Saturday, July 07, 2018

Writing Music

I'm sitting behind the wheel of my parked car, waiting for The Child to finish an activity, and writing.  There's a keyboard resting on my thighs and the car seat is cupping the small of my back.  
The only problem with writing in the car like this in the Summer is that it's pretty warm, but if I roll down the windows someone inevitably decides to smoke or stop and have a cell phone conversation more or less next to the car.  The breeze is nice, though.
To cut down on the distractions of the other folks going to and from their cars (cue the father with a crying infant), I've got the radio tuned to KWAX.  I've got almonds; I've got tea, and-- Ack!  They've changed shows.  "Harmonia" has been swapped out for "Early Music Now"!  What the heck?
(Listens)  Hmmm, they seem slightly... less folksy?... than Harmonia.  The music seems a little more focused on a medieval and very early Renaissance music from Spain, Italy, and France.  The host seems to be less your eccentric liberal-arts aunt and more corporate symphony cousin.  The production values are a little higher.  I guess I'll have to listen a few more times to see what I think... I'm still surprised KWAX changed shows.    



I've been attempting to mix things up at the gym in order to keep my elbow joints from aching.  I think maybe the Nordic Elliptical on top of the pec-flies and the lat pull-down.  



The other afternoon, I sat The Child down and we watched an old US Department of Defense film on resisting fascist propaganda.  I'm hoping it helps him to recognize some of the hateful rhetoric bouncing around.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Virtual Locations and Solstice

Happy Solstice (a few days late).

As I write this, the U.S. is struggling with a just plain evil policy of seperating infants, todlers, and young children from their parent when families attempt to seek assylum or immagrate (sometimes illegally) into this country.  Immagration is a complicated issue, and I'm sure any solution will be equally complicated, but federal government's crackdown and its psychological and physiological damage to over 2000 children is immoral.

For my Solstice pause, I rearranged the statuary in the back yard, placing the Sphinx to the west of of the lawn circle and the Lion to the south.  I need to find a replacement shell for the Sphinx so she can have a reservoir of water between her front paws again.  The Lion looks good in a kind of cave of laurel and vibernum, and the Sphinx is peeking over some plant I haven't indentified astride some goldenrod.    

When I have ritual in the circle, I think I'll place the labyrinth stone in the north.  The eastern flower bed currently features foxglove (thanks, Mark!) and arbor vitea (thanks again!) and other plants that Mark has managed to coax out of the ground (our clay-heavy soil is in dire need of amendment).   If I can get my act together, I would like to build some standing tables with spiked leges so I can level them after they've been set in the ground.  

And in the back of my head, as I arrange things, I wonder about boundaries and boarders, and the chainlink fence running between our house and the houses of our three neighbors.

Wednesday night, as I lay in bed, I watched a live-stream of Stonehenge.  The sky here had just darkened, but at Stonehenge the pre-dawn Summer Solstice sky was casting enough light to see people.  Our house is far enough from Stonehenge to make it awkwardly late to watch the sunrise there.  On one hand, the technology of live-streaming made it very cool to be virtually among the trilithons of Stonehenge. On the other hand, I was in bed watching something happening that for some of the folks there must have been luminous, but that luminous experience wasn't translating across the Internet.  Honestly, it looked like a bunch of (mostly British) people standing around as if they were waiting for a rave to start.  I was very much aware that I was looking at a plastic-and-glass slab rendering of a crowd of strangers holding up their plastic-and-glass slabs to capture a photo of the pre-dawn crowd milling around Stonehenge.  

We have a planetary network that reduces the world's boundaries to palm-sized panes of glass.  

I watched for about twenty minutes, but there didn't appear to be any sort of organized ritual; of course this made me feel like I was in an old Carleton College comic strip, "Tall Corn" (renamed for the purpose of this particular strip "Mystic Corn"), where two undergraduates go out to watch the Carleton Druids have a ritual ("Wait! The Blonde is taking off her mittens!"), are disapointed that it's not a nude ritual ("That's it?!"), and end up asking incredulously, "Don't you people do crazy things?"  ("Well... Jon's a vegitarian....")

A few crazy things went through my mind, but Mark was wiped out from all the pollen and had passed out even before I started the Stonehenge live-feed, so I turned out the light and went to sleep, too.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Pre-Solstice

Summer solstice is just around the corner.

This is a catch-up post.

We're getting our first hot days--above 85F--of the season

I've been going to the gym, although I haven't been posting about it.  At the advice of my masseuse, I'm looking into ways of mixing up my work-outs, because it seems like I'm always pulling something in my arms or shoulders and then I have to dial back the weights. 

Here's a collage of photos of Smokey (center), Cicero (upper-right), and (neighbor cat) Spencer.  They mostly get along.


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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Dream: Olaf's Treasure

Dream:

In an earlier dream, I was in Corvallis driving some author friends around, S.D. and C.O. (who is not an author in real life, but a high school friend) or maybe E.P. (who is also not an author in real life, but a friend from St. Olaf College.   We may have been driving from Portland, and I seem to recall highway navigation.  In any case, I was driving, and I realized that I needed to get S.D. to her house in North Corvallis, which meant I needed to take the Hwy 99 exit to Walnut street--which meant going over a small hill (which in real life was probably the back road to Samaritain Hospital.

Suddenly, S.D. was sitting on my lap, and the car stalled, and I couldn't get my feet on the break or gas petals properly because S's feet were there, too.  The car rolled backward, and before we knew it, I was driving the car backward on the highway.

There was something more about being apartment-mates and a meal.

I think the main dream starts here... I was in a house that was my Grandmother Agnes's (only it wasn't).  Everything was dark wood, and chrome grates and enamel tubs and vaguely 1950's decor.  Some cats and kittens (possibly Cicero) were there, and there was a pile of stuff (like a kitty basket) over an air vent near a cast-iron stove to keep the kittens from getting into it.  The room became more cabin-in-the-woods as the dream progressed.

The stuff was cleared away, which revealed a trap door (more like a five-by-five-foot section of the floor flipped up) opening on a kind of vanity counter and bathtub.  The room was darker than above, and there was a sense that it was part of the air circulation system.  I think we were trying to turn on lights, and after fiddling with an old-style breaker-box, we opened up another part of the room, which was dark and musty like a concrete floored garage or tool shed.

There was still a sense that this space was underneath the wood cabin.  This room had a bunch of my Great Great Uncle Olaf's stuff (like a lawnmower) in it.  In the dream we called him Uncle Olaf, but it was really my Great Uncle Conrad.  There were other rooms beyond, and we found ourselves (by this time my writer friends had turned into non-descriptive, generic family members) in a labyrinthine set of museum wings filled with Fertile Crescent Antiquities that Uncle Olaf had excavated and curated by himself (and everyone was surprised, since he was a potato farmer from Astoria in the early half of the 20th century).   

I think the cats followed us around.  Room after room was filled with tiles, and carvings, and figurines.  There was a room of finials which had a special, crescents-and-feather finial in it... it was some kind of rune, I think. 

In a side room, we found a glass-chip vase filled with random rocks and agates.  We decided that it would be OK to take a stone each.  As we were exiting the museum, I passed through the tool shed garage and noticed a figure standing/sitting in a wheel-chair (he was propped up, he was standing, but there was also a wheelchair).  It was Olaf/Conrad; his visage was dark and shadowy (which was kind of odd, since he always had a shock of silver-white hair on the top of his head and I always remember him being pale).  Since Olaf/Conrad died in the 1980's,  I stepped closer, for a better look and became aware of his dead staring eye blazing blue in the dark.  He didn't move; he didn't speak; I don't know if he'd opened his eyes or if they'd already been that way, but his blue eye had a flame in it.

I rushed upstairs.   The cabin was still a cabin, but now it was in a city setting.  My relatives, a married couple, were standing on a concrete overpass. 

"Uh," I said, "I think it wasn't a good idea to take those rocks.  We should put them back."

The husband agreed, and gave me his rock.

The wife wanted to keep hers.  "They're good luck.  Why should we give them back?  All those years, Olaf [did something bad/selfish], so I don't see why I shouldn't take some of that luck now."

I walked up to her, "You're using Olaf's bad decisions in the past to justify _your_ bad choice now.  Stop it." 

There was some frustrated rock-throwing, and I picked up one dark rock from the edge of the overpass before waking up.

Monday, June 04, 2018

June.

June is busting out all over, and everything is happening at once.  The last few days, I've been busy with a decoration project for an event at The Child's school.  At work, folks are gearing up for the end of the academic year and the graduation ceremony.  Some how dentist and vet appointments became scheduled during this time.  The Child's birthdday is coming up, which means getting ready for various festivities.  After that is Father's Day and Pride Events everywhere but Eugene.  Things start to wind down by the Fourth of July.

The grass pollen seems to be pretty bad this year--but Mark has managed to avoid most of the usual symptoms of May and June.  Luckily, I only really feel it in my eyes, which are gummy when I wake up in the morning.  

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Memorial Day Weekend

Saturday we met my sister, her family, and our folks in Newport for a celebratory birthday lunch.  I'm trying to remember the restaurant, because their fish and chips were very good.  Mark got calamari, which weirded out my niece.  Afterward we went to the Newport south beach and flew kites.  My old moon-rainbow-sun shield kite is aging, and I was a little too rough assembling the batons--so the moon ripped out a little.  The kite was still able to climb into the sky, which I think I haven't seen in about twenty years (for the longest time it hung from a picture window in our old rental) -- and I was transported to the old Carleton College Rec Center which stood on a slope overlooking a soccer field.  I also drew geometric figures in the sand with my beach compass.   We got home after eight, and the cats were slightly annoyed with us.

Sunday night was almost-full moon, so I took a moment to sit in the newly constructed brick circle in the backyard and realize that the southern sky is pretty much obscured from within the circle.  It was possible to see the almost-full moon through the branches of the cherry tree--if one sat and held one's head the right way.  Cicero appeared, and we had a few black-cat/full moon circle moments where I wondered what Black Cat in the Northeast or Black Cat in the South meant.  The other day I read the phrase "bête noire" which translates as black beast, so I've taken to calling Cicero that.

Sunday was a Deep Cleaning Day, with lots of dusting, rearranging, vaccuming, and  mopping.  I found $1.72 in change in the davenport, along with Lego Mini-figure accessories, a fortune cookie fortune ("You are enterprising--make the most of it"), Jamie Hynemon's mailing address, and about a half-pound of cat-hair and lint.  

Monday we visited the rose garden and a local veteran's memorial.  We also read the bill of rights and constitutional amendments. Then The Child and I went to see Infinity War, which was very comic booky and kind of grim at the end.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Memorial Friday

The week leading up to Memorial Day weekend has been a weird week.  I've been a little blue--I was going to say I wasn't sure where it was coming from... but some of it is writer envy, which is petty and I should get over it, but still, there it is.  Some of it is frustration with the novel, which is going slowly... but it's still going forward.  I suspect there's a cartoon somewhere of the writing process where the writer alternates between Loving the Work and Loathing the Work (and themselves).

And then there's that leaden fist of shadow pressing into my sterum--maybe a waking relative of the nightmare that crouches on one's chest at 3:20 in the morning--that turns everything grey and dull and tired, even too tired for sarcasm.   Some of it might be pollen.  Some of it might be free-floating adult anxiety about bills, health, taxes, death, and where I'm going to be in thirty years (living in a culvert with imaginary friends?)  Some of it might be the sad and angsty music playing in my head (note to self, compiling that Rejection Music List was a bad idea; play 80's dance music instead).  Other times I'm more-or-less fine.

Maybe it's man-opause.  

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Achievement Unlocked

This past weekend has been the time for "unlocking achievements."  Friday night The Child suddenly decided that he wanted to go to the school fund-raiser dance after all (ah, the allure of ice-cream and snacks at an otherwise boring-old-dance).  Mark didn't feel like going, so I went and alternately danced and made sure The Child and his friends weren't Doing Stupid Middleschooler Tricks.  One of the perks of being a parent is dancing with wild abandon (and shoulder swaying) in front of the school to Cyndie Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" and Men Without Hat's "Safety Dance."   I did wish, though, that Mark had decided to come along, and the couple dancing the Lindy (along with pretzel moves and the lovers-window) made me wistful.

Saturday night more than made up for a Mark-less Friday night dance.

Sunday I managed to dig sixteen holes in the backyard and sink sixteen bricks into a rough circle.  This isn't to say that there weren't stakes and strings and eye-balling the meridian and levels and prying bricks back out of the ground to move them an inch to the left.  The whole process took about two hours longer than I thought it would, but by the end I had a circle larger enough to comfortably hold eight, with the cardinal and cross-quarter directions marked.  




Since I'm the only (practicing?) NeoPagan in the house, the circle needed to be unobtrusive, the lawn needed to be usable for other activities, and the lawnmower needed to be able to pass over the bricks.  I imagine I'll mostly use it for meditation and the occasional solitary ritual.  Although the ground isn't level, I tried my best to level the bricks, so the square ones at the cardinal points should be sutable for things like candles or other ritual items.  


Oh, that's right, I dreamt I was in some giant community ritual in Corvallis, and also that my old drama instructor, Kathleen Whorley, had had her brain transferred into a cat's (she spoke through a LED mouth superimposed on the cat's.

Monday (and Tuesday) my quads (and my calves) were pretty sore.  Going to the gym Monday was ... interesting.  But I did the usual routine.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Summary

Went to the gym last Sunday and Tuesday night.  Yay me.  I've cut back on the weights a little because the 60lb pec flies appeared to be stressing my left elbow. 

600 words on Tuesday writing night.  The novel is in a stall and I need to either decide what to edit out or decide I don't care so much and convince myself that experimenting around is not a waste of time.

Doing some research for an anthology and coming to the conclusion that the demographic for it has switched from 1990's Wiccans in the SCA who read "Mists of Avalon" to 2010's bibliophiles who attend FaerieWorlds are Hermione Granger (and/or Katniss Everdeen) fans.  Oh, and I'm old.

On the Old Front, I've been watching the first season of "The Outs."  The second season is behind a paywall.  I'd read about the great writing in it and how it was sort of post-gay-identity politics and funny.  I went in expecting a gayer "Will and Grace" and it's more of a soap opera (maybe I should have watched more "Sex In The City").  

I think the acting is good, as there's a whole lot of silent watch the characters work things out in their heads.  But man, these gay 20-something Brookland characters are bitchy and sad and neurotic (and drink a lot and smoke pot).  I think what kept me watching it was wanting to see how the love relations would work out--the show centers on two ex-lovers and how they navigate life, love, friendship, and sex post-breakup.  On one hand, it's interesting--especially how the smart-phone and IM-ing is so much a part of their social scene; on the other hand, it's another story which reinforces the stereotype of to be gay one has to be 20-something and living in New York (or at least Crown Heights, Brookland).      

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Writing and Musing

Managed to get a little under 1500 words Tuesday night.  Wednesday, I broke down the chunk into individual scenes and removed the obvious "start-up" pieces where I'm writing notes to myself.  Looking at one scene, the character comes off as a randy guy looking to score a one night stand, and I need to either have him poke fun at himself or intersperse pensive moments or have character interaction instead of a character sitting in a common-room thinking.

I did a quick review of my story inventory, and I don't have anything that matches the anthology's new feel; either the story's science fiction, or the tone is too heavy, or the characters are gay men (the stories are supposed to have female protagonists).  I do have an urban fantasy I might send, except it ends a little on the dark side and the protagonist is neither a down-to-earth sorceress nor a kick-ass fighter.  It does have the Fair Folk in it... and there is a magic-using Fey Woman in it...and it does deal with cultural issues... so maybe I should send it (waffles in indecision).

The irises in the back are beginning their decline.  I think we have about a week of their blooms left.  The lilac is also blooming, and I'm enjoying going between the two an inhaling their sweet musk.  

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Weekends, Gardens, Gyms, and Writing

Friday was a special dinner with my family to celebrate Mark's new job.  I had a nice chat with my Mom, and my Dad and I had a fun time singing "Cinder-Harry" in high-pitched mouse voices.  I didn't chat so much with my sister and brother-in-law; but they did like the chocolate mousse I made.   We got home late, and the cats were angry with us.


Saturday we went to the Japanese Gardens.  The day was pleasantly warm, and we got there early enough that we could park near-by.  Mark enjoyed the bonsai.  I was surprised at how much like Japanese prints of coy the coy looked like.  I'm thinking the thing I liked the best was... the artistic views through branches of mountains or waterfalls or cute little benches.   We met up with some friends and then relocated to Vancouver for the rest of the day.  We got home even later than Friday, and the cats were angry with us.

Sunday was rainy, and we mostly lounged about the house.

Went to the gym Monday :  about 25 minutes and 300 calories on the Nordic Elliptical.  Downstairs 13x(40+50+60)lbs on the pec fly.  13x(40+50+60)lbs on the deltoid fly.  13x(70+85+85)lbs on the lat pull-down.  2x13 Roman Chair curls.  3x13x35lbs barbell curl.  Someone had switched out the handle on the triceps pull-down with two rubber stoppers on a rope, so only 3x13x20lbs there.  And then it was time to run away.


I got my hands on two previous copies of the anthology I got rejected from, and the newer editor has a different take on the stories than the original editor.   I'd say the tone of the stories has gotten lighter (but so far I've only read five out of seventeen in one anthology and two in the other).     The anthology has been fantasy-based, with swordswomen and sorceresses, and I was surprised to run across one urban fantasy set in Boston--I'll have to see if there are any more urban fantasies.

Looking at my story that was rejected for not being what the editor wanted for the anthology, I'd say while my character's existential problem is strong, her immediate problem needs to be amped up; the high fantasy setting is too high; the language too elevated above contemporary language and dialog; and there's no light-hearted laugh around the Enterprise bridge ending moment--neither is the ending a pause before "the adventuress and friend(s) go on to further adventures" ending.  Also, my story doesn't at least touch on any social issues, like class, colonialism, or prejudice (three of the stories so far).  I'm thinking my other "this is fine but not right for us" rejected stories are too high on the Tolkien-Wanna-Be scale, too.   I'll have to look and see if I have any lighter short-stories ready. 

Thursday, May 03, 2018

May Day Workouts

Went to the gym Monday (4/30):  about 25 minutes and 250 calories on the Nordic Elliptical.  Downstairs 13x(40+50+60)lbs on the pec fly.  13x(40+50+60)lbs on the deltoid fly.  13x(70+80+90)lbs on the lat pull-down.  3x13 Roman Chair curls.  3x13x35lbs barbell curl.  And then it was time to run away.

Tuesday was The Ides of Spring, so I harped a bit while appreciating the falling cherry petals and the blooming irises.  It was also a weird day for a lot of folks I know in a "frazzled cat" kind of way (only not just cats).  

I found myself wishing that I knew about any Maypole Dances going on, even if they are anachronistically twee, because they're fun.  


Went to the gym Wednesday night (4/2):  about 30 minutes and 350 calories on the Nordic Elliptical.  Downstairs 13x(40+50+60)lbs on the pec fly.  13x(40+50+60)lbs on the deltoid fly.  13x(60+70+80+90)lbs on the lat pull-down.  3x13 Roman Chair curls.  4x13x35lbs barbell curl.  4x13x30 lbs on the triceps pull-down.  3x8 side and lateral dumbbell pull-ups.  And then 2x12x30lbs on the pec fly and deltoid fly again and some 7.5lb dumbbell curls for Extra Beauty.  

The only down-side of going to the gym after 8 PM is that it really wakes me up and I find it difficult to go to sleep afterward.


Saturday, April 28, 2018

Saturday Gym

Went to the gym Saturday (4/28):  about 30 minutes and 310 calories on the Nordic Elliptical.  Downstairs 13x(40+50+60)lbs on the pec fly.  13x(40+50+60)lbs on the deltoid fly.  13x(70+80+90)lbs on the lat pull-down.  3x13 Roman Chair curls.  3x13x35lbs barbell curl.  3x13x30 lbs on the triceps pull-down.  3x8 side and lateral dumbbell pull-ups.  


Just as I entered the gym, it started sprinkling; the result was that the rooftops across the street started steaming as the rain met the sun-warmed tiles.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Gym and Rejection

Went to the gym Tuesday(4/24):  about 20 minutes and 260 calories on the Nordic Elliptical.  Downstairs 13x(40+50+60)lbs on the pec fly.  13x(40+50+60)lbs on the deltoid fly.  13x(70+80+90)lbs on the lat pull-down.  2x13 Roman Chair curls.  3x13x35lbs barbell curl.  I had to pick up The Child, so I cut the session short.

Mark has been single-handedly replacing the vinyl floor in our kitchen, the sanding of the underfloor has been the hardest work.  I'm thinking I should get him a Bob The Builder award or something.  The floor looks very nice, and incidentally matches our Denby.  

The weather has been sunny and in the high 70's... as long as it doesn't get into the high 80's next week, I'll be happy.  It's supposed to cloud over and be cooler later in the week.  Although the warmer weather is friendlier to my hands and feet and shoulders and knees, I am hoping that we continue to get rain, as the prediction for the Vally this Summer is for a dry summer (and drought conditions in Eastern Oregon).  The snow pack is way down this year, too.  

Tuesday night turned into an editing night, and then a socializing night.  

Wednesday I managed to set up a table under the shade of the cherry and get some writing and editing in.  OK, and I wrote some bad hikue.  And then I checked my e-mail and saw a form-letter story rejection from an anthology I've been trying to get into for several years.  I know rationally that the story isn't what the editor's looking for, and I know rationally that the editor's not being paid by me to critique my story, but man this is irritating (an abmigious "it's fine but not for me" rejection) and depressing (I'll add this to my pile of "your story is good but not good enough" form rejection letters).

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Design, Ink, Gyms, and Writing

Friday (4/13) I was having a bad day... probably fallout from sleeplessness earlier in the week.  So I sat down with InkScape and played with hexagons and triangles and ended up with a cool design.


Saturday Mark and I went to drop off his Rotating Bonsai Watering Table Made from Recycled Materials project at a local venue for Earth Day.  Then we went to the Saturday Market and got healthy vegetables and a few unhealthy pastries.   The morning was still young, and the merchants were still setting up for the Saturday Market, which is kind of more interesting than the actual market.  As we were walking by, I stopped at one booth and then before I knew it, I was getting a henna tattoo.  It's a little lizard on my left forearm.  I have sternly told myself that I will not pretend that I got an inked tattoo on my butt when I go to work Monday.





Went to the gym Sunday:  about 30 minutes and 300 calories on the Nordic Elliptical (I think, there was some craziness with signing up for the machine).  Downstairs 13x(30+40+50)lbs on the pec fly.  13x(30+40+50)lbs on the deltoid fly.  13x(60+70+80)lbs on the lat pull-down.  3x13 Roman Chair curls.  3x13x35lbs barbell curl.  3x13x30lbs on the triceps pull-down.  2x8x7lbs on side and lateral pull ups.

I had to stop in the middle of the Roman Chair curls because I was laughing so hard; there's a song (which I kind of like) with the lyric "I found God in your body."  So the mental image I have is of course a flip on the "sacred homosexual sex" trope, only it's straight allies having the sex and as they're discovering God, they're having this, "No, wait; we have to bring this spiritual gift to our queer friends."  

I'm pretty sure most of the other gym patrons are used to me bursting out laughing in the middle of workouts....