soul.

Cynics scoff.
Scientists make graphs
to refute it.
Editorial writers,
journalists, & even
certain poets,
claim it is only mirage,
trumped-up finery,
illusory feathers,
spiritual shenanigans,
humbug.

But in dreams
we see it,
& sometimes even waking.
If the spirit is a bride
about to be married to God,
this is her veil.

Do I believe it?
Do I squint
& regard the perimeter
of my lover's body,
searching for some sign
that his soul
is about to ignite
the sky?

Without squinting,
I almost see it.
An angry red aura
changing to white,
the color of peace.

I gaze at the place where he turns into air
& the flames of his skin
combine
with the flames of the sky,
proving
the existence
of both.



It had to be Erica Jong today, as she's just had her 72nd birthday. (Yes, this is a much younger photo!)  She's even better known, of course, as a feminist novelist, starting with her 1973 best-seller, Fear of Flying.  That was considered very daring, even groundbreaking, in its day, for its approach to female sexuality. She coined the term, "the zipless fuck," which became an immediate catch-phrase.

She went on to write a number of other works of fiction and non-fiction, but she was first a poet and has continued to publish volumes of poetry too. Her books are listed in the Wikipedia article at the link on her name, above, and on her own website. You can also find them at her Amazon pages, along with a concise literary biography of her life and work. And her poems are on the trusty PoemHunter site.

Her early poetry was also ground-breaking. It included such domestic topics as preparing food, which had not previously been considered sufficiently exalted to be the subject of poetry; and it often did so in plain, direct language. They could be deceptively simple; some were quite fanciful and startling when read closely.

The poem I've chosen, the title poem of her 1979 poetry book, is more overtly fanciful. The language is still very direct, but not exactly plain. Above all, I love the images she creates. At the same time, Jong's poetry can be subtly disturbing, and this one is no exception. (What is that "angry red aura" about?) An intellectual aspect to her writing is also typical — as in the closing lines here. And with what apparent effortlessness she creates such beautiful poetry!

Poems and photos used in ‘I Wish I’d Written This’ remain the property of the copyright holders (usually their authors).

And a P.S. — for those who were eagerly awaiting Leigh Spencer's book, Tequila and Cookies, it's out! Here's the Amazon link (and you can get it at Amazon UK too).



Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ In Two or More Languages

“I can choose either to be a victim of the world 
or an adventurer in search of treasure. 
It's all a question of how I view my life.”
― Paulo CoelhoEleven Minutes


Midweek Motif ~ In Two or More Languages

Last week's St Patrick's Day gathering at dVerse Poets PubPubtalk– a Cult/ure thing? —made me want to read and write poems that show how we negotiate language and cultures in places we work and live.  

Your challenge: Write a new poem that gives us an experience of language and culture, using English and at least one other language. If you are not bilingual, consider using baby talk or slang, a specialized vocabulary, art or even music. 

For extra enjoyment, consider using rhymed couplets as in Rhina Espaillat's poem "Bilingual/Bilingue" below.  She is an inspiration!  Read about her HERE.


Bilingual/Bilingüe

BY RHINA P. ESPAILLAT  (REE-nah ESS-pie-YAT)

My father liked them separate, one there,
one here (allá y aquí), as if aware

that words might cut in two his daughter’s heart
(el corazón) and lock the alien part

to what he was—his memory, his name
(su nombre)—with a key he could not claim.

“English outside this door, Spanish inside,”
he said, “y basta.” But who can divide

the world, the word (mundo y palabra) from
any child? I knew how to be dumb

and stubborn (testaruda); late, in bed,
I hoarded secret syllables I read

until my tongue (mi lengua) learned to run
where his stumbled. And still the heart was one.

I like to think he knew that, even when,
proud (orgulloso) of his daughter’s pen,

he stood outside mis versos, half in fear
of words he loved but wanted not to hear.


Used by permission of poet Rhina P. Espaillat.  From her book Where Horizons Go: Poems, Kirksville, MO: Truman State University Press, 1998; recipient of the T.S. Eliot Prize, 1998.  

~

Please:  
1.      Post your  bi-lingual poem on your site, and then link it here.
2.      Share only original and new work written for this challenge. 
3.      Leave a comment here.
4.      Honor our community by visiting and commenting on others' poems.


(Next week's Midweek Motif will be April Fools for Poetry.)

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Monday, March 24, 2014

A Chat Between Two Poets

Kids, recently, our friend,  Elizabeth Crawford, over at Soul's Music, wrote a series of three especially impactful poems, full of birds and wild creatures, with extremely intriguing titles. I perked up my ears and decided to nab them for a blog of the week. But Elizabeth and I then had a pretty cool chat about how her poems came to be, and about her process. And, wise poet that she is, Elizabeth suggested I offer our chat as further illumination for her poems, and a glimpse at the poet's creative process. An idea I leaped upon eagerly. So, here we are, my friends: our chat between two poets.






Sunday, March 23, 2014

Poetry Pantry #194







Lungshan Temple, Taipei


Inside Lungshan Temple, Taipei






Street View of Taipei


Musicians outside of Lungshan Temple


Men Playing a Game on the Street, Taipei

Chiang Kai Chek and his wife - painting



Greetings, Poets!


Glad to see each of you here this week for Poetry Pantry  It is always enjoyable for me to get to know you through your poetry; and I hope you feel the same.  Admittedly, I personally appreciate those with whom there is a feeling of reciprocity, which makes for a feeling of community.  I think we ALL tend to visit (after a while) people with whom we reciprocate.

This week I am sharing photos I took some time ago in  Taipei.

Be sure to visit Poets United tomorrow to see what Sherry Blue Sky  has planned to share.  Will it be a featured poet?  A featured blog?  Or a featured poem?

Glad to see the turnout  for  Mid-Week Motif Wednesday continues to be good.  We hope to see you this coming week for another challenging prompt by Susan Chast!

And on Friday, remember to see who Rosemary Nissen-Wade is featuring on her "I Wish I Had Written This" or "The Living Dead."

I issue an invitation here to those of you who participate in Poetry Pantry.  If YOU have special photos that you would like me to feature some week, let me know what kind of photos you have.  There are participants here from many different cities, many different countries.  I think it is great fun to see different areas featured. I am especially interested in scenic views of your area or an area you have visited.  Send inquiries first to dixibear@aol.com letting me know what you have.  I am interested in city or country views - in your home area or places you have traveled.

Anyway, with no further adieu, this is one of my favorite spaces to post poetry each week.  I hope you look forward to it too.  An older one or a new one, it's your choice.

Link your ONE poem.   Then leave a comment below. Then visit other poets.  And I will too.  (If I miss your poem, visit me, and I will visit you... I am like anyone else, appreciating reciprocity.) We ALL like comments, so if you link please DO spend time visiting others.  That is part of the fun as well.  We really like it if you link back to Poets United too, so we spread the Poetry Pantry word in the blogosphere.

Come back a few times on Sunday and Monday to see what's new.  Visit some strangers, and they will become new friends!  Making new friends and reading new poetry, what more could one want?

If you are on Facebook, look for us there as well. Join our site.  It is one more way to stay in touch!

And now...here is the procedure, for those who are new here:  Each Sunday we start a new post with a New Mr. Linky for you. This is so that you can post a link to a poem in your blog. The link will close Monday at 12:00 p.m. (CDT), but you can still visit the links of those who have posted them.


Friday, March 21, 2014

The Living Dead

Honouring our poetic ancestors

I Said To The Wanting-Creature Inside Me
Kabir (c.1440 — c. 1518)

I said to the wanting-creature inside me:
What is this river you want to cross?
There are no travelers on the river-road, and no road.
Do you see anyone moving about on that bank, or nesting?

There is no river at all, and no boat, and no boatman.
There is no tow rope either, and no one to pull it.
There is no ground, no sky, no time, no bank, no ford!

And there is no body, and no mind!
Do you believe there is some place that will make the
soul less thirsty?
In that great absence you will find nothing.

Be strong then, and enter into your own body;
there you have a solid place for your feet.
Think about it carefully
Don't go off somewhere else!

Kabir says this: just throw away all thoughts of
imaginary things,
and stand firm in that which you are. 


This poet, various online sources tell me, is regarded as an Indian saint. He seems to be regarded so by adherents of various Indian religions, in particular the Sikhs. He himself founded his own religion, or perhaps his followers did, based on his beliefs. It is one of the Sant Mar sects, which is to say it emphasises inner, personal union with the Divine, and is known as Kabir panth, a path of personal devotion or Bhakti. (I hope I have understood correctly and conveyed this accurately, but you may check the links for yourself.)

I didn't know all that when I decide to choose this poem for today's post; I thought he was a Sufi because of the ecstatic way he sometimes writes of that inner union with God. In fact, I learn that he did indeed relate to the Sufi teachings — but he also accepted much of the Hindu and Muslim faiths. It's worth noting that one piece of Hinduism he was opposed to was the caste system. The Wikipedia article (at the link on his name, above) says he tried to reconcile Muslim and Hindu teachings.

I too like the notion of a personal relationship with God, and I like the way it is expressed here. Some of his other poems I find a bit confronting because of religious views that are foreign to me. Kabir's God seems to be firmly and unquestionably male — a widespread viewpoint in many religions, but one I'm not quite comfortable with (a. I think God transcends gender; b. I like to focus on the female aspect). So it is a little odd to me when he writes of God's immanence in Nature with the male pronoun. I'm basically with him on the immanence thing, but I'm used to looking at it from a different (Pagan) perspective. 

Also, in the Western world we perhaps don't think of loving God in quite the same ecstatic terms, where sexual ecstasy becomes the metaphor. (Less often in Kabir, perhaps, than the works of some others, such as Rumi.) It's at odds with the Puritannical background which is part of the heritage many of us come from, whether we are personally religious or not.

This poem, though, is more general and abstract than that, even while being grounded in the physical world. I particularly love that ending! And after all, I am posting to an international community. For some he will be a cultural ancestor, as well as being a spiritual ancestor to all poets. Many readers may feel perfectly at home with Kabir's views. 

They may be his views but are they really his poems? Of course if we are reading them in English they are translations, but even the originals were written down by others, not by Kabir himself. There is some uncertainty as to whether all those ascribed to him actually originated with him. We can't know, but the style and content seem close enough. If some imitations have crept in, they seem to be good imitations, and he was at least the inspiration. (We can't assume this piece was not his. It was not unusual, in some Eastern poetic traditions, to address oneself in the third person in a poem.)

I'm sad to see I no longer have my copy of the little book, Songs of Kabir (translated by Tagore) which my father gave me in my teens. Perhaps it disappeared in one of my many house moves since then. But, how wonderful, I have discovered it available online as a free pdf download! It's on Amazon too, if you prefer reading it in paperback form. And there is also the collection of poems at PoemHunter.

The picture I've used is the commemorative stamp made in India in 1952.

Post Script. Sherry informs us in the comments below that there is a translation by Robert Bly. So there is! And on Goodreads people's opinions are very divided as to the merits of it! But evaluation of art is always subjective, I think. Check it for yourself at the Amazon link.



Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Happy Birthday

File:Coloured lanterns at the Lotus Lantern Festival.jpg
Colored lanterns at the Lotus Lantern
Festival in 
SeoulSouth Korea,
celebrating the anniversary
of the 
Buddha's birthday
“So what if nobody came?
I’ll have all the ice cream and tea,
And I’ll laugh with myself,
And I’ll dance with myself,
And I’ll sing, “Happy Birthday to me!”
 ― Shel Silverstein


“Rocket ships
are exciting
but so are roses
on a birthday.” 
― Leonard NimoyCome Be With Me








Midweek Motif ~ Happy Birthday


Everyone and everything I know of has a birthday.  Today I ask you to celebrate a specific birth in honor of Spring which officially begins tomorrow, March 20th on the vernal Equinox.   Choose someone or thing you want to think about; choose yourself or someone you love; or choose a day you gave birth to a baby or to an idea.   Consider making your poem a birthday song.



                                      E.E. Cummings

i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any--lifted from the no
of all nothing--human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)


See also:
Cheerios by Billy Collins,  A Birthday by Christina Rossetti, and Morning Song by Sylvia Plath.

(Next week's Midweek Motif will be on speaking more than one language.)

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Monday, March 17, 2014

LIFE OF A POET - CHEONG LEE SAN

As we make our trek around the globe, it is my privilege to visit  poets in their home locations. Though I do it through my screen and keyboard, each visit is almost like being there. This time, my friends, we are going to Singapore, to meet with Lee San, whom you likely recognize online as dsnake. He can be found at urban poems. We have been trying to manage this visit since summer, so I am thrilled to bring our conversation to you today.




Sherry: Lee San, I visited around your site to try to find some clues for this interview, and gather you are a young urban poet, so your site is aptly named. Tell us a little bit about your life: ......anything you’d like to share so we can know you better.


Me and bike

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Poetry Pantry #193


A View from the top of the Rex Hotel, Saigon,
where journalists used to live during the Vietnam War.

Sunrise - Saigon, Vietnam

Reunification Palace. Saigon, Vietnam


A Lacquerware Factory, Saigon, Vietnam
Notre Dame Church, Saigon, Vietnam


Saigon motorcycles were everywhere;
it was sometimes difficult to cross a street.



Greetings, Poets!


Glad to see each of you here this week for Poetry Pantry  It is always enjoyable for me to get to know you through your poetry; and I hope you feel the same.  Admittedly, I personally appreciate those with whom there is a feeling of reciprocity, which makes for a feeling of community.  I think we ALL tend to visit (after a while) people with whom we reciprocate.

This week I am sharing photos that I took when I was in Saigon, Vietnam, some years ago! Saigon is quite a tourist destination now.  A beautiful city really.

Be sure to visit Poets United tomorrow to see what Sherry Blue Sky  has planned to share.  Will it be a featured poet?  A featured blog?  Or a featured poem?

Glad to see the turnout  for  Mid-Week Motif Wednesday continues to be good.  We hope to see you this coming week for another challenging prompt by Susan Chast!

And on Friday, remember to see who Rosemary Nissen-Wade is featuring on her "I Wish I Had Written This" or "The Living Dead."

I issue an invitation here to those of you who participate in Poetry Pantry.  If YOU have special photos that you would like me to feature some week, let me know what kind of photos you have.  There are participants here from many different cities, many different countries.  I think it is great fun to see different areas featured. I am especially interested in scenic views of your area or an area you have visited.  Send inquiries first to dixibear@aol.com letting me know what you have.  I am interested in city or country views - in your home area or places you have traveled.

Anyway, with no further adieu, this is one of my favorite spaces to post poetry each week.  I hope you look forward to it too.  An older one or a new one, it's your choice.

Link your ONE poem.   Then leave a comment below. Then visit other poets.  And I will too.  (If I miss your poem, visit me, and I will visit you... I am like anyone else, appreciating reciprocity.) We ALL like comments, so if you link please DO spend time visiting others.  That is part of the fun as well.  We really like it if you link back to Poets United too, so we spread the Poetry Pantry word in the blogosphere.

Come back a few times on Sunday and Monday to see what's new.  Visit some strangers, and they will become new friends!  Making new friends and reading new poetry, what more could one want?

Also, don't forget to visit Poets United other days of the week.  For example, every Wednesday (after the new year) Susan Chast posts a new "Mid-Week Motif" prompt.  Hope you will join us there as well!  Sherry Blue Sky does a feature (it varies) on Monday, and Rosemary Nissen-Wade does "I Wish I'd Written This" every Friday!

If you are on Facebook, look for us there as well. Join our site.  It is one more way to stay in touch!

And now...here is the procedure, for those who are new here:  Each Sunday we start a new post with a New Mr. Linky for you. This is so that you can post a link to a poem in your blog. The link will close Monday at 12:00 p.m. (CDT), but you can still visit the links of those who have posted them.


Friday, March 14, 2014

I Wish I'd Written This

Why I Like Men 

mainly i like men because they're different 
they're the opposite sex 
no matter how much you pretend they're ordinary 
human beings you don't really 
believe it 

they have a whole different language and geography 
so they're almost as good 
as a trip overseas when life gets dull 
and you start looking 
for a thrill 

next i like men because they're all so different 
one from the other 
and unpredictable so you can never really know 
what will happen from 
looks alone 

like anyone else i have my own taste with regard 
to size and shape and colour 
but the kind of style that has nothing to do 
with money can make you bet 
on an outsider 

lastly i guess i like men because they are the other 
half of the human race 
and you've got to start somewhere 
learning to live and let live 
with strangers 

maybe it's because you if can leave your options open 
ready to consider love 
with such an out and out foreigner 
it makes other people seem 
so much easier 



I've chosen this poem as a contemporary salute to the very recent International Women's Day, having shared last week a feminist poem of the past. Today's piece is ostensibly very calm, objective and gentle, but if a poem can be poker-faced, this one is.

When I sought permission to post it, Edith asked me why I wanted this particular poem. I replied:  

I've always adored your poem's tongue-in-cheek humour — which I find both gentle and devastating, and capable of being read in different ways.

I also thought the internet might be exploding with militant stuff on International Women's Day, and although there's a place for that, I liked the idea of following up this week with something clever and funny, which is equally powerful in its own way. As far as I could see, the internet exploded instead with positive, inspiring stuff, which was great — and I still like this poem for this week. I'd love to have written it!

The Write Stuff tells us:

Born in Canada, Edith Speers studied biochemistry before moving to Australia in 1974. She's a poet, teacher, editor and publisher, and manages Esperance Press, located in Dover, Tasmania. In 2001 was selected as a recipient of the Centenary Medal for community service, offered in conjunction with Australia’s Centenary (1901-2001) celebrations.

You can find several of her poems at this link too. 

The AustLit link at her name (above) has a more detailed biography, and notes that her work 'has been described as "feet-on-the-ground" poetry which is open and accessible to the general reader'.  

If you google "Edith Speers poet" you'll find a couple of pdf files of some of her poems, which you can read online or download to your computer for later. Her two poetry books, By Way of a Vessel (1986) and Four Quarters (2001) are still available (used) from Amazon — though you perhaps you won't rush to get the earlier one, which is priced as a collector's item at well over $100 USD! Four Quarters is also readily available new at the Esperance Press link for $22 AUD.

Her website gives a complete literary resume as well as other information. For instance she has won a number of awards. There are also further pdf samples of her work, including selections from her books.

On YouTube you can hear Alison Croggon reading Speers's Love Sonnet #9 (as well as poems by Judith Wright and herself. Wright and Croggon have both been featured in 'I Wish I'd Written This'). Well worth a listen!

Since adopting Australia as her second country, Edith Speers has done a great deal to promote the work of other Australian writers. We're lucky in all sorts of ways to have her!



Poems and photos used in ‘I Wish I’d Written This’ remain the property of the copyright holders (usually their authors).

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Prescience / Foresight

prescience\ PREE-shuns; PREE-shee-uns; PRESH-uns;
PRESH-ee-uns; PREE-see-uns; PRES-ee-uns \ , noun; 

1. Knowledge of events before they take place; foresight. 
-- prescient adjective

Word of the Day - from Matt Lassen Cartoons

Wednesday, March 23, 2011--Used by permission of Matt Lassen 




Midweek Motif ~ Prescience / Foresight

“Beware the ides of March.”          

Unlike Sherlock Holmes' mysteries which untangle the past, prescience untangles the future.  Is prescience supernatural, coincidence, scientific, fiction?   All of the above?  I do not think I would want to know my future, but I have both consulted horoscopes and read Tarot in the past.  However this motif informs your poem, I want details!  

Today I am inspired by these three:


"Every invention began as an imagination.” 
                                                                          ― Ifeanyi Enoch Onuoha 



From Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.

Prescience
By Margaret Widdemer

I WENT to sleep smiling,
  I wakened despairing—
Where was my soul,
  On what terror-path faring?
What thing shall befall me       
  By midnight or noon?—
What does my soul know
  That I shall know soon?






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Monday, March 10, 2014

LIFE OF A POET - BJORN RUDBERG

We have a real treat this week, kids, as we are going to visit Bjorn Rudberg, of  Bjorn Rudberg's Writings, in Sweden!!!!! (Be still, my heart! Mountains! Snow! Beautiful wilderness!) Bjorn is active in the blogosphere, so you likely know him from dVerse or Poets United. His emergence as a poet began on Twitter! And we get to benefit from his crossover to the world of online blogging. We need a hot drink, I think, for this interview, as there are some chilly snowy peaks on all sides. And such beauty as will amaze the eye!



Sherry: Bjorn, so happy to be meeting with you.  I know this is going to be interesting. Will you tell us a little about yourself, where you live, and with whom you share your life?