Wednesday, February 29, 2012


The day started off cool and heavy with rain, and by the time I got to work it had begun.  A good, proper rainy day - and we had thunder and deluge off and on too.  By one o'clock, there was a bit of sunshine, and when I left the office at four to go exchange the rental car (and ended up being able to pick up my own **), it was plenty overcast, but not actively raining.

Tonight, though, it is a thick sky.  All the way down to the ground.

It's hot out, for one.  Probably sixty-five at least.  And the rain, so copious has nowhere left to go.  The ground is saturated; a pudding, a morass.  It can't take in any more.  And so the air is left to hold the bag - and it is misty, heavy, almost impossible to see through - almost impossible to walk through.

Breathing it is almost as bad as not breathing.  Suffocating.  It is nasty.

Still, the Lolly needs her walkies - so the air must be braved.  And I need my walkies too, really.  In over a week and a half without enough exercise, the challenges to breathing don't get thinner with poor habits.  I've even put back on three or four pounds, which is frustrating but more a motivator than really dismaying.  Easy enough to rectify.

As to the reason for the decline in exercise, of course my back is finally getting better.  Sadly, still I'm not at my best.  I did notice starting around Sunday evening that the little pains I was noticing were the muscle soreness of new exercise or unaccustomed use - I was feeling, not the pain of my back, but the sore moments of those parts of me which have been compensating for that pain over time.  A good exchange, that.  And encouraging, after cleaning house on Saturday, which wasn't easy (and, since I am a *stupid* and stubborn brat, happened to involve a lot of laundry-lugging).

Less encouraging was my mom's diagnosis with a chronic, incurable disease - and her more immediate, acute issues with a very temporary but still far too impressive illness.  By yesterday, she was sounding subdued, passive, very quiet.  In short, noting like herself.  That was  little sobering, and though she seems to be on the upswing herself from the more immediate illness, the other one is probably going to come into daunting, depressing focus.  It's especially dismaying, because mom has been working so hard for a while now to work out, to lose weight, to eat right.  So to get a bad report makes that seem like wasted effort, and it has been a lot of effort.

Add to this that my stepfather too is not so well these days, and the impotence I feel regarding my loved ones is a bit much.

It's odd, though - this rarefied Leap Day, this heavy weather, this irksome business with my own fallout since the collision - these things with my family, and how hectic work has been - I have been feeling particularly sanguine today.  Not joyous.  But grateful.  Content.  At peace.  Quietude, even if it is not satisfaction, is much to sink into, to enjoy.

So it goes.  And another day almost over ...

**The only problem with picking up my own car was the ding they left on the passenger side - which I was prepared to overlook - and the extreme amount of CREAKING in the read - which I was not.  Even during the couple of days I drove it after the accident, before it could be dropped off, it wasn't sounding like that.  So this is disconcerting.  And disappointing - given that I thought getting to pick it up was finally the end of being stuck in rental cars.  Blah.

Monday, February 27, 2012

More News

Why is the onsite reporter for CBS smiling as she reports on the high school shooting today?  What possible standard of professional journalistic behavior allows, or demands, this manner of delivery?

The Pain! The Pain!

Heard five minutes ago on the local nooz:

"Is social media destroying your grammar?"



No.  But you guys are destroying subject-verb agreement AND insulting my intelligence.  Nice try.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

In NO Way A Tribute ...

... I'd have expected to see (during Black History Month - or any other):  an eBay seller called Langstonshoes.

One imagines he wouldn't have ... expected ... quite such a "tribute" either.

Holy crud, sometimes I hate our culture.

Accidental Histfic Finds

There are times my openness to consuming trash entertainment actually finds me a decent piece of work, and today was one of those times.  Feeling like watching a bit of histfic, and maybe a chunk of sensationalism with it, I Netflicked up The Countess, a tale of Elizabeth Bathory (whom some may recognize as "The Blood Countess").  History may condemn her as the most prolific serial killer of all time - or study her, as the feminine victim of political and gender conspiracy - but I fully expected the movie to follow most pop-cultural representations of Erzebet:  as the youth-obsessed witch bathing in virgins' blood.

Hey, I never pretended I was all class in my pop-cultural consumption.  Anyone who came here expecting rarefied intellectualism was steered very wrong.

However, it was a *very* pleasant surprise indeed to end up watching a pretty intelligent and engaging production altogether unlike what I had expected.  There are two massive plot problems (one, a man desiring connection to a wealthy noble family inexplicably forbidding his son to marry into it - and two, the choice to leave unambiguous during the course of the film a conclusion which then at the end of the film is very engagingly drawn into question), but the writing, production, key casting, and even much of the costuming is pretty good.  Costuming is always a problem, in historical productions - but the ways in which liberties were chosen to be taken in this case were at least fairly intelligent, and intelligible.  But the overall design was nicely dour, even sere, where it should be, and the use of the honey-tinted romanticism suited filmic expectations of the genre well.  Julie Delpy, a one-woman show of sorts (director, lead, even musical composer apparently), has a fan in me.

This is an example, too, of the choices of *fiction* we make in producing historical fiction.  They lay down an obsession with youth, not in shorthand, but in the thread of a plot in no way suggested by history itself.  Erzebet indulges a brief affair with a younger man which affects her throughout the rest of the movie, and provides a nice structure for the plot and themes.  And this movie actually contains themes - reasonably well thought out ones, and nicely written.  Even better, the performances are all good.  Apart from the always-inexplicable presence of William Hurt (what is with him and historicals anyway - it's never, ever going to work, ever), casting is well done, and there are a number of actors who even look like PEOPLE - even period-appropriate people.  The one really clanging disaster is the fairly lurid cover art for the picture.

So what I expected to be a guilty pleasure turned out to be a real one, and I'd recommend it for Tudorphiles (setting is around the first decade of the 17th century - or even the close of the 16th - but not specifically nailed down, given costuming liberalities and a flexible relationship to the real Countess' timeline), those interested in *less* well trodden stories of the same period not involving the English crown, vampire enthusiasts of course, and those just generally interested in history - or even historical true crime, of which there is an interesting and varied abundance.

If these may rank among your interests (and, if not, why are you here? heh), give "The Countess" a try, and feel free to come back here with comments on what you think.

Smokers, Please Take Note

When you ignore the giant red and white sticker in the rental car prohibiting you from smoking in the car?  WE CAN ALL TELL.  And, for the record, the stench of stale old smoke and stale old outgassing plastic is genuinely disgusting to those of us retaining our sense of smell.

Thank you.

Good Friends

Good times.  *And* the house is clean.

Tomorrow looks bright indeed.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

It's Got to be Done

I should not be hoisting laundry up and down two flights of stairs, bending to load and unload the machines.  I shouldn't be changing my sheets, nor crouching to scrub the tub and behind the toilet.  I shouldn't be carrying a heavy vacuum up and down the stairs.

But, at two weeks without housecleaning and fresh socks - it's got to be done.  And there is nobody to do it "for" me.  Siddy, un-dainty as she is, isn't big enough - and she lacks thumbs.  As it is, the house is filled with her fur-bunnies, and frankly probably smells more like her than I would prefer.  So.  It has got to be done.  And I'm the only one to do it.

NSAIDs and ice packs, a bit of caffeinne, a reasonable pace, and lesser commitments than a whole-hog deep spring cleaning - and it's finally going to *get* done.  People call me stubborn.  But what I am - is, simply, alone.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Turns Out

... a sprained back is an INJURY.  Feeling pretty good yesterday, I had myself thinking like I'd had a bug, and that it was all done.  Not so much.  My neck was bothering me this morning for the first time since the day of the accident, but again all the pain has pooled downward, and when Siddy found a cat to surprise me with on our walk, she gave me a pretty painful spin.  Sometimes, she treats me as a toy top.  My center of gravity may be low, but I'm still not built for that.

It may be said, all the way home, she was a *very* good girl indeed.  I was pretty ginger, and increasingly in pain as we went - but she left slack on the leash and was almost ginger herself, she was walking so delicately.  Aww.

So here I sit, as straight as I can be on my cushy couch, and already dreaming about the heating pad in bed tonight.  (Yes, my dreams of hot things in my bed are perhaps ... not overwhelming.)

Anyway.  In honor of all this, I thought I'd go a little Mad Magazine and offer up a few


"It's interesting to observe the types of people who *really* want me to lawyer up, and those who don't see the need."

"Knowing it's best for you doesn't make a difference:  good posture can literally be a pain."

"I want to start boxing things up for the office move.  I want to start moving boxes for the move.  I must not do these things.  Oh, my desk is such an oppressive mess."
Lather.  Rinse.  Repeat.
And repeat.
And repeat.  Gaaaahhh.

"I like the other driver's insurance company better than mine."

"Ford's steering wheel on the little coupe I used to have was SUPER comfortable.  The one on this Fusion is not.  Also, this seat is shaping me like a 'C' - this jutting headrest is irksome."

"I am out of practice wearing glasses."

"I know they're only shifting from telework with their own cubes to telework in hotel spaces, but "aww" - I feel like I'm really saying goodbye to people in this move."

"Why is it back pain makes me limp?  My feet aren't the problem."

Wednesday, February 22, 2012



From HFO

I was responding to a thread at Historical Fiction Online, and decided what I was writing really had to go up here, too.  Still in pain most of the time, I hope everyone will forgive me if I don't re-edit this.


There is a dividing line, in my mind, between having been a writer of sorts all my life - and finally becoming an *author*.

Some years ago, my brother invited me to join him for the James River Writers annual Conference, and I said yes.  We'd both always harbored sort of minor dreams about being writers, but the good fortune was that we're both also not "joiners" and kind of needed each other to go with in order to participate in something that made us feel sort of vulnerable.  I never counted on how important this Conference would be for me (and I have been a faithful JRW member since they began memberships).

The education and the INSPIRATION of this community transformed what had always been a formless idea into the directed, educated, and confident motivation which pretty quickly became the beginnings of The Ax and the Vase.

E and I have often talked about creative people who say they are something, but never truly produce anything professionally (and there is precisely nothing wrong with that), and the people who dedicate themselves to some form of professional product to be recognized publicly in one way or another.  Because E is a graphic artist, we ended up coming up with the phrase "I'ma 'Nartist" (sincerely not intended as derogatorily as that may sound) for those who fill sketchbooks and party chatter, but never push themselves nor feel the need perhaps to reach the specific goals of publishing a graphic novel or what have you.

I was quite happily a 'nartist all my life.  But once I actually learned something about how to publish, I decided that I *wanted* to do so - and have worked at it with passion and professionalism ever since.  I don't care about being King or Rowling, and would be sorry if I did.  I don't care about rights options.  I do care very much about making my work good enough to get it repped by the man whose positive response to me so far has been about as gratifying as any creative accomplishment I've ever managed.  I care that this will be sold in Europe, too.  I care that it should sell well enough to make me a going concern as an author - though I don't fantasize about wild wealth in royalties, nor even quitting my (excellent) day job.  I care about being well repped, per the note above.

Above - and beneath - it all, I care about my story.  Without Clovis, I never could have gone anywhere, and I'm as grateful to have found a subject (well - or three!) as to have found JRW.

But without my pragmatic and mercenary expectations and motivations - I would still just sort of "think" I was a writer.  And that was okay - and would be still, if I din't know what I do now.

I wrote a book.  I'm an author.  Even if I died tomorrow, unpublished and in my grave - I accomplished something real.  I produced the book.  Now I want to do it the service of seeing it read.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

What Was With the Redheads?

Tonight on my way home from work, my back caved-in in the poorly lumbar-supported rental car seat (note to self:  tomorrow, bring some sort of a pad), I was listening for the first time to "Mothership", a Led Zeppelin double-disc I bought recently.  Zep is one of those bands I overdosed on in high school, which - apart from my ex husband's unforgettable performances of "Whole Lotta Love" (that sweet-faced blue-eyed boy would have SHOCKED my mother ...) - I pretty much never listened to again.  Over the past ten years, hearing a scrap of Zeppelin here or there might refresh for me the idea they were an amazing band, but I am slow to respond to my own musical interests, and still luddite enough I like the artifact of recorded media packaged lovingly (heh) by a record company, so it was just this past month I finally Amazon'd my way back to these guys (also on that order - Highway to Hell, and Appetite for Destruction - apparently, I was in a bit of a mood).

Anyway, so No Quarter is echoing and grinding its slow way out of the speakers, the vocals distorted almost as if by being skipped over wavelets on wide, easygoing water, and all I can think to myself is ...  "This is some trippy-assed sh*t."

It often escapes my memory, what a hippie I thought I wanted to be - at least half of me - at least at times.  But for years.  Even in college, chasing around hints of The Shifters or boys who dug the Dead for a minute, I harbored amateur boho fantasies.  But in high school, I probably came much closer.

We had these friends, TEO and I.  The one who had his own apartment in his mom and dad's house ... wait a minute.  Really - all of them did.  The one who made his own party light, hooked to his stereo, and introduced my utterly baffled fifteen-year-old self to the original Hitchhiker's tapes.  The one who played Stairway in his "dungeon" (we didn't think it whatsoever ironic his permanently-nocturnal netherworld was located at the *top* of his family's house).  The one from Cleveland, who still is perhaps the finest Southern Gentleman I've ever met.

All these guys - redheads, too.  Must've been luck - but we had quite the trifecta of sorta nerdy, sorta brilliantly creative, off-the-beaten-path friends  Party Light Douglas Adams was my best friend.  Stairway guy, though, and his Dungeon, were in a way central for all of us.  I was in awe that he could play guitar and sound like the record.  Lord, the things that awe us when we are so innocent.  (If I have no love for the girl I was at 25 ... the bursting affection I feel for fifteen-year-old me is a strange ghost of what I feel for my actual niece; I am almost *protective* of this remembered, wide-eyed, open self I once was.)

There was always a hormonal undercurrent - we were kids - but the fact was, the ways we were learning to be friends in those years was incredibly chaste.  Lying around for hours alone or in little, intimate groups, there was always flirting and excitement - but most of us really didn't act on those things back then.  We would "go to the beach" - just literally half-trip our way through the music we'd listen to, who even needed to actually do drugs.

To be sure, some of our friends were pot heads and we knew it.  We took the amusingly maternal protective attitude toward it only a very young, innocent teenage girl can, and tried to save them, or tried to just get a sort of innocent high off of being friends with real hippies.  Most of the time, these guys didn't actually do anything illicit around us.  They were sweet boys, with habits we didn't entirely share, who took in response to our own attitudes, a somewhat indulgent and incredibly gentle rebellious attitude in response.  Stairway played his guitar.  Party Light played his prodigious album collection.  Southern Gentleman drew, often on his jeans - or ours.  We'd philosophize (and relentlessly crush on Stairway's younger brother).

TEO and I would eye each other from time to time.  "We are Dungeon Women" - it was simultaneously something incredibly innocent, looking at it from thirty years onward - and, at the time, forbidden enough it was deliciously sweet.  Yeah, we weren't doing anything wrong.  But we weren't doing anything wrong in these boys' *apartments* - all alone - and we called one The Dungeon, and we knew what these kids got up to without us.

We also knew they were good guys.  The appeal wasn't Bad Boys.  The appeal was being guardian angels, perhaps saving graces, for wayward ones.  Our own parents, not entirely ignorant that we knew people who smoked pot and other such habits as would have been our own sentences of Dreadful Consequences, never quite went so far as to protect us from them.

Well, after a couple of years, I was told Party Light was no longer an acceptable companion.  But, if I am honest, I'm not sure that was connected to any specific wrongdoing on his part.  Parents are parents, time goes on, and friendships do end.  Even when you are that young.


Tonight, listening to the siren song of druggie music - and loving it in the most amusingly wholesome, affectionate way - I remembered how much all this had meant to me, once upon a time.  How pleasurable my high school years were, because of those friends, the right ones, the ones who ("I'm sorry, I don't understand; it's a depressed ... robot ...  ...  Um, what??") introduced me to the right things, the ones who lapsed us into altered states just with music, the ones we used to love, and gave speeches to about being good, and who sometimes didn't need their little brothers around to have us half-dazed in love just because at fifteen being in love is what you do just being out in the world.

Or, as it may be - away from the world.  Completely.  Ensconced in a Dungeon - happily.

Monday, February 20, 2012

"Your Research is Showing"

The work yesterday was a satisfying swath across the novel.  I'd researched, during the formative stages, various festa, and used those to punctuate certain events and transitions.

Research is wonderful.  It can be an adventure; it can imbue a novel with the richness of setting.

It must be deployed, of course, with extreme care.

So yesterday, I moved across a field of festivals, and removed certain (especially Roman) specificity and particulars.  This has given me the idea, too, that I need to take a pass (run a search function) at G-d as well.  I need to smooth out theological detail which doesn't propel the plot either.  In one case, I can guess at one entire scene which probably needs to be cut, and perhaps turned into something radically different.  This will serve both the directive to deepen Clovis' personal perspective and character, and to eliminate "encyclopedia entries" (just thinking about it; the bit where they're reading the various texts of the (now we recognize it as the Nicene) creed is giving me the embarrassed willies).

The trick with performing surgery on a dragon with a pocket knife isn't finding a bigger knife.

It's knowing where to cut.

Monday Off

It appears as if things will move pretty well with the insurance claim, repairs, and rental car.  I'm waiting right now for a reservation number on that last item, but once I have that I'll get out of here with hopes this can be managed in reasonable time.

It's not unknown to me this hardly makes for fascinating reading on what is, after all, less intended as a personal diary than a Writer's Blog (whatever that "must" be) - but I am fascinated by process.  The process of the logistics, the progress of the injury (fairly bad today, it may be said - perhaps worse than it has been since Friday), the whole way life unfolds its surprises.  It's interesting to me, that where I feel this expectation, almost an entitlement, that any "injury" (or illness) is disallowed from taking more than a day or perhaps two at the outside to express itself:  nothing really works that way.  It's frankly embarrassing, too, how much time I have spent this past year on injury and illness - and not just incidentally frustrating, as well.  I don't want to become a constant whinging nuisance, intent upon displaying my physical shortcomings to the point of being a bore.  Probably a peril of being middle aged and living alone (but for the dog). Heaven help us all.  This is one of those reasons it would probably be good for me to spend time with my friends on days off!  But so it goes.

But the point is, as much as I kvetch, what I *see* is the relative good fortunes here.  So I'm stiff - beats bleeding internally.  The really good bit is how little trouble I am having with the practical tasks at hand.  AND today is a day off when these other things are not taking a powder, so I'm not stressing about work.

Just sitting, chilling, and waiting.  And it's not even ten a.m.  Not too bad.

Sunday, February 19, 2012


Okay, two problems with going for Krispy Kremes to celebrate both my work and (oh yeah!) The Simpsons' 500th episode (and what could be more appropriate than doughnuts for Homer time?).  One, the snow started actually sticking at some point.  Huh.

Two:  OH YEAH.  I don't have taillights, thanks to that road rage wench.

Dadgummit.  I guess there won't be guilty decadence for me tonight.  Boo!


Writing - really writing, editing, getting good work done - feels just incredible.  I want to high five myself; I think I will go get a couple Krispy Kremes in cele-bloody-bration.

Life.  Is.  Great.  Yayyyy!


Just for my own reference - last autumn, the word count was 168,836.

Today, it is 158,106.


I'm finally *really* doing some good work, in another window, and ... it feels so unbelievably good.  If I can't spend time with my friends, if the man I love is so far away:  I have this.  It is an indescribably powerful gift, to give birth to work like this.

Also, my new glasses are faboo.

I may be a bit bent.  But I am one lucky bag of bones.

Es Schneet

I probably abuse the German tongue, which is unfortunate, but the point is:  it is snowing.  This winter, so mired in unseasonable warmth - even with last weekend's extremely brief thunder snow - has decided to come up with actual winter weather.

As is typical of really snowy days, it's actually not bitterly cold outside - but the sky is white, the stuff's been coming down for almost an hour, and I'm willing to have faith in the reports this will amount to something.  It may get in the way of plans not to have to burn off my Paid Time Off bank, in that if it does cause bad roads tomorrow, I won't be able to drop off the car for repairs (ironic, not being able to get in to the collision shop for fear of ... further collisions - heh).  I have hopes that it will work out and I'll just be stuck with the loaner.

If not  - well.  So it'll be PTO for me.  It's annoying this woman would cost me good vacation time for this nuisance - but it's not as if policy is so ungenerous with time, I don't have it to take.

In the meantime, here I sit, by myself but for an endearingly attentive old doggy-girl, the Roku box, and my Captain America DVD special features.  Bored out of my mind, but perhaps the phone will ring, and well fixed at least in case I'm "snowed in" overnight (heh - I'd have to be in anyway; can't drive without lights in this weather, and the accident fixed up my taillights so nicely).

It looks so far as if the ground's too warm for accumulation in any case, but at least I can watch it at my leisure.


This could have (and was supposed to have) been a weekend I got to find time to spend with one of my friends doing something fun.  That's probably pretty much a ship well offshore by now.  I keep trying not to complain - because I know where my good fortune lies, and it *is* all over the place.

Ugh.  But sometimes, I feel like all the people I enjoy the most are the one thing I have the hardest time actually finding any way *to* really enjoy.  I don't get to actually enjoy the bounty of friends and loved ones in my darn life.  Blah.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

And a Post About Writing

Lately, I've been inspired to blog a little; more than I was for a short while, anyway.  This is in concert with a bit more actual writing, too.  Sadly, it's more detail work than delete work - but it's work.  And, if it's the wrong thing to do, for a writer to write new material, it's still less of a sin than to hold out for deleting and excising - and instead do nothing at all.

There isn't a great deal of new bulk to be accounted for.  Still, to find my brain alive in multiple streams - a reflection of sensation here; the inspiration for building on the foundation there - is satisfying.  And, yes.  Satisfying - not merely a happy tidbit, or piece of contentment.  The full ration, satisfaction.  I get little enough of that.  To have it in my writing is a full-bodied blessing.

I haven't resisted the direction of some of the small streams flowing, those which have nothing to do with Ax but feed the second novel instead.  As with building instead of deletion - I still prefer writing the "wrong" thing to doing nothing at all.  In a way, as an author, I suppose it's something like "any attention is good attention" - any writing, even on something other than what I am supposed to be working on, is writing.

Still, it does frustrate.  I'd had a fantasy, back when I put down querying for revision work, that I would have something redrafted by January.  February is halfway over, and Kristi's truism holds - editing a novel is like killing a dragon with a pocket knife.  I've seen pocket knives do a lot of things, to be sure.  But this thing was 168k words when I started, and it's only lost sixty pages.

Today, I've been distracted.  Oh me, my back hurts.  Yeah, cry me a river, excuse machine.  LIFE is an excuse machine.

Sometimes, it's necessary to sit down and ignore your own whining.


I wasn't feeling bad this morning, so ran a brief errand and came home little the worse, even glad of the lumbar support in my driver's seat.

Taking the second trip, and buying $49 worth of groceries (heavy), turns out to have been a bit of a case of eyes-too-big-for-stomach.  Oof.

I got myself back inside, laid out a bunch of pillows to support my bones, and lay down with all the immensity of settling-weight you see in movies where the giant spaceship lands, throwing off masses of dust and seeming to take a full minute to groan to stillness after touching the ground.

The sleep, too, was prodigiously heavy.  The sleep of pain, not even merely overextension.  It took a long time to *reach* sleep at all.  But once there, getting back out was going to be a time-consuming event.  I don't even actually know how long I was out.  But even if it were only an hour, its nature was pretty serious.

Tonight, we'll be sitting tight (HAR) with a pillow at the back, a good supply of food I won't be bothering to get up and do anything about, the ice pack on my neck or back when it's actually cold (and what is the one thing I forgot to purchase, when I went to the drugstore, or to the grocery store? another ICE PACK - of course), and the addition of ibuprofen into the stream of acetaminophen so far dominating the day.  Phone calls probably.  And the final eps of DS9; a good menu to beat the vagaries of broadcast.

Still trying to be grateful I do have lateral movement in my neck.  But it's getting tougher to say "whee!" when everything else starts to generate such negative attention.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Rear View

I was trying to be pretty sanguine this morning.  But it may be said:  a sprained neck and a migraine are no pleasant combination.  The headache *could* actually be a concussion.  But for now it appears to be an exceptional, but not catastrophic, ailment.

What I wrote before the various pains began hitting is below.  I probably won't trouble to edit anything to smooth out the *rest* of the day.  All I really want is bed and sleep - and it isin't even 8:00.  Gah.


I'm used to men looking at my backside, but this morning's stream of gawkers was a bit of another story.  On Fridays, I come in an hour later than the rest of the week, so the roads tend to be more crowded.  This morning, on the straightaway that ratchets up to a 55 speed limit and is the home stretch to getting in to work, I passed out from behind an SUV in the left lane and exited to the access road for my office.  She veered across all lanes too, careened in behind me, and tailgated without slowing down.  When I slowed down - the speed limit off the highway decreases 20MPH - she bashed into my car.

I spent the next hour and some change sitting pulled over on the road that leads to my office, and for a while traffic mostly just made their way by, somewhat slower maybe, but not making much point of rubbernecking.  My own neck now significantly less limber than rubber, I spent the time pretty much sitting there.  First call was 911 of course.  Second was to mom's house, where first I talked to stepfather for a while, then he did put her on the phone.  It's a cruel thing to do to a fretful mom, calling her when you're in a wreck, but she sort of signed up for it, being a parent.  (Poor thing, how could she know she would get me for a daughter?)  But anyway, I cooled down.  The other driver had some friend or a sister or something come sit in her car with her, but I just stayed put and told mom not to come.

The other driver's license plate said, "I'm animal friendly".  Oh my.  Anything it might have indicated about her interest in "animal law" would be personally identifiable information I don't care to put online, but suffice it to say I got a fair amount of amusement out of the contrast literally parked before me - given her disinterest in *traffic* law, and apparent non-people-friendliness.

First one sheriff showed, then he told us each, at our cars, he was not actually on duty.  He'd come so he could help speed up the process while we waited for the officer who'd be handling the incident.  I wrote a little essay about what'd happened, I turned off the car, I turned it back on eventually, it was a very long and quiet time.  With traffic now significantly slowed, because when sheriff #2 arrived his vehicle caused more traffic to crawl.  Not all by any means, but it seemed a good proportion of people were taking the excuse to indulge curiosity.

The perpetrator (heh - well, she did get cited and I certainly did not) had actually pulled over in front of me, so it was sherriff #2, then sheriff #1, me, her, and then her friend's car out in front of us all.  So the damage she'd done got a lot of inspection.  I actually never did get out of my car, including during those first two minutes when she tried to come talk to me and I was on the line with 911.  I am grateful, considering the temper she'd induced, that I had no time nor reason to talk with her.  I resolved to wait, and sit tight, and not leave anywhere near her own vehicle, and to leave alone.

Eventually, the tow truck came for her SUV.  Her friend moved, the truck pulled in in front of her, and she was slowly loaded up.  She'd apparently shot her (vehicle) in the foot.

I keep hearing little creaking and popping noises in my neck, and a headache is taking slow root, but I'm not sure there's anything severe going on.  It could be stress as much as actual injury, and today's dance card is booked for a while, so we'll have to wait and see.  I worked an hour later than my usual half day ends, because I was not taking PTO for this, then an eye exam.  I need glasses, and had put off setting that for ages, so wasn't gooing to miss it.  So I can read, and write, more happily.  :)

It's not really the worst day in the world.  Frustrating - and certainly for a while there I was seriously shaken.  But I hold no grudge, and there are things to do.  So it goes.  And so do I.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Reading, Writing

If you spend much time in any writing community, a lot of themes repeat themselves.  Tips and truisms about process, inspiration, taking care of yourself - taking care of your writing.  One of those things any writer learns to say as early as "dada" is "read, read, read."  The best inspiration to write is to read.  (Experiencing life, of course, and thinking about that, is not bad either; but reading is way up there.)  The TRICK about reading, though, is that not all reading is created equal.  Looking at the work of an author I know, or admire, or finding a subject which enflames my interest - that inspires me to write.  But not all fiction does; not all history does.

Reading Parke Godwin can leave me almost beside myself - both because I become so absorbed in his characters, his headlong and acutely engaging plots, and because these things make my amygdala just ITCH.  As reading a sexy story will get most people a bit randy - reading a GREAT story will get a writer terribly creative.  And my great will not be Leila's great, or Kristi's great, or Godwin's perhaps, or anyone else's.  What crawls around that secret, dangerous part of my brain in which a story exerts its pull on me is entirely mine, entirely unique.  Even if the same story inspired someone else - someone even a lot like me - what would come of the inspiration will always be singular.

I'm often struck, in the context of being an author, by the way similarities play out SO differently amongst us.  It's a human game.  X and I, for instance, started off with a very similar set of perspectives and expectations - a certain kind of youth, a certain level of sensitivity, melancholy, and values - and ended up coming to rather apparently different conclusions.  On paper, in a way, it makes no sense a woman like me should gravitate to someone super into video games, or votes republican ...  Then again, on paper, the last boyfriend before him should have been "perfect" and I didn't manage to provide that guy excesses of respect nor patience.  So people go.

So I'm always fascinated when I find one of those "kindred spirits" (particularly writers) who loved Godwin, or had a similarly formative experience of Mary Stewart's Merlin growing up.  Because it takes only minutes to find the nuances which separate our experiences.  The way I gravitated to one character, and they fell in thrall to another.  The way I wanted to read about the particulars of the women most of all, but they wanted to read the nitty gritties of magic.  The way I learned from - but hated - battle scenes, but someone else was noticing anachronisms, or the interesting routes the author explains in the Notes.

Clovis' story, for one, could have been told in so many different ways - but I could only tell it in mine.

Sometimes, I can read another work, whether fiction or non-, on a subject I feel I know very well (my ancient Frank is hardly the only one of those) and be completely surprised at the focus - or the conclusions.

This kind of conflict, and this kind of dynamic, of course makes for incredibly amusing arguments among historians (or archaeologists, or paleontologists, or people at work, or kids on a schoolyard) - and yet, if we lose sight of how fascinating the turns are which give rise to our differences, we won't be able to tell a story well anymore.  I always find myself entertained - but fascinated - when I see conflicting theories at work.  This team working on a system of skids, moving giant pallets of weights, to research how Stonehenge might have been raised - and that team, working from the standpoint that some manner of roller of *course* was the way it was done - energize me.  I may be convinced one way or another, but I *must* hear both their plans, their reasons.  This woman saying "there were clam gardens in use for centuries" in the face of archaeological scholarship saying that is a Salish myth.  This child, asking why things don't work better than they do - why life must be hard, in some particular way - and saying how it could be easier.

I wish, instead of ONE person 
being REALLY sick 
that we ALL 
could just be a LITTLE bit sick 
and it would all be better ...

If we didn't disagree, we would be dead.  And if nobody ever looked at the other side:  we could not be writers.  Nor *storytellers*.  Then we'd be nothing but a pack of dogmatists, propagandists.

And, even saying that:  I believe even dogma has its place.

Gives the rest of us something to subvert.  And to study, in intrigued - and perhaps even detached - interest.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Off It

The story I chose to tell, in Ax, was one I chose - beyond compelling fascination with Clovis I - partially because it has not been done to death.  The truth is, it hasn't been done at all in American publishing; and the fact is, that mystifies me.

And yet ...

When I encountered someone recently online, whose own main characters is a seriously important one in Clovis' own life:  I can admit, my initial response was one of irrational jealousy.  He seems a nice guy.  I'm not a total emotional basket case over my story.  And it's possible I could even come to enjoy finding a neighbor in my little backwater space.

Plus, he didn't put Clovis front and center.  So I don't have to be *too* jealous.  Right?  Heh.

I've been struck by how funny a sensation  it is, though.  You think you are alone - and suddenly the solitude is broken, the illusion gone.

And isn't that why we write at all?  Composition:  co, to be together, position, to put yourself there.  I didn't want to tell this story because it could interest nobody else.  And I didn't want to tell it only to myself.

Kind of cool.  Kind of scary.  Just like the rest of writing.

This is What I Get

... (and what internet searchers get!) because I call my dog Lolly Poops.  Today's search strings?  "Diane poops."  "Ax poops."

Good lord, people.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Greatest Love of All

Regardless of the death of Whitney Houston this week, and of the date today, the title is mere smart@ssery, not anything which should be taken seriously.  I never have liked titles ("The Ax and the Vase" being easily and suprassingly the best experience with and inspiration for a title I've ever had; mostly, I am not very good at them), so I fall back a lot of lazy puns, many of which nobody outside my head could nor should even bother registering.  For me, the writing centers on the writing. Also, I am irretrievably and unrepentantly tacky.

Anyway.  So today is Valentine's day, and for a minute there I actually contemplated wearing red or something - then I realized I am not a teacher, nor a grade-school student, and I am free of these conventions.  Nerding out on Hallowe'en weekend I cop to unashamedly - but, as a general rule, when I head to my office, I do so without a lot of costuming involved.

There is one concession, though, and that is around my neck.


Mom called me this morning, comically-conspiratorially proclaiming how "YOUR STEPFATHER" is a terrible man, and how she is just absolutely going to kill him because he'd bought her a giant box of chocolates and she still has pounds to lose according to her recent weight loss program.

In the seven years (today) since they began dating, I have come to a pretty good relationship with mom's second husband, but I can admit that the attempt to put arms around "my stepfather" as someone I must claim a filial closeness with, as in the scenario where a mother conscripts her daughter into comic tales of revenge against a father figure ... didn't fit, for me.

The first time I put a coat on Sidney, she was so utterly confused at the sensation of a garment of any kind, she began hopping and twirling around the kitchen.  Not angry, not physically uncomfortable - but so profoundly confused at the presence of an object containing her, other than grabby old doggy-mommy, she proceeded to attempt to dance out of the feeling.

Yeah.  Like that.  I wasn't resentful of the "YOUR STEPFATHER" quip or anything - I just felt utter alienation from the concept of this man in anything remotely like my father's role.  I had a dad.  I like my stepfather - I love him, too.  But see him, in any way, AS a "father" at all?  No.  I was 38 before he arrived on the scene, and it took me years to even be able to use the term at all.  Putting him in certain scenarios, in certain positions, in my mind - probably never happen.


My dad hasn't been a part of V-day for a lot of years.  I think that switch actually got flipped, entirely by cruel accident, all at once, the year he died.  Mom gave me the birthday card he'd written before he died on Valentine's Day.  I didn't know what she was handing me - the pain was still SO new - and finding my father's hand on a funny little message almost knocked me flat.  She was a bit distracted herself, during those terrible days of brand new bereavement, but that was a lulu.

As may be clear from the progression noted - my birthday was relatively recently.  Its semi proximity to V-day usually gained me pink cakes as a kid (mom gave me the cake pans a few years back ... I've never used them).  If I had a party, particularly when I was "little", it was likely to be doily'd and red crepe papered.

I never minded this association with V-day, but it may be said that I've never much gravitated to the holiday, least of all for the past nine years, since that card.  I have memories of my First True Love sending me things for "Sweetest Day" (BRAND new, back in 1986) which was simply charming, but left me confused as I'd never heard of this ("holiday"/)marketing gimmick at that time.  I have a particularly scathing recollection of what a wretch I was one year with Beloved Ex - but that's the only V-day I can recall from my years with him, without basically sitting down and working out "how did my life go back then, again?" with a little actual dedication to memory.  I don't think I've spent many V-days with someone I loved doing anything stereotypically (or even uniquely) romantic; X sent me flowers a few years ago, which was nice, but he got seriously gypped by FTD or whomever it was, and the year after that it was an e-card with Hoops and YoYo.  (Strangely enough, that card was a link I was able to access for many years afterward, only finally going defunct some time in the past several months or so - in 2011; the card was by then probably five or six years old.)  I still own the vase from those flowers - and mom gave me a satin box once, I think may have been one of dad's last V-presents for her.  It's in a closet.  I know where.  But I don't, like, bring it out to decorate the house.  Nobody comes over here to speak of anyway - and Christmas trees going unseen can be depressing enough.  Decorating for Easter and V-day is a bit twee for me, and wouldn't probably be part of my personality even if people other than me and Sid *did* see the inside of our house much.

So pink and red, whatever - I don't hate other people for being with the ones they love on this day, and I don't find myself howling with emptiness because I love someone so far away, myself.  I made that choice - and he's certainly made his - and that is what it is.  It'd be stupid to get particularly self-involved about how Very Dreadfully Painful it is for me, as a perfectly intelligent, autonomous person, to dramatically whinge about ... um.  My choices.  Which I made.

I miss Erick.  Sure.  But I miss my dad too.  He's dead, though, and there's not much to be done there - certainly I feel no impulse to join him.  And I don't feel any to join E, either, as weird as people are about that.  'Tis what 'tis.  I learned YEARS ago, I don't need him in front of my face, in order to love him.  And what the love does for me has become almost independent of him (and he knows it).  I admire the man I know him to be, but it'd be pretty silly to look at my life as if it actually predicated on anything but my own free will.  Which I value, and he certainly has never impeded.

The one concession I have made to this day is in gold.

To this day, if I'm honest, I'm not even sure how she did this ... but some years ago, mom gave me the first gold necklace dad ever gave her as a present.  It was too small for her, but to give it to me was a profound parting for her, and a very great gift to me.  I remember back to when he gave it to her:  it was a big deal to us, and dad was VERY much an observer of the V-Day.  This gift was precious for them, and mom's "champagne taste" has always appreciated fine jewelry.  We weren't a wealthy family.  So his giving her a gift of gold - even if it hasn't come to inform my own needs (in love nor in presents) - was a memorable occasion.

Dad and mom were forever kissing, when we were kids.  I understood far later on just how ardent his love of her was - from the moment he met her, to the day he died.  Mom dressed for him even on his last day of life.  He was urgently, romantically, beautifully in love with her all their lives.  As a set of parents in whose home to grow up, the example only seems ever more breathtaking as I grow older.  Few people have ever been so blessed in love.  Few kids get to feel that, either.  And I grew up suffused in not only my family's love, but every day exposed to my dad's passionate, devoted, terribly tender love of my mom.  It just seemed like life was supposed to be that way.  It wasn't showy (though it was plenty demonstrative).  It wasn't dramatic.  But it was bone-deep, heartfelt, and wrackingly beautiful to remember now.

Who needs Valentine's to inspire thoughts about love, when you've seen someone love so unreservedly?

He loved his kids every bit as much.

But that was different.  The way he loved my mom, the older I grew, was the rarest of blessings any human can possibly offer.  It wasn't that it was unselfish.  It wasn't that it was idealistic.

It was that ... dad's heart was convicted.  Committed.  Unswerving, and so strong.

That heart beat, from the first moment he opened it to her, *for* her, for the rest of his days.

I only pray I could ever love so well.  Or have a heart ... so fine.

Dad was a world-beater.

I wore his gift to mom today.  With a pair of gold earrings I once bought for myself.  There is a balance there.  There are two generations of something deeper than gold, but which can be captured - manifested - in it.  Reflected in the gleam.  I touch this thin chain, and it is warm.  Gold isn't a thing I crave, nor am ... greedy ... for, not in itself.

But it is the physical reminder ... of the moment he put this around her neck.  And probably kissed her.  It's a reminder of what made me be.  It's a reminder that pink and red are not the point.  Valentine's isn't a color scheme, nor even a precious metal.  It's that kiss.  Those warm hands on a tiny clasp.  The embrace.  The holding each other ... because nothing - nothing - is finer, nothing is greater.

There are kids I know have never seen such a thing as my dad's love of my mom.  As it breaks my heart to know there are people who will never know him - it breaks my heart to know there are those who live life without that surrounding them.  Blessing, honor - and love.

Happy Valentine's.  Everyone.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Lolly Poops

Weight, and See

I've lost a good amount of weight lately; about two-thirds of the total I have wanted to see gone since The Unemployment Gain of April-July 2010.  I'd dipped a bit some months ago, but didn't hold it off, and feel significantly more confident that this time it's *gone*.  I'm doing more work, is the thing, and something ineffable just seems to have "lifted" in some other way.  Something is out of my way - most likely myself, of course.

It's been feeling, lately, like a lot of things are getting out of the way.  I haven't been writing to my own satisfaction.  But thoughts are coming.  Like moving hunks of ice, breaking, freeing the river to run again.

We shall see.  We shall see ...

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Now Hear This

One of the things about being a lifelong reader, who cannot actually travel in time, and who is not surrounded by masses of those who have precisely the same interests, is that reading remains in the mind.  When you're a kid, this can mean not learning how to pronounce certain names until later on - I was probably past ten before I knew Prague was not a two-syllable name.  I had read Mary Stewart's Arthurian trilogy several times, and until it had a fourth book to knock the numbers around, before my mildly dyslexic brain caught on to the fact that the name I had read as "Ambriosus" for ten years or so was in fact Ambrosius.  I had the same problem, during my research, with Aegidius, which I read at first as Aedigius.  Solitary reading leads to solitary mistakes, and we may not always correct our minds' eyes.

There are those things you can never hear authentically.  Latin, as it was spoken in the first century.  Old English.  All the tongues which have given birth to today's.  The way we'll sound tomorrow, at that.

I can live with my moment in time well enough to hope my stab at the past won't sound pathetic in the future.

The one name, though, which has stymied me for twenty years is this one:  Ceawlin.

I've read about this Braetwalda for half a generation and more.  I've never yet found a pronunciation key to his name.  It drives me nuts.

I love being a reader.

The ways it leaves me ignorant, though, still drive me crazy!


I just balanced three months worth of bank statements, and things looked normal.  I decided to go online and check the balance.  Now - with everything cleared - the balance there shows about $900 higher than my own homework.

I acknowledge not being a math whiz.  And a lot of people would take this as "good" news.

Just makes me uneasy.  Hmmm.

Still think I'm ordering out for dinner, though.  It has been a productive weekend, and pizza beats drinking my confusion away, right?

Saturday, February 11, 2012


An hour and a half ago, it was bright, clear, sunny - cold.

An hour ago, the thunder-snow came.  The storm was hard; snow roaring in both directions outside the window.  In fifteen minutes, the ground was white.  The storm lasted about forty minutes, maybe just a little bit more.  It slowed.  It stopped.

Outside the window now - dipping toward twilight, the sky still grey with storm clouds - the sun has burst through.  Powerful.  Gold.  Almost garish - and yet, so beautiful.  It has thrown itself, its last shot before being too low, against the wet branches above.  Against that sky.  Magnificence.  It is brassy, the light on branches which were black minutes ago.  It is crystalline.  I see clouds churning, brilliant and metallic, gold and silver, toward the sunset.  Yet the trees stand, dripping with points of light, still, undisturbed.

Tonight, it will be cold.  Black.  Cold.  Glazed in ice.

My head hurts.  But what a blessing of beauty.  I'd rather see it - than have missed such a day.

It's rather like loving X.  I'd rather have the headache, and know the blessing - be "without" him - than *with* anyone less.  Or nobody at all.

What a beautiful day.  E-beautiful.  Thanks be to G-d - and peace be with everyone.

Friday, February 10, 2012


Don't wish today away focusing on what's not in it.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Great Material Continuum

I know I am tired, but sometimes DS9 (and, G-d bless 'em, the Ferengi) come up with some fascinating ideas.  Which the GOP could perhaps do well to study.  Aherem.

There are millions upon millions of worlds in the universe.  Each one filled with too much of one thing, and not enough of another.  And the Great Continuum flows through them all, like a mighty river, from Have to Want, and back again.  And f we navigate the Continuum with skill and grace, our ship will be filled with everything our hearts desire.    --Nog 

It's the grace part, here, which pries my brain a little bit open.

Leaving aside the finer points of ecological balance:  when looked at via the metaphorical lens of Trek-ery, in which "world" may be read as a community or an individual, there is something to be said for this brand of balance.  Interestingly, considering the acquisitiveness of this particular race (which in fact gets a very nice reconsideration in DS9, revealing what began as a somewhat anti-Semitic caricature as a noble people with a rich culture and fascinating history) ... the idea of the Continuum could be interpreted Socialistically.

Take Back the Post

I used to think this post was one of the heavy hitters on my blog because it was being read, but I learned long ago The Habits of the Bots.  Why they harass such an intimate place as the post about my late father, I don't know.  But I want to see it get hit by actual people.  Reclaim the memory of a man who deserves better than spam fodder.

Edited March 4, 2012:  it's sad how few people bother clicking through to the post I am talking about, considering how much traffic THIS post has been getting.  Stupid 'bots.  They are out to get me.  And my father's memory.  Gah.

I Left at 6:48 This Morning ...

... with the dog acting strangely by the door.  When she was a younger thing, she used to want to get OUT at every opportunity.  Even in bad weather, which she hates, OUT was always the place to be, if IN wasn't compelling her outright with exactly the right napping sunbeam.  And she naps even more now than then.

This morning, OUT was her dearest devotion.  Most mornings for the past few years, she comes in from our walk, glances at me or doesn't, and heads upstairs.  She likes to position herself on the bathroom rug.  It is soft, it is usually somewhat warm - and it commands the head of the stairs.  She can keep her guardian eye on the front door, even napping.  She does nap with an eye open, that one.

Today, though, OUT was the place.  I didn't find it as hard as when she was closer to puppy-dom, to keep her IN while I went OUT without her.  Still, I felt a bit of a pang.  Poor old girl - I hate outright thwarting her like that.

I don't know what it was getting her all OUT-ty.  Perhaps one of the bunnies I oddly haven't seen around much this winter.  Perhaps her fantasies of playing with our handsome next-dog neighbor (he didn't appear to be around, but Siddy is nothing if not Hope Springs Eternal; E once said she defines the concept - like dog-mum, like doggy, I suppose).  Whatever it was, she was denied.  And I walked away from the back door, saying my usual "bye-bye LOL-lee" to it after it closed, and heading to the (frosty for a change) car.

It was a very strange commute.  I don't know whether everyone decided to take Reagan's birthday off or just happened to sleep in due to some incipient full moon madness - but the roads were as near to unencumbered as makes no odds to dissect.  Even weirder, every light turned green as I approached - or just was green, coz my luck was like that.  It got to the point less than halfway along, I actually felt a little uncomfortable.  "What is with all this mighty fine luck?"  You probably know, the old I-don't-trust-it instinct.

Got to work and was logged in before 7:15.

And never left until 6:45 p.m.

Lunch?  That's for pansies.  Strictly amateur hour.

The bad thing about having such a prodigious day is that, other than the timekeeping I was doing in the morning, and a veritable BLUR of Facilities action throughout the day:  I could not tell you quite what I accomplished.  Only that it was constant, and there was lots and lots of it.

By the end, I was writing *seriously* pathetic notes in my daily wrap-up email to my boss ("I'd come in tomorrow, but ... no, wah, personal baggage, really I just can't stomach it").  And halfway to tears just at the freedom - and imprisonment - of a relatively unencumbered commute back home.

My guess is, with the drive time included, I clocked in at about thirteen and a half hours.  It feels like forty.  And forty frantic ones.


It ought to be a piece of serendipity, then, that I planned tomorrow as a day off.  But of course it doesn't feel that way.  It feels like a stressor, because everything that came up today is going to have time to lurk and spore and go hog wild tomorrow - and, having left the office with twice the load in my Inbox I usually allow to accumulate, and just *knowing* that half of those messages are unread, my time off is likely to suffer distraction and diminishment.

And it's not exactly a vacation day, at that.  Tomorrow is a day not of cool paid-time-off R&R, it's a family day of remembrance, and never one I've felt much joy that wasn't mixed with sorrow.  On top of it all, I'm having a lush case, the moon is full, I broke one of the two first hairsticks my brother carved for me when he was still in the islands (and the other one, which I wore all the time and had turned a rich dark, waxy satin with so much use, is hideously *lost*), I miss my daddy.  I am all alone.  I have not felt E's hands on my back, making life okay, in so far over two years it'll be pushing three all too soon.  My next door neighbor is still unemployed.  So is Erick, for that matter.  People I love are not filled with joy, nor even with peace.  And that sucks, because I am powerless to make it any better.  Impotent to bring satisfaction and joy - and that is all I pray to give, every time I importune G-d to listen to my wailing at all.

And my dog was all weird this morning, and it made me a little bit sad.

And my youth is such an aching sham by now.  People think I look good, but there's no question I'm brittle bones.

And I want to be SOME good to SOMEone and nothing to do to try to make that happen seems to mean anything when it comes to certain problems (see also:  unemployed people I care for).

And I am so goddamned fortunate - my home is a place of riches, my life overloaded with blessings - and all I can do is sit here and bleeding complain.  And make the idiotic choice to exhaust myself doing it.  And doooky and poopoo and blah blah blah BLAH and garbage rotten crap and other manner of infantile vocal paralysis.

Christ (an invocation, not imprecation), can't I please just be a blessing in this world, just a little bit.  Why plant this desire in me ... and even (I pray) the potential to fulfill it ... and allow no route for me to do so?

Why is life so bleeding ugly sometimes?  I'm sick with fortune, assets, comfort (and hormones) and here I am stinkin' complaining.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Now for Aslan ...

Last Friday night one of my very dearest friends, B, came over with her daughter, just to say hi after temple.  B had been with me the day I bought an antique wardrobe for the house, but had not visited since it came home, so we went in to see it where it will live now.

Says (incredibly charming, very witty) 15-y-o daughter:  "Mommy!  Can I go in and see if Narnia is in there?"

To borrow the spelling of my younger niece in order to best express the resulting sentiment:


Also:  hee!

(Sadly, my plan to write that inside the door with the date and citation didn't pan out; the white crayon didn't want to write on the oil varnish.  I may have to put it on paper and staple it inside the back wall.  Back walls are the key with your magical wardrobes!)