Friday, January 20, 2017

Dream Labyrinth

Dream:  I was in a small wooden chapel, being given a tour of it by M.H. (I'm thinking a recent picture of him with his kids in front of a frozen playground may have been the trigger for this dream).  There were some other folks on the tour, but I don't recall who.  The interior was dim and ruddy, I think it was day time, but I can't recall windows or sunlight coming into the room.  The chapel was rough-hewn planks, originally started by the WPA... or at least the roof was, because they'd decorated the ceiling with red, yellow, and umber (and blue?) rectangles in an Art Deco basket weave pattern.  M.H. explained that the WPA had only worked on the ceiling before the rest of the building had to be completed by another group.

The floor plan was square-ish, but there were two lofts on opposite sides, which made the lower floor narrow.  I have a sense the square had been divided into long thirds.  At some point we leapt from one loft to the other.  The dream turned into one of those, "I'm on a slight incline slowly slipping toward the edge" dreams until I said something and M.H. pulled out a white tarot card with six symbols on it.  He tapped one of the symbols twice with his index finger and we stopped slipping toward the edge.  "That's handy," I said.  "I need to get one of those."

We climbed down the side of the second loft, which was divided up in to wooden sections, sort of like a rubic's cube made of redwood... or a puzzle box where you have to move part B so you can release part A and bring it over, then move part B back and let part A continue to slide into part C... I could see between the seams of the parts that there was some sort of switch, and I could feel it if I slipped my hands between the parts.  One of the parts was a chair or pew on the top of the loft which slid down a slot once all the parts were slid together correctly.

The switch was a knife-switch labeled "To theLabyrinth" and after short deliberation, I threw it.  The floor rattled and sank, we all sank with it.  The floor did some mechanical flip only possible in a dream and we were standing in a throng of very loud people standing on a lower mechanical floor made up of interlocking turn-tables with a labyrinthine path running through it.  I'm reminded of Bosh's "Garden of Earthly Delights"  I want to say there was a flock of babies wearing wings on their heads made out of white cloth diapers.   The floor segments would randomly turn, clacking as they did so.  I want to say there were six small circles with curving paths on them, gathered into a larger circle, which also turned.

We had to navigate the path, sort of like a game.  The path wound around a raised set of hills or a nest, on which the baby flock sat.

There was more, but I don't recall it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Harp and Hair

Me, playing the harp over the December holiday.

More adventures with hair.  I got a hair tattoo, which I like and I think I'll extend upward next time I get a haircut.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

My Grandfather's Chair

For a while I've been the keeper of my grandfather's chair.  It's a Morris chair, and for the longest time it was a feature of my father's father's living room.  I always liked the wide arms on it, and the iron rod in the back which is used to set the back's reclining angle.  Grandpa's living room was dark, usually with a fire set in the wide hearth... although the hearth is probably narrower than I'm remembering it... anyway, changing the angle and moving the iron rod was one of those "look what you can do with old peoples' stuff" things that fascinated me as a six-year-old.  I think the metallic clank of the rod against the curling brackets was part of the appeal.

My folks had the chair for a few decades, and they've had to fix it up some.  The springs in the seat are great coiled things held together with bailing wire and metal clips which sometimes work free, which results in the cushion sinking below the rim of the chair's frame.  For some time it lived in their garage until I rescued it.  The chair dominates out living room, and I wrote from it before the Christmas season rearranged everything.

One of the difficulties writing in the chair is that it was designed for people shorter than I am, and siting in it wasn't the most ergonomic configuration for my legs or back.  Recently, I went to the hardware store and purchased some bed frame raisers.  They're blocky and ugly, but they brought the seat of the chair up about a half a foot.  When I sat down, the chair was wonderful:  with my knees level with my hips, I could relax into the chair with my hands resting comfortably on its arms.  All that's missing is a triangular wedge of a pillow to provide some lower lumbar support.

The only other difficulty is that -- well -- now that the legs are extended, the chair looks like a throne.    Mark ribs me about it only a little.   I'll have to think of something creative to do with a skirting so the legs and the extenders aren't so prominent.  

Monday, January 16, 2017

Balancing Writing with Parenting

Waiting in the parking lot for school to get out and the kids to find their parents' cars is one of those writer's opportunties to observe character.

For example, someone's just gotten out of her car and into the station wagon she's just parked next to.  She's got her gloves in one hand and a sheaf of papers in front of her as she speaks to the wagon's driver (I can't see if the other driver is a man or a woman).  

Another woman gets out of a van across the lot and arranging small rolling airline baggage in the back, and walks over to a small hatchback.  She and the hatchback's driver, another woman, arrange a spare tire in the back of the hatchback and the two of them wrestle the luggage into place.

In a Toyota, slowly cooling as heat seats out through the floorboards, a bored dad is rocking out to ABBA's "Take a Chance" while he types up the activities of the parking lot -- his fingers flying over the iPad's touch screen.  If this were a story he'd be the detective, and the other parents would be smugglers, spies, or secret lovers.  The papers would be government plans or private coorospondence; the luggage would hold supplies for refugees to be delivered to a safe house.

Ah, the kids come running across the street and into the parking lot.  We all go home.

Now... how to turn this into a short story.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

I'm Not Dead Yet

Last month's early December morning's dialog with the mirror as I brush my hair:

"Uhg.  In two weeks you're going to be fifty-two.  Fifty-two.  FIFTY-two. (Smiles a forced, fake smile.)  'Hi, I'm fifty-two.'"  Brush brush.  Comparative thoughts of what my Dad was doing at fifty-two (successful high school physics teacher) and what I'm doing at fifty-two.  Brush.  "Well... I suppose it's better than being dead."  Brush.  "Fifty-two."   There's something about fifty-two -- or any second year in any decade -- that makes it hard to pretend that you aren't still fourty-something (or thirty-something, or twenty-something).   "I suppose I need one of those buttons that reads, 'Recycled Teenager.'"  Brush.  (Sings) "'Now A might arouse her / my body's alright / but not at this angle / and not in this light.'"  Brush.

I went to the gym today (Jan 15) after really not going for much of December.  Some of the not going was my stupid back bothering me, some of it was the snow and ice and holidays messing up my schedule.  And so of it was pure laziness.  But today, about 35 minutes on the elliptical for about 310 calories.  About 10 minutes on the rowing machine for about 105 calories.  I decided I'd ease into weights for next time.  Mark seems to think the calorie count is a fairly useless measure... which is annoying to hear when one comes home with metrics, but at least A) it's a metric I can use to see how I'm progressing, and B) the machines have given me some results.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

News from the New Year

Happy New Year?

We've been hit with a lot of ice and snow the last three weeks; not quite as badly as the recent snowstorm that dumped a foot of snow on Portland, but there's still icy spots and bits of icy slush hiding in the northern, shadowy sides of curbs and houses.   The wintry mix has extended the Christmas holiday by five days; even the University delayed classes a day because airports were closed.  We were lucky in that neither our power nor our internet went out.

I went outside and caught snowflakes on a cold glass butter dish so I could photograph them.  The results were mixed.  

The down side is that none of my regular routines has been regular, so I need to get back into the swing of hitting the gym and writing.  

Smokey hurt his leg the last day of the year; so I got to spend two hours sitting in the emergency vet clinic off of I-105 in
Springfield.  That place is always a veil of tears because the humans are A) bringing a pet in because their regular vet is closed, B) reeling from the sticker-shock, C) not able to pay a $300 emergency vet bill and denying the claim, or D) dealing with a dying pet.   Some folks handle it better than others.  I h
ad a nice chat with one woman and quietly observed the staff and customers.  

Smokey's leg required antibiotics, and let me tell you, Cicero the four-pound kitten was much easier to give antibiotics to than Smokey the seventeen-pound cat (who required two adult men, a towel, and various wrestling holds).

The cats seem to have reached an accord of sorts.  I think Smokey's decided that Cicero is now a cat instead of a kitten:  the other day Smokey chased Cicero from the deck and into the house, and yesterday I saw Smokey determinedly washing Cicero.  This is not to say that Cicero has stopped stalking and pouncing on Smokey.

On the writing front, I've managed to get three short-ish piece critiqued at the Wordos table.  I've also managed to get three rejections from various markets since I've last blogged.  One was a real long-shot list-story piece ... so.  More writing and more submitting.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Dream of Bagpipe Hookahs

The other night I had a long, involved dream.  I waited too long to try to recall it, so some of the details were lost.   There was something about programming e-mail filters... There was a thirty-something woman in a flouncy, silver mini-skirt and boots; think space-aged swimming pool majorette.  I don't recall exactly how, but she was organizing a ritual dance.

The best part of the dream was when I joined the circle dance, spinning clockwise, and I was playing a cross between a bag-pipe and a hookah.  At least, that's the best way to describe it -- it might have been an over-the-shoulder rhyton or didgery-doo that I was blowing inscence out of.  I danced in a press of others in the ring, trailing frankincense or myrrh, while a deep note resonated through my body and rippled beyond me, through the dance, and farther.  I had the strongest sensation that I was singing and playing the instrument at the same time, and that I'd hit a cosmic resonance which vibrated the entire dream.

I woke up feeling connected.  I think some of the dream may have come from eating blue cheese the evening before.

When I told Mark, he said that turning a bagpipe into a water-pipe was the best use of the instrument that he could think of.  In reply, I started to sing, "Tell a bagpipe smoking caterpillar..."

Friday, December 09, 2016

Weather Report

Yesterday we had our first post-Halloween ice storm.  Luckily, it wasn't too bad, so the trees didn't lose too many branches and the roads weren't a skating rink.  The public schools closed... I think they could have started with a two-hour delay and been fine.

The evening's funny moment was a musical one.  I put together some season music, and when Maddy Prior sang the chorus of The Boar's Head -- "caput apri defero reddens laudes domino" -- The Child heard something like: "caput apri defero schadenfreude domino."

Working Out:  Went to the gym Wednesday.  200 calories on the elliptical with a ramp setting that worked my whole leg instead of the usual glutes and quads.  I think this helped to loosen up my lower back, which has been feeling as if it were being poked by a branch for the last week.  Downstairs I did 3X13 suspended crunches and a few light triceps curls.  

Writing has slowed to almost a stop.  . . . partially because sitting is uncomfortable and partially because I've been unmotivated to write.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Advent Post

Crazy dreams lately.  I'm blaming the Tiger Balm I've been rubbing on my back.  The most amusing one involved the local bookstore diversifying into a cannabis distribution center.  

On the writing front, I jotted down some long-hand ideas for the Wordos Holiday reading coming up in about ten days.  We're all going to try to write on the same theme; in the past the themes have diversified into a swarm of ideas.  I've also made a flash submission to a market; I'm trying something different with the flash piece and I'll be interested to see how far it gets through the submission process.

Mark's away on a business trip.  I'm hoping that he gets back before the predicted Winter Storm hits so he doesn't have to travel on slippery roads surrounded by Oregonians who don't know how to drive in snow and ice.

I've been easing in to the Christmas season with a stray carol here or there.  I tend to like old-style carols with krumhorns, boy sopranos, Latin verses, finger cymbals, Maddie Prior, bag-pipes, and Annie Lennox.   This isn't Mark's favorite combination, which makes the easing into things easier.

No gym visits; I keep waiting for my sore bits to stop feeling so sore and they aren't obliging.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Friday With Tiptree

This is my, typing in the parking lot.

Friday was the Tiptree Symposium, but the organizers moved the schedule up a day, and all the interesting panels happened when I work.  Unfortunately, work is really busy at the moment, and I couldn't justify taking the day off.  It's also early-release Friday at The Child's school, which also puts a crimp in things.  

I had consigned myself to being a shrewish house-frau and re-reading old notes from previous Tiptree Symposia when I got an e-mail from JS inviting a bunch of Wordos to join him at a Tiptree reception.   So I did, and had a pleasant evening listening to other local authors talk about what they did.  Probably the most interesting stories were about running a hot-spring resort, how being naked simplified certain social interactions, and having to speak with the local sheriff with no clothing on.  

And now, onto the flash fiction I'm working on... which I should send out.

Working out:  I've pulled something, so I did not go to the gym over the weekend.  I may do an elliptical run Monday afternoon to try to loosen things up.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Pre December Musings

Went to the gym Monday night:  About 250 calories on the elliptical.  3x13x60lbs on the pec fly.  3x13x80lbs on the lat pulldown.  2x8x10lbs side crunches.  3x12x40lbs barbell curls.  I did five reps on the triceps pulldown at 5, 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 lbs.

I'm in a spin about what sorts of craft to make for the holidays.  I'm under the impression (from Mark) that the paper cutouts, while neat, are essentially holiday clutter that the recipients don't know what to do with.  I suppose I could do wood things... but that just shifts paper clutter to plywood clutter.   I thought about making little plastic toys, which might go over well, but that means I need to get cracking and design something to put together in about three weeks.

On the writing front... Oh yeah; writing.  Stories have been rejected, so I need to get them back in the submission piles.  I'm currently working on a short list-story that's probably more therapeutic than anything.  The trick will be making the list have some narrative tension.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Gay Pride Dreams

Cicero  the kitten was sleeping with his paws in my face, which I'm thinking gave me so much recall -- however, the order and sequence is really disjointed...

I went to a kind of wooded dormitory where I met a 20-something woman who was going to teach me meditation and psychic techniques.   The structure was fairly well lit, and wooden, with lots of towels and blankets hanging everywhere.  We had to keep moving around because the place was chaotic with other residents' activity.   The setting didn't become Arcosanti, although I have the feeling it could have; instead it mostly was a large communal dormitory or fraternity house.

We started out in a black-and-white tiled kitchen, but then someone started dancing; there was an argument about where one could dance and we moved to a sleeping hall.  There was another man and possibly another teacher.  At one point, as I sat meditating and staring at the woman, a blue cube of light appeared around her head, and then her head disappeared (sort of like when you stare at something long enough and your eye gets tired and everything fades to a grey).

There was a kind of music video tribute to Eugene.  There was a group of us, I think Jai L was there.  The music was like "We Are the World," but the lyrics were about how moldy, and muddy the place is.  There was a scene where we were all running through muddy pine fields in a downpour.  And the song moved on to eco-hippies or something.... probably involving pedestrians stepping out into traffic and cyclists running stop signs.

Mark and I kept meeting gay couple friends and relations.  I think we were meeting them at an amalgum of our parents' houses.  There was a party going on, and I remember mixing drinks and putting together hors d'oeuvres.  At one point, we were climbing over city building roofs and avoiding security cameras.

I ended up with a group in a Judy Garland style farm yard.  George Takei was there.  I was standing next to a stand of corn, working a wisteria vine (or else a thick bind-weed) out of the corn stalks.  The vine was hairy and velcro-like, and it kept wanting to twist back up into the stalks.  I managed to get the majority of the vine out.

I looked up into the sky, and a rainbow was forming.  The colors became more saturated and a faint double rainbow appeared inside.  It was shining, almost a full circle in the sky.  I felt myself lifting and my toes dragged along the dusty ground.  I might have said something to the crowd with George Takei, and then I was flying low over the ground under a triple rainbow.

I flew into a pine or fir forrest, and I caught glimpses of the rainbow circle through the boughs.  A Jean-Micheal Jarre siren song, undulating between two piercing notes, echoed through the trees, and I rose higher into the growing green.

I've left out the id-driven bits.  Which were fun.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Post Thanksgiving

Working Out:  Went to the gym Saturday.  25 minutes and 250 calories on the elliptical.  3x12x60lbs on the pec fly.  3x13x70lbs on the lat pulldown.  3x12x10lbs side crunches.  3x12x35lb barbell curls; I should see if I can level up to 40 lbs.  3x12 hanging curls.

Helped my folks clean their house for the Thanksgiving celebration.   My my sister's family and my mother's sister's family came for dinner.  The Child and I stayed over night to help my folks with their monster artificial Christmas tree.

Back home, we'll resist Winter Holiday decorating for a few more weeks.  In my head, December 12 is about when I want to decorate.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Other Side of Stress

I'm still stressed out a little by the election.  On one hand it's still the same America (it's just that folks on the right came out to vote more than folks on the left).  On the other hand, OMG it's a bunch of phobic white supremacist.   On the other hand, there's lots of republicans and democrats and the ACLU and the CSPLC and the cast of Hamilton standing up and saying, "protect all Americans."  And back on the other hand OMG it's a fascist autocrat; believe his threats -- your institutions cannot save you.  And back on the first hand there's the right-leaning Archdruid saying, "calm down, just because we voted for jobs and an appeal of the Affordable Care Act doesn't mean we're jack-booted brown-shirts and KKK members."  And then back on the other hand, the transition team and the future of SCOTUS.

Still, I'm catching myself exhaling a little less than last week.

Spent the weekend not scrolling through Facebook, playing with Blender, making (and eating) chocolate chip cookies,  and reading "Startide Rising."   This week I need to donate to the ACLU and contact my representatives.  (Note to self: make a web page with contact info so you only have to look it up once...)

The Child's Kung-Fu place has a new exercise that seems good for grounding a centering; it's called "climbing the mountain," I think.  The first time the class did it I felt the energy of the room move down. I've decided that it will be a good thing for The Child and me to do for a few minutes in the morning.

Working Out:  Went to the gym Tuesday (and also last Thursday).  150 calories on the elliptical, 3x12x60lbs on the pec flies, 3x12x70lbs on the lat pull-down, 3x10x10lb side-crunches, 3x12 hanging curl-ups, 3x12x30lb barbell curls.    I've been trying to do five push-ups (at least) on days I don't go to the gym to try to keep my muscle tone up.

Writing:  Received a short story rejection (Wednesday) and another one last week.  Wheee!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Post Election Meditation

The last few days I've been taking a moment to imagine myself before the Door of the Day and asking myself four questions:

When you find a problem you can fix, will you fix it?
When you find a failure that deserves a second chance, will you grant it?
Severity ungrounded in Mercy leads to destruction; will you be a sower of discord?
Mercy ungrounded in Severity leads to chaos; will you be a permitter of evil?