Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Parking and Punishment

Lately, I've been having writing dreams, in that I dream that I'm writing down a story or working on a scene.  The only problem is that once I wake up, I can never remember the particulars clearly. 

In writing news, I pitched a story to an anthology, a submitted another story to a different anthology, and I wrote a 800 flash piece. 

Parking at The Day Jobbe continues to be annoying.  The other day there was someone parked over the line of the stall, which made it very difficult to squeeze in.  There's nothing like that to make me want to key their car, or launch it out of its spot with explosives, or relish other forms of intricate punishment (none of which you can get away with today).  I'm sure there's a story in there somewhere--the trick is to keep it from becoming revenge porn.   But still, I have to wonder what biochemical mechanism makes it so rewarding to walk through the lot to work while lowly muttering, "You shall be punished.  Punished!"

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Weekends and Cafes

Saturday was a warm and sunny day, and a little warm (50's) for January.  Mark and I went for a 20 minute walk in the sunlight toward a coffeehouse (where I had a birthday gathering a few weeks ago).

By the time we got there, I had unzipped my vest and jacket, and taken off my fingerless gloves.   I stayed and wrote for about two hours.  The place is nice, but always filled to capacity when the university students are in.  When I left I had the wistful notion of wanting to write at home at a table with tea and savories on hand.  So, on the walk back home, I stopped at the local store and got materials for quiche.

Saturday night (between the NPR radio show Wait-Wait and the Netflix showing of Solo) I put together the quiche.

Sunday had a slow morning with tea, quiche, researching Circe's animal transformations, and the Sunday Baroque radio show.  And researching the decayed matter that forms the spent crystalline carbon and oxygen cores of white dwarf stars.   Sunday morning was much more cold and grey than Saturday--church goers are scraping ice off of their cars, and the sun is a faint pearl in the sky.

By 11:30 the fog was burning off, and the sky was tempting me to write outside--where it's probably still a little cold.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Friday Update

Just before I went to bed, I read a New Yorker article about pot.  So, of course, I dreamed about the short I was also working on last night, only with pot-smoking characters added.  This is teaching me that I should choose what I read before I drop off to sleep more carefully.

Lately, I've been sore.  The Child blames the gym, but I'm thinking it's one of the desks I've been sitting and typing at.  Or maybe the bed.  Oh well.

Here, have a unicorn.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Winter Term, Week 1

Sigh.  The Winter Term has begun and parking at The Day Jobbe is scarce again.  I have become resigned to not finding a free spot near the building I work, and figure that I'll have to make due with the lot three and a half blocks away.  I'd hoped the near-completion of construction on a nearby building would result in increased availability, but I haven't noticed a decrease in 4X4 trucks crammed into compact parking spaces. 

Lately I've been writing in my dreams.  It's vaguely useful if I can remember enough of the plots to get a story.  I'm wanting to encourage my dreaming-self to do more of this, which means being sure to write down dreams as soon as I can after I wake up.   Monday I dreamed a good prompt situation that gave me enough to pump out about 500 words of the beginning of a flash story.  Wednesday I kept dreaming that I was writing, and then someone would come up an interrupt me.... and the dream veered between a Stuck At Arcosanti dream, a late to the airport dream, before setting into a writing in prison dream ("The inmates call me 'Happy.'"). 

Tuesday I dreamed I was invited to restore and update a subway or church or carnival midway, changing flat murals into ceramic bass-relief with someone who was mostly LGL, but who might have started out as a Wordo, BH.   I didn't get to write anything from that dream down because all of us woke up about a half-hour late and had to scramble to work.

On the gym front, I've managed to do the routine Monday and Wednesday.  Yay me!

Monday, January 07, 2019

Sunday Herons

Sunday, Mark and I went for a walk at Alton Baker Park and the Willamette River east of the park.   

I was hoping we'd see bald eagles or other raptors.   The sun hid behind bands of clouds, so sometimes the light was defuse -- other times the setting sun cast ruddy gold beams onto the trees.

About five minutes into the walk, I recalled that herons and other waterfowl like the park. 

Mark saw almost all of the birds before I did and pointed them out. 

The exception was a woodpecker, which I heard before I found.

Mark did spot a hawk, but before I could bring the camera to bear, a crow harassed it, and it flew off over the Willamette. 

We managed to get back to the car before huge black rain clouds hid the sun and sprinkled rain.

More photos here:  https://photos.app.goo.gl/WK6msxQ8cPtJ9nur8

Glass Moon

This came out less luminous than I had hoped, but it's still a cool photograph of a moon ornament we have. 

Sunday, January 06, 2019

New Year's Day Hawk

New Year's Day we went to Corvallis to visit my folks.  Part of the visitation included a hike to the local park on Bald Hill.   As we were walking from the fairgrounds up to the hill, Mark pointed to a white flash along a fence:  it was a hawk of some sort.

I zoomed my camera in on it, took some shots, and then saw that the field was apparently open.  So.  I started walking toward the hawk.  Closer and closer.  Wishing I had a tripod to keep the camera more steady.  Then the sun reflected golden from the hawk's eye -- a solar spark jumping through my camera and piercing my vision.  Hypnotized by this Eye of Horus moment, I stalked closer; only part of me heard Mark say, "We've lost him."

Eventually, the hawk flew away.  I'm not sure if I got too close, or if it was done done resting and wanted to get on with hunting.  It swooped over the grasses of the field several time and once or twice appeared to strike at something on the ground.

I never did catch back up with the family, which had hiked past the Old Barn and took secret, twisting trails to the top of Bald Hill.  And actually, I wasn't exactly sure if they had gone via the way of the barn or if they had taken the left-hand path to the top.  When I did make it to the Barn, there was no sign of them -- so I returned back the way I came and walked back to the fairgrounds.

Some texts were exchanged and I was waiting for my niece to possibly appear as a vanguard, when I noticed that the hawk (or a hawk) had returned.  I slowly stalked closer, snapping photos as it disemboweled and ate a rodent.  The sun had sunk and was about an hour away from setting when I took the second set of photos.

Later, after consulting with my brother-in-law and various Facebook Friends, we couldn't decide if this was a Sharp-Shinned Hawk, a Goshawk, a Harrier, or some other kind of accipiter.

More shots here:  https://photos.app.goo.gl/LSdKdRNQP62E6sAe6

Saturday, January 05, 2019

Week One Gym Report

Gym Report.  Virtuousness continues:  I went to the gym last Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  Wednesday I forgot my little slip of paper with my workout routine on it, so I got a little confused on the weights for low cable fly (20lbs instead of 15), rope triceps extension (40lbs instead of 30) and overhead bicep curl (30lbs instead of 20).  The triceps extension weight was obviously wrong when I did it the first time, and I cut back after a few reps; but I didn't realize how much I was over-doing it on the other excursuses.  Afterward I felt kind of jacked (raugh!), but also my elbow joints were sore (oops!).  

Warming up with dumbbells, then ...

3x12x20lbs dumbell presses
3x12x20lbs dumbell rows
3x12x45lbs barbell press
3x12x45lbs barbell row
3x12x15lbs low cable fly
3x12x5lbs low back cable fly
3x12x25lbs barbell inline overhead triceps extension
3x12x25lbs barbell incline hanging bicep curl
3x12x30lbs rope triceps extension
3x12x20lbs overhead rope bicep curl
3x12x40lbs standing cable crunch

5-10 minutes on the sideways elliptical. 

Jan 1 Moon Conjunct Venus

More details about New Year's -- The first three days of January, the Moon sailed past Venus, Jupiter, and Mercury.  I was hoping that I would be able to see (and photograph) the early morning celestial show.  Monday, December 31, the skies were cloudy and instead of moon photographs, I ended up wandering around Amazon Park in the fog.

Tuesday morning, the clouds were more cooperative, and the Moon was about eight degrees south of Venus.  The morning was much colder than the previous day's, and the basin of water in our back was frozen through.  I took a few shots and realized that the night was hazier than I thought.

At one point, Spencer (Cicero's brother) came up hoping for kitty treats or something (I'm pretty sure he comes over on a regular basis at 5:30 AM to see if Smokey or Cicero will come out and play), but ran away when I said hello.

I managed to get a wide-angle shot of Jupiter (through the trees and power line -- you can see at the very tip of one of the branches between two of the power lines), Venus and the Moon.  Since it was cold, and I didn't want to freeze the camera (or myself), I went back in and crashed on the couch looking out at the sky.  I dozed a little, and then woke suddenly to a purple sky.

High clouds and con-trails provided some artistic shots.  At another point, I snapped a shot as an airplane occluded the Moon.  I was hoping for a cool outline, but got the trails from the wing lights instead.

More photos here:  https://photos.app.goo.gl/j6ukwDZCEsNA7Zqo6 

Friday, January 04, 2019

Albany Carousel Again

The other day I ditched the family and met with a friend, E.S.,  at the Albany Carousel.  I still have a very rough draft idea of a story set with a carousel, so this visit counted as "research," but really it was an excursion to put the new camera through its paces.

10 AM sunlight streamed through the windows, which wasn't ideal -- I would have preferred the foggy, diffuse light of a previous day because it flattens out the light levels and contrast, and the glossy paint on the animals isn't so distracting.  One mitigation to the unfavorable light is to hide in the carousel's central column's shadow.

 I think the new camera can handle high-contrast lighting better than the old camera, and its zoom lens is fantastic.  An obstacle to photographing the animals with the old camera was that I had to be actually next to them to get some of the finer details.  Not so with the new camera's zoom lens.

E.S. and I chatted about the holiday, writing, and how cool the carved animals are.  We wandered over to the gift-shop and painting area, and heard how the original solid-wood Buffalo was hollowed out so it would weigh about 500 pounds less. 

We thought about taking a tour to the carving studio below, but it was getting to pre-lunch toddler melt-down time and the place was becoming shrill.   So we went off to write for about an hour.


More Albany Carousel (scroll to bottom for new pics):

Foggy Monday Artsy Walk

Monday, the last day of the year, wanted to see if I could see the Moon before it passed by Venus, Jupiter, and Mercury over the next few days.  But the sky was dark and starless.   Thinking that if it was foggy, at least I might be able to get some good fog photographs, I sauntered outside and to the local park.

On foggy days, when I'm driving The Child to school, often I wish that I could stop driving a take some photos.  I'll be zooming along one curve in the road, and the sun will blaze over the hilltops, and dye rising silver wisps of fog crimson and gold.  The copse running through the park become spears of sable shadow.  And then the idiot in the car in front of me (who certainly is a worse driver than I am) will do something stupid requiring my attention. 

But today I wasn't going to be in a car, and I'd have my camera ready. 

The frigid air made me glad that I had layered up with fingerless gloves, a polar fleece jacket, and my grey-green wool cloak.  I kept the camera under my cloak so it wouldn't freeze solid, all the time wondering how much it made me look like I had a concealed gun. 

I got to the park.  The pre-dawn darkness turned to pre-dawn grey.  The thickness of the fog made itself evident as the sun failed to materialize; and the trees, grass, and joggers remained studies in black and white.  I walked along the path and snapped photos of the lampposts, which were still on. 

I hadn't realized before how crooked and beat-up-looking many of them are.

As the morning continued to slowly fade in, various dog walkers and joggers passed by.  Mark accuses me of looking like a homeless person when I wear this particular cloak, and the state of my hair (vaguely untamed) wasn't helping.   I felt the evaluation of the regular path-goers change as soon as they saw the camera (oh, crazy photographer; probably harmless). 

I walked along the path, taking artsy photographs of where Amazon Slough had flooded its banks, and waited for the sun to pop up and do its crimson-dyeing magic -- but we had a secret dawn clothed in grey.  All the lamps turned off and I knew it was going to be one of those dark and twilight days where the lights of the sky are sourceless.   Also, I'd left The Child asleep at home and I wondered what he was up to.

So I came home.  Smokey greeted me.

Thursday, January 03, 2019

Fun with Dry Ice

Over the winter holiday we received a Styrofoam  package of food which was cooled by a giant slab of dry ice!  So of course we had to break off chunks of it and put it into water.  The problem was that the dry ice was the size of a text book. 

So we had to break it up some how.  The most expedient way I could think of was to heat up an aluminium bracket in a pan of hot water, and then use it like a knife to try and cut the dry ice.  It sort of worked, but the ice cooled the bracket down fairly quickly, so it took several passes.  

When the hot bracket was placed against the ice, the bracket vibrated in my hands and made a high-pitched hum as the sublimating carbon dioxide rushed away from it.  Eventually, I was able to separate a chunk about the size of three ice-cubes from the main body.  

I forget why, but a chunk of dry ice got put onto a saucepan lid, which then became a kind of auto-playing cymbal as the chuck of ice propelled itself around its rim.  We quickly clunked it into some water.  

Eventually we got out the lavender tea pot, given to me by my Aunt Margot during my Reed College days -- the tea pot that served We Three during one of their Portland Tours, the tea pot that kept me from bolting from my Thesis Orals after The Embarrassing Statistics Mistake was discovered, the tea pot that stars in other photos of water vapor coming out of its spout -- filled it with hot water, and plunked a large chunk of dry ice into it.

The resulting blast of white, cloudy vapor was aesthetically satisfying, and provided at least ten minutes of entertainment before the hot water was cooled, and we discovered that the damp table-runner underneath the teapot had crystallized.

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

Moon Conjunct Venus

The mornings have been mostly clear Tuesday and Wednesday, and I've been able to observe the Moon as it swings past Venus (Tuesday) and between Venus and Jupiter (Wednesday).  Tuesday, I had the wherewithal to take some photos.  Wednesday, I was content to stare at the three lumens in the cobalt sky.

Jupiter wasn't in the best place to photograph (at least from our yard), and since I didn't want to traipse around in slippers, pj's and a bathrobe in the 28F morning, I was content to snap a shot of Jupiter through the power lines.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Holiday Gym

Gym Report.  I was virtuous this week and managed to get to the gym Sunday (12/23)  Monday (12/24), Wednesday (12/16) and Friday (12/28).  Sunday was a make-up day because I missed going to the gym on the Solstice.    Monday was my birthday, and I decided that I'd revert back to doing 30 minutes on the elliptical and then doing a set of lat pull-downs. 

I e-mailed my trainer and figured out what I was doing wrong with some of the overhead cable work I was doing, so the the other days consist of

Warming up with dumbbells, then ...

3x12x20lbs dumbell presses
3x12x20lbs dumbell rows
3x12x45lbs barbell press
3x12x45lbs barbell row
3x12x15lbs low cable fly
3x12x5lbs low back cable fly
3x12x25lbs barbell inline overhead triceps extension
3x12x25lbs barbell incline hanging bicep curl
3x12x30lbs rope triceps extension
3x12x20lbs overhead rope bicep curl
3x12x40lbs standing cable crunch

I'm already seeing results... and I suppose I should get out a tape measure so I have some actual metrics. 


Well... OK.  Not really, but it looks good.