Friday, February 05, 2016

Working Out and Writing

Working Out:  Slunk off to the gym Thursday evening.  130 cal on the elliptical in 25 minutes.  3x8 chins and dips, ending up at the 14 mark.  Skipped the rowing machine because I was a little pressed for time.  Downstairs, 12x30 + 2x12x40 on the pec flies.  3x12x80 on the lat pulldowns.  3x13 curlups.  3x12x35lb barbell curls.

Writing:  Managed to get more words into the short story.  Scenes one and two are completed; had to clean up some staging in scene two -- the problem with writing in small stretches is that sometimes I forget earlier bits and write conflicting stuff.   Right now I'm at about 2500 words, which I hope aren't overly descriptive.   Scene three needs to be about 1500 words, have the crisis, confrontation, and conclusion.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Writing Difficult Characters

The time of the Ides of Winter is a rough time.  I'm restless, but not energized.  I can feel the light returning, but I'm not waking up the way I'd like to.  I'm disenchanted with my writing.  And my hair is more irritating than usual, with the result that I want to cut it all back to an eighth of an inch.

Working out:  missed a session Monday, so I went Tuesday after Wordos.  25 minutes on the elliptical for 250 calories (and read a manuscript).  About 5 minutes on the rowing machine for about 60 calories.  Still easing into the dips and chins, 3X6 three times, increasing the weight each time.  Joked with B about the gym's music when Supertramp's "Logical Song" started playing (which is better than "Dreamer", but not by much).  I could stand the music better if they did a rotation out of the 60's and 70's.  Downstairs, 3x12x40 lbs on the pec fly.  12x70 + 2x80lbs on the lat pull-down.  By this time it was pushing 10 PM, so I left early.

Writing:  I am working on a piece with a character who is upset enough with the return of Faeries that he wants to blow up their hollow hill.  It's difficult getting into his head, and I don't want to make him a characature of Ammon Bundy . . . or Timothy McVeigh.  I some ways it might be easier to imply his character through the eyes of his daughter, whom I've started the story with.  I'm getting through this by channelling some of my inner-Eugene-morning-commute grump, and also reminding myself that the villain is always the hero in his or her own head.  The trick will be keeping the story tight and under 5000 words.


Wednesday, February 03, 2016

More Skiing

We went skiing at Willamette Pass again this weekend.  Sunday was a bluebird day, meaning that there was no cloud cover (or rain).   

The Child and I started out on Sleepy Hollow.  During one lift up, the chairs stopped about twenty feet from the top.  We sat there for a few minutes, long enough to compose the following haiku:



Snow on green branches
Winter waits for Spring's coming
Like I wait for you.


This didn't exactly enthrall The Child, who only got into haiku when it turned mean:



You whining bratling
Stop your ceaseless complaining
How you suffer so.


The Child channeled his Inner-Road-Runner and missiled straight down the slope.  In contrast, I did S-curves down the slope, with "Premadonna" on my lips.


Mark and The Child went to more advanced slopes, and I played on Sleepy Hollow.  I thought I might have a moment to commune with the trees while riding the chair lift, but The Child had been replaced by two little boys belting out "The Final Countdown" at the top of their tiny lungs (they tried *The Imperial March,* but they didn't know the tune so well).


After lunch, I took a group lesson.  The instructor was great.  I do wish the class size had been a little smaller, (especially after a person who ended up skiing into me after she lost control on the slopes) but oh well.


Last time we went skiing, I wiped out on the green circle run, Duck Soup.  this time around, the class started out on the Sleepy Hollow runs, and then we moved to the steeper (and longer) run.  Probably the most fun part of the class was learning how to slide sideways (on purpose) on skis.
Surprisingly, I can still walk without my calves seizing up.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Working Out and Arms

Working Out:  Went to the gym Monday night.  The afternoon was a balmy 60 F and sunny, so I'd spent the time outside at Café John writing.  25 minutes and 250 calories on the elliptical.  Sometimes my left hip seems to cramp at. the beginning, and this was a crampy session.  10 minutes and 100 calories on the rowing machine.  I did four cycles of five reps each on the assisted dip/chin machine, decreasing the weight from almost full assist (which means my "weight" started out at something like 50 pounds) by two spots each time.  No pulled latissimus dorsi yet.  Downstairs, 3x12x40 lbs on the pec fly; 1x12x70 + 2X12x80 lbs on the lat pull-downs.  3x13 curlups.  3x12x35lb barbell curls.

A Wordo alum was at the gym, and I think it must have been his arm night, because he was doing things like 10 unassisted chin-ups (I can maybe do one), and inclined push-ups.  He's got good upper-arm definition, so I'm thinking I should look into adding a few more arm exercises.  (Thinks) I think I've got OK arm definition, but that old ectomorphic swimmer's-build thing is coming into play, so I have narrower, longer muscles rather than buffed-up wider ones.  Also, I'm fifty-one, and I'm pretty sure being thirty-something would make it easier to have bulkier arms... oh well.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Mid-Winter Musings

It's that stretch of winter where all I want to do is sleep.  My productivity feels down, at least my lexical output.  I suppose I should focus on maintenance projects to keep things going.  

It's times like this when I'm susceptible to "Eugene Ennui."  What I like about Eugene is that it's a small town covered with trees; what feels unfulfilling about Eugene is that it feels like a cultural backwater.  Maybe if I were a 60-something lesbian hippie it would be different.  Sometimes it feels like most of our friends have moved to Portland.  When I fall into Eugene Ennui, I have to remind myself that this is the sort of thing I've complained about before and still I've stayed here.   

What would make Eugene fabulous. . . well, it would be nice if the local architecture were more interseting, maybe more structures like the downtown library and less ones like Titan Court (which is a glass and metal box).   More shops like Savoure, which was the right mix of whimsical and formal, and less like a number of eateries around town that have a picnic bench decor.   

Maybe I should host more writing open house teas once the weather gets nicer.  

On a different front, for a while, I've had an office of sorts in The Child's closet.  He's getting to the age where he needs the closet back, so I'm going to have to figure out a relocation.  All the clever little design websites and Pinterest boards are discouraging, because  the photos of office spaces they show either have an iMac stuffed onto a shelf surrounded by rattan baskets, or else are $10,000 re-model jobs.  And they mostly look like art museum displays more than actual work spaces.

Brainstorming without considering things like money or marital relations, the solutions are, make the living room do double duty as an office space; create a space in the garage; find or purchase a little trailer or cabin and put it in the back yard; put the office in the attic space; rent office space somewhere.  Hmmm.

Workouts and Writing

Working Out:  Went to the gym Saturday morning.  Since I didn't go to the gym at all for a week, I had a "ease into things" workout.  25 minutes on the elliptical for about 200 calories.  10 minutes on the rowing machine for about 100 calories.  I've been working my way back into assited dip and chin-up, starting with a full assist doing 5 of each, then decreasing the assists by two notches for 10 more.  3X12X40lbs on the pec fly.  3X12X70 lbs on the lat pull-downs.  3X12 curl-ups on the power-station thing.  3X12X30 lbs barbell curls.

Writing:  Sunday, I opted out of a ski-trip and wrote.  I'm working on a piece for On The Premises, and I'd been SimpleNoting various scenes and POV's and ideas.  I gathered them together in Scrivener, sorted through the chaff, and had a little under 1000 words of very rough draft (about twice that if you count dead-ends and explorations).  By the end of two hours I concluded that this was more of an editing session than a writing session, that I needed to choose the story's POV character, and that I needed a third character.  

The story is set in Eugene, with magical creatures, and originally, I was calling them Elves or the Fey.  But I wondered what English Fey would be doing in Oregon, and felt they should be different somehow.  I didn't want to make them First Nations Kachinas -- wrong area, for one -- and I didn't want to appropriate Raven or Coyote or Wolf.  I don't want to call them Devas or Kami or Numina, and I'm thinking I may compromise and simply call them the Folk.  Which means I need to call where they live something other than "Elfhame" ... but "Folkhame" sounds wrong somehow.

I knew the magical character would be a helper to the daughter character in the story... and I got stuck every time I started to write her.  It wasn't until I sat down and started sketching various goblin-esque characters until I saw her.  And now I have a handle on her.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Bloom Shadows


 In mid-December, I put some paperwhites into a bowl of glass beads and enameled gravel.  F
 For about three weeks we weren't sure they would do anything.











But they bloomed.  They have a strong smell that's borderline cloying, but I like it.

We had a sunny morning, so I took advantage of the shadows and photographed the blooms.
Mark thought the photos looked creepy, like a murder mystery book cover, and added a helpful shadow.

Skiing Weekend Warrior

Over the weekend we went skiiing at Willamette Pass.  I stayed for most of the day on the bunny slopes called "Sleepy Hollow." This is where kids learn to ski; it's a nice wide, gentle slope.

Snow fell at first, but turned to rain around 10 AM.  I think I would have been fine except the chair lift was wet, so my butt and hands were soaked by the end of the morning.  Luckily, I was wearing enough layers so that I didn't feel cold.  Still, that wet squishy feeling on one's butt isn't very dainty.  

The most difficult part of skiing was getting off of the chair-lift.  It was calibrated for eight-year-olds, meaning that the bottom of the chair was about a foot above the snow.  I needed a geriatric chair-assist, bionic quads, or an eight-year-old's legs to sit up at the top of the lift.  There were a couple of times where I was struggling to stand and slid into a pile.  The last time, I rolled off of the exit-ramp to avoid any other skiers, under the path of the chairs as they swung around on the line, and nearly got clocked in the head by a chair.  I felt like a failed James Bond as the chairs swung over me and I tried to right myself.  The chair operator stopped the lift and helped me up, and I asked her for some tips (get out before the line that says "exit here").

Once I got the hang of getting off of the chairlift, I had fun.  My favorite song to hum skiing down hill is "Premadona" from "Phantom of the Opera."

We had lunch in the lodge, which was vaguely like eating in a high school cafeteria.

I did want to have a romantic co-ski with Mark on another beginner slope called "Duck Soup," but OMG, every time I had to make a right-hand turn on some of the steeper parts, I ended up wiping out.  I'm going to guess one of those times I jammed my right index finger, which I didn't notice until the next day.  The second wipe-out I did hear my neck crack like I was at a chiropractor's.  The third wipe-out, I stupidly buried my skis' tips into a snowbank.  Mark's snowboard needed to go more quickly than I liked, or he'd get stuck in the wet snow, so I'm afraid it wasn't the most fun run for him.  We did enjoy the lift up through the trees, though.  

The temperature dropped in the afternoon and it began to snow again.  At one point, I simply stood and watched the snow falling over the firs and pines.  A fine mist shrouded the top of the mountain in thickening grey veils of falling white flakes.  The dark green trees - lighter green lichen cascading down their trunks - became black and then greyer and greyer with the distance until they became one with the mist.  The falling snow accumulated on the ends of the sagging branches, white highlights that also became one in the greyed distance.  And all around, beneath the squeaks and creaking of the chairlift, the sliding crunches of skis on snow, the whispered pats of falling snow, and the voices of young skiers, there was a sense of a vast, slow, sleeping from the trees, as if they had collectively paused at the end of a monumental inhalation and would exhale into an even deeper sleep. 

At the end of the day, a bunch of Middle-Eastern tourists, who seemed new to skiing (one of them was at the bottom of the chair trying to put on a ski on backward) and were more interested in going down the hill as quickly as they could until they fell in an explosion of snow, arms, skies, legs, and poles.  Then they'd laugh and yell to each other.  And do it again.  They seemed friendly enough, but we were a little worried their antics would involve colliding with one of us.  

It was wonderful getting out of my ski-boots at the end of the day,  but three days later, my calves still ached. Ow.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Home Altar, Continued...

After writing yesterday's blog post, I went back to my altar and made Portable Stonehenge a part of it. The difficulty is that it Stonehenge and the stone finger labyrinth are large, and take up a lot of space on the top of the chest of drawers; so some things had to go.   I noticed that a trivet was added to the top of the chest of drawers so Mark would have a place to put his coffee while he dresses... so... the bulky cauldron is gone.

I guess it's best to simplify; but on the other hand, I like the crows' nest collection of tokens.  Maybe I'll rotate tokens around seasonally.  I don't have all my ritual tools out, partially because I'm less interested in manipulating things in ritual and more interested in reminding myself of how I'm connected to the cosmos.  I'll have to make a portable ritual altar for when I'm doing ceremonial ritual.


Working out:  Monday and Tuesday, my latissumus dorsi were very sore; I think I may have pulled them.  Tuesday, when I got on the assisted dip machine and did a fully-assisted dip, it was fairly clear that I'd overdone the dips last Saturday.   15 minutes and 150 calories on the elliptical.  10 minutes and 100 calories on the rowing machine.  3x12x40 lbs on the pec fly.  12x60 + 2x12x70 on the lat pull-downs.  3x12 curl-ups (which have a name like hanging leg curl ups).  3x12x30 lbs barbell curl.  

I suppose the biggest fun news is the 1.4 billion Powerball jackpot.  All sorts of people who don't normally buy lottery tickets are buying them, and several folks I know have (half) jokingly said "when I win the billion dollar jackpot...".   I love fantasizing about what I would do with money like that, and wonder what set of problems I would be trading.  Problems to the side, the frivolous, self-centered fantasies are... I'd get a large desk made of cobalt tinted glass and an ergonomic chair for writing, a newer computer for writing, a tower (for writing) jewels for Mark (he'd like some of Liz Taylor's), and a dirigible (I'd say for writing, but I have a feeling I might be too busy flying the thing to write...).  

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Home Altars

It's been rainy here the last two weeks or so.  The up side of all the rain is that we're getting a lot of snow in the mountains, too.  The down side is that the mornings have been socked in, so I haven't been able to see the string of five planets in the morning.

Over the holiday, I cleared off the top of my chest of drawers of all the hats and receipts and paper projects and spent batteries and spare change and  and turned it into a kind of altar space.  I've placed some tokens at the cardinal directions: an athame to the east, a green lava-lamp to the north-east, a shell to the west, crystals to the north, some Egyptian-themed boxes, and other assorted items.  In the south is my gym pass... Against the north wall I put up a mini stand for my necklaces and pendants; I used to wear them more, and I'm hoping that having them out will remind me to wear them more often.  

In the center is a finger labyrinth.  It takes about fifteen seconds to run my finger through the course; usually I hum "Center of the Sun."  While this isn't a full-blown ritual, which the rest of the family probably appreciates, I suppose it counts as a daily prayer.  

 I've fallen out of observing full moon and the stations of the sun with ritual... which comes with being a solitary.   But being aware of the cycles of the seasons is sort of the point to Earth-based mystery religion...  Now of course, while I'm thinking about it, there isn't enough room for Portable Stonehenge.  Hmmm.  If I re-arranged some of the boxes, I might have room for it.  I'm sure having too many symbolic, ritual items on one's altar is a metaphor.  

And don't forget the cat -- it's only a matter of time before Smokey decides that jumping up onto the chest of drawers is a good way to get us to spring out of bed and pick him up before he knocks something over.

Working Out:  Went to the gym Saturday morning and opened the place up.  Did my regular routine at my latest high weights (except the barbell curl), and I think I pulled my lats.  On the plus side, when I clench my back, I'm just barely beginning to look like those guys with a V-shaped chest.  I probably look U-shaped.

Friday, January 08, 2016

Parking Lot Observations

The drive to work was crazy; I don't know if someone put something in the water or what, but there must have been three folks riding the yellow lines between lanes.  And driving slowly.

Sitting in the car in the parking lot before work, I've watched a man in his early sixties in red sweat pants and a red ski jacket get out of his car, walk about a block, come back to his car and put his big red gym bag into it, walk away about a block, come back again and get his wallet out of the car and put it into his red jacket, and walk away about a block, come back to his car, open the back trunk, and put a striped silk tie into his jacket pocket.  I wonder if this is a senior moment, or a pre-coffee moment, or if this is a normal moment--and I wonder if I look like this person some times because--

--someone has just scraped his car's sideview mirror with mine.  Man, I hate this parking lot sometimes.     He rolls down his window and I roll down mine and we talk;  luckily, our mirrors have some spring, and there doesn't appear to be damage to either car.  He readjusts his parking job.  He's obviously rattled, because he walks away from his car and I have to remind him that his side window is open.

I think the morning's escapees mean Mercury has gone retrograde or something...

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Three Phrases

I've been thinking about three quotes lately.  The first one is from Star Trek, the original series, where Mr. Spock says to the technologically advanced but childish Trelane, Squire of Gothos, "...I object to intellect without discipline.  I object to power without creative purpose."  Mostly I've been cajoling The Child with this quote whenever he starts going on and on about various Reality You-Tubers and (to a lesser extent) Minecraft You-Tubers.

The second one I ran across in Usula Le Guin's writings, where she quotes Socrates:  "The misuse of language induces evil in the soul."  I like it on it's own, because it sounds like something Fowler or Henry Higgins might say about the words we choose to write or speak.  But more to the point it's about using passive sentence construction to weasel out of meaning and responsibility.  ("The gun was shot.")

The third phrase is in my blog's masthead (with a tip of the pen to Jane Yolen):  majesty, mystery, portents, awe, surprise, wonder, beguilement, connection.  Sometimes I forget these words and I have to remind myself they're the reason I write.


Working Out;  Went to the gym today.  Elliptical: 12 mintes, about  120 calories.  Rowing machine: 10 minutes, about 110 calories.  Assisted dip/chin:  30X10 at 14.  Pec-fly: 3X12X50lbs.  Lat pull-down: 3X12X80lbs.  I was running late, so I had to leave without the other stuff.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

January Journal.

Working Out.  Monday.  Elliptical: 20 minutes and just under 200 calories.  Rowing machine: 10 minutes and 105 calories.  Assisted dips: 3X10 at 14.  Assisted chins 3X8 at 14 (I've been doing the assisted chinups with a wide grip, and I noticed when I had a narrower grip on the bar it was tons easier to do).  Pec-fly 3X12X50lbs + 1X5X50lbs.  Lat pull-down: 1X12X70lbs + 2X12X80lbs + 1X5X80lbs.  Curl-ups: 3X12.  Bar-bell Curls:  3X12X25lbs (I've been doing 35lbs, but wanted to get home and still ease into the barbells).

Writing.  I managed to get some maintenance writing in over the holiday, but it's the writing equivalent to practicing scales.  Between the holidays and a cold I picked up, writing got the kabosh.  I did manage to submit an application to a writing residency.  If I get in, I'll spend 12 days in a remote Oregon location writing; I'm hoping to turn it into a kind of mini NaNoWriMo.  

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Queen Anne's Lace on Ice

Today's adventure involved tromping out to the Amazon Slough and taking photographs.  This was is probably the most interesting; icy snow (or snowy ice, I'm not sure which) had collected in the dried remains of last fall's Queen Anne's lace.


Saturday, January 02, 2016

First Workout of 2016

Working Out:  Just got back from the gym; the first work-out of the year.  Elliptical; about 200 calories  and 3300 steps in 20 minutes.  Rowing machine; 100 cal in under 10 minutes.  Pec-fly: 10X80lbs + 8X80lbs + 12X70lbs.  Lat pull-down; 3X12X70lbs.  Triceps pull-down; 3X12X30lbs.

I should probably go back Sunday and see if I can get back up to my pre-break weights.