Saturday, February 26, 2011


Well, that's done, and there's still sun. A clot of kids are sitting on the corner of the lot; earlier today, I saw the girls out there doing yoga. Not in my yard: on the actual road. The way the road is curved (an archaeologist of my aquaintance says "these roads are BUILT to shed water!") I think must make the back bends they were doing comfortable. And they were on the less-trafficked portion of the intersection; so I didn't go all middle-aged homeowner-lady and go outside to shoo them off because they were unsafe. These kids have known my dog most of their lives. My role, to them, is to be Siddy's mom, a largely unidentifiable appendage to the awesome dog.

I watched the back-bending for a minute, and remembered my own childhood playing on the asphalt at another corner not so very far away from here. Maybe roller-skating. Maybe popping tar bubbles with my thumb. Maybe just touching the rust of the manhole cover, or the rim of the sewer's opening. I was half these girls' age, and my protector was watching me. I let the girls get fit, and felt the heat of the asphalt in my memory, in my mind. I could imagine the slant of that water-shedding curve. I smiled like the middle-aged broad that I am, and finished the dusting. Not like I haven't done far weirder things, and sometimes every bit as publicly. I dork-dance in grocery store aisles. I don't want to see inhibition clamp down.

And now the house is clean, and Type O is playing with a tinny echo on my laptop, and I'm going to pull off my shoes soon and start removing polish and filing and buffing. And probably BuffY-ing, watching the final two eps of Season 2 while the pampering begins. But first, another post. And now a bit of TSOL. Heh. Sounds of laughter, indeed - like a child, so young and carefree. You forgot to add a lyric about yoga, asphalt, and clear sunlight, guys ...

Saturday Afternoon Delight

The sun is coming in the kitchen vivid, gold, and incredibly bright - an narrow band, slipping around and thinning to a strand, smiling on the countertops and chrome, making the clean look cleaner, and showing off how low it can go. It would be a champ under a limbo pole; almost completely horizontal.

I've made good time on housecleaning today, so soon it will be over; twenty minutes of Swiffing and vacuuming are all that remains, and I don't even feel a hurry to complete them. I can sit here and post, watching the gleam of the camellia leaves at the end of the afternoon, and still know it's not going to be darkening to evening in any greater hurry than I'm in. This is a beautiful home, a blessed place, and I'm more eager to enjoy that in all its stages than to push it around right now to some particular state, when that state is less a goal than a pleasure. If there's pleasure in this moment, too, why rush my way beyond it?

I do look forward, though, to settling in once the light does dim, and setting to pampering myself. An hour or so on my nails, cleaning them up and buffing them pretty; probably just clear polish today, keeping it simple stupid. Then upstairs for a bath, a powder, a perfume, a dress and impractical shoes. Then out into a night not so cold I need rush in that so much either. It is my plan to dance tonight.

But for now, my fingers dance. My dog dances with me while "baby I love your way" plays and I sit on the kitchen floor with her, just paying her attention, just making her tail wag, and happy that she scoots in for a hug, a silly sway with me. The sun dances in leaves blowing outside, but in my home it is still and peaceful. Not even much dust dancing within it today. Simply a moment of un-marred content. And not even content I wish I could trade for satisfaction. Just peace.

I know why my church bids people peace. It is a joyous thing, the peace of quietude.

And with that, I bid you peace. Peace be with you, my brother, my friends, my family, my strangers from Belarus and the United Arab Emirates, and from Russia, even if that count appears to be all bots. Peace, and a good night. Maybe pleasant surprises.

Saturday is my day of worship - of stewardship to my home (and my dog). Of tending what has been given to me. Sunday at church is a climax, not the initiation of worship, for me. My day has been one of service to my blessings.

And so I will get to that Swiffing, that vacuuming, and get my service done. Before tending to that temple of silliness that is myself, and my stinky, house-cleaning-grimed self. Heh.

Peace. And don't forget to breathe, and to smile, too.

Friday, February 25, 2011

MOP Without Price

I had amazing eyes when I was small. And I used them so intently, on so many things. But I have a particular memory of pearl surfaces.

I could be captivated for fifteen minutes, just staring and staring even at pearl nail polish. It seemed to me incredible, that that kind of light could be put in a bottle, and just taken out any old time. It seemed to me incredible, how my nails were just these flat pink things, with nothing on them, but somehow the way light turned and swam in pearl polish made it almost seem like I could see through my nails with it on, and down into something like the other side of the mirror.

I used to do the same mystical staring into mirrors. When I wasn't amazed at my irises (nothing else about my face - back THEN - captivated me like this), I would construct the opposite-world for ages on end, attempting to understand the geography of Reverse, and playing with it from one mirror in one room, to another ... where Reverse lost cohesion because it projected in a new direction ...

Perverse, and amazing.


My maternal grammaw (it may even have been that both grandmas had one of these ...) had one of those mid-century trivets made of acrylic, maybe a tourist item, maybe just mod for its own sake. It was embedded with polished, irregular nuggets of abalone or mother of pearl. The bottom of the trivet was black, and the color was so deep, the visual effect of three-dimensionality, hugely assisted by the optical envelope of clear acrylic, fascinated me. To this day, mother of pearl, and abalone, with its dark rainbow of tiger-stripes, arrests me visually. I love the illusion of physical depth on their surface, the play of color and translucency, and I love the incredible array of bright and deep colors these stones contain.

Last year, when I went to visit my brother, I bought a positively gigantic abalone ring; they must have wondered what had me so excited. Even years and years ago, when I was with them on a tropical island, I bought a whole fistful of dyed-abalone bracelets. A few I gave as gifts, but two of them were mine, and still are. Souvenir stuff, but ... abalone. Pretty!

Just now, on eBay, playing and splashing in the vintage jewelry, I found this:

I actually said "ohh" out loud, quietly - surprised, finding something that gave me a memory.

And then I bought it, for sixteen bucks.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

That's What You've Got?

A talking elephant head on ABC news tonight, complaining that the president's refusal to continue enforcing the Defense of Marriage act, takes issue with this approach to "an institution that existed before the United States" ...

Ohhhh honey.

Polygyamy existed before the United States. History is in fact somewhat FAMOUS for things which are now archaic. Get it? And if you want to invoke history as some sort of "defense" of the DoM act, do remember the million teeth it has, to bite you in the behind, Hoss. If you protest your fondness for things that predate the US, you might just be forced to review the association I can only presume you have, for the Tea Party - an institution which, by the way, takes its very name from an act of revolution against institutions which existed before the United States and which (sullied though its name has become) actually gave birth to said country.

Existed before the United States. That is actually IMPRESSIVELY weak.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Trinity o' TrekFish

Why, YES, I am a little obsessed with this thing now!

Hey, don't complain. I could be complaining insufferably about the headache, cold, this morning's power outage, and - oh yeah - the headache. Or I could be BRAGGING insufferably, about how the title for my PAID OFF CAR arrived in the mail today.

Count your blessings I'm merely geeking out hilariously. Beats insufferably any day, doesn't it ... ?

Feel the love:

Ahh - It's Trek FISH

I kind of like my name for it. But it is kind of a grin to learn that Roddenberry designed the Trekthys himself - and why:

Over a year ago I came up with the idea of a TREK FISH while noticing all the religious fish symbols on everyones car. I notice there were a number of variations that preached "Creationism" and other that supported "Darwinism". I felt that the two were in conflict and a happy medium was needed. TREK FISH does not preach or support one over the other. To me, it simply says we can continue to discuss our origins but, as a species, should focus on the future.

Rest in pisces, Gene.


Spotted on the way home: an ikthys with nacelles on each point of the tail, with "TREK" in the body.




Sunday, February 20, 2011


One of the best pieces of historical fiction I can recommend is the Anne of Cleves teleplay within The Six Wives of Henry VIII. I think of it often when I am considering the nature of historical fiction, and tonight, having a conversation with my mom in which we were talking about going to see The King's Speech tomorrow, I was thinking of it once again.

It seems that the period of production for the new flick has brought to light a treasure trove of primary sources for the specifics of this story (always something to get me lusting: for Clovis I, in English, primaries were thin on the ground indeed!). There are some improvisations in the production, interestingly enough, centering most on the specifics of therapy King George received.

For me, these improvisations are invariably fascinating. I find as much fascination in the *fiction* of historical fiction as in its history; how it is deployed, when and where in a story, the thought processes in what is used and how. Stage Beauty (a great movie) uses fiction to wonderful effect, in entirely inventing a performance vocabulary of nuanced, wonderful artifice, comprising the grueling training of a boy learning to become an actor of women's roles - and it's actually quite the beautiful series of gestures and symbols translated to a physical language.

I find things like that (and, as a Star Trek fan, I appreciate them outside of histfic - see also: the fact that Klingon exists as a fully formed language, when it started life as a couple of harsh-sounding word-oids intended to do little more than provide verbal props for an alien race), and love DVD extras for providing nerdly little insights into how world-building is done. Because, in histfic as in sci-fi or fantasy, world-building is key.

Or, as in my case, world-rebuilding. Ahem.

Anne of Cleves offers something similar, and gripping in itself. History provides, in fact, more than minimal primary sources on Henry VII, yet Anna von Cleves is perhaps his least-known wife. Her brief tenure, and the difficult nature of understanding the true nature of her departure from Henry's court and the royal stage, often lead to her neglect. She's generally portrayed as either a silent pawn or a lucky girl, delivered from the clutches of a fat madman by political expediency.

Elvi Hale is allowed to perform a scenario completely speculative, perhaps extremely likely, and absolutely entertaining. Her play centers on a drawing-room comedy scene, an extended sequence of comings-and-goings from the rooms of a neglected and ignored queen, who is written and presented as wonderfully intelligent, remarkably urgent, and smoothly manipulative to boot. She's a delightful presence, and provides a winsome answer to the question of whether Henry's supposed dissatisfaction with her ugliness and decripitude (and even rumors of her possible unchastity; never quite likely) were to be taken seriously. She's mature, to be sure, but startlingly winning, and charmingly funny too. She provides, come to think of it, probably most of the laughs out of the entire BBC series. Huh - never thought about that. And I do have an affection for characters written to be allowed a sense of humor in otherwise difficult and dramatic circumstances. I leavened my own ax-wielding barbarian with a great deal of wit, myself.

So when I think of the idea of historical *fiction*, it has for a long time been this televised play I go to mentally, as a sort of touchstone or archetype. I approve it and aspire to it, and find it immensely enjoyable every single time.

Note to self - one indulgence to consider, when paid-off cars, taxes, possible-vacation-expenditures, and the outcomes of final payments from previous employers all shake out: a blu-ray player. Since that DVD player died (G-d rest you, the my-dad-memorial-DVD-player!), I'm losing my mind not being able to enjoy my DVD collection.

The X Factor

A bit more than two years ago, X, with whom I'd been anticipating his homecoming for about half the year, changed his mind about coming home. The situation was dramatic, but at the end of the day it stemmed not from "us" but from his fear that if he left he might, for an indeterminate period of time, be unable to be the father he prefers to be, needs to be. The way things happened alienated those around me who saw how upsetting this was for me, but has done nothing to affect what lies between X and me. Still, I have lost the support of some who love me, for my "blindness" where he is concerned. We've been separated six and a half years; they feel (as, by the way, does X himself) that I deserve "better".

The means by which this term "better" is defined, I've discussed more than with anyone else, with X himself. I deny that someone physically present poses an improvement over him. He respects my autonomy enough not to question that. It's a recognition of my intelligence and personal freedom I give a lot of value, because it happens to value the reality of me over the idea of this theoretical improvement on my life. Just as I don't deny my age - I earned every second of it - I am unashamed, and worked to become, who and what I am. And X is a big part of that, in these years since my dad died.

Focusing on him hasn't come without consideration and review (##note to self, actually - make sure to post about The Madonna Principle##). Many times in the years since X has been geographically unavailable, I have actively sought to find someone closer to home. I have never fully closed myself off to other attention. Even in this calendar year, I've taken a look at what is out there. It's a policy to be sure I'm NOT cheating myself; it's X's own policy that he has no firm right to claim me; it's the boredom and curiosity of "well, what IF" ... and it's usually a function of confirming nobody holds a candle to him, as either my friend, or as the man I am interested in.

Never yet have I found anyone who swayed me.

After the situation two years ago, X and I chose to have a summit meeting. I felt no comfort discussing it with those who were so protective of me, so I kept it a secret then, though nobody's asked about my odd little trip since I took it.

I left the hometown - it wouldn't have been easy to conceal his presence here anyway - and he went to a neutral location, and we met, and we dealt with some things. We came away knowing little more than that he and I love one another, and his children are still many thousands of miles from where I live and he wishes he could, and they are still too young for him to desert them.

It had been two years, then, since we'd seen each other physically.

This summer, when we meet again, it'll be about two years once again.

And so ... I am planning a summer vacation in hopes of splitting it between two trips; a good visit with my family. And a few days with him.


X is, for good and ill (though the ill seems broader to others than it does to me, I acknowledge our road has not been easy), the one person who knows most completely. He knows me more even than my oldest friends. And loves me even with all that. He's the challenge I need, and the joy I revel in. We miss each other acutely; yet the inability to change that doesn't matter. In any case, it's not as if there is some other option. And any man who'd put me above his kids, I could never want.

He'll be a father forever - but they won't be small forever, and X and I have come through over eight years already, still "us" and undiminished. Whatever else has changed, however difficult it has been, or how bad it looked to anybody else, what lies between us seems to be indelible. Indestructible. I've checked on this and it seems confirmed.

I think of seeing him - and how it was that last time, when it was still painful - and I realize ... this time, it will be more joyful.

Two years, at my age, is a period of time which seems to goes by in a hurry. Who knows what could happen in the next two, or the next. All I know is, for the last two (for all of the last eight), my heart still blooms when I think of X. Blooms. Opens, and is only the larger for it.

Hard as it seems to those who love me - how much harder, I think, to have never had this friend, this man, this challenge, this heart I admire, and the one he's helped build in me. How much worse to have had "easy" and become anything but the woman I am because I've known him. How much worse to have had no love at all.

I flutter a little.

I might see him some time ... fairly soon ...

The Sin of Pride, or: Can't Even Brag on an Inanimate Object

Just LAST NIGHT I was saying kind things about my Linksys wireless router - nice price, great customer service, good to be fancy free - and this morning my poor dear thing lost its identity *again*.

Silly technology.

Fortunately, customer service still does come through; it only took the rep ten minutes or so to walk me through reconfiguration.

Still, this being the third go I've had with customer service in less than two months, one *could* wish the little thing wouldn't lose its mind so frequently.

So rah for customer service. But I won't brag on them much again! Seems to be a jinx.

Welcome Waggin'

I'm as happy as a Lolly with a bone - three new followers this week!

Thanks to all,

Friday, February 18, 2011


I love the accidents of life, and its comic timing. Finally finished with the mess of self-indulgent and hostage-taking posting, I hit "refresh" on Netflix. We're right at the part where:

Allyson Hannigan hollers at the cartoonishly-squabbling Buffy Gang, then pronounces, "Now, we've done the research. We just have to figure out how to use it."

My advice, kidlets?

Plug it in.

This Post Has Been Hijacked

Can I Just Say, I HATE What Blogger Does to Return-Spacing In Photo-Inclusive Posts?

Seriously. With the technology available now, Blogger can't manage "Enter" in HTML ... ???

Some of the closest relationships are the hardest to gauge, which is of course a key reason so many human beings become writers - but, oddly enough, that's not so much my raison d'etre. I'm more interested in pure storytelling; though my first novel concerns the pivotal choice of an early Frankish king to ally with the Catholic Church, its nature isn't theological. Though his queen is a massive influence, his relationship with her plays more on the level of a teleplay than a piece of art with emotional allegory. I think my writing has a great deal of power, but it's not in fact thematic; it is entertainment, not art. I write to communicate a plot, not to address personal issues, nor fantasize, nor even Make a Statement about those things I find important. I write because characters' lives compel me, and because I hope they will compel many, many tens of thousands of others. Ahem.

(Funny, this post was all set to be one thing, and it's gone and hijacked itself. I'll be interested to see how this turns out, because I was all ready to be a passive-aggressive coward and talk about something in my life, and here I am nattering on about writing. Funny thing, the way writing can do that to an author.)


Okay, so relationships are weird things. Given (she says, dragging intention back toward a track she doesn't even really want to be on).

(And then gives up, because blogging personal stuff is a rotten way to get anything "done".)

And writing is weird too.


I should be posting this at the Sarcastic Broads Club, now that I'm irrevocably committed (i.e. capitulating to my "muse"), because now this post is all about Process, and we SBs have said we'd each be posting about our process.

I see I can still be cowardly, in this post, though - because now I can point to Kristi A's incredible piece, and say, "No. Really. You're not expecting me to coherently follow THIS act. Are you?" And *nobody's* going to get a load of that organization and find me wanting for being, well, wanting, in terms of my own writing process!

She does, however, inspire me to photography. To wit:

What you are looking at is pretty much the sum total of research I could find, in hard copy, which had enough to do with my period and my place to be of use to me. I had to forgo the $163 texts, and the French (a pity, that, as they actually write about my subject), and several books I still wish I could find, which are out of print or, again, wildly expensive for my purposes.

The second photo includes texts which will serve me for the not-exactly-a-sequel work in progress. Not pictured: the thousands of web pages' worth of dead ends, the dozens of searches' worth of branching link-to-link meticulous threads followed, to learn about horses - about ancient pattern-welding techniques and technology - about bricks, about ancient particulars of the Church, and of Christianities once thriving, now dismissed to history as heretical sects. About contemporary culture. Politics. Historical figures. Husbandry. Butter. Flax. Leggings. Jewelry. Hygeine, sandalwood, decoration in loom-weaving, the history of lace (which doesn't stretch far enough back, in my region, to have yielded me useful information: beware, kids, the fascination of detours from your point!). Naming conventions. Wedding ceremonies. Coronation, and Germanic royal election ceremonies. Law. Law. Law. Society. Gravesites. Archaeology.

I learned what I neeeded, in some cases, as I went along. Authors will tell aspiring ones - first research, then write. Heck with that. I wrote to discover the research I would need. My research guided my writing in real time. I did reach a point when I was no longer researching - but I had no period when I was working purely in research, and then transitioned to pure writing.

For me, the process was one of working a puzzle. When I found gaps, I knew I had to fill them. I learned that task very early. And taking the path to filling one gap, I found information which then nosed its way in and filled spaces I hadn't known were open. Research FORMED my work in a very real way. It guided me. It followed a timeline, and dictated my progress. Research was my box of pieces, and finding bits and bobs all of the right shading, and colors, I found what fit together and put it all in place. The puzzle wasn't static, it was made of mood rings, of randomizing LED screens, of mutable images which told *me* where they needed to be, which found their way. I led where I knew I needed to - but if my own instincts had been the order of the day, I could not have written as much as 100 pages.

This isn't a metaphorical statement. This is the simple truth. I found plugs to put in where power was needed. I put them in their places in text that was blue, and slowly, slowly, blue text became black work. Writing. My writing. Slowly, slowly, I plugged enough energy into the piece for it to reach 168,000 words.

I could not have done that. I could not have synthesized half so much, story alone, research or no research, by any othe method. I had to be shown what I needed, and I had to find where it needed to be. And then put it all in place.

My process was unformed - it was my first "real" novel. My process would be considered undisciplined by many publishing professionals' standards. My process was contumacious. Stubborn. Resistant.

My process refused the "rules" of other writers, the advice one "must" follow. The supposedly-necessary path by which, alone, one can manage success in the literary world.

I am a writer. Apparently, I don't take well to rules.

The thing is, though: I am also a secretary. I know from Process. And I know that it's necessary to work in your own way. Other "rules" might be wonderfully effective: for other writers. There is no dead-cert recipe for success in what, after all, is a *creative* field.

As research led content, so education maintained my pace. The understanding I gained from increasing understanding of the process and business of writing yielded confidence which impelled me to completion. Working with my creative output as product, rather than art, I am perhaps too pragmatic about the extent to which my emotions - and that ineffable thing, my talent - were engaged in the work. My instinct and my ambition push me perhaps too hard away from the subjective aspects of this creation. I am pragmatic. I seek guidance, critique, and the WORK of ... the work. I resist my own emotional involvement. I resist seeing myself as more than the skillful conduit of something which is more the result of my effort than the fruit of anything deep, about myself.

And then I read it.

And, frankly, I am moved. I am capable of being completely swept up. Recognizing how I formed some parts. Completely surprised by others - unfamiliar - stunned, in the revelation of words I can't remember. Reading the end, I am capable of weeping. Reading even the battle scenes, I am engaged and immersed.

This work, this creation, is both commodity and offspring. I will be proud to sell it, and professional all the way.

Yet I see enormous beauty in this story I told without thematics, without "art" in it. The story alone is magnificent, and I like its rhythm, its tone and texture, its language above all. I *like* it so much - even if I am willing to allow surgery on it; even if I refuse to see every phrase as a precious infant. I'm loath to claim it as art, or something somehow transcending its practical parts. But it's craft enough that I can see it tempered in fire, polished with cutting and grinding. If I don't see it as magic, I see it as the evocation, at least, of something above the concrete.
And I see it as a hell of a good story.

I can't wait for everyone else to read it.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Okay, Netflix instant is buffering PAINFULLY slowly tonight, and my DVD player no longer works, and as much as I love Nova Science Now I'm somehow not quite in the mood for it ... so this is annoying. Boo.

Instant gratification! Now!



Adele Redux

I feel so hip and "on-trend" as the egregious magazines like to say. No sooner do I post the video for Rolling in the Deep than Adele appears for an interview on NPR (with that track backing a good bit of the segment). I'm not accustomed to being cool, but if it means digging that song like a double-wide grave, I will take it.

Adele is such a beautiful, and such a very *young* woman. She says she hates to hear her voice - that dissonance so many of us have, between the reassuring, familiar sound of our voice as heard from within our own skulls, and the sound outside, as heard by everybody else. She says she has no expectations, that she's not confident her career can last, but that what success she has seen she is so grateful for.

She's no less lovely for hearing the person behind the *belt*, that amazing delivery.

I like music with intense power. Rolling in the deep is a terribly, wonderfully potent song.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Siddy really does like her Christmas present from her grandma.

Love Song

I meant to post this yesterday. So much to love about it.

I'm not as "into" music as a lot of people I know. But there are pieces which affect me tremendously, and this one does that. It makes me weep every time.


Wait - but really ... no.

This song makes me just sob, outright cry. Nothing so civilized nor restrained as mere weeping. I can scarcely hold myself together when I hear her sing this.

Rolling in the Deep ... is an incredibly affecting song. God love ya, Adele.


I have always found it frustrating that many of those who choose to be most staunchly republican are in fact the very people that party is out to ignore, take advantage of, and whom it often (even if not "intentionally") outright destroys. I have some personal friends who fit right into this category, of supporters of a force which is perfectly satisfied to demean and betray their resources.

While it's nice to know I'm not the only person who has perceived this, I still have yet to see any actual discussion of the problem. I guess it's only been THIRTY YEARS since it became clear. Baby steps, I suppose. At least this article brings the topic up at all.

Monday, February 14, 2011


Eight years and one week ago, X and I first said those words, and it was the least dramatic part of that day. He came for his first visit to me, bringing the gift of a DVD player and two movies ("Brotherhood of the Wolf" and "Office Space"), ready to meet the family for the first time, and though he did, it was nothing like the weekend-date visit we'd had planned.

As we did then: tonight, we had email. Email is not optimal.

But email has been good to us.

I miss that man very much.

The Essence of LOOOVE

Bro and I are talking earlier, and I say something about paying off the car making for a happy Valentine's Day. He says, "Because that's what Valentine's Day is all about: owning something you love."


Bro is pretty wrong. Wonder where I ever could have come to like that kind of humor so very much?

I Love a Watson

IBM's supercomputer makes "his" debut tonight on Jeopardy, and I am dorking out rawther. He's hot (has two massive refrigeration units all his own). He's smart. And lordy what geek cred.

Can NOT wait to see how he does!

Oh, HAPPY Valentine's or WhatEVER Day!!!!

I just submitted the payment which, tomorrow morning bright and early, will pay off my car!!!!!!!!

Bloody WOO!


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sticks and Stones

Sometimes, name-calling can be very nice. Like the writer a few days ago who called this blog thoughtful and moving. Or the ex husband bestowing the one-word "formidable" upon me.

It'd be selfishly stupid to dismiss and disrespect the esteem of people I respect myself. And that they respect me is something I treasure. I've long found life is made worth living, just by surveying the amazing people who've found room in their love for me to hold a place. How can we surround ourselves with people we find wonderful and amazing, and not realize that says something about ourselves - and not be grateful for, and humbled by that?


I call my mom kind of giggling, and tell her I'm having a ball, balancing my checking account. When she grimaces, I have to laugh and say, but no, on Tuesday I pay off my car. The payoff total as of today is $199.46, and even if two days bumps that a little, it's still nice to see as much left over after a payment as this will afford - and knowing that this debit will be off my books for the forseeable future. Mom gave me a few bucks recently to buy myself a present, and I put it toward gas and groceries; so now I will have to do justice to some proxy dollars. A gift deferred - but still to be enjoyed!

For now, though, some more caffeine free analgesics, then Stargate for a while. Then bed.

A good weekend, definitely.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Oh, Brother ...

That's not an exclamation, that headline - it's a personal address. Hey, bro: I talked to mom, and she definitely remembered the hot jam reference you were talking about, with grandma's marmalade. So you weren't mis-remembering that! Happy-making.

To address the rest of Teh Intarwebs: my brother was telling me how he recently made marmalade (out of blood oranges - oh holy YUM), and he remembered our father's mother making it. When she took some of the jars and stuck a cinnamon stick in, the marmalade magically became hot jam, not just marmalade.

Frankly, either recipe sounds just divine to me, and I am only sorry there are so many miles between me and ANYthing made of blood oranges and cinnamon.

Anyway. That's my random, last, headache-induced wild-hair/hare-brained post for the night.


11:41 p.m.

The headache, when I woke up this morning, was BAD, but I beat it into submission with caffeine, acetaminaphen, caffeine, acetaminaphen, aspirin, and ibuprofen. Ahh, the cocktail my mom can't worry about me taking ever since that trip to the emergency room when the doc said, "Does it work for you? Then take it." Yes, aspirin and acet. will tear up your stomach. I have a strong stomach. It's my cranium that's apparently weak.

*Cue smart remarks from the sibling- and ex-husband gallery* (Actually, probably not. I like those guys because they're at least nicer than THAT to me.)

So I made it through a pleasant afternoon, but since this evening, the throbbies have been creeping back up on me, and I think it must be time to get to bed. Ah well. It's getting to bed on a good day's socializing, eating, enjoying, and peace-ing. All told, not half bad.

If the head's still thumpy in the morning, it might keep me from church, so actually my hope is for it to settle down. I guess time for an uncaffeinated version of the pill popping, and a refill for the humidifier. I want to go enjoy my priest; she is pretty excellent. And if I don't go to church, I might not get out at all tomorrow, knowing me.

And so it is time to take care of my headbone. Good night to all, and to all a good night.


I sit here (and that uses - if not abuses - the verb rather loosely), almost horizontal, relaxing upon my Queen's Chair, completely content after a writers' club meeting. I got the house clean last night and this morning, got myself clean, set out the food, and sat in the sun for a little while, not reading nor doing anything but contemplating how handsome a dog I have, as she joined me in my "west wing", a very quiet room, where she got up on her chair/bed and perched front legs on its arm to stand high up and watch out the window. I'd left the front door open today, and she knows, as much as mama likes the sun, that the door standing open must mean Someone's Coming. It means Friends. She was very excited, but not all spazzy and annoying.

I sat, she stood sentry, the sun shone, and they came. Good meeting, great people. I like this group, and we had a good time but also managed a LOT of focus, and got a lot done I think. Laughing all the way.

We comprise young adult, historical, urban fantasy, sci-fi, memoir, and all the varied influences we bring - short stories, blogs, social networking; it's such a variety, and there are only seven of us total. We had six today, and it was a nice dynamic.

And now I sit, the sun slowly setting on a spectacularly beautiful day, the event of my day behind me, and my DVD player not working. Ordinarily, I'd so love to top this off with a few episodes of DS9 or a couple flicks from my collection. I'm not up for a big night out (and can't afford a very great deal anyway, though with friends like mine I could probably manipulate my way to a discounted night of fun), my friend V is not up for a hang-out at my pad, and my mom and stepfather are off for their own evening. So it is quiet, and very relaxing.

Lolly is perched at the window again, ears up, adorably expectant.

This is the gift of down-time. Tomorrow - church. Then reading, I suspect. I'm not up for much outing, and have a whole trove of things to delve into.

Maybe some writing. The group gets my juices going!

A productive weekend. But not overactive. That must be a perfect balance of some kind.

Off to go putter a little. What a nice afternoon.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Joshua Malina on Big Bang Theory? Never mind, X - don't bother calling. I've got a date with Sheldon and "Jeremy" and it's a hot one.


Just kidding, of course. X knows perfectly well my real boyfriend is Kier Dullea. (... So how is it my beautiful photo of said boyfriend features X and not me ... ? That's terrible!)


This is an article I wrote for our newsletter at work. X asked me about it, so I thought I'd share it here just for humor. Oh - name changed to protect privacy, of course.


Almost all of us give ourselves an unpaid job of some sort, more avocation than vocation. We pour ourselves into gardening, mechanics or building, extracurricular activities, games or hobbies. People seem to thrive with a creative outlet requiring investment and discipline, which provides the kind of reward a paycheck doesn’t carry. Some of us take it far enough to hope it might produce paychecks of its own. And New Year’s—be that January 1, or the Chinese new year, or some period of renewal that has meaning beyond the calendar—is often a time we choose to rededicate ourselves to these pursuits.

I’m an author. Many of you have heard me mention it; what few people really know is how serious a professional one has to be—even unpaid—to make writing a “working” pursuit. During a three month layoff in 2010, this was my day job, after I spent mornings going through the twenty-three job sources I searched every single day of the week. The writing work actually took up more time than the job search, because that search was a cut-and-dried process (the sort of thing a good admin should be able to get down pat without a lot of trial and error—ahem). The business of writing can make mere unemployment look like a piece of cake!

Step one: I authored a novel. It was completed on February 28, 2010, and had taken me four and a half years to finish. During this time, my membership in the local literary community, James River Writers, provided me an education on how to proceed beyond the creative part. The first thing to learn, as an aspiring author, is that you can’t sell a product that isn’t off the assembly line. If I don’t have something to sell, they don’t have something to sell, and there are probably anywhere from fifty to two hundred authors every single day querying them with completed works. Why would an “idea” take precedence over that much available material? I had to finish.

Step one, subsection A: confidence. Knowing my work is a product, I consider its quality with a critical eye. During the process, and afterward too, the novel is not my precious baby, and I look forward to advice on how it can be better, from people who know. I’m willing to stand behind it, in front of it, talk about it, be confident in it and in myself as its shepherd. Moreover, I’m as much a product as the book. The response rate I get in-person with agents and editors is very high—which is as important as the fact that the story is compelling; if they want to listen to me, it’s because they think others might, as well. And the ultimate goal of a published author is to sell and be sold. Realistically, the goal might not be to become David “Daddy signs books for a living” Baldacci successful (my boss knows he’ll have to forcibly evict me from my job with **** to part me from it!)—but it isn’t to have an unpublished manuscript sitting around all by itself either. And this brings us to …

Step two: getting agented. People ask me every so often, “Is the book published yet?” and look disappointed in me when I say, gracious, I haven’t even got representation yet. It can take years to get the right agent, and as much longer for them to sell it to a publisher. You have to expect to query a hundred agents—two hundred—as many as it takes. I’m entering my transatlantic queries at this point; reaching out to those who handle my genre in the U.K. You have to research agents’ catalogues and “show your work” on that point to make yourself relevant and attractive. You have to approach EVERY contact individually, personally, just as with job hunting. An email blast of cold queries is a doomed waste of the minimum effort it shows. It’s an enormous, demanding, pain in the, er, elbow, and some days you want to kick a puppy—or just an agent or two. And all these things … while having a full time job … and trying to make progress on a second novel. In the best of circumstances, querying is a lengthy process. Precious few authors are blessed with those circumstances.

If I am published within three years of completion, that would be wonderful and amazing; and one year is almost gone already. The fantasy of it happening even sooner would be perfectly spectacular. That I will not be published is not among my expectations (see also: step one, subsection A). I just look forward to step three, the publishing, and seeing my work go out into the world. And then the second. And then the third …

The beginning of a new year is not only a moment when we rededicate ourselves to whatever matters most, it’s also when we reflect on time and its passing. As an author, I’ve learned the greatest investment and discipline of my work has to be time. This isn’t a pursuit for the impatient; if someone isn’t spontaneously famous and hiring a ghost to write about why that is (“my six-minute marriage to Britney” or “how I said I was a terrible, drug-addled criminal and turned out to be a liar on Oprah”), no book ever hits the shelves in a hurry. The idea that trends have a persuasive place in publishing isn’t one worth attempting to control—or to follow. Harry Potter was an accident—and, many forget, a huge surprise to everyone at the time. The market can’t be timed, and the goal can’t be raced-to.

Some things in life refuse to hurry, and some go by too quickly. Maybe in a way, those pursuits we assign ourselves are most important to us because they stay with us for a long time, they make up who we are, not merely what we do. We keep our unpaid jobs even when the paying ones change over time; when one phase moves to another, or when one project ends, or when a team has to shift and reconfigure in some new way. Some things may not happen quickly, or produce easy yields, but we don’t lose our dedication, because gratification isn’t always about this month’s calendar. Some paychecks don’t direct-deposit in the most straightforward way.

Monday, February 7, 2011


Lolly and I are off today, so we had a nice leisurely walk of it this morning. It is fairly warm outside, the sun out but not overdoing it; a pleasing, soft February day. Spring starts making promises early around here, and this is one of those days it's hinting around, flirting. I spent last night fraught with dreams, so quiet has been the order of the morning so far.

Sid particularly loves wild onions. Today we had a browse, and she investigated all the dark green patches shooting up out of the low, mossy turf. I listened to the quiet sound of our footfalls, and she softly nuzzled up in all the rubbery green shoots of onions.

She likes a Stop-N-Sniff, does my girl. Not walking in any particular direction, given free leash to lead me a little, and all the time in the world to investigate the breaks in the evergreens, the shadowy damp underneath, the stories told by dogs gone by. More often than not we're on a mission; in the mornings, she doesn't get to do more than say hi to her friends and get her business done. In the evenings, she usually only gets to take her preferred detours on the second half of our walks. So a day off, and a good, short-but-SLOW stop-n-sniff is luxury for her. Hey, it's her thirteenth birthday today. She gets the sweet treatment she *always* deserves, in good helpings.

She also got some scraps of turkey for breakfast. Didn't mind a bit if it was still a little kinda-frozen. It's turkey! She's a dog! Lay it on me, says she. And so I did.

She's just thumped down next to me in the dim outline of her sunbeam. Her eyes are looking up at me. Beautiful, big old glossy things, those eyeballs. Almond shaped, clear, bright, and trusting. Her ears are up. If I am living well enough that my dog has her ears up, it is a good day.

And slowly, she begins to kind of sniff at, in preparation to relax upon, her elegant forepaws. The sun is gleam-shous on her. She uncertainly, then finally, relaxes. And all is well, for now, with the world.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Not the Death Scene

I'm watching a show right now, it doesn't matter what, wherein a cast of years' experience together is portraying the loss of one of their members. It's not the death scene getting to me, but the mourning scene. Right now ... the sight of a pair of cmpassionate hands, encompassing someone's back - the sound of weeping - is probably more than I can bear ... and yet, perhaps, just the right thing, too.

We are near an anniversary of sadness, me and those I love most dearly. Today was bright, beautiful, not very cold, and empty of a certain life.

Tonight, I just have a terrible headache, and I can't breathe, because even if I'm not actively weeping, I'm still close enough to a sob that the congestion has overtaken me.

That, and I never have breathed right since that life was taken.

Christ, loss is so horrible.

Happy Ronald Reagan's Birthday

I take it he'd have been 100 this year.

His terms of office felt like a century all to themselves.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Absurdum Again

Turns out Mr. Bernanke doesn't like this sort of writing any more than I did - and less.

Probably a more cogent response than bad Latin puns and snarking about writing styles, but that doesn't mean I don't stand by my snark.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


Okay, so here is a thing about actors. I'm coming to the series Firefly about eight years late, so I'm backing in with a lot of post-production knowledge - aware that Summer Glau is a big deal now, the frustrating short life of the series, all that.

I like the show. It's an interesting conceit, to take Roddenberry's idea of pulling off the cowboy hats and setting a western road story in space - and put the cowboy hats back on. There are aspects of just how (literally, not metaphorically) "earthy" things get which distracted me at first, but Willing Suspension of Disbelief is my friend, and I've certainly WSD'd worse entertainment than this without questioning it. I like the scripting mostly, it's an engaging show, ingratiating even.

What's interesting to me is that one of the MOST engaging aspects of it - characters - is not the one who earned the most attention for it. Jewel Staite is a ludicrously appealing actor - pretty, but like an actual person, fully fleshed out, and playing the role of a character of winsome charm, Kaylee. Next to her, we have Summer Glau, who has gone on, as far as I can tell with what I must admit is limited geek-cred ("hi - backing into Firefly almost a decade later ...") to by far the greater share of the nerdly adoration.

Glau gets to play the difficult, and frankly INCREDIBLY irritating and sketchily understandable River - a part, to be sure, fraught with the daunting challenges of getting an adolescent actor to scream and play almost psychotic recalcitrance - and a part, I can just smell it, people are impressed with by its nature.

Here's Staite, able to embody a clear and full character, with actual lines - and some good ones - whose experience is mercurial and emotional, acute and very vulnerable; and here is Summer Glau - still, at episode TWELVE, barely verbal with anyone beyond her brother, and even with him largely still All About the Riddles. There've been opportunities galore to develop the character (her relationship with Kaylee, actually, has been quite the missed opportunity), but as much as I love Whedon, this is one of those areas he insists on being infuriating: he has *such* a thing for his Have-A-Secret characters. Oh, he likes the mature and mysterious black man, to be sure, but his near-creepy relationship to his youthful female players is hinted at here in ways that kind of came to a head with Dollhouse so much later. Glau isn't a person, she's a fetish in a box (for those who don't know: *literally* the way she is introduced in the series). He likes ever-so-slightly Asian-appearing mixed-race actresses, the younger the better, the more his cameraman can highlight the intense clarity of their beautiful skin the better. Why that didn't creep me out in Dollhouse, but does so badly here ... well, there's probably a dissertation in that, or at least a women's studies research paper, but I'll stick with this: these two are VERY young, and Dollhouse wore its exploitation on its sleeve, *and* played its creepy aspects with a lot of sophistication. Here we're treated to a broken doll, and a vulnerable one, and the broken one getting as much attention as she does makes me feel queasy.

Staite's role (here's where I finally remember that "thing about actors" - thought I'd forgotten, didn't you?) is not uncomfortable enough to get the same level of attention. Her considerable attractions, surprisingly, seem to have been no match for Glau's River, damaged and crying out to the male urge to protect - and, if I were a women's studies major, I might frankly say, to exploit. River is a repellant character, in the end, and as I say, twelve episodes in, I find her unpleasant to watch. The performance is good, and Summer Glau is likeable in a way that only layers the creep onto the harrowing nature of what we know of River's problems, but she has no relationships, even with her brother, and she's only waiting around so we can be shocked by her, so Whedon can perform those acrobatics for which we rightly love him, and for which right now I'm about ready to strangle him. I find myself watching Staite, knowing what I know - and NOT knowing what I don't (remember where I am in the series) - and almost resenting the extent to which she's going to become irrelevant, or at least a side dish to whatever it is Whedon's put under the silver cover on the platter of River's next shocking steps to come.

In a way, it's not so much an actor thing as it is an auteur thing, in this case. But it's all sorts of people. Great performances that don't involve Meryl Streep and a dead child, extremes of volume, behavior, or challenge-to-the-viewer are never as well noticed as they should be.

Jewel, you made something beautiful when you took the role of Kaylee. I could watch her show and be most contented.

Still interested, sure, to see what's coming next. Just interested, too, how funny people's attention is.


I am wireless again. Having had a good day at work, this is serious icing on the yum-yum cake.

*Dorkily happy*

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Oh, And

Nova Science Now: ridiculously awesome tonight - magic and neuroscience. Almost scary, and what science is more fun than scary science!???

And Nova: Clean stuff, especially cars. Geek-tabulous. Love, love, love, love.

Further recommendations for this week - a fun thumbs-up for a bit of a breathless piece on the DaVinci -- er, CHRISTIE -- code; analyzing the formula of Agatha's wonderfully literally-puzzling work. Amusing if only for the incongruently dramatic/rather sexy narration from Joanna Lumley, who earns love even when she's not tricked out in a giant french twist.

Sometimes, I love British casting agents. Hee.

Oh, and make sure to catch Frontline this week, sharing investigation with NPR on a piece about coroners and forensic pathologists. The program description blurb unfortunately misleads, as if the story is about the shortage of professionals, but it's deeper than that, and more individual - an exploration of the systemic issues inherent in the nature of the current system, its massive shortfalls (not enough attention on this on PBS/Frontline, but from what I caught on the radio on the way home today, NPR may be stronger on the financial aspect), and some areas of overwhelming corruption and the reasons that is so hard to do anything about. Some gross-out shots, perhaps, for the lily-livered among us (I don't know what that is like ...), but a very good set of pieces I wish I were hearing more completely.

Okay, go. Listen. Watch. Good.

Okay, In NOT Complaining News

I stepped out earlier to go and walk Lolly, and happened to see the next-dog neighbor, out in his backyard with two friends. Next has these buddies visiting because Next's mom is so generous - and she is sitting for the dogs of a guy at her office, and his fiancee' - who are getting married this week. So she's got her handsome, fluffy man Next, and the two friends are Bitty-Tiny and Big-Grinning-Meat-Boy. BGMB and I are old friends by now; Neighbor has sat for him a number of times. He's a pit, and has the most magnificent brindled brown coat; he looks like the most amazingly polished, beautiful piece of burled wood. Made of meat.

He's a slab, and an absolute darling of a boy.

Well, it turned out Neighbor was on her way out too, for a walk, so Lolly got to go with a whole pack tonight. For a while, I walked Next, our oldest friend, while Neighbor took Bitty and BGMB; then we switched, I took BGMB and she took her boy Next.

BGMB is very very good, and so is my Lolly.

But boy do I wish I had X here! Myoflex doesn't sound like the least bit of a bad idea ... Heh. If my girl is Tuggy McTuggerstein, I can't even come up with a nickname for BGMB indicative of his power - but maybe Meat Boy goes some way to provide an idea. You give Lolly a pat on her side and she has a nice barrel-chested, deep thump. You pat a hand on Meat Boy, and it sounds like slapping a side of beef. Or a piece of polished MARBLE. That kids is solid.

The two of 'em weren't going to pull me apart, but it didn't stop us making jokes about my accidentally becoming an amputee ... Shew, maim me ... oh my. No. Ah-hem.

Anyway, an energetic walk was had by all. Heh. And Lolly, I think (and would be gratified to hope/believe) is enjoyably shot. My good old girl.


Dadgum George the Router has gone on me. His settings apparently spontaneously changed, and a system restore and two rounds of troubleshooting haven't worked. Stupid wirelessness. (I'm back on my DSL box.) Not quite annoying enough to be down to my last couple dozen bucks - no, I have to be down electronically too.

Stupid internets.

Stupid money.

Stupid NEXT oil bill, which is going to top $700. So much for being excited I'm paying off my car; it's not like I'm going to get any relief out of THAT apparently.

Stupid technology.

Come on eBay auctions ... sell already ... !!

I Hate Heating Oil Bills

Thirty-four bucks until the next paycheck. Dang is that too far away, and gas too stupidly expensive.