Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Tea Shopping Numerology

Scene:  The supermarket express checkout lane.

Clerk:  "Good afternoon.  How are you?"

John (setting his tea on the counter):   "I'm fine.  And yourself?"

Clerk:  "I'm good, thanks.  (Rings up tea purchase)  That'll be $6.60."

John:  "Oh darn.   Just six cents more and I could have had (raises hands in clawed parodies of ecstasy; makes his voice deeper and more raspy; going for a Church Lady voice, but probably making it closer to something Lovecraftian ) TEA of the DEVIL!"  

Clerk:  . . . (clearly re-winding the conversation in her head to see how it so quickly jumped the track)

John:  . . .  (lowers hands, schools face back to semblance of normalcy)

Clerk:  "Oh.  Uh.  Ha ha.  Here's your change.  Have a good day."

John:  "Thanks; you, too."  (Wishes he could work "Beast of the Apocalypso" into the conversation but restrains himself.)


Now of course I wonder what the numerology of 660 is.... 

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Writings News and Delta Ponds

 The big news this week is that my short story, "A Summoner's Tale," is on-line at the On The Premises site:  https://onthepremises.com/issues/issue-34/issue-34-place1/  I'm glad this story found a home.

Sunday, Mark and I went for a walk in Delta Ponds.  I brought along my camera and managed to catch a few photographs of turtles, cormorants, nutria, and white egrets.  Mark actually likes nutria -- I always thought they were a kind of large, furry water rat -- and we learned that they have an attractive undercoat underneath their disheveled overcoat.

OK.  I guess they do have cute little paws.



The white egrets were the most difficult to photograph. 


The one we first saw was across the ponds, and the only way to not get a shaky shot at that distance is to use a tripod or at least rest agains a signpost or fence. 

We lucked out in that the egrets flew much nearer, and I was able to get some more close-up photographs.   I had been fiddling with the manual settings, but I realized that I was much more likely to get a passable photograph if I let the camera do things on automatic.

One egret flew up into a near-by tree, and for once my camera was able to focus on the bird and not the branches (or leaves) in front of it. 



Saturday, October 12, 2019

Feathers in the Circle

Went to the gym Friday Night and did the regular routine.  

Saturday morning Mark discovered that (presumably) one of the cats (he blames Cicero) had killed a bird and spread feathers (at least) all over the garden circle.  Of course it looks like an augury to me (similar to reading tea leaves),  but Mark forbade me from posting photos, claiming it was something The Internet didn't need to see.  

(Queues Suzanne Vega's "Predictions")

Standing at the periphery of the circle and looking at it, I tried to figure out what, if anything the feathers suggested.  The feathers have a blue tint to them, but are mostly dark -- maybe they come from a scrub jay, but I am not sure (they seem small for a jay, but too large for something like a nuthatch, chickadee, or junco).  All of the feathers are in the southern hemisphere of the circle.  There's a lot of down feathers.  Slightly east of the center of the circle, there's a square of primary feathers.  There's a scattering of secondary and down feathers closer to the southeast edge.   There's a clump of last week's mown grass midway to the southwest edge with some down feathers on it --  which looks like a body part, but is really feathered vegetation.  There's a scrap of semi-plumes halfway to the perimeter, west-southwest.   All of the feathers are in the circle, which is about eight feet in diameter; so far I haven't found any entrails, feet, head, or beaks.  

The square of primaries is made up of about six or seven feather, and is more of an open-ended box, with the opening pointing south-southeast.  The quills suggest a clockwise motion around the square box's center.

Interpreting the feathers as hands on a clock, they suggest to me ten minutes after ten (approximately).  Interpreting the clumps of feathers as events on the wheel of the year, they suggest a gathering or collection (the clockwise box) of ideas (primary feathers)... maybe a still active opportunity?  I'm not sure what down feathers and semi-plumes would signify, but the timing would around May 1 (the Ides of Spring) and later around August 15 (a week or so past the Ides of Summer).   Since the semi-plumes look worse than they actually are, perhaps this presages a bumpy event that isn't all that bad?

(Sits back...)

I suppose the primary thing the feathers in the circle tell us is that the cats caught a scrub jay.  

I'm left caught between the phrase, "Scripture is everywhere; pay attention," and that dream Mark once had decades ago where he came home and I had enchanted a string of sausages to learn the future from them and they were mad and from the frying pan they said, "Why are you asking us?  We're just sausages!"

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Thursday Update

On the writing front, I sent out a manuscript and got a 24 hour turn-around rejection.  Very likely, the manuscript was too far on the fantasy side of the science-fiction/fantasy spectrum.  It's also long, so I'm not sure where to send it next.   I've been looking at old, put-aside manuscripts, and I'm coming to the conclusion that A) they don't suck quite so much as I thought, B) they've got some things in them that need polishing, C) I should get them into the mail.

On the gym front:  I went to the gym Monday and Wednesday night and did the regular routine.  I've been extending my legs out when I've been doing the bench presses, and the other night I noticed some improvement in my, uh, front lats?  side abdominals?  (looks at muscle chart) oblique external abdominis?  So yay!   I also bumped into my trainer, who says he really wants to mix up what I've been doing with a set of bench-heavy sets.


Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Autumnal Flora

The leaves are turning.  I took my camera and went looking for good candidates.  I'd noticed a few red edges on some leaves around the corner, and waited until the afternoon when the sun would shine through them.

I unpacked the tripod and took a lot of shots with the camera on full manual.  This resulted in a lot of bad shots -- either under- or over-exposed, but I managed to get a few photographs that approached the glowing colors above my head.

Of course, there was one really over-exposed photo because the camera remembered the manual settings when I had been taking some pictures of the moon and stars.  I laughed when I saw this one, but I kept it because it seemed as if the shape of the leaves had been burned into the image -- which I struck me as "artsy" and brought out the fiery nature of the leaves.

And it was a moral imperative to take a photo of the miniature rose on our deck.


Monday, October 07, 2019

When Masks Fall

The big news on the writing front is that a story of mine will be published on-line on October 14.  I'll post a link to it once it's live.

Now that I'm feeling like I've fully recovered from last week's stupid cold, I have to get back into the swing of writing new stories, marketing stories, and going to the gym.   I did go to the gym last Friday night, and I was sore the next day from reminding various muscles what a bench press or cable pull was.


The weekend brought a revelation for The Child.

Scene:  (Leaving a social gathering.  John is waving to D.R. and K.R. as they walk past the car.)

The Child:  “...Wait. _That_ was D.R.?”

John:  “Well, yeah; like I said, we used to have these really great religious discussions about faith and grace and transcendent—“

T.C.:  “Uh, I thought that was years ago at Arcosanti, and you were tossing back drinks and talking about (air quotes) religion (end air quotes) until they threw you out at two in the morning into a big pile of homeless drunks.”

J (Pretty sure that fezes, hookahs, beaded curtains, and sitar background music is part of this re-imagined history):  “Oh, no; we were at Turtles after Wordos.”

T.C.:  “What?!  Only old hippies go there.  I thought you were drinking in a biker bar.”

J (adding a black leather jacket and chaps to his own re-imagined religious discussion apparel, and giving D a poet shirt and black, wide-brimmed Jesuit Priest's hat), :  “I drank tequila; D.R. drank Diet Pepsi.  (Recoloring this history in a Casablanca noir sepia tone)  Did you think D. was some kind of Hipster Priest with an unbuttoned shirt showing a gold bling cross dangling over his hairy chest?”

T.C:  “I thought you guys were cool...”

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Early October

The lingering cold is lingering.  The worst of it was over a few days ago, but the congestion has continued.  Also, the general sense of wanting to take a nap at the drop of a hat.  So, I haven't been to the gym for over a week, since last Wednesday (9/28) -- I'm hoping to go tomorrow.

On the writing front, I've been working on some final edits for a story that will appear later, in the middle of this month.   On the marketing front, I've managed to keep about five stories in the mail at once, but I've slowed down and I need to send out more so when I know more about the current batch in a few weeks my mailcount won't fall to zero.

I had hoped to snap a few photos of the Moon and Jupiter tonight (10/3), but, like clockwork, the clouds rolled in and the heavens are thrifty tonight.  Oh well... at least I got some photos of the Moon last week when it was near Regulus.

Soon, it's going to be time to take down the pavilion for the Winter.  That will be too bad, because writing outside is nice (not to mention when I'm writing outside I'm not underfoot in the house).  There may be a few more weeks with outside writing weather, but once November comes, it's likely to stay fairly wet (not that we haven't already been getting about three times as much rainfall as we usually do -- which is a good thing).

It's the first week of classes at the UO.  Things almost got off to a rocky start:  there was nearly a workers' strike, but it was averted at the last moment.  I'd say this year is going mostly better than some previous years; everyone seems to be in the swing of things, and there aren't too many "it feels like the first time" moments.


Monday, September 30, 2019

Weekend Cold.

Friday night, Mark and I went to see Randy Rainbow Live.  We were in the mezzanine.  The show was fun, and both of us saw new (to us) material.  Mr. Rainbow tried to make it a lounge show, with a Q&A Session with the audience (the audience was unable to come up with interesting questions).   I think my favorite routine was "In The Room Where It Happened."  I think Mark's was "Cheeto Chirst, Stupid Tzar." 

Saturday morning, the minor cold I contracted from The Child's school manifested as a low grade fever.  I did not go to the gym....  I spent most of the week end wrapped up like an Edwardian Ocean Liner Traveler,  On the plus side, I managed to read some old Sheri S Tepper, and Mercedes Lackey -- mostly for pleasure, partially to look at novel structure.

I also managed to take the last bloom of the Azalea.  Normally, it blooms in the spring, but it decided to push out one last one this week.


Friday, September 27, 2019

Autumnal Flora

 Our yard has been invaded by mushrooms.  I don't know what kind of mushroom this is, although I'm pretty sure last year our neighbor had three or more rings of these growing in her yard -- so maybe they're related. 

Mushrooms have been springing up all over the neighborhood, I'm guessing because of the really heavy rains we got a week ago.
 Autumn is officially here.  I have managed to catch a cold from The Child's school.
The fuchsia at the side of the house survived the summer and the benign neglect that we heap upon it. 

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Moon and Regulus

 Gym Report:  Skipped the gym last Monday, but went Wednesday night (9-26).  Did the usual routine, although with all the walking back and forth to The Child's school, I figured I could skimp a bit on the elliptical. 

This morning (Thursday) the Moon was close to Regulus (the "Little King" in the constellation of Leo. 

I arose a little earlier than usual and stumbled out.  Orion was high and clear in the sky, but the moon and Regulus were behind some foggy haze.  I stumbled back inside and returned with my camera to the back deck.  Without the remote.  And took some pictures.  This resulted in jiggly photos of the moon and double-exposed images of Regulus.

Luckily, I had woken up early enough to go back outside, plant the tripod on the (non-wiggly) deck and dig up the remote (so the camera wouldn't be vibrating from my pressing the stutter button).

The sky had lightened and the Moon had risen above the bands of clouds, which were turning pink from Rosy Fingered Dawn.


Sunday, September 22, 2019

Pre-Equinox Work

Went to the gym Saturday night.  Did the usual routine.

Saturday was another house maintenance day, only this time we got up a little earlier and scraped off more paint from the side of the house over the garage.  Ah, the joys of home-ownership.

On the writing front; over the last few days I got three manuscript rejections.  I went to Duotrope to look at statistics and the stories I've sold over the years (not enough!) either sell on the first or second round, or else they get shopped out to about ten or so markets before landing a sale.

The goal over the next month is to keep the mail count up.  And to finish something new.  I've been spending the last few weeks polishing stories that have been sitting in the metaphorical drawer; this is all very good, and it's amazing how time can focus me on a story's mechanics, but I should also be creating.   That said, at least I feel like I'm working on things.


Friday, September 20, 2019

Friday Update


Went to the gym Wednesday night, did the usual routine.  Going consistently has resulted in some nice reductions, but it also means that I wake up around 9PM. 

On the writing front:  Got a short, detailed rejection for one piece -- mostly the story wasn't the editor's cup of tea.   I've been working on older pieces that have been languishing in draweres post-critique.  Taking a long break from pieces has been useful for spotting clunky writing (and excising it).


Oh, and the Autumnal Rains continue....

Monday, September 16, 2019

Weekend Update

Went to the gym Friday.  I went a little early, so it was a little bit more crowded.  Managed to do the regular routine, with Roman Chair curls.

Saturday, after much anxious checking and re-checking of e-mail, I learned that I'd sold a story!  I had been indulging in a bit of pre-rejection reject-o-mancy, because my memory of selling to this market before is that they contact folks a few days ahead of the sale -- so when I got the message with its "thank you for submitting your story" opening, I was certain that it was a rejection and had to re-read it several times to be sure I'd read it correctly.  More news when it's published in mid-October.

Saturday was also paint scraping day.  Last week we had a ton of rain in a half hour, which resulted in some leaks in our garage.  Right now it's raining pretty hard -- although not as hard as last week -- and our roof seems to be waterproof.  My theory is that roofing gravel got stuck up against the side of the house and some loose siding, which created a mini dam and allowed the inundation of water to work its way over the roof flashing.

Mark, who stays on top of these sorts of things, whereas I would wonder why suddenly the house has half-rotted away, decreed we had to scrape, re-caulk, prime, and re-paint that particular side of the house.  So we did.  Okay, I'm such an arctic flower that by the time 11:30AM rolled around and the sun had burnt off the morning haze, I was dying from the heat of the roofing.  So Mark did the majority of the work (mostly scraping).

Sunday, the forecast rains appeared, which postponed our priming and painting.  So we did other things, like laundry.  I finally hung a string of LEDs along the bookshelf.  I don't know why I didn't do it sooner, because it looks fairly nice, and provides a gentle night-light glow for bed-time.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Gym and Writing

Went to the gym Wednesday.  I went a little earlier in the evening and the gym was a little busier.  Managed to do the new normal routine, minus the Roman Chair Curls.  The weather has been stormy, with cloudbursts dropping a half an inch of rain in less than a half an hour--it has cleared up a little today, which makes inside cooler and more pleasant than the outside (although, if the winds continue to gust, the gazebo shouldn't be too hot.

On the writing front, I finished up a 34,000 word novelette that had been languishing on my hard drive after a particularly harsh critique.  Looking back, the critique wasn't harsh so much as it was the way I had purposely written one of the characters happened to press one particularly vocal critic's buttons.  In any case, I took a look at the manuscript again to clean up some minor, random things, and I sent it out.  I've started to have a computer read manuscripts to me, which is more useful than I ever realized it could be for catching repeated words, like "the the;" and missing words that my brain is automatically supplying when I read to myself, like "she closed door;" and phrases that just plain sound strange or confusing, usually because I've tried to edit a complex, compound sentence.

I'm also pleased that I've managed to keep a number of stories in the mail, so that count is up as well. Now I have to write something new....

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Gym and Rain

Went to the gym.  I felt tired, and a little full from a late-ish dinner, so I only went on the elliptical for a half-hour and about 300 calories.  I am hoping that I am not fighting off a cold or something.

The rains have returned, at least for a few days.  Last night at 8:00 is was very dark -- except for the times a gibbous moon poked through the clouds.  This morning is a grey day, the sort of day where folks in brown, grey, or black jackets don't really show up as they walk along the rain-soaked trees and streaming sidewalks. 

On mornings like this, especially after a long dry stretch, I like to walk through the rain with my palms held up and outward so I can feel the touch of the rain on my hands and fingers.